The Samurai's Daughter: Rei Shimura Mysteries 6

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

(Sujata Massey)

Teaser: In The Samurai's Daughter, Rei has flown to San Francisco to spend time with her parents and trace the heritage of the Japanese side of her family. However, she isn't the only one staying there. Her parents have been hosting a Japanese exchange student with very traditional values who becomes appalled at the fact that Rei's current and past lover Hugh will be staying there as well.

If it wasn't complicated enough, Hugh is working on a very sensitive case against some Japanese power players and one of his clients turns up dead. Also, the Shimura residence is burglarized, and Hugh's car has all its windows shattered. Rei, once again, finds herself in the thick of a dangerous situation that hits closer to home than she realizes.

Short Thought: A decent addition to the series, not the best, but worth the read.

Expanded Thoughts: So, we finally get to see where Rei grew up. Since the beginning of the series, Rei has portrayed herself as a person who struggles with her finances (she works two jobs in Japan) and was raised humbly. When her childhood home is revealed, we are fed a different story. Rei is freaking loaded, upper class freakin' loaded! (No, seriously.)

It threw me for a loop, because of Rei kind of turning her nose at up Hugh's semi-lavish lifestyle in some of the previous novels. (Hugh was born working class and worked his way up the ladder. I say spend it, brother!) Her mother wears designer clothes and vintage designer clothes, and their house is huge and stately. Her parents definitely have the air of members of the upper tier. It shouldn't have surprised as much as it did, because I then realized that the Shimura's would have had to have been wealthy to allow their daughter to get a college degree in Antiquities.

As for the historical element that Massey usually weaves into her novels, it just wasn't there in this one. Granted there was a lot of historical themes introduced, (the abuse of the Filipino women during the war) but it wasn't easy to understand or woven in well at all. I felt like the author could have just put a 5 page historical note at the end, and it would have been better than the blocky forced back story dialogue in some scenes.

As for the romance, it was pretty good. It was nothing spectacular. It was just the usual, "Hugh is trying to make a living, and Rei butts her head in and complicates it all" scenario. Rei bulldozes over him. He charms back into her good graces, all the while there are dangerous happenings around them.

As for the main character, Rei, I find myself liking her less and less with every novel. I find her to be very self-centered, fake, irresponsible, morally flexible, and just down right annoying. (I know, harsh.) She fancies herself the solution to every problem even if she has no place solving it.

In closing, I have read too many books in this series to stop now, but it definitely isn't near as good as it was in the beginning. However, it's still a great and entertaining mystery, so it's worth a read.

Additional Notes: This novel contains mild violence and sexual situations.

Blood Lines: World of the Lupi Series 3

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Teaser: Rule has barely recovered from the severe wounds inflicted in the last ordeal, but regardless the government drafts he and Lily to investigate a serious matter. There is rumor of a group of politicians making deals with the devil to further their influence. This mission is so dangerous that the hard-nosed Cynna and the strange Cullen are also drafted to help.

Short Thought: A great continuation of an exciting paranormal romance series.

Expanded Thoughts: This novel was fun. Pure fun. I was convinced that this series wasn't going anywhere, and that it would just be a collection of WAFF-y Lily and Rule scenes. Boy, was I wrong!

The author really opens up the setting in this novel. We are given a deeper insight into the strained relationships between the Were (Lupi) tribes. I love that the author actually has Rule deal with the hardships of his position as heir. Most books build up a character with a powerful status, but they never have him deal with what comes with it. He has to battle with dissenters, finances of the clan, and etc.

We also get some mystery added with Lily's Grandmother, Cynna, and Cullen. Where do their powers come from? Does this open up a new conflict outside of the Lupi in the US? To the public, there is no magic, but it seems to be all over the globe.

I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just say this: these are the most original and complex paranormal romances I have read. They are impossible to predict, and don't fit into any mold.

Additional Notes: This is the 3rd novel in the World of the Lupi Series by Eileen Wilks.

Additional Notes: This novel does contain scenes of mild violence and sexual situations.

Angels Fall by Nora Roberts

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Teaser: Gourmet chef Reece Gilmore has been traveling nonstop for over a year, and she still doesn't have a destination in sight. Fate intervenes when her car breaks down in the majestic mountain town of Angels Fist. The repairs are serious and could take quite awhile to complete. In other words, she's stuck for longer than she ever intended.

She decides to take a job as a short order cook at the Angel Food Diner to help pay for her car repairs, and to keep her anxiety and restlessness at bay. On her day off, she decides to take a hike to enjoy the wonderful scenery around her. What should have been a wonderful hike turns into a life changing ordeal when Reece witnesses a murder in progress. Now, she is forced to stay in town even longer, and deal with her violent past with which she still struggles.

Short Thought: Wonderful mystery set in a majestic place.

Expanded Thoughts: I think this novel hit a special note with me. It portrayed the small town diner vibe very well. Having worked in many myself, it made it quite special to me. (And it had mountains, you can't beat mountains!)

This was a really good mystery. It was one of my favorite, if not my favorite, Nora Roberts novels so far. The murder plot was genius. Half the time the reader is left wondering if a murder even took place, or if someone is coming after Reece, etc. It isn't predictable in the least, and the supporting characters are brilliant. The novel was also moderately thick for this genre, so it wasn't over before you finish. It developed nicely and hit several different notes.

I don't have any complaints about it really. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a wonderful murder mystery with a perfect mix of romance and personal growth. I look forward to reading it again.

Additional Notes: This novel contains mild violence, dark themes, and sexual themes.

The Soldier King: Dhulyn and Parno Series 2

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Teaser: Dhulyn and Parno run into trouble when they go to deliver a royal prisoner to his captors. By mercenary standards, the prisoner is not to be harmed after they turn him over. The job is never that easy, and the paired mercenaries find themselves personally handling the prisoner.

It is especially trying for Dhulyn and Parno's partnership. The land they have to travel to is part of Parno's noble past. When he is given the opportunity to have his nobility reinstated, Dhulyn can't help but feel nervous.

Short Thought: A great, classic-style fantasy adventure with very interesting characters.

Expanded Thoughts: This novel was a great adventure. It is a nod to the fantasy styles that overran the 1980s, but it has a wonderful contemporary voice that makes it refreshing and different.

We get a picture of Parno's past in this novel, and a deeper understanding of Dhulyn's gift. As the setting develops more and more, I can't help but be immensely intrigued.

[Spoiler Warning]

My only real gripe is that the relationship between the characters confused me in this one. In the first novel, Parno is 'working out his kinks' with bar maids. He and Dhulyn were like family. It didn't seem to me that they were romantically involved. In this one, all of a sudden, those pet names they call each other have new meanings. They are like a married couple. I like both dynamics, but I just wish I knew which one is true. I can't imagine both being true, but maybe I'm just crazy. I just hope that this doesn't turn into a romance novel. There's enough of those out now.

Additional Notes: This is the 2nd book in the Dhulyn and Parno Series by Violette Malan.

On What Grounds: Coffeehouse Mysteries 1

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Teaser: With her daughter off to college, Claire is coming back to the life she fell in love with years ago. She is coming back as the head manager of The Village Blend, a coffee shop in Greenwich Village, to make it the most successful coffee shop in town. If Claire has one true love, it would definitely be coffee and the joy it brings to the people who drink it.

The problem is that the owner of the Blend is her cheating ex-husband's mother and could potentially make it a very awkward arrangement. It that wasn't stressful enough, Claire opens the shop one morning to find one of her beloved employee's bodies. Not only does she fear for her other employees, but she fears that it could put the shop that she loves so dear out of business.

Short Thought: An intriguing and wonderful mystery for the modern woman.

Expanded Thoughts: In an effort to get away from the fantasy and the historical fiction genres, I decided to pick up this book and give it a shot. What could be better than a contemporary feminine mystery centered around coffee? If fact, what is better than coffee? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

This series opener didn't disappoint. It delivered a simple, easy to read and follow mystery plot that was like a network television series. Very enjoyable, and not complicated or complex at all.

This book has great characters even if they are a little predictable. (It fits with the cozy mystery vibe.) They relate to real life. We get to see Claire as a savvy businesswoman who has gone through some problems that are very relevant to many readers. We get to experience her strength as she continually grows and battles the obstacles put in front of her. Not only does she have to face her ex-husband, run the shop, and keep her daughter in line, but she has to constantly be available for police questioning and suspicions.

I also love this book because it teaches the reader something that isn't common knowledge. Throughout the story, the author cleverly mixes in information about coffee. She goes in-depth about the different processes, beans, and concoctions. I was thrilled. I have been drinking coffee for over 20 years and I didn't know any of that stuff. (Well, except that Decaf is for crazy people, but that's a given.) The descriptions weren't so long that they became boring either; they were very well done. As another extra, there are wonderful recipes at the back of the book. If you took the notion, you could actually try the same foods that are served in the book. I love to cook and learn, so I thought that it was brilliant.

I'm really starting to dig books of this type. I think of them as Chic Mystery, Betty Crocker Style.

Additional Notes: This is the 1st novel in the Coffeehouse Mysteries Series by Cleo Coyle.

The Bride's Kimono: Rei Shimura Mysteries 5

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Teaser: In The Bride's Kimono, Rei is given her best job yet; she will be presenting a series of lectures on Japanese kimono at a museum in Washington, D.C. She is also responsible for the transporting of the delicate clothing from Tokyo to the US, so she leaves Takeo to his house renovation and dashes to Washington.

When she arrives in Washington, she is bombarded with a multitude of events. One of the museum's kimono is stolen from her hotel room, her passport is swiped by a fellow Japanese tourist who is found murdered, and, as fate would have it, she finds herself face to face with Hugh once again. Only Rei could go from museum courier to prime murder suspect in a matter of hours and still have time to stress about the love triangle in which she has found herself.

Short Thought: A good addition to the series that is finally getting back to what everyone loved.

Expanded Thoughts: I have mixed thoughts about this novel. I gave it four owls because It seemed that the author was finally getting back on point. There were elements in there that reminded me why I got sucked in the series in the first place.

The author chose Washington, D.C. as the setting for this mystery. I think that it was great to see Rei in her native country. (Although she seems to turn up nose up at it.) We also are given a look at Japanese tourists on American soil. It was a nice complement to the books set in Japan.

Massey also didn't disappoint with her endless tidbits of Japanese and culture. In this novel, we primary are shown some aspects of museum culture and are given an in-depth lesson about kimono are their cultural significance. This author is very good about enriching the reader's knowledge in a straightforward and interesting manner.

My only complaint about the setting is that America is portrayed in an awful manner. When the book was set in Japan, we are treated to these wonderful, helpful, and interesting people. In America, we just get loud, ignorant, and self-absorbed jerk wads that can't listen to reason and mow people down. It was shocking in some instances how biased it was. I guess one could just trumped it up to Rei's snobbish attitude toward the U.S, but it did reddened my face a few shades.

Enough about the intellectual babble, what about the romance and the characters? First off, Rei's parents finally make it into the picture when they meet her in D.C. They are very interesting and as different as oil and water. (Traditional Japanese man and Upper East Side-type debutante). As for Rei's romantic life, it takes a whip lashing turn that gives the reader much more insight into Rei's true nature and attitude. She leaves her very wealthy Japanese boyfriend in Japan as she travels to D.C. In D.C., she runs into Hugh, her former lover. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just say that I lost a ton of respect for Rei after this book. The way she carries herself is definitely not her true nature.

In conclusion, it was a wonderful addition to the series. Although a bit forced at times, it made for a wonderful romantic mystery.

Additional Notes: This novel contains scenes of a mild sexual nature.

Additional Notes (2): This is the 5th novel in the Rei Shimura Mysteries by Sujata Massey.

Montana Sky by Nora Roberts

Monday, June 22, 2009

Teaser: Jack Mercy had three daughters by three separate women. Two of the mothers, he managed to pay off to get them of out his sight, and one daughter he was stuck with because her mother died before he could kick her out. Combine these activities with his successful Montana ranch and you have the legacy of Jack Mercy.

The story begins on the day of his funeral, the three sisters would meet for the first time. Tess, the oldest, is a screen writer from Hollywood. Lily is on the run from an abusive ex-husband in South Carolina. And Willa, a cowgirl without an soft bone in her body, lives and breathes the Montana ranch that Jack left behind.

As the lawyer reads the conditions of the will, the three sisters realize that their lives are about to change. In order to inherit the ranch, all three of them must live together on the property for an entire year. Jack just wasn't a controlling jerk in life, he continues through death.

Short Thought: My favorite book by Nora Roberts yet. Absolutely brilliant.

Expanded Thought: I loved this novel overall. It is different from a lot of the other novels like this in that there are three separate and connected female protagonists each with flaws and room for personal growth. It makes it more difficult for the reader to become bored or predict the future events. You get to see three exciting romances develop as the women grow into their own and heal and how it affects the storyline as a whole.

Some people have turned their nose up at this novel. One of the main complaints with it is that there is scenes of animal mutilation (of butchering) in it. (Someone is lurking around the ranch and butchering some of its animals and leaving them to intimidate the sisters into breaking the will. The unsub, unidentified subject, later escalates to human projects.)

Now, I am an animal lover, and I thought the scenes were just fine. They added to the story, and really had the reader feeling a dash of the horror that Lily and Tess must have felt. It was also fitting in with the rancher theme. Personally I believe if people were so bothered by the butchery descriptions, why weren't they bothered by the descriptions of the ranch activities? (like bull neutering and calf birthing) I mean, really, where do these people think their meat comes from? If you are going to eat it, don't turn your nose up at things like this. (I worked at a place for awhile where I had to butcher pigs and chickens that were shipped in. Perhaps, this makes me a little more immune to this foolishness.) The way I see it, if you eat burgers, you cannot find any fault with this story. If you're a full-time vegan, I humbly accept your stance and will enjoy my turkey burger.

I personally think that the gruesome goodness made this novel into the success that it still is today. It sets it apart from the linear, warm fuzzies in the genre. Nora Roberts proves that you can have a mystery in the romance genre that is as gritty and complex as the more masculine counterparts. It says a lot for women's literature in my opinion.

In closing, I think this was a brilliant and complex mystery. Each of the sisters had their own storyline that was so good it could have stood on it own. It is further enhanced in that each of the sisters play off of each other to form a beautiful vibe and flow. It's truly a mystery you cannot miss. It's just brilliant.

Additional Notes: This novel has mild sexual themes, dark themes, and scenes of animal butchery.

Iron Kissed: Mercy Thompson Series 3

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Teaser: As if Mercy hadn't been through enough already, she voluntarily walks into trouble again when her beloved boss and mentor is suspected of murdering members of the Fae community. She sets out to clear his name and finds herself in the worst trouble of her life.

Short Thought: Nail biting plot, and great main character.

Expanded Thoughts: There is really so much going in this novel that you could get whiplash. Not only is Mercy in constant trouble, Zee is a suspected murderer, Adam is trying desperately to keep the Fae at bay, and the real murderer is still on the loose and is highly dangerous.

The setting is opened up in this book. We are given more details about the struggles of the Fae in whether they want to go public. We are shown a part of the Reservation that a lot of Fae call their home. It creates a underlying tension in the whole novel, because every one has a strong opinion on the issue.

I'm going to keep this one short, because I really don't want to give anything away. Let me just say this, the author takes it up another level in this novel when it comes to Mercy. She drives home the fact that Mercy is human, and not some indestructible heroine. She is flawed, vulnerable, and scarred. I am dying to know how the situation will be treated, because it will never be the same.

Additional Notes: This is the 3rd book in the Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs.

Additional Notes: This novel contains dark themes, violence, and sexual scenes.

Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Teaser: As children in the small town of Progress, Tory Bodeen and Hope Lavelle were inseparable until tragedy struck. One night, Tory ran to the Lavelle's door bruised, bloody, and screaming hysterically. A few hours later, Hope's battered body was found in the woods near the property.

Fast forward many years, Tory is returning to Progress to confront the demons she left behind and open up her own business. She quickly becomes the talk of the town and the target of many dangers.

Short Thought: A richly developed mystery with just a hint of the supernatural.

Expanded Thoughts: Tory Bodeen is a great main character with a unique gift. She just 'knows' things. She can find lost items, hear thoughts, and experience things through others eyes. It is like a curse to her. Her father is a abusive man who views her gift as a sign of the 'devil,' and he attempts to beat it out her throughout her childhood. Her mother is no better, she just stands by and blames the beatings on Tory herself. Despite all of this, Tory turns out okay and actually quite successful. Upon returning to Progress, after her parents relocated, she is a savvy businesswoman and builds a profitable retail store. She was truly I character that I loved following.

As for the romance element, both main couples were great. It has that nice 'love will help heal wounds' vibe that is fun to read. These four damaged people are brought together and made into better people for it. The relationships weren't overly gushy and were uncomplicated and easy to follow.

I also loved this novel because it touched on some hot button issues. Class (sociological and financial status) was a huge issue. Cade (and his late sister Hope) are heirs to the wealthiest estate in the area with an enormous house to match. Tory's family used to rent a house from them until they relocated into a trailer with a roof that has more holes than shingles. We are shown that both classes have struggles and scandals that differ greatly but are equally as damaging to someone brought up in it. It just adds another element to the story, scandal, and romance. It isn't cheesily done either, it is done well.

The mystery plot, as with most of Roberts' works, was done very well. It had me guessing who the real perp was until the end. It was also perfectly balanced. The love story didn't overshadow the mystery, and the mystery didn't overshadow the any of the other mechanics in the story. This is a wonderful novel to start into this genre, or positively change your opinion of it.

Additional Notes: This novel contains dark themes, violence, and sexual situations.

Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts

Friday, June 19, 2009

(Nora Roberts)

: Catarina Hale's childhood ended as she watched the fire dance out of her parents' Italian restaurant. She couldn't help but be mesmerized by its beauty as it destroyed her second home. From the moment on, Catarina life would forever be centered around fire and the destruction it leaves.

Short Thought: Great romantic mystery that spans two decades.

Expanded Thoughts: The main character, Catarina Hale, is a strong female lead with tragic flaws that make her interesting. This novel differs from Roberts' other works in that we get to meet Ms. Hale when she is twelve years old, and follow her story until her early thirties when the breadth of the novel takes place. We don't get hints of how she came into her own, we truly get to see it and experience through her eyes. It makes the mystery plot deeper, easier to empathize with, and more memorable than many others.

As for the romance, it was okay. Bo's and Catarina's lives dance around each other for years until they finally intersect. They make a cute couple in the 'star-crossed lovers' kind of way, but it's a little too unrealistic for me. (Yes, even for romance novels.) Bo's character is just way too flat compared to Catarina's. He's the dumbstruck, good ol' carpenter that stakes his whole life on a woman that he had never met. It was sweet and did complement the hole in Reena's life, but it isn't close to the top when you compare to some of the other couples that Roberts' has spun out.

Overall, the mystery and intrigue greatly over shadow the romance. (Hurrah!) If you love Nora Roberts' novels sans all the mystical and magical themes, you should read this one.

Additional Notes: This novel contain themes of a sexual and dark nature.

Valiant: The Lost Fleet Series 4

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Teaser: "Black Jack" Geary continues his mission to get his fleet home safely. With Syndics tight on his trail and endless crew quarrels, it seems more and more difficult each day.

Short Thought: Slightly better than the third novel, but still slow and redundant.

Expanded Thoughts: Wow, was that an anemic teaser or what? Honestly, that's about how much happened in this book. There was a handful of progress and great scenes, and the rest could be completely cut out.

As I said about the last book, the women in this series are portrayed in an awful manner. Rione is the catty, jealous politician. Desjani is the bull-headed, tomboy that is really just a jealous school girl inside. I thought that these two women were influential in the Alliance. Rione is a co-President and Desjani is a decorated captain. So, why when Geary is added to the mix does it turn into a Middle School love triangle? They give each other glares, and refuse to call each other by their names. They even meet with Geary to gripe about each other. Maybe this book is just way too masculine for 'silly ol' female me.

Next gripe, this book felt like it was stuck in some black hole. (I don't know astronomical terms well, but it didn't go anywhere.) It was like Book 3 part too. I felt like I was reading the same book sometimes. Was the author not sure where he was going with this? I can't say, but I know that it took all my will power to finish some parts.

So why did I rate it higher than book 3? Because, when the story did move and progress it was great. The battle were still great, and the inner fleet captains' struggles were brilliant. Probably too, Rione didn't have as many scenes in this one.

Additional Notes: This is the 4th book in the Lost Fleet Series by Jack Campbell.

The Floating Girl: Rei Shimura Mysteries 4

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Teaser: This novel focuses on Shimura Rei's part-time job at a Gaijin (foreigner in Japan) magazine at which she writes a antiques column. The magazine decides to start publishing its pages in a manga-like (comic book style) format. Rei then, with the help of her new beau Takeo, starts doing research on a rare doujinshi (fan made comics about mainstream series) for her article. As Rei begins to track down the artists for interviews, they mysteriously disappear or refuse to answer her questions. What could be so dangerous and sensitive about a comic book?

Short Thought
: Complex mystery intertwined with an interesting underground culture.

Expanded Thoughts
: If this were a stand-alone novel, I would have rated it much higher. Perhaps, the inconsistencies were due to the fact that I could not get a hold of the 3rd novel (Flower Master, out of print currently), but it has a completely different feel than "Salaryman's Wife" and "Zen Attitude." Also, maybe I'm a little biased because I like her last beau, Hugh, much better.

I enjoyed certain aspects about this novel very much. The inside look at the politics that go on in a Japanese work environment was probably the most interesting layer in the novel. (I have heard horror stories from some of my friends who have worked in one.) Also, I learned a lot about the "manga" culture and artists. I never knew it was so mainstream or taken so seriously. (Oops, my ethnocentrism is showing.) Lastly, the change in the main character's personality and actions as she dates a traditional Japanese man (Her last boyfriend was Scottish) that just adds to the internal heritage (she's half-Japanese and half-American) struggle that is ever present within her.

Additional Notes: This is the 4th book in the Rei Shimura Mysteries by Sujata Massey.

Deathwish: Cal Leandros Series 4

Monday, June 15, 2009

(Rob Thurman)

Teaser: Niko and Cal are hired by the vampire Seamus to find out who is after him. He is an ex-husband of Promise of whom Niko knew nothing about. The job pays well, but it causes a rift in Promise's and Niko's relationship. He can no longer trust her. Unfortunately, they don't really have time to discuss it because the Auphe are back and more vicious than ever. They have a plan for Caliban, and it starts with Niko's death. Cal must dig deep, even at the risk of losing himself, to protect Niko from his monstrous relatives. Niko is in constant fear that Cal may dig too deep as he watches him slowly decline into the monstrous darkness.

Short Thought: Urban fantasy genius. Pushes the envelop. Absolutely amazing. Blown away.

Expanded Thoughts: I was blown away by this. I was sure this series was crap on a stick at the beginning. I am so glad that I didn't bet anything on that. This series is brilliant. Thurman, in this novel, takes you on a ride that never slows down and isn't afraid to take everything to a new level complete with dark, delicious new twists and developments. It is almost like the novel hits you in waves. It settles down for a couple pages, and then, BAM! you get blown away over and over again.

The dialogue was not forced or annoying. Cal still had his flair (or is that Robin?), spunk, and dark humor, but IT WAS ACTUALLY FUNNY and well timed and paced. The author is very consistent with the characters and their developments and growths. Niko is slowly becoming even more intertwined into Promise's life as Caliban is slowly becoming more dark and doubting his humanity. I could go forever about how wonderful it is, and how brilliant the characters are.

One thing that has changed in this novel with respect to the series is that half the book is written from Niko's perspective instead of just Cal's. It really highlights their relationship and differences in their humanity and views. We also get even more glimpses into their past. It also keeps everything fresh and doesn't allow the reader to bore of the same humor over and over again. I thought that this took the series to another level, and made Cal's dark humor funny and better placed.

Before I start squealing like I'm at a New Kids on the Block (I feel old) concert, I end this with statement that if you are going to read a contemporary fantasy/paranormal series, this is the one. It's not too masculine, and it's certainly not feminine. It fits all twisted tastes and doesn't disappoint.

Additional Notes: This is the 4th novel in the Cal Leandros Series by Rob Thurman.

Additional Notes: This novel contains dark themes, mild language, violence, and gore.

Magic Strikes: Kate Daniels Series 3

Sunday, June 14, 2009

(Ilona Andrews)

Teaser: Kate, a mercenary with a canyon sized chip on her shoulder, has found a steady job contracting for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid. While she is out on a job, she gets called to a scene of a crime involving a murdered werewolf. When she arrives, she finds that the scene has been cleaned and that no one is willing to give up any information on the murder--not even her friends among them.

Short Thought: Mysterious and streetwise Kate, although slightly cliche, is becoming one of my favorite fantasy heroines.

Expanded Thoughts: This series is dark, gritty, and fun of sarcastic goodness. It is also a short and very entertaining read.

This book is by far the best in the series thus far. (Each book is better than the one before it.) We get introduced to more characters, but don't get overwhelmed by it. Kate becomes a deeper character as we begin to learn of her mysterious heritage and the different sides of her character.

My favorite part of the series is the relationship dynamic between Curran and Kate. The reader never really knows what going to happen, and it's glorious. There are too many fantasy (paranormal) novels with bland, predictable relationships. Just for the record, I hope Curran gets his way.

My only complaint is that the 'I'm a strong woman and not gonna listen to anybody and be stupid' thing gets annoying. Yes, it is understood that she is strong-willed and independant. WE GET IT!

Additional Notes: This is the third novel in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

Courageous: The Lost Fleet 3

Saturday, June 13, 2009

(Jack Campbell)

Teaser: The situation is dire for the Fleet as their supplies are at critically low levels. After barely escaping being blown to pieces by the Syndics, Captain Geary has to find a solution or they will have to face the end of the journey sooner than expected. An old Syndic mining facility is located that may have the supplies that they so desperately need. Now, Geary has to find a way to steal the supplies, subdue the enemy crew, and keep in line with his strict code of ethics.

Short Thought: Not as good as the other books in the series, but still mildly entertaining.

Expanded Thoughts: This series is starting to seriously frustrate me! I feel like it is going nowhere at a painfully slow pace. The idea behind the story is brilliant, but the pace is awful and I want to strangle some of the characters. The first two books were great, so what happened?

I have a gigantic list of gripes. First, can I seriously just open a ship door and shove Rione out into space? For real! She is the most redundant, narrow-minded, anal, annoying, and impossible female character I think that I have ever come across. She seriously has two lines in the whole novel, "I'm not going to let you turn into Black Jack," and "I'm an important politician, you need to respect me while I butt in on your area of expertise." Seriously, it portrayed women very badly like frivolous, entitled, and air-headed banshees. (We are only banshees on Fridays, dang it.) I swear that 75% of the novel was just her nagging and griping at poor John Geary.

Next, there were a lot of a repetitive scenes and lines. I counted John saying the same lines (verbatim) more than 3 times. I almost had deja vu when I read then like, "did my bookmark move? I swear I've already read this." The same is true with the long-winded conferences. I think you could seriously just read the first 20 pages, 10 pages in the middle, and 20 at the end and know what went down and be less frustrated.

Next, I swear nothing happened. Okay, a few things happened, but this book should have probably been combined with another one. It could easily be told in 35 pages. (All you would have to do is take out Rione griping, seriously.)

There were still some specks of the things that made me fall into obsession with this series in the first place. The author is unrivaled in his ability to write understandable combat scenes. I am very ignorant about that type of stuff, and I understand the movements very well. The characters (some of them) are great and very human. There is a slight underlying tension to the story that keeps propelling that story. It was just covered in tons and tons of repetitive blah in this particular book.

All that being said, I am going to continue with this series because I believe it will go back to being an awesome space opera. (And I've already purchased the next one, heh.) I love this series, but this book, to put it in bluntly, sucked, sucked, and then sucked some more at times.

Additional Notes: This is the 3rd novel in the Lost Fleet Series by Jack Campbell.

Blood Bound: Mercy Thompson Series 2

Friday, June 12, 2009

Teaser: A dangerous rogue vampire is on the loose, and Stefan has called in his favor to Mercy. Her unique abilities as a walker make her the only one that can potentially stop the powerful and maniacal murderer. Unfortunately, even her abilities don't make facing the vampire any less dangerous. She will find herself in her most dangerous situation yet, and it looks like this may be her last as she faces this real life demon.

Short Thought: Great sequel to the first in the series. More of the back story revealed and built upon.

Expanded Thoughts: Dare I say it? I like these books much better than the super popular Sookie Stackhouse Series. GASP!

So what makes me just love this book? First, this book goes further in the first in introducing more of the 'magical/paranormal' culture around Mercy's neighborhood. We really get an in-depth look into the vampire culture and hierarchy when Mercy has to travel to their lair to speak with their Queen. It is very different from how vampires are portrayed in a lot of the other books on the market. It was also described very well in that I got to experience a little bit of the fear, uncertainty, and anxiety that Mercy felt when she entered. You truly got to see threw her eyes and 'hear' her thoughts. There wasn't a clear friend or foe distinction, and it kept it riveting.

Second, I love the characters. Stefan is an ultra scary vampire that drives a VW psychedelic van, what's better than that? Also, Mercy, although in the middle of a supernatural whirlpool, is actually very normal and very easy to relate to. She owns her own business, and has a very vulnerable side. Sam and Adam are also very interesting characters, but I don't won't to give too much away about this book. One thing that I find awesome is that the author doesn't make her characters invincible, or give them the ability to magically be all better by the next scene. It really keeps you on toes, because something terrible may happen. It was especially tense in this novel because Mercy is put in a terrible situation from which she may not come back.

Lastly, The love story is very complex and interesting. We are not bombarded with gushy filler scenes or forced pairings. It is made more complex in this novel as we are given more back story on the connections between Mercy, Adam, and Sam. Their connections are deeper than revealed in the first novel. The story behind Sam and his connection to Mercy is very interesting and somewhat dark and disturbing. It has your emotions confused as to who to cheer for and what to think about it.

My only gripes are very trivial. I wish the novel was much longer. When I really started to get into it, it was over. I'll keep my fingers crossed for a 9,000 page novel in this series. (I would die! ...of happiness.) Also, though it was great to be able to get inside Mercy's head, sometimes I just wanted her to shut it up. I swear that in some instances her inner dialogue would span several pages and she would be saying the same thing over and over again. It just really got annoying sometimes.

I can't wait for the third novel. This has became my favorite series of this type.

Additional Notes: This is the 2nd book in the Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs.

An Ice Cold Grave: Harper Connelly Mysteries 3

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Teaser: Harper and Tolliver are in the Carolinas in the cold, bitter winter as a last ditch effort for the local police department to find out what has happened to a mess of teenage boys. Could it be a serial killer, or something even more twisted? Also, what of Harper's developing feelings for her stepbrother?

Short Thought: Different tone than the other novels. I miss the old tone.

Expanded Thoughts: [Spoiler Warning] There were a lot of major changes to the flow of the story in this novel. I'm not sure I liked them. Yet again, another one of Ms. Harris' books have turned a little too "romancy" for me. It is still very entertaining; the author does chic lit mystery like no other. Overall, it's still good, but not as good as it was at the beginning. The mystery was still brilliant, but the new 'stepbrother/sister' love dynamic made me a little sick. I don't care if they aren't blood, it still made me my stomach punch itself.

One thing that I really enjoyed about the first novels was the sweet (NON-FREAKING-SEXUAL) brother and sister relationship Tolliver and Harper had. (Little did I know just how much and how vulgarly they cared for one another) It was different than the other novels that Harris puts out. (They can get a bit redundant when you read them close together.) I was looking forward to the two of them traveling and hooking up with interesting people on the road, but I guess that's why I'm not the author.

I will probably read more of these in the future, but it's definitely not a priority. Great mystery, but scary. awkward romance.

Additional Notes: This novel contains scenes of a sexual nature, and scenes of mild violence.

Additional Notes (2): This is the 3rd book in the Harper Connelly Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.

Shakespeare's Champion: The Lily Bard Series 2

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

: Lily happens upon another corpse in the place she uses as her sanctuary--the local gym. The man met his end with a barbell in the neck. The murder has the entire town of Shakespeare in an uproar. To complicate matters, the deceased was a known racist and thought to have been responsible for a couple of murders involving African American victims. It brings all the underlying racial tension to the surface in this small Arkansas town.

Short Thought: Deliciously dark and smart chick mystery with a pinch of the sweet South.

Expanded Thoughts: This is another entertaining mystery that can be read in a couple of hours. It's perfect summer reading or winter cabin reading.

I plan to continue reading the next couple books in this series, but there are a few things in this book that slightly set me off. First, Harris introduces plot lines that never happened in the first novel. There are fights and relationships mentioned that don't actually get introduced until 50 pages or so later. For such a short read, it was just annoying. I felt like I couldn't fully grasp the meanings or flow of things. It made me feel like I had accidentally skipped a book in the series. (I actually checked twice to make sure I was reading the correct book). It was almost like someone saw these inconsistencies and then randomly shoved in explanations.

Also, coming from a small homogeneous town myself, I wish that Harris would include some of the gems of Southern culture in her novels. It seems she focuses on the bigotry, racism, ignorance, intolerance, and religiosity and takes it too far. Where's the hospitality, kindness, thriftiness, values, traditions, manners, and sweet vibe of the Southern towns that I know. (I lived in a town of less than 1,500 people for over 20 years, and that counts the surrounding territories. I know small towns.) I felt that some of the characters were just stock cut-outs of a outsider's idea of southern stereotypes. Now, don't get me wrong, all of the bad stuff does exist; it exists everywhere unfortunately. It just isn't to that extent; life isn't that one sided. Stereotypes can be brilliant and funny, but it just beat the dead horse this time. (was too much.)

Despite my annoyances, it was a great mystery that hits a lot of good notes. Harris is the queen of Chick Mystery (is that the term.) It packs a big punch in a short amount of pages.

Additional Notes: This novel contains dark themes and sexual themes.

Additional Notes: This is the 2nd novel in the Lily Bard Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.

Cast in Secret: The Chronicles of Elantra 3

(Michelle Sagara)

Teaser: Kaylin is back and surrounded by trouble and drama once again. Only this time she doesn't find herself thrown into the middle of the High Caste Barrani, but rather the telepathic Thalani who have plagued her before. Kaylin's task begins as a small Thalani child comes to her in a "vision" and speaks nothing but her name. Kaylin puts aside all of her differences and focuses on helping the child.

Short Thought: The best book in the series thus far.

Expanded Thoughts: Finally, a gem in this series. I absolutely loved this installment of this series. The characters were better developed, more human, and a tad bit funny. The story was also easier to follow and much interesting and suspense building. Just as I was about to throw down this series, I find myself attached to it for the long haul.

Additional Notes: This is the third book of the Chronicles of Elantra Series by Michelle Sagara.

Zen Attitude: Rei Shimura Mysteries 2

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Teaser: In Zen Attitude, Rei is back in Tokyo with a new client for her antiques business. An aristocrat, Mrs. Mihori, has given Rei the task of finding a wondrous Tansu (Japanese-style chest) for her home. She finds the tansu, but to her dismay, it is flawed and the seller has disappeared. Even worse, people involved with the tansu are turning up brutally murdered.

Meanwhile, Rei has been enjoying life while staying with her new devoted lover, Hugh, in his fabulous apartment until his unscrupulous, dingy, and band front man little brother Angus comes to stay there as well. With all the new found stress, Rei finds a strange friendship in Mrs. Mihori's world champion martial artist daughter, but even it isn't what it seems and Rei finds herself in her most dangerous situation yet. With her relationship with Hugh on the rocks, who can help her this time?

Short Thought: The plot thickens. Rei is back and better than before. (And in more trouble...)

Expanded Thoughts: This novel was great. The mystery was deep and complex with twists and turns that gave me whiplash. (And I loved it!)

We get to see deeper into characters, and see Rei and Hugh try to maintain a long term relationship.

I love the relationship between Hugh and Rei, because it highlights Rei's main issue--her struggle with her Eastern and Western heritages. Rei has been desperately trying to throw away her American side and become an accepted member of Japanese society for these two novels. Hugh is as Western as Western gets. (A Scottish man who doesn't know Japanese, lives large, and consumes copious amounts of meat.) We see how Hugh's comfort in himself begins to frustrate confused Rei. It's something that I'm very curious to see where it goes.

Additional Notes: This novel contains scenes of a mild sexual nature.

Additional Notes: This is the 2nd novel of the Rei Shimura Mysteries by Sujata Massey.

Madhouse: Cal Leandros Series 3

Monday, June 8, 2009

Teaser: Cal and Niko are back again, but with a new breed of enemies to add to the ever-growing list. Sawney Beane, a formerly deceased cannibalistic serial killer, is on the loose and leaving a trail of bodies behind. The brothers race to stop him from killing anyone else, but find themselves stretched in two directions when someone makes an attempt on Robin's life. All in a day's work for these brothers who never seem to catch a break.

Short Thought: Overall a good addition to the unique series. Slightly better than the two previous books.

Expanded Thoughts: This third installment into the series is more like three short stories in one. So, for the purpose of this review, I'll be discussing them separately.

First, the main plot is the resurrection of the Scottish serial killer, Sawney Beane. He is a gruesome cannibal that doesn't hesitate to leave a trail of gore and horror behind him. I'm not going to comment on this storyline much, because I didn't feel that it was anything terribly unique. It was like a horror version of a Criminal Minds episode. It was great fun, but not terribly different from other stories of its kind.

Second, there is somebody out to kill the ever-randy Robin Goodfellow. Really, how do you narrow down a suspect when the Puck has made millions of enemies of thousands of years. This was actually my favorite plot line in the whole novel. It was clever, and you get to see a different side to Robin--instead of his bare bottom in action, you get to see a vulnerability clouded in fear (and probably still in action). The ending was also brilliant. I truly never guessed who the perp was until it was revealed.

Lastly, Cal goes to any lengths to get laid. I really didn't like this storyline. It was like a badly done Gothic version of American Pie. I felt that it didn't fit in with the flow of the rest of the series. It was almost like the author decided that she didn't like George and needed a way to write her out without killing her. It was a major turning point for Cal, but not a good one in my opinion.

This series keeps steadily getting better. I look forward to reading the next. This was definitely the best one of the series I've read so far, I almost enjoyed reading it too much. With all this dark humor and horror, I think I scared myself with how much I did enjoy it. Perhaps, I should work up a really kick butt maniacal laugh to go with it.

Additional Notes: This is the third novel in the Cal Leandros Series by Rob Thurman.

Additional Notes: This novel contains dark themes, violence, and mild language.

Magic Burns: Kate Daniels Series 2

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Teaser: Kate is back with even more attitude, but more importantly with steady employment. She is now a recognized 'friend' to the Pack, a structured gang of shape shifters, and has solid connections to the authorities. Not only does this mean more leverage, but it more importantly means steady money--something Kate is grateful for and lacked until recently.

Kate is given a job by the Pack, or rather returning a favor. She is to track down a group of valuable maps that was stolen. Little did she know that the maps would lead to a butt kicking of epic proportions that she would feel for weeks to come.

Short Thought: Even better than the first of the series. Raised my expectations of the urban fantasy genre.

Expanded Thoughts: This novel was a short step ahead of the first one. I wasn't sure that I was going to continue with it after the first one, but I'm glad that I did.

One of my main complaints with the first novel was that the main character was flat and annoying. She was the stock, bull-headed chick that crumbles to lustful ooze in the presence of an alpha male. It had been done and better. I must say this novel deviated from that quite a bit. We get to see a female character stick to her guns (well swords), get the crap kicked out of her, and not turn into putty at the hands of the one that saved her. I was beyond pleasantly surprised. I had these novels totally pegged as being as predictable as many of the other series in this genre. I dare say, this character has me intrigued in that her whole story isn't revealed yet, and I am craving for more.

Another thing I did enjoy about this novel over many of the others in this genre is that the author doesn't force character relationship or alliances. It is more like real life. People don't trust each other so quickly, nor do they have magic enchantments that make them 'made for one another.' People also don't instantly work together 'just because.'

This one could turn into a real prize, maybe even better than Mercy Thompson and Sookie Stackhouse. All Hail Kate Daniels!

Additional Notes: This novel contains scenes of mild violence.

Additional Notes (2): This is the 2nd novel in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

Fire Study: The Study Trilogy 3

Teaser: Yelena is back as the liaison between Sitia and Ixia, that is until someone or something drives the council officially against her and sends her running back to Ixia with her brother Leif in tow. Will she keep her neutral ground as she seeks to clear the new obstacles in her way? Or will she find her self on the wrong side of her comrades? All the while Yelena is discovering that her magic is more powerful than anyone could have imagined and that her capabilities are endless and terrifying.

Short Thought: Not as great as the first two novels, but an entertaining end to an interesting fantasy adventure trilogy.

Expanded Thoughts: I was very excited to read this conclusion to the trilogy. I was hoping for a blast. I did think it was entertaining, but it most certainly did not live up to the first two novels. Some parts were wonderful and others I found myself getting annoyed. We did get to see what happens to certain characters, and even get a peak into their future, but other characters who were important in the previous novels become lost and many never develop.

All that being said, it was entertaining. It was a nice, easy read. A good TV substitute, but nothing spectacular.

Additional Notes: This is the third book of the Study Trilogy by Maria V. Snyder.
CopyRight © Jenn SWT | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan