Archive for July, 2008

Accidentally Dead by Dakota Cassidy

July 30, 2008

Nina Blackman is dead. And not just your ordinary dead, but UNdead. She didn’t start out that way. Oh, no. One minute she was a dental assistant minding her own business when a patient, hopped up on laughing gas turns around and bites her. Starting out with a craving for blood instead of hot wings with blue cheese dip was a rude awakening and her new fangs are just cumbersome. But her friends are there to help her though. And Greg, “HawtMortalityStealer” an honest to goodness vampire, is going to guide her. Whether she wants him to or not!

ACCIDENTALLY DEAD is second in this hilarious and sexy paranormal series. It’s not required for you to read THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF first, but why deny yourself the pleasure? There’s lovely character development to be had as you meet Marty, Nina’s friend, Color Wheel mentor and moon howler and Wanda, Nina’s own personal and very human Jiminy Cricket. These characters grow with each installment.

Nina wasn’t initially my favorite character. I was a bit worried about spending a whole book with her. Honestly? She scares me a little. I think she could intimidate Rambo and The Terminator combined. That’s part of what made this book so fun! Discovering what made Nina-Nina was more touching than you would expect from paranormal chick lit. I grew to adore her as a character.

Labeling Nina ‘Stubborn’ doesn’t even begin to cover it, ’cause she’s on a quest to get UN-undead. I found myself more than once laughing out loud (okay, snorting on occasion) at her tenacity. Dakota Cassidy has a gift for humor in her writing and who couldn’t use a good sidesplitting laugh? She also manages to leave us guessing, using just the right amount of suspense to keep the pages turning.

The foreshadowing for Cassidy’s next book in the series, THE ACCIDENTAL HUMAN left me frothing at the mouth. Wanda’s story promises to be just as snarky, touching and fun.

The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox

July 25, 2008

Happy birthday, Lizzie Brown! First there’s a demon in your toilet bowl, then your AWOL, Harley riding grandma with a jelly jar full of witches brew suddenly shows up on your doorstep, and finally your hyper-active Jack Russell Terrier has started talking to you. But best of all… You’re a demon slayer. Maybe you should change your dinner reservations because Hell is out to get you!

Wow! Okay, I have to say it again. Wow! This debut by author Angie Fox knocked me flat on my rear!

I was loathe to put THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER down and found myself discovering new places to hide and read. More than once I came out of the bath with pruny toes or suffered dark circles under my eyes from staying up all night. Reading at stop lights is definitely not recommended by this reviewer. It could cause horn honking and possible hand gestures.

A biker bar full of Granny witches in leather and halter tops was only the beginning as we’re introduced to a gorgeous Greek shape-shifting griffon with his own plans for Lizzie. The chemistry could not be denied and the steam these two generated fogged up my glasses.

It was non-stop fun from the first page to the last. The frisky, larger than life characters kept me turning pages and were established quickly and with much aplomb!

I’m still not sure exactly what made Pirate, the spastic yet loyal dog start talking, but it made for some cute moments. He was featured enough for moments of levity and was a constant for Lizzie from her previous life as a pre-school teacher.

In the uber popular genre of paranormal romance, just about everything has been done before, yet THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER keeps it fresh and unique carving out a place for itself. Scoot over Sookie Stackhouse and Queen Betsy Taylor. There’s a new player in town and Lizzie Brown is going to need some room!

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

July 25, 2008

Shay Bourne is convicted of murdering a little girl and her step-father, a policeman. As he awaits execution on death row, he learns that the little girl’s sister, Claire is in need of a heart transplant and he knows what he has to do.

When miracles, involving Shay, start occurring on death row, a priest with faith and a secret and an atheistic ACLU Lawyer work together to help Shay to make that final donation to the sister of his victim.

Will Claire’s mother be able to get past her hatred of Shay in time to accept the gift of his heart to save her last remaining child? Is Shay The Messiah, come again, to save more than just Claire’s life?

I’ve been asked many times what this book is about. Is it about a child/cop killer on death row? Is it about the death penalty? Is it about religion? Is it about forgiveness? Is it about organ donation? It’s all those things. And so much more.

You can expect controversy with any Picoult book, and you can also expect an amazing amount of research and a story told from different points of view. This book features a lot about religion, and that’s definitely going to push people’s buttons. The perspective of Christians, Atheists and Jews are well thought out and very well written.

One of Picoult’s best story telling gifts is writing from several perspectives, and managing it so authentically. It always makes for an eye opening reading experience that I look forward to from this author.

As we hear this story told from several different points of view, the characters become very real. I felt as if I were reading someone’s journal, discovering inner most thoughts and feelings.

Take nothing for granted in CHANGE OF HEART as Picoult takes you on an emotional roller coaster from the first page. The journey you began will be nothing like the journey you end with.

Even if I don’t agree with some of the points of view in this book, I have to appreciate how well they were written. CHANGE OF HEART will certainly make you feel, but it will also make you think.

The Defense by Stacey Lynn Schlegl

July 25, 2008

Samantha is a beautiful and successful graduate student, clinic volunteer, makes meals for neighbors in need, spends time visiting the elderly and is brutally berated by her mother, who can’t seem to see the compassionate, loving person inside her daughter’s plus-sized body. After surviving a brutal rape, Sam puts on weight as a way to keep her safe, all the while never daring to hope that love will see past her size 18 body and love the woman inside. Her mother’s constant emotional abuse keeps Sam in a state of upheaval.

Bruce, a Korean student who knew Sam before the attack and subsequent weight gain wants a chance at breaking through her defense. Working on a school project with her finally gives him a way to get close to her and discover just how special a woman she is.

This is a beautiful and touching story of self acceptance, forgiveness, inspiration and unconditional love, no matter your size, sex, color or race. Samantha is a character that anyone can relate to and feel sympathy for. In a society, where size 18 is more common than a size 8, people of the larger size are looked down upon because what’s inside of them isn’t as easy to see. It’s easy to have compassion for Sam’s plight because we’ve all been a book judged only by our cover.

Bruce is the kind of man we all dream of. His acceptance of Sam no matter what her size helps her to learn to love herself and gives her self esteem much needed support. He is a mirror that reflects the truth back to Sam. The truth she was afraid to see.

While the ideas proffered in this story are touching and motivating, I was disappointed by the writing style. The dialog was rather robotic and stunted. The characters didn’t speak with the flow of a regular conversation. It felt rather simplistic and took me out of the story. I loved what the author was saying, I just didn’t always enjoy the way she said it.

The end was every little girl’s dream come true, however it felt entirely too rushed. The final fifteen pages could have been stretched into a very satisfying thirty at least. It was gratifying to see Samantha come so far and become comfortable in her own skin and gain self confidence. I love endings that tie up loose ends with a pretty bow, but Samantha and Bruce worked so hard to have it all end so abruptly. I was a greedy reader who wanted more detail in their “happily ever after” than just ‘happily ever after’.

Overall the message was inspiring and important for women in particular. I hope readers enjoy this book, because even with its flaws, I did.

Real Vampires Get Lucky by Gerry Bartlett

July 25, 2008

Glory St. Claire is a full-figured vampire with flair. And yet she is slow to embrace certain aspects of her… condition. When she happens upon loan shark Lucky Carver whose throat is messily torn out, Glory knows she has to turn her first human in order to save her. Lucky isn’t one to lay low though, and vampires like to keep their existence a secret. An ex-rock star boyfriend and new paranormal friends can lead only to trouble. While Lucky lives large, she attracts more than just vampire hunters, but the one who wanted her dead to begin with!

In this third installment in the Glory St. Claire series, we’re taken on a real page turning thrill ride.

It’s advisable to read this series in order and get a full grasp of the characters as sub-plots keep building. New readers would be especially lost if they hadn’t read the previous novel, REAL VAMPIRES LIVE LARGE.

As usual, Glory and Jerry are steaming hot! Although Glory requires her independence there’s no denying their inevitable draw. They are a couple it’s impossible not to cheer for.

The characters in this series are unique and hilarious! The shape-shifting body guards, newly turned rock star vamp and community of vampire friends make for seriously fun reading. Instead of depressed pale and sulky vampires, we’re treated to lively and sassy bloodsuckers.

The humor is clever, yet not heavy handed. There are two mysteries taking place simultaneously. Who’s blackmailing Glory and who tried to kill Lucky? While it isn’t the most tightly woven shocking surprise, it was certainly entertaining!

This is a series that has quickly become a favorite! I’ll have my eye out for REAL VAMPIRES MAKE WAVES, next in the Glory St. Claire adventure! I hope you will too.

Courtesy of C2Ks Kwips and Kritiques

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

July 25, 2008

A young woman suffers the horrible and violent loss of her mother and is sent away to a Finishing School in England, away from everything and everyone she has ever known. Spence School for Girls is a Gothic mansion hiding many secrets that Gemma Doyle is destined to discover.

Turning a group of girls from enemies into a circle of trusted friends, Gemma finds she has a connection to other realms and has visions that lead the girls to a world never before imagined. Soon the power they all discover becomes a tantalizing possibility instead of the stifling future as a Victorian wife, but the temptation brings with it an evil that could devour them all.

This book was a complete joy from beginning to end. It has so many elements that make it enthralling. Paranormal, romance, historical, an old fashioned ghost story, there is literally something for every literary taste.

The novel features young ladies and is labeled as Young Adult, but I found it to be captivating at any age. I enjoyed it as much as my daughter did. The Victorian Age proffered a setting different and perhaps more mature than contemporary fiction, fully engaging adult and teen readers alike.

The author uses several metaphors to express the repression of young women in that time period. The dutiful responsibility, the lack of freedom and choice, and yet the splendor of it all is captured with aplomb.

The mystical aspects to the story were somewhat far reaching and require the reader to suspend their disbelief and have faith that the author will connect all the dots.

Parents of younger readers should be cautioned that there is a rather steamy dream sequence and instances of drinking and stealing.

Courtesy of C2Ks Kwips and Kritiques