Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Genre:  YA Paranormal Fantasy
Shade Trilogy, Book 1

Description (taken from Jeri Smith-Ready's website):
Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn't help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift.

I believe I am enjoying this author's books.  I liked this book better than the WVMP book (it could be that this was written later).  I don't think I've read very many books regarding ghosts, but this one kept me intrigued.  I kept turning the page wanting to know more.  And then I finished it, and I still want to know more.  Good thing there's a second one out now.  I'll be adding that one to my list for sure.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Genre:  Comedy

Description (taken from Terry Pratchett's and Neil Gaiman's websites - they both have the same description):
There is a distinct hint of Armageddon in the air. According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (recorded, thankfully, in 1655, before she blew up her entire village and all its inhabitants, who had gathered to watch her burn), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are revving up their mighty hogs and hitting the road, and the world's last two remaining witch-finders are getting ready to fight the good fight, armed with awkwardly antiquated instructions and stick pins. Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. . . . Right. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan.

Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon -- each of whom has lived among Earth's mortals for many millennia and has grown rather fond of the lifestyle -- are not particularly looking forward to the coming Rapture. If Crowley and Aziraphale are going to stop it from happening, they've got to find and kill the Antichrist (which is a shame, as he's a really nice kid). There's just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. . . .

When I read the description, I thought this book was going to be full of witty, humanistic comebacks.  But it wasn't.  There were definitely some pages that made me laugh, but the majority of the time I was wondering how on earth what I was reading had to do with the story...

It very well could be that I am religious and come from a religious background, but I truly did try to keep an open mind.  It's just when I have to continuously read about how being so good can make you truly evil or vice versa (meaning good and evil are actually equivalent), then I kind of have issues with it.  This book was meant to be a joke and make fun of Armageddon, but it wasn't really funny (maybe I'm just too serious or not English enough).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready

Genre:  Urban Fantasy
WVMP Radio Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Jeri Smith-Ready's website):
Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, 60s psychedelia, 80s Goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers how the DJs maintain their cred: they’re vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.

Ciara’s first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WMMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station—and the link it provides to their original Life Times—the vampires would “fade,” becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover becomes a matter of life and un-death.

To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara re-brands the station as “WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ’n’ Roll.” In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs’ vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around—next to Ciara’s complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the “gimmick” enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren’t so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher—and the perils graver—than any con game Ciara’s ever played…

I liked this book.  It put a slightly different perspective to vampires and their obsessive compulsive ways.  It was interesting to learn more about their Life Times and how they're stuck in the time they were changed.  However, when one character came into the story near the end, I thought the book was going to go downhill.  It managed to redeem itself before the ending though.  All the intricate, smaller stories were well-played, and I will continue this series (because it's vampires - gets me every time).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

Genre: Detective
Stephanie Plum Series, Book 2

Description (taken from Janet Evanovich's website):
It's Stephanie Plum, New Jersey's "fugitive apprehension" agent (aka bounty hunter), introduced to the world by Janet Evanovich in the award-winning novel One for the Money.

Now Stephanie's back, armed with attitude -- not to mention stun guns, defense sprays, killer flashlights, and her trusty .38. Stephanie is after a new bail jumper, Kenny Mancuso, a boy from Trenton's burg. He's fresh out of the army, suspiciously wealthy, and he's just shot his best friend.

With her bounty hunter pal Ranger stepping in occasionally to advise her, Stephanie staggers knee deep in corpses and caskets as she traipses through back streets, dark alleys, and funeral parlors.

And nobody knows funeral parlors better than Stephanie's irrepressible Grandma Mazur, a lady whose favorite pastime is grabbing a front-row seat at a neighborhood wake. So Stephanie uses Grandma as a cover to follow leads, but loses control when Grandma warms to the action, packing a cool pistol. Much to the family's chagrin, Stephanie and Granny may soon have the elusive Kenny in their sights.

Fast-talking, slow-handed vice cop Joe Morelli joins in the case, since the prey happens to be his young cousin. And if the assignment calls for an automobile stakeout for two with the woman who puts his libido in overdrive, Morelli's not one to object.

Low on expertise but learning fast, high on resilience, and despite the help she gets from friends and relatives, Stephanie eventually must face the danger alone when embalmed body parts begin to arrive on her doorstep and she's targeted for a nasty death by the most loathsome adversary she's ever encountered. Another case like this and she'll be a real pro.

Two for the Dough is irresistible fun and powerful entertainment from an acclaimed author who is already a national star.

I believe I have found another series that I am going to learn to love.  However, I thought the first book was better than the second.  I only wish I could be half as bad-assed as Stephanie Plum is.  I'm sure I've got the blonde ditziness and naivety to a queue.  I'm interested to see how the characters and plots interact in the series.  I now have another sixteen books to read.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a down-to-earth, hysterical detective case every now and then.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Description (taken from Jamie Ford's website):
In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

This book was a little slow for me, but I enjoyed the history that came with it.  All the prejudices that people experience fresh in the eyes of a child.  This book was bittersweet and well-written.  I just don't think this is my favorite genre anymore.  I'm used to the shoot first, ask questions later stories; not the ones that are woven through a person's lifetime.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about fictitious character's life set in a historical timeframe.

Monday, October 17, 2011

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Genre:  Detective
Stephanie Plum Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Janet Evanovich's website):
Watch out, world. Here comes Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter with attitude. In Stephanie's opinion, toxic waste, rabid drivers, armed schizophrenics, and August heat, humidity, and hydrocarbons are all part of the great adventure of living in Jersey.

She's a product of the "burg," a blue-collar pocket of Trenton where houses are attached and narrow, cars are American, windows are clean, and (God forbid you should be late) dinner is served at six.

Now Stephanie's all grown up and out on her own, living five miles from Mom and Dad's, doing her best to sever the world's longest umbilical cord. Her mother is a meddler, and her grandmother is a few cans short of a case.

Out of work and out of money, with her Miata repossessed and her refrigerator empty, Stephanie blackmails her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a try as an apprehension agent. Stephanie knows zilch about the job requirements, but she figures her new pal, fearless bounty hunter Ranger, can teach her what it takes to catch a crook.

Her first assignment: nail Joe Morelli, a former vice cop on the run from a charge of murder one. Morelli is also the irresistible macho pig who took Stephanie's virginity at age sixteen and then wrote the details on the bathroom wall of Mario's Sub Shop. There's still powerful chemistry between these two, so the chase should be interesting.

It could also be extremely dangerous, especially when Stephanie encounters a heavyweight title contender who likes to play rough. Benito Ramirez is known for his brutality to women. At the very least, his obsession with Stephanie complicates her manhunt and brings terror and uncertainty into her life. At the worst, it could lead to murder.

Witty, fresh, and full of surprises, One for the Money was among the most eagerly awaited crime novels of the season.

It took me a while to get into this book.  I enjoyed the humor and witty comebacks, but I felt like the book was slow.  It could be it's the first in a series, and it always takes me a while to get used to a new series.  I'll definitely continue with this series.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Genre:  YA Coming of Age

Description (taken from Amazon's review):
Arnold Spirit, a goofy-looking dork with a decent jumpshot, spends his time lamenting life on the "poor-ass" Spokane Indian reservation, drawing cartoons (which accompany, and often provide more insight than, the narrative), and, along with his aptly named pal Rowdy, laughing those laughs over anything and nothing that affix best friends so intricately together. When a teacher pleads with Arnold to want more, to escape the hopelessness of the rez, Arnold switches to a rich white school and immediately becomes as much an outcast in his own community as he is a curiosity in his new one. He weathers the typical teenage indignations and triumphs like a champ but soon faces far more trying ordeals as his home life begins to crumble and decay amidst the suffocating mire of alcoholism on the reservation. Alexie's humor and prose are easygoing and well suited to his young audience, and he doesn't pull many punches as he levels his eye at stereotypes both warranted and inapt. A few of the plotlines fade to gray by the end, but this ultimately affirms the incredible power of best friends to hurt and heal in equal measure. Younger teens looking for the strength to lift themselves out of rough situations would do well to start here.

This book definitely touches on the differences between growing up on a reservation and not growing up on a reservation, between being Native American and not being Native American.  But I definitely think this book has more to it than just that, and it is definitely a coming of age book.  Junior inspires us to hold on to our traditional values (whatever they may be) and to still reach out with the belief that there is something better out there for us.

Side note about the author, he wrote the screenplay for Smoke Signals.  If you haven't seen this movie, I recommend you go see it (or at least look into it).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

One Grave at a Time by Jeaniene Frost

Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Night Huntress Series, Book 6

Note: If you haven't read this series from start to book 5, then the description has minor plot spoilers from earlier books.

Description (taken from Jeaniene Frost's website):
Having narrowly averted an (under)world war, Cat Crawfield wants nothing more than a little downtime with her vampire husband, Bones. Unfortunately, her gift from New Orleans’ voodoo queen just keeps on giving–leading to a personal favor that sends them into battle once again, this time against a villainous spirit. 

Centuries ago, Heinrich Kramer was a witch hunter. Now, every All Hallows Eve, he takes physical form to torture innocent women before burning them alive. This year, however, a determined Cat and Bones must risk all to send him back to the other side of eternity–forever. But one wrong step and they’ll be digging their own graves.

I'll admit, the beginning was abnormally slow, and I was wondering if this is the book where the series goes from super exciting to meh.  But fortunately not, the last hundred pages redeemed itself.  I love vampire series.  I love the Night Huntress Series.  So no surprise that I loved this one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Night Huntress Series, Book 5

Note:  If you haven't read this series from start to book 4, then the description has minor plot spoilers from earlier books.

Description (taken from Jeaniene Frost's website):
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance… 

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war. …to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

Let me warn you, I love vampire books.  So it is no surprise that I love this series.  Bones and Cat are hilarious together.  And the books are action-packed with vampires, ghouls, and such.  If you like Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong, and/or Richelle Mead, then you'll probably like the Night Huntress Series.

There was one scene in the book where I giggled non-stop.  I think Jared thought I was going nuts.  Nope, I just got into the book's scene (that's all)...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Genre: YA Fantasy/Mythology

Description (taken from Karsten Knight's website):
Ashline Wilde never received an instruction manual on how to be a 16-year-old Polynesian volcano goddess. If she had, it might have contained helpful warnings such as:

• Dreaming about your (thankfully) mortal boyfriend may cause your bed to spontaneously combust
• Oven mitts should be worn at all times during heavy make-out sessions

Instead, Ash has to learn these life lessons the hard way as her dormant powers erupt at the most awkward times. In the wake of a hometown tragedy, Ash transfers to Blackwood Academy, a boarding school nestled in California’s redwoods, where a group of fellow gods-on-earth have mysteriously convened. As if sophomore year couldn’t get any worse, her storm goddess older sister, the wild and unpredictable Eve, resurfaces to haunt Ashline. With a war between the gods looming over Blackwood, Ash must master the fire smoldering within her before she clashes with her sister one final time, which leads us to life-lesson #3:

• When warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Another breath of mythology...  I enjoyed the setting and learning about the various abilities these teenage Gods had.  But the story was too rough, and it didn't sit well with me.  Maybe it's because I can't relate to having a sister who also happens to be my mortal enemy.  Or it could be that this book was written by a guy, and I've been reading from too many female authors that I've created a disconnect.

All I can say is meh, read it if you enjoy mythology and/or fantasy.  You might have a different opinion.

XVI by Julia Karr

Genre:  YA Speculative Fiction

Description (taken from Julia Karr's website):
In the year 2150, being a girl isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when your sixteenth (read sex-teenth) birthday is fast approaching. That in itself would be enough to make anyone more than a little nuts, what with the tattoo and all – but Nina Oberon’s life has taken a definite turn for the worse. Her mother is brutally stabbed and left for dead. Before dying, she entrusts a secret book to Nina, telling her to deliver it to Nina's father. But, first Nina has to find him; since for fifteen years he's been officially dead. Complications arise when she rescues Sal, a mysterious, and ultra hot guy. He seems to like Nina, but also seems to know more about her father than he’s letting on. Then there’s that murderous ex-government agent who’s stalking her, and just happens to be her little sister’s dad.

This book is set in the future where it's easy to tell who's of age and who's not.  It also makes you question how well a government can be trusted when they brand you for your own safety.  I enjoyed this book, but it seemed like I spent the majority of the time trying to untangle the truth as the plot continued to unfold.  I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.

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