I am woefully behind on reviews.
I know this.
I have no good excuse. No better excuse than anyone else has. Just life gets in the way and tends to get away from me. Between summer, back to school, busy work schedule, stuff to get done around the house, running the kids here and there and some medical issues for me I've just gotten really behind.
I hope to knock several out in the next week. It's not that I haven't been reading. I just haven't had a chance to sit down here and write them.
Coming up over the next two weeks I hope to get reviews posted for:
Elusive Echoes by Kay Springsteen (coming up next!)
My Killer, My Love by Mona Karel
Matching Wits With Venus by Therese Gilardi (long overdue)
Pa Weathery's Chickens by Paul Morris
Hawthorne by Sarah Ballance
Isabella's Dilemma by Anna James
Guilty as Charged by Anna James
And even a couple of more not long after that. See? I've been reading! I just need to get them written.
Elusive Echoes will be posted by tomorrow.
Thank you all for your patience!
Friday, August 12, 2011
My Ratings: 5 Stars
Title: Clubbed to Death (Jordan Davis Mysteries, Book #2)
Author: Alyssa Lyons
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Cover Art: Dawné Dominique
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Length: 199 Pages with a sneak peak at the previous book in the series following at the end.
She’s up to her old tricks again...
Newly minted private detective Jordan Davis takes on a murder case where family loyalty trumps sisterly hate, when she sets out to prove her half-sister innocent of murder.
He’s wondering if he wouldn’t be safer in jail...
Her lover, Gray, thought he had it rough during Jordan's last escapade. After all, he ended up spending a night in jail. Now with her packing heat, he wonders if jail isn't the safest place in town to be.
Together, they’ll flip the town of Lynchburg, VA on its ear, provided they live long enough.
As Jordan gets closer to the truth about the murder in the Junior League clubhouse, the killer is determined to see her dead. And what about the three kids Gray and Jordan are hiding?
Don't you just love finding a new series that you, well....love? I do. It's like Christmas morning for me. When I find a series that I really enjoy, it goes on the keeper shelf. Then, when I am bored, or feeling nostalgic, or simply missing the new friends I've made in these books, I can just snag one off the shelf and re-visit them. This one is no exception. In the first book of the series, Last Wishes, I fell in love with Gray and Jordan. Getting to re-visit them has been a treat.
In fact, I've never really understood the whole “sexy little schoolgirl” fantasy that men have until I met Gray. Men in suits have never been my thing. To me they just say....soft. I like my men hard-bodied. But Gray? Well, Gray has inspired me to have “sexy men in suits” or “sexy men in black judge's robes” fantasies. That can be just downright disturbing considering how often I visit courthouses for work. Especially when you consider the fact that most judges that I see could (almost) be my dad. Or, at the very least, the creepy perverted uncle at family gatherings. Just eww. Gray is about as far on the opposite end of the spectrum from “eww” as you can get though. Whether he is doing the “I'm on the side of the law, obey me” routine, or the “I'm a sensitive guy, let me run a bath for you” routine, he is H.O.T. And, the scenes between the sheets are sizzling.
Then there is Jordan. I want Jordan to be my new BFF. She is so much fun with such a devil-may-care attitude. I love the fact that she rides a motorcycle and wears red leather. I adore the fact that she got her dog a leather jacket to ride her motorcycle with her. And the fact that she wants nothing to do with the snobby junior league. On the flip side of that, she is open-minded enough to take those junior league snobs and see to the people they are beneath the surface instead of just the picture they present to the world. Jordan is compassionate, caring and there is so much more to her than what she appears to be. The way she gets around Gray's concerns and sometimes overly protective attitude are so similar to how I get around my husband on occasion that I feel as though we could be sisters.
The secondary characters are, as usual, vivid and entertaining. Fireball is still sexy and mysterious. I would love to see more of this guy. Gray's mother is her usual fun self and the kids are adorable. Kiki is just too pinch-her-cheeks cute, making you want to just scoop her up and hug her. The other two, Paul and Emma, are the type of kids that are old beyond their years and make you want to see them have the childhood they deserve. It also wouldn't surprise me to see them on their own adventures on the written page when they are all grown up. The addition of the kids does make me wonder about the future dynamics between all of the characters, most especially (naturally) Gray and Jordan. The mystery is nail-biting with plenty of misdirection and suspense.
I look forward to the next installment in this series (there will be another installment, won't there Ms. Lyons? Pretty please?) with great anticipation. If you enjoy the romantic suspense genre, real characters and great humor, I highly recommend checking this series out. If you haven't yet had the chance to check out Last Wishes, well...what are you waiting for? But, even if you haven't, these books can be read as stand-alone books.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
My Rating: 4 Stars
Title: Double Crossing
Author: Meg Mims
Publisher: Astraea Press
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
Length: 215 Pages
A murder arranged as a suicide … a missing deed … and a bereft daughter whose sheltered world is shattered.
August, 1869: Lily Granville is stunned by her father’s murder. The police believe it was a suicide but she knows the truth. Guilt plagues her, since she argued bitterly with her father about the family lawyer’s loyalty. And only that lawyer knew her father had possession of a valuable California gold mine deed—a deed vital to fight a court battle against another claimant in California. Now the deed and the lawyer are missing.
Determined to track her father’s killer and join her uncle in Sacramento to fight the court case, Lily heads west on the newly opened transcontinental railroad. After her baggage is ransacked in her Omaha hotel room, she realizes she is no longer the hunter but the prey. It seems her father’s killer believes she is taking the deed west to Sacramento. And as things progress from bad to worse, Lily is uncertain who to trust—the China-bound missionary who wants to marry her, or the wandering Texan who offers to protect her … for a price.
Danger, intrigue and a second murder turn this adventure west into true peril. Will Lily survive the journey and unexpected betrayal?
There was a time, long, long ago, when I would devour historicals like candy. Then I got bored. Probably because it felt like I had read damned near every plot imaginable. So to say that I was surprised at how quickly I got sucked into this one is an understatement. This one is like taking all the best things about a former love, combining it with all the best things about a new love and then adding a dash of adventure and intrigue. Don't be fooled - this is not your standard historical.
Lily has been raised well off. She has never had to want for much of anything and has been spoiled by doting parents. This is not to say that she is a spoiled brat. I only point this out because it makes her behavior later that much more courageous. This is also not to say that she hasn't known heartache. Her mother died when she was younger and her father was off fighting in the Civil War. All of this only brings Lily and her father closer and they are friends as well as father/daughter. When Lily's father is murdered in such a way to make it appear as a suicide, Lily knows immediately that this is not the case. After a couple of days in which Lily is lost in a haze of grief, she becomes determined to see her father's killer brought to justice. This sets Lily on a path that will take her across the country in a setting that is rarely seen in a historical romance to the extent that Ms. Mims gives us.
Set during the time less than six months after the Golden Spike Ceremony that connected the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, the unique thing about this novel is that the majority of it takes place on a train. The author does an excellent job in describing not only the railroad cars and what you could expect to experience on a trip with this new railroad but also the surroundings. As you are reading you can visualize the views from the windows, the little towns or stations that pass by and the towns that the railroad stops in. The sheer amount of research that had to be done to accomplish this is mind-boggling.
The characters are well developed and enjoyable. Lily is the type of character that I really enjoy seeing in novels. Despite her age, she is very spunky and determined. Despite her fear of a killer, she refuses to back down from her goal. She stands up to an overbearing aunt with admiral aplomb and, realizing that she only has herself to depend on, hires protection for herself. She is intelligent, quick thinking and compassionate. The protection she hires for herself comes in the form of Ace Diamond, a ruffian who almost literally falls in her lap. While the motives, and character, of Mr. Diamond remain somewhat elusive he shows himself to be loyal and quite capable of holding up his end of the bargain. The secondary characters of the aunt and uncle, Lily's suitor Charles and her new friend Kate are each unique in their own individual ways, easily distinguishable from each other in personality, behavior and quirks.
The plot is also well developed and the mystery and intrigue will keep you guessing throughout the novel and turning the pages in a hurry to see what happens next. One might think that a train would be limiting in a suspense but given the limitations of the social restrictions of the time period and the fact that the main character is female it only adds to the story.
My only complaint about Double Crossing would be that, for a romance, there really isn't much romance in it. The tension between Ace and Lily could have been built up considerably more and earlier on, which would have added quite a bit to the romantic portion of the story. We also don't get the obvious 'happily ever after' that romance novels are known for. We only get a shadow of that. The ending is a bit ambiguous and is unclear as to whether we are meant to imagine the future happy ending for ourselves or if it is being left open to a sequel.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book - the uniqueness of the setting, the vividness of the descriptions and the volume of research that it is obvious the author put into it all made the book come alive. It kept me up well into the early morning hours, turning the pages, anxious to see what happened. If you enjoy historicals, especially if you like new settings, you should check this one out.
This book is such a new release (just released on 8/9/11) that I'm not sure where to direct you to find a copy just yet, other than the publisher's website: Astraea Press. That link will take you directly to the page for the book and, I believe, there are various formats available directly through the Astraea Press store. I will post an update when it's available at other locations, like Barnes & Noble and/or Amazon, if I find out about it.
Monday, August 8, 2011
My Rating: 5 Stars
Title: The Soulkeepers (The Soulkeepers Trilogy #1)
Author: G.P. Ching
Publisher: DarkSide Publishing
Cover Art: Adam Bedore/Anjin Designs
Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Young Adult with some religious elements
Length: 272 Pages with a bonus preview of the book Anathema by Megg Jensen at the end.
When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother's car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can't find his mother's body. Made a ward of his uncle and thousands of miles from home, a beautiful and mysterious neighbor, Dr. Abigail Silva, offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom. In exchange, she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a gifted warrior charged with protecting human souls. He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother's disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions Dr. Silva's motives for helping him.
I'll be honest, the first time I sat down to read this book I had a hard time getting into it. I finally set it aside for a while. It wasn't the book's fault. Or the author's. I just had a lot going on in my life at the time and couldn't manage to summon the focus necessary to absorb this book. And it deserves that kind of focus.
There are so many things going on that you need to be able to concentrate solely on this book to give it the attention it deserves. It's like one of those movies where you can't risk looking away for a second or you will miss something. That said, you want to trust me on this: it's worth it.
For a teenager, Jacob is a strong character. He is well developed, as are all the characters, with all the flaws and quirks necessary to make him become real. He has a very strong sense of self and loyalty. He is a kid who knows who he is and he refuses to let anybody change that. Even in the small town atmosphere that he finds himself in. When he is taken from his home in Hawaii and forced to live with his Uncle in Paris, Illinois, Jacob has to adapt to an entirely new way of life. Not only is he living with relatives that he never even knew existed but he also has to leave island life far behind. No more sand and sea, casual attitudes and acceptance of his differences. Here his differences are glaringly obvious and he's not allowed to forget it.Jacob also slowly becomes aware of the fact that he is different in other ways too. Ways that aren't quite....normal. In a quest to figure out who...or what....he is, and his quest to find his missing mother, he is brought together with Dr. Silva and they have adventures quite unlike anything I have read before.
Even the secondary characters, Malini (I loved this character), Uncle John, Dr. Silva, even the kids at school, just leap off the page at you. It's like they are sitting next to you telling you their stories. Malini is Jacob's best friend and love interest and she is lovely. Mature beyond her years and determined not to forget her heritage like her parents seem to being trying to do, she is the perfect counter-character to Jacob. Malini helps Jacob adjust and settle in to this new life. She is very accepting of his differences and determined to help him figure things out. And Dr. Silva? Well, I'll let you discover her on your own. She is distinctly unique.
This author will keep you guessing until the very end on who the true "bad guys" are and who the good guys are. Each character has so much depth to them that you truly see what real people they are and that everybody has flaws. The plot is very well developed, so in depth, with so many twists and turns that it will keep you engrossed from start to finish. There are some Christian elements to the book, but I won't say more than that because I don't want to give anything away. I will say that it's not "in your face" Christian but very intriguing and interesting. The worldbuilding involved in this book is fantastic and I could see it in your mind as clearly as a movie.
This book has it all. Teen angst, magic, good versus evil, fantasy, first love and suspense. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. It leaves you wanting to see what happens and wanting to return to the world of Jacob and Malini. Entertaining enough, that any editorial flaws (which I didn't notice many) are easily overlooked because you are so drawn into the world that you just don't care. As the first in a series, it is easily a stand along novel, so no worries there. Thoroughly enjoyable. This book is available in both paperback and for ereaders.