Welcome to my train of thought. Just a warning, there might be turbulence. I'm a little eccentric, but hopefully you'll find something here that'll make the crazy worth it. Stay tuned for book reviews, ramblings on random things, and all sorts of stuff that tickles my fancy. But keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times. My brain is a scary place!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

White Fire by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 10/31/2013)

*Be on the lookout for a Q&A with the authors in the upcoming few weeks.  I'll put links here, but it will be posted at Shelf Inflicted and a few other blogs! WITH A GIVEAWAY! :)

Corrie Swanson needs to make a huge splash on her thesis, as she’s competing in John Jay College’s Rosewell Prize for Outstanding thesis and a junior, like her, has never won before.  After a few failed attempts to pitch ideas to her advisor, a  conversation with the College’s museum/library coordinator leads her to an interesting tale: Oscar Wilde, famed author, heard tales of bear attacks in Roaring Fork, Colorado, in which the bears devoured the victims.  Thinking that she could provide a huge contribution to research in the area of animal markings left on bones, she forces her advisor’s hand into approval and sets out to the rich tourist trap of a town.  The ski resort city, while at first seeming to be friendly and willing to lend her a hand, soon closes the proverbial doors on her.  Things escalate, leaving Corrie in prison for a simple B&E, and Pendergast steps in.  Good thing too, because Corrie’s discoveries reveal that it was something other than a bear that ate those miners a century before… and soon, a serial arson killer joins the fray.  The slow burn becomes a raging fire and a race against time as three massive storylines, along with a Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle thread, reach an explosive, fiery finish.

Wow, what a ride!  This might just be my favorite entry to the series since Book of the Dead.  Not to say there haven’t been some great books since the end of the Diogenes trilogy,  but this one really raises the bar.  Fast-paced, chock full of murders, Sherlock Holmes, shocking twists near the end, great new characters, and even a moment of Pendergast showing some real emotion.

There are three main storylines in White Fire.

1. Corrie’s thesis project, based around the bodies of 9 miners who had been killed and eaten by *something* in the 1870s, when the town was still a huge mining area rather than a ritzy ski resort -- and the powers controlling the town fighting against her solving the mystery.

2. A serial killer and arsonist, murdering townie after townie and burning their bodies and their homes, as Pendergast works with local law enforcement (who are in over their heads with said killer) to catch them as soon as possible.

3. The search for a lost Sherlock Holmes story that Conan Doyle wrote after hearing a disturbing tale from Oscar Wilde at a chance dinner meeting.

All three of them are done well and integrated seamlessly into one big novel.  The ending is cringeworthy, in a good way… it will have you on the edge of your seat as you await the conclusion, which ties up well, and hopefully has brought a new character into our beloved cast of recurring players.

Overall, I give this story a 5 out of 5 stars.  One of my favorite reads of the year, and one of my favorite entries of the series, right up there with Still Life with Crows, Book of the Dead, and my personal number one, Cabinet of Curiosities.

*I was provided an ARC for review by the publisher and Netgalley.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 10/28/2013)

This series is amazing.  Definitely moving farther and farther into my list of favorite series of all time.

I love Harry Dresden.  I love his world.  I love Karrin Murphy, and Billy the Werewolf, and Toot-toot the fairy.  I love the Council, the blasting rods, the vampires, and Chicago.  I love his cat Mister, his talking skull Bob, his religious warrior friend Michael, and his sardonic wit. I love that James Marsters narrates his audio books.  I love that he owes fairies from bargains, has a dark past, and buys pizzas for Toot-toot.  I love that he signs on to help everyone and anyone at his own expense, any where he can, any way he can.  I love that he's smart and funny and loyal.
Needless to say, I love Harry Dresden.

Book 5 next month? I think I will! :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Stolen Luck by Shawna Reppert

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 10/23/2013)

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy for review!

James Dupree is desperate.  His family and his estate all depend on his ability to find his family's stolen Luck -- a token of friendship given by elves decades before that grants his land bountiful harvests and his household and crops and animals freedom from sickness.  Since the Dupree luck was stolen on the night his father was murdered, things have gone downhill... the estate is in debt, and the next year's harvest might well be the last for Dupree Manor.

So he gambles and wins an Elven slave, even though he abhors slavery, in order to gain the elf's aide in crossing into the elvish lands in pursuit of a long missing thief and regain his lost Luck.
As they travel, and gain and break and gain and break each other's trust, James and the elf Loren move forward along the path of retrieving this luck, and building something far greater than anything the Luck could offer... but will it last?

Wow, what a ride!  I've never really been into the romance story scene, but when I requested this from Netgalley, I didn't really get a romance vibe or I missed it somehow.  But the fantasy elements and the sexy elf really helped make the story hehe.

I think the fighting got to be a bit too much, but I still enjoyed the growing love story between James and Loren, and their battle to push through their roles and their obligations and their histories to find something real.

I'd recommend the book as a fun read.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Riddle in Stone by Robert Evert

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 10/22/2013) 

Back in July, I was privileged to have the chance to read a book from a new author, Robert Evert.  He's a nice guy with a good story to tell, and I never got around to posting my review on this blog (as it was set aside for a few months from April/May-ish until now/October.

So here's my review, from Goodreads:

First, I'd like the thank the author for providing me with a copy for review. I've only done this a few times, because I don't like feeling obligated, but I accepted and am so thankful that I did.

This book was just... FUN. It's got a stuttering, know-it-all, lame boring protagonist. Okay, maybe that's how he starts out. By the end, he's brave, honorable, and humble. This character growth was one of my favorite parts of the book!

I enjoyed the story, especially the relationships between Edmund and Thorax the dog and between Edmund and Pond Scum. (I also LOVED the Doctor Who reference of a character called Pond the whole time!).

The villains were fleshed out enough, the bad events were entertaining to read, the hero was easy to root for (seriously... I'm a book-obsessed dorky quasi-stutterer myself!), and the plot was paced properly.

I am really looking forward to reading more of Edmund and Pond's journey to take down the Undead King!

You can get a copy of Robert's book on Amazon: Riddle in Stone, and don't forget to check out the recently released sequel, Betrayal in the Highlands, to get more of Edmund's story.  I can't wait to read the second book!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sleepwalkers by Ross Ellis

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013) 

Alistair, Ruby, Sean, and Meganne are all "Sleepwalkers" -- kids with the ability to control their dreams and, as they've discovered, enter the dreams of others.  Each belonging to a different school group/trope (nerd, girly girl, tomboy girl, etc), they've bonded into a tightknit circle of friends (and left their other cliques behind) after finding each other in the world of dreams.

Then they meet Chester, another kid who, as it turns out, has the same gift they do.  Chester's home life isn't fantastic, and in a sad turn of events, Chester is thrust into a coma by a tragic accident.  Our Sleepwalkers decide to enter his dreams to wake him up, but what they find there isn't a dream... it's worse than a nightmare.

Wow, GREAT story idea.  You can see the author's background in screenwriting seeping through the writing as he very much understands fast-paced action.

There are a few problems I have with it though:  First, the transitions are non-existent.  Sure, there are chapter changes, but most of the time, within chapters, when a scene switches or it's later in the day or whatever the case, there is NO transition.  Not even a few spaces between paragraphs to signal the flow has jumped along.

Second, the beginning is a little confusing.  I felt like they were just meeting Chester, then at later points, their relationship with him seems much deeper and it seems like they've known him a while.  Needs some clarification or some more detail.

Lastly, I feel like the whole story needs to be expanded.  It's a relatively short story (less than 200 pages) and it could use some thickness to it.  Add more action.  Make the journey/quest to save Chester longer, more obstacles, harder challenges, bigger scenes.  It felt... incomplete.

I must say though, that the kids and their abilities were well done.  And the dream worlds were interesting, especially once they got into the nightmare coma land.  I feel like this world was epic, but the amount of story we got for such a huge and scary place was minimal. 

The pros:  Great story, fun, creepy, good characters, fast pace.

The cons:  over way too quickly, needs more fleshing out, confusing intro stuff, more action please!

Overall, I very much enjoyed this novel.  It has a lot of potential for greatness, especially if it was fleshed out a bit.  I could definitely see this made into a film.  I'm giving it a four because while it could use some work, it was entertaining enough to keep me to the last page, the world and idea was great, the characters were good, and I would definitely read a sequel (or a fleshed out rework or something).  Very entertaining.

Thanks to the author for his generous gift of a copy.  I hope my honest review and feedback helps!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013) 

I absolutely adored this book! It was different enough from the film (one of my absolute favorites) to say I loved them equally and similar enough to help me imagine the world more easily.
I will definitely read more Neil Gaiman novels. I regret that it has taken me this long. :)

Inferno by Dan Brown

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013) 

I loved this book! In typical Dan Brown fashion, I was swept up along with Robert Langdon and Sienne Brooks as they raced against time to follow one of Brown's signature plot devices: a code set in art, architecture, literature, etc.

Rapid pace, global scope, detailed history, lots of fun.

If you like any of the other Robert Langdon books (Angels & Demons, Da Vinci Code, Lost Symbol) then do yourself a favor and pick up this most recent installment of the series.

Dark Passage by Griffin Hayes

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013) 

Dark Passage is the first book I've read by Griffin Hayes.  I read this book on the recommendation of a Goodreads friend, and dear Mallory was right -- this book was totally worth the read.  This may have been my first Griffin Hayes book, but it certainly won't be my last.

Let's start with a RECAP:  Tyson is a man of suffering.  For the past six months, he's slept so very little that he's hanging on by a thread.  His marriage has fallen apart, his career is spiraling downwards, and little tidbits of a horrendous childhood are peeking through in the form of night terrors way beyond the norm.

So, when the opportunity arises for him to get some sleep by joining a drug trial of a new "fix-it" drug pending approval from the FDA, he chases that chance as a man on a mission.  Soon enough, he's sleeping like a baby and, even better, some amazing things are starting to happen.  Good things from his dreams are starting to bleed through the line that separates reality from the dream world.  His problem of sleep isn't the only thing that looks like it's finally made a u-turn for the better.
But once his history starts to rear its ugly head in his dreams again, evil begins to seep through and a dangerous evil begins to manifest... as he recalls that dark hallway in his childhood home (the titular dark passage), death and darkness, evil and insanity, and a past he thought he'd left behind arises to claim him and everyone he loves.

REVIEW:  Wow... just wow!  What an original story with twist after twist, turn after turn.  Gory, but not too gory.  The perfect level of darkness.  Good characters. A sympathetic main character.  A disturbingly creepy creature.  A scary mother.  A doctor losing his mind slowly.  This story is a fun read for anyone who likes a little horror and creepiness in their reading.
Take a trip down the Dark Passage... you (unlike Tyson) won't regret that you did. :)

The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013) 

It wasn't terrible, but the actual ghost is on like 7 pages in the whole book, and it really wasn't scary. I enjoyed the story and felt like, had it been fleshed out and made scarier, I would have liked it more.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013)

After multiple attempts to read Tolkien, I've finished one!

I think my love for the movies and the epic scope of the story (combined with my recent foray into actually enjoying fantasy) let me not only READ Tolkien, but actually LOVE Tolkien.

I WILL read the Lord of the Rings... eventually. :)

Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013)

I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review... which follows!

RECAP: Former cop (turned Private Investigator) Theo Tate, struggling to overcome his rough past few years, has just been handed the biggest can of worms he'll ever experience, and he's about to open that can. He's having the body of a man exhumed to check and see if he didn't actually die of natural causes, but instead of poisoning (in light of new evidence in a related case that begs the question). Here's the rub: the coffin doesn't hold an older man. It's not empty though... there's a young girl in there. Ummm, strange, right? Yeah, well, not quite as strange as the lake a few meters away from the grave being dug up. Why, you ask? Perhaps the bodies rushing to the surface and bobbing like fishing tackle!

From this point, Theo sets out to put a name to the nameless girl, and it snowballs into a massive case with multiple deaths -- and one ruthless evil.

REVIEW: While it took a bit for me to adjust to present tense from the first person perspective, I really enjoyed this book. It was full of twists and turns, and some pretty shocking moments. The plot was grand and risky, but I think Cleave pulled it off. With a flawed anti-hero who makes poor decisions, a terribly evil villain, and a cast of morally questionable characters, Cleave has turned his hometown of Christchurch into a gritty noir world, ripe for more stories.

I'll definitely be reading more Paul Cleave.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013)

I SERIOUSLY enjoyed this book. All the hype around Gone Girl got me wanting to read Gillian Flynn, but I wanted to start with one that wasn't the most hyped...

I am very impressed. Great story, great reveal moments, and the characters... ugh, how to express just how well you get to know the characters?

I will definitely be reading more of Gillian Flynn's books: next up, Sharp Objects!

Of course, I might have liked it so much because I kind of pegged the killer early on. I say "kind of" because of a pretty good twist that I should have seen coming!

Light of the Moon by David James

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013)

I don't even know where to begin! This story was so completely different than what I expected. It's a love story, sure, but it's a story about power and family and depth of character and loss and gain and oh so many other things.

Sure, there are supernatural elements, but this isn't your typical supernatural young adult novel. Don't go into it expecting werewolves or angels or anything like that... expect witches and stars and blood curses and mass murder and redemption!

I'm looking forward to reading the short stories that build on the story AND the upcoming sequel.

ETA: Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Eye of God by James Rollins

 (Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013)

Of course, I loved this book... I love everything he writes. I am saddened and upset at the losses resulting from this book... but in the end, perhaps those losses aren't forever.

I can't believe I have to wait another year for the next one. Sigh.

Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon's Fury

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013)

With themes like honor, truthfulness, integrity, responsibility, loyalty, and duty, this book offers a lot for parents to share with their kids -- including a link at the back of the ebook to the author's website, where the author has provided tips and activities and ideas for parents to help their kids apply the lessons they learn in this book. Dragons and magic and adventure await... and this book is perfect for a middle-grade reader, before he or she "graduates" into young adult. I'm interested in seeing where the story goes in the next one, and even though I'm way past the intended audience age, I'm pretty sure I'll pick up the next one to get more of the story of this sword-weilding curse-breaker. :) I kindly thank the author for gifting me a copy for review purposes.

When She Woke by Hilary Jordan

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013)

I very much enjoyed this futuristic thriller/drama by Hilary Jordan.

When Hannah fell in love with the wrong person and terminated a secret pregenancy, she didn't know that getting caught would change her world... for the better.

She gets branded as a Chrome... in her world, people who commit crimes are chromed, or forced to undergo therapy that changes the color of their skin based off their crime.  Hannah is branded red for taking a human life.

She is then forced to live in a mirrored room, with cameras showing her every move, for a month.  This time is supposed to make her focus on what she has done and come to grips with it, become penitent for it, weep for her mistakes.

After this initial period, she must wear her "scarlet letter" for a set period of time as punishment.

Along her journey to true freedom, she meets people who rock her worldview and change her perspective on the truly important things in life.

The end was a little abrupt, but overall, I loved this book.  Definitely recommended reading.

The King's Deception by Steve Berry

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 7/12/2013)

I received (with immature, unadulterated, dance-around-my-living-room delight) an advanced copy from Netgalley for review. The mere mention of King Henry VIII sends historians and lovers of Tudor fiction into wild meanderings on the twisted and tangled life that was the monarch’s. Wife after wife, child after child, this man redefined not only what it meant to be regent and religious leader in Britain, but also the place of the Tudor family in the history books. His daughter, Elizabeth I, reigned over England and Ireland for decades. She created a golden era, full of dramas and adventurers. She never married, claiming virginity until her death. Her paintings are all mysteriously and specifically done, surrounded by rules of what could be painted. Steve Berry’s latest in the Cotton Malone series takes us back not only into British history, but also into the Malone’s family history. It is a tale of two years past, of how their family changed yet again. Lies and secrets marred the three Malones, and it took truth and honesty to heal. Funnily enough, lies and secrets altered the lives of the Tudor family as well. What if she remained The Virgin Queen, unmarried, for a reason? What if she was part of what would be the greatest fraud in British history? What if all those rules about painting the Queen were necessary to veil an imposter? What if this secret could reignite a war that would change Elizabeth’s legacy from beloved queen to thief of her sister’s title of “Bloody?” Take a ride down memory lane with Cotton Malone in his latest (well, perhaps not chronologically) adventure as a simple favor for a friend turns into a quest for truth and a battle for the lives of all involved. Just be prepared, as the secrets of the past are not the only dangerous mysteries mixed up in The King’s Deception.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 4/12/2013)

RECAP: Ethan, the One Who is Two, sacrificed himself at the end of the last book to restore Order to the world.  He awakens to find himself in the Otherworld... a land of the dead, but not a heaven or a hell, just a limbo-y, in-between type place.  And he's not alone.  Here he finds his mother, Aunt Prue (a casualty of the Beautiful Chaos created after Lena's dual claiming), the Greats, and a few others.  He quickly learns how to get a message to Lena, and discovers that his fate was altered.  He sets off on an adventure through the Otherworld to change that fate, by removing his rewritten/edited to kill him page out of the Caster Chronicles at the Far Keep -- the "good" home of the "good" Keeper Council.  ALong his journey, he discovers the Light casting book, the Book of Stars, and to move forward, is required to bring the Gatekeeper the Dark casting book, the Book of Moons, as payment.  We all know Abraham Ravenwood, supervillain, has it.

Cut to Lena.  For the first time in the series, we enter the mind of someone other than Ethan (kinda funny how it's a four book series with love triangles and supernatural creatures, and the fourth book has alternating perspectives... feels familiar... pulling a Stephenie Meyer are we?).  Lena and the Gatlin gang (John Breed, Liv, Link, Amma, Marian, Macon, etc) get Ethan's message and go looking for the book, saving a caged Ridley and taking down Abraham very easily in the process. Then they all merge their powers and help Amma and the Greats pass the book to the Otherworld to get it to Ethan.

Cut back to Ethan, and he enters the Keep to find he must go through a Labyrinth and fight to the death.  Apparently, the big bad Abraham was working with even bigger and badder Angelus (remember him from the Far Keep Council???) who has tried to alter his own Mortal fate into a supernatural one, to be special, and hates his own kind so much he wants to destroy them all.  So he punishes those who went against his wishes or failed him and in death makes them his slaves.  First is Xavier, the Gatekeeper who helps Ethan but struggles with mutations.  Second, found in the middle of the labyrinth, is... Sarafine.  She's been blinded and chained and forced to fight soul after soul that attempts to get into the keep.  Ethan interacts with her, but her hatred of Angelus outweighs her hatred of Ethan and she sacrifices herself to let him get through to defeat the evil Keeper.  (Of course, we all know it's because, just like Ridley, Dark casters actually can feel things and she wants to protect Lena in the long run.)  Of course, Ethan triumphs over Angelus and returns home -- at the cost of Amma, whose deal with the bokor in Chaos was to trade fates so "her boy" could live.  Amma "dies" without having to die and joins the Greats.  Everyone else lives happily ever after, all coupled up.

REVIEW:  Meh.  I like the story.  It was great.  But there were a few things that irked me.  First, Abraham was made a huge bad guy for two books and a short story.  As was Hunting.  And they both die WAY too easy and all of a sudden, Angelus is the guy behind it all.  Granted, we saw at Marian's trial previously that the Council wasn't entirely pure or moral or good, but it just felt like the writers way of making a BIGGER story with a BIGGER conspiracy behind it all.

Other than that, I was impressed by the series as a whole.  It kept my attention, made me like the characters, and was relatively original even while using some stock twists and storylines.

Overall, I liked the series quite a bit. :)

Find the last book on Amazon here: Beautiful Redemption.

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 4/12/2013)

Best of the series so far. Really really enjoyed this one. Darker, deeper, etc. Good story!

Now, time for REVIEW!

RECAP: Things are flung into Chaos as Abraham Ravenwood and Sarafine Duchannes kick up their plans a notch and start terrorizing the town. Lena's claiming herself as both Dark AND Light at the Abraham-induced early Seventeenth Moon has screwed up the Cosmic Order of things. The town of Gatlin is in Chaos -- tornadoes, Sheers, zombies, record heat, waves of locust-type bugs -- and our Scooby gang is forced to fight to fix it. Abraham Ravenwood plays a major role, and the Balance and Order of the universe demands that the One Who is Two has to fix it. The question is, since most of them could fit the pattern of "One Who is Two," how do they figure it out?


I enjoyed this book the most out of the series. There is death. There is chaos. There are plagues upon the town. The story is so much Darker. Our trusty heroes and heroines are pushed further into darker stories without compromising who they are. The writers do a good job of sticking with each character's personality and how they would react to the situation through their perspectives, through how THEY think.

Don't forget to check it out on Amazon: Beautiful Chaos.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Shining by Stephen King

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 3/20/2013)

Wow. Where do I even begin? I now understand the world's obsession with Stephen King. Why did I wait until 2013 to start reading him? I'm not sure now. I've loved most of the movies as long as I can remember. I love horror stories. What's wrong with me? Haha.

RECAP: Danny Torrance is a special boy. He's touched, has a gift, the ability to see things he shouldn't -- like into people's minds, into the future, things from the past.

Jack Torrance is a struggling man. Mediocrity and failure have followed him since his abusive childhood, but he has a loving wife and a good boy. After making some mistakes, he gets a second chance -- a job to get them through for a while that will also provide free lodging and food. So he takes his family up to the Overlook Hotel in Colorado so he can be the caretaker over the winter months.

They arrive on closing day, where they meet the cook, Dick Halloran, who instantly sparks with Danny. The special bond comes from what Dick calls "the shining," the gifts that Danny has above and beyond the others Dick has met.

As they settle in and prepare for winter, strange events start to unfold -- voices, lingering presences, moving topiaries, and the like.

While the snow cuts them off from the rest of the world, the Overlook stirs to collect its prize...

REVIEW: I have NEVER read a book with so much set up and build up information and storyline that didn't feel like filler or wordiness. I seriously felt that every detail King provided about this family's history was necessary to properly tell the story of what happens to the Torrances over their time at the Overlook.

The characters in this story are all very well-developed -- Danny, Wendy, Jack, Dick, and most importantly, the Overlook Hotel and its denizens. Yes, it's fair to say that while Danny is the main protagonist, the hotel itself is just as much a main character as he is.

This book masters the haunted house story, as well as the "cut off from the rest of the world" feeling, the buildup of impending dread, and the creation of a rich history surrounding the hotel and the family.

King's novel does a much better job of showing this family as a normal family -- one that has its issues but still is happy and loves each other -- and how the hotel tears this family apart than the movies do. Kubrick's film unfortunately makes Jack's character appear insane before the real story begins, whereas the novel makes you go through his transformation and eventual loss of himself. Terrifyingly sad, really. It shows how the hotel can chip away at the man's weak points and destroy him.

I seriously enjoyed this novel, and can't wait to read more of his classics. Now, I'm off to go rewatch both Kubrick's film and the TV miniseries of The Shining. This is definitely on my re-read list. :)

Check it out on Amazon: The Shining.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Six Years by Harlan Coben

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 3/12/2013)

Recap: Jake met the love of his life, Natalie, at a retreat while writing his thesis. They spent the summer falling in love, only for him to be emotionally blindsided when, at the end of the summer, she married an old flame. She invited him to the wedding so that afterwards, she could tell him to leave, never look back, and promise to NEVER come looking for her.

Fastforward six years... Jake is a professor at his alma mater, and while consulting a student in his office, notices an obituary for the man his Natalie married, who happened to be an alumni. Breaking his promise, he heads for the funeral to just get a glimpse of the woman he lost six years prior. Much to his surprise, the man has a different wife, teenaged children, and no Natalie. So he decides to dig deeper, leading to a wild roller-coaster of plot twists, all leading back to the simplest of questions: Whatever happened to Natalie?

Review: What a thrill ride! I will definitely be picking up some of Harlan Coben's other works, because this one was so fun! Twist after twist, turn after turn, he reveals the story of what really happened six years previous to Jake and Natalie. As crazy as the story gets, once you get the whole picture, it all seems entirely plausible. It's seat-of-your-pants, non-stop action, turn-on-a-dime fun. If his others are like this, I'm really excited about delving further into Coben's stories.

Thanks to NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy of this novel. My only complaint would be that the ARC was very poorly formatted, but this should have all been taken care of before release.

Want your own copy?  Check it out at Amazon: Six Years.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. Exley

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 3/25/2013)

I took a chance requesting this one from Netgalley, and it was WELL worth it.

This is a fun romp through a Victorian-era London, with the steampunk technological twist.  Likeable characters, an intriguing mystery, and a vividly described (and brought to life) world made this a 5 star for me.

Cara Devon's father was NOT a good man.  At the age of 14, after some seriously rotten events (that are revealed over the course of the book), Cara bolts and doesn't return until 7 years later after the death of said father.  Her arrival thrusts her smack dab into the middle of a mystery.  A serial killer has begun tearing his way through the young debutantes, each attack growing more and more violent.  In the meantime, Cara has met the Viscount Nathaniel Lyons, a sky pirate of dubious (and delicious!) nature, and a game of one-ups and cat-and-mouse ensues.

Adventure, mystery, romance, sex!, action... you'll find it all if you take up the enigma of Nefertiti's Heart!

Pick up this book.  Make this author famous, if only so we can have more of her fantastic and fun work.  Nefertiti's Heart on Amazon.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 2/25/2013)

I enjoyed the first book, Beautiful Creatures, immensely.  It was an enjoyable romp through a magical small town with characters that, while stereotypical, were also quite lovable.

As much as I enjoyed it, I think I enjoyed book two, Beautiful Darkness, more than the first.  The teen love story side of it is a backburner issue in this novel.  Focusing less on the RELATIONSHIP between Ethan and Lena and more on ALL of the relationships in the story -- friendship, rivalries, great evils, powerful goods, family, sacrifices for loved ones, etc.

As the small group of tiny Mortals (Ethan, Link, and adorable new character Liv) and one special kitty (Lucille Ball) follow Lena to the ends of the magical world to save her, deep within the Caster Tunnels, bonds are explored in a much deeper fashion, and Ethan connects more people to the Caster world than in previous books. Apparently his life, family, and destiny has been intertwined with this world long before he was born, and he discovers that his fate is that of a Wayward -- a mortal with the uncanny gift of leading Casters (and sometimes Mortals alike) to their own destinies.

Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!  You can pick this one up here: Beautiful Darkness.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Charla by Alexander Beresford

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 2/24/2013)
How far would you go to attack those you resent?  Does your past define your future?  Is the pain you receive an excuse for terrible deeds?

Charla, Alexander Beresford's first novel, takes these questions, asks them, and answers them in revoltingly, disturbingly fun fashion.

Charla is a woman deranged.  Sure, she may seem sane, but her broken past, her shattered marriage, and her resentment of the perfect, easy life that her daughter Amelie dances through have corrupted her to the core.  She HATES her daughter for the goodness life has shown her.  After Charla's marriage is broken and over, she decides that since she has nothing to lose, she will follow the one path her twisted heart leads -- the torturous suffering of her daughter and the destruction of the life that Amelie holds dear. She does something drastic -- she calls forth a creature of the depths of evil and sets it loose on Amelie's world.

Beresford has crafted an interesting tale of betrayal and lust.  It plays on the simplest of fears -- that thing you see out of the corner of your eye, that thing lurking in the shadows, that howling more-than-wind, that thing your pet freaks out to when there's nothing visibly there, that presence that invades your space but doesn't reveal itself fully.

Aside from a few grammatical errors and a run-on or two, the writing and pacing are in good form.

I very much enjoyed Beresford's tale.  My only complaint is the ending, as it leaves much to the imagination (which I also really like! open-ended!) and the random and unnecessary mention of demon sperm in a drink at one point in the story.  I thought maybe it would have an importance later in the book, but it didn't.  It felt put in for the sake of something gross, and wasn't needed.

I would like to thank Mr. Beresford not only for the intriguing and enjoyable read, but for gifting me the copy for an honest review.

I look forward to seeing him write another creepy tale.

Want a copy?  Check it out at Amazon: Charla.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Under the Dome by Stephen King

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 2/20/2013)

Under the Dome, huh? Interesting concept, right? A restricting dome falls over Chester's Mill -- right on the legal city limits, all the way around. No one can get in. No one can get out.

A manipulative self-righteous city leader finds it the perfect time to seize more power. A jaded ex-military man, determined to move on from his past, has a new destiny thrust upon him. A twisted young man and his friends do despicable things. A small-town reporter seeks truth, and finds more than she bargained for. A teen computer genius and his skateboarding friends prove to be more heroic than the town's "religious" leadership. A phsyician's assistant capable of much, much more than even he anticipates.

Kids. Dogs. Drugs. Death. Power. Murder. Riots. Fires. Secrets. Lies. Maybe something even worse... Evil. All can be found Under the Dome.

Stephen King has crafted another masterpiece, complete with political and social commentary, along with compelling characters driving the story forward.

I have to admit, the first chunk of the book after the intro moved slowly for me. I blame outside forces, as so much was going on that I couldn't really get into it. Once I hit the 40%ish mark, however, I was lost in the story. Sucked in. Completely.

The story is simple. When there is no threat of real punishment, people's true natures will arise. Some will shine with heroism, while most will prove man's deepest darkest sides exist, with dire consequences for any who stand in their way.

An avid fan of his movies, this is my first trek through a King novel.  While it started off rocky, I will definitely be reading more.  There's a reason he's classic, and why he's made it to film so many times.  His stories reach into your mind and pull out the truest parts... and sometimes, the scariest parts.

Read this book. It's long... practically an epic by modern-day standards. Trap yourself under the Dome. If you experience the drag that I did at the beginning, push through anyways -- you won't regret it when the last page turns.

Check it out: Amazon.com's Under the Dome by Stephen King.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 2/15/2013)

I really enjoyed this book.  It's the second in the chronicles of the Kane family and their Egyptian godling adventures.

This story expanded on the events of the first book without rehashing the whole story or giving TOO many details away for those who didn't pick up The Red Pyramid.

The gods, as usual, are very entertaining, and the alternating narration is well done and not as distracting as it has the potential to be.

The story splits up a few times, and follows the main characters on different tasks.  The whole world is fair game in this adventure to reawaken Ra before Apophis (Chaos) is released upon the world.

Looking forward to reading the third (and final book) of the series, The Serpent's Shadow.

Get your copy of The Throne of Fire on Amazon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 2/12/2013)

I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed at the authors' ability to weave such a completely disturbing tale in such a short amount of time.

Worth a read, and a great story.  I actually wish it had been longer.  Certainly needs to have a lower price for how short it is, considering I could get a full-length novel for a dollar or two more most of the time.

The two sneak peaks were good too, and that helped make it a little more worth it!

Creepy, disturbing, horror fun.

I think the team of Stephen King and his son, Joe Hill, could produce some great novels if they'd put their mind to it.  I do enjoy their short stories though! :)

In the Tall Grass on Amazon, for your reading pleasure!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 2/11/2013)

I enjoyed this brief little introduction to Zedd and the tiny glimpse at the D'Haran war and the erection of the boundaries.

I must say though, that it does feel more like scenes that didn't make it into the first book and were left on the cutting room floor.

However, it was a quick read, and was entertaining, and was still a good little story.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 2/11/2013)

Don't even know where to start with this one...

I picked this book up because this year I'm trying to read the books that have movies coming out, even if it's not something I'm usually interested in (ie my biggest exception -- the Nicholas Sparks' Safe Haven), to branch out more.  Well, the commercial for this movie definitely appeared to be right up my alley.  After finishing this book, though, I'm more excited for the movie (and have already purchased book two, Beautiful Darkness). I just hope the movie does the book justice.

We start this little voyage into Beautiful Creatures by following the main character, Ethan Wate, through a town event -- the arrival of a new girl into town.  As the storm that is Lena Duchannes blows into town, Ethan's small-town life is blown away to reveal the world of magic (called Casting) that actually exists, even in the smallest-of-the-small-Southern-towns Gatlin.

The writers have created a fantastic world of magic that blends with reality, just like in Harry Potter, where the magic exists and all you have to do to see it is peel back the very thin veil of disbelief.

As enthralling as Twilight and its ilk was, and as gripping as the Hunger Games, this novel will draw you in on Ethan and Lena's terrfyingly roller-coaster countdown towards Lena's 16th birthday, which, because of a family curse, will leave her forever claimed by either the Darkness or the Light.

Do yourself a favor.  Pick up this book, read it to the end, and claim yourself. :)

Beautiful Creatures on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 2/6/2013)

While completely different than the Dr. Temperance Brennan from Reichs' foray into television on the hit FOX show BONES, Reichs has woven a complicated web of murders.  Are they connected?  Are there multiple twisted killers, or is there one masterfully demented and disturbed mind behind all of the seemingly random slayings?

Reichs' Tempe Brennan is a likeable character, with clear strengths, endearing weaknesses, and is enough of an "every man" for any reader to relate to her.

Reichs also succeeds in recreating a mental Montreal and French Canadian setting, complete with the occasional French phrase, the cultural melting pot, and even the seedier "red light district."

Pick this one up if you like a thriller/mystery. You won't be disappointed with this well-crafted suspenseful murder mystery.

Go to Amazon for a copy of Deja Dead.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 1/29/2013)

(Sword of Truth #1)

It's not often that a book blows me away so hard that it immediately jumps up into my top favorites of all times, but this book succeeded.

Two or so years ago, my partner and I watched "Legend of the Seeker" on Netflix.  We'd never heard of it before, it was only two seasons and not currently on TV anymore, and it seemed like a fun concept.  We loved it!

Once I found out that it was based off of a book series, I knew that I just had to read them eventually.  After a year of minimal reading (2012, don't ask!) and a bunch of other books, I found the Kindle version I had forgotten that I had purchased.

This story has everything you could ask for in a novel:  adventure, betrayal, magic, romance, true love, friendship, empathy, wickedness, honor, terror, hope, and so much more.

I can't wait to read the rest of the series, and lucky for me, there are QUITE a few! :)

Amazon.com: Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 1/18/2013)

4.5 stars

Egyptian mythology: Ra, Ra, Ra!
(Okay, you'll have to forgive the terrible pun!)

Welcome to the land of magic, the realm of gods and demons and mystical creatures, and say hello to some really powerful kids!

The Kane siblings, Carter and Sadie, are used to being less than normal.  Their mom died years ago.  Their mom's parents fought to make Sadie live with them, while Carter traveled the world with his professor-ish father and lived out of a suitcase.  They only saw each other two times a year!

This all changes when, on a scheduled visit with Sadie, the world gets flipped upside down -- their dad rushes them to a museum, blows up the Rosetta Stone, releases five Egyptian gods, and then is locked in a golden sarcophagus and stolen away in front of them.  Carter and Sadie are thrust into a new world -- where magic reigns supreme, where animals are more than they seem, and where the power of the pharaohs and the gods rushes through their veins.

Discovering that Set, Egyptian god of darkness, chaos, and all that is evil, has been released and has taken their father -- and more importantly is planning to destroy their world, Carter and Sadie embark on a world-crossing adventure through a modern day world filled with ancient Egyptian magics.

This is a fun, exciting romp through mythology (which I love, especially Egyptian and Greek/Roman!).  While it's a "YA" (young adult) story, it's pretty fun for anyone who likes a little magic and fantasy and silliness in their stories.

Looking forward to reading the Percy Jackson series (about the Greek gods) and the other two books in this Egyptian/Kane trilogy.

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 1/16/2013)

4.75 stars

Ted Dekker is at it again -- this time in a "tv episode inspired" foray into shorter, faster-released stories that make up one book.

He's created a world for us to jump into again, in typical Dekker form, and he's done it in shorter time than ever before!

This time, he's introduced us to two orphans, Christy and Austin, and their intruiging relationship... and then thrust us into an almost-horror flick story.

I'll do everyone a favor, especially since this first book is short, and not reveal details (which Dekker also chose to protect in his description of the book, which is a short snippet from Christy's perspective).

Read it.  It'll make you want to pick up the other three. :) It's also an excellent little filler between his full-length novels!

The Kindle edition is free for everyone, to get everyone started.  The other three aren't.  Here's an Amazon link for your convenience: Identity.

The second book was as good as the first, and will leave you ready for the next "episode."

Dragging you deeper into a world in which you're never quite sure where delusion ends and reality begins, Christy and Austin fight to discover on which side of that fine line that they lie.

Book three continues the story of Christy and Austin and their struggle to understand and confirm the truth of their apparent condition -- are they delusional in a sane world, or is this "sane world" the delusion?


As the final of four parts of the book Eyes Wide Open, this review will cover the story as a whole.

Intriguing characters? Check.  Wild fantastical tale? Check.  Vivid setting/environment? Check.

In typical Dekker fashion, this tale was woven into a much bigger story -- and the connections you'll make by the end are thrilling, connections that tie back into the larger Dekker mythology.

Can't wait to see how the continuation of this "new" saga unfolds. :)

The Kindle edition of Identity  is free for everyone, to get everyone started.  The other three aren't too pricey at $2.99 each: MirrorsUnseenSeer.  Or, of course, go for all four in one volume with Eyes Wide Open.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

(Originally published on my blog Your Rainy Day Reading List on 1/14/2013)

5+ stars!

Wow!  This book totally blew me away!

I've always been a James Rollins fan, since the day I discovered him  (ie needed a book for a LONG cross-country drive in a moving van, randomly picked up Map of Bones paperback off the shelf at Target and BAM! LOVE!).  He's got great characters, stories spanning centuries and continents, and the fate of the world in the hands of a small group of heroes.

I think my favorite part about this book is that James Rollins really stepped out of his "norm" for his adults books.  It's not fantasy, like he writes under his other pen name James Clemens, and it's not historical-adventure-techno-secret agent-thriller like his Sigma series and standalones.  It's so much more than that.  It's like the genius of those with a whole new supernatural element mixed in.

For his first ever written collaboration, it seems like a partnership made in Heaven.  Rebecca Cantrell and Rollins' writings mesh so well together, you'd never recognize that this was book was written by two authors.

The story is masterful -- a "save the world" epic, driven by prophecy, religion, and honor.  The characters are likeable, believable, and relatable -- even those who are more than human. Cantrell and Rollins have created a fantastical new world of adventure and populated it with a wide array of new heroes and villains -- and it will suck you in and leave you breathless as you jump from continent to continent.

You'll not want to put this book down until you get to the last page.  And when you do get to the last page, REJOICE! It's going to be a SERIES! :)

Here's a link where you can purchase The Blood Gospel on Amazon.com (just here for your convenience).