Saturday, January 4, 2014

Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost


Night Prince #1

            This book is okay. I wasn't thrilled with it, but I've certainly read worse. If the rest of the series hits the best seller list, I'll read them, but I won't go looking for them.

            The first chapter of this book was the most interesting, in my opinion.  Leila is living in the Florida town where carnies spend the winter. They are a diverse, interesting and tolerant group who totally have each other's backs. Leila has more than an unusual talent. Due to a freak accident as a child, she must avoid physical contact with others for the sake of their health and her sanity. Electricity builds up in her body which can be discharged into another person with the most casual of touches. It's a lot like when your brother dragged his feet on the carpeting so he could give you a shock, but on a lethal level. In addition, when she makes skin to skin contact with another person, she "sees" their darkest secrets, experiences them as though she were living them.  And considering what a dark and twisted lot humans are, this can be downright horrifying.

            Leila is kidnapped for her ability to connect psychically with others. At first it is not clear why, but she eventually realizes these guys are looking for Vlad, one of the oldest and fiercest vampires in existence. And boy does she connect with him.

            Vlad and Leila seem to be made for each other, and they must band together to thwart the evil intentions of one of Vlad's oldest enemies.

            The story had plenty of action, but lacked spark. I didn't feel the heat between Vlad and Leila, I didn't get any sense of tension. It was just a bit flat. This is a fine story if you are out of others to read, but it just didn't ring my bell.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins‏


The Hunger Games #1

            Wow!  Let me say that again in case you missed it. Wow! This is a great book. If you haven't read it, do so NOW. I was absolutely blown away. I'm not usually a big fan of post apocalyptic fiction. It's just too depressing. (And as you probably know by now, I read to be entertained.)  And young adult lit can often be a bit boring for this old lady. But this is a strong, fast-paced narrative with amazing characters.  If I ever run into Katniss or Peeta or any number of other characters on the street, I'll recognize them immediately. 

            By now most everyone knows the story line. After a major war, the continental US is divided into a few very large districts. Katniss is from district 12, the coal mining area of the country. The Capital, somewhere out West keeps the other areas in line through draconian measures, and they display their power over the other districts by staging the Hunger Games.  One teenaged girl and boy from each district is chosen by lottery every year. They are thrown into an immense arena and the twenty four children are forced to fight each other to the death. The last child standing wins. The populace is required to watch the event on television.

            After I got past my initial disgust over the basic concept of the Games, I got caught up in the story of a smart, strong, creative and conscientious young woman who manages to survive a difficult childhood of loss and poverty. When her little sister is chosen in the lottery to compete in the Games, Katniss immediately comes forward demanding to take her place. Before leaving the District, Katniss makes every effort to ensure her mother and sister will be taken care of after her death.

            Katniss does everything she can think of to avoid being killed in the Games, while also avoiding killing others. She also manages to do something no other player has ever done. She wins the Games, and keeps the second contestant from her district alive as well. Her brains and fearlessness are inspiring.

            Read this book.  It's amazing.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson


Alex Cross #19

            This was a two-fer! Alex is called out on two different cases in this book. One on Christmas Eve and the second on Christmas Day.

            After doing his Christmas good dead by catching a guy who has been robbing the poor box at the local church, Alex is all prepared to celebrate the holiday with his family.  The Christmas Eve traditions just get rolling when the inevitable phone call comes. A family is being held hostage. Someone's ex-husband has had a Christmas melt down and is holding his ex-wife, his two kids and her new husband at gun point. Alex saves the day at the risk of his own life as Christmas Eve moves into Christmas Day.

            By the time he finally makes it home, his family is asleep in their beds, while visions of sugar plums dance in their heads. Alex is only too happy to join them. But before he can even get into REM sleep, much less visualize any sugar plums, the phone rings yet again.

            This time he is called in to help corral a known terrorist who has been seen in Grand Central Station. This woman leads them a merry chase, but they nab her eventually.  In a rather disturbing scene, they break her down and she tells them that she is only the point person for the rest of the cell who are stealing chemicals needed to create a massive explosion. Alex uses his special skills to suss out the fact that she has not given them the whole truth of the matter. He and his partner then go out into the winter wonderland that the city has become and track down the rest of the group and the chemicals.

Read my reviews of other Alex Cross stories, Cross Fire, and other books by James Patterson, Zoo , I, Michael Bennet ,  11th Hour , Guilty Wives , Private #1 Suspect , Private Games , The Christmas Wedding , Kill Me If You Can , Now You See Her.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stalking the Angel by Robert Crais‏


Elvis Cole #2

            I listened to this one on audio book. Elvis Cole is as entertaining aloud as he is in print. I have to wonder at times how someone as goofy as Cole manages to catch the bad guys, but he does. The fact that he has the strong, silent Joe Pike to back him up when the going gets rough certainly helps.

            In this installment, a rare Japanese manuscript goes missing from the collection of a seriously obnoxious and twisted rich guy. This man is totally unconcerned about anything but his own desires and the opinions of people he wants to impress. His wife and daughter are nonentities to him.

            Cole is hired to track down the manuscript. In the course of the investigation, the daughter goes missing. As a result of this debacle, Cole is fired. But he has promised the awkward young girl he would keep her safe, and so he continues tracking the manuscript in the belief that both disappearances are connected. And, of course, he is right.

            I started reading the older Elvis Cole novels because I enjoyed a later one so much. This book, much like the first, is extremely entertaining and I know for a fact they will only get better as the series matures.

See my other reviews of Robert Crais' books, The Monkey's Raincoat and Taken.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kiss the Dead by Laurel K Hamilton


Anita Blake #21

            There was not much of a US Marshall, vampire hunter story line to this book.  Is Hamilton running out of stories, or are there so many characters and back stories to keep up with that there is no room for outside action?  This book seemed to spend most of its time having Anita explore her feelings for her large number of lovers. She is very concerned about not loving them all the same.  It seems most of them are less concerned about this, but she works through her feelings on the subject all the same.

            It felt like there was more sex than story here.  Not my favorite kind of book.  But it was nice catching up with the gang. Hopefully Hamilton will come up with a more exciting situation to drop her characters into in the next installment.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman

            I gave this book 3 stars. About half the book was worth 4 stars, the other half was only worth 2 stars, so three seems like a reasonable compromise.

            The story itself was a good one. It held my interest and delighted me with its well drawn characters and locations. Zimmerman did a very good job twining the cultures of the Dutch colonists, the free black population and the local American Indian tribes. The story draws on aspects of all three and braids them into a tight tale. It is a good who-done-it, and the icing on this cupcake is the tidbits of history Zimmerman shares at the beginning of each chapter. It helps place the action in time, and served to remind me that events in the New World did not occur in a vacuum. They were influenced by and worked their own influence on events in Europe, Africa and Asia.

            All that being said, the story had some serious drawbacks. I did not like the way it was organized. I felt that some chapters were out of order. The story would have flowed better if it had been organized differently, and,we find out far too soon who the bad guy is. The suspense could have been drawn out and heightened further by leaving that info for later in the story. I also think the book should have had a different title. There is a character who is Orphan Master for the community, but he felt like a secondary character.  And while the main character is a woman who had at
one time been an orphan under his authority, it was only briefly. And, yes, the bad guy goes around killing orphans, but I didn't feel like he "mastered" them, it was more a case that the orphan children "mastered" his control causing him to gave in to his insanity and kill them.

            If you enjoy historical fiction, you might want to check out this book, but I don't think it ranks well among murder mysteries.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Racketeer by John Grisham



  I've taken a hiatus for the last couple of months - from blogging, not reading! But I'm back to it now that the dog days of summer have arrived. 

           I got to this book and thought, "Oh no, not another Grisham lawyer book." As you may have surmised by that, I'm not the biggest fan of his lawyer stories. They tend to be sad and a little twisted. This one is more fun than his normal lawyer book though. I liked it.

            We have Malcolm Bannister, lawyer, a man who got used by some bad guys and landed, unfairly, in Federal prison for ten years. He loses his career, his wife, his child, but does not lose his mind. And, he develops a bold plan. He trades bad information for his freedom. Then he uses info he got while in prison to acquire a fortune in gold. Then he gives the authorities the correct info and rides off into the sunset while they capture and prosecute the real bad guy.

            There are twists and turns and Caribbean sunsets. Malcolm, instead of giving up and giving in when he finds himself in prison, takes his future into his own hands and boldly wrests it onto a path that will keep him happy