Saturday, January 27, 2007

#10 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

One fateful day, sixteen people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. To their surprise, the will turns out to be a contest, challenging the heirs to find out who among them is Westing's murderer. Forging ahead, through blizzards, burglaries, and bombings, the game is on. Only two people hold all the clues. One of them is a Westing heir. The other is you!

This was a cute and fun kid's/young adult read. It sort of reminded me of Clue with all the different characters, except unlike that book/game/movie, the reader is presented with all the clues in a way that each individual character in the story is not. And even as I read along, and took notes to solve the puzzle, once the puzzle was solved, there were still a few other unanswered questions that come to light. A fun book!

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

#9 Dark Gold by Christine Feehan

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

In this, the 3rd book in Christine Feehan's Dark (Carpathian) series, the story line seems to have become a little formulistic: girl meets tall, dark, handsome stranger, who turns out to be a Carpathian male, said alpha male saves girl's life and discovers she is his life mate, girl is inexplicably drawn to male but fights the attraction, girl is again placed in danger but comes to trust male and eventually they live happily ever after.

Besides the same story, Feehan tends to repeat certain descriptions throughout the book. I counted at least 3 times she explained about the difference between a Carpathian and a Vampire. I've almost given up on this series, but I've heard that it starts to get better around book 5, and since I have up through book 5 here, I figured I'd at least give it that long and then decide whether to proceed from there.

Since I'm not a huge fan of romance for the sake of romance, if it doesn't have some other mystery or action going on in the story, I was hoping for a bit more in this one as well. Yes, Alex was put in danger a couple of times, as was her little brother Josh, but never at any point did you wonder about whether they'd actually be able to save themselves. And it seemed a smaller part of the story than the attraction between Aidan and Alex, which makes this a romance book first and foremost.

One thing I think Feehan does do well is character development. Her character descriptions are so vivid, if a bit too flowery at times, so that you can clearly picture the characters in your head, and understand their actions and reactions. It is only because of this that I'll give this book the benefit of the doubt and give it a halfway rating, as I feel romance readers would probably appreciate it more than I.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

#8 Ghost of a Chance: A Chintz 'n China Mystery by Yasmine Galenorn

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I enjoyed this first in Galenorn's Chintz 'n China mysteries. We are introduced to Emerald O'Brien, who owns a small teashop (more like a tea room actually) in northern Washington state. In addition to selling fine china, serving tea and the occasional lunch, she also reads Tarot cards for her customers and is inofficially known as the town Witch. Because of her psychic abilities, she's also a beacon to the ghost of a recently deceased romance writer who lived nearby.

I found the story engaging enough to hold my interest though I did think the author got a bit overly descriptive at times, but not too much so. Some of that could just be my recent reading of lots of books that either had a lot of action or are young adult reads which usually don't include overly descriptive paragraphs. Though the mystery part was resolved satisfactorily, the part to do with Emerald's personal life left me looking forward to the next in the series. :-)

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

#7 Tall, Dark & Dead by Tate Hallaway

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

It was great to finally come across a fiction book using Witchcraft as a main theme where the author really knows her stuff! I was getting fed up with all the "poseurs" out there who introduce the subject of Witchcraft into their books simply to sell more copies, while not knowing the first thing about it. Of course, the author did introduce some additional fantasy elements to keep the story interesting as well.

We have Garnet, a practicing Pagan and Witch, trying to escape her past and the Vatican Witch Hunters who killed her old coven. She works at a New Age shop, where she meets Sebastian, a fellow Witch—Alchemist actually—who's also a vampire. It becomes a race against time as they try to evade the the witch hunters on their tail, help Sebastian remake his "formula", and Garnet tries to keep her invoked Goddess Lilith in check.

Were this book not reserved for someone else, I'd have hung on to it to share with some of my other witch friends. As it is, it left me anxiously awaiting it's sequel.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

#6 Cirque Du Freak #6: The Vampire Prince by Darren Shan

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This book was more like a continuation of book 5, Trials of Death, as it picked up right where that left off and brought to a conclusion most of the events started there. Like the others, it was a quick but fun read.

Darren has failed the Trials he started in book 5 and has escaped from Vampire Mountain, fleeing his execution decree. But a traitor in their midst has sent him back to warn the Vampire Princes, and face his punishment.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

#5 Cirque Du Freak #5: Trials of Death by Darren Shan

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

In this installment, Darren is put to the Vampires' Trials of Initiation to prove his worth as a vampire. There are five tests, and failure of any one of them will result in certain death, whether at the hands of the lethal test itself, or by being dropped onto the stakes in the Hall of Death.

So far, he's had to swim through the Aquatic Maze, struggle through the Path of Needles—a cave filled with super sharp stalagmites and stalagtites, and fight fire in the Hall of Flames. But can he make it through all the trials set forth ahead of him?

As usual, this book leaves off on an exciting cliffhanger, causing me to immediately want to pick up book 6. Since I borrowed both this one and The Vampire Prince from the library, I have it here waiting for me and think I'll start on it next, right after the Patriots kick some Charger butt!! :D

Friday, January 12, 2007

#4 Fire Me Up: An Aisling Grey, Guardian Novel by Katie MacAlister

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This is the 2nd book in the Aisling Grey, Guardian series. My review of book 1, You Slay Me, can be found at this entry in my blog.

The story takes place in Budapest. Aisling is there to attend the GODTAM conference (Guardians, Oracles, Diviners, Theurgists and Mages) in the hopes of finding a Guardian mentor so she can learn more about her powers and how to control them. As usual, she's accompanied by her demon Jim, a lovable, if a bit mouthy and troublesome, big black Newfie dog.

Her mate Drake, wyvern of the Green Dragon sept, whom we also met in You Slay Me, has followed her there, moving his scheduled "peace talks" with the other 3 dragon septs to the same city where Aisling is... because as his mate, Drake claims, she's an important part of the sept.

Of course, trouble also follows Aisling everywhere she goes, and "trouble" makes a grand entrance in Budapest, as it did in France. Aisling finds herself in some pretty hot water—both literally and figuratively—and has promised to help the Otherworld police, the L'au-delà, find out who's been killing some of the Guardians so she herself isn't charged of the crimes. She's always just popping up in the wrong place at the wrong time it seems!

Where the story goes a bit overboard for me at times is with some of the romance scenes, and the mushy gushy way that Aisling sometimes goes on about Drake like a love-sick school girl with a crush. It's like "gag-a-rama"! ;) But this is something that bugs me about a lot of MacAlister's books, including the Dark Ones series. Fortunately, the rest of the story is often interesting enough to keep me reading... I just hate too much romance in my books without something to even it out.

Despite all Aisling's troubles, everything works out for her in the end... well nearly everything. A few things left unresolved leave the reader anxiously looking forward to the next book in the series, Light My Fire to find out what happens next. (Fortunately, that book is already waiting here on my shelf, though it might be several months before I can get to it.)

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Monday, January 08, 2007

#3 Full Scoop by Janet Evanovich

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This was an enjoyable read. Most of the characters from previous Full books are still here, but this one focuses on Maggie, the town's doctor (pediatrician mostly). Carl Lee Stanton, an old boyfriend of Maggie's, has escaped prison and is headed to Beaumont, SC. And an unwelcome visit to Maggie and her daughter Mel is first on his list! Fortunately, a sexy FBI agent has been sent to protect them...

I can't say I like this series as much as the Stephanie Plum books, but they're entertaining nonetheless. One thing I didn't care for though is that towards the end, a few of the characters ignored or overlooked a few important clues that were telling them Carl Lee had arrived in town. I found myself thinking, what'd y'all just take a stupid pill or something? LOL

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Friday, January 05, 2007

#2 Single White Vampire by Lynsay Sands

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I'm glad I finally started on this series. Single White Vampire was a cute, amusing, chick-lit style vampire romance. But unlike the thick, flowery, icky romantic writing style of Christine Feehan, this book's style more closely resembles that of MaryJanice Davidson's Undead series.

Lucern Argeneau is a vampire, but he's also a writer. Little does the unsuspecting public realize that the paranormal romance books he's writing are actually accounts of his family's history: the relationship of his mother Marguerite and father Claude, his brother Etienne to Rachel Garrett, his sister Lissianna to Gregory Hewitt... the stories he tells in his books, while fact to him, are fiction to the public because who really believes in vampires anyway?

Kate Leever is Lucern's editor, and pays a visit to Luc to try to convince him to participate in a few publicity events for his books. She is shocked by the reclusive and surly vampire—though she doesn't yet realize that's what he truly is. Between Kate and Luc's mother, they trick him into attending the Romantic Times conference, where Kate begins to wonder about the increasing feelings she has towards him as she begins to crack Luc's hardened exterior and see the true man beneath.

There were a number of funny scenes, such as Luc's introduction to television, and his indignation at watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "Did you see that? Buffy just staked that poor vampire. He had yet to do anything even untoward, he just crawled out of his grave and she staked him. That is just not right!" LOL

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

#1 Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

This was a good start to the Lily Bard Mystery series. This is Harris's second cozy mystery series, so at first I was afraid it'd be too similar to the Aurora Teagarden series, but that isn't the case at all.

In this first book of the series, we're introduced to Lily Bard, who's moved to Shakespeare, Arkansas, to escape her past. While trying to hide herself among her neighbors, she accidentally witnesses the dumping of a body, and someone is using her own garbage cart to do the deed! Unlike Roe in the Teagarden series, Lily is tough as nails with a scarred background (and body to go along with it). I look forward to reading more of this series.

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