Archive for April, 2008

The Accidental Werewolf by Dakota Cassidy

April 23, 2008

With a sky blue convertible within her sights, Marty Andrews, Bobbie-Sue Cosmetics Representative to the masses, has her future all lined out. Selling lip gloss and eye shadow and bringing out a woman’s inner beauty has been Marty’s focus to make all her dreams come true. Being bitten by a werewolf is just not a factor in her long term plan! And it’s definitely wrecking havoc with her color wheel.

Enter Keegan Flaherty the werewolf in question. I mean, he tries to help Marty adjust to her new status as a former human, but Marty just thinks his cheese has slipped off his cracker. But when Marty is kidnapped, she realizes he might not be so crazy after all and there’s a lot more at stake here than lip gloss and lunar cycles.

Dakota Cassidy knocks one out of the park with this werewolf chick lit tale. There was so much to laugh about… The fun and snarky humor was perfectly teamed with nail biting suspense throughout.

Vivid, larger than life characters give the story soul. I was drawn to the juxtaposition between Marty and Keegan and how different their backgrounds were. Marty, being independent and having no one of significance in her life and with Keegan having a large, close-knit family and how they learned to get along was a sweet aspect to the story. Marty’s new found friends were more than supporting characters, they were fully realized and fully hilarious.

But I have to caution you. Don’t read this book while drinking carbonated beverages. Or anything hot. Or anything that could stain, because if you are anything like me, you’ll be laughing until the diet soda spurts out your nose, or you shower yourself (or the person sitting next to you) with a Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Darn, those stains can be hard to get out!

THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF will be going on my “keeper shelf” to read at those times when only a fun read (and maybe some dark chocolate) will do. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good laugh, a tugged heartstring, or a hot Irish shape-shifter!

Secrets of My Suburban Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

April 23, 2008

Lauren “Ren” D’Arc’s life changed completely when Harry Potter killed her Mom. No, he didn’t jump out of a book and cast an Unforgivable Curse or anything. A case of Harry Potter books fell on her. Now her Dad moved them to the suburbs because living in the city is too painful for him, taking her away from the city she loves and the friends she knows.

Starting over as the new kid stinks but when the uber popular girl in school, Farrin, snubs her, Ren’s life starts to become even more complicated. Ren accidentally discovers Farrin’s got a secret. She’s been having an online affair with an older man! Ren is the only one who can save Farrin from herself.

Ren, by all respects should be a shallow, stereotypical character as a spoiled rich kid. Thankfully, she’s not at all. She’s a likable character who’s been given a lot of adversity and makes pretty smart decisions most of the time.

The subject of her mother’s death is touched on with sensitivity and realism and with enough sense of humor to keep it inspiring. Also, the seriousness of the danger of online predators is taken on in such a way to be entertaining with a message important for young adults to hear. I would encourage parents of teenagers who spend time alone online to give them this book.

BaratzLogsted created fun characters in a bubble gum world with substance. She goes deeper than the “Gossip Girl” type books for young adults, and lets her sense of humor shine to making for a unique, smart story.

The mystery aspect really keeps the plot flowing. A little suspense is always good. The slightly goofy slapstick comedy as Ren comes up with a plan to save Farrin from meeting this older man in person gives levity to a dark situation necessary to keep things interesting without scaring away sensitive readers.

I’m happy to recommend SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE.

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

April 23, 2008

Archie Sheridan, one of Portland’s brightest detectives, is heading a special task force to catch a serial killer. After ten painful years on the case, the killer caught him instead.

Gorgeous, psychotic, Gretchen Lowell captured Archie, torturing him to the brink of death, finally doing the unthinkable and turned herself in to save him. Now they are both prisoners Gretchen is in the penitentiary and Archie is in a prison of another kind, addicted to pain killers and the woman who held him captive.

Now suddenly Archie has to pull himself together. An ambitious newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, is doing a story on him and a new serial killer is on the loose. Will Susan expose his secrets before he can catch the killer?

This is one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year. Cain has created a unique anti-hero in Archie, a man broken physically, mentally, and emotionally, dependent on a buffet of pills for survival. And yet we sympathize and cheer Archie on as he fights his demons and uses his abilities to catch another serial killer.

Susan Ward has her own flaws that makes her a personality who is relatable and interesting, but Gretchen is one of the most unique and diabolical characters I’ve ever read. She’s truly terrifying as Cain takes us back to when Gretchen had Archie in her clutches, her ultimate plaything.

The flashbacks taking us back to Archie’s captivity were flawless, giving important background that I was dying to discover in spite of myself. The torture he survived was nothing short of cringe-worthy.

Thrillers are my personal favorite, and I found this to have a tightly woven plot with captivating (no pun intended), unique characters and an ending that will leave you with a lovely satisfied feeling. HEARTSICK has it all. Not since Hannibal Lector has there been a more frighteningly fascinating villain. It is my sincere hope that we see more from Archie Sheridan, Susan Ward and Gretchen Lowell! What a fantastic series this would make!

Chosen by PC Cast and Kristen Cast

April 23, 2008

Something foreign and dark is at the House of Night and fledgling priestess; Zoey Redbird is the only one who knows it. As things change and her friends turn their backs on her, an old enemy becomes the only one Zoey can trust.

Making matters worse, her best friend, Stevie Rae is undead. And Zoey risks everything to try and help her save what’s left of her fragile humanity.

On top of it all, Zoey has found herself with 3 boyfriends. With all that’s going on in her life right now, can Zoey make the right decisions without losing all that is important to her?

The Casts have written another page turner. I read BETRAYED and plowed directly into CHOSEN, the third in The House of Night series. These books leave so much up in the air, that sometimes it’s worth it to wait for the next book to save you the frustration.

While the book has a solid plot and has me furiously turning pages in spite of myself, I have some issues.

Zoey has always been a character to admire. She’s got strength of character and integrity. That’s all put to the test in this novel, and Zoey becomes a bit tarnished. She makes some really poor decisions, and pays the price for them. I appreciate that this was written in such a way to show consequences for her actions. She becomes sexually active in this book, and I thought that was a real setback. I’ve always appreciated her because she valued her virginity and she gave it away in a very tawdry manner.

I found myself really missing the old Stevie Rae, because without her sweet nature, Zoey, the Twins and even Damien weren’t quite as likeable.

The scene at Zoey’s birthday wasn’t very believable. I thought all the tacky Christmas gifts from all her fashion conscious friends were a joke and I kept waiting for the punch line.

The relationship between Zoey and the adult vampire, Blake was unfortunate as well. I always cringe when an unhealthy relationship between a teenager and an adult is portrayed so romantically.

I kept waiting for a big confrontation between Zoey and Neferet that was built up in BETRAYED. Nothing ever really happened there… Except some whispered threats that I found to be weak.

The thing that bothered me the most is a personal issue for me, and I didn’t want it to affect my review, but I feel it necessary to mention. I found the prejudice against Christians repugnant. For all the talk of harmony, the characters in House of Night were hate-filled regarding a differing (Christian) belief system coming in direct conflict with the ideals they uphold. I can only hope that in future books in this series, all religions are respected and harmony is reached.

An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris

April 23, 2008

Harper Connelly was given a special ability the night she was struck by lightening. She can find the dead and see how they died. Now she travels the country with her step brother using her ability the best way she knows how. She’s been hired to find out what’s happened to the missing teenage boys in Doraville, N.C. by the grandmother of the latest missing teen.

After finding 8 bodies, all buried in the same area, and all died in the most horrible ways imaginable, Harper just wants to leave town and put it behind her. Her first serial murder case has taken a lot out of her. But someone doesn’t want her to leave. And there’s a storm brewing. Small towns can be murder when everyone knows everyone and there’s no place to hide.

This is the third in the Harper Connelly series. Although it could stand alone, Harris does a marvelous job of summing up Harper’s history throughout the book, I can’t help but recommend you read the entire series.

I’m a huge fan of the way Harris can weave a tale in a small town and bring such colorful characters to life. She manages it in such a way to be uncomplicated, but not too simplistic to be trite or uninteresting.

Harper is such a tragic character to my mind. Another one of Harris’ talents. She creates wonderfully flawed characters who are so strong in their own way and overcome such adversity and yet always stay so grounded and humble.

The suspense in AN ICE COLD GRAVE can be cut with a knife. Usually a mystery ends with the discovery of the bodies, but this book turns everything upside down. Almost everyone is a potential suspect and nothing can be taken at face value.

The relationship between Harper and her step brother, Tolliver Lang heats up. While some are put off by their relationship, even though they aren’t related, it seemed a rather natural progression to me.

I always look forward to another Harper Connelly. It’s a pleasure to recommend AN ICE COLD GRAVE.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

April 22, 2008

Eloise Kelly is a Harvard graduate student working on her history dissertation. Her biggest desire is to discover the identity of The Pink Carnation, an English spy during the 19th century Napoleanic wars. Eloise gets her wish as she is given the opportunity to study a family’s collection of letters kept secret.

The letters feature Amy Balcourt, exiled to rural England as a young girl, she’s always dreamed of going back to France to help The Scarlet Pimpernel and Purple Gentian to avenge her father’s death.

Leading us, along with Eloise, Amy takes us from England across the channel to France on the adventure and love of a lifetime.

Historical fiction has never before been this fun and entertaining! A book within a book, Eloise guides us on her journey to discover who The Pink Carnation was through Amy. Just when the pouf of the Napoleanic grows wearisome, Eloise takes over for a while.

The physical humor had me giggling out loud. The characters do ludicrous things, make silly mistakes and say ridiculous things. Not what I expected, but was so pleased at the book being so unexpectedly funny.

The character of Amy Balcourt is a firecracker. Her tenaciousness, intelligence and wrecklessness made her charming and unforgettable. I’ve never enjoyed 19th century France before Amy. Her romance with Richard and the Purple Gentian was frought with humor and unpredictability.

Richard was the perfect dashing hero. Unadulterated, but tarnished just enough to make him loveable and sigh-worthy. I cheered for him all the way as he did his best to win Amy over.

Even the supporting characters are complex and nearly as interesting as Amy and Richard and become even more so as the story progresses.

More than just historical fiction, more than romance, more than espionage and suspense, THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION shakes up the genres for a fantastic blend that has something for everyone.

The first in a series by Lauren Willig, I look forward to the next installment! I highly recommend THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION.

Courtesy of CK2S Kwips and Kritiques


What Lies In Shadow by Tina Wainscott

April 22, 2008

Jonna’s secret identity on the web takes the form of a wildly popular blog. She can be a different person, explore new ideas and fantasies, and she enjoys the many friends she’s made who comment on her entries.

When Jonna thinks her husband is having an affair, her friends encourage her to have one herself. She’s found an excitable volunteer in one of her readers, Dominic. But when she has second thoughts and realizes she wants to work on her marriage, Dominic won’t take no for an answer and begins to stalk her. He knows her innermost fantasies and her innermost fears and will use them to keep Jonna all to himself…

This is my first read by Tina Wainscott, and it definitely won’t be my last. The suspense had me burning the midnight oil. I could not stop reading because the twists and turns kept me in a constant state of delicious tension.

In today’s modern world of blogging and chatting and e-mail, it’s all too common to begin relationships with people we only think we know. You never really know for sure who you are opening yourself up to online. This book served as a good reminder and gave me the creeps!

Jonna’s character was likeable enough, and in comparison she was made more so by her irritating and unsupportive girlfriend. Dominic was truly frightening because he knew so many intimate details about Jonna. It was disturbing enough when he was using that information to woo her, but when he turned the tables and used it to stalk her, it was truly frightening.

For me, the sign of a really good thriller is how gripping the story is. How unpredictable. This one had me going until the very last page! I highly recommend WHAT LIES IN SHADOW.

Courtesy of CK2S Kwips and Kritiques