Thursday, December 29, 2011

Horizon by Sophie Littlefield

Horizon, by Sophie Littlefield, is the final novel in the Aftertime trilogy. As the story picks up, several months have passed and Cass Dollar is now living in a new community called New Eden with other Aftertime survivors. As a side job, she plants gardens while raising her little girl Ruthie who is slowly coming out of her silence mode. Cass is also back to drinking once again which got her in trouble before time. Cass thirsts for oblivion now that she has fallen off the wagon. She has to keep it hidden away from Ruthie however for fear that other mothers may find out and ask her to leave.

Cass is one of those characters that is as far from perfect as one can get. Yes, okay, so she survived being turned into a Beater, and somehow found her humanity was still within reach. She does a good enough job with Ruthie, but her relationship issues with not only Dor, but with Smoke as well, are mind boggling. You know that she loves them both, which of course leads to the dreaded and hated 3-way love triangle that I loathe like over cooked liver.

Cass also gets a surprising reunion with her once missing father who also just happens to have found his way to New Eden. Unfortunately, their reunion is pretty much on the back page because of everything else that happens including a near massacre at a shopping mall, and traveling north to find a community where Beaters don’t tread.

Dor McFall has become a relative nobody in this new community. No longer is he in charge or telling others what to do. He instead joins crews building the community as well as other essential jobs. His one grace is that his daughter Sammi was rescued by Smoke, Cass, and Dor, and brought back to New Eden with them.

Sammi has her own issues she has to deal, including the fact that she was nearly forced into an unwanted pregnancy by the Rebuilders who also killed her mother. She has to come to terms with the fact that her father seems to once again be playing the field with both Victoria the perfect, and Cass, the disturbed and troubled.

As for Smoke aka Edward Allen Schaffer, he remains in a coma after the awful beating he took at the hands of the Rebuilders. He slowly regains his ability to be a value to the survivors and once again believes he is picking up with his relationship with Cass. For me, the Smoke tale is one of heart break and serious mistakes in his past which he has been trying to correct. Readers finally figure out what has driven Smoke so hard and it’s a real shocker.
What’s worse for the survivors of Aftertime is that it seems the Beaters, aka Zombies, are becoming more aware of their abilities to the point of almost understanding and moving in concert with each other. This causes tremendous problems for the survivors of New Eden.

My Thoughts
1. Please by all that is righteous in the world fix the obvious errors before this book is released! The changing of the POV's was incoherent at times, and there was even a point where one character was confused with the other phonetically. As I write this review (12/29/2011), I’m hoping that these things have since been found and cleaned up before release.

2. The ending of this series will blow you away. I am speechless right now. Littlefield knows how to tell a story, there is no debate in that. Her world is set in the year 2022 where the Aftertimes have wreaked havoc on the survivors across America.

3. As I have said so many times now that it’s gets tired of saying it, Love triangles are like the fungus that grows in-between floor boards and shower stalls that just won't go away no matter how hard you scrub, or use powerful cleaners. They are like that obnoxious neighbor who plays his/her music so loud that it rattles your very soul and makes you numb to do anything else. I absolutely hate them and curse the day they were made to be normal in any genre. Most likely, however, there are those who will eat it up because of who the characters are and what they have gone through since the Aftertimes began.

4. There is a major surprise character (Cass’s father) that shows up in this book. Yes, he was once an asshat and left her behind, but, when the time came to standing up and showing his cards and taking responsibility, it was a very emotional moment and goes a very long way of redeeming his errors in my eyes and in the characters he ended up saving.

5. Could this story have been any better? That remains to be seen if the publisher, author, and editors catch all the mistakes before it is released. Here is my fervent wish that someone in the group reads these reviews.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley
*This is the third book in the Aftertime series; Releases January 24, 2012

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lee Nichols' Surrender Book Review

Surrender is the last book in the Haunting Emma trilogy by Lee Nichols. 17 year old Emma Vaile has become one of the most powerful ghost-keepers in existence. So powerful, in fact, that Neos, the ancient, repulsive old ghost that has haunted Emma since she was a child, is more than a little determined to possess Emma and use her powers to release his horde of ghosts, wraiths, and ghasts and to become whole once again.

Emma, as a ghost-keeper, has all the powers necessary to communicate, read, summon, dispel and compel ghosts, wraiths, and ghasts back to whence they came. She is pretty much the only hope left for defeating Neos who has become a stain on everyone Emma knows especially after the devastation that happened in Betrayal and the shear loss of ghost-keepers lives including those in charge of the Knell.

Neos really wants Emma so badly, that he even gets the former Aunt Rachel, who was a ghost-keeper and was supposedly killed during the events of Betrayal, to do his bidding for him in an attempt to possess her body and become whole again. Of course, Neos has that effect on all the women he comes across including Emma’s own mother.

Meanwhile, Bennett Stern is addicted to Asarum and refuses to stop taking it, even at the risk of losing Emma forever. His parents, themselves Ghost-keepers, arrive home from a trip to Europe and end up kicking him out of the house as an ultimatum to get off Asarum. Bennett doesn’t go far. He is reassigned as a bodyguard to Simon who is now in charge of the Knell.

The usual suspects that being Lukas, Natalie, Cody, Henry and Sara all play their parts in this installment. Celeste and Anatole the Sterns ghost resident cook and housekeepers also are quite entertaining and would not be the same story without them. I don’t mind Henry, but I really got annoyed by the constant references to Emma’s feet. I mean, once or twice if funny. More than that becomes a nuisance and loses its effectiveness.

This book has a lot more surprises, including the fact that Emma’s parents and brother Max finally appear after dropping off the face of the earth at the beginning of book number one leaving Emma in Bennett’s hands and ending up at Thatcher Academy.

As a reader of this series, you have to have some compassion for Bennett, and why he felt it was necessary to take Asarum so that he can protect and help Emma and ensure that she has the strength necessary to defeat Neos.

But, at the same time, you also have to put yourself in Emma’s shoes knowing that Bennett is physically destroying his body, and pushing her away from him, and there’s nothing she can do about it since he won’t tell her the real reason behind his addiction. She does grow up lot more than previous installments, but there is a point where she has to believe that too she has too much responsibilities in not only stopping Neos, but in keeping Bennett from losing his life.

In this series, Ghost-keepers can fall in love, but, one of them will always lose their powers. It happened to Bennett’s parents, as well as Emma’s. The only question is who will be the one to relinquish their powers in order to turn Neos into dust Emma or Bennett?

I absolutely adore Cody and was happy to see how much he plays a part in this storyline.

I recommend that anyone who may be interested in this series, start reading the series from the beginning and in order. The trilogy features Deception, Betrayal, and of course, Surrender.

ARC received 10/19/2011 via NetGalley. Expected publication: December 6th 2011

Title: Surrender
Author: Lee Nichols
Release Date: December 6, 2011
 Genres: YA Paranormal

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly, Departed, by Lisa Habel, is a post-apocalyptic steampunk zombie romance novel set in the year 2195. 150 years ago the poles of the earth disappeared beneath deadly mantles of ice, and winters had become long and hard for an increasing number of nations. Humanity was forced to migrate in massive waves toward the new temperate zones along the equator. (Call it South and Central America) Entire countries were wiped off the face of the earth by catastrophic storms. Cuba, Indonesia, England, Japan are all gone.

The American nation suffered the most after refugees from Canada brought a new strain of influenza long with them. It killed one out of four people. The survivors were then forced to live through the second American Civil war and its nuclear destruction it brought with it. The United States as a nation ceased to be. If that weren’t enough destruction and mayhem, an eruption of a super volcano under Yellowstone finally emptied the US of anyone left behind.

Society, as the survivors knew it, changed drastically. There was a separation into two distinct camps called Victorians, and Punks. The Punk Movement rejected the new aristocracy, anti-technology, anti-government of the Victorians and formed their own country in the area known as Brazil and Bolivia.

Although they are technologically advanced like the Punks, the Victorians have embraced the ideals of a past era and modeled their society on Victorian England. And much like the actual Victorian era, the civilized veneer of society is masking lots of unpleasant things.

Main Characters:

Bram Griswold (Punk) is a 16-year old who became one of the undead after the Gray, or zombies, killed him. Due to advent of a disease called the Lazarus syndrome, people don’t stay dead for very long. They reanimate within a six hour time frame. Some become walking zombies with no memories of who they once were; while others, like Bram, retain their memories and abilities which made them human. Bram is a member of a zombie army that fights the Gray (those who are truly the walking dead) and is supposed to protect the human population from their attacks.

Nora Dearly (Victorian) is also 16-years of age and has been in mourning for a year and a day since her father died. She goes to school at a prominent institution due to her father’s actions in saving the Prime Ministers life. Nora lives in Elysian Fields with her overbearing Aunt who wants to marry Nora off to some wealthy boy so that she can start living the high life once again. Nora is extremely short tempered, impetuous, and has serious issues with keeping her mouth shut but also seems sure of herself when it comes to guns, and fighting those who want to harm her. She is also fascinated by the Punk society and watches past movies as her father did before her. She too easily accepts the Lazarus virus after being nearly being capture by the Gray, and rescued by Bram’s group of misfits.

The story is told from multiple points of view which can sometimes be quite annoying. But, after you read the book in its entirety, and take a moment time to think about it, they are definitely necessary to the overall telling of the story.

Most of the major chapters are narrated by either Nora Dearly or Bram Griswold. There are other chapters told from other characters' points of view like Pamela Roe (Nora’s best friend who is described as being a lower caste member of the Victorian society who was lucky enough to have Nora as a friend). Dr. Victor Dearly is Nora’s father and is blamed for creating the Lazarus virus that changes people into zombies, and the walking undead.) Captain Wolfe is a human who leads a reanimated army like Bram against the Gray. He has an agenda  

The romance between Bram and Nora isn’t pushed on the reader, but built up slowly from being scared out of her mind, to slowly coming to terms with her new reality, then to the realization that Bram is a somewhat changed and a different human being and not the walking brain sucking zombie the Gray are.

Bram is a character that you can actually feel sorry for, and cheer for at the same time. He didn’t exactly choose his current state of existence, but is doing the best he can under trying circumstances. He was forced to leave his mother and sisters behind after becoming one of the walking, talking undead. Bram and Nora couldn’t be more different. He is a tall and lanky and a Punk who loves to sing 20th century songs by legends, while Nora is a petite, short tempered, who doesn’t care who she goes up against.

This book is a young adult steampunk, zombie, apocalyptic romance novel which hits on all four genre’s with fluid motion. It also contains, what I believe to be, the writers personal political views on global warming, and racism especially with the different castes, and then the good versus evil zombies.

Dislike: The Epilogue. Please, Ms. Habel, this was a pretty decent story right up until you threw in the Epilogue. After everything that happened over the course of the story, why was this necessary?

Title: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Genres: YA Dystopian

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

15/16 year old Alex Halprin watches as his mother, father and younger sister Rebecca drive off to visit his uncle’s farm in Warren, Iowa 140 miles away leaving him behind for what he believes will be a carefree weekend.
Shortly after, a super volcano erupts from Yellowstone National Park spewing Ash, as well as causing major earthquakes to occur across the US.

Alex’s house is devastated and he is lucky to make it out alive while ending up at his neighbors’ home. This is followed by a constant barrage of explosions that leave people wondering if the world is about ready to end while darkness befalls the town of Cedar Falls.

This is the day that Alex’s whole world changes in a blink of an eye from a care free World of Witchcraft player and Taekwondo specialist who chirps back at his mother and could care less about his sister’s moods; to a survivor who must brave not only the ash and the darkness it leaves behind, but the health dangers that it brings as well as survivors who believe they have the right to rape, kill, and take from others without any consequences.

Alex must face several life or death obstacles just to make it through the first several days, let alone weeks of the aftermath of the super volcano eruption that leaves citizens fighting for their very right to live. When Alex comes across a felon who wants his stuff, he digs deep into his martial arts training, and fights back. It’s not the first, nor the last time that Alex will have to use his training to help him out of jams. Even though he survives, it’s not without a price. Luckily, he happens upon a mother and daughter that save his life.

One of the best quotes the book has to offer, and yes, I am so stealing the idea from another reviewer! “For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn’t taken our humanity. No, we’d given that up on our own.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Humanity is its own worst enemy in every way possible, and Mullin does an excellent job of describing them from Alex’s POV. Humanity either finds ways to survive and deal head on with its problems while helping others out during their time of need, or it creates even more disturbing situations that cause even deadlier consequences for the survivors, including a basic lack of food, water, the ability to communicate, and the ability to find shelter.

This book should be a learning lesson to everyone to STOCK up on basic needs like canned goods, water and learn what you would do if you suddenly found yourself in a similar situation. Because, you just don’t know when a natural disaster is going to hit where you live. Just look at recent events in our country, as well as others around the world.

For those who love dystopian novels, you will definitely enjoy this one, and I’m highly recommending it. You won’t find zombies eating human brains, but you will find several funny references with strawberry milkshakes and brains.
Although Alex is the storyteller, he is not the only likable character Mullin writes into his story. No, actually I found 18 year old Darla Edmunds to be much more charismatic, and mechanically inclined to come up with numerous ways how to survive and thrive during hard times. It is Darla who ends up saving Alex’s life more than once when he gets into deep kimchee with not only other survivors, but with the elements as well.

It is also Darla who figures out ways how to build unique contraptions that allow for the production of food that can last until the devastation is finally over with. Yes, readers of my reviews, you will also come to appreciate how fast Alex grows up and discovers not only love, but a way how to survive and move towards his goal of reaching his uncles farm. You will also find a romance that is not thrown in your face, but gradually built up from pure hatred, and resentment, to something deeper and hopefully more substantial in the end.

This isn’t exactly a happy story. It is a dark tale about survival and the way Alex and Darla end up working together to end up at their final destination; Alex’s uncle’s farm more than 100 miles away. There is a situation of rape, murder, cannibalism, torture, and putting survivors into death camps because of low food rations in the affected areas.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin is an ARC provided by and Tanglewood Press and will be released October 11, 2011. ARC recvd 08/08/2011 via Netgalley and Tanglewood.

Title: Ashfall
Author: Mike Mullin
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Genres: YA Dystopian

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Whispering Room by Amanda Stevens

New Orleans homicide detective Evangeline Theroux has hit a rough spot in her life. She is a widow after her husband Johnny Theroux, who was also a New Orleans police officer, was shot three times and killed in what appeared to be a drug hit.

She has a 5 month old baby who she feels disconnected from. Not that she’s a bad mother. She’s definitely not. She just feels that she hasn’t done enough to earn the love of the precocious little boy and he looks too much like Johnny to get past the resemblance.

Evangeline is something of an outcast among her fellow officers. They find her to be a cold fish, cynical, tough, confident, and tenacious enough to earn the nickname Ghoul girl. What they don’t understand, since they are mostly men, is that women have to work 100 percent harder than men on the job in order to earn any semblance of respect from their counterparts. She also has the highest clearance rate of any murder cop in the city.

Evie and her partner Mitchell Hebert end up with a bizarre case of a man who was killed by snake bites. Not just one or two, but numerous. The man was a high profile lawyer to a scum bag drug runner who we learn, has his hands in everything including corrupt Police Officers. If that wasn’t enough to pique the interests of many people, Evie and Mitchell find out that the dead mans own brother was killed in a similar way; bitten by snakes.

Evie soon finds that her own life and as well that of her 5 year old son JD, has turned into a puzzle of its own. The FBI under Special Agent Declan Nash has been keeping an eye on Evie and tried to keep her away from the nefarious drug dealer to save her from the same fate that killed her husband. Soon thereafter, a strange man and blond woman are seen not only at her house, but at her mother’s as well and someone continues to leave origami birds lying around for Evie to find.

After pulling Evie from the case, her captain Angelette Lapierre advises Evie that she needs to find time to speak to a true crime writer named Lena Saunders. Saunders claims that she may have the answers to who the real killer of Paul Courtland is, as well as answers to her husband’s death but will only speak to Evie.

Lena spins a story about the Lemay family who 30 years ago, was left devastated after the mother, Mary Alice Lemay, killed her two young sons. Lena tells Evie about the two surviving sisters Rebecca and Ruth, who may have helped their mother kill their brothers because they contained the evil gene. There was another survivor to the nightmare; a little baby girl that was born at the same time Mary Alice was killing her two boys. If you connect the dots, you will find out almost immediately who the baby is, and why her own son has been targeted to be killed off.

Whispering Room transverses 30 years from the start of the book, to the final conclusion. It is the story of a mother’s fight to save the life of her little boy from being just another victim of those who truly are sick and disturbed into believing there is a so called Evil Gene within their family. It is also the awakening of Evie to the discovery that her husband wasn’t who she thought he was, and finding the means to move on with someone else to care about and love instead of reveling in self-pity.

I’ve always liked the setting of New Orleans for the background for any story. The city itself has a steep history that truly hasn’t been fully explored enough in my opinion. The story takes place after Katrina came through New Orleans and forever changed the landscape and the people who lived there. It does take a shot at police corruption in New Orleans, but that is fact, not fiction as anyone who has read the news or has lived in Louisiana for any period of time is well aware of. It's the nature of the beast called Louisiana politics.

One thing, if you don’t like snakes, and I don’t mean just one, or two, but a whole shit load of snakes--you might want to keep the light on when you read this book otherwise you will find yourself looking under your couch, and bed, and everywhere else you might think to find a snake.

I've become a fan of Stevens writing after reading her solo works The Dollmaker, and The Devil's Footprints, as well as the Restorer an Urban fantasy novel which is the first book in the Graveyard Queen series. I look forward to reading the second book in the series called The Kingdom when it releases April 1, 2012.

Title: The Whispering Room
Author: Amanda Stevens
Release Date: March 1, 2009
Genres: Mystery & Thriller

Friday, September 23, 2011

Book Review - Crossroads by Jeanne C Stein

Crossroads is the seventh installment in the Anna Strong Chronicles by Jeanne C. Stein. For Anna, it has been two months since she was named the Chosen one, or the leader of the 13 vampire tribes as well as the person destined to resist the dark forces in the vampire community that seeks to dominate mankind and make them food sources only.

Anna has to face several new challenges including the arrival of Detective Harris of the San Diego PD who is looking into Police Chief Warren Williams’s death. He goes on to tell Anna that they have found some startling new information that just doesn’t make any sense. Of course, Anna, being the last person to see Williams alive, and knows what really happened, is a prime candidate for Detective Harris’s investigation.

The second challenge comes after Anna is approached by her former lover Max, a DEA agent who she hasn’t seen in 8 months. Max asks for her assistance in what he believes is a vampire killing illegal aliens crossing into the US. Anna, while weary and still angry at Max for dismissing her so easily after discovering she was a vampire, agrees to help. It seems however, that the ploy was set in motion by Anna’s direct challenger Chael who has some interesting information for Anna.

That, of course, is the third challenge since Chael has thrown out an interesting concept in that he can lead Anna to her heart’s desire; to revert back to being human once again, and living life away from the supernatural community and thus putting her family and friends out of danger. Chael claims that there is a Native American shaman who has the capability of bringing the dead back to life.

Of course, anyone including Anna, knows that Chael only wants the moniker of Chosen one and doesn’t care who he has to hurt in order to gain his goals. Chael is one of those vampires who wish to relegate humans to nothing more than fodder, and an expendable food source doing their masters, the vampires, bidding.

The last challenge is Anna’s reunion with Daniel Frey, the panther shape shifter who is also the Keeper of the Secrets for the supernatural community and their travels to the Navajo Indian lands in Arizona where we learn a little more about Frey's background. Frey, who has been with Anna from the beginning of her change into a vampire, was a welcome addition back to the story that has seen Anna suffer so much since becoming a vampire.

Crossroads is an interesting name for this book since Anna has to make more difficult choices that can either lead her back to her mortality, or continue on as the protector and soldier for goodness within the vampire community. The ending itself, was as expected with Anna going one way, and her only real friend in the world going another. I'm not sure in what direction this series is heading, but I will definitely look forward to seeing where Anna goes from here.

Title: Crossroads
Author: Jeanne C. Stein
Release Date:  August 30, 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy

Book Review Blood Sacrifice by Maria Lima

Blood Sacrifice, by Maria Lima, is the fifth book in the Blood Lines series. The story itself picks up right on the heels of Blood Heat where Keira Kelly was named as the Kelly family heir and has returned to Texas to gather her court alongside her vampire husband and partner Adam who is part Unseelie fae.

As the celebration is taking off, her cousin, and former lover Gideon, also a challenger to the title of Kelly clan heir, makes a startling challenge to Keira and Adam, throwing all their plans into jeopardy. Along with Gideon is Keira’s own mother Branwen who she hasn’t seen since she was seven years old and was being taken away from Faery by her father Huw Kelly.

Gideon and the Fae directly challenge the Kelly’s family’s right to hold onto their land that has been in the family for generations. There is also the fact that there is a doorway to Faery that lies on their land, but has been closed for a long time for some obvious reasons like not letting out the Dark Fey from their Underhill. Gabriel, we learn, is a manipulative and ego driven maniac who is power hungry and driven by revenge and dark magic.

Keira muddles her way through this story finding that the more mistakes she makes the more troubles come her way. Her own comments about being part of the Scooby gang was poetic and worth mentioning. Keira has gone from being an Escort, or one who takes a family member who has given up on living to the veil for which they leave this life--to an all-encompassing person who has all the Kelly family abilities like shape shifting, weather watching and healing.

Adam remains the one constant in the story as the firm, guiding, level-headed partner to Keira’s irrational behavior and actions.

On her blog, Maria Lima stated that Blood Sacrifice is the final Blood Lines book. I guess that makes since the storyline has come full circle, and most of the so called bad guys have been dealt with. There are more than a few major casualties in the story as well, and the fact that Keira and Adam become so much more than they ever expected to be.

I feel as though I’m spoiling what actually happens in the story, but I have stood on the edge of this abyss before without getting hammered for my commentary or reviews. So let the chips fall where they may.

Maria Lima's Blood Lines Series
1. Matters of the Blood (2005)
2. Blood Bargain (2008)
3. Blood Kin (2009)
4. Blood Heat (2010)
5. Blood Sacrifice (August 30th 2011)

Title: Blood Sacrifice
Author: Maria Lima
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Genres: Paranormal Romance

Review of Christine Cody's Blood Rules

Christine Cody’s Blood Rules is the second book in the Bloodlands series. The Bloodlands series is set in a post-apocalyptic US after wars, terrorism, zealots and crazies have decimated the country leaving it fractured and relying heavily on other countries to support its well-being.

Blood Rules picks up two months after Bloodlands ended with the “monsters” of the New Badlands getting the better of Johnson Stamp and his men after they tried to invade their habitat and steal their aquifer water supply. Even by winning, they lost because the group decided to flee for safer confines while avoiding yet another run in with Stamp and his surviving lieutenant Mags who want nothing better than to eliminate all monsters from existence.

In the first novel Bloodlands, readers were introduced to 23 year old Mariah Lyander who was infected with the were-wolf virus when her family was attacked and killed in Dallas. Mariah has become sort of a pariah or pet psycho because she continually puts her neighbors in jeopardy by shifting when she is under emotional distress or anger and then running out into the open desert. Her relationship with Gabriel has reached a tipping point and it’s become harder to control her anger.

Gabriel is a vampire who came to the new badlands looking for his girlfriend Abby and was angry when he found out the truth about what happened to her. Gabriel and Mariah ended up imprinting on the other so that now they can basically calm the other when distressed. Gabriel was told that he will revert back to being a human if his creator dies. He, at least, has something to look forward to that those like Mariah don’t.

In Blood Rules, Gabriel and Mariah decide that they will travel to one of the hubs, better known as a former city like Denver, and explore the possibility of finding a cure for Mariah’s were virus before it completely takes over her.

This being the second story in the trilogy, it lacks some of the depth that Bloodlands had created. While interesting enough to continue to the last book of the series In Blood We Trust (09/27/2011), it had what I thought were too many points of view.

Readers will continue to journey with Mariah and Gabriel, but Cody has also added the oldster (were-scorpion) and Stamp to the story mix. Cody introduces readers to the mother of all monsters named 562 and the possibility that his/her blood could either cure Mariah, or make her even stronger and something entirely different from what she already is.

Overall, the world building and introduction of several new characters along the way, kept my attention right to the ending which obviously leaves the reader wanting to continue to the last book in the series. For me, I can only hope that Cody doesn’t go off the reservation and add more POV’s to the storyline.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fallen by Karin Slaughter

*Rating* 3.5
*Genre* Suspense/Mystery
Faith Mitchell is a Special Agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) and has been partnered with Will Trent for the past 2 years. Faith is late arriving at her mother's home to pick up her 4 month old daughter Emma thanks to a seminar that went on too long. As Faith is driving towards her destination, she is unable to connect with her mother either by email, or by phone.

When she arrives at her mother’s home, she finds it destroyed and two men are still alive in the house. A shoot out soon occurs, and Faith finds that she is being questioned as a suspect, and not as a police officer with nearly 20 years’ experience.

*Positive* - It’s nice to actually see more of Faith as the main character in a story. She has the capability to lead an entire novel without anyone worrying that she will stumble or bumble along and mess things up. There are some family secrets that are finally revealed to Faith as well, and a closer look into her past as a rebel rousing teenager which nearly broke her family apart. Faith is real to me. Her struggles with her own health, trying to raise her two children in the best way possible, as well as the discovery of a secret past that surrounds her own mother, were way more interesting than the blooming relationship between Will and Sara.

Special Agent Will Trent has a sorted past with Faith’s mother Evelyn Mitchell. There are those who still question how Will and Faith can remain partners for the past 2 years after his investigation led to her mother’s resignation from the Atlanta PD. Will’s solo act as well as his sometimes brazen techniques, have left fellow law enforcement officers at arm’s length not wanting anything to do with him. He often finds that he works solo in trying to solve cases while often getting things wrong because of his inability to read. This time around he ends up stuck with his boss Deputy Director Amanda Wagner who is an enabler and couldn’t tell Will the truth even if it bit her in the ass. Wagner is also a life long friend of Evelyn Mitchell as they came up together as police officers.

Will has tried extremely hard to hide the fact that he is dyslexic from his fellow co-workers. (Sara, Amanda and Faith all know) Will is extremely smart which is typical of Dyslexic people who tend to be very creative and intuitive and are very good at hands on learning. Will is also stuck in an abusive relationship with his wife Angie; one that I sincerely hope Slaughter finds a way to end soon.

*Positive* - One of the reasons I started reading the Georgia series in the first place is because of Will Trent. Will has had such an awful upbringing, and his abusive wife just drives a stake thru his heart each and every time with her subtle threats and refusal to go away permanently. He is surrounded by bossy women, including Faith, and Amanda, who he can’t seem to get away from. Will seems to know instinctively things that no one else does. He and Amanda have a son/mother relationship that is often harsh in content, while Faith and Will are more like brother and sister.

Dr. Sara Linton once worked in her own private practice for 12 years. She was also the part time Grant County coroner while married to Chief of Police Jeffrey Tolliver. Sara has since moved to Atlanta to work for Grady Hospital. It has been 4 ½ years since the incident that changed her entire life and she is still struggling with moving on. Sara ends up in the middle of the investigation because of her concurrent relationship with Will and Faith as well as a target of Angie Trent who she comes face to face with in the book.

*Undecided* - I’ve had a problem with Sara for some time now and I’m not sure if Fallen has made me change my mind about her or not. She just seems to get involved in things she shouldn’t have access to. It’s not realistic. I know she was one of the main characters of the Grant County series from inception to finish, and now with the combined Georgia series she seems to be thrown into the mix as almost as a tertiary character who knows it all and who is having a change of heart regarding Will and their ongoing relationship.

She often comes across as smarter than everyone else no matter what setting you put her in. Or maybe it’s because I still hold resentment at what happened at the end of the Grant County series and haven’t been able to move onward with Sara in the picture. I have no problem with Sara moving on with her life after 4 ½ years of self-pity and self-doubt. I’m just not sure if I care one way or the other if Sara and Will find happiness together.

Fallen is the third book in the Georgia series by Karin Slaughter and continues the story of characters from the Grant County and Will Trent series. If you haven’t read any of the previous books by Slaughter including Undone, or Broken, I would definitely recommend that you read them before attempting to read Fallen. There’s a lot of back story including why Sara Linton is working for Grady Hospital now, and how she ended up connected with Will Trent and Faith Mitchell.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hellbent by Cherie Priest

*Rating* 4 stars
*Genre* Urban Fantasy


Hellbent is the second novel in the Cheshire Red Reports series by Cherie Priest. Our protagonist is Raylene Pendle who is a thief and a vampire who drinks blood but can’t fly nor can she be exposed to the sunlight. She is often mistaken for a man since international intelligence officials who have been hunted her for years; find it hard to believe that a woman could actually be such an accomplished thief, or as she calls herself--acquisitions specialist.

Raylene currently has two children living with her--8 year old Pepper and 14 year old Domino. Raylene took them in after the events of Bloodshot. Also living with Raylene is Ian Stott a blind vampire for whom Raylene has a friend with benefits relationship with. Ian was experimented on by the government and lost his eye sight permanently. Lastly, there’s ex-Navy SEAL Adrian deJesus who is a drag queen better known as Sister Rose. Adrian continues to hold out hope that he will one day find his vampire sister Isabelle who was last seen in Atlanta.

Raylene lives in Seattle, Washington where she has had to change sceneries and locations after the FBI raided her warehouse where she stored a lifetime of items she either stole or collected over the years. Having used up so much of her own fortune and capital in acquiring her new place, she agrees to work with Horace Bishop who is her pimp/agent if you like.

Bishop is the director of acquisitions for a NYC auction house and has discovered some rare and highly valuable Baculum or penis bones while at an auction house. Bishop offers Raylene a substantial finder’s fee for the cigar box filled with the bones. The only problem is that Raylene is in a race against a schizophrenic genius named Elizabeth Creed who used to work for NASA and who just happens to be a powerful sorcerer when in possession of the bones. Creed has her own plans for the bones that includes changing past events.

If chasing bones around the country weren’t enough to keep our OCD with several neuroses occupied. Raylene also has to find a way to keep Ian away from his former House in San Francisco where he was once a major player before he was captured, blinded permanently, and experimented upon by the government and Jeffrey Sykes. With the death of his “father” he is now in line to become the new Judge of the house of Renner. Something he has no desire becoming which is why he has stayed undergound for the past 10 years.

I adore Raylene’s humor, snarkiness, determination, as well as her motherly tendencies towards Ian, Adrian, Domino, and Pepper. Raylene is far from done collecting lost souls, and soon adds Isabelle in an attempt to keep Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta away from Seattle.

I also appreciate that the snarkiness between Raylene and the other characters isn’t overly overdone as in other novels. There is a serious issue that underlies this series and that is the fact that Raylene wants to get even with Jeffrey Sykes for what he did to Ian, Isabelle, and other vampires he captured, and also stand up and help her fellow vampires in their time of need.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series whenever it becomes available, and thank Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me access to this book before it is to be released.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Review - Those Across the Water

*Genre* Horror/Fiction
*Rating* 4.0


Those Across the River, by Christopher Buehlman, is a strange, disturbing, and yet fascinating journey through the eyes of World War I veteran Frank Nichols as he and his fiancé nee wife to be, Eudora Chambers, travel to Whitbrow, Georgia where they hope to start a new life together.

Frank has been ostracized from the academic community because of his actions concerning Eudora’s current relationship with him while he was a teacher at the university. By moving to Whitbrow, he hopes to write a novel based on his great-grandfather Lucien Savoyard's life and exploits as a member of the Georgia 18th Cavalry during the Civil War. There have been disturbing stories concerning Lucien’s treatment of his own slaves, and his refusal to set them free when Union forces closed in on Atlanta. Frank also wants to have tell the story of the slave survivors.

Instead of paying attention to his Aunt Dottie McComb’s warning about staying where he is, and selling the property to whomever wants it. Frank and Eudora end up in Whitbrow anyway and end up in the middle of a decades old hatred that goes back to the Civil War and slavery. Continued bad choices will changed their lives forever; especially Eudora's.

There are undercurrents afoot across the river and in the woods where Frank is warned to stay away from. Anyone who goes into those woods doesn’t return the same way. Frank ignores the fact that there is bad blood here, and even though he personally wasn’t responsible for what happened during the Civil War, memories die hard in the Deep South and Frank just happens to be the one outlet for justice for those who survived his great-grandfathers atrocities.

The story takes place during the early 20th century (1935 to be exact) when there is still strong hatred towards those with the wrong skin color or who are different. Hostilities continue to be at a tipping point where one man’s innocence or guilt is measured by hanging the condemned until he is dead.

The language is somewhat offensive at times and anyone who harbors any reservations or resentment over the use of derogatory comments, may be turned off by the use of them. But, without it, the story would have been a farce since any story that takes place in the deep south must contend with the reality of the time period and those who are still dealing with racial hatred.

The story development is slow at first, but necessary to the overall understanding and mindset of the main and sub-characters as they move through a course of action that puts them in direct conflict with the monsters in the woods. The only real surprise is what these monsters really are and why they end up going after certain people.

The second half of this book will boggle your mind after things are set in motion by the townsfolk decisions in regards to sending pigs into the woods. Because of this decision, people end up dead and missing and a desire for payback stews in the residents counteractions. This, of course, leaves Frank and Eudora’s lives forever changed; especially Eudora’s.

I highly recommend this book, but warn potention readers that you must put away pre-conceived notions of what you are going to read about. I would put this book squarely in the horror genre as to it's content and expectations.

ARC Accepted on 07/11/2011. Expected publication: September 6th 2011 by Ace Hardcover

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Devil Colony by James Rollins Book Review

Rating: Strong Case for 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, and Thrillers


The Devil Colony is the seventh book in the Sigma Force series by James Rollins and definitely one of the better stories of the series. In this story, Sigma Force, which is a covert branch of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is asked to get involved when a highly publicized explosion rocks a cave in Utah killing an important member of a research team and setting off a chain of events that is heard around the world and sets in motion events that may lead to the destruction of humanity.

Painter Crowe, who is the director and leader of Sigma, is tasked by General Gregory Metcalf head of DARPA, to get involved with the explosion investigation and bring about a quick conclusion. He realizes that the Guild is always nosing it's way into any Sigma investigation, and it will be only a matter of time before they interfere once again.

Painter is unhappy to realize that his niece, Kai Quocheets, is somehow involved and was last seen leaving the cave as the explosion goes off. Painter, as usual, is quick on his feet, and manages to thwart the end of times destruction of humanity. There is also a group that calls itself the True Bloodlines, and wants what was discovered in the caves.

I am truly happy that Painter is finally allowed to get out from his desk, and do actual field work for a change. He started out as an operative, but moved into the directors spot soon after the events of Sandstorm. Most of the stories have surrounded Commander Grayson Pierce, Monk Kokkalis, and Seichan a skilled assassin who formerly worked for an international criminal organization known as the Guild. The Guild has deep reaches into every corner of the globe and the government of the US. She has since betrayed her former employer, but is still on most countries most wanted list, including the US, and the Mossad. As of a year ago, she now works covertly for Sigma under Painter Crowe and is nearly always partnered with Pierce.

The Devil Colony intertwines fiction with history when it comes to the United States and it's founding. I was surprised to find that only part of this story actually took place outside of the US unlike the previous six installments. This book focuses on the founding fathers, and the fact that they too dealt with traitors who were willing to do anything to become rich and powerful and have a hand in the direction of what happened to this country. It also has strong Native American influences, as well as a possible connection to the Book of Mormon and whether or not a lost tribe from Israel actually found their way to the new world before Christopher Columbus.

Rollins is, as usual, an amazing researcher and writer. He vividly creates a world that you can put yourself into and not feel that things are a bit too made up or shoved down your throat in order to make a point. If you pay attention to the end of the book, you will see how hard he actually works and does his research about actual events that happened over the course of history of the US. There are truths to various storylines that he writes about, and then, of course, there are the fictional aspects which I’m disinclined to spoil for any future readers of this series.

The ending is truly emotional for all of the major players, and leaves lots of questions to the future of Sigma and it's operatives. 

If you are at all interested in this series, may I recommend that you at least try to read some of the books that were previously released in this series?

ARC accepted 05/20/2011 via Book releases 07/01/2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Dragon's Mark by Alex Archer Book Review

Rating: 4.0
Genre: Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

The Dragon's Mark is the twenty-six release in the Rogue Angel series featuring Annja Creed who is not only an archaeologist, but co-host of cable TV's Chasing History's Monsters. She is the holder of Joan of Arc's broadsword that was shattered to bits and pieces upon her death. Since becoming the holder of the broadsword, Annya's own agility, speed and strength have grown in stature. It also gives her heightened senses and increased intuition to tell when danger is near, as well as becoming a symbol of justice and good in the world. One thing that makes the sword so interesting is that it is stored in what is called the Otherwhere. Annya can literally grab it at a moment’s notice when she needs to protect herself from others who are trying to harm her.

Annya is called to Paris, France by Garin Braden for a surprise birthday party for Roux, who has become Annya’s mentor. Garin is an empire builder, rogue artifact hunter and immortal thanks to his link to Joan of Arc’s sword. Garin has been playing games with both Roux, (who he wants to see dead) and Annya ever since she came in possession of Joan’s sword.

This time, his deviousness knows no boundaries, nor does his deception in training and hiring an assassin called the Dragon to go after Annja and her sword. His one command to the Dragon: no hard shall come to Annya and that she must relinquish the sword voluntarily.

The Dragon is one of the best villains this series has had in a very long time. She is cunning, and an extremely well trained as an assassin. Her actions cause Annja to not only question her sanity, and abilities, but the Dragon hits her in her own apartment which is supposed to be safe haven from intruders. The Dragon holds the last Katana ever made by a master sword smith named Muramasa. It is called Ten Thousand Cold Nights. It is also said to have the alternative powers to Annya’s own broadsword in that it carries out evil.

I actually had a wonderful time reading this book. The action sequences take place from Roux’s home outside of Paris, to Annya being chased through a NYC subway, to the tops of buildings and finally to the final confrontation in a Brooklyn Garden between Annya and the Dragon. It will be interesting to see where this story goes from here especially knowing that Garin allowed a witness to survive his attempt on Roux’s majordomo.

My only request: I would really love to know who the writer of this book was.

Definitely recommended to everyone who loves a good action adventure story.

Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance (A Review)

Rating: 3.5 Stars - Will ponder if I should rate it higher.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
**Review** Possible Spoilers ----minimal----

Hunt the Moon is the fifth book in the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance and the action if pretty much nonstop from the first page to the last. Questions are answered, but others are left open for a possible sixth release in the future.

As followers of this series from the first book onward, we’ve waited two long years for this book to finally come out. Was it worth the wait? Probably. Lots of things happen over a short period of time as it seems to always do in this series. Five books have taken place over the course of several months. It will definitely benefit anyone new to this series that you MUST read the first four books before jumping into this one. Otherwise, you may find yourself loopy and lost.

Cassie is the newest Pythia designate or the chief seer for the Supernatural World after he mentor was killed and the power somehow shifted to her who has never actually had formal training. She has withstood traitorous vampires, mages, as well as the god Apollo himself in order to stay alive. She is under the “protection” of Mircea and the vampire Senate who finally believe they have control over the office of the Pythia.

It is also coming up on her coronation date, but she is really a prisoner in a hotel room filled with vampire bodyguards against those who want to take the opportunity to try and kill her; again. The most interesting guard is Marco who is over a thousand years old and really seems to care about Cassie, even though her pink toe nails obsession would drive even the strongest vampire to drink hard. Cassie, however, is not one to stay still for a long time, and of course, finds herself in trouble once again.

Cassie is also training with John Pritkin who is a war mage, as well as half demon (incubi) in how to fight as well as protect herself. Pritkin’s training is intense, but so it the danger that awaits Cassie at each and every turn. Now, she has demigods trying to kill her so that they can once again walk the earth. Almost right away, she is attacked by a fey creature and temporarily possessed. Thankfully, Billy is on the scene to help.

Cassie is supposed to be dating 500 year old master vampire, and North American Senate member Mircea Basarab. Mircea often treats Cassie as an object, and not an actual person. He believes, as do most vampires, that Cassie and Mircea are married. Oh yes, he claims he actually loves her, shocked look on my face when I read that part. But, does he really? Or, is he listening to his boss when she tells him that it would be fine to control the office of the Pythia, and thus Cassie after years of the position holder being under the guise and protection of the Silver Circle? He basically stalked her since she was 11 years old which is just plain creepy to me. That’s just my opinion folks.

Negatives: Cassie’s screaming nearly each and every time words come out of her mouth was absolutely nerve wrecking and annoying to me. Was that really necessary? Can’t she carry out a pleasant conversation without shouting at basically everyone? Again, just asking!

The way the book ends is so obvious that Chance wants to write another Cassie story. If she ended the series now with this particular ending, there would be a whole slew of angry readers out there who would want her head on a platter. There are too many questions remaining including the fate of Pritkin. Then there is her battle with the Gods like Ares and Hel and the alliance between the Mages and the vampires that get signed because of Cassie’s action at the end of this story.

Positive(s): First, that we actually have another book in the series. Even though it was a two year wait, the book overall was worth it. I find myself hesitating in rating this book higher even though the story was pretty good.

Second, Cassie and Pritkin’s relationship is explored more as well as Pritkin’s past and who he really is. The fact that Cassie saves his life by giving herself to him fully, and I do mean fully, was one of the better scenes of this book.

Third was the meeting in 1969 between Cassie and her mother Elizabeth O’Donnell. Elizabeth was the Pythia designate at the time of the meeting and also on the run from assassins who wanted to kill her so that Cassie isn’t born. Cassie ends up in hot pursuit against some Spartoi assassins and the whole chase scene with Mircea alongside was pretty amazing. Poor Cassie can’t catch a break, let alone her breath for 5 minutes before something or someone is trying to kill her. Now, they figure her mother is a prime target to go after. It's nice to actually meet her mother after such a tragic ending to her life at the hands of the rat Anthony.

Thoughts: I actually prefer Pritkin to Mircea. Mircea still creeps me out with the whole I marked you when you were 11 years old thing so that nobody else can have you. Yes, he claims that he loves her which naturally throws Cassie for a loop in that nobody has said that to her before. But, he obviously is loyal to the vampire Senate and is not likely to say no to them when it comes to telling Cassie what to do.

I want there to be another book just so that we can tie this series up in and find out who Cassie is truly meant to be with. Will we have to wait another two years? I read where other reviewers are saying another book shall be released next year? Show me the posting!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

 My Rating: 2.0

In the year 1712, a woman named Alicia Barrows unwittingly opens a gateway into the land of the dead and sets things in motion that will have an everlasting impact on the town of Claysville. Seeing the error in her ways, she agrees to work with Death in order to bring the deceased back to their world. Alicia is therefore named the first Graveminder whose responsibilities are to ensure the dead are taken care of, and if any rise, she is to escort them back to the land of the dead.

There is also an Undertaker that is supposed to help her bring them back to the land of the dead while protecting her at all times. Each previous Graveminder or Undertaker has either been a Barrows family member or a Montgomery. Each is responsible for choosing their own replacement as are the representatives of the town’s council. For some reason, which is never explained, Graveminders can not see the ones that came before them.

Because of Alicia’s mistake, the townspeople of Claysville agree to a contract with Death that basically gives them longevity and near perfect health. If they didn’t agree to the contract, then the entire town would have been eliminated and permanently linked to the dead. Nobody knows what is really in the contract, just that no resident born in the towns limits can leave permanently. If they die outside of town, they must be returned to Claysville to be interned and minded or else other residents will start dying. Lastly, only a select few can ever know the truth about what is happening in town. The rest are kept ignorant including the Sheriff who gets migraines if he knows too much.

Flash forward to the present and it now becomes Rebekkah Barrow’s turn at being the Graveminder after her grandmother Maylene is killed by a walking dead who has been prevented from being minded out of spite and jealously after not being named her replacement. Rebekkah loves Byron Montgomery who becomes the Undertaker to her Graveminder, but can’t stand him at times. She wants to get close to him, but after their past where they kissed while he was dating her step sister, things became ice cold between them.

They go back and forth so many times that Bryon is the person I felt okay with, while Rebekkah got under my skin like nails on a chalkboard. Each has spent years away from Claysville, but now they are inexplicably drawn back to town. Once they are named Graveminder and Undertaker, they can never leave town again. I call this the Twilight Zone factor.

I actually liked Byron, Amity Blue, and even Daisha better than I did Rebekkah. Rebekkah acted like one of Ms. Marr’s teenagers throughout the book. At least Daisha had a reason for eating the people she did, and even though Bryon couldn’t forgive her, she still is a better character overall than Bekka. Creepiness factor was that Daisha actually ate and drank her victims blood. No, she is not a vampire nor a zombie either.

A proper description of a Graveminder in this book: A Graveminder keeps the dead in the earth or brings them to Charlie, aka Mr. Death, if they go for a walk. While her partner the Undertaker, is supposed to protect her from harm and be with her for her lifetime. If any Claysville resident dies elsewhere and was left alone without minding, they would wake up and people in the town die horribly.

I really did have high hopes for this solo work after having finished reading the Wicked Lovely series. Maybe, and this is just my opinion, she should have stayed away from doing an adult release. I will never criticize anyone for liking a book in polar opposite to me hating it. I guess I must be a glutton for punishment in that I actually allowed myself to finish this story instead of abandoning it.

Best part of the book? The ending!
Would I recommend this book to anyone? Debatable at this time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Alien in the Family by Gini Koch

Rating: 3.0
Genre: Science Fiction/Romance

Alien in the Family, by Gini Koch, is the third release in the Katherine "Kitty" Katt science fiction romance series. If you thought things were wacky the last time out, prepare for a rollercoaster ride that ends with some surprises including one I did not see coming and now wonder in what direction the series will go from here.

Kitty is a former marketing guru who is now Commander for the Centaurion Divisions Airborne Division. She was given the position after she killed a superbug with a pen, and then came up with various ways to kill the superbugs including the use of hairspray. Airborne is made up of mostly humans, US Navy Pilots as well as James Reader who is a former runway model and everything Jeff Martini is not. Funny, handsome, charming, and NOT jealous of Kitty's relationship with other men.

She even has a few A-Cs mixed in like Lorraine and Claudia who are her best A-C friends and Dazzlers, or beautiful A-C women who are also extremely intelligent. How Kitty is the commander of anything is beyond me and others ask the same question throughout the series. She is clueless to the rules and regulations of the CD, since she prefers to spend all her days and nights having monster sex with Jeff. But, she seems to always be the first one to figure out what is happening before anyone else can, and jumps in without hesitation when those she loves are in anyway put in harms way.

Kitty and her Alpha Centaurian betrothed, Jeff Martini, are six weeks away from being married but, Kitty hasn’t even firmed up her wedding party participants or plans yet or bought her wedding gown. Both families are questioning if this romance is really happening, or if Kitty is going to play runaway bride by running off to be with her best friend since the age 13 Chuckie. It doesn’t hurt that he is as rich as Bill Gates, the head of the CIA’s ET Division which oversees the Centaurion Division, and Australia's most eligible bachelor.

Kitty finds that she is totally stressing out about her wedding. The reason for the stress she is experiencing? Jeff’s mother Lucinda, she believes, hates her and still wants him to marry someone else who is A-C. Kitty’s family has already expressed their opinion on the fact that Chuckie or Christopher would have been better mates for her than Jeff, but have come to understand that Kitty isn't the brightest lightbulb in the box when it comes to matters of the heart. She is the poster girl for interspecies marriage that is considered a test case for other couples that has been for far too long, prohibited by the Pontifex. She was responsible for a staged intervention by the US government to allow sanctuary to anyone under the age of 30 who wants to have a relationship beyond what the A-C’s considered to be right. Now, distant relatives are coming to give her a worthiness test, and nobody knows what exactly that entails; only Kitty realizes that it is meant for her to fail. Oh and the Unity necklace that Jeff gave her was the trigger in letting them know that Jeff has chosen a mate.

Surprise! Jeff and Christopher are actually descended from royalty. Jeff doesn’t want a thing to do with his family’s former planet since they basically kicked his entire family off planet for their religious views. I will probably get my head handed to me for saying this but, it really feels as though the writer has made a correlation between the aliens of Alpha Centauri and the Jewish people of Europe during the early 20th century for which six million died unnessarily.

On top of everything else, assassins nearly succeed in taking out one of the main characters who I have come to love James Reader. Sorry, but if James wasn’t gay, Kitty and he would definitely make a fun couple. James is the anti-Jeff in more ways than one. He also jumps right in without any hesitation and helps Kitty and Jeff plan their wedding, and buy the ideal dress for her. I have no clue why Koch feels the need to dress Kitty as a slut however, regardless if this were Las Vegas, as it is drilled into the readers heads over and over again. I dont much care for all the hot monkey sex that just seems to happen like anywhere, but I'm sure others who love romance and lost of sex will.

My one complaint in regards to this story, it seems to drag on from time to time instead of getting to the point; the wedding of Jeff and Kitty.
I absolutely loved the introduction of the Poofs. If you have ever watched the original Star Trek series, then think of them as the tribbles. Only these poofs are known as royal pets and they immediately attach themselves to Kitty, Jeff and Christopher. They even grow and eat the bad people!

Funniest moment of the book for me: Kitty and her alpha teammates (which now include an MD candidate named Tito, who saves James life) are gathered in Las Vegas to plan out strategy for meeting the alien invasion head on. Kitty, as always, is ignored by Chuckie and Jeff since they are having a man moment in seeing who has the biggest balls. Kitty, in a moment of pure brilliance, raises her top up to show her girls and everyone stops what they are doing; including Lorraine and Claudia who are cracking themselves up with laughter. The Navy pilots, of course, demand pictures for the sake of moral. Chuckie and Jeff are left speechless and mumbling like idiots. Bloody brilliant.

Yes, there is a wedding, but naturally nothing is done normally with Kitty and Jeff on the scene. Instead of walking down the aisle, they run like it was a track meet. There are some really interesting new aliens introducted as well. Canus Majorians, Feliniads, Reptillians, and Amazon assassins who want Kitty as one of their own. One of the aliens even becomes Kitty's soul sister and matron of honor.

Overall, the story was good, but it could have been alot better if it didn't seem to go on, and on at times. The ending is interesting as well, and it appears Kitty's future as part of the CD is up in the air since you know Jeff will not allow her to jump into fights now.

The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens

Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Seven years ago Dave Creasy and Claire Doucett were married and had a happy little girl named Ruby. Dave was a New Orleans police detective who at the time was looking into the murder of a teen girl named Renee Savaria. Dave was also falling further and further into darkness by drinking constantly and turning moody and lashing out at others because the case was getting to him. He even went as far as to sleep with a female officer who was known to be loose in bed and who later exposed the truth about their sexual encounter to Claire. Both Claire and Dave blamed the other for Ruby's disappearance, especially Claire who was the last person to see her alive besides the Dollmaker that is. Later, because of Dave's inability to get his head cleared up, Claire walked out the door, and Dave ended up quitting the force and becoming a full time drunk.

It is now seven years later and Claire has married yet another cop, Alex Girard, but they are in the process of getting a divorce. He blames Claire’s inability to let the past go and still having feelings for Dave as well as her inability to let her daughters disappearance go. So, when Claire notices a doll in a shop window that is the spitting image of her missing daughter Ruby, everything changes quickly for Claire. Her life spirals out of control as she is run over by a car not paying attention to where she was at the time.

She then has to face the fact that nobody believes Claire’s view that the life like doll was made from Ruby’s image maybe even by the kidnapper himself. Not even her sister or mother. Not even Alex who totally misses clues in the shop owners disappearance or the fact that a picture of Ruby is found in her shop. Needless to say, but I shall say it anyho, I hated Alex. Especially after Claire's sister shows up and sleeps with him even though their divorce isn't yet finalized.

After all else fails, she ends up running to Dave who is now a Private Investigator and has other things on his plate besides helping Claire. Dave appears to be heading for a showdown with his former officers of the law in what ends up connecting Renee Savaria's death to a call Dave received on the night Ruby disappeared. Dave believes that both cases are linked to the same killer, and possibly the disappearance of his daughter. After asking for and getting help from his former partner, the pieces of the puzzle slowly come together to the point where those involved in having Dave lose valuable evidence that could have solved Renee's murder and possibly saved Ruby's life. 

I liked the overall story and the plot line, and the fact that the story takes place in and around New Orleans post-Katrina. The only problem I had with the story was the rather blunt ending to the story and other plot lines were left unanswered. It was as though the writer or editors were in a  big hurry to release the story, and didn't bother understanding that readers might want to know more.

When the Dollmaker is introduced to the readers, you know immediately who he is but not why he is kidnapping and killing little girls and making dolls from their likeness. Ok, so, we understand that it had alot to do with his upbringing and his mother's desire to allow him to be different. We also know that he tormented his father and aunt after they tried to "correct" him surgically.

In the end, I believe I will try another story by Ms Stevens that is not part of the Graveyard Queen series. Maybe that one will have a better ending. 

Eat Slay Love by Jesse Petersen (A review)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Genre: Dystopian Fantasy/Science Fiction

Eat Slay Love, by Jesse Petersen, is the third book in the Living with the Dead series. Sarah and David have been through hell and back after surviving the zombie apocalypse and escaping from Seattle where the infestation started. Along the way, they have stumbled across cults, mad scientists and other groups who have tried to kill them. Now, they intend to do everything they can to reach the Midwest Wall where they hope to find survivors, including Sarah’s mother Molly, and safety from the massive zombie outbreak that has spread all over the Badlands (the West).

It has been more than a month since David was bitten by a zombie after coming into contact with a mad scientist who also had a cure. Sarah has been having nightmares of him turning zombie and her shooting him dead. Thanks to the cure, David hasn't turned, nor does he desire to eat anyone’s brains. But, he's not exactly normal either. His strength has more than doubled, he needs more and more food to keep him from going hungry and he can walk among the zombies without being attacked. Sarah calls him the Zombie Whisperer.

Sarah, as always, is sarcastic, funny, and witty, as well as a little worried that the infection will end up costing David his life. She absolutely loves her guns and toys she picks up along the way, and by the end of the story, she has an even better toys to play with. Think really big guns.

On the way to the wall, the couple meets up with a reporter named Nicole Nessing who worked for ENZ – Entertainment News Zone (Think TMZ). She was down in Mexico when the outbreak started, and since then has been hearing things about the couples exploits from various survivor camps. Sarah calls her a stalkerazzi, and truly hates her when they first meet. They also meet Colin McCray, who is the lead singer of Lead Tongue who decided to remain locked up in a hospital in Oklahoma trying to get help for his drug addiction. Colin definitely should have been tossed to the zombies, but I digress.

Nothing is ever easy for Sarah, David and crew. They once again face a test of survival by a group who have come together to keep out the infected and other survivors. Call it Mad Max and the Thunderdome if you will. Eventually, they do reach the Midwest wall, but nothing is as it appears. In fact, it appears that the government is doing its best to ignore the situation in the Badlands.

I love the fact that Sarah and David have remained married throughout the zombie infestation; in fact, they’ve actually grown closer in every way possible. While others are struggling to survive, Sarah and David ended up making zombie killing a business adventure and have a growing fan base throughout the badlands.

I’m not going to spoil this story or the ending which is definitely worth reading about. The ending does leave open for the continuation of this series, but for now, this is the last book of the series. This book is only 200 pages long so readers will have no trouble getting through this book. There are a few unanswered questions that need to be answered including one very important one regarding David, and Sarah’s parents.

However, I still rate this as a fun and interesting book that will take its place in my ever growing zombie book obsession that I need serious help with.

**ARC Received from publisher via** posted 06/19/2011

Treachery In Death by J D Robb

Treachery in Death by J D Robb (aka Nora Roberts) is the thirty-second novel in the In Death series featuring our main character Lieutenant Eve Dallas. (There are actually more but they are considered to be novellas.) The year is 2060 and summer in NYC is hot and humid with no end in sight. Murder doesn’t take a break just because it is hot outside; neither do the murder cops who are responsible for bringing justice to the killers. This is the responsibility of the murder cops, or Homicide Division of the NYPSD.

Eve and her partner Detective Delilah Peabody have just finished catching the bad guys responsible to tasing a man to death and stealing candy bars, chips and other items. Peabody nearly gets her head kicked in by one of the bad guys which causes Eve to offer a bit of advice. Peabody decides to listen to Eve’s suggestion about learning how to move on her feet better, which includes exercising more.

After completing her struggles in working out, she overhears a conversation between two cops that is an obvious reference to the fact that they are dirty and into things they should be helping to shut down, and not spreading. The cops are Lt. Renee Olberman the daughter of a legend cops call the gold standard, and Detective William Garret, both whom belong to the NYPSP’s Illegal Squad.

After escaping without anyone realizing she was in arms distance of being discovered and most likely taken down, Peabody shares her story with Eve and Roarke and the fun begins. Eve, Peabody, Roarke, McNabb, Webster, Feeney, Mira, even Commander Whitney, all come together in working to bring Olberman’s team down once and for all.

Think of Treachery in Death as the daughter to The Thin Blue Line by Joseph Wambaugh. This is about cops in the NYPSD Illegal’s department going bad and rogue. They use intimidation, sex, bribery, threats, and murder to get their way. The have killed several of their own officers because they felt they knew too much and were getting in the way of making money. Olberman is a woman who is driven by her own insecurities because of who her father is. She doesn’t care who she rolls over as long as she eventually get the promotion to Captain, and then Commander. Her squad revers her in a cult like fashion and does exactly what she tells them to do.

On the positive: I was extremely grateful and happy that Peabody played such an important role in this story. I actually think she is one of my favorites when it comes to this series, and could really see her in the forefront more often.

I don’t much get into the romance part, even though it is obviously necessary to keep readers interested in the series. I mean, yes, Roarke is Hottie McHockster and all that.

I like the fact that Eve goes up against what she perceives as the blue line that cops sometimes fall behind in order to support their fellow officers. She gets the full cooperation of a plethora of fellow officers in her squad and several others who are unlucky enough to be thrown into the mix. Eve is a hard-ass and puts herself into harm’s way more often than not.

I absolutely loved the ending of this story and with how her squad stood up for Eve, and not turned their back on her for going against fellow cops. If you can read the ending without shedding a tear, then please call me, we need to talk.

I believe, in my opinion, that this is one of the better stories of the entire series, and that’s saying a lot. The story was factual in nature, and the danger was palpable with every turn dangerous to Peabody and Eve’s determination to bring Renee and her crew down. I love the fact that Detective Lilah Strong stood up for what’s right, and hope that Robb transfers her into Eve’s squad.

Next books in series:

33. New York To Dallas (November 2011)

34. Celebrity in Death (February 2012)