Archive for February, 2008

Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

February 21, 2008

Caleb, Fox and Gage, best friends, sneak off to Pagan Stone, a forbidden spot in the woods to celebrate their shared tenth birthday. They will soon discover why it was forbidden to visit this terrible place, as an innocent oath meant to bond them as blood brothers calls up a great evil. An evil that will plague their town of Hawkins Hollow every seven years on the seventh day of the seventh month.

Now as they approach their 31st birthdays, they realize that the evil grows more powerful upon each return and this is their last chance to stop it.

First in a new trilogy by Nora Roberts, Blood Brothers grips you and won’t let you go. I would say it won’t let you go until the end of the book, but I’m still feeling its clawing grip as I impatiently await The Hollow coming out in May.

I love it when Roberts delves into the paranormal and spooky. Even though it’s billed as a romance, I felt the romantic aspect played a somewhat supporting role in this book. The romance gave the reader some much needed break from the delicious tension of the supernatural and was decadently palpable in and of itself. The relationship between Caleb and Quinn simmered until it sizzled.

The town of Hawkins Hollow is more a character in the story than a place setting. The deep history of the town takes us back to the Puritans and its founders, providing centuries of back-story to play with. Small towns with a deep past are my favorite background for a book like this. There are so many layers and possibilities as this trilogy unfolds.

As I’ve come to expect from Nora Roberts, her female characters are strong and multi-dimensional. That’s not to say the ladies don’t have their struggles or weaknesses, but each of them shows courage and it’s always a pleasure to read a story with women who work through their fears and support one another.

I also appreciated how well developed the characters were in this book as a whole, considering there were so many that played an important role.

My only complaint is that it ended too soon. Unlike any of the author’s other trilogies the conclusion of this book had a more unfinished feel to it. Almost as if it was merely pause in the story. I was hungry for more. I definitely wouldn’t have been satisfied by it on its own.

Reviewed By: Terri


Table For One by Georgiana Daniels

February 21, 2008

Lucy Brocklehurst is a looking for a good Christian man, but only the new handsome youth pastor will do. Unfortunately, the ratio of single women to men is 7:1 and Lucy isn’t the only one interested. As she throws herself in the youth pastor’s path, she finds herself in one embarrassing situation after another. Fortunately, kind-hearted Edgar Flowers is there to pick her up when she falls, and soon, love blossoms. Their only obstacle is Edgar’s newly widowed mother who will do anything to keep her son’s attention.

I have to admit, I had tears in my eyes a couple of times while reading this charming story of love and forgiveness! Lucy is a loveable character, and is easy to relate to as she struggles to give her life over to God and trust His plan for her life. I love that this book inspired me to turn to the Bible more as Lucy’s lessons became my own.

Occasionally self centered and prone to pity parties, Lucy comes close to being annoying once or twice. Fortunately she has her best friend and roommate, Dinah to remind her of what’s really important. Poor Lucy opens herself up to one problem after another until she discovers where her solutions lie.

Edgar and Lucy’s old fashioned romance is wonderful to witness. As Lucy grows spiritually, I felt myself growing along with her. The trials and tribulations they go through as they struggle to figure out how to make a life for themselves and keep Edgar’s mother happy had me cringing at the reality of it and keeping my fingers crossed for a happy ending! Lucy really was between a rock and a hard place. Stand up for herself to her future mother in law and risk insulting her and losing the man of her dreams, or grin and bear it hopes that she will grow to accept her.

Whether you’re single, or married, TABLE FOR ONE is a sweet story that will encourage your heart.

A Study In Red by Brian L. Porter

February 21, 2008

Robert Cavendish is bereft with grief at his father’s recent passing. He was also surprised to learn his father bequeathed Robert a mysterious journal to be read after his death. Read by him and him alone. As he reads the journal, he comes to realize that he holds in his hands the actual rantings and admissions of Jack the Ripper! But that, as they say, is only the beginning. From those pages Robert discovers the answer to old mysteries and atrocities, answers that lead him down a path of horror and insanity. What affect can the secret ravings of a murderer such as Jack the Ripper have on a person? And what connection did Robert’s father have to this secret journal?

I was immediately struck by the enormous amount of research that went into A Study in Red (The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper). It brought 18th century London to life, making the story almost palpable. For over a hundred years, the mystery of Jack the Ripper has been investigated, written about, and discussed, but never like this. I could feel the cobblestones under my feet, hear the horses and carriages and smell the foul air of the London back alleyways.

The journal was an interesting tool, bringing the reader directly into Jack’s world and the insanity inflicting him. Experiencing the journal with Robert was intense as the mysteries unfold page by page. The suspense kept me engrossed well into the late evening hours, just as Robert had… I can feel the goose bumps now.

The identity of Jack the Ripper has been explored, but never in such a deliciously nail biting manner. Although fiction, the possibilities of who Jack really was and where he came from as well as his unfortunate victims felt all too real thanks to the obvious hard work of the author to create this sensational tale.

Reviewed By: Terri


Don’t Talk Back to Your Vampire by Michele Bardsley

February 21, 2008

Being a single mother is hard enough. Now try being an undead single mother who bursts into flames at the first whisper of sunlight, and has to drink blood to survive while raising a teenager. Yes, Eva LeRoy, town librarian at Broken Heart, Oklahoma is a vampire.

Everyone is adjusting pretty well, except for the rogue group trying to kill her and/or use her new special abilities for their gain. And oddly enough, the only man who really makes her undead heart go pitter pat is the vampire who killed her.

Let me just get all the crazy gushing out of the way. I was completely enamored with this book from the first page, possibly even the first paragraph. The author had me at “once upon a time”. I can’t remember the last time a book grabbed me by the throat and sunk it’s fangs in this deep!

Okay, now on to the business end of this review.

It was unusual for me to start with the second book in any series, but I was wacky this time and did the unthinkable. These books do stand alone, thank goodness, but I’ll be picking up I’m the Vampire That’s Why as soon as stores open at the crack of dawn.

I just love paranormal romance with a sense of humor. It’s sometimes embarrassing when I’m sitting in the car waiting in line and I start laughing like a crazy person while people point and stare, but in this case, it was worth it. I am too nice of a person to name names, but for me, this series has replaced another one about a vampire with a certain shoe fetish and a cranky demeanor. I’m sorry, but it had to be said.

Is there anything sexier than a brooding Irish vampire? Yeah, I didn’t think so. The chemistry between Eva and Lorcan O’Halloran is sizzling. While Lorcan has some major guilt for murdering Eva (oops, but it wasn’t really his fault, he was sick with The Taint, a debilitating vampire disease), he still manages to be sensual and appealing. Especially to Eva. Ironic, no? Eva is a fun character and surprisingly easy to relate to considering she’s a vampire. Her personality leaps off the pages.

What fantastic and unique use of vocabulary! The author has got to be a serious logophile. Since Eva is a librarian, there was plenty of opportunity for her to flex her verbal muscles and I ate it up like it was candy.

I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time in Broken Heart, Oklahoma and I recommend that you do the same!

Reviewed by: Terri


A Skating Life: My Story by Dorothy Hamill

February 21, 2008

This is a revealing look into Dorothy Hamill’s life from her first moments on the ice at 8 years old, to training to become a Gold Medal winner at the ’76 Olympics through her life today. Dorothy Hamill details the sacrifices her family made, the challenges with coaches and training to become an Olympic athlete and how her passion for skating got her through some of the most difficult times in her life.

Dorothy Hamill was my hero growing up. I had the Dorothy haircut, the Dorothy glasses, and spent many afternoons on the skating rink at my grade school trying to teach myself spins and jumps. After reading A SKATING LIFE: MY STORY, she remains my hero.

I never realized what went into becoming serious in a sport like ice skating. The expense of traveling to train with the right coach, traveling to get enough time on the ice to practice, the cost of equipment and trying to get an education while competing in shows around the world was only a part of it. It was inspiring to learn the sacrifices made by Dorothy’s family and Dorothy herself, although she never writes much of her own personal sacrifices. I learned so much about the beautiful and challenging sport.

Dorothy’s story doesn’t end with winning the gold medal in the ’76 Olympics. It was only the beginning. She met the love of her life, Dean Paul Martin only to have it end in heartbreak and tragedy. My heart broke right along with her. I so wanted her to live happily ever after and the love that she still feels for her first husband, Dean Paul radiates from the pages. This was when her struggle with depression truly came to the surface, even though she battled with panic disorder and depression all through childhood. The honesty that comes from this book is truly a gift. The painful family issues and frank discussion of depression were courageous.

That being said, I hoped for a bit more about her struggle with depression. There was a lot of publicity about this book and America’s Sweetheart suffering from depression for years, but little description of her struggle. It was written in a very matter of fact style without a lot of adjectives. Perhaps that’s where we glimpse the real Dorothy. Instead of waxing poetic or dwelling in the difficult, she soldiers on telling her story with respectability and straightforwardness.

She survived another marriage that ended in painful divorce and leaving her a bankrupt single mother. I was so sad and angry for what she endured. And yet she never wrote a bitter word about anyone. I don’t know of many of us who could have endured what she did, and remain so humble and without animosity or hostility.

While this wasn’t the best written book I have ever reviewed, I had to give it a higher rating for its pure heart and openness.

I think that Dorothy found closure with some of the issues plaguing her. The one issue that will probably always haunt her is the death of her first husband. I have a feeling Dean Paul will continue to be a shadow, watching over her and waiting for her.


The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly

February 7, 2008

Penelope Thornton-McClure is the new co-owner of Buy the Book, a charming mystery themed book store. When a best-selling author dies right in the middle of a signing under suspicious circumstances, help arrives in a surprising form. A ghost.

What a charming book! The small town atmosphere in a tiny Rhode Island town was the perfect background for this cozy mystery and Buy the Book was the ultimate dream bookstore. I could just imagine sitting in the big fluffy chairs and curling up with Dashiell Hammett or Mickey Spillane. I immediately fell under the author’s spell.

Best of all, was the charmingly rugged character of ghost detective, Jack Shepard. The quintessential ‘50’s P.I. who favors pin-striped suits and fedoras added delightful color and overall atmosphere.

Pen’s character was one you could immediately admire. A new widow, taking a chance on a different life, helping her aunt to keep the bookstore afloat and raising a son alone was just the beginning. Through her relationship with Jack, she found strength of character she didn’t know she had. It was inspiring to watch Pen spread her wings under Jack’s tutelage.

The small town supporting characters were fabulous, and brought even more credibility to the overall community feel. I wanted to stay at the Finch’s Inn, take a walk by the lake and buy some fruit from Mr. Koh’s store.

And oh, yes, the mystery! That’s what this book was, after all! I couldn’t forget how well woven the plot was, how the red herrings kept you guessing, with just the right amount of tension to keep you turning pages without taking away from the comfortable feel of this book. I literally hated to put it down.

As a classic mystery lover, I adored the nods to famous authors sprinkled generously throughout the story. The quotes from Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Pulp Fiction novels and others filled my heart with pure joy!

I can’t wait to read what Pen and Jack are up to next!

Reviewed By: Terri


How Nancy Drew Saved My Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

February 7, 2008

23 Year old Charlotte Bell has had her heart broken by her first love, a married Ambassador who employs her as a nanny. In an effort to change her life and regain a lost childhood, she reads all the original Nancy Drew books. Excepting a new job for the U.S. Ambassador to Iceland, Charlotte looks to Nancy to see her through.

The title is what really drew me to this book. I adored Nancy Drew as a child, and I was excited that I wasn’t the only grown woman who still did. Unfortunately, I’d have been better off re-reading The Secret of the Old Clock.

Charlotte isn’t much of a likeable or sympathetic character. She enters into an affair with her married boss without a single qualm. Never really learning to think for herself, she asks “what would Nancy Do” in every situation, absolving herself of any real responsibility.

Unfortunately, there aren’t really any other substantial supporting characters to like either, with the possible exception of Annette, the precocious 6 year old she cares for.

The plot is meandering at best. There’s little rhyme or reason to the story. The characters don’t really have a direction and I’ve found myself more and more unwilling to be dragged along with them. If it weren’t for writing this review, I would not have finished reading it.

The bizarre ending came completely out of left field and would have benefited from some build up for the sake of dramatic tension at the very least. Just when I started to appreciate Charlotte’s efforts to stand on her own two feet as she finally learns something from making the same mistakes, poor Charlotte is left hanging with no real resolution.

I did enjoy the author’s style. I liked the use of language and the references the author made. I might have to try another book by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, because I found her choice of words enjoyable.

I am pleased that How Nancy Drew Saved my Life inspired me to dust off my old Nancy Drew books, so it wasn’t a total loss! It was a wonderful premise for a book. I really wanted to enjoy it more.

Reviewed By: Terri


Dating Dead Men by Harley Jane Kozak

February 7, 2008

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Wollie for short (thankfully), is a greeting card designer and owner of “Wollie’s Welcome! Greetings” working to buy the franchise to her store. In order to come up with the extra funds she needs, she decides to work for a radio psychotherapist writing a book titled “How to Avoid Getting Dumped All the Time”. As part of the ‘Dating Project’, Wollie agrees to go on 40 blind dates in 60 days for $5,000. If that weren’t enough, Wollie stumbles across a dead body, is taken hostage by a handsome “doctor” and now has the mob chasing her. As if Wollie doesn’t have enough on her plate trying to live up to being named after Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, she’s now mixed up in murder.

Dating is hard enough without people trying to kill you, don’t you think?

Harley Jane Kozak does a fantastic job in her debut novel. She’s created fun characters giving Stephanie Plum a serious run for her money.

Wollie is a sympathetic character being thrown into unusual circumstances and doing the best she can. You can’t help but want the best for her! The quirky supporting characters bring a sense of light-heartedness in this comedic romp. Her girlfriends, Joey and Fredreeq are colorful and play well off Wollie’s slightly more conventional nature. The accounts of some of her blind dates will leave you laughing out loud and the touching moments of her heartfelt love and responsibility towards for her schizophrenic brother will melt your heart.

The mystery is well thought out and will keep you turning pages as all the pieces fit together in this madcap adventure that never quits! In the end will Wollie find Mr. Right, or keep DATING DEAD MEN?

Reviewed By: Terri


Size 14 Is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot

February 7, 2008

Heather Wells is a former teen pop star turned assistant dorm director. Ooops. I mean assistant residence hall director. While this could be considered an unlikely career change, Heather likes her job and the people she works with. Just one little problem. People keep ending up getting killed and her residence hall is aptly dubbed “Death Dorm”.

In this second Heather Wells mystery, a well liked cheerleader is found with her head in a pot on the stove in the cafeteria. Fortunately, the police have Heather around to ask the right people the right questions because Chris Noth isn’t around when you need him.

It’s not really necessary to read SIZE 12 IS NOT FAT to enjoy SIZE 14 IS NOT FAT EITHER, but there’s a nice foundation of the characters if you do.

You’ve heard of eye candy? Well to me, this series is brain candy. It’s a fun mystery that you have to divorce yourself from a certain degree of believability, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable. This isn’t Agatha Christie, but it isn’t meant to be.

I really enjoy having a protagonist who is real. Whether you’re a size 12 or a size 2, you can relate well to Heather. She’s a modern day Nancy Drew who likes cream cheese and bacon on her morning bagel and has a crush on the barista boy at her local Starbucks. She also has to occasionally lie down on her bed in order to zip her jeans. My kind of girl! Heather is someone I would like to hang out with, and that’s part of what makes this series so good. Well thought out characters.

Now you aren’t going to over-exert your gray matter reading this book but you aren’t going to lose any brain cells either. The mystery aspect is a little thin. Your hand is held along the way. But you will be entertained by Heather as she stumbles along solving the mystery of the be-headed cheerleader.

I am going to be running down to buy BIG BONED, the third Heather Wells mystery as soon as possible because I can always use a book that makes me laugh out loud. I just love getting those funny looks from people in waiting rooms, don’t you?

Reviewed By: Terri


Wife For Hire by Janet Evanovich

February 7, 2008

Hank Mallone is looking for a wife, but only for six months or until his bank loan is approved. Whichever comes first. Hank has a bad boy reputation in his small home town and thinks a wife will lend him some credibility.

Maggie Toone needs to get out of town. Feeling smothered by her life, getting out of New Jersey seems like the thing she needs to do. This could be a great opportunity for her to write the book she’s always wanted to. As long as they keep it strictly business, no problems, right?

I’m the first admit that I haven’t been a big fan of Evanovich’s earlier works. I adore Stephanie Plum, and I keep trying these others in hopes of discovering a gem. Well, maybe this isn’t a precious diamond, but it’s at least a cubic zirconium.

There is definitely a formula to these romances, but it can be a comforting kind of predictability. While there were aspects that were far-fetched, I found that if I didn’t take it too seriously, I enjoyed it a lot more. Unfortunately I wasn’t always able to accomplish that. The characters fell so deeply in love in such a short period of time and I had a hard time swallowing it. Faking a marriage in such a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone else was dubious at best, but to try and convince his father, the bank president? That was just unbelievable.

Overlooking the blatant unconvincing parts to the story, I did love the characters. Evanovich has a wonderful talent for creating lovable characters and that goes a long way to forgiving implausible storylines.

Overall, I enjoyed Wife for Hire and thought it was a good read. The relationship made the story worthwhile. Just have a glass of water handy for the bits that are harder to swallow.

Reviewed By: Terri