Thursday, October 31, 2013

taken in death

taken in death (story in mirror, mirror)
in death #37.5
j. d. robb
mystery/thriller
jove
published 2013


Two young children disappear from their East Side home in New York City, their nanny killed in cold blood. As Lieutenant Eve Dallas begins to unravel the crime scene and search for Henry and Gala MacDermit, she's drawn into the twisted mind of a kidnapper who will stop at nothing to take revenge. Horrific threats concerning the brother and sister hit far too close to home for Eve, drawing her back into memories of her own tortured childhood.
But Eve knows that there's no time to waste on the past, and with every passing hour her determination to bring the children safely home strengthens. Eve and her team find themselves following an electronic breadcrumb trail left by a boy desperate to escape the evil witch. Their investigation into the kidnapper's sordid past reveals violent coercion, ritualistic killings, and chilling bloodlust - making her terrifying plans for the children abundantly clear.

Short & sweet and appropriately creepy!  There's the obligatory nightmare scene (can't have an In Death book without Eve having a nightmare) and all the usual suspects are showcased.  Roarke brings food for everyone, makes Eve eat and sleep.  Still, as predictable as it may be it's still a fun read and I don't get bored, even reading one of the shorts.

A fun little spin on a creepy old fairy tale.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

the search, part 1

the search, part one
avatar: the last airbender
gene luen yang & huriguri
graphic novels/comedy/action
dark horse comics
published 2013

For years, fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra have burned with one question - what happened to Fire Lord Zuko's mother?  Finding a clue at last, Zuko enlists the aid of Team Avatar - and the most unlikely ally of all - to help uncover the biggest secret of his life.

Dun-dun-DUUUUNNNNNNNN!!!!!

Whoa, big reveal!  

Zuko is searching for his mother along with the usual cast of characters except one odd choice, Azula who has freaking lost her marbles big time.

We follow along with flashbacks to where Ursa (Zuko & Azula's mother) is from and how she became the Fire Lord's wife.  This is definitely a good story line because like the description says everyone has always wanted to know what happened to Ursa and where she is now.

We end with a GIANT cliffhanger and now I've got to go find the next book.  *sigh*

the promise, part three

the promise, part 3
avatar: the last airbender
gene luen yang & gurihiru
graphic novels/comedy/action
dark horse comics
published 2012

The Harmony Restoration Movement has failed, and the world is plunged back into war!  In the midst of the battle, can Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko mend the rift between them, or will Aang be forced to take actions that can't be undone?

Aang is discovering that since the war has ended building a new world is unlike anything the former Avatars have come across and so he's to forge this path on his own.  Luckily, Katara's no dummy and everyone else brings something to the table to even out all the odds.

Zuko still struggles with his fear of becoming his father, but I think he's starting to overcome that.  I'm eager to get started on The Search.  Just in time, too since the third book comes out in 3 days!

wandering son, vol. 3 & 4


wandering son, vol. 3
wandering son, vol. 4
shimura takako
graphic novels/drama/manga
fantagraphics books
published 2012 & 2013

Wandering Son has garnered extensive praise (from the LGBTQ community, from manga fans, and from comics fans in general) for its uniquely funny, warm, and sensitive treatment of the travails of two Japanese tweens who find themselves coping with the knotty issue of gender identification, as they slowly realize that maybe they aren’t who they were meant to be.

In Volumes 3 & 4 we're settled in for more serious topics.  Shu & Yoshi's secret is out and not everyone thinks it's cute.  Constantly getting bullied and harassed at school leads both kids to hide out at home or in the nurse's office.

Moving on, everyone is falling 'in love' and there's more than one love triangle going on!  Despite the idea of love, the two volumes are heavier and laced with despair.  We're left with everyone sort of unhappy with where they are and a bunch of friendships hanging in the balance.

As it was with the first two volumes I did feel lost at times.  While I could get the idea of the story and what was happening things get muddy and it's a little frustrating. But the artwork is gorgeous, simple and unencumbered.  I would buy these books just for the books & artwork themselves.  There's something about a hardback manga...

thankless in death

thankless in death
in death #37
nora roberts
fiction/mystery/thriller/romance
putnam adult
published 2013

Lieutenant Eve Dallas has plenty to be grateful for this season. Hosting Roarke’s big Irish family for the holiday may be challenging, but it’s a joyful improvement on her own dark childhood.
 
Other couples aren’t as lucky as Eve and Roarke. The Reinholds, for example, are lying in their home stabbed and bludgeoned almost beyond recognition. Those who knew them are stunned—and heartbroken by the evidence that they were murdered by their own son. Twenty-six-year-old Jerry hadn’t made a great impression on the bosses who fired him or the girlfriend who dumped him—but they didn’t think he was capable of this.
 
Turns out Jerry is not only capable of brutality but taking a liking to it. With the money he’s stolen from his parents and a long list of grievances, he intends to finally make his mark on the world. Eve and her team already know the who, how, and why of this murder. What they need to pinpoint is where Jerry’s going to strike next.


I can't remember if there's ever been an 'In Death' case like this one.  Dallas & Peabody know who their killer is almost right away and it's not a matter of collecting evidence, but finding where he's holed up.

Reinhold was a pretty good villain.  Super gross and annoying, I couldn't wait for him to get his and it was a pretty satisfying conclusion.  

At one point in the beginning Eve mentions that the year is 2060 and going back, the first book Naked in Death took place in 2058 so less than 2 years have passed!  It feels like much longer than that.  While sometimes you get the feeling that these cases are back to back it seems like there's longer breaks between some, but I guess not.  Then again, Mavis & Leonardo's kid is a good measure of how much time has passed.  She's just barely walking and talking!

There were some sentimental moments here.  The acknowledgement of Eve & Roarke's hard work and their support of her team, not to mention Roarke's family and the appearance of a character from tons of books ago!

Now seriously, when is Eve going to have a kid?  Or Peabody, when are Peabody and McNab going to get married?  Something's got to happen there, right?!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

unbelievable

unbelievable
pretty little liars #4
sara shepard
ya/mystery
harperteen
published 2008


Four pretty little liars' charmed lives have turned into living nightmares.
Emily's been shipped off to Iowa to live with her ├╝berconservative cousins. Aria's boyfriend is behind bars—because of her. Spencer's afraid she was involved in Ali's murder. But Hanna's fate is far worse: She's clinging to life in the hospital because she knew too much.
If these girls don't start listening to me, Hanna's going to look like the lucky one.

Such quick, lovely little reads.

And I finally feel like I can breathe!  I was afraid that I would have to read 14 books and still not know who 'A' was.  All that deceit was confusing!  

There's not much to say without giving away stuff.  I can say that I can't stand Maya.  She's controlling and pushy and I just don't like her.  Blech.

But really, these book are fun and full of action.  They keep you guessing and wondering, but it doesn't hurt your brain.  It's just a very fun, very quick ride.  With four down and ten more to go we'll see how I feel in a few books, but I'd recommend these out to anyone who just wants a fun read.

love you more


love you more
detective d. d. warren #6
lisa gardner
fiction/thriller/mystery
bantam
published 2011

One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?

As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper’s mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?
 
For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.


This book was like Commando, but with a petite, yet tough woman instead of Arnold Schwartzenegger.

This was a constant ride of terror.  You're never really sure what's happening, if a little girl is dead or kidnapped, if Tessa is guilty of murdering EVERYONE....you're basically hanging throughout the whole book.

And it was awesome.

Things happen that make D. D. not so....annoying.  It's one thing to be tough and maybe play the bad-cop now and then, but D. D.'s way over the edge there and it's off putting.  I don't need her to be sensitive and sweet, I just need her to be human-like.

But Lisa Gardner writes a dang good book and getting Bobby Dodge for a whole novel was pretty sweet too!

Monday, October 28, 2013

lies beneath

lies beneath
lies beneath #1
anne greenwood brown
fantasy/ya/romance/thriller
delacorte press
published 2012

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually, they select their victims at random, but this time around, the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother's death.

It's going to take a concerted effort to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love--just as Lily starts to suspect there's more to the monster-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between them and the girl he loves.

One thing's for sure: whatever Calder decides, the outcome won't be pretty.

This was much better than I expected!

Kind of Twilighty with the whole dangerous guy, girl falls for him anyway, but other than that it was unique and fun.

Mermaids and mermen, or rather, merman.  Lots of betrayal and mystery surrounding Calder and his sisters.  At first I was a little bummed to find out this was the first in a series, but after reading it I felt like we just scratched the surface and I'm interested to see where Brown goes with this.

But if you didn't want to start another series you could just read this one and be pretty satisfied.  I think it ends well, leaving it up in the air a little, but at the same time there's closure there too.  Like I said, I'm interested to see where she goes with this so I'm in for the next one whenever I can get my hands on it!

the kill order

the kill order
the maze runner #0/4
james dashner
ya/thriller/dystopian
delacorte press
published 2012

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.  Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived.  But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next.

Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there's something suspicious about its origin.  Worse yet, it's mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there's a way to save those left living from descending into madness.  And they're determined to find it - if they can stay alive.  Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price.  And to some, you're worth more dead than alive.

About halfway through I realized I was done with this book, but I read all the way through.  I wasn't hoping it would get better, I just had to finish it.  The Maze Runner was really good.  Really, really good and I would say that I wished it was a stand alone novel, but it did leave you on a cliffhanger and the story was a lot more than could be summed up in just one book I suppose.  But it wasn't until The Scorch Trials that I realized Dashner's writing wasn't that fantastic.  By the time I got to The Death Cure I really didn't like anyone anymore.

But The Kill Order was a prequel and I thought I would want to know how it all began.  What I didn't think about was how depressing it would be.  I mean, we already know things don't end up going so great for those who were around when the flares began.  So the whole time I wasn't wondering if Trina and Mark and their friends would die, I was wondering when.

So the first half was okay, but then the writing started to fall apart.  Conversations he added just to fill in the time were stilted and strange.  People don't talk like that, especially not people in dire situations.  By the end of the book I was tempted just to skip ahead and see how it ended.  Pages upon pages of fighting crazed people.  Punching, kicking, scratching...twice we had to read about Mark almost falling out of THE SAME WINDOW.  Well, maybe not the same one, but still.

It just wasn't good.  I wish I had stopped reading after The Maze Runner.

rising tides

rising tides
chesapeake bay #2
nora roberts
fiction/romance
jove
published 1998

Coming home has taught the brothers more than they ever dreamed about the meaning of family and responsibility. Now it is time to learn the meaning of acceptance and love...
Of the three brothers, it was Ethan who shared his father's passion for the Maryland shore. And now with his father gone, Ethan is determined to make the family boatbuilding business a success. But amidst his acheivements lie the most important challenges of his life...
There is young Seth, who needs him more than ever. And a woman he has always loved but never believed he could have. But beneath Ethan's seemingly still waters is a dark and painful past. He must learn to see around the shadows to accept who he is. Because through Ethan's past lies the future—and his one chance at happiness...

I like Grace and Ethan.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?  

I like that Grace isn't afraid to back down, that she loves Seth like he deserves to be loved and that doesn't ask for help from anyone.  I like that Ethan is steady and thoughtful, but sometimes not thoughtful enough.

The fight for Seth was kind of at bay in this book.  In the beginning everything was new and everyone's trying to find their place and how to fit Seth into this place.  Now they've earned his trust and while they know everything isn't set in stone they're pretty complacent about where they are.  So there's just a little blip and nothing much else so we know that the next book will be the final showdown.

Even though I've read this before and know the bare bones of the story, I'm still a little nervous, worrying over what Seth's mother brings to the table.  This is the last book I needed to read to finish the last square in the Bingo Challenge, but I think I'm going to have to re-read the last two.  Even in re-reading I can't leave myself hanging on a story!

Monday, October 21, 2013

sea swept


chesapeake bay trilogy #1
nora roberts
fiction/romance
jove
published 1998

Three men bound by the love of the extraordinary couple who took them in and raised them as brothers. Now grown and living on their own, the Quinn brothers must return to the family home on the Maryland shore, to honor their father's last request. A champion boat racer, Cameron Quinn traveled the world spending his winnings on champagne and women. But when his dying father called him home to care for Seth, a troubled young boy not unlike Cameron once was, his life changed overnight...

After years of independence, Cameron had to learn to live with his brothers again, while he struggled with cooking, cleaning, and caring for a difficult boy. Old rivalries and new resentments flared between Cameron and his brothers, but they tried to put aside their differences for Seth's sake. In the end, a social worker would decide Seth's fate, and as tough as she was beautiful, she had the power to bring the Quinns together—or tear them apart...


What can I say?  It's an easy Nora Roberts book.  There's some mystery and some romance and a little heart tugging.  I remember that the story ramps up pretty good in the next book in the trilogy (which I think ends up to be a quartet because if I remember correctly she revisits Seth when he's older).

The story is a lot like the Dreams trilogy.  Three sisters who aren't sisters start a business together.  These brothers who aren't brothers do the same, but she's also thrown in the mystery of Seth's parentage and the possible scandal surrounding that.

Cam and Anna are fun and it's more interesting to see Cam and Seth circle around each other.  Again, super fast read and pretty sweet.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

snow flower & the secret fan


snow flower & the secret fan
lisa see
fiction/chinese/period/women
random house
published 2005

Lily is haunted by memories–of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence. She has nothing but time now, as she recounts the tale of Snow Flower, and asks the gods for forgiveness.

In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.

With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.


In the beginning of Snow Flower & the Secret Fan we learn all about foot binding.  I had gone to the Field Museum in Chicago years ago with my brother and saw shoes that women whose feet had been bound wore and I couldn't wrap my mind around it.  Reading about it was both fascinating and horrifying.  Looking at pictures of women's bound feet on Google was worse.  When talking about her aunt's feet Lily says:
Her bound feet were not very small, maybe fourteen centimeters long, twice the size of what mine eventually became.
Just in case you're not sure what that is in inches it's 5.5 inches.  Which means Lily's feet end up being about 3.25 inches long.  And if you're like me and had to Google how many inches is 14 centimeters you might have seen that below the answer, the second link was a Wikipedia article on the average male's penis size.  Weird.

Anyhoo....that just nearly blew my mind.  At one point she describes someone's foot as being about the size of a thumb.  A tiny, Chinese woman's thumb.

This is chick lit at it's finest.  A story not about a woman's quest for love, children and happiness, but about the most important relationship a woman will ever have.  That with her best friend.

I love the way that Lisa See wrote the story, through the mouth of Lily as she is remembering her life now that she is in her 'Sitting Quietly' days late into her 80's.  Sometimes she remarks on how she cannot explain how she felt at some point or how she can never get that feeling or image out of her mind.  Her honesty is her atonement for what she let go in her life.  At times I could see myself in both women, although I could see my faults were similar to Lily's.

I thought about my mother and how she's been best friends with my Auntie (who is not really my Auntie) since they were girls.  Like old sames.  One Japanese, one Chinese.  They've seen each other through so much and they will always been sames.  I think that they even went to see this movie together!

Love.  What it all came down to is women's love.  The love we yearn for from our mothers, the love we have for our friends, our sames, and love that we try to show our daughters when we sometimes are being harder on them than they understand.  It's showing our mother-love.

live to tell


live to tell
d. d. warren #4
lisa gardner
fiction/mystery/crime/romance/thriller
bantam
published 2010

He knows everything about you—including the first place you’ll hide.
 
On a warm summer night in one of Boston’s working-class neighborhoods, an unthinkable crime has been committed: Four members of a family have been brutally murdered. The father—and possible suspect—now lies clinging to life in the ICU. Murder-suicide? Or something worse? Veteran police detective D. D. Warren is certain of only one thing: There’s more to this case than meets the eye.

Danielle Burton is a survivor, a dedicated nurse whose passion is to help children at a locked-down pediatric psych ward. But she remains haunted by a family tragedy that shattered her life nearly twenty-five years ago. The dark anniversary is approaching, and when D. D. Warren and her partner show up at the facility, Danielle immediately realizes: It has started again.

A devoted mother, Victoria Oliver has a hard time remembering what normalcy is like. But she will do anything to ensure that her troubled son has some semblance of a childhood. She will love him no matter what. Nurture him. Keep him safe. Protect him. Even when the threat comes from within her own house. 

The lives of these three women unfold and connect in unexpected ways, as sins from the past emerge—and stunning secrets reveal just how tightly blood ties can bind. Sometimes the most devastating crimes are the ones closest to home.


Whoa.  This book was intense.  Dealing with very psychologically disturbed children, Live to Tell doesn't pull any punches.  We switch narrators between Detective D. D. Warren, Victoria, the mother of a violent son and Danielle, the only survivor of a family annihilation.  That in itself sounds pretty heavy, but then you add in time spent in a children's psychiatric ward you're pretty much wrung dry.

I have very little to complain about Lisa Gardner's writing.  I was at the edge of my seat, the pages flew by.  I was both enthralled and horrified.  But Warren was sooooo dang grumpy in this book!  I truly don't remember her being this obnoxious.  While the crimes were awful and she had to face them I didn't feel like she was emotionally disturbed by the crimes themselves, but more that she was pissed off that they weren't as clear cut as she thought and she was really horny and not getting any sex.

I counted the number of times she 'scowled' at someone.  It was 13.  One thing that drives me nuts in books is repetitive stuff and the scowling was too much repetition for me.

But really, that was it.  I loved Danielle, went back and forth with Victoria.  Sometimes I felt she was an idiot, that her ex-husband was right and other times I thought she was the hero and in the end I found she was the strongest one of all.

Definitely not a story for everyone.  Definitely full of stuff people don't want to think about actually existing in their world, but it was a good read if you're up for it.

the wizard heir


the wizard heir
the heir chronicles #2
cinda williams chima
ya/fantasy/suspense
hyperion
published 2009

Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it's not his attitude that's the problem. It's the trail of magical accidents--lately, disasters--that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained--and his powers are escalating out of control.

After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys' school on the coast of Maine. At first, it seems like the answer to his prayers. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards. But Seph's enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students' powers to serve his own dangerous agenda.

In this companion novel to the exciting fantasy The Warrior Heir, everyone's got a secret to keep: Jason Haley, a fellow student who's been warned to keep away from Seph; the enchanter Linda Downey, who knew his parents; the rogue wizard Leander Hastings, and the warriors Jack Swift and Ellen Stephenson. This wizard war is one that Seph may not have the strength to survive.

My review the first time I read wasn't very revealing:
A great follow-up to The Warrior Heir! I love books that introduce new characters while still showcasing the original players. I can't wait to see what happens in the Dragon Heir. 
Let's see if I can elaborate on that pitiful review....

The Wizard Heir takes place a some months after the events at Raven's Ghyll.  Seph is a wizard without any sort of training.  He knows what he is, but he's an orphan brought up by a sorcerer with a mistrust of wizards so his knowledge is very limited.  He lands himself at Haven, a school for boys with issues.  When he learns there's a wizard there who will train him he's thrilled, until he starts getting glimpses of something terribly wrong at Haven.

He meets Jason who wants nothing more than to escape Haven and find The Dragon, a mysterious rebel who is turning the Wizard Council against each other and strengthening the Anawizard weir.

Basically, we're introduced to Seph, Jason & Madison and eventually the major players from the first book come together.  Cinda Williams Chima is awesome at creating characters like Dr. Gregory Leicester whom you just can't stand.  The perfect villain to our stoic heroes!  She did write an amazing follow-up and set us up quite well to be eager for The Dragon Heir.  So I guess my review wasn't as bad as I thought!

Friday, October 18, 2013

perfect


perfect
pretty little liars #3
sara shepard
ya/mystery
harper teen
published 2009

In Rosewood, Pennsylvania, four perfect-looking girls aren't nearly as perfect as they seem.

Aria can't resist her forbidden ex.  Hanna is on the verge of losing her BFF.  Emily is freaking out over a simple kiss.  And Spencer can't keep her hands off anything that belongs to her sister.

Lucky me.  I know these pretty little liars better than they know themselves.  But it's hard keeping all of their secrets to myself.  They better do as I say ... or else!

HO-LEE CRAP.

These books are like freaking candy.  Or crack.  Like crack, wrapped in cotton candy wrapped in a soap opera from the 80s.  Seriously.  That is the only way to describe these books.  They are so good, but not in a 'these books make me think about how to be a better person' or some kind of junk like that.  These books are good in the 'holy crap I almost just shit my pants.'

Does that make sense?




Thursday, October 17, 2013

the night circus


the night circus
erin morgenstern
fiction/fantasy/scifi
anchor
published 2011

The circus arrives without warning.  No announcements precede it.  It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.  Within the black-and-white striped canvas tnts is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements.  It is called Le Cirque des R├¬ves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway - a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.  Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.  Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

The book jumps back in forth in time to tell the story of before and during and then and while it should be confusing with a jumble of different characters it's not.  You yearn to know how everyone is intertwined - because you know they must be - and you revel in each little step taken through their journey.

Sometimes when I'm reading a book where there is an ensemble of characters I get frustrated when the focus shifts from one character to the next.  Inevitably there is always at least one character I don't care where their story take them.  That is not so with The Night Circus.

I'm enthralled by Bailey, Poppet & Widget and their mysterious adventures.  What Bailey's future holds for him and Poppet & Widget's easy acceptance and friendship.  Isobel is at times seemingly bitter and cunning, but then maybe that's just what I expect her to be and not what she really is.  Of course, Celia and Marco.  Tsukiko, Chandresh, Tante, Lainie & Tara, Mr. Barris, Herr Thiessen....they're all incredibly fascinating and add bits and bits of revelation to the mystery at hand.  

I found Hector/Prospero to be completely horrid.  Alexander showed more love for Marco than Hector ever did for Celia.  Everything Hector ever did was done to Celia, not for her.  The affection he showed her was merely a fake face.  Alexander was the genuine one.  Though that doesn't make him exempt from his choices it does make him more human.

I did get a little confused during October 21-November 1, 1901 & 1902.  Because it was switching back and forth so quickly I would have to double back and see what year I was in.  There were questions and mysteries I felt were never answered, but for some reason I wasn't disappointed.  Some mysterious are better left as mysteries.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

flawless


flawless
pretty little liars #2
sara shepard
harpercollins
published 2007

In the exclusive town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, where the sweetest smiles hid the darkest secrets, four pretty little liars - Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna - have been very bad girls...

Spencer stole her sister's boyfriend.  Aria is brokenhearted over her English teacher.  Emily likes her new friend Maya...as much more than a friend.  And Hanna's obsession with looking flawless is literally making her sick.  But the most horrible secret of all is something so scandalous it could destroy their perfect little lives.

And someone named "A" is threatening to do just that.

At first they thought A was Alison, their friend who vanished three years ago...but then Alison turned up dead.  So could A be Melissa, Spencer's ultra-conservative sister?  Or Maya, who wants Emily all to herself?  What about Toby, the mysterious guy who left town right after Alison went missing?

One thing's for certain: A's got the dirt to bury them all alive, and with every crumpled note, wicked IM, and vindictive text message A sends, the girls get a little closer to losing it all.

AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!

I'm torn between knowing who A is and not.  If we find out that would mean that the series would be over, right?  And we know it's not because there's 14 books in the series (I think).  But not knowing is driving me CRAZY!!

And every time I think I have a handle on who I like and who I don't the tables get turned and something else about one of the girls reveals itself.

I will say that one of the things that kind of bugs me is the drama queen-ness of some of the parents.  I'm sure that there's parents out there like these, but all in one place in one group of friends?  And it kind of bugs me that the girls aren't friends anymore, but with secrets as big as they have I guess that's kind of expected.  Now though it seems maybe they've come together and are seeing each other as their allies.  Though with 12 books left who knows what will happen!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

warrior heir


warrior heir
the heir chronicles #1
cinda williams chima
fantasy/suspense/ya
hyperion
published 2007

Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity.  Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers.  Then one day Jack skips his medicine.  Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before.  And it feels great - until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us.  At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game - a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death.  The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre heritage isn't enough, Jack finds out that he's not just another member of Weirlind - he's one of the last of the warriors - at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

This was a re-read for me that falls between the older Nora Roberts books I've been re-reading where I know I've read them, but it's been so long it's almost a new book to me and Twilight where I've read it so many times I almost know it by heart.  I first read Warrior Heir in 2009 when I was really starting to read more YA fantasy novels.  I fell in love with Jack, Ellen, Fitch & Will.  I enjoyed the pacing of the novel.  It was a quick read in the sense that I couldn't put it down.

I thought this was simply a trilogy and I flew through all three pretty quickly.  I think at that point it was kind of billed as only being three books, but then a few weeks ago I saw a free short story set in this universe and that Cinda William Chima is releasing another two books!  The Enchanter Heir & The Sorcerer Heir which totally makes sense.  smh

My review from the first reading:
Fast paced and nail biting!  The story and mythology within the story were fantastic!  Each character was likeable or easily despised, whichever needed!  I loved that Jack was the all around hero.  He was strong and brave and also compassionate and humble.  Fitch and Will were wonderful and the unlikely heroes/true friends and Linda and Hastings were strong and full of chemistry.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

Even though I remembered most of this story I still felt like it was a good idea to refresh my memory and the book is so good and so enjoyable that I wasn't bored reading it again.  It's one of those series that I would certainly recommend!

two years and counting

Two years ago today she was barely bigger than a package of baby wipes!

Lucky to have the best big sister in the whole world!

She liked being snuggled up in blankets.

And for some reason she loved having a bucket on her head!

When she was littler she wasn't so picky about her food.  Today all she wants is 'fre-fries'.

She loves to smile just a little bit more than she likes to make frown-ie faces.

She still has a little bit of chubbies on her cheeks.

We tried bangs, but somehow hair still ended up in her face.

She tolerates Batman.  Maybe she'll be my geek girl.

She can be pretty lazy.

She still loves owls.

She throws around lots of attitude already.

And today she turned 2 years old.

Every day she makes me laugh and makes me smile.  She runs to me and gives me hugs and kisses.  She is the best little big addition to our family.  I'm so incredibly lucky for you baby girl.

Monday, October 7, 2013

a faint cold fear


a faint cold fear
grant county #3
karin slaughter
thriller/romance
william morrow
published 2003

Sara Linton, medical examiner in the small town of Heartsdale, is called out to an apparent suicide on the local college campus.  The mutilated body provides little in the way of clues - and the college authorities are keen to avoid a scandal - but for Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, things don't add up.  Two more suspicious suicides follow, and a young woman is brutally attacked.  For Sara, the violence strikes far too close to home and as Jeffrey pursues the sadistic killer, he discovers that ex-police detective Lena Adams, now a security guard on campus, may be in possession of crucial information.  But, bruised and angered by her expulsion from the force, Lena seems to be barely capable of protecting herself, let alone saving the next victim....

Whoa Lena.  Just...whoa.

I've never really liked Lena as a character.  From the first book she was curt, rude, unforgiving and unhappy.  Then she was attacked and I felt horrible for her, but I still didn't like her.  In the second book she was spiraling down and again, I felt sorry for her, but I didn't like her.  Now, in the third Grant County book I just didn't understand her.

There's so much flip flopping in this books, things left unconnected and left hanging that at the end I would have felt bummed, but then with the last scene of Lena I was kind of floored.  At first I felt it came out of left field, but maybe not.

Everyone here still feels like a surface character.  We've not gone any deeper and so I think that's why I have a harder time connecting with anyone.  The murder mystery part is enough to keep me interested, but it was kind of all over the place and really, this was Lena's book.

For me this was a means to the end.  I want to continue reading the series so that means I must read each book along the way.  I could have taken this one or left it, but then ending....well, whoa.

carnal innocence


carnal innocence
nora roberts
romance/suspense
bantam
published 2000

In the small town of Innocence, Mississippi, days are long, nights are fragrant, and secrets are hard to keep.  But when a brutal killer starts claiming the lives of the town's most attractive women, lifelong neighbors are forced to wonder if the culprit is a stranger lurking in the bayou...or someone right next door.

For Caroline Waverly, world famous violinist, a beautiful summer interlude could turn into much more--or could stir a killer's crazed dreams.

Another re-read and another long one, except this time I wasn't bored or irritated at all.  This book had a lot going on.  For such a quiet small town there was a lot boiling right under the surface and it all seems to boil over right after Caroline Waverly moves out there!

Roberts kept me guessing the whole time!  And I fell in love with every character, but I especially loved Cy.  He was a story all by himself.  The murder mystery kept me wondering thoughout, even when I was distracted by Hatinger family drama or Josie's sexual adventures.

This one is easily a good story that was still entertaining to re-read a second time.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

genuine lies



nora roberts
romance/suspense
bantam
published 1998

She is the last of the movie goddesses, and the greatest: a smoky-voiced sex symbol who clawed her way up the ladder to two Oscars and a Tony, four husbands and a legion of lovers.  Her beauty is staggering, her power awesome.  There is no secret, no lie, no scandal she doesn't know.  Now, still in the spotlight after fifty years, Eve Benedict has decided to write her memoirs--no holds barred.  All Hollywood begs her not to.  But Eve has her reasons...

And she has handpicked her biographer.  She has transported twenty-eight-year-old Julia Summers, already renowned for her skill and integrity as a writer, from a quiet Connecticut existence to glitzy Beverly Hills.  Lovely, self-sufficient, and proudly professional, Julia hates the limelight but loves her work--and the home it built for the ten-year-old son she's raising alone.  How can she refuse this chance of a lifetime?  How can she know how dramatically her hard-won peace will be shattered?

One of the things I've noticed going back and re-reading these older Nora Roberts books is how she's evolved her female characters.  In these older books the women are all not looking for any sort of relationship and then here comes this irresistible man who nearly forces himself on them and they fall in love two days later.  There are some exceptions to this, but this one, Genuine Lies, was probably the worst offender.

Maybe it didn't help that I didn't care for any of the characters and the book was so dang long.  And transparent.  Of course, I've read the book before so I can't say if I was remembering or if it really was that predictable, but I didn't enjoy this one the way I've rediscovered and enjoyed the Dream trilogy and the Concannon Sisters trilogy.

I don't know why it had to be so long.  She spent a lot of time setting the scene and building up, but then there were other aspects of the story she seemed to gloss over quickly.  And maybe that's my own preference.  Sometime the aftermath is more interesting to me than the actual story!

Julia just wasn't my favorite Nora Roberts character.  She was weirdly angered.  Maybe that was Roberts way of expressing how repressed she was in everyday life, but really, it was just weird.  Paul's heavy handed 'romancing' of Julia was borderline creepy although I did like his relationship with Julia's son.  Eve's whole plot to get all of this together was just badly planned and the monkey wrench thrown in sucked.

All in all, certainly not my favorite Nora Roberts book and in fact, the only book of hers I can think of that I'm rating lower than 3 stars.  Oh well, they can't all be winners!

Friday, October 4, 2013

finding the dream


finding the dream
dream trilogy #3
nora roberts
romance
jove
published 1997

Laura Templeton found out the hard way that nothing in life is guaranteed.  The daughter of a wealthy hotelier, she had always known comfort, privilege and security.  But by the age of thirty, her storybook marriage had been destroyed by her husband's infidelity.  Laura's divorce left her both emotionally and financially devastated--but determined to rebuild her life without the Templeton fortune.  Laura had always defined herself as a wife, a daughter or a mother.  Now she must finally discover Laura the woman...

This one had me all teary!  I think because it focused on Kayla and Ali more than the other books had and it was just so heartbreaking.  The book felt very quick and somewhat rushed at the end, but like the others it was a good read and always fun to stick with characters for a couple of books.

My only real complaint was that Peter Ridgeway got away with everything!  Although, I suppose a better person would say losing his daughters was punishment I think he should have been hit where it hurt.  It bugs me that the book ends with him and Candy all smug.  Uck.

I guess I'll still hold out hope that she'll write another book like she did for the Chesapeake books.  This one can focus on Annie and the butcher!

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