Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review - Kill Alex Cross

Alex Cross's beloved DC is in turmoil as Saudi terrorists unleash deadly attacks upon the city at a time when all the alphabet agencies are already scrambling about trying to locate the two kidnapped children of the President of the United States. Is there a connection?

The misleading title, a two-pronged storyline that proceeds at two different paces and with varying degrees of suspense, the overall similarity (at least of the kidnap scenario) to a previous (and stellar) Alex Cross novel (Along Came a Spider) and various questions unasked and/or unanswered make for an embarrassingly tepid reading in James Patterson's latest Kill Alex Cross (Little Brown & Co, 384p, Isbn-0316198730).

There's no mistaking that the quality of Patterson’s writing continues to shrink along with the length of his chapters.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure by Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure: A Tara Holloway Novel
St.Martins, 384p, Isbn-0312551266

IRS very Special Agent Tara Holloway is out to nab every tax-cheating sob in the Dallas metroplex area, a job that's surprisingly not as safe and dreary as one might imagine. She's in the thick of things, literally kicking ass and shooting off bullets to keep the tax-evading hordes in line, all the while trying to keep her perfect French manicure intact.

While in the race to net her boss that magic number of $1million in recovered taxes, Tara gets involved romantically with a guy who seems perfect. If only he kept company with men who didn't have a history of cheating innocent people of their hard-earned bucks. Will Tara's perfect manicure survive the resulting war between her heart and her head?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mitchell Maxwell's LITTLE DID I KNOW

Mitchell Maxwell, a Tony Award-winning producer, director and 35-year veteran of the entertainment industry, has come out with his new novel, LITTLE DID I KNOW (Prospecta Press; October 5, 2011; $25.00) written in classic roman á clef style. This is a daring coming-of-age tale filled with romance, laughter, heartbreak and applause about a young entrepreneur who sets the stage for fledgling artists while living a life so many aspire to but never realize. Told with compassion and the kind of detail only a Broadway veteran like Mitchell Maxwell can provide, LITTLE DID I KNOW is a novel about being in the spotlight and embracing destiny in a single season.

EXCERPT:

Only a handful of us remained now that the late hour had become early dawn. My best friend, Secunda, who had acted confidently, brilliantly in many of our shows lamented, “Now what do we do? This ride can’t just end. Figure something out, Sammy.”

“Yeah, we need to keep that torch burning,” Secunda’s younger brother James added. He had been part of the journey, building great sets, solving problems only he knew existed, and always remaining sane.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Author Josi Kilpack stops by...

Today I'm happy to welcome Josi Kilpack who's guest blogging here today. Josi is the author of fourteen novels, including Sheep's Clothing, which won the 2007 Whitney Award for Mystery/Suspense, and Lemon Tart, a 2009 Whitney Award finalist. Pumpkin Roll is the sixth book in the popular Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gabrielle Bernstein stops by...

I'm happy to welcome Gabrielle Bernstein who's once again stopping by here with a guest blog post.

Her second book Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles was published by Random House September 12. It’s part memoir and part road map: Gabby shares her journey toward becoming the full-on, inspirational Spirit Junkie that she is today, and she teaches her readers every lesson she learned along the way.

BECOME A SPIRIT JUNKIE

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Author NeonSeon stops by...


In the second children's book of the Life of Shouty series, Shouty goes from overweight and overwhelmed to fit and focused. "Life of Shouty : Food and Fitness" by NeonSeon (32p, Ages:3-4, Pub:Rixkin, Isbn-0984206914) promotes a healthy, active lifestyle and reminds us it's never to late to start making changes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review - Prey by Linda Howard

Ballantine, Isbn-034550691X
In this captivating novel of romantic suspense, New York Times bestselling author Linda Howard brings us deep into the wild, where a smart and sexy outdoor guide and her ruggedly handsome competitor must join forces to survive—and avoid becoming what they never expected to be: PREY

Linda Howard's books are a general hit or miss for me. Veil of the Night is one book of hers that I still remember with fondness and that's the only reason I made it past the synopsis for this book. Reason - it screamed predictability and in that aspect I was proved right. What's different is Howard's treatment of it which makes it somewhat interesting.

I'm not saying I loved it, but then I didn't hate it either.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kill Me If You Can by James Patterson

Kill Me If You CanKill Me If You Can
Little Brown, 384p, Isbn-0316097543

An assassin who calls himself the Ghost, shoots and kills a Russian mobster at Grand Central station in New York. In the resulting mayhem, Matthew Bannon, an impoverished ex-Marine turned art student, stumbles upon the dying mobster and soon walks away with a bag full of diamonds.

Prince, a bigwig in the Diamond Syndicate mob, wants his stolen diamonds back at all costs and the Ghost is re-hired, this time to kill Bannon and get back the diamonds. As a precaution, another expert killer is also set the same task. Who comes out on top and how makes for a somewhat entertaining, if highly predictable, read. Spoiler + Cautionary note to all readers - There are Incest scenes in this story!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review - Sylvester: or The Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer
From the queen of Regency romance Georgette Heyer, Sylvester: or The Wicked Uncle is an enjoyable and witty story from start to finish.

Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, is a man of consequence and ready to marry. He has his pick of eligible London beauties; if only he couldn’t find flaws in them, which he does. Hearing of a girl from his beloved mother, he goes to see her. He’s disappointed to find Phoebe Marlow has neither beauty nor conversation. She also wants nothing more in life than NOT to marry him. He learns this when she runs off to London in harsh winter weather so as to avoid what she believes is an imminent proposal from him.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jeanette Baker visits...

Today I'm happy to welcome Jeanette Baker, author of CATRIONA, who's guest blogging here today.

Synopsis : Kate Sutherland has always felt out of step growing up in Southern California, but it isn’t until her adoptive mother’s death that she travels to Scotland to discover the truth about her heritage. There, with the help of a high-priestess of an ancient Scottish sect, she experiences the visions that reveal she is one of the twice-born and that five centuries before she walked the earth as Catriona Wells, daughter of an English earl and a Scots princess, first cousin to James IV of Scotland, English spy and harbinger of a shameful secret.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review - The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer

Sourcebooks Casablanca, 347p, ISBN: 1402238835
Synopsis - Returning to his family seat from Waterloo, Gervase Frant, seventh Earl of St Erth, could have expected more enthusiasm for his homecoming. His quiet cousin, stepmother, and young half-brother seem openly disappointed that he survived the wars. 

And when he begins to fall for his half-brother's sweetheart, his chilly reception goes from unfriendly to positively murderous.

Yes, this is a sort of a murder mystery, my dear Heyer fans. Or rather attempted murder, I should say (that's not a spoiler, for I'm sure you guessed the hero can't be murdered - right?). I feel the real mystery lies in the romance part of it, for till the end the reader is left wondering who exactly will end up with whom. Not at all the usual sort of fare we've come to expect from this wonderful romance author of yester years, but one which she writes surprisingly well.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review - Colors By Thierry Laval

Chronicle Books, board book,
10p, ages Infant-3,
Isbn-9780811879521
Children can't get enough of color, but making them learn the names of these beloved colors is another task. Which is why I'm always happy to introduce my kid to the world of colors with simple, yet fun and informative books like this one.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Review - Quinn by Iris Johansen

St. Martin's, 374p,
Isbn-031265121X
As a former Navy SEAL turned cop, Joe Quinn has seen the face of evil and knows just how deadly it can be. When he first met Eve Duncan, he never expected to fall in love with a woman whose life would be defined by her dual desires to bring home her missing daughter and discover the truth behind her disappearance---no matter how devastating. With the help of CIA agent Catherine Ling, they make a shocking discovery that sheds new light on young Bonnie’s abduction and puts Quinn squarely in the crosshairs of danger. Eve’s first love, John Gallo, a soldier supposedly killed in the line of duty, is very much alive---and very much a threat.
 
Emotionally charged, with one shock after another, Quinn reveals the electricity of Joe and Eve’s first connection, and how they fell in love in the midst of haunting tragedy. As their search takes them deeper and deeper into a web of murder and madness, Joe and Eve must confront their most primal fears . . . and test their resolve to uncover the ultimate bone-chilling truth.

All the books I've read so far in the Eve Duncan series have been interesting, with lots of emotional drama and ever increasing suspense. All these ingredients have been watered-down and recycled into 'Quinn''s lukewarm story.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review - Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer

Sourcebooks Casablanca, 368p, ISBN:1402238797
To say that the beautiful and tempestuous Lady Serena is highly upset to find that her recently deceased (and highly eccentric) father, the Earl of Spenborough, left the care of her fortune and control over her marriage to her jilted fiancé Ivo Barrasford, the Marquis of Rotherham, is to understate the case. Too much time has elapsed since Serena broke her engagement to her childhood companion, Rotherham, (and that too after the invitations had been sent - such a scandal!) for them to feel anything but discomfort at this bit of posthumous matchmaking on the part of the Earl. Or so they both declare.

Used to commanding a large household and having acted as her father's hostess from a young age, energetic and politically-savvy Serena soon finds herself in doldrums when her life is suddenly reduced to a small Dower house with none but her father's young widow, Fanny, for company and a social sphere consisting of occasional visits from neighbors who'd been just casual acquaintances before. The only bright spots in Serena's life are visits from the Marquis which always set off verbal fireworks between them, leaving a timid Fanny much distraught, but which curiously leave Serena exhilarated.

When even Fanny begins to feel their quiet life is a dead bore, the two ladies decide to move to Bath for a welcome change. And suddenly things begin to get a little too exciting for words - the return of an old lover, a shocking engagement, an elopement, flaring passions and love intrigues complicate their lives like never before. What follows is an engaging drama of romance and wit from that mistress of the genre, Georgette Heyer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review - Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong

Otherworld, Book 12
Dutton, Isbn: 0-525-95220-9
Savannah Levine is in terrible danger, and for once she’s powerless to help herself. At the conclusion of Waking the Witch, Savannah swore that she would give up her powers if it would help a young girl. Little did she know that someone would take her up on that promise.

And now, witch hunting assassins, necromancers, half-demons, and rogue witches all seem to be after her. The threat is not just for Savannah; every member of the Otherworld might be at risk. While most of her fellow supernaturals are circling the wagons at a gathering of the council in Miami, Savannah is caught on the road, isolated from those who can protect her and unable to use her vast spell casting talent, the thing she counts on most. 

In a story that will change the shape of the Otherworld forever, Spell Bound gathers Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope, and others, who soon learn that the greatest threat to supernaturals just may come from within.

I was a tad disappointed with the previous book in this series, Waking the Witch, for it was the first book in the entire series that didn't have a true ending. Like most series, Otherworld books are best read in order so readers can make sense of who the characters are, their pasts, histories etc. But for all that, each book had a definite ending. Waking the Witch didn't (or at least, not a complete one) while Spell Bound just leaves the readers completely hanging.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review - Animal Rummy by Bob Barner

Chronicle Books, ages 5 and up,
42 cards in drawer box
This fun and easy-to-play card game featuring Bob Barner's colorful and lively animal characters is sure to be a family favorite. Players try to gather as many of the same cards as possible to create sets of each animal, including panda bears, lions, elephants, and more! The oversized cards come in an elegant drawer box with a ribbon drawstring, making them durable for years to come.

Cards are always fun to play with whether sheltering inside from blistering heat, traveling somewhere or just driving. I'm not comfortable with introducing my kids to the traditional card games, but these animal cards are just the right alternative.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Review - Watch Me Die by Erica Spindler

St. Martin's, 341p, Isbn-031236394X

Synopsis - A priest murdered in his church…a homeless man slaughtered in a toilet... these are just the first of two seemingly unrelated murders plaguing a sweltering New Orleans. As the murders continue it becomes clear that glass restoration artist Mira Gallier is somehow at the heart of it. 

Whether she’s the one killing people and leaving weird Biblical quotes at the murder scenes or someone connected to her is, are the questions that plague the uneasy partnership of homicide detectives Spencer Malone and Karin Bayle. 

Meanwhile Mira is convinced her dead husband has come back to life. Could that be a clue?

********

Erica Spindler is at the top of her game in this edge-of-the-seat Hitchcockian psychological drama. Her skill is evident whether describing a character’s heart-rending survivor’s guilt, capturing the subtle nuances of a police partnership, or building an atmosphere of exponentially ominous tension.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review - Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver

An encrypted text message sends James Bond to Serbia where he diverts what he thinks is a plot to derail a train containing toxic chemicals. He soon learns this is just the tip of the iceberg and follows clues that lead him to a recycling company’s owner with an obsession with death, decay and privacy. Flying all over the world, Bond races against time to save thousands of lives…from what, he himself doesn’t know.

*********

Without reading Ian Fleming’s 007 novels, it’s not possible to tell where the novels left off and the movies picked up. However Carte Blanche, Jeffrey Deaver’s endeavor to continue the series in print, certainly has a Hollywood-like feel to it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gerard de Marigny stops by...

Today I'm happy to welcome Gerard de Marigny, author of The Watchman of Ephraim, who's guest blogging here today.
About the Book - Aref Sami Zamani is planning a terrorist attack on American soil - codenamed "Antioch," a plot to detonate a nuke over the city of Las Vegas. The Watchman uncovers a connection between Zamani and a Mexican drug cartel but their agent goes missing before they can learn more. That's because Zamani has a spy working for The Watchman. Strange events start to unfold near the Nogales border crossing. References are discovered to something the Mexicans are calling "Noche Del Espantada" ...Fright Night," but can it mean something else?

Why I Write Thrillers

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review - Killer Move by Michael Marshall

William Morrow,
Isbn-0061434426
Bill Moore already has a lot, but he wants more . . . much more.He's got a lucrative job selling condos in the Florida Keys, a successful wife, a good marriage, a beautiful house. He also has a five-year plan for supersuccess, but that plan has begun to drag into its sixth year without reaping its intended rewards. So now Bill's starting to mix it up—just a little—to accelerate his way into the future that he knows he deserves.

Then one morning Bill arrives at work to find a card waiting for him, with no indication who it's from or why it was sent. Its message is just one word: modified. From that moment on, Bill's life begins to change. At first, nothing seems very different. But when things begin to unwind rapidly, and one after another, people around Bill start to die, it becomes increasingly clear that someone somewhere has a very different plan for Bill's future. Confused and angry, Bill begins to fight against this unseen force until he comes to a terrifying, inescapable realization: Once modified, there's no going back.

This is one of those books about which I'd heard a lot of, which had received a lot of hype and so I was eager to read it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the first chapter.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review - Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy

St. Martin's Griffin, 541p,
Isbn-0312385242
In this thrilling collection of original stories some of today’s hottest paranormal authors delight, thrill and captivate readers with otherworldly tales of magic and mischief. In Jim Butcher’s ”Curses” Harry Dresden investigates how to lift a curse laid by the Fair Folk on the Chicago Cubs. In Patricia Briggs’ “Fairy Gifts,” a vampire is called home by magic to save the Fae who freed him from a dark curse. In Melissa Marr’s “Guns for the Dead,” the newly dead Frankie Lee seeks a job in the afterlife on the wrong side of the law. In Holly Black’s “Noble Rot,” a dying rock star discovers that the young woman who brings him food every day has some strange appetites of her own.

Urban Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, even though I arrived late to it. Too late, by the looks of this book. If you're a fan of any of the no-doubt wonderful authors who've contributed a story to this anthology, then you're going to LOVE this book. However if, like me, you're not familiar with them, then better go read some other book.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review - A Butterfly is Patient

Chronicle Books, ages 5-10, 40p
Hardcover, ISBN 9780811864794
The creators of the award-winning An Egg Is Quiet and A Seed Is Sleepy have teamed up again to create this gorgeous and informative introduction to the world of butterflies. From iridescent blue swallowtails and brilliant orange monarchs to the worlds tiniest butterfly (Western Pygmy Blue) and the largest (Queen Alexandra's Birdwing), an incredible variety of butterflies are celebrated here in all of their beauty and wonder.

My kids love nothing more than to play outdoors and this inevitably leads to them asking me many many questions. Some like, "what butterfly is this?" I'm now better able to answer thanks to this book which I received for review recently from Chronicle Books.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Review - Overbite by Meg Cabot

William Morrow, 288p,
Isbn-0061735108
Overbite's story picks up six months after where the previous (and first) Meena Harper story 'Insatiable' ended. Now Meena is officially working for the Vatican which believes Lucien has left NYC even though Meena knows otherwise. A misunderstanding has left the possible romance between Meena and Alaric Wolf in doubt. Torn between two men, and varying allegiances Meena tries to take the burden of everything upon herself and sets herself up for failure in a situation where failure is not only not an option, but a sure way of becoming vampire fodder.

***********

As I mentioned in my review, Insatiable is one of the best books I've read this year (even though it was first released last year). Overbite is its sequel and like all sequels, sadly falls short... way way short.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Review - Insatiable by Meg Cabot

William Morrow, 451p, Isbn-0061735086
Despite a talent for predicting people's death, Meena Harper doesn't believe in the supernatural. Forget vampires in real life...she doesn't even like them invading the reel life of soap opera Insatiable, for which she's a dialogue writer. 

And then at a neighbor's party, she meets and is instantly smitten by the intensely gorgeous and charming Lucien Antonescu, who seems to return her interest in him. Little does Meena know that this modern-day prince has a very dark side to him, one that will rip away all her illusions and defenses. Question is will she survive it?

*********

Leaving behind the YA world of Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot makes a stellar entry into the world of adult paranormal writing. I'd frankly grown sick of books starring vampires but was persuaded to pick up this one as Cabot has a knack for taking a tired plot and enlivening it with her particular fun and sizzling brand of adventure and romance.

And I'm glad I did as "Insatiable" fulfilled all my expectations and more! It is truly one of the best stories I've read so far this year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Author Laurie Boris stops by...

Today I'm happy to welcome Laurie Boris, author of The Joke’s on Me, who's guest blogging here today.

Laurie Boris is an award-winning writer, former graphic designer, and closet stand-up comic. Her first novel, The Joke’s on Me is a story about family love and redemption as seen through the eyes of feisty former actress and stand-up comic Frankie Goldberg.

Behind the Scenes of The Joke’s on Me

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review - First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader

Forge Books, 434p, ISBN: 978-0-7653-6142-4
Synopsis - Jack McClure has had a troubled life. His dyslexia always made him feel like an outsider. He escaped from an abusive home as a teenager and lived by his wits on the streets of Washington D.C. It wasn’t until he realized that dyslexia gave him the ability to see the world in unique ways that he found success, using this newfound strength to become a top ATF agent.

When a terrible accident takes the life of his only daughter, Emma, and his marriage falls apart, Jack blames himself, numbing the pain by submerging himself in work. Then he receives a call from his old friend Edward Carson. Carson is just weeks from taking the reins as President of the United States when his daughter, Alli, is kidnapped. Because Emma McClure was once Alli’s best friend, Carson turns to Jack, the one man he can trust to go to any lengths to find his daughter and bring her home safely.

Having previously read and enjoyed some of this author's stories in the Bourne series, I was very interested to read this novel, the first in the McClure-Carson series. The premise promises much but delivers little.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review - Press Here by Hervé Tullet

Press Here:  Children's book, 56 p, Isbn-0811879542, Ages 4-8, Guided Reading Level: I, HC

I continue to be amazed at the innovative books that are being published these days for children. Gone are the days of just blah-blah word stories, now there are books that invite you to step into their world and interact with them, just like another child would. A playmate who, as an added bonus, teaches only good things. And that's exactly how I found Hervé Tullet's Press Here, published and sent to me for review by Chronicle Books. Only this book exercises their imagination and involves a bit of physical activity as well - perfect for both the sit-still and can't-sit-still children!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Review - The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

The Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan NovelThe Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan Novel

Even a brief glance at the back of the book will tell you that this novella (William Morrow, 158p, Isbn-006193836X) starts out as a modern-day retelling of the classic Hitchcock film, "Rear Window". Instead of a broken-footed James Stewart peeking into the varied lives of neighbors from the vantage point of his window, here we have a highly pregnant Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan whose doctor-ordered bed rest leads her to watch with interest the goings-on in a nearby park where her eye is caught first by a dog and then its owner, a woman dressed in a green raincoat. A few days later, the bored detective's curiosity is further piqued when she spots the dog running through the park, quite owner-less.

With the help of her friend and sometimes assistant, Whitney (a role played glamorously by Grace Kelly in the movie) and others, Tess launches an avid bedside investigation into the disappearance of the dog's owner whom, apparently, no one else has missed. That leads her to a husband who's not interested in getting the dog back and moreover, who refuses to verify his wife's whereabouts. And if that were not enough, he becomes the prime suspect when Tess begins to uncover dead wives in his past. Things take a further quirky turn when, during the course of her Tess-propelled investigation, Whitney shows signs of falling for the guilty-looking husband.

Before reading this novella, I had no idea about the existence of Tess Monaghan in the pages of a book. I'm now going to make sure I read all the books in the series featuring this intrepid detective and learn more about the (hopefully ongoing antics of the) diverting characters featured in this book.

Click "Read more" to reveal some secrets

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review - Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness by Tilly Bagshawe

Sidney Sheldon's After the DarknessSynopsis from the Back of the Book -

What happens when the woman who has everything loses everything . . . and the man who has nothing realizes he has nothing to lose?

The young, naive wife of a multi-billionaire financial superstar, Grace Brookstein's life is the stuff of fantasy. In New York, Lenny Brookstein is the King of the Wall Street social scene, both liked and respected in the worlds of high finance and high society.

Then one day Lenny vanishes, his yacht discovered abandoned far out at sea. The police believe his death was no accident, that his involvement in a spectacular financial fraud was about to be exposed to the world. But Grace can't accept the terrible allegations now coming to light, and she will learn the truth . . . even if that truth destroys her.

***

First flaw - Why is Sidney Sheldon's name added to this book? I don't know. I searched cover to cover, but could find no explanation for it. He's no longer alive and I highly doubt he contributed anything to this story.

Second biggest flaw - By adding Sheldon's name and then delivering a story as haphazard as this with no sizzle, disappointing characters and loopholes the size of massive sinkholes, the book is doomed from the start.

Yes, as you can glean from this, I'm a Sheldon fan and his were some of the earliest books I read as an adult. More importantly, I like them to this day. They may not be sophisticated from today's perspective, but they were the best of their time (proof is in the novels still being published with his name). They had memorable characters, storylines and yes, even with some loopholes, managed to retain their charm and overall entertain. I just can't say the same of Tilly Bagshawe's After the Darkness (Harper, 401p, Isbn-0061728314).

I'm sorry to say I did manage to ultimately finish this book. The word "outraged" doesn't begin to cover what I think of the fact that one of my favorite author's name has been added to such a book. So, if you're a Sidney Sheldon fan, avoid this book at all costs. As for the rest of you, read at your own risk.

Spoilers ahead!! Click the "Read more >>" button to reveal some secrets 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review - Death Echo by Elizabeth Lowell

Death Echo CIA agent turned private security consultant, Emma Cross is on a fast paced, seven day mission to track down a stolen yacht Blackbird which may or may not be carrying a deadly cargo destined to destroy a major American city. When things get hot, she has no choice but recruit Blackbird's transit captain, MacKenzie Durand, a former special ops killer into taking the yacht to its ultimate destination. Caught in an inter-agency crossfire, with the Russian mafiya as well as former KGB agents all interested in this particular yacht, Emma and Mac soon find themselves in a battle for their lives.

Death Echo (423p, Avon, Isbn-0061664421) a fast paced, tension-filled adventure that keeps the readers hooked from start to finish. The focus is more on the action and mystery rather than romance and sex (sort of in the tradition of Catherine Coulter's suspense novels) contrary to some other Lowell books I've read and that's a welcome surprise. The romance that eventually crops up between the main characters starts off as a mutual attraction and over the course of the novel gradually develops into something more. It feels very natural and is in sync with the rest of the story, and not just added on to satisfy prurient interests. Both Mac and Emma are strong people with similar backgrounds which makes it believable that they manage to work well together when suddenly thrown into perilous situations, despite having never set eyes on one another before this mission.

Overall, this book is not keeper-shelf material, but it does make for some interesting reading.

These were the things I liked about this book. To explain what I didn't like I have to venture into Spoiler territory, so please don't read any more if you'd rather not know the details.

Spoilers ahead!! Click the "Read more >>" button to reveal some secrets
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review - Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson

Any Man of MineAny Man of Mine
Avon, 373p, Isbn-0061579114

Synopsis - Autumn Haven [not a candle but a person!], as the single working mom, deals with the usual challenges that come with the territory as well as a reformed sexy ex who's unexpectedly charmed his way into her home, bed and maybe even her heart. If only she could forget their turbulent past. Can she?

Irresponsible, reckless and selfish hockey player Sam LeClaire knows more about partying and models than playing with his own son. When he comes across Autumn at a wedding years after their last disastrous meeting, Sam realizes he's still very much attracted to his ex whereas Autumn has nothing but contempt for the man who left her pregnant after a quickie Vegas wedding and an even faster divorce. How it all gets resolved makes for an enjoyable read.

In a nutshell, this story follows the usual formula of guy meets gal, instant attraction, hot sex, separation and then reconciliation which leads to the inevitable happy ending. Thus far, there are no surprises, good or bad. The pace is good, with the story flashing back and forth to explain the characters' past and present. The sexual tension between Sam and Autumn is sizzling hot and surprisingly enough, feels a natural part of their story instead of something thrown in to pander to the "sex scene before such and such page number" which I find is often the rule. Another interesting facet is Sam's gradual growth into an involved father and the reason behind it, as well as the overall developing relationship between the child and his parents. Light humor and characters from previous Gibson novels put in brief appearances. Autumn is a character I liked right from the start for her honesty (no 'forgive and forget' in her vocabulary!) and for her willingness to put her child's needs ahead of her intense dislike of her playboy ex and let him be a part of his child's and leading from there, her life as well.

Where this novel differs is in the treatment of the male character. To explain this, I will have to reveal some spoilers, so keep that in mind while reading further. If you'd rather not know, then just know that this is a nice and interesting book!

Spoilers ahead!! Click the "Read more >>" button to reveal some secrets
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review - Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Pale Demon (The Hollows, Book 9)Pale Demon (The Hollows, Book 9)

Flat out, this is the best book I've read so far this year. Like fine wine, The Hollows is a series that has just grown better with time. Although the intricate complexities of this latest addtion (9th book) to an already variegated storyline might initially leave even an ardent fan like myself bewildered, enlightenment soon dawns upon the second and even fifth reading. While that may make you rethink your decision to read this 448 pages long harcover, my suggestion would be run and grab this book - now. Devour it like the aforementioned "Pale Demon" devours souls in this never-a-dull-moment fantastic thriller of an addition to a stellar series. That said, this is definitely not a stand-alone story and must be read in order of the series to get the full-bodied effect.

Now that I've sung its praise enough to make you curious, let me give you a glimpse of what this story's about.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review - The Oracle of Stamboul

The Oracle of Stamboul: A NovelThe Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas
Harper, 304 p, Isbn-0062012096

Synopsis: Late in the summer of 1877, a flock of purple-and-white hoopoes suddenly appears over the town of Constanta on the Black Sea, and Eleonora Cohen is ushered into the world by a mysterious pair of Tartar midwives who arrive just minutes before her birth. "They had read the signs, they said: a sea of horses, a conference of birds, the North Star in alignment with the moon. It was a prophecy that their last king had given on his deathwatch." But joy is mixed with tragedy, for Eleonora's mother dies soon after the birth.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Giveaway - Dragon Warrior

The steamy second book in Janet Chapman’s dazzling Midnight Bay series, DRAGON WARRIOR (Pocket Star; January 25th, 2011; $7.99), seduces readers with an enticing tale of a fiery independent woman and an irresistible immortal warrior with a dragon’s courageous heart.

Maddy Kimble has no time for a suitor—not with caring for her spunky nursing home patients, her shy nine-year-old daughter, her widowed mother, and her rebellious teenage brother. William Kilkenny’s stunning lack of modern dating protocol doesn’t help. The man is uncouth and outrageous—a towering, drop-dead, breathtakingly hot warrior. Who refuses to give up.

William is secretly a ninth-century Irish nobleman formerly trapped in a dragon’s body. All Maddy knows is that lately, she can hardly resist the urge to lose herself in his powerful arms. But as their uncontrollable passion grows, eerie occurrences in her small coastal Maine town begin to rouse Maddy’s suspicions about her lover. He begs her to trust him, but how can she surrender—body and soul—when she fears the danger he poses to her yearning heart?

DRAGON WARRIOR will keep readers up late into the night, eagerly following the story of Maddy and William.

To win a copy of this book, you must do the mandatory entry. Extra entries are optional.

Mandatory Entry 
In the comments tell me - have you read any Chapman book before? If yes, which one. If not, why do you want to win this book?

Optional Entries
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Ends
Midnight CST of Feb 28, 2011.

Geographical Eligibility
Open to US and Canada.

Winner will be announced here and has 2 weeks to contact me with their full name and address. More details in the Giveaway and Prize Fulfillment Rules.
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