Monday, August 25, 2008

#25 Shakespeare's Counselor: A Lily Bard Mystery by Charlaine Harris

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

The fifth and final installment in the Lily Bard series wraps up Lily's story quite nicely.

In addition to finally settling down with Jack, Lily has decided to face her past and begin attending group therapy sessions. Of course, these sessions become the scene for yet another murder in cozy little Shakespeare. And as usual, Lily is right smack in the middle of the action.

As others have said, this wasn't the best in the series. I think some of that was because there weren't any loose ends to leave you craving the next book. But with Lily's settling down and everything, it did have a hint of finality to it. I for one am sorry to see her go... though I hear she may be making cameo appearances in some of Charlaine Harris's other books from time to time. :)

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#24 Shakespeare's Trollop: A Lily Bard Mystery by Charlaine Harris

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Lily returns in this fourth book in the Lily Bard (Cozy) Mystery series.

Another murder has taken place in Shakespeare, Arkansas. This time it's Deedra Dean, a well-known woman about town who's known for her somewhat promiscuous ways. Has her lifestyle finally managed to get her done in? And if so, it's not going to be easy for a small town police department to find her killer among the many men of Shakespeare who've been to her bed.

Of course, being the local cleaning woman to many Shakespeare residents, including the late Ms. Dean, Lily knows a thing or two about Deedra, and also comes across some evidence that just may help the police find the missing pieces they need in the puzzle of Who Killed Deedra Dean.

I really enjoyed this book, and I really like Lily's character as well. She's dark, mysterious, and quite complicated... kind of how I like to think of myself. *grin* These books are really quick reads and I've already read the fifth book as well, a review of which should be coming up shortly. :)

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

#23 Dancing Above the Waves by Susan Walerstein

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Jack McCalister is a wealthy businessman living his life between two homes—a sprawling estate on the fictional Cape Cod island of Clary's Cove and a grand mansion in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston. One foggy morning, while rushing to make the ferry from the island back to Boston, he accidentally hits a teenage girl who had run into the street right in front of his car. Scared and not knowing what to do, he flees the scene without stopping and doesn't report the accident to anyone, hoping no one saw what he did.

But someone else did see what happened... and they plan to use the knowledge to get what they want out of Jack...

This book was alright, though didn't really have me on the edge of my seat. Billed as a suspense thriller, it contained a little too much romance and drama for my liking which made the genre categorization seem a bit off; my idea of suspense thrillers being more Koontz-like. I feel this book read more like a general fiction title actually.

I immediately picked up on was the fact that this a first work for the author. I found the descriptions a bit over done and the storytelling a bit formulaic. The overly descriptive parts wouldn't have bothered me as much if there weren't so many of them in parts which had nothing to do with the story—who really cares how many cups of oil Erica uses in her salad?—or would go off into another time and place right in the middle of the current time line which sometimes made my eyes glaze over. However, this obviously didn't bother other readers as much as it did me, as evidenced by its several good reviews at Amazon.

As a matter of fact, there were times where the extra descriptions served the author well. A born and bred Boston girl myself (I live in the suburbs now), I immediately recognized the locations and landmarks, and even the local customs and mannerisms of the people, in the writing. Some things about New England are very distinctive, and in this regard, the extra detail employed here worked well to enhance the entire sense of place in the story, and give it that unique New England feel.

So despite my initial reservations, I decided to dig in my heels and continue reading, and I found things picked up after the first forty or so pages as the story began to sufficiently hold my interest. I can't say this was one of my favorite reads, and it was a bit outside my usual genre, but in the end it turned out to be a vaguely satisfying read nonetheless.

BookCrossing journal page for this book

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

#22 Fendi, Ferragamo, & Fangs by Julie Kenner, Johanna Edwards, Serena Robar

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

This book contains three short teen stories that revolve around Vamp Modeling, Inc. Despite what it's Amazon entry says, this book is not set in the same world as the Kate Conner, Demon Hunter series.

In the Julie Kenner Story: Olivia is a straight-A student, smart and pretty, but always thought of herself as more of a brain than a beauty queen. But when her best friend and her boyfriend encourage her to enter a modeling contest sponsored by Hipster Chick magazine and Vamp Modeling, Olivia is super surprised to be one of the winners. Liv, as she comes to be known, soon finds out just how Vamp Modeling got its name...

The stories of Veronika by Johanna Edwards, and Sydney by Serena Robar are similar and take place in the same world. All three girls are actually winners in the same contest. The differences in the stories primarily being centered upon the differences in the girls themselves. (A fuller synopsis can be found at the BookCrossing journal page, linked up below.)

I enjoyed these stories, even though they were a bit too "happy ending" for my taste overall. Younger readers will definitely appreciate them, as will other more varied readers of the teen/young adult genre.

BookCrossing journal page for this book

Monday, August 04, 2008

CONTEST - 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover by Linda Wisdom

My super speed reader friend and fellow blogger Amber, of Amberkatze's Book Blog is hosting another drool-worthy contest over on her site, this time for a copy of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover by Linda Wisdom.

See this entry in her blog to read the interviews with the main characters and enter the contest.

I'd wish y'all good luck, but I want to win this one myself! ;-)

#21 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Join Harry and his friends as they return to Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft for their fifth year.

Shortly before his return to Hogwarts, Harry and Dudley, his big, dumb muggle cousin, face a Dementor attack... right in the middle of Little Whinging! Harry ends up using magic to repel the dementors, but because of that offense—underage magic in the presence of muggles—he is forced to attend a hearing and face possible expulsion from Hogwarts! But just what were dementors doing in Little Whinging if not specifically sent to attack Harry?

So begins Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the Harry Potter series. The Order of the Phoenix is actually a secret society of Wizards and Witches founded by Dumbledore, it's members being the same that fought against Voldemort last time. Unfortunately, with Cornelius Fudge and the rest of the Ministry of Magic vehemently denying Voldemort's return, and taking every opportunity they can to slander both Dumbledore and Harry through stories in the Daily Prophet, the Order definitely has their work cut out for them.

Starting with the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, these books have definitely gotten darker, and in my opinion have stepped outside the realm of children's books while still remaining in the young adult category.

I didn't like this book quite as much as The Goblet of Fire which seemed to have a lot more going on. Overall, it was still an excellent book as I rated it 8 out of 10; however I just couldn't help comparing it to Goblet of Fire, and in that regard, I didn't feel it quite measured up to that standard.

(I actually feel the opposite about the movie versions: Goblet left out so much from the book, missing a lot of key points and issues, that I didn't like it that much; while Phoenix was more complete to the book, and perhaps even a bit more flashy than its predecessor.)

BookCrossing journal page for this book

Friday, August 01, 2008

#20 California Demon: The Secret Life of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

In this follow-up to 2006's Carpe Demon, we return to San Diablo, California, a small quiet suburb outside Los Angeles, where Suburban housewife and Level Four Demon Hunter Kate Conner is on the job. On one hand, she's trying to keep house for her husband, teenage daughter, and toddler son, while on the other, she's hunting down a demon who just took over the body of an old man and escaped the old age home!

But Kate's up against more than she can handle when it turns out that the special guest appearing at the high school surf competition is a Demon himself... and her daughter Allie is right smack in the middle of the action. With the help of her best friend Laura, and what may well be the spirit of her dead husband, Kate takes on the Demon and still manages to get dinner on the table in time. ;)

I enjoyed this 2nd book in the series. Even though I don't particularly relate to the whole housewife/soccer mom mentality, I have several friends who are in that phase of their lives, so I can appreciate it. ;)

BookCrossing journal page for this book