Friday, May 1, 2015

Jack of Spades: A Tale of Suspense (Not Really!)

 Product Details
Book Description
 May 5, 2015
By - Joyce Carol Oates 
From one of the most inimitable writers of our generation, Jack of Spades is an exquisite, psychologically complex thriller about the opposing forces within the mind of one ambitious writer, and the line between genius and madness.
Andrew J. Rush has achieved the kind of critical and commercial success most authors only dream about: his twenty-eight mystery novels have sold millions of copies in nearly thirty countries, and he has a top agent and publisher in New York. He also has a loving wife, three grown children, and is a well-regarded philanthropist in his small New Jersey town. But Rush is hiding a dark secret. Under the pseudonym “Jack of Spades,” he writes another string of novels—dark potboilers that are violent, lurid, even masochistic. These are novels that the refined, upstanding Andrew Rush wouldn’t be seen reading, let alone writing. Until one day, his daughter comes across a Jack of Spades novel that he has carelessly left out and begins to ask questions. Meanwhile, Rush receives a court summons in the mail explaining that a local woman has accused him of plagiarizing her own self-published fiction. Rush’s reputation, career, and family life all come under threat—and unbidden, in the back of his mind, the Jack of Spades starts thinking ever more evil thoughts.

If you have read Stephen Kings “The Dark Half”, then you will get the joke behind this rather mediocre short novel.  At 200 and a few more pages, it reads more like a novella or an unfinished novel.

If this was supposed to be a humorous or even satirical book, I just didn’t get it. The characters are thinly written, the plotting was weak, the story-line was silly and so unbelievable that even for horror it had me scratching my head in bemusement and the humor was for me- non-existent.  I couldn’t find myself emotionally bonding with any of the characters.  

On the other hand this book does seem to find so many of today’s issues that are plaguing the writing world, especially the self-published and yanks these issues out into the open and lays them bare.
I wish I had read this book in its finished format to see just how the author explains her using Stephen Kings name (among other very famous authors) and his reactions when Ms Oates made him a plagiarist as part of her story.

I have heard of Ms. Oates before and had always meant to read something by her, but if this is what I can expect then I think I will take a pass at anything else.   

*ARC supplied by publisher

Monday, April 20, 2015

Memory Man -David Baldacci

Product Details


Memory Man (Amos Decker series) [Kindle Edition]

David Baldacci       

Book DescriptionPublication Date: April 21, 2015 With over 110 million copies of his novels in print, David Baldacci is one of the most widely read storytellers in the world. Now he introduces a startling, original new character: a man with perfect memory who must solve his own family's murder. MEMORY MAN Amos Decker's life changed forever--twice. The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect--he can never forget anything. The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare--his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.His family destroyed, their killer's identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can. But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice. MEMORY MAN will stay with you long after the turn of the final page.

I can’t say that this is a new series by David Baldacci because the book lists it as a standalone, but the author would be a fool NOT to make this a series.  It would be fresh and exciting with a ton of fascinating, quirky, hyper-smart characters.  And with a mind like Mr. Baldacci’s and using this book as an example, the plotting and mysteries would be mind-boggling.

As trite as this is going to sound, this book had me riveted from the very first chapter and glued to my chair for the rest of the book.  I haven’t read anything by this author in a very long time and I am very sorry that I haven’t kept up with him if this book is anything to go by.

The story-line was a unique one for me, as is said in the book description - Amos Decker could never forget anything.  Not since dying twice the very first time he stepped onto a professional football field and into an extremely violent collision with another player.  He ended up with hyperthymesia and syynesthesia (and I did have to look these up just to satisfy myself that they are real conditions of the brain!).  Now he is a cop or more precisely a Detective for the town of Burlington and one night he enters his home and things will never be the same for him again…even more so than when he died twice.

16 months later -àWhen something terrible happens at the town’s high school, Amos is called in by the police department to aid in this new case and from here Amos can try to put some of his life back together.   

I have to admit for a little while I was worried about whom exactly the murder was.  I was hoping that the author didn't pull a Stephen King (The Dark Half). But I was wrong thank goodness, and when I found out the who and the why of it all, I was flabbergasted.  The last couple of chapters are real eye openers, and will show you just how this book just screams to become a series.  Actually, since the last chapter does set this up to be a series, so I hope the author does get the chance to do so.

This book actually gives you something to ponder; more than just the mystery…you may walk away wondering what YOUR life would be like if you could never forget the minutest detail of your life and all that passes by you.

You may finish this book, but as odd as this may sound, this book isn't finished with you.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hold Me by Susan Mallery

Product Details

Book DescriptionPublication Date: May 1, 2015/Kindle April 28th

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery's classic blend of lighthearted humor and intense emotional conflict works its magic on two newcomers to the California town of Fool's Gold, which Library Journal calls "a setting so real and appealing readers will want to start scoping out real estate." Destiny Mills believes passion has its place—like in the lyrics of the country songs that made her parents famous. After a childhood full of drama and heartache, she wants a life that's calm. Safe. Everything that Kipling Gilmore isn't. Her temporary assignment with the Fool's Gold search and rescue team puts her in delicious proximity to the former world-class skier every day. Part of her aches to let go for once…the rest is terrified what'll happen if she does. Though an accident ended his career, Kipling still lives for thrills—and a hot fling with a gorgeous redhead like Destiny would be a welcome diversion. Yet beneath his new coworker's cool facade is a woman who needs more than he's ever given. With her, he's ready to take the risk. But love, like skiing, is all about trust—and before you soar, you have to be willing to fall.

Fool’s Gold doesn't disappoint.  It follows the basic formula of Ms Mallery’s and that is a very good thing.  We have the typical two people who are damaged in some way –either emotionally or physically –and in this book we have one of each.  Kipling was an Olympic skier who was critically hurt in a skiing accident and Destiny is the product of a seriously dysfunctional family best known for their chart topping country western music and affairs.

Kipling is called a fixer who likes to fix things for other people and doesn't want to really settle down, and Destiny shies away from love and vows to only have an unemotional, calm marriage made-up of partners who are pretty much just friends.  She also believes that making love should just be for procreation purposes.  Naturally Kipling takes it upon himself to prove her wrong with the sex part!

Toss into this merry mix Destiny’s fifteen year old step-sister, Kipling’s abused sister Shelby, (a tertiary character)Miles (a tertiary character also) who loves ‘em and leaves ‘em, and you have quite the recipe for disaster –Fool’s Gold style.

The characters are seemingly well developed but I still found something to be a little lacking.  So much of this book dealt with other things and not just one the budding romance.  Normally this works for this series, but I found it to not work as well in this particular book.

The plot seemed a little ho-hum also.

All in all not a horrid book, but I felt it wasn’t the best of the Fool’s Gold series.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Cold Burn of Magic – J. Estep


The Cold Burn of Magic – J. Estep
Book DescriptionPublication Date: April 28, 2015
There Be Monsters Here. . .
It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power. 
I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick. 
But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .

I think that this is an excellent start to a new Young Adult series.  However, there are some gruesomely described and bloody scenes which some younger kids may be sensitive to. Also if you are familiar with Jennifer’s “Elemental Assassin” series, you may notice some slight parallels (the Mafia type family’s for one) between the two. For the older reader, this might be a fairly predictable story.  For the younger reader it will be a story filled with betrayals, fights and twisty turns – even a tiny bit of romance which is great for those readers who crave such.  I think the romance will be developed slowly and delicately.

The magical element to this book is for me, an interesting twist on what we usually see in these types of books. The characters are well developed, the story is just complicated enough to keep you engaged and the surprise ending to the mystery of just who was trying to take out Devon was just surprising enough without being over the top or too unbelievable. 

I enjoyed this book even though I am not the targeted audience and am looking forward to the next one in this series.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2)–by Erika Johansen

Product Details

The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling)

Jun 9, 2015

by Erika Johansen

Book Description

Publication Date: June 9, 2015
In this riveting sequel to the national bestseller The Queen of the Tearling, the evil kingdom of Mortmesne invades the Tearling, with dire consequences for Kelsea and her realm.With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.In this dazzling sequel, Erika Johansen brings back favorite characters, including the Mace and the Red Queen, and introduces unforgettable new players, adding exciting layers to her multidimensional tale of magic, mystery, and a fierce young heroine. 

This will be a difficult review for me to write.  Not because it was a difficult book to read –no, not that-it is just that I do not want to give you spoilers, and to let you know how wonderful this book was, I may end up doing just that.  I will try to let you know if anything I am writing will be a major spoiler.

I have a favorite author, Anne Bishop who wrote the Black Jewels Trilogy, and if anyone can take an unusual world and make it come to life it is her…until now.  Ms. Johansen nearly surpasses Ms. Bishop’s ability to take me from my world and transport me to another unusual, unique world and make me believe that I was actually living there. She makes me believe IN this world, the people in it and to understand the differences of it.

What we do learn in this, the second novel in the Queen of the Tearling trilogy, that this is not merely a dystopian world…it is so much more.  We see Kelsea’s world but we also get to watch a different world though the eyes and life of a new character named Lily.   A world where Tearling all started.

We are also kept on the edge of our seats by the coming war with the Red Queen, and it is closer than you think.
A relationship blossoms for Kelsea but not with whom you may hope it to be.  And you will find Kelsea going through some very unexpected and in my opinion, not very well explained, physical changes.   Then again, I have just devoured this book quickly and will have to re-read this slowly to find all the bits and pieces that I missed.  This was quite a long book at over 500 pages and it most likely that some of what confuses me or seems unexplained may just be something that I can’t at this moment recall.  

Unfortunately the book ends on a sort of cliff hanger, with so many threads to tie up.  You may even wonder, as you finish this book, just how the author is going to be able to tie all this up with just one more book in which to do it in.

Read book one before trying to read this and if you have read book one already, give it a re-read to refresh your memory.  I am very grateful that I did, because there was a lot I needed to remember before I dove into this book.

WARNING ---Some scenes may be too intense for some -scenes of spousal abuse and spousal rape.

*ARC  supplied by publisher
Silver Skin (A Cold Iron Novel Book 2)
Silver Skin (A Cold Iron Novel Book 2)
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $5.99

Book Description
 April 14, 2014For fans of Jeaniene Frost and Kresley Cole, the second in D.L. McDermott’s fast-paced and sexy paranormal romance series—a full-length novel available exclusively in ebook!
Helene Whitney has been losing time. Not losing track of time—but finding whole blank spaces, hours, in her day she can’t account for. A year ago she would have written it off as overwork and exhaustion, but that was before she found out about the Good Neighbors, the Fair Folk, the Beautiful People, the Fae.
Ancient, immortal, tricksy, and cruel, these creatures out of myth and legend rule the Irish enclaves of South Boston and Charlestown, and one of them has been using magic to abduct and control Helene for hours every day. That’s because the collection at her museum contains ancient objects of Fae power, and the Fae want access to this magic for their own ends. Now, Helene’s only hope of escaping this unknown assailant lies with the Fae sorcerer Miach MacCecht, a man she knows she can never trust—and who may prove impossible to resist.

 PredictableApril 12, 2015

The author seems to have found a formula that works for her and really sticks with it. Oh I know that there is a certain formula for writing romance novels and I think this author really found that it works and her fans really love it. This is wonderful and I'm glad for her and for the fans of Romance.I just had hoped for something a little less predictable. I also do not see how the comparison to Kresley Cole works -although I must admit that I am not reading her (Cole's) later books -perhaps that is where the similarities come in?

Again as with the first book -the first half of the book is difficult to get through with all of the repetition and the second half-of the book is a bit more action packed. Although this action seems a bit on the pale side.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cold Iron

Product Details

Cold Iron (A Cold Iron Novel Book 1) by D.L. McDermott (Feb 10, 2014)


Formats Price NewUsed
Kindle EditionAuto-delivered wirelessly $5.99 

Book Description

 February 10, 2014For fans of Jeaniene Frost and Kresley Cole, this full-length novel is the first in D.L. McDermott’s fast-paced, sexy paranormal romance series—available exclusively in ebook!
The Fae, the Good Neighbors, the Fair Folk, the Aes Sídhe, creatures of preternatural beauty and seduction. Archaeologist Beth Carter doesn’t believe in them. She’s always credited her extraordinary ability to identify ancient Celtic sites to hard work and intuition—until she discovers a tomb filled with ancient treasure but missing a body. Her ex-husband, the scholar who stifled her career to advance his own, is unconcerned. Corpses don’t fetch much on the antiquities market. Gold does. Beth knows from past experience that if she isn’t vigilant, Frank will make off with the hoard.
So when a man—tall, broad shouldered, and impossibly handsome—turns up in her bedroom claiming to be the tomb’s inhabitant, one of mythic god-kings of old Ireland, Beth believes it is a ploy cooked up by her ex-husband to scare her away from the excavation.
But Conn is all too real. Ancient, alien, irresistible, the Fae are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, their attentions so addictive their abandoned human lovers wither and die. And this one has fixed his supernatural desire on Beth.

I bought this book not ever having read anything by this author. I ordered it because I love stories about the Fae and this sounded like a great option, and in some ways this book was great. However, in other ways this book left me cold.  The first 50% of the book, I was thinking about throwing it against a wall and promising myself not to buy anything else by this author, but I kept on and really enjoyed the last half of the book. 

My problems were that the heroine of the novel was such a spineless, nearly TSTL, unthinking and wimpy woman. The men around her had egos the size of Texas, they almost seemed like caricatures (especially Frank her ex-husband and Egan his buddy) and all they did was use her, even Conn.  As I kept reading I realized that her spinelessness was due to being an untrained Druid - yes she still was unthinking, putting herself into constant danger, but these actions made more sense the further you read.

I think with the next book, (and I have already bought it) I will have a better understanding as to what I am reading and enjoy it more.

The world building in Cold Iron was a little sporadic at times.  The character building of the main characters Beth the Druidess and Conn the Destroyer was fairly in depth and they were smartly written.  In a way I don’t think we were supposed to like them very much until the story grew.  
The secondary characters are fascinating and I am glad to know that they have their own book Silver Skin, which is the next book in this series.

There is romance but less actual sex than you would have expected – there is more building up to it than the actual act.  Don’t mistake me there is sex, but this is more of a traditional romance and the act takes up less page time than the coming to love each other does.

The ending with Conn and Beth is great –I love it when women have the upper hand to some extent yet the men are still their own creatures.