Tag Archives: novels

The Search by Nora Roberts

Publisher: Putnam Adult (July 6, 2010)
Kindle: 768 pages / 680 KB
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle’s coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare…

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona’s cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He’s the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon’s house, and he’s at his wit’s end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can’t handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he’s a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn’t want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona’s life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands…

Review:

It’s the latest of Nora Roberts’ stand alone novels (not counting Chasing Fire being released tomorrow).

Frequently with her novels, Roberts presents an interesting plot to explore. The idea of a search dog/ dog trainer being stalked by a convict, who’s back to finish the botched job, has potential. Added to that, we have the love interest, a new arrival in the small community, is a necessary but interesting aspect. He adds to the story because of how delightfully casual their relationship is and how it grows into something more without them really noticing. There’s a sense of ease, yet discomfort that feels natural (despite the catalyst of a stalker/killer).

Clearly a Roberts’ novel, it follows her basic formula, which tends to be a drawback for many. But as a faithful reader, there is a comfort to be found there. Combined with her interesting plot ideas and ability to make these characters real for me, I feel it balances out into an enjoyable and easy read over all.

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“Waiting on” Wednesday: Crossed

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Crossed by Ally Condie

Hardcover: ??? pages
Publication date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

From Amazon.com:

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky–taken by the Society to his certain death-only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander-who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart–change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.


Stay by Deb Caletti

Publisher: Simon Pulse (April 5, 2011)
Kindle: 352 pages / 670 KB
Source: Galley Grab
Ratings: 5 of 5 stars

Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is–and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough…

Review:

This is my first Deb Caletti book, and I was simply blown away by it. Normally I’d stick with YA science fiction & fantasy, but for books like this one, I’d gladly try other YA contemporary fiction novels.

Masterfully written, Caletti finds a balance in her novel that could easily have come out poorly. Alternating chapters helps the reader to learn of what was happening to Clara now, and her relationship with Christian from the beginning. With books that switch back and forth that way, I traditionally find myself preferring one time frame, and impatiently reading/skimming through the other section. That wasn’t the case with Stay however. Caletti’s writing was flawless and kept me enchanted and engaged, even when the darkness in Christian started to make itself more known.

I realized, as I was writing this review, that I wanted to start off a lot of my points with a “normally I don’t” or a “usually I wouldn’t”. This entire book is outside of my norm, yet isn’t. Caletti has this way with words that I can’t get enough. Her metaphors are dead on, and her language brings this novel to life. The idea isn’t unusual in itself, but it’s the way Caletti takes it and makes it her own that makes Stay as good a read as I found it to be.

Caletti was able to take a dark and serious topic, and wrote it in such a gripping way that it is not only relevant to the YA target audience, but to an older audience as well. Definitely a recommendation for anyone remotely interested.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 23, 2009)
Paperback: 664 pages
Series: Millenium #1
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch – and there’s always a catch – is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

Review:

Let me start by saying, I’m probably one of the few people who didn’t immediately fall in love with this book (if at all). I’ll admit though, Larsson had an interesting idea. Partly because of my aunt’s recommendation and to be able to watch the movies guilt-free, I forged through and read the book.

Set in Sweden, it was interesting to read about a foreign place. The story circles aroudn the two main charachters: Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who recent lost a major libel case, and Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but largely misunderstood girl who is considered legally incompetent in the eyes of the Swedish law. Then we throw Henry Vanger into the mix, the elderly former CEO of Vanger Enterprises. Vanger is obsessive over the cold case, and now, in his old age, wants to try one last time to put it all to rest.

Definitely an interesting plot, and a great set of well developed, flawed characters to keep us interested. But maybe in part due to my lack of understanding for Swedish society, there were times when it felt like the story dragged. More often then not, I found myself skimming through quite a few information centered sections, and the story didn’t progress as swiftly as I would have liked.

Again, I mostly read this book for the movie. There were several topics that made me quite uncomfortable (because I have the sensibilities of a maiden aunt). There were things like adultery, rape and corruption in the system. One particular scene involved Lisbeth and the scum ball social worker (or whatever they’re called in Sweden), who makes his appearance again in the next book so I wasn’t allowed to forget his existence easily. I’m inclined to believe people love these books for a reason, so I tentatively recommend this book in hopes you all find something redeeming that I missed. It’s a slow start, but for others (just not myself) it does pick up as you get into the book.


“Waiting on” Wednesday: Vanish in Plain Sight

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Vanish in Plain Sight by Marta Perry

Paperback: 384 pages
Publication date: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin

From Netgalley.com:

Since she was a little girl, Marisa Angelo has been haunted by the image of her mother walking away, suitcase in hand, to return to her Amish roots.

Marisa and her “Englischer” father never saw or heard from her again. Now Marisa has received a shocking call from police. Her mother’s bloodstained suitcase was found hidden inside the wall of an Amish farmhouse.

Desperate for answers, Marisa heads to Lancaster County. But no one—not the police or Marisa’s tight-lipped Amish relatives—can explain what happened to her mother.
Only one man is as determined as Marisa to unravel the mystery— Link Morgan, the handsome ex-military loner who found the suitcase in the house he inherited from his uncle. Because both Link’s and Marisa’s family members are implicated in the decades-old disappearance.

The secret lies somewhere in the quaint Amish settlements. But someone will do anything to ensure the truth remains hidden forever.


Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard

Publisher: Pocket (September 1, 1997/ November 24, 2009)
Kindle: 384 pages / 562 KB
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Roanna Davenport was raised a wealthy orphan on her grandmother’s magnificent Alabama estate, Davencourt, where she had a passion for horses, a genius for trouble, and a deep love for her cousin, Webb. But everyone expected Webb to marry their ravishing cousin, Jessie. When he did, Roanna’s desire became no more than the stuff of dreams — until the night Jessie was found bludgeoned to death.

After the shocking murder of his wife, Webb left for Arizona, abandoning the legacy that he had once believed was all he wanted. But then an all-grown-up Roanna walked into a dingy bar in Nogales to bring him home; the mischievous sprite he had known ten years earlier was no more. Gone, too, was her fire. In its place was ice that melted at his touch. Webb is drawn back to Davencourt, to Roanna, and to the killer that once destroyed his life and waits only for the chance to finish the job….

Review:

This is a pretty old romance novel. I’d been looking for something new to read now that I’ve exhausted all my Nora Roberts options. (I haven’t read any of her J.D.Robb works, but I’ll get to it sooner or later.)

I hate to sound cliched, but I read romance novels for the plots and not the smut. Since this will be my first romance novel review, I’ll explain myself a little here. They have an adult fairy tale feel for me: you can trust them to have a decent, happy ending. “Shades of Twilight” hit the limits of what I find acceptable amounts of smut. The book even starts with a sex scene! How scandalous! The smut bordered from being simply too steamy to over the top and crude. If they weren’t having sex then the characters were thinking about it.

The storyline was relatively different enough to keep me interested even when the smut made me want to go away. One issue readers may have is how seemingly incestuous the relationships in the book are. Howard pushes the lines on what is and isn’t socially acceptable, but writes it in a way to keep the reader hooked and willing to explore the possibilities.

I haven’t read any of Howard’s other works, but her ability to keep me engaged and emotionally vested in the character’s well-being, despite my discomfort, has me contemplating what else to read by her. If you able to keep an open mind and are looking for a new romance to read, do check this out.


“Waiting on” Wednesday: Chasing Fire

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Kindle: 880 KB
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publication date: April 12, 2011
Publisher: Putnam Adult

From Amazon:

There’s little as thrilling as firefighting-at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are in Rowan’s blood: her father is a legend. She’s been fighting fires since her eighteenth birthday. At this point, returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home-even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering.

Fortunately, this year’s rookie crop is one of the strongest ever-and Gulliver Curry’s one of the best. He’s also a walking contradiction, a hotshot firefighter with a big vocabulary and a winter job at a kids’ arcade.

Everything is thrown off balance when a dark presence lashes out against Rowan, looking to blame someone for last year’s tragedy. Rowan knows she can’t complicate things with Gull-any distractions in the air or on the ground could mean the end-but if she doesn’t find someone she can lean on, she may not make it through the summer. . .


One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (Fiction)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (February 24, 1999)
Kindle: 352 pages / 379 KB
Series: Stephanie Plum #1
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

After her Miata is repossessed, Stephanie Plum turns to bounty hunting for quick cash, and her first quarry, an ex-cop accused of murder, turns out to be her first lover, with whom she still shares a powerful chemistry.

Review:

For anyone who reads mystery/ thrillers and has browsed in a book store, it more than likely you have seen this book before, even in passing. It’s Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Sporting bright, colorful and bordering obnoxious covers, I almost avoided picking up this first book.

The reason I picked up this series was the countless recommendations. One way it was described to me was as being “light, easy reading”. And, it is. I’ve read a few of Janet Evanovich’s re-published romance novels & “Wicked Appetite”, her new book that came out last fall (which is a spin-off of the Stephanie Plum un-numbered set of books). Her romance always had too much packed in to really work well. With the Plum series, by simply being a series it gives Evanovich adequate time to fit in what plot themes she wants and time to develop her characters.

In this first book, we meet the main cast of characters. There’s Stephanie’s family: her mother (who constantly wants Stephanie to settle down and live up to the “Burg” expectations), her Grandma Mazur (who decided to let loose after her husband passed on), and her father (who tries his hardest to ignore them all at the dinner table and focus on his meal). Vinnie is her cousin, whom she blackmails into giving her a job as a Bond Enforcement Agent (BEA) aka bounty hunter. Then there’s Joe Morelli, the bad boy turned cop turned Failure to Appear (FTA), who has a sexual history with Stephanie. Through Stephanie’s new job, she meets Ranger. He’s the hot Cuban American bountry hunter, who, on a lark, takes Stephanie under his wing. He likens it to a Professor Higgins and Eliza Dolittle type of relationship.

It’s an interesting mix of characters with an interesting plot to boot. However as a standalone, the sheer amount of people you meet can be overwhelming. Luckily it’s part of a series, and Evanovich has the space to spread her creative wings. Overall, this series is definitely an easy read. Give it a chance, and you’ll find yourself flying through all the books.


River Marked by Patricia Briggs (fiction)

Publisher: Ace Books (March 1, 2011)
Kindle: 576 KB
Hardcover: 336
Series: Mercy Thompson #6
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She’s never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father’s people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help…

Review:

This is the newest Mercy Thompson book I mention in my last review. I pre-ordered it on Amazon/Kindle and spent Tuesday reading it. Definitely a fantastic continuation of the series.

As the readers of the series know, (mostly) through no fault of her own, Mercy inevitably finds herself embroiled in all sorts of trouble. This time though, Mercy and Adam are away from the pack and their friends on their honeymoon.

With the past books, there was a lot of focus on Mercy and her “crew”, as I’ll call them. That “crew” consisting of Stefan the vampire, Adam, Warren, Kyle, Zee, Adam’s pack, etc. This time Briggs moved us away from that focus. Instead, for majority of the book, we get to see Adam and Mercy on their own interacting with strangers. What I loved about this book was how the mystery of Mercy’s father was finally touched upon and explored.

No longer is it just the typical supernatural creatures being represented. Briggs is moving away from just werewolves, vampires, etc. for this book. Instead we get to delve more into Native American folklore. Which I felt was a brilliant move on Briggs’ part to keep the story interesting and the reader coming back for more.

A must read for any Patricia Briggs/ Mercy Thompson fan. And if you haven’t read any of her work/ this series yet, go read “Moon Called” and fall in love with them as I did.

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Side note: Thanks to Jessica from Confessions of a Bookaholic for letting me use her book review style!


Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (Fiction)

If anyone reading this has read my previous review of “Skinwalker”, you guys may have noticed how enamored I am with the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. The first book, “Moon Called” will be the review topic for today and hopefully cause one or two people to try one of my favorite series. Plus the new book in the series (“River Marked” yay!) comes out today, so I thought this review would be a nice way to commemorate it.

As the series name indicates, the book is about Mercy Thompson, a mechanic who also happens to be a skinwalker. When a stray werewolf finds his way to Mercy, it triggers a chain of events that lands her in the middle of it all. And she soon finds herself in more trouble than she wanted. You’ll meet the potential love interests of Mercy: Samuel Cornick, Mercy’s old flame, and Adam Hauptman, her hot & hotheaded, controlling neighbor. Coincidentally (or not), both men are werewolves. Plus, throughout it all, you get a taste of the romantic tension to come as the series progresses.

Categorized as an urban fantasy, Briggs is skillfully able to weave in the fantasy and mythology, of monsters & creatures of magic thought to be mere story, into the world as we know it today. The fae have come out, and it is clear that werewolves and other magical beings are likely to follow.

Written from a first person POV, we see Briggs’ world through Mercy. A kickass character, Mercy is a skinwalker who had been raised by werewolves. As anyone aware of any werewolf folklore may know, werewolves are intensely dominant and aggressive creatures. Growing up in that sort of environment has helped develop Mercy in a headstrong character. She’s a good mix of disobedience, stubbornness and caring that makes her a compelling character to learn more about.

This is a book at the top of my recommendation list. This is the first time I seriously started thinking about reading adult sci-fi/fantasy books. Prior I mainly stuck with YA ones, because as a coworker of mine said, YA sci-fi/fantasy books tend to be plot driven and lack a lot of the gratuitous sex and violence often seen in adult sci-fi/fantasy. Check it out.

Side note: We’re always looking for suggestions. If there’s something you want us read and review, leave a comment or email. Thanks.