Sunday, February 14, 2010

All Things Lead Back to a Blonde

I am a fan of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was never about the supernatural or paranormal aspect of the show that I loved but rather the characters. Buffy Summers was one of those layered and flawed characters that stole my heart and still owns pieces of it. She's my favorite sort of hero and I often find myself placing her in various television shows and movies or using her as a bench mark.

When it comes to reading books I find the characters I love the most are the ones that remind me of my favorite blonde Slayer. It's a common theme with me and got me wondering if there are other readers out there that relate to this?

Is there a character that you just love so much that you often find yourself figuring out ways to add them into a 'verse they don't belong in or relating to characters through another character?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Once Dead, Twice Shy - Kim Harrison

TITLE: Once Dead, Twice Shy

AUTHOR: Kim Harrison

SUMMARY: My name is Madison Avery, and I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I'm there. Seeing it. Touching it. Living it.

Madison's prom was killer-literally. For some reason she's been targeted by a dark reaper-yeah, that kind of reaper-intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she's stuck on Earth-dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn't know why the dark reaper is after her, but she's not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe . . . ), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison's ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.

Well, if she believed in that stuff. - From Publisher

REVIEW: Within the first few chapters I was hooked, I loved the Dark and Light Reapers and Angels universe that Harrison created. Unfortunately mid-way through the book the plot got a bit dull and chaotic, thankfully by the end Harrison re-found her plot and perked my interest again.

The plot itself was good, not great; but I've got a feeling that this book sets up for the rest of the series. Hopefully with the coming books we'll get more character development and a slightly less choppy book. I think if she'd found a way to give us less action and more character growth and history I would've enjoyed this far more. Especially since she is making this a series, some of the stuff could've been left hanging and then wrapped up in the next book.

That leads me to my biggest problem with this book. I never felt myself attached to the lead, Madison Avery. I was often more intrigued by Barnabas and what caused him to become who he was. I loved the weight that he carried around and when he was up dealing with time keeping politics I found that I got a bit bored. I want more of him and less of other characters.

The friendship/relationship between Madison and Josh felt off and while I felt like I'm suppose to be cheering these two on I'm not. Never found myself wanting these two to have more time together and really... I felt like Josh was a predictable character. I wanted motive for him helping Madison out, for not being the 'jock' that originally we were lead to believe. What caused Madison to feel for him. None of this was given and due to that I never fell for him.

All in all, I didn't love and I didn't hate. I will probably pick up the second book in the series Early to Death, Early to Rise, which comes out May 25, 2010, and decide then if I'll continue to read. Though, I'm sure those that love Harrison will enjoy her dive into the YA genre.

RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sweetheart - Chelsea Cain

TITLE: Sweetheart

AUTHOR: Chelsea Cain

SUMMARY: When the body of a young woman is discovered in Portland''s Forest Park, Archie is reminded of the last time they found a body there, more than a decade ago: it turned out to be the Beauty Killer''s first victim, and Archie''s first case. This body can''t be one of Gretchen''s-she''s in prison-but after help from reporter Susan Ward uncovers the dead woman''s identity, it turns into another big case. Trouble is, Archie can''t focus on the new investigation because the Beauty Killer case has exploded: Gretchen Lowell has escaped from prison. Archie hadn''t seen her in two months; he''d moved back in with his family and sworn off visiting her. Though it should feel like progress, he actually feels worse. The news of her escape spreads like wildfire, but secretly, he''s relieved. He knows he''s the only one who can catch her, and in fact, he has a plan to get out from under her thumb once and for all. Chelsea Cain has topped her own bestselling debut thriller with this un-put-downable, unpredictable, edge-of-your-seat read. - From Publisher

REVIEW: A twisted, and at time lurid, ride that had me in its grasp and didn't let go.

Gretchen Lowell (AKA Beauty Killer) has had a stranglehold on Detective Archie Sheridan ever since she wedged herself into the investigation as a psychiatrist while he hunted for the elusive serial killer. Even while in jail she controlled and manipulated him, but now she's broken free changing the game and managing to break the small thread that was holding Archie somewhat together.

Cain doesn't offer us moments of hope in this second installment of her Lowell series, she just keeps chipping away at Archie and those around him. That was probably the hardest element while reading this book, the utter hopeless that seemed to be Archie. His dependency on Gretchen continues to show up and twists you all about while we also get into their history making for some interesting and revealing insights.

Despite the mess that is our Detective those around him that love or care for him (excluding homicidal serial killers) don't believe he's a lost cause. In fact, that's what makes it so obvious how lost and broken Archie truly is. It's painful to watch Debbie, his ex-wife whom he still lives with, try to hold onto something that died the moment Gretchen entered Archie's life. Debbie is probably the one character that while I sympathize with, I don't understand how she's stuck through it all.

The continuation of Susan Ward's, our eclectic journalist, journey into Archie's dark world was brilliant. I love how Cain uses her characters, especially Susan. She's grown so much from the first book yet she's still the same. Cain manages to allow her characters to grow without them becoming unknown. We also get to see the outcome of Susan's previous story she was working on about a beloved Senator sleeping with his 14 year old babysitter and the cover up that subsequently occurred. I enjoyed that while Gretchen breaking free was the focus Cain didn't drop the plot line that she'd introduced in book one, nor did she cop out by telling us what happened. She managed to weave it all together and at times, offered us a small refrain.

Along with Cain's well written characters she delivered a plot that didn't leave room for you to get bored with. This is a definite must read for those that love a gripping thriller. However, Cain doesn't shy away from details. When she writes a crime scene you get a detailed and descriptive scene, causing some gruesome mental images to pop up but it's part of what makes this series so vivid. Not once have I read a scene where I felt like Cain shied away from her material, it may cause you to wonder what the hell a character was thinking or shift uncomfortably while you read but never like she robbed you.

RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Friday, February 5, 2010

Give Up The Ghost - Megan Crewe

TITLE: Give Up The Ghost

AUTHOR: Megan Crewe

SUMMARY: Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts to ''breathers. '' Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable. They know the dirt on everybody . . . And Cass loves dirt. She''s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of all of the poseurs in her school. But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass''s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her help to contact his recently deceased mother, but Cass is less than enthusiastic. Kicking and screaming, Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim''s life. And she''s more surprised than anyone when she realizes that maybe some living people aren't so bad if she''d only give them a chance. - From Publisher

REVIEW: I love when an author's debut novel has me longing for more. Crewe's definitely on my "Author's to Watch" list and she should be on yours.

If I had to describe our lead, Cass McKenna I'd say, "take the character Veronica Mars, erase her sleuthing prowess and replace it with gossipy ghosts (Norris & Bitzy) that like helping Cass expose the jerks of high school." How can you not want to read this book? It's a smart read! Plus, Cass has a nice blend of anger, frustration, loneliness with a splash of heart ache & betrayal going (much like my beloved VM). Never did I find myself getting annoyed with Cass and her decisions, Crewe gave her characters reasons for their actions and executed it beautifully. Leaving them full of life and lovable.

Along with the dynamic character the plot she delivered was powerful and moving. This was not another story of teenage angst; there was lots of growth in various characters, which made the story stronger. Never did I find the plot hit a slow spot or a rut; nor did I find that Crewe was struggling to make things happens that then caused the plot to bounce about. It all flowed smoothly and kept me engaged. There was lots of unexpected in this book, which was refreshing. Stuff that I thought would happened didn't and stuff that I didn't guess did. I loved that.

Definitely recommend this to those that like YA books. I thoroughly - thoroughly enjoyed this one.

RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thirst No. 1 - Christopher Pike

TITLE: Thirst No.1 (Includes: The Last Vampire, Black Blood & Red Dice)

AUTHOR: Christopher Pike

SUMMARY: As to blood -- ah, blood, the whole subject fascinates me. I do like that as well, warm and dripping, when I am thirsty. And I am often thirsty....

Alisa has been in control of her urges for the five thousand years she has been a vampire. She feeds but does not kill, and she lives her life on the fringe to maintain her secret. But when her creator returns to hunt her, she must break her own rules in order to survive.

Her quest leads her to Ray. He is the only person who can help her; he also has every reason to fear her. Alisa must get closer to him to ensure her immortality. But as she begins to fall in love with Ray, suddenly there is more at stake than her own life.... - From Publisher

REVIEW: Nostalgia was my sole purpose for picking up this book. When I was much younger than I am now, Christopher Pike was not the sort of author my parents approved of. So, I'd take the books out of my school's library and hide it in the deep recesses of my knapsack and pull it out to read in my closet, which was also my favorite place in my room. Apparently I have a little Lane off of Gilmore Girls in me. As I'd read I always felt so stealthy and reading was much easier to sneak past my parents than watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it aired.

The three books that are in Thirst No. 1 were originally published in the 90's and I really feel like writing has improved greatly, like by leaps and bounds. Now granted, when Red Dice was originally published (1995) I was young when I snuck it home, so perhaps it's just the age difference that originally had me thinking it was an awesome book. Or maybe not.

According to Chapters they are (original books) geared for kids from 10-12. I would never let my 10-12 year old read this book (like mother like daughter??). The content is far too heavy for a 10 year old. The character is relishing in the blood lust, shows no remorse for the death she causes and then makes love, this does not scream pre-teen to me. I wouldn't say it's YA either, which currently is what Thirst is labeled under for reading level. The style of writing is very childish with choppy sentences, poor characterization, no description and the plot wasn't one you sank into. It was all over the place. It's an odd mix of older content in young writing.

I feel like there are some (especially after reading some reviews on various sites) that would love this series, I was not one of them. My favorite part was my favorite part from reading it years and years ago. Where Sita is locked in the cage with Joel and has her 'black widow' moment. And if I'm truly honest that was my big reason for picking this book up. Like I started off stating it was all nostalgia. Unfortunately, the nostalgia wasn't worth it, in my opinion and there is no way I'll be picking up Thirst No. 2.

RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dear John - Nicholas Sparks

TITLE: Dear John

AUTHOR: Nicholas Sparks

SUMMARY: An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life--until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. "Dear John," the letter read...and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love--and face the hardest decision of his life. - From Publisher

REVIEW: Sparks is one of the few authors I've read that can move you in so many ways and in the end, whether it's the ending you wanted or not, you're left with a tale that leaves an imprint on your heart.

I was suppose to get lots done the day I started to read this and instead of working out or doing laundry I sat and read. I couldn't put this book down and it totally messed up my day of productiveness, which I'm okay with because when you're lost in such an inspiring book laundry really can wait, sadly there are no such things are laundry gnomes.

John Tyree was a brilliant character and his personal growth was what made this book so addictive. Watching him change from a rebel to a really deep and carrying gentlemen was beautiful. While the book is plugged as a romance I think what always sets Sparks apart from others is all the small storylines he incorporates. "Dear John" is so much more than just John & Savannanh's romance.

The tale of John reconnecting with his father after so many years of separation is often what had me grabbing for the kleenex. Their journey, that was first nudged by Savannah, was heart breaking and beautiful and will especially move those that have had a parent with a disability, strong or mild. Even the story of Alan, Tim's younger autistic brother, left its mark and he was a minor-minor character. Somehow Sparks' makes every single character compelling.

As always, there's so much content and layers to the plot and characters. They feel tangible to me and their journeys, while often breaking your heart at some point, are honest and real. It's life and life is never perfect, there are flaws and mistakes and regrets but you push through and make the most of it.

A true journey of love and what it means to love and at times, what it costs.

RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

To see more books I've read and reviewed, plan on reading or currently reading please check out my Book Blog

Monday, February 1, 2010

July is Too Far

This past year I became a full fledged fan of Chloe Neill's series Chicagoland Vampires. Merit is just the type of heroine I love. She's snarky and sharp while still vulnerable and just real, tangible. When I finished "Friday Night Bites" I was heart broken to realize that the third book in the series ("Twice Bitten") doesn't come out until July. JULY!! That's months and months away and while there will be some awesome books to fill in the gap it's just a reminder of why getting addicted to a current series can be so painful. Thrilling and addicting but man, the drought between books is at times agony. Thankfully Neill took some pity on us addicts and gave us a little sneak peek to take some of the edge of (or in my case it made it even stronger). You can check out Chapter Two here and read it. Obviously you shouldn't click on that link if you want to stay pure until you can get your hands on the book, which comes out July 6, 2010. But, if you're like me and lack a bit (or any) of patience click and enjoy! You won't be disappointed... well... until you get to the end and realize that July is still months away.