Thursday, August 28, 2014

Heroes Are My Weakness: A Novel
Heroes Are My Weakness: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $12.99

2.0 out of 5 stars "They Had No Scruples and Every Scruple."August 27, 2014

Book Description
 August 26, 2014New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips is back with a delightful novel filled with her sassy wit and dazzling charm
Deepest winter.An isolated island off the coast of Maine.A man. A woman.Puppets. (Yes, puppets . . .)And . . .A mysterious house looming over the sea . . .He's a reclusive writer whose imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill his characters with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill an audience with laughs. But she's not laughing now.
Annie Hewitt has arrived on Peregrine Island in the middle of a snowstorm and at the end of her resources. She's broke, dispirited, but not quite ready to give up. Her red suitcases hold the puppets she uses to make her living: sensible Dilly, spunky Scamp, and Leo, the baddest of bad guys. Her puppets, the romantic novels she loves, and a little bit of courage are all she has left.
Annie couldn't be more ill prepared for what she finds when she reaches Moonraker Cottage or for the man who dwells in Harp House, the mysterious mansion that hovers above the cottage. When she was a teenager, he betrayed her in a way she can never forget or forgive. Now they're trapped together on a frozen island along with a lonely widow, a mute little girl, and townspeople who don't know how to mind their own business.
Is he the villain she remembers, or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.
It's going to be a long, hot winter.

I think I am the only one here that truly did not love or even really like this book all that much. Don't get me wrong, I liked it but I didn't 'like it' like it (if you know what I mean!) It will not become an automatic re-read as so many of the other books by Ms.Phillips are.

This book combined many excellent ideas from her past books and I really know this to be true because I happened to be re-reading all of Ms. Phillips books before the publication of this one.

The rest of the book follows the authors regular formula - spunky underestimated heroine, broody, misunderstood and uber sexy hero, someone within the community or among the 'beloved' characters friends/family trying to either break them up or drive the spunky heroine/brooding hero away (usually the spunky heroine). They fall in love, but will not admit it to each other...or at least they pretend not to understand what is happening. The heroine grows up and takes responsibility for herself/her career. Hero finally believes the heroine once she has taken her last stand and either leaves or tries to leave.

This book had an added character that past books do not --- an Island off the coast of Maine. This was new. Yes, I really meant that the island is a character all on its own! If you read this, you will see what I mean. The Gothic house was a nice touch, but I really do not understand why so many are calling this a Gothic romance. I do not think anything could be farther from the truth.

The idea of the puppets/dummies and the conversations they held with Annie was too much like Molly and her book characters in This Heart of Mine and because there were so many puppets, the conversations got a little annoying. However, it was very clever to use them as a sort of therapy for the books secondary characters.

This is by no means a horrible book, it just isn’t one of the best or funniest or even sexiest books this author has ever written. I found it difficult to warm up to the characters and the mystery wasn’t that big of a mystery to me. It was a book that was just a tiny bit too predictable.

Happy Reading!

The Highlander Next Door (Spellbound Falls series Book 6)
The Highlander Next Door (Spellbound Falls series Book 6)
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $5.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Not the BestAugust 28, 2014

Book Description
 August 26, 2014From the New York Time bestselling Janet Chapman comes this delightful tale of a young woman who's had enough of men...until she meets her spectacular new neighbor.

Legend has it love is carried on the rising mists of Spellbound Falls, and not even time-traveling highlanders are immune to its magic…

Birch Callahan has seen the trouble men can cause. After witnessing her mother’s four marriages, Birch now runs a women’s shelter and doesn’t want a man in her life. But there’s something about her neighbor, Niall MacKeage. Birch can’t figure out how the cop can be so big and gruff and yet so insightful and compassionate—and sexy. Or how she’s falling for a man who acts like someone from the twelfth century.

Niall knows that Birch is attracted to him, even if she seems to distrust all men. Yet he also knows she has a secret—something that drives her to place herself in harm’s way for the women of her shelter. Niall would gladly rush to Birch’s side to protect her from harm, but with their secrets standing between them, he’ll have to reveal his own truth if he wants to keep her…

Janet Chapman has in the past, written so many books that I am constantly re-reading that I could never really believe that she would ever write a book that I am unenthusiastic about. A book that I wouldn't be able to praise to kingdom come. Until now.

The first 15 -18% of the book is pretty much spent recapping all of the past books and you will find that this happens during the book also. The characters and the romance never really seems as fully developed as in the past books. The magic never has to be explained to Birch. Birch; is that a French-Canadian name? I'm not used to non-famous parents naming their children after trees or plants!

The story line is a little preposterous, but then again usually the story is more about the romance than anything else. The mysteries are usually secondary to anything else. However, in this particular book, the romance seemed to take a back-seat to they mystery.

If anything, this book seems to be a set-up for upcoming volumes and it really left something to be desired for me.

I have a feeling this won't be the last time we see these particular secondary characters and the build up of the forest God might lead to the best book yet...I hope. Otherwise this book may just be a bad book and not the stepping stone I hope it to be!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Truth About Leo by Katie MacCalister

The Truth about Leo (Noble series)
The Truth about Leo (Noble series)
Price: $5.91

2.0 out of 5 stars Ten Long Years and For What? (Some Spoilers Ahead)August 6, 2014

Book Description

 August 5, 2014
The much-anticipated, brand-new Regency romance from New York Times bestselling author Katie MacAlister.
Can Dagmar flee Denmark
Dagmar Marie Sophie is a poverty-stricken Danish princess whose annoying royal cousin is about to have her stuffed away in a convent. When she finds a wounded man unconscious in her garden, she sees a way out of her desperate situation.

By Lying to Leo?
Leopold Ernst George Mortimer, seventh earl of March, and spy in the service of the king, finds himself on the wrong end of a saber and left for dead. He wakes up not remembering what the care of a beautiful woman who says she is his wife.

Back in London, Leo-with the help of his old friends the eccentric Britton family-sets out to unravel what he's forgotten... Is Dagmar truly the wonderful, irrepressible woman who makes his heart sing, or is she a dangerous enigma bent on his destruction?"

Most reviewers are at times, unhappy with character growth - with this new novel I am unhappy with Author growth. If you took Noble Intentions and slapped different names on the characters (especially the female ones, then gave it a slightly different plot line you could be reading the same book. At least with the first three novels, each couple was totally different.

Yes, there is a difference, but just barely. With The Truth About Leo the female protagonist is an impoverished Princess who connives and manipulates a marriage to get to England.(sound a tiny bit familiar?). The couple is so hot for each other they act like idiots (familiar yet again?)

With Noble Intentions the mystery aspect of the story starts right from the very first chapter and builds the excitement. Not so with this new offering. Halfway through the novel and you are left still wondering when the excitement and mystery will happen, and when will the inane sex talk will calm down. Yes, it is giggle worthy at times, but that quickly fades. I don't think that a whole novel can't be sustained on that one gimmick alone.

I was also disappointed to see that the Brittons didn't play a big role in this book and unfortunately I was unhappy that this book was not about Nick --- I knew it wouldn't be just by the name, but I am still unhappy that we've passed over such good story material. I think he deserved an entire book, not just bits and pieces in this one.

So at 50% I am fighting the urge to go wash my kitchen floor or scrub my toilets; something unheard of with Katie M's other 'can't put'em down' books.

At about 75% we finally get a bit of action going with the Princess companion Julia being accused of murder. There had been some hinting of nefarious goings ons with her early in the book. However, since the writing style is a bit difficult to keep up with; what with no one getting to finish a complete sentence or thought, the reader is left to fend for themselves and try to fill in the blanks.

The scene in the gaol drove me batty trying to figure out what conversation belonged to who! It was like that skit with Abbott and Costello "Who's on First?"!

The last 20% of the book finally dealt fully with the so-called mystery and I felt it was rushed and obvious.

I understand that this is a romance and should not be held to the same principles and 'rules' as a full mystery book, but if a mystery is indeed going to be included then a good job should be taken to make it believable.

I guess what I am saying is that none of these books are going to hold my heart like "Noble Intentions" did. Back then this style was funny and fresh; now it just seems formulaic.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith (Author), Lisa Falco (Author)

The White Magic Five & Dime (A Tarot Mystery)

The White Magic Five & Dime (A Tarot Mystery)
Price: $9.59

Steve Hockensmith , Lisa Falco
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars Nothing is Really Perfect, But This Book is Close!, July 28, 2014

Book Description

July 1, 2014

Much to Alanis McLachlands surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother's tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.
With help from a hunky cop and her mother's live-in teenage apprentice,  Alanis begins faking her way trough (sic) tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother's clients.  But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards ... and the secrets surrounding her mother's demise.
Praise:  "A charming comic mystery" - Booklist

Have you ever started a book and after a couple of chapters thought to yourself that this drivel just wasn't for you? That is what I first thought about The White Magic Five and Dime, but something kept me reading and I quickly became engrossed in this book.

At first the sarcasm and hidden self pity from Alanis was just a bit too over the top ...until you read further and really get a feel for our protagonist. Initially I was annoyed with see all of the 80's TV and movie references but it soon became fun to try and figure them out.

The story is a mystery and a very good one at that. I wonder how many other readers will have an easier time figuring out who done it and why, than I did, but I didn't catch on until the real killer was actually revealed. Anything else I say about the big reveal will `spoil' the story so I am not going to say anything more.

So many secrets, so many cons...this is going to make an excellent series and I am certainly going to be along for the ride.

Happy reading!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Flight of the Golden Harpy

Flight of the Golden Harpy
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $11.04

"Book Description

June 17, 2014
Kari, a young woman, returns to the jungle planet of Dora after ten years in Earth’s schools determined to unravel the mysteries surrounding the harpies, a feral species with the appearance half-bird, half-human.

The human colonists believe harpies are dangerous animals, which are known to steal women. The creatures are hunted like wild game, their wings considered rare trophies. But Kari distrusts these rumors. When she was attacked by a monster in the jungle as a child, a male harpy with rare golden coloring rescued her.

Constant hunting by men has driven the harpies to the brink of extinction. Is Kari’s savior, the elegant golden harpy, is still alive? If so, how long can he and his flock survive the ravages of mankind?

Susan Klaus's Flight of the Golden Harpy is an imaginative and romantic fantasy novel that questions what it means to be human.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied."
2.0 out of 5 stars A Political Statement, July 18, 2014

This book was just one big statement on animal cruelty/anti-hunting using the guise that animals have emotional feelings like humans do. At least this was my impression on this book. I couldn't see any other point to it. Many other authors try to get away with this type of orating and it doesn't usually work out too well for them...I hope it works better for Ms. Klaus.

This may have been written as a 'fantasy' and and the fact that it is a fantasy is being used as an excuse for its
weaknesses. However, that does not give the author the privilege of throwing out every rule on good writing there is. I am not an author but even I know that characters need to be well fleshed, the reader needs to feel engaged with them no matter what. An author should never make you feel indifferent to or bored with the character. The fact that Kari is so ultra beautiful and desirable and Shail is so handsome, was on just about every other page and soon became a joke to me.

The writing seemed to stutter along, the speech amongst the characters seemed forced and false. I was never sure if the non-usage of contractions had to do with the world Kari lived on or if it was an editing glitch.

In my opinion, if there is no discernible plot by the time you have read 25% of the book then what point is there to keep reading? To read about a world? What was this fantasy world compared to? A Pre-Jurassic earth? I'm sorry, it was just not enough to keep me engaged in this novel.

ARC supplied by publisher for reviewing purposes

Friday, July 11, 2014

Product Details

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels Book 7) by Ilona Andrews (Jul 29, 2014) 

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews ( Finished hard-cover copy ready for publication) Includes short story Magic Tests.

"Magic Tests" is all about Julie and the fact that she is checking out a new school to go to.  This story takes place before the events in Magic Breaks.  It is a really wonderful story that shows Julie in all of her magical glory and the fact that  her apple did not fall far from the tree, even though she isn't Kate's natural daughter.  She is being tested in a most unusual way - by hunting down a missing student.

No Spoilers

Wow…this book is just WOW!

Book Description

 July 29, 2014
No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

**Includes the bonus Kate Daniels story Magic Tests** 

 If you have been a fan of the series and have followed the series from the start and if you have followed the Andrews BLOG at all or even the gossip, you will know that this was supposed to have been the last book in the series.  This one would have been the final confrontation; the one that ended the sweet anticipation of what will happen when Kate finally confronts her father Roland.  Luckily, for us the series has been picked up for more books.

This book starts off very interesting - it has a 'Character List' though not one that includes every character from every book.  Mostly they are the characters that will play a huge part in this  book. It is very handy to have.

 Then we have "From the Journal of Barabas Gillliam" which is invaluable in bringing the reader up-to-date on the series, or you can rather consider it a refresher.  Told in a totally different voice than Kate's book (more like Curran's voice), it was a blast to read.

An interesting quote from this journal is the last line---->

"There is a storm gathering on our horizon. We will make a stand, but I wonder if it will matter in the end."

This book is what other authors have tried to do and failed miserably.  When one story ARC ends, they should have been able to slip over to something new but these other authors just could not manage it.  The Andrews do manage to do so and do it flawlessly and seamlessly, with style, skill and panache.

That is not to say that this book was utterly perfect.  There are some tiny problems that I personally had with some of the story telling.  Some parts had been dragged out until I was started to get frustrated.  My heart can only take so much!  Thanks to the Andrews team deft skill they know just when to add some of Kate’s and Curran’s snarky humor to lighten up   almost overly tense scenes.

While it is true that the main story ARC has reached a finale of sorts, (and not in the way I would have expected or liked, but in a better way) it opens completely new and surprisingly interesting possibilities for the series.  This is going to be great!  I cannot wait to see what is going to happen in the next few books that the team has been contracted to write!

This book has some very fantastic character growth for many people.  Unfortunately there are no deaths of anyone very significant…hint, hint. We do finally get to meet Roland and he is not as I (or Kate or Curran) expected…well at least not totally.  He is actually a better character than the one I had imagined. He is someone that I think I will enjoy trying to figure out and reading about in the coming books.  Combine Evil with Ward Cleaver and you get Roland…sort of, if you can imagine and you have Roland!

There is a lot going on in the time the story takes place and it is a much shorter amount of time than you can imagine,

I am so itching to add some real spoilers, but that would just be so wrong of me. ;-)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ice Shear: A Novel

Ice Shear: A Novel
Ice Shear: A Novel
by M.P. Cooley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25

4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars Nothing is Really Perfect, But This Book is Close!June 20, 2014

This review is from: Ice Shear: A Novel (Hardcover)

Book Description

 July 22, 2014
A small town cop’s murder investigation turns deadly when she uncovers a web of politics and drugs linked to an outlaw motorcycle gang in this gripping debut suspense novel for fans of Winter’s Bone, Frozen River, Breaking Bad, and Sons of Anarchy.
As a cop on the night shift in Hopewell Falls, New York, June Lyons drives drunks home and picks up the donuts. A former FBI agent, she ditched the Bureau when her husband died, and now she and her young daughter are back in upstate New York, living with her father, the town’s retired chief of police.
When June discovers a young woman’s body impaled on an ice shear in the frozen Mohawk River, news of the murder spreads fast; the dead girl was the daughter of a powerful local Congresswoman, and her troubled youth kept the gossips busy.
Though June was born and raised in Hopewell Falls, the local police see her as an interloper—resentment that explodes in anger when the FBI arrive and deputize her to work on the murder investigation. But June may not find allies among the Feds. The agent heading the case is someone from her past—someone she isn’t sure she can trust.
As June digs deeper, an already fraught case turns red-hot when it leads to a notorious biker gang and a meth lab hidden in plain sight—and an unmistakable sign that the river murder won’t be the last.

I have to say that this book totally surprised me. I never thought I would like it as much as I did.

I love mysteries and although this was a rather complex plot, eventually hard-core mystery lovers will most likely figure out who-dun-it before the end. This is not a bad thing since you still need to know why they done it!

June (Juniper) Lyons is an ex-FBI agent who quit the Feds and came back home with her husband and daughter to Hopewell Falls New York while her husband succumbs to cancer. She is now working as a regular cop in this rather impoverished corner of New York. Nothing much ever happens, until one early morning a body is found.

This was never going to be a simple case considering that the dead girl is a Congresswoman's daughter who is married to the towns' very bad boy. Eventually we start getting a very clear picture of just how bad so many of the people involved with this young woman are. And we soon find out what lengths people will go to cover up just how bad things are going to get.

As far as this being a debut, you would never know it from this book. This is a gripping story that was well thought out and plotted. The characters are very `real' and while you may not like very many of them (I did not).

Some areas of this book could have used a little more explanation, some of the characters didn't ring quite true and some things just did not add up for me but never enough to pull me out of the fascination I had with the whole story.

I am hoping that this is the start to a series and that some of the issues that I had, will be explained and the characters I had problems with will be more fleshed out.

This is a great debut and the perfect read when the thermometer climbs over 90% this summer!