Archive | April, 2011

Review: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

28 Apr

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
Simon Pulse (February 2011)
Hardback: $16.99
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0924-8

Favorite Lines: “it was snakes…claimed snakes were trying to poke through her head, that she could feel them growing and moving under her scalp. On several occasions, she scratched her head bloody. Tried to dig them out with a butter knife stolen from the cafeteria.” (p. 4)

Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very…different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

Darkness Becomes Her is a paranormal young adult story which incorporates Greek deities in its plot. It’s set in post apocalyptic New Orleans. It’s an action packed, simple read; I finished it in about two hours. I had never heard of Kelly Keaton before this book and boy would I have missed out if I hadn’t read book one in the Gods & Monsters series. Darkness Becomes Her is told in the first person from the heroine Ari’s perspective.

I enjoyed all of the fully fleshed out secondary characters, especially Violet. It wasn’t hard to figure out whom Ari’s father was, but I had no idea of what the curse could possibly be until Keaton decided to lay it all out. Looking back I see the signs, but I never would have connected the dots had Keaton not told me.

Don’t expect a clear cut ending. There is definitely potential for this to be a lengthy series. According to Keaton’s Facebook page a sequel is planned and will be released in February 2012.

This is a young adult story which talks about child molestation and rape. The molestation hinted at, but the rape and its results are heartbreaking.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. I don’t normally seek out YA books, but I’m glad I did this one. Its complex story line paired with the well developed characters creates an exciting book which can be read in hours.

What others think about Darkness Becomes Her

Girls in the Stacks
Rex Robot Reviews
The Book Butterfly

Review: Waking Evil by Kylie Brant

27 Apr

Waking Evil by Kylie Brant
Berkley Sensation (October 2009)
Mass Market: $7.99
ISBN: 978-0-425-23071-8

Favorite Lines: “One minute she was upright, and the next he’d tripped her and her face was pressed in the dirt. His booted foot was on her back. “Damn right it does. And I’d like to tell you all ‘bout just how smart I am. But more than that, I’d like to show you.” The rifle barrel caressed a cool path over her cheek. “Because if ever there was a woman who needed spiritual cleansing, it’s you.”” (p. 333)

Buffalo Springs, Tennessee is a neighborly kind of place where folks leave their doors unlocked and crime is unheard of. But once every generation, a strange red mist settles over the town, and with it comes omens of death…

When the body of a young woman is found, forensic investigator Ramsey Clark is called in. She knows about the legend of the mist and about the curse that has the entire town afraid of the dark. But Ramsey believes in evidence, not superstition, despite what she’s told by the parapsychologist who has been dogging her every step. Then another murder rocks Buffalo Springs, and Ramsey begins to wonder if a killer is playing on everyone’s fears or if a prophecy is indeed being fulfilled—one victim at a time.

Waking Evil is the second book in Kylie Brant’s Mindhunters series. I did not read the first book, Waking Nightmare, but I was able to read this book without a problem. It can be read as a stand alone. As of 2011—there are five books in this series.

It’s a romantic suspense which is told from the third person POV.  The “all seeing eye” shows the story from the hero, heroine, a victim and villain’s points of view. During the time the reader is with the hero and heroine, the past which helped form their characters is brought up. For me it showed the growth their characters made off pages. The characters we meet are not the same people they were 10 years previous to the story being told.

The suspense was great. The story was well thought out and I liked the way the past was brought to light not only with the main characters, but within Buffalo Springs. The biggest issue I had with the book was the romance. I don’t find it plausible that Ramsey and Devlin fell in love so fast. They fell in love over the course of a few days. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, because they want to create a life together. I’m not sure that they will be able to have a HEA.

Waking Evil doesn’t really even feel like a romance. It feels like a suspense with a slight romantic thread.

Be aware that there is a slight paranormal aspect to this book. I was a little surprised by it, although looking back I shouldn’t have been. The only reason it works is because Devlin is a paranormal investigator. Honestly, I could have done without any paranormal action at all. In the end, the story was exciting but not one that I see myself reading again.

Beyond Foo Winner!!!!!!

26 Apr

I used Random.org to select a winner of the Beyond Foo giveaway and the winner is…..

Sabina Edwards

Review: The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

25 Apr

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
Harlequin/MIRA (April 26, 2011)
Trade: $14.95
ISBN: 9780778329817

Favorite Lines: “I wondered if he realized the power of his stare. If he had any idea the effect it had on me. Perhaps that should have been another warning—the fact that I couldn’t tear my gaze from him. It was as if he had some sort of hold over me, but I couldn’t put the blame on him. I was solely responsible for my actions.” (p. 94)

NEVER ACKNOWLEDGE THE DEAD.
NEVER STRAY FROM HALLOWED GROUND.
NEVER GET CLOSE TO THE HAUNTED.
NEVER, EVER TEMPT FATE.

My father’s rules.
I’ve never broken them…until now.

My name is Amelia Gray. I’m a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I’ve always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.

It started with the discovery of a young woman’s brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I’ve been hired to restore. The clues to the killer—and to his other victims— lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I’ve vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

Amanda Stevens sure knows how to write an intriguing and creepy story and she showcases her talent in The Restorer. The Restorer is book one in Stevens’ Queen of the Cemetery trilogy. There is a prequel, The Abandoned, available for download at Harlequin’s website. As I write this the prequel is free, but that could change at any moment. It’s listed at $2.99. But back to The Restorer.

The entire time I read this book I felt like there should be eerie piano music playing. You know the type that plays as the suspense builds during a movie. Instead of the music playing for a few seconds before exploding into action, it built and built until I almost couldn’t stand it. I wanted the other shoe to drop so that I could pick myself up. It was GREAT! Any book that is capable of building tension without introducing gore is alright by me.

The Restorer left me feeling uncertain and jumpy. It’s a strong paranormal suspense with a touch of “will they be drawn into a love affair?” The would-be romance aspect adds depth to the spooky story which is told in first person point-of-view from Amelia’s perspective. The slow pacing helps create a chilling tone to the book which some readers may find off-putting. I feel like it adds to the story making it believable.

Conclusion: I would recommend this book to people who don’t care if the story has a happily ever after/clear, every problem solved ending.. It’s an urban fantasy that focuses on the fantastic. It is not the action packed UF that has been flooding the market over the past several years, but it is filled with good stuff. Don’t read it if you are looking to race through a story, but if you want a look into the uncanny check this story out.

I’m not sure how long the contest is open, but Stevens is hosting a giveaway at her blog for signed copies of The Restorer. There’s also an excerpt posted on the author’s site if you want  to read a little before you buy the book.

What others are saying:

Dear Author
Romance Books Forum
Parchment Leaves—Book Reviews

Review: The Vampire Dimitri by Colleen Gleason

24 Apr

The Vampire Dimitri by Colleen Gleason (netgalley)
Harlequin/MIRA (April 26, 2011)
Trade: $14.95
ISBN: 9780778329824

Favorite Lines: “I was a full participatory member in what occurred here. In fact,” she added, spearing him with her eyes, “I do believe I was rather instrumental in them. I did say please, did I not?” (p. 291)

Regency London loves a society wedding— even if there are vampires on the guest list.

Dimitri, also known as the Earl of Corvindale, should be delighted that the headstrong Maia Woodmore is getting married. His mortal ward and houseguest has annoyed—and bewitched—the Dracule nobleman too long, and denying his animal cravings grows more excruciating by the day.
Miss Woodmore’s family has a rather…complicated history with the immortals and she herself possesses a keen sensibility far beyond mere women’s intuition. Marriage will give her safety, respectability and everything else a proper young lady could wish for. Everything, that is, except passion.
In the looming battle between Dracule factions, all pretenses will shatter as Maia and Dimitri come together in an unholy union of danger, desperation and fiercest desire.

The Vampire Dimitri is book two in Gleason’s Books of the Regency Draculia. It takes place at the same time as The Vampire Voss. I’m a little conflicted about this. In general, I don’t like books that take place at the same time because of the overlap. If the overlap is only a few pages…I’ll suck it up and cope with it. Too bad that isn’t what happens in The Vampire Dimitri.

Over half of the book is a retelling of events that took place in The Vampire Voss. While the retelling works for people who haven’t read Voss’s story, it didn’t work for me. Why? Well, the story is told in third person. It’s like a bouncing eye that has focused on the hero and heroine: Dimitri and Maia. In the previous book the bouncing eye focused on Voss and Angelica. The actions happening in the story are the same, only the reactions to those actions are different.  Disappointingly I flipped through over 200 pages of material. I felt like I was rereading The Vampire Voss.

I thought I’d love Dimitri’s story, but I was wrong. I couldn’t stand Maia any more in this story than I did in Voss’s book. I just don’t like her. I understand that Maia’s wish to avoid revisiting a scandalous moment in her past forced her to act prim and pissy prissy. Her past doesn’t excuse her snooping in her sister’s room, reading her sister’s mail and snitching her sister out to their guardian. What a crappy sister! And don’t even get me started on Dimitri.

Well, I guess since I brought it up I can follow through with a little info. :) A decision made out of love cost Dimitri his soul. In order to avoid repeating his mistake he has stopped feeling simple human emotions like love. His inability to feel makes him like a dog which chases its own tail. It makes him stale and unmoving. Unlike a dog, he can change his mind, learn from his mistakes, and make a future. Sadly every positive move on his part resulted in him retreating two steps. Despite the happily ever after the couple is guaranteed to find (Hello! This is a paranormal romance.), I feel like Dimitri never grew as a character.

I still believe that Gleason is a master at making regency romances interesting for those who dislike the time period. Her detailed sex scenes are consistently titillating and her writing is excellent. I just wasn’t captivated by this book.

I think people who are picking up The Vampire Dimitri for their first look into the Regency Draculia series will love it. After reading The Vampire Voss I was predisposed to dislike Dimitri’s heroine. In addition, I hate rereading information that I already know. This combination made The Vampire Dimitri a no win for me.

The next book in the series is The Vampire Narcise. It will be released in May 2011.

It seems the story is receiving mixed reactions in the blogosphere. What others are saying about The Vampire Dimitri:

A Turn of Page
Romance Books Forum
A Book Obsession
My Book Addiction
Joyfully Reviewed

Review: When you Dare by Lori Foster

19 Apr

When You Dare by Lori Foster
Harlequin
(April 26, 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774712

Favorite Lines: “”She fought them whenever she came to. She called them names and almost…egged them on.” Alani shivered in remembered fear. “It was so horrible. The men slapped her around for being mouthy, but she didn’t stop. She just cursed them more.”” (p. 13)

Professional mercenary Dare Macintosh lives by one hard and fast rule: ROMANCE business should never be personal. If a cause appeals to him and the price is right, he’ll take the mission he’s offered. But then the lovely Molly Alexander asks him to help her track down the men who’d had her kidnapped—and for the first time, Dare’s tempted to combine work with pleasure.

Fiercely independent, Molly vows to trust no one until she’s uncovered the truth. Could the enemy be her powerful estranged father? The ex-fiancé who still holds a grudge? Or the not-so-shy fan of her bestselling novels? As the danger heats up around them, the only anchor Molly has is Dare himself. But what she feels for him just might be the most frightening thing of all.…

When You Dare is book one Lori Foster’s Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series. Click here to read an excerpt posted on the author’s website. The next two books in the series are Trace of Fever and Savor the Danger; they will be released in May and June of this year. It sounds like every book can be read as a stand alone, but the lead characters in Trace and Savor are both introduced in When You Dare.

This book is a classic, feel good romance based around a tale of suspense. There’s a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop while figuring out who masterminded Molly’s abduction and it plays into every aspect of the story. It leans heavily on the romance and a little lighter on the suspense. I had a “I wonder who did it” feeling instead of a “is the danger coming now” feeling. However with the foreshadowing that was used it wasn’t hard to figure out who was behind Molly’s abduction, but the reasoning for the abduction only made sense to the mastermind.

Of the characters I really liked Dare; he was fearless, honorable, attractive, caring and thoughtful. His attributes are shown time and time again from the way he treated those around him: Molly, his “girls” and his best friend Chris. (BTW…Chris is a great secondary character.) Molly contained a deep strength that allowed her to survive the mistreatment she received while abducted and the neglect her father dished out through her childhood.

When You  Dare is an entertaining romantic, suspense book which showcases a dysfunctional family, a rugged, manly man finding love and a woman discovering a man worthy of her love. It’s full of action, tasteful sex scenes and engaging characters. I don’t know how often I’ll re-read it, but I’m glad I did read it.

Review: Ascension by Sable Grace

18 Apr

Ascension by Sable Grace
HarperCollins (April 26, 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99
ISBN: 9780061964404

Favorite Lines: “As she watched his bobbing body become smaller and smaller as distance separated them, her feeling of victory was washed away by the rage and self-loathing warring inside her. She hated Ryker, but at the moment, she hated herself more.” (p. 39)

The gates of hell have opened, and one woman will stand in the crossfire as the Dark Breed—vampyre, demons, shape shifters—and mankind fight their last battle for survival.

Kyana is half Vampyre, half Lychen . . . and the last of her kind. Determined, dangerous, and damned, she has no love for the mortals who have imprisoned and misused her. But when the Order of Ancients entrusts her with a mission—to find the key that will send the Dark Breed back into Hell for eternity—Kyana has no choice but to accept.

She is furious to learn her assignment comes with an escort . . . Ryker, a demigod and fierce warrior who long ago found a way under her skin and stayed there. In a shaky alliance, they discover an ancient cult with dangerous motive and a god who seeks to destroy all others. And as Kyana begins to feel the heat that threatens to bind her to Ryker, she knows she has to resist. For it could only mean the undoing of them both . . .

The writing team of Heather Waters and Laura Barone write under the pen name of Sable Grace. To avoid confusion I’m going to refer to the author as Grace throughout this review. Read an excerpt of Ascension.

I’m not a fan of urban fantasy’s that have a heavy mythological base. I’m not really interested in stories about the gods and their machinations. If you feel the same this book may be the exception to the rule. Yeah, there are fates and gods and demigods, but something about the way Grace has written them enhances her dark world and makes me want to know more.

Don’t worry if you aren’t immediately drawn into Ascension. It wasn’t until chapter five that I became interested in  the book because I didn’t like Kyana or how the world treated “her kind.” It’s not new, but the idea of vampires risking it all for a cause and then being treated like crap about drove me mad. The fact that Kyana came across as a shallow creature didn’t help. Around chapter five Kyana began to get a little depth. She became more than a character working to bring in the humans no other tracker could find. A little crack into what makes her a worthy heroine formed.

I think my favorite part of this book is the tension between Kyana and Ryker. Both yearn for the other and refuse to act upon their feelings because of who they are. The more they work together, the more they see positive attributes in the other. This is not a story in which the lead characters disregard consequences and jump into bed together.

There is plenty of action in Ascension, along with a mystery that could destroy the survivors. There is a traitor in the safety of the Below and discovering his/her identity becomes an important mission for Kyana and Ryker. I must have missed something, because I had no idea of who the final traitor would be. And the way the story ended, well it wasn’t a tidy little ball. I have to read the next book to find out what happens to a key secondary character. 

One reason why you should read Ascension: The scenes in which Kyana wears an illusion charm. I’m feeling embarrassed for Kyana just thinking about them. lol

Ascension is book one in Grace’s Dark Breed Novel series. It is urban fantasy with a nice romantic thread. I look forward to seeing what Grace creates in this new, dangerous world filled with demons, witches, vampires and gods.

Review: Beyond Foo by Obert Skye

16 Apr

Beyond Foo by Obert Skye (Nice cover art by Mr. Ben Sowards!)
Shadow Mountain (May 9, 2011)
Hardback: $14.99
ISBN: 978-1-60908-050-1

Favorite Line: “I hate evil’s intentions, its personality, and its slimy commitment to making life horrible for so many.” (p. 88)

Foo is the remarkable realm that allows us to hope, imagine, and dream. Geth a fearless Lithen, is one of the wisest and most respected beings of Foo. At the conclusion of the bestselling Leven Thumps series, the realm of Foo achieves balance–dreams can once again thrive and grow. With things in order, Geth and the beloved sycophant Clover set off to find a new adventure that leads beyond the hidden border of Foo and into an unknown land where dreams have been trapped and freedom has been crushed. Join Geth and Clover on a page-turning, mind-blowing, laugh-out-loud, and imagine-the-impossible quest. Your dreams will thank you!

Beyond Foo is the first book in a trilogy set in the imaginary world of Foo. It’s a spinoff from the Leven Thumps series which I have never read. The book attempts to catch readers up and knowledge of Leven Thumps unnecessary, but I had a hard time reading this book.

It felt like my brain was surrounded by cotton candy. I was slow to pick up on the events and I think there was humor, but it went right over my head. Sure the book is action packed, but it goes from being told in the third person to having a first person narrator speak.

Consider the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Often the narrator would introduce the characters and a little bit of the story, but the characters always took over the story. That is how Beyond Foo is written. For example, chapters one and two are told in third person. Chapter three begins with a paragraph told by a narrator who uses words like you and I. Then the second paragraph reverts to third person. When the narrator speaks he is giving a nugget of wisdom like don’t go through life with your eyes closed. Great information, but it took away from the story. Most of the remaining chapters had a narrator told paragraph before switching back to third person.

The actual story is interesting. I think I might be too old to enjoy the book though. The things that were supposed to be funny, weren’t funny to me. I was appalled at the actions the hero took to achieve whatever his goal was at the moment. For those who’ve read the book those scenes took place in a cave and later in a cage. I just couldn’t get into the story. Maybe a younger boy would have a better time connecting with the story.

Conclusion: I don’t see myself continuing this story. The hero is working to right a wrong, but his actions are those of an anti-hero at times. Kind of the like saying, “Do whatever it takes to reach the end you want to reach.” I also think not having read the Leven Thumps series was a detriment to me. Others will probably disagree, but this series is a no go for me.

Giveaway: Beyond Foo by Obert Skye

15 Apr

Do you read children’s books or know someone who does? I’ve got a slightly used ARC of Obert Skye’s Beyond Foo up for grabs. It’s book one in the Foo trilogy and is written by the author of the Leven Thumps series. Entering is simple: just comment on this post. (Open through April 23 to residents of the U.S. and Canada 18+; 1 entry per person)

Book one in a new unFOOgettable trilogy!

Foo is the remarkable realm that allows us to hope, imagine, and dream. Geth a fearless Lithen, is one of the wisest and most respected beings of Foo. At the conclusion of the bestselling Leven Thumps series, the realm of Foo achieves balance–dreams can once again thrive and grow. With things in order, Geth and the beloved sycophant Clover set off to find a new adventure that leads beyond the hidden border of Foo and into an unknown land where dreams have been trapped and freedom has been crushed. Join Geth and Clover on a page-turning, mind-blowing, laugh-out-loud, and imagine-the-impossible quest. Your dreams will thank you!

Join the Revolution: Easter for Mothers!

14 Apr

I’m preachin’ for a new movement. Today Easter is a kid friendly holiday. Moms go out of their way to stuff candy, toys and money inside of plastic eggs. They hide the eggs, make sure the older kids leave a few eggs for the younger children and point out hidden eggs when the kid with the basket full of eggs isn’t looking. What do the parents get? Happy kids. That’s all fine and dandy, but when those angelic children turn into selfish beasts (read, won’t give you one freakin’ jelly bean) you’ll understand the need to turn Easter into a holiday for mothers.

Hello! My name is Scooper and I want an Easter basket. I don’t want to make my own; I want my kids to buy it or the Easter bunny to drop it off at my house along with Easter dinner that I’m supposed to make. I don’t want fake grass, generic fruity candy or cheap dollar toys that will break before the end of the day.

I want the good stuff. Fill my basket with Starburst jelly beans, Dove or Lindt chocolate, a new snarky coffee mug and gourmet hot cocoa that my kids would never in a million years drink. Instead of hunting Easter eggs I want to hunt for books. The publishing houses need to release some books early. I’m not asking for much, but if I’m going to crawl around in the dirt and actually exercise I expect to find early copies of Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston, Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep, Hush by Cherry Adair, Savage Nature by Christine Feehan, Black Magic Woman by Christine Warren and Dark Descendant by Jenna Black.

So who’s with me? Join the revolution to take over Easter. We take back the streets from thugs and we give credit to Santa after we work our patooties off at Christmas. The least the families of America can do is make Easter baskets for mothers. For Mother’s Day we get gifts made out of Popsicle sticks and yarn. I say it’s not fair. Easter baskets for mothers. Do we ever really get the things we want when we want it? When is it our turn. Easter baskets for mothers. It’s time to show Mother Power and force change on the families of America. Change that isn’t a result of skyrocketing gas prices. Easter baskets for mothers. Say it with me…Easter baskets for mothers.

You don’t have to be a mother to join the movement. Tell your mom “I love you” today. Give her a grownup Easter basket or a plate of cookies today.

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