Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review (Shorts) ~ Hexed

Published By Berkley mass market

Four of the bestselling names in romance and fantasy come together in this collection of thrilling novellas featuring powerful women who know how to handle a hex or two...

Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels 4.5) by Ilona Andrews 
I haven't started this series yet but I've read both novellas and loved them. 

Ice Shards (Sisters of the Moon 9.5) by Yasmine Galenorn
Loved learning more about Iris and her past. Would also like to hear more about Howl and his pack. 

Double Hexed (Stormwalker 3.5) by Allyson James
Found this story very entertaining even though I was not familiar with the series. I was intrigued by almost all the characters that were in the story. Will be looking into it more.

Blood Debt (Anna Strong Chronicles 6.5) by Jeanne C Stein
This didn't grab me in the same way as the other three. It was still a good read I see myself at least trying the first book in the series.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine.It's a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating

Triple Shot (Maggy Thorsen #7)
By Sandra Balzo
Published By Severn House Publishers
expected release: December 1, 2011

Summary: The new Maggy Thorsen coffeehouse mystery - There’s a chill in the Wisconsin air, and it's a shot in the arm – a triple espresso shot – to Uncommon Grounds, the Brookhills coffeehouse owned by Maggy Thorsen and real estate maven Sarah Kingston. Their new autumn drink is a huge success. But two estate agents have died lately, and Sarah herself is under investigation for irregularities at her job. Then a stench begins to percolate through the coffeehouse, and soon it’s clear that corpses – like other bad things – do indeed come in threes . . .

** I have this book sitting on my side table... Had to start from book 1, I'm now on book 4. They're great reads and I am really enjoying them!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review ~ Bean There, Done That

Bean There, Done That (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #3)
By Sandra Balzo
Published By Severn House Publishers

SummaryHeres a tip: if your ex-husbands mistress-cum-missus asks for your help in proving that he cheated on her while he was married to you, just say no. And, whatever you do, dont invite her in . . .Coffeehouse owner Maggy Thorsen does just that when Rachel Slattery Thorsen comes knocking on her door. When the new Mrs Thorsen disappears that same evening, Maggy quickly finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation involving Rachels hotelier family Milwaukees answer to the Hiltons.

My Thoughts: The third installment of this series is my favorite so far. The addition of Maggy's ex and his mistress/new wife added something to both the book and Maggy's character. I found myself wanting the ex husband to be guilty. The author did a great job making him the slimy condescending type that you would expect. The romance that has been on the side of this series finally goes somewhere and then somewhere else. While I like Pavlik, I found myself liking Stephen more and hope he shows up in future books.
Overall this book had everything you've come to expect from this series. While I was happy with the whole book I'm not as sold on the conclusion of the mystery. This was another where there were plenty of clues scattered throughout but a few I never would have gotten. Looking forward to fourth book. Hoping for more Amy, she has quickly become my favorite.

Rating: 4

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review ~ Grounds For Murder

Grounds For Murder (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #2)
By Sandra Balzo
Published By Severn House Publishers

Summary: A sharp and amusing mystery from a talented writer - Set in Milwaukee at a scaldingly competitive trade show for the coffee industry, events reach a head when coffeehouse-owner Maggy Thorsen discovers a body under a table at the conference centre. As the reluctant conference coordinator and a potential suspect Maggy must track down the murderer, save her coffeehouse and hopefully put some froth into her love life . .

My Thoughts: This series is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Maggy seems to be getting stronger as the series moves forward. The only problem I had with the book was the way it started. We start with the dead body and then spend the first half of the book getting back to that point. I would have preferred if we had just started at the beginning. 
The characters of Brookhill were entertaining as usual. Sophie and Henry and the Red Hats added some much needed levity. Sara trying to quit smoking and running the conference at the same time was almost more interesting than the mystery. I liked Amy as a new character, she adds something for the younger set without being the other woman that is often referred to. 
Overall the mystery lived up to the first book but I wasn't as surprised by who committed it. Since the victim was not likable it was harder to care about the who-dun-it part. 

Rating: 4

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review ~ Ruby Red

Ruby Red (Edelstein Trilogy #1)
By Kerstin Gier
Published By Henry Holt and Co.

Summary: Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

My Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I loved it and it was definitely one of my favorite reads from this year. The author was able to blend both the present and the past without it being jarring to the senses. It didn't feel as if you were reading two different books that were then mashed together.
Loved the characters as well. Even though Gwyneth is a typical teenager, she didn't annoy me as some do in contemporary YA. It was easy to see where she was coming from, being the invisible member of the family while her cousin was showered with attention and lessons. I found her ability to see ghosts a useful twist in helping her catch up on all the years of training she missed. I'm not sure about Gideon, I liked him for the most part but at the same time he is the character that you always need to keep one eye on. The Count comes across as suitably creepy, and him and his friends work well as the bad guys if that is what they are.
Overall, while loving the book there was just something missing that stopped me from giving it a 5 star rating. The ground work and back story for the series were laid out nicely but when the book ends there were to many unanswered questions. The only definite thing we get from this book is that Gwyneth is the time traveler.  Still I'm looking forward to reading the next book and unraveling the mysteries that were presented.

Rating: 4 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review ~ Prophecy of the Sisters

Prophecy of the Sisters (Prophecy of the Sisters #1)
By Michelle Zink
Published By Little, Brown Books

Summary: An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-

One good...

One evil...

Who will prevail?

Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets. 

Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust.

They just know they can't trust each other.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book more as a whole than I did as I was reading. It seemed to keep going over the same thing (prophecy) again and again with only new bits being added. I had figured out the whole key issue early on and could not figure out why these characters seemed unable to add 1 and 1. That being said I loved the concept of good vs evil that was portrayed and the consequences of one winning over the other. 
Alice while creepy didn't totally pull off what I think the author was trying to convey. She seemed more stuck up mean girl than evil gothic force. Lia worked more for me than her sister, I felt she was at least working towards a goal even if she went about it a little too timidly for most of the book. 
The twists and disturbing turns kept me reading and I'm glad I finished. I look forward to reading the next book and finding out more about these characters.
Cover: I actually thought the cover conveyed more of the darkness of this book than the story did. It has that creepy gothic sense to it that made me pick up the book in the first place.

Rating: 4

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine.It's a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating

Shadow Heir (Dark Swan #4)
By Richelle Mead
Published By Bantam
expected Release Date: December 27, 2011

Summary: Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...

The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't--or won't--reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon--and risk the ultimate sacrifice.

**This series has been up and down for me but right now I still look forward to them. I like this cover better than the pink one.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book Review ~ Meridian

Meridian (Fenestra #1)
By Amber Kizer
Published by Delacorte Books

Summary: Half-human, half-angel, Meridian Sozu has a dark responsibility.
Sixteen-year-old Meridian has been surrounded by death ever since she can remember. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders would burrow into her bedclothes and die. At her elementary school, she was blamed for a classmate’s tragic accident. And on her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family home—and Meridian’s body explodes in pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she’s a danger to her family and hustled off to her great-aunt’s house in Revelation, Colorado. It’s there that she learns that she is a Fenestra—the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos.

My Thoughts: While this seemed to start a little slow for me it picked up fairly quickly and the premise was new and intriguing enough to keep me reading. The whole idea of Fenestras being the light that people go through to get to the other side during death, was well thought out and wasn't made this simple thing that Meridian was able to do. I liked the idea of her having to learn how to do this or there would be consequences for both her and the person (or animal) trying to pass.
I ended the book still not sure about Tens, I didn't feel his character was explained enough. He worked well as Meridian's protector but there was a lot missing that made the relationship and how quickly they were "in love" less believable. Hopefully this is something to is fleshed out more in later books.
Overall it was a good read and I loved the thought of both the Fenestra and the Aternocti and their battle for the passing energies. I look forward to reading the next book, Wildcat Fireflies which just came out in July 2011.

Rating: 4

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review ~ Uncommon Grounds

Uncommon Grounds (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #1)
By Sandra Balzo
Published By Five Star Trade

Summary: Maggy Thorsen, former PR executive, and current coffeehouse owner finds the blonde, beautiful and bodacious queen of the wealthy city of Brookhills dead...dead in a pool of decidedly unfrothed milk in front of her espresso machine.

In a town where high heels are appropriate attire for a trip to the hardware store, why would any one of the town's latte loving citizens hot-wire an espresso machine with 220 shocking volts on the very day of its grand opening?

Stumbling over small town politics - and the all too self-important new sheriff, Jake Pavlik, Maggy is on her way to finding out the truth - even if it's a truth that may be very hard to swallow...

My Thoughts: This was a great read and excellent start to this series. I was hooked from page one and was able to finish it fairly quickly (about a day).
Maggy's character is what you would expect from someone who's trying to pick up the pieces after her  husband has left her for his dental assistant. She is fun and quirky but also has her insecure moments where she is not sure of anything that is going on around her. I thought the rest of the characters in this small town were great and each added something to the story.
I probably should have, but I did not see the guilty party coming until it was right there in fron of me. That always makes mystery books a better read. Now on to book two: Grounds For Murder.

Rating: 4