Older Book Reviews (from my old blog)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 Book Review:
The Prophesy of Zephyrus by G.A. Hesse

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from the very first pages to the very last ones. The main character, Obie, was someone I could relate to, and I relished following along with him on his journey to another world. In Windemere, Obie meets an interesting assortment of new characters, faces several spine-tingling adventures, and along the way learns more about himself and the world around him than he ever thought possible. My 13 year old daughter plans to read it next, and I am sure she will enjoy it as much as I did!

***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Monday, April 19, 2010 Book Review:
Frost Moon by Anthony Francis
Dakota Frost is a tattoo artist in a new-world Atlanta, where the paranormal community, or Edgeworld, is becoming more and more commonplace and everyone from vampires to shapeshifters to humans interact and abide with each other side by side. But Dakota is no normal tattoo artist. She is a Skindancer. Her tattoos are infused with magic, applied with needles made from genuine unicorn horn, and able to move, transform, and even transfer from one being's skin to another's.

She is one of the best magical tattoo artists in the southeast, her clientele for the most part very wealthy and extremely secretive. It is this renowned expertise as a magical tattoo artist that eventually leads Dakota into a tangled world of danger, savagery, and murder. The reader accompanies Dakota on her quest for answers, meeting an unconventional group of friends and enemies along the way.

I really enjoyed this book, and am eagerly looking forward to reading the second book when it is released. It was so full of action, likable characters, and interesting premises that I found it very difficult to put down.

This was an early review e-book that I received through Librarything.com, an awesome site where you can sign up every month for the chance to win awesome ARC's and early review books of all different types! Check it out!

***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 Book Review:
Twice Dead by Kalayna Price
There's a new vampire in the city of Haven, and she's not like any vampire ever made before. Kita is her name, and before she was turned by Nathaniel the Hermit, she was a shifter. In the alternate world of Firth, Kita was the calico werecat daughter of her clan's Torin, or Alpha, and the smallest shifter in the clan. Now a newly-turned vampire, one of the first things she realizes is that she no longer possesses the ability to shift out of her human form.

Kita finds herself thrust into a new and totally unfamiliar environment, embroiled in vampire politics, struggling to finish righting a wrong she committed before her turn. She finds herself embroiled in one dangerous situation to the other, persevering by her wits and determination alone. Along the way, she encounters a vast assortment of entities including vampires, necromancers, humans, rogue shifters, mages, and skinwalkers. Some are friends and some are foe.

I received this e-book through the Early Reviewers program. Although it took me a short while to figure out the story line and main characters, having not read the first book of the series, this action-packed book ensnared my interest very quickly and kept me engrossed to the very last page, culminating in an excellent teaser leading to book three. I believe I will have to go back and read book one now, so I will be completely caught up and ready to enjoy the third upon its release!

***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 A Trio of Book Reviews:
The Soul Screamers Series by Rachel Vincent

An excellent prequel to an intriguing new series...A clever new paranormal series about a girl who finally learns why she is so different from everyone around her. Not your run of the mill vampire or shapeshifter story. Classified as YA but a delightful read for any age!
Kaylee Cavanaugh has panic attacks sometimes. Her best friend, Emma, knows about them and helps her stay grounded. Most of the time. Until the day the two of them go shopping at the local mall, and Kaylee experiences an attack like no other, and when the dust settles, she finds herself in the psychiatric ward of the local hospital. Nobody there can explain what is happening to her, except another patient, Lydia, gives her a glimpse into the secret world that her Aunt and Uncle have kept from her all these years. She is not human, and her "panic attacks" are not what they seem...
This was a Kindle edition prequel to Rachel Vincent's new Soul Screamers Series. It was offered as a free book, and I decided to give it a try to see if I might be interested in reading more. Boy, was I ever! The story grips you from the very beginning and makes you feel as if you are right inside Kaylee's consciousness with her. By the time I finished reading this prequel, I already had book One downloaded and ready to read!

Kaylee and Nash have to use their burgeoning skills and their limited knowledge to save their friend and Kaylee's cousin from evil...
After sneaking into a nightclub with her best friend, Emma, Kaylee experiences an "episode" that is becoming more and more familiar yet disturbing to her. Attracting the attention of one of the most eligible guys in her high school doesn't help her handle the ordeal, either. When Nash refuses to back off and their relationship becomes more and more entangled, Kaylee realizes that Nash knows more about what is happening to her than she does herself. As Kaylee and Nash innocently and dangerously navigate their way in a totally new world, they realize that a supernatural serial killer is on the loose and that they might be the only ones who can prevent more young girls from dying.
After reading the prequel, I had hoped that Book One would be just as riveting, and I was definitely NOT disappointed! Once again I was drawn right into the intricate web of Ms. Vincent's story, and was reluctant to leave Kaylee and Nash behind when I finished the book. So, of course, I did what any good book lover would do, and ordered Book 2!

Kaylee and Nash once again find themselves cast in the role of heroes, this time tracking down stolen souls from the netherworld...
Kaylee can tell when someone is about to die. While attending a concert with her boyfriend Nash, Kaylee realizes something is terribly wrong when teen pop star Eden suddenly collapses onstage and dies, but Kaylee had not foreseen it. What Kaylee and Nash discover about Eden and why Kaylee was unaware of her impending demise lead the two of them on a chilling race against time to defeat a monster nobody else knows exists.
Once again, I found Ms. Vincent's story fascinating and compelling. Although this book was darker than the previous 2 and the prequel, it was still so good that I am now eagerly awaiting Book 3's release in June, and already have it pre-ordered! I expect My Soul to Keep (Book 3) will be just as much fun to read as its predecessors!
Overall, I think this series is well worth a read, and I love the depth of character and imaginative setting that portray Kaylee and Nash's world.

Sunday, May 2, 2010 Book Review:
Siren Beat by Tansy Rayner Roberts/
Roadkill by Robert Shearman
This is a book comprised of two novelettes, Siren Beat by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Roadkill by Robert Shearman. I liked the way the book itself was put together. One novelette's cover is on the front cover and the story begins in the front of the book, but instead of the second story beginning halfway through the book and a plain old back cover, you discover something a little different! When you flip the book over in two different directions, both backwards and upside down, instead of a back cover you discover the other novella's front cover, and directly inside is the beginning of that story! No back cover at all! The endings of the stories meet in the middle of the book, and the story you are not reading appears upside down and backwards! It is unique! I won this book in a First Reads Contest on Goodreads.com.

In Siren Beat, Nancy Napoleon is the guardian of the harbor town of Hobart, protecting its human inhabitants from the creatures of the sea, like sirens, cecaelia, and kraken. She used to share her territory and the guardian duties with her sister, Sylvie, but Sylvie is now gone. Called in by the local police to help them rid Hobart of a siren infestation, Nancy reluctantly accepts the aid of Cadmus, a selkie who was Sylvie's lover. What follows is a fascinating romp through the nightclubs and underbelly of Hobart, where Nancy ends up fighting more than a pair of sirens intent on mayhem and destruction.

I really enjoyed this story but felt that it really could have been fleshed out more and made into a full-length book and stand on its own. I kept asking myself questions that could easily have led to further character development, additional action and intrigue scenes, and even more steamy sexual tableaux. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Rayner Roberts' work in the future.

I give Siren Beat 3 stars

In Roadkill, a mismatched weekend office affair between an older woman whose marriage is nothing but a shell and a younger man whose bumbling romantic endeavors leave much to be desired turns into an even more harrowing experience on their way back home when he accidentally runs something over with his car. Stopping to see what it was that was hit, they discover a creature unlike anything the world has ever seen before and have to decide what to do with it.

Following along in the woman's thoughts throughout the story, witnessing through her eyes the travesty of the entire weekend encounter, I was both intrigued and repulsed with the unfolding drama. This is not my normal type of reading material at all, yet I still found it compelling, imaginative, and well-written. Mr. Shearman is obviously a very talented writer, although personally not my style of author.

I give Roadkill 2 and a half stars.

***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Thursday, May 6, 2010 Book Review Double Play:
Tiger's Curse and Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck
Tiger's Curse and Tiger's Quest are the first 2 books in the Tiger's Curse Series. Book Three, Tiger's Voyage, is in the editing stages and I can't wait until it is published and available for me to download on my Kindle!

In Tiger's Curse the reader is introduced to Kelsey, an about-to-graduate high school senior living with a foster family in Oregon. Kelsey takes a temporary summer job with a small travelling circus performing in her town, starting as a ticket seller and general gopher. She gradually works her way up to a position as the animal trainer's assistant, where she meets the circus' white tiger, Dhiren, and develops a bond with him that far surpasses the bond the trainer himself has with the animal.

When a mysterious and exotic man shows up one day and makes an offer to purchase the tiger that the circus owner can not refuse, Kelsey is heartbroken to learn that her friend is leaving the circus. But her distress is soon turned into wonder when the gentleman, Mr. Kadam, offers her the job of escorting Dhiren, or Ren, back to an animal preserve in his homeland of India. She accepts this offer with some trepidation but much exhilaration and soon the trio embark on a journey halfway around the world.

Once in India, Kelsey and Ren set out in a hired truck towards the preserve, while Mr. Kadam sets out in another direction to handle some other business. When their truck is hijacked on its way and Kelsey and Dhiren are abandoned on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, Ren leads Kelsey into the jungle. Once they are alone in the wild, Ren reveals his true self, as a centuries-old prince cursed by an evil magician to remain a tiger except for a few brief moments ever day until a chosen one reverses the curse. And it appears that Kelsey is the chosen one! Now she must risk her life to free Ren from the curse, and in the process, she just might lose her heart!

This book was brimming with adventure, mysticism, folklore, and romance. I have to admit that the Amazon Kindle Edition price of $.99 was what first drew me to this title and convinced me to purchase it, but once I started reading it, I was enraptured from the very beginning to the very end. Although this book is classified as a children's book, I feel that it is so much more. It transcends demographics and is definitely a story that can be enjoyed by all ages. I give it 5 paw rating!

In Tiger's Quest, Kelsey makes a decision to return to Oregon without Dhiren and begin college. She believes she is doing this in order to allow Ren the chance to experience everything the world has to offer him, since he was trapped inside the body of a tiger for so many years. What she doesn't understand is that Ren has already decided what he wants out of life, and Kelsey is what he wants.

For months Ren tries to give Kelsey the space she claims she wants and Kelsey tries to live like a regular college student, even dating other men and deciding finally that she was ready to move on. But Ren has other ideas, and arriving unexpectedly at Christmastime, Ren once again invades Kelsey's world and captures her heart. The pair spend several idyllic weeks together, both attending college classes and going on normal dates, until danger once again finds them and they have to run for their lives.

Kelsey and Ren become separated, and Kelsey finds herself having to rely on Ren's brother, Kishan, and Mr. Kadam to help her. In order to locate Ren and free him from the evil that once again holds him prisoner, Kelsey and Kishan set out on a quest to find another missing piece to the puzzle that is the Tiger's Curse.

This second installment was beautifully written, with the present-day story seamlessly interwoven once again with captivating legends. In one action-packed chapter after another, Ms. Houck once again ensnared me in the web of her imagination and I was loathe to leave her world behind at the end. Another 5 paw book!

Sunday, May 16, 2010 Book Review:
Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman
Bonita (Bonnie) Torres is a Talent with no allegiance. Born and raised by her lonejack father but mentored by Joseph (J), an elite member of Council, she has allegiances to both sides and to neither. Recently graduated from college and somewhat desperately searching for employment, a cryptic telephone message instructing her to be at a certain address at 2pm the following day is the beginning of a whole new life for Bonnie.

When she arrives at the designated location, Bonnie meets 4 other Talents: Nick, Sharon, Nifty, and Pietr. All of them had been summoned in the same mysterious way, and none of them have any idea why or by whom. After waiting quite a while with nobody coming for them or telling them anything, an impatient Bonnie decides she is going to find out what is going on and opens the only door in the room other than the one they had all entered through. Behind that door, they discover a dead man, and in doing so, embark on a new chapter in all their lives. They unite with two other Talents, Ian and Ben, the ones who summoned them, to form PUPI: Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations.

PUPI’s first case involves the deaths of a very highly placed Council couple, which were ruled a double suicide by the Null police force. Their daughter disagrees, and hires PUPI to ferret out the truth through their magic abilities. But somebody out there doesn’t want PUPI to succeed, and the group is plagued by attacks and mishaps that not only fail to hinder them but actually fuel their determination to persist in their investigation. What they discover and who they suspect along the way provides the basis for the remainder of this intriguing and visceral story.

I enjoyed Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman greatly, and am definitely looking forward to further installments in this series. Bonnie was a likeable and believable character, despite the paranormal aspects of the story, her interaction with the other individuals was entertaining, and the action and narrative of the entire story was engaging. I give Hard Magic 4 paws!

***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Sunday, May 23, 2010 Book Review:
Cleo: The Cat Who Mended a Family By Helen Brown
Helen Brown KNEW that she and her husband weren't cat people. She also knew that taking her sons to visit a friend's new litter of kittens was probably a mistake, but that didn't stop her from going. When her sons Sam and Rob fell for the runt of the litter, a tiny black kitten with a disproportionate face and sparse fur, she tried valiantly to be resolute. What on Earth would Rata, their aging Golden Retriever, think about a feline interloper joining the household?

When her older son Sam asked to have the kitten as a birthday present, however, even agreeing to wait long past his actual birthday until the kitten was old enough to leave its mother, her resolve crumbled. Against her better judgement but tugging on her heartstrings, the scrawny black ball of fluff was going to join their family. Sam decided to name her Cleopatra, or Cleo for short.

While waiting for Cleo to grow enough to join their family, the Browns continued to live life one day at a time, blithely ignorant of the tragedy that was to befall them just weeks after they saw Cleo for the first time. What happened in the blink of an eye would alter the course of their lives forever after, and only Cleo's arrival breaks their despondency and sets them back on the course of life.

Through trials and truimphs, family additions and subtractions, and household changes in configuration and location, Cleo weaves herself into the heart and soul of the family. The story of her life and those who love her make up the balance of this story, and without revealing spoilers, I really can't divulge more details.

This was a very emotional, engaging memoir. I enjoyed reading it tremendously, and being a mother and cat owner myself , I was able to identify with the author in several instances. I laughed, I sighed, and I even shed a few silent tears in appropriate places. Cleo's story is a family story of life, love, and the neverending pursuit of happiness that every family experiences every single day.

I give it 4 paws!

***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Friday, June 11, 2010 Book Review:
My Sister's Voice by Mary Carter
Monica Bowman is the “…Architect of [her] Soul,” or so claims the self-help book that she and her boyfriend Joe wrote. Actually, if you want to get technical about it, Joe penned most of the book himself, but since he already had a career, he pushed Monica into claiming it as her own. She promotes the book through flashy motivational workshops in hotels up and down the east coast, complete with disco balls, confetti, and “Celebrate Good Times” blaring through the meeting rooms. And so Monica spends her days preaching rebirth, renewal, and reinvention as the solution to people’s unhappiness, all the while carrying a bottle of tranquilizers around in her pocket, just in case.

Even though she knows that her book and workshops are really helping people, Monica feels like a failure and longs to take her book's advice for herself and change her life. But with pressure bearing down on her from Joe, the enterprise backing her book and tours, and even from her well-meaning but overbearing parents, Monica finds herself immobilized by anxiety and unhappiness.

Lacey Gears is Deaf, with a capital “D.” Not to be confused with the hearing world’s “deaf,” which is not capitalized and often also referred to by hearing folks as “hearing impaired,” a label that Lacey vigorously rejects. You see, being Deaf, with a capital “D” means you are part of a huge community, an entire network comprised of both non-hearing individuals as well as hearing individuals who also speak ASL. To Lacey, Deaf with a capital “D” is her family. The only family she has ever known.

Making a living painting portraits of people and their pets, and preparing for an important art exhibition with her studio-mate Mike, Lacey is happy with the life she has made for herself, far removed from the group home for handicapped children that she grew up in. But even though Lacey is content in her world, she finds herself unconsciously painting portraits with the same theme over and over again in her downtime with no logical reason or explanation.

Then one day Lacey receives an anonymous piece of mail that forever after changes the course of her life. It’s a simple letter, really, just four sentences long. It has no signature or return address, but contains a revelation so astonishing that it catapults Lacey into a whole new world and a whole new perception of herself:

"You have a sister. Her name is Monica. Go to Benjamin Books. Look at the poster in the window."
The remainder of My Sister’s Voice is the absorbing tale of these two women discovering each other, resurrecting the secrets of the past that ties them together, and forging a new future for themselves and those that they love. I enjoyed reading this book, and was gripped by the tale of Monica and Lacey’s past. Ms. Carter’s portrayal of the ASL-speaking world, with its fellowship and ethos was enlightening and uplifting. Even though I found myself predicting outcomes once or twice, there were enough moments of complete surprise to balance them out, and overall I found My Sister’s Voice to be a pleasurable read. I give it 4 paws!
***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Friday, June 18, 2010 Book Review:
Villa Mirabella by Peter Pezelli
Rising star Jason Mirabella was on top of the world. As the marketing guru for an up and coming medical device company in California, he had it all: plenty of money, a luxurious apartment, a flashy car, and his boss’ gorgeous daughter for his girlfriend. Then one bad decision costs him everything. Finding himself one morning curled up on a mattress on the floor of his now otherwise empty apartment, Jason faces some hard truths. Out of work, out of money, and out of options, Jason decides to go home.

Home is Providence, RI, where Jason’s father owns a declining bed-and-breakfast. Jason’s brother and sister, who help their father run the business, are not happy with their father’s decision to welcome Jason back home and offer him a position at the inn. Jason isn’t all that thrilled with the idea at first, either, but with no other options available to him, he decides to give it a try and gradually regains his faith in himself and his abilities. But something continues to haunt his thoughts, and it takes a life-threatening experience in Providence and a return trip to California for him to really come to terms with his disastrous past and make the necessary decisions to move forward with his life.

This was a heartwarming story of family, love, and redemption. I really enjoyed watching Jason’s character evolve and the byplay between Jason and his family was both entertaining and endearing. The insight Mr. Pezelli gives the reader into the Mirabella’s boisterous Italian family, neighborhood, and lifestyle is a pleasure to experience. This is definitely a book I would recommend to others as a captivating read with an uplifting, happy ending. I give Villa Mirabella 4 paws!

***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***
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