Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Great Day in Books!

Life has been pretty whacked this week so when my girlfriend
Debbie called last night and asked if I wanted to get together today I jumped at the invitation.
We met at the Books A Million Store, our favorite gab and grab spot, and browsed, talked, kavetched, and took advantage of an amazing booksale going on! I bought my first Patricia Briggs books, (at 30% off!), "Moon Called", "Cry Wolf", and Iron Kissed." I can't wait to get to them!

The other really cool thing that happened today was an email I received. Yesterday, I sent an email to Tess Gerritsen letting her know I had written a review on "The Keepsake" and I would love it if she checked it out. Guess what? She did! Woo! Hoo! How cool is that! She said she enjoyed the review and she appreciated my kind words. I am totally wowed that a busy successful author would read my review let alone respond to my email. I LOVE blogging! I love getting to talk to so many fellow readers and share the love.

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Slow Down You Write Too Fast! or My review of "Once Bitten" by Kalayna Price

I was just reading a post on Orannia’s blog Walkabout on not feeling as positive about a given book that others really like. I have had that experience recently with “Once Bitten” by Kalayna Price. Often, after reading a book and before posting my review here I like to check out what others thought about it. I will go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble sites and look up the book and the reader comments. “Once Bitten” got rave reviews on Amazon! I was really surprised. I liked the idea of this book and I enjoyed a lot of the individual scenes but overall I was disappointed and now I am going to tell you why…..

This book is an urban fantasy placed in a fictional city called Haven. It put me in mind of Seattle. The main character is a young woman, Named Kita, who is also a shape shifter. She is the heir to the leadership of her clan but doesn’t want the job so she goes on the lamb for the next five years.
We join the story after she has traveled all over the country trying to survive and stay clear of the Hunters. Hunters are the guys who go after strays and rogues and bring them back to rejoin the clan or suffer the consequences of bad behavior. After spending a lot of time and effort evading the Hunters one night she ends up at a rave and someone slips her a mickey. The drugged drink makes her really sick and she escapes from one bad scene only to be run to ground by another stray shifter and nearly beaten to death.
Next scene opens with her in a bed somewhere she doesn’t know being tended by an old crone called Mama Neda and is forced to drink a mug o’ blood. She has been turned by a vampire! Nathanial is the vamp who did the deed. While he is trying to explain what, why, and how she runs in a panic and ends up running smack into her childhood friend Bobby who has become a Hunter to track her down and bring her back to Firth. Just as an argument begins to really get going between Bobby and her a demon pops in to the scene to sentence her to death because she tagged a human, (tagged = wounded), that caused the human to become a rogue maniacal shifting killer. Nathanial shows up just in time to argue she may be the only one to find the shifter and the demon gives them 3 nights to find the rogue and kill him or else. If she fails not only will she die but so will Nathanial and Bobby. He marks Kita so she can never escape her punishment should she fail. Since this is book one in a series I bet you can guess pretty much how the story ends.

If you think my synopsis is jumpy, missing pieces and irritating then you understand how I felt about this book. This book moves faster than the speed of light. I have no problem with speed and action but there are several places in the 1st hundred pages that I was just lost. What the heck just happened? I found myself rereading parts to make sure I didn’t miss something. I didn’t. It wasn’t there. Things do start coming together later in the story but by then I am more interested in catching the rogue than I am to learn she and Bobby had been childhood sweethearts but daddy wouldn’t let her be with him so she ran away.
Ms. Price has a very cool premise going here. “What happens when a shifter becomes a vampire?” She tries to answer the question with a lot of action, internal dialogue and of course a budding attraction between Kita and Nathanial. Love that. The problem for me was that I felt she was so involved in moving the story forward she forgot to explain much of the back story. What is the real reason she doesn’t want to be clan leader? Why are there so many shifters interacting the human world and humans don’t seem to be aware of them? I wanted to know more about Firth, the place she came from. Was it another dimension, since they could only cross in and out on a full moon? Was it only filled with shifters? Why would they want to be involved with Haven and humans? How did she survive among the humans without get noticed? Who exactly is Gil? Then there are the Vampires. Nathanial is an extremely powerful vamp but still not as powerful as some on the council. What council you ask? I am not sure either. There is too much going on in this book and since this is intended to be a series I think she could have focused on the turning vamp and catching the rogue and left me wanting more when she has to face the demon and the council in the next book.
If her next book shows up at the library I will probably pick it up. I think Ms. Price has potential. Some of the feeling of manic movement could be an issue of editing. Nevertheless, there is some good stuff in here but I think she should put down the Red Bull while writing.

P.S. Have you ever read a popular book that you just couldn't enjoy? Post a comment and let me know.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Technology can SUCK!

AAArrrgghhh! I am finally back and posting. My computer crashed 3 weeks ago and after spending a whole weekend rebuilding and reinstalling I was ready to start my review on Kalayna Price's Urban Fantasy "Once Bitten". Then my husband took a bad fall and fractured his left elbow, broke his right wrist and sprained his right ankle. For all of you out there married for longer than the honeymoon know there is NOTHING romantic about a husband in pain and embaressed over being clumsy. Finally, he is feeling well enough he is getting out of bed without my assistance and feeding himself without using a straw, (no hands, mom). So I pulled out my handy dandy computer to start blogging again last weekend and the freaking computer CRASHED again! I am now beginning to wonder if I haven't entered the twilight zone. I just got my machine backup and working and I am taking this moment to vent and kavetch over the orneriness of technology and my shock at how dependent I am on it. I could never survive a deserted island that didn't have wi-fi available. Stay tuned I will have my newest review
posted in the next day or so!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Deborah Smith warms up the South with "A Gentle Rain"

A month or so ago I was approached by Belle Books Publishing to review some of the books the company was putting out. I was so flattered to be asked to be a reviewer I announced it right here. Well my friends and fellow readers below is my first review:

To be honest I wasn’t sure about the books that were sent to me for review. They appeared to be, on first glance, primarily slice of southern life type stories. I wasn’t sure I was going to actually enjoy the books Ms. Smith sent me but like I said earlier I was so excited to be asked I was going to give them an honest try and a real review. Thank God I picked up “A Gentle Rain” by Deborah Smith. Yes, it was definitely set in the south. Yes, it was a slice of life story. It was also a really satisfying love story. Please note I didn’t say romance novel, I said love story. This bears repeating because Ms. Smith takes a simple premise of the little guy overcoming the odds and fills it with wonderful characters, funny scenarios and love in all its curious and special forms.

The story takes place in Florida in an area near Jacksonville. I live in South Florida and visit the north of Florida once or twice a year and while I love the live oaks dripping with Spanish moss I have never been a big fan of the scrub prairies. Ms. Smith’s description of mysterious springs, exotic flowers and rugged ranchers has made me want to revisit the area with all new eyes.
The main characters, Kara and Ben have both been orphans. Unknown to her, Kara was taken from her parents when she was an infant and raised by incredibly wealthy people with too good to be true connections. (If there is something about the book I didn’t like it was being hit over the head with how connected Kara is. Her uncle is a Senator; she has cousins in the royal family, the Kennedy’s and the Churchill’s. She had me at billionaire.) Ben’s parents died before he was 16 leaving him to care for his mentally challenged brother who also has a severe heart condition. Young Ben is poor and is forced to leave the country to keep his brother with him. I think I know what you are thinking. This scenario is too far-fetched to be believable, such extremes in conditions how the heck could these two come together let alone even meet. AAAahhh, that is the great thing about fiction. Anything can happen and if you are good you can make it believable. For the most part Deborah Smith is that good.

Fast forward to adulthood. Kara’s adoptive parents who were environmental activists die in a plane crash. Going through their belongings to be packed up she comes across documents of her adoption and her world is turned upside down. She turns to her family counselor; Sedge Trevelyan to tell her what happened and help her track down her birth parents. He tries to dissuade her from this but in the end tells her he will get the information. Her birth parents are still alive living on a ranch in North Florida. She decides to meet them and discover why they gave her up and who she really is.

Ben has returned from Mexico with his brother having earned enough money as a Mexican Novella star to return to the states and fulfill his cowboy father’s dream of owning a piece of land. He purchases a ranch outside Jacksonville to raise Cracker horses. (Note: Cracker horses are a real breed of wild horse in Florida. Cool, huh!) He is no where near rich but he is doing ok. Over the years he has taken on a crew to work on the ranch. All of his hands have special talents when it comes to the animals. Cheech has a real knack for keeping all the 4-legged creatures healthy. Bigfoot is a gentle giant and can lift a 200 pound calf like it was a kitten. Lula and Miriam work in the ranch house doing bookkeeping and are both registered nurses so they take care of the staff. Possum is a cow whisperer. He can get a panicky cow to fall asleep on his shoulder. Roy and Dale are a married couple. Roy handles all the foaling on the ranch. Mac and Lily are a couple too but unmarried. They are general help and no chore is too big or small for them to do together. There is something else interesting about all these ranch hands. They all have a disability of some sort. Because of his brother Ben knows even the challenged have talents and are valuable.
What happens when a rich girl hooks up with a hard working blue collar guy? Often in romance novels the rich girl is a bit spoiled and gets a taste of the real world and once humbled falls crazy in love with the rough but loving poor guy, right? Not in this story. Kara is a very self sufficient kind of woman. She had to be since travelling to remote jungles of Brazil and Africa with her parents required her to learn good survival skills. Even though Ben falls for her immediately their romance takes the summer to bloom. Kara discovers these people and this place need her. She can do the one thing she has always long to do and make real difference in someone’s life. Not just by throwing money at the problem but by getting her hands dirty and personally getting involved. Ben discovers he doesn’t have to be alone if he doesn’t want to be. He can have the whole dream like his dad had always wanted.
This story is filled with great scenes, good chuckles and warm feelings. Take it to the beach, cruise, ski chalet or on your sofa and enjoy.
Other books by Deborah Smith:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"The Keepsake" is worth Keeping up at night!

Aaahhhh Joy, another great detective novel from Tess Gerritsen! Jane Rizzoli tracks one of the creepiest serial killers I have read since Lisa Gardner's Mr. Dinhcara. Oh wait! Lisa Gardner's book was the last book I read. Woo hoo! Two great reads in a row.
A small private museum in Boston believes it has hit the archeological lottery when they discover a mummy in their basement storage. Horror and tragedy set in during a CT scan of the mummy and it is discovered the mummy isn’t as old as its wrappings and a bullet seems to be lodged in a leg bone. Dr. Maura Isles is there to take over and of course that means Detective Jane Rizzoli isn’t far behind. With clean, sharp writing the murky details of a killer emerge. Tess Gerritsen uses ancient preservation methods to create the training grounds for her newest serial killer. He preserves his victims the old fashioned way. He mummifies them. One victim is wrapped and preserved as a classic mummy. Another is dipped and simmered in a peat bog while a 3rd victim is turned into a shrunken head. There are twists and turns aplenty as Rizzoli and her partner Frost focus on a young Egyptologist only to find there are more recent historical events that motivate the “Archeology Killer”. I will warn you that the methods of preserving the dead are not pretty and I got a little green at some parts, especially the shrinking heads.
This is my seventh case with Detective Rizzoli and I have to say I think Tess Gerritsen has really done a great job keeping not only the story tense and readable but she has kept Rizzoli’s story fresh and interesting as well. She is definitely on my must read list.

Other books by Tess Gerritsen: