Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weekly Finds 5/29/110

The Secret SpeechThe Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith - contest win from The Cajun Book Lady

From the back of the book:  Stalin is dead, and the brutal Soviet regime once held together by fear is beginning to unravel, leaving behind a society where the police are the bloodies criminals of all.  Former Secret Police Office Leo Demidov is struggling to put his former career behind him, to make a life for himself, his wife, Raisa, and the two young sisters they have adopted.  But will the mistrust and betrayals from Leo's own past shatter his family's ability to love and forgive - or destroy them in ways unimaginable?

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy ParkerThe Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Heiber - Free Friday Barnes and Noble ebook.

From the electronic description:  Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, what fortunes, intimate encounters, and supernatural terrors awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy.

Book Review: Mothers and Other Liars by Amy Bourret

Mothers and Other LiarsMothers and Other Liars by Amy Bourret

An early review book that I hesitated to request, but am glad that I did. Ruby Leander has a secret, some would call it horrible, some would say deep dark, but I don't think any of those could really apply. Her daughter, Lark, isn't really hers. She found her in a trash can as she traveled to her new life out west. Assuming the baby had been abandoned, Ruby is shocked when nine years later, she finds that Lark's real parents have been looking for her all this time.

The story follows Ruby's decision to do the right thing and how it impacts the lives of all around her. Ruby and Lark go through a roller coaster ride of emotions as Ruby is charged with kidnapping and faces never seeing her beloved Lark again.

While I found much of the plot line to be strain believablilty, it still brought me into the lives of this small family. Their emotions were written plainly on every page and touched my heart. Ruby struggles with her decisions, constantly second guessing herself if what she decided was best for Lark. Lark struggles to find who she really is now that she knows her true history. Every day brings a new challenge into their lives and they overcome them as best they can.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan

The Mermaid's MirrorThe Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan

Lena seems to be your standard California girl: surfer boyfriend, lives within walking distance from the beach, and hardly a care in the world. But her life isn't as perfect as it seems from the outside. Her dad refuses to allow her to learn how to surf after he almost died in a surfing accident. She isn't as close to her boyfriend as everyone seems to think. And recently she's been sleepwalking her way down to the beach late at night. What is going on?

Lena is an engaging character that is struggling to find who she really is. And it all begins with a mysterious key, given to her in the water by someone...and the key opens up a whole new dimension to her life. A dimension that leads her dangerously close to losing all she already has and will force her make a decision between two parts of herself.

I loved this book. I loved the characters, they were all developed so fully. I loved the location, who can't love the beach, the ocean, and the waves. I loved the plot. The storyline unfolded and wrapped me up. Lena is a very real character with both good and bad qualities. She tries to bring out her good, and hide her bad, just like the rest of world.

There is a mermaid in the story, and an entire merfolk world. The world under the waves is beautifully simple and elegant. It's a new look at how they live and interact. The people under the waves are so different and yet so much the same. They seem so very foreign and yet their emotions make them so familiar. This was one of my top read so far this year.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review: Nightshade by Ronie Kendig

Nightshade (Discarded Heroes)Nightshade (Discarded Heroes) by Ronie Kendig - received from publisher in exchange for review.

A touching tale of redemption just about sums this story up. We have Max, the ex Navy SEAL who has returned from duty scarred. Trying to be a "real man" he hides his hurts from his wife, Sydney, and they continue to eat him up inside until one night he snaps. It tears their marriage apart, and even though they love each other deeply, it seems that they will never be able to find their way back to each other.

Max was just the right mix of macho tough guy and a scarred and injured warrior. I enjoyed his character from the get go and his fragile relationship with Sydney was portrayed in a way that I could see the thin threads that just barely held them to each other. Both strong people, fighting for what they think is best.

Max's special ops team is full of personality. It was a wonderful group of characters that allowed the author to pull things into the story in ways that just seemed natural. Each and every person introduced plays a very special and important role in Max and Sydney's journey. It is a dark and very dangerous one, but one they must face if they ever hope to save their marriage.

The rating on this book could be split into two sections for me. The story of Max and Sydney gets 4-5 stars all the way. However, there is a parallel story line of Jon and Kimber that we follow as well (don't want to say too much more and give anything away). I found their story to be a bit over done and syrupy, predictable and a little preachy, and would only give it 1 or 2 stars. While their role was very important in the overall plot, I just didn't enjoy them much at all.

Overall a good book, one that doesn't show military as all glamorous, but how it can leave the mind as well as the body scarred, making it difficult to return to a "normal" life.

3/5  )

Weekly Finds: 5/21/10

The KeeningThe Keening by A. LaFaye (netgalley ebook)

From the electronic description:  Born into the artistic and eccentric family, Lyza laments that her only talent is carving letters into wood.  That is, until the devastating loss of her mother to influenza during the pandemic of 1918.  The illness has settled on their small coastal town in Maine, and the funeral marches pass Lyza's house almost daily.  When her unconventional father begins to prepare for the return of his dead wife, Lyza is the only one to protect him from being committed to the work farm.  Awash with grief and longing for her mother, Lyza journeys into the thin territory that divides the living from the dead.

Relying on her courage, and an undiscovered talent, Lyza must save her father and find her own path.  From the celebrated author Worth, a powerful story of love that persists beyond the grave.

Executive Privilege Free with Bonus MaterialExecutive Privilege Free with Bonus Material by Phillip Margolin (ebook)

From the electronic description:  When private detective Dana Cutler is hired to follow college student Charlotte Walsh, she never imagines the trail will lead to the White House.  But the morning after Walsh's clandestine meeting with Christopher Farrington, President of the United States, the pretty young coed is dead - the latest victim, apparently, of a fiend dubbed "the D.C. Ripper."

A junior associate in an Oregon law firm, Brad Miller is stunned by the death row revelations of convicted serial killer Clarence Little.  Though Little accepts responsibility for a string of gruesome murders, he swears he was framed for one of them:  the death of a teenaged babysitter who worked for the then-governor Farrington.

Suddenly nowhere in America is safe for a small-time private eye and a fledgling lawyer who possess terrifying evidence that suggests the unthinkable:  that someone at the very highest level of government, perhaps the president himself, is a cold and brutal killer.

The Scent of Shadows Free with Bonus Material: The First Sign of the ZodiacThe Scent of Shadows Free with Bonus Material: The First Sign of the Zodiac by Vicki Pettersson (ebook)

From the electronic overview:  When she was sixteenn, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.

By rights, she should be dead.

Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset - a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow - seeking answers to whom or what she really is ... and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.

But the nightmare is just beginning - for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own...

The Writing CircleThe Writing Circle by Corinne Demas (B&N First Look ebook)

From the electronic description:  They call themselves the Leopardi Circle - six members of a writing group who share much more than their works in progress.

When Nancy, whose most recently published work is a medical newsletter, is asked to join a writing group made up of established writers, she accepts, warily.  She's not at all certain that her novel is good enough for the company she'll be keeping.  Her novel is a subject very close to her heart, and she isn't sure she wants to share it with others, let alone the world.  But Nancy soon finds herself caught up in the group's personal lives as she is with their writing.

She learns that nothing - love, family, loyalty - is sacred or certain.

In the circle there's Gillian, a beautiful, scheming, world-famous poet; Bernard, a pompous but lovable biographer; Virginia, a respected historian and the peacemaker of the group, who also happens to be Bernard's ex-wife; Chris, a divorced father and successful thriller writer; and Adam, the youngest of the group, as aspiring novelist who is infatuated with Gillian.  And there there's Nancy, an unassuming fiction writer embarking on a new chapter of her own life.  They meet to read their work aloud and offer feedback.  Over the course of a year, marriages are tested, affairs begin, and trust is broken.

Through their complicated relationships, these eccentric characters share their families, their beds, and their histories, and soon find that buried secrets have a way of coming to  light.  Hearts break and emotions are pushed to the limit in this richly engaging tale of love, betrayal, and literature.

Rage of AngelsRage of Angels by Sidney Angels (ebook)

From the electronic description:  Beautiful Jennifer Parker, having risen from disaster to become a glamorously successful defense attorney, becomes the victim of two powerful men who determine to destroy one another.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer

The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette (Young Royals)The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette (Young Royals) by Carolyn Meyer - received in exchange for review.

A look into the life of the notorious queen Marie Antoinette. The story, told in a journal format, begins when Marie is very young and still living in Austria. It follows her life as she prepares to marry and become the dauphine of France...eventually becoming the Queen. The story follows her blunders and misconceptions, her disappointments and her few joys. We follow her through the end of her life at the guillotine.

This fictional account of what Marie Antoinette's life may have been like gives a new look into the infamous queen. It portrays her in different light, a confused child forced into the world of adults in a culture she not only doesn't understand, but one she wants to change for the better. The story was engaging and captivating. My heart went out to her and the entire royal family and the rebellion overtook their lives. While their decisions may have led to their downfall, we see how they may have known no better.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book Review: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars BookTyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton

Teagan has a plan for next few years of her life. After high school comes college. No boys, no excitement until after college. Life has another plan for Teagan. One day after finishing her shift at the zoo, her friend Abby calls her frantic. Abby has had a horrible dream of goblins and evil shadows...and they were after Teagan.

Teagan's brother, Aiden, has the remarkable talent of being able to learn songs immediately after hearing them and singing them back perfectly. He also never gets lost.

The strangeness continues when Finn arrives bringing with him the unimaginable, the goblins from Abby's dreams. But don't worry too much, Finn was born to fight them, and he will need all his skills to help get not only himself, but Teagan's family out of trouble.

A story full of twists and turns, interesting characters (human and otherwise), and fantastic places that are brought to life. I had a hard time putting this down and picked it up again as soon as I could. Teagan is a bright girl who knows how to use her brains, which helps them out of many tricky situations.

I hope Hamilton writes more about the goblin world we visit here. I'd read them all in a heartbeat.

Weekly Finds: 5/15/10

Mothers and Other LiarsMothers and Other Liars by Amy Bourret (received from librarything early reviewers)

From the back of the book:  As a runaway teen, Ruby Leander could have never imagined the path that would lead her to an abandoned baby.  Fast forward nine years:  Ruby and Lark have made a home for themselves in New Mexico with their wonderful community of friends - life is perfect.  Until that one fateful day when Ruby learns the truth about her daughter's past.  A truth that will change both of their lives, forever.

EmbellishEmbellish by R. L Sloan (won from Miss Remmer's Review)

From the back of the book:  Revenge has never tasted so sweet...

As a young girl, Solis Burkes is raped at the hands of ruthless school bullies - an incident that haunts her into adulthood.  Then she meets Nacio, a strikingly handsome man who seems to know everything about her - including the painful past Solis hasn't told anyone about.  But what Solis doesn't know is that Nacio has been with her every step of the way, protecting her ever since that fateful episode.

It's a destiny he's been working up to for the last 257 years.

Now, as Solis enters a dark world of vampires, voodoo, and passion, she'll need all the protection she can get.  Unbeknownst to her, those responsible for Solis's rape have returned.  Connected to the evil voodoo Priestess Aldicia, they'll stop at nothing in their plans to spew violence and mayhem throughout the city.  And an old family feud dating back centuries puts Solis first on their list of targets.  But not if Solis can unravel the clues fast enough, and inflict her own brand of revenge...

I Thought You Were DeadI Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson (won from Bookin With Bingo)

From the inside cover:  For Paul Gustavson, a hack writer for the wildly popular For Morons series, life is a succession of obstacles, a minefield of mistakes to stumble through.  His wife has left him, he father has suffered a debilitating stroke, his girlfriend is dating another man, he has impotency issues, and his overachieving brother has invested his parents' money in stocks that tanked.  Still, Paul has his friends at Bay State bar, a steady line of cocktails, a new pair of running shoes, and Stella.  Beautiful Stella.  With long sleek legs, kind eyes, lustrous blond hair.  Their relationship is the one true bright spot in his world.  She offers him sage advice on virtually every topic.  And she only wets herself every once in a while.

Stella is Paul's dog, and she listens with compassion to all his complaints about the injustice of life and gives him better counsel than any human could.  In fact, she seems to know Paul better than he knows himself.  It's their relationship that is at the heart of I Thought You Were Dead, a poignantly funny and deeply moving story about a man trying to fix his past in order to save his future, and about a dog who understands just what it means to be man's best friend.

Gentleman CaptainGentleman Captain by J.D. Davies (netgalley review ebook)

Electronic description:  The year 1662:  Restoration England, Cromwell is dead, and King Charles II has reclaimed the throne after years of civil war.  It is a time of divided allegiances, intrigue, and outright treachery.  With rebellion stirring in the Scottish Isles, the hard-pressed sovereign needs officers he can trust to sail north and defuse this new threat.

Matthew Quinton is such a man - the second son of a noble royalist family, he is loyal, if inexperienced.  Having sunk the first ship he commanded off the coast of Ireland, Matthew is determined to complete his second mission without loss of life or honor.  But aboard His Majesty's ship the Jupiter the young "gentleman captain" is faced with a resentful crew and has but a few on whom he can rely:  Kit Farrell, an illiterate commoner with vast seafaring experience, and Phineas Musk, a roguish but steadfast family retainer.  As they approach the wild coast of Scotland, Matthew begins to learn the ropes and win the respect of his fellow officers and sailors.

But he has other worries on this crucial mission:  a suspicion that the previous captain of the Jupiter was murdered, a feeling that several among his crew have something to hide, and a growing conviction that betrayal lies closer to home than he had thought.

The Woman Who Named God: Abraham's Dilemma and the Birth of Three FaithsThe Woman Who Named God: Abraham's Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths by Charlotte Gordon (netgalley review ebook)

From the electronic description:  The saga of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar is the tale of origin for all three monotheistic faiths.  Abraham must choose between two wifes who have borne him two sons.  One wife and son will share his wealth and status, while the other two are exiled into the desert.  Long a cornerstone of Western anxiety, the story chronicles a very famous and troubled family, and sheds light on the ongoing conflict between the Judeo-Christian and Islamic worlds.

How did this ancient story become one of the least understood and most frequently misinterpreted of our cultural myths?  Gordon explores this legendary love triangle to give us a startling perspective on three biblical characters who - with their jealousies, passions, and doubts - actually behave life human beings.

Karma BitesKarma Bites by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas (netgalley review ebook)

From the electronic description:  Life seems to have it in for Franny Flanders.

Her best friends aren't speaking, her parents just divorced, and her hippie grandmother has moved in.  The only karma Franny's got is bad karma.

Then Franny gets her hands on a box of magic recipes that could fix all of her problems.  It could even change the world!  Finally, life is looking up.

But Franny is about to learn that magic and karma aren't to be played with.  When you mess with the universe, it can bite back in unexpected ways.


The Raven Saint (Charles Towne Belles)The Raven Saint (Charles Towne Belles) by Marylu Tyndall (netgalley review ebook)

From the electronic description:  Join bestselling author M.L. Tyndall for another seafaring historical full of romance, intrigue, action, and adventure.  Grace Westcott has piously served God her whole life.  Captain Rafe Dubois cannot pass up on the opportunity to earn more gold toward the hospital he's building for the poor by kidnapping Admiral Westcott's youngest daughter.  But when the missionary and the mercenary meet, it's full-sail-ahead into tumultuous waters!  Find out what happens when a bitter mercenary who's sworn off God falls in love with a pious woman determined to change him.