Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Review: Shadow of Betrayal by Brett Battles

This is the third book in the series featuring Quinn as a "cleaner" and while I'd recommend reading them in order, this one can certainly stand on it's own. Book Info:• Hardcover: 400 pages
• Reading level: Adult
• Publisher: Delacorte Press (July 7, 2009)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 038534158X
• ISBN-13: 978-0385341585

Book Blurb:
The meeting place was carefully chosen: an abandoned church in rural Ireland just after dark. For Jonathan Quinn--a freelance operative and professional “cleaner”--the job was only to observe. If his cleanup skills were needed, it would mean things had gone horribly wrong. But an assassin hidden in a tree assured just that. And suddenly Quinn had four dead bodies to dispose of and one astounding clue--to a mystery that is about to spin wildly out of control.

Three jobs, no questions. That was the deal Quinn had struck with his client at the Office. Unfortunately for him, Ireland was just the first. Now Quinn, along with his colleague and girlfriend--the lethal Orlando--has a new assignment touched off by the killings in Ireland. Their quarry is a U.N. aide worker named Marion Dupuis who has suddenly disappeared from her assignment in war-torn Africa. When Quinn finally catches a glimpse of her, she quickly flees, frantic and scared. And not alone.

For Quinn the assignment has now changed. Find Marion Dupuis, and the child she is protecting, and keep them from harm. If it were only that easy.

Soon Quinn and Orlando find themselves in a bunker in the California hills, where Quinn will unearth a horrifying plot that is about to reach stage critical for a gathering of world leaders--and an act of terror more cunning, and more insidious, than anyone can guess.

One of the things that I liked about this book is that it was presented from several different viewpoints. Most of it is told from Quinn's point of view, but we also get Marion Dupuis, Peter, and a couple of the 'bad guys'. It takes a skilled writer to keep the story flowing between narrators, and Battles does an excellent job.

We start off in Ireland, when a routine exchange ends in the death of four men and Quinn, with the help of his apprentice Nate, must clean up the mess. Things then switch to Marion, a UN worker in a small West African country. There are rumors that special needs children are being rounded up by soldiers, but no one knows why. Trying to help save a little girl with Down Syndrome, Marion is soon over her head and running for their lives.
This book kept me guessing, and the reason why the children were being rounded up is truly chilling. Battles keeps the story going at a good pace, and the ending was well done and satisfying.

This is the third book in the series featuring Quinn as a "cleaner" and while I'd recommend reading them in order, this one can certainly stand on it's own. This is an unusual series in that things that happen in one book reverberate in the others. For instance, something happened to Nate in an earlier book and Quinn is still dealing with it in this one. And it's nice to see Orlando again, and watch her interaction with Quinn. I can highly recommend this book, and am looking forward to the next Quinn adventure!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Review: Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison

Madison is the new girl in town, just trying to fit in. Doesn't matter that she just happens to be dead. Book Info:
• Hardcover: 232 pages
• Reading level: Young Adult
• Publisher: HarperCollins (May 26, 2009)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0061718165
• ISBN-13: 978-0-06-171816-8

Book Blurb:
"My name is Madison Avery, and I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I'm there. Seeing it. Touching it. Living it."

Madison's prom was killer -- literally. For some reason she's been targeted by a dark reaper -- yeah, that kind of reaper -- intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she's stuck on Earth -- dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn't know why the dark reaper is after her, but she's not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe . . . ), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison's ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.

Well, if she believed in that stuff.

Madison is the new girl in town, just trying to fit in. Doesn't matter that she just happens to be dead. Barnabas, a light reaper who is trying to teach Madison how to use her new amulet, does his best but something just isn't right. Not only can't she figure out how to use the amulet, but she also has to deal with all of the dramas of being a teenager as well.

I don't like spoilers in reviews, so let's just say that Madison is caught in the middle of the classic struggle: Dark vs. Light, Fate vs. Choice, Hot Reaper vs. Hot Teenage Boy. Madison comes across as a believable teenager who is smart and resourceful, but still human enough to make mistakes. And I loved the guardian angel!

These characters seemed oddly familiar and I finally figured out that I had met them before. Kim had originally introduced them in the anthology Prom Nights from Hell. It might help to read Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper first for the back story, but this book can certainly stand on it's own. All in all I think this is the start of another good series for Kim! Can't wait to see what happens next.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In My Mailbox

This weekly meme is hosted by The Story Siren.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman:
(Won this ARC in a Twitter contest from Penguin Books)

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (August 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670020559
ISBN-13: 978-0670020553

Friday, June 19, 2009

Current Reads

Currently reading 'Shadow of Betrayal' by Brett Battles and 'Once Dead, Twice Shy' by the magnificent Kim Harrison. Also thumbing thru the 'Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List'. Only finished one chapter and already have 13 new titles on my wishlist! Yikes!

Shadow of Betrayal teaser from Amazon:

The meeting place was carefully chosen: an abandoned church in rural Ireland just after dark. For Jonathan Quinn--a freelance operative and professional “cleaner”--the job was only to observe. If his cleanup skills were needed, it would mean things had gone horribly wrong. But an assassin hidden in a tree assured just that. And suddenly Quinn had four dead bodies to dispose of and one astounding clue--to a mystery that is about to spin wildly out of control.

Once Dead, Twice Shy teaser from

My name is Madison Avery, and I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I'm there. Seeing it. Touching it. Living it.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List Synopsis:

This is a guide to help busy people find great reads in fiction and non-fiction. Filled with recommendations of popular, entertaining reading, this book covers mystery and suspense, romance, women's fiction and chick lit, westerns, science fiction, such nonfiction topics as animals, art, biography, memoirs, business, true crime, and more. Plus, each entry includes a summary of the book, its significance, and a critique/observation/comment.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Review: Die For You by Lisa Unger

Four stars!
A bestselling writer and her software designer husband are living the ultimate urban dream. With a beautiful home in Manhattan, skyrocketing careers, and an extravagant lifestyle, they seemed to want for little. Except that when it came to Isabel Connelly and the man everyone knew as Marcus Raine, nothing was as it seemed.

Isabel and Marcus seem to have the perfect life until one day Marcus goes off to work, but doesn't come home. This sets Isabel on a quest to discovering who the man she married really was, and whether or not her whole marriage was based on a lie.

Really enjoyed how the book wasn't just from Isabel's point of view, but also featured her sister, Marcus, and even the lead detective as narrators. I liked sister Linda's side story, but could have done without Detective Crowe's drama as I didn't think it really added anything to the main story.

Isabel came across as a strong confident woman who, like a lot of New Yorkers, is a little arrogant in her belief that she can find out the "truth" instead of leaving things up to the police. But I thought that her decisions and impulsiveness were believable, and understood most of her motivations. While Isabel does make some startling discoveries and suffers the consequences, I was satisfied with the way things played out in the end.

I had never read anything by Lisa Unger before, but think that she's an excellent writer and am looking forward to reading more of her work. Four stars!

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Arrivals

The mailman and UPS were good to me today!

First off, received "Relentless" by one of my favorite authors - Dean Koontz.
From ARelentless by Dean Koontzmazon:
#1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense Dean Koontz delivers a mesmerizing new thriller that explores the razor-thin line between the best and worst of human nature—and the anarchy simmering just beneath society’s surface—as a likeable, successful family man is drawn into a confrontation with a foe of unimaginable malice….

Bestselling novelist Cullen “Cubby” Greenwich is a lucky man and he knows it. He makes a handsome living doing what he enjoys. His wife, Penny, a children’s book author and illustrator, is the love of his life. Together they have a brilliant six-year-old, Milo, affectionately dubbed “Spooky,” and a non-collie named Lassie, who’s all but part of the family.

So Cubby knows he shouldn’t let one bad review of his otherwise triumphant new book get to him—even if it does appear in the nation’s premier newspaper and is penned by the much-feared, seldom-seen critic, Shearman Waxx. Cubby knows the best thing to do is ignore the gratuitously vicious, insulting, and inaccurate comments. Penny knows it, even little Milo knows it. If Lassie could talk, she’d tell Cubby to ignore them, too.

Ignore Shearman Waxx and his poison pen is just what Cubby intends to do. Until he happens to learn where the great man is taking his lunch. Cubby just wants to get a look at the mysterious recluse whose mere opinion can make or break a career—or a life.

But Shearman Waxx isn’t what Cubby expects; and neither is the escalating terror that follows what seemed to be an innocent encounter. For Waxx gives criticism; he doesn’t take it. He has ways of dealing with those who cross him that Cubby is only beginning to fathom. Soon Cubby finds himself in a desperate struggle with a relentless sociopath, facing an inexorable assault on far more than his life.

Fearless, funny, utterly compelling, Relentless is Dean Koontz at his riveting best, an unforgettable tale of the fragile bonds that hold together all that we most cherish—and of those who would tear those bonds asunder.

Also Received "0 to 60" by Susan Slater0 to 60 by Susan Slater

From Amazon:

O TO 60 is Susan Slater's debut womens fiction novel with that all too true-to-life story of a woman dumped. Meet Shelly Sinclair, matriarch of the quintessential American family. Shelly's life is perfect, one most women would envy: a 35 year marriage to a successful doc, two grown sons, a beautiful home, and the security of predictability. Without warning, this world collapses. Her husband of a lifetime announces that he's asked someone to marry him, a someone thirty-nine years his junior. And, oh yes, the mother of his four-year-old child. Alone. To start over. Sixty is a long way from sixteen. Is Prince Charming still out there? But isn't there more? Her quest to find self is as endearing as it is enduring. Because maybe, just maybe these are the best years of her life.

Last but not least, received an ARC of "Chemo Katelynn: Humorous Perspectives on Life Before Cancer & After Diagnosis" by Andrea Lynn Katz

I usually don't read non-fiction, but wanted to review this book on behalf of my mother and a friend who are cancer survivers. One thing I've discovered is that you really, really need a sense of humor when cancer rears it's ugly head.

Looking forward to reading all three of these! Will post reviews as soon as possible!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Friendly Warning

Do not let yourself be seduced by the four day workweek.

Do not believe the empty promises it whispers in your ear.

Yes, a four day workweek means a 3 day weekend. But it also means ten hour workdays.

I leave home at 8am and return at 8:10pm. There is no time to do anything but eat, read the paper, maybe watch a little TV, then go to bed.

By my first day off, I am too exhausted to do anything. Wind up cramming a whole week's worth of chores, errands, and activities into two very short days.

So do not let yourself be seduced by the four day workweek. It is simply not worth it.

I am very, very tired...

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Didi

Closet Didi
My Didi

Sometimes she is possessed and her eyes glow....scary kitty

Book Challenges

Speculative Fiction Challenge 2010

2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge

2010 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge

2010 100+ Reading Challenge
2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge

Clear Away the Clutter Reading Challenge
8/10 Completed

Random Reading Challenge

August Reading Challenge Completed!

2009 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge20/50 completed

100+ Reading Challenge48/100 completed

Book Review: Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout

Mist is a new Valkyrie who is not really comfortable with her job of finding new recruits for the final battle between the gods
The NorseCODE genome project was designed to identify descendants of Odin. What it found was Kathy Castillo, a murdered MBA student brought back from the dead to serve as a Valkyrie in the Norse god's army. Given a sword and a new name, Mist's job is to recruit soldiers for the war between the gods at the end of the world - and to kill those who refuse to fight. But as the twilight of the gods descends, Mist makes other plans.

This book was amazing! I gave it 5 stars for sheer originality as well as for having great characters and a good plotline. I mean, honestly, how many books have you ever come across featuring the Norse gods and Ragnarok? I vaguely remember Odin and Loki, but the other mythology was new to me. Greg did a great job of providing short backgrounds when necessary, and made it easy to keep track of everyone.

Mist is a new Valkyrie who is not really comfortable with her job of finding new recruits for the final battle between the gods. On her very first job, when her first recruit is deemed unworthy and is set on the road to Helheim (the land of the dead), Mist decides to embark on a rescue mission. She will not only rescue her recruit, but also her murdered sister. To do this, she needs the help of the only one to ever go to Helheim and back, the Norse god Hermod.

Hermod has problems of his own and would rather just be left alone, but somehow winds up accompanying Mist on her rescue mission. Along with her bodyguard Grimnir and Hermod's loyal dog Winston, they set off on the adventure to end all adventures. And hey, while they're at it, why not prevent the end of the world as well?

quote of the day

So many books, so little time. ~Frank Zappa

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Review: The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

A fun, witty take on some of our old fairy tale favorites
You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures till you finally reach that inevitable line: 'And they lived happily ever after...' Guess what? It's not true. Life in never-never land isn't all sweetness and light.

Danielle, aka Cinderella, did get to marry her Prince Charming and move into the royal palace, but being a princess was a lot harder than she expected. Accustomed to hard work, Danielle finds it hard to relate to any of the nobles, and equally hard to give orders to her servants. And apparently learning to be a proper princess requires memorization of a whole lot of trifling details!

Her new life is suddenly shattered when her evil stepsisters reappear and kidnap her husband, Armand. Danielle decides she needs to be part of the recovery team, and joins up with Talia (aka Sleeping Beauty) and Snow (aka Snow White) to rescue him from Fairytown.

These three are remarkably resourceful, and survive several adventures during their journey. Overall, this was a fun story which gave us a skewed version of some old fairy tale characters. I liked Jim Hine's take on the ladies, but couldn't help comparing them to their Shrek versions. Sometimes better, sometimes worse.

I highly recommend this book for a fun, witty take on some of our old fairy tale favorites. Jim Hines is a very talented writer, and every one of his books has been worth reading!

quote of the day

A man is known by the books he reads. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Christmas in June!

Got a lovely box of books from today! It's almost like Christmas!

First out of the box was The Dangerous Book For Demon Slayers by Angie Fox. I had read the first book, The Accidental Demon Slayer, so am looking forward to reading more about this quirky demon slayer, her biker grandma, and the mysterious Dimitri. Plus, I get a kick out of the title.....reminds me of The Dangerous Book For Boys. ;)

Next out of the box was Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake. I haven't read the Dark Days series yet, but the reviews look good. Just double checked and I haven't read anything by Jocelynn yet either, so I'm doubly excited! A new series and a new author!

Then came The Demon's Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow. I love Lilith Saintcrow! I like her Watcher, the Dante Valentine, and the Jill Kismit series. What can I say....I'm a fan. And what a premise! Chess is a motorcycle-riding librarian turned demon hunter. Can't say I've ever come across one of those before, so should be fun!

Last out of the box was Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman. This was a gift from me to me. I'm a huge Gaiman fan and have given this to new mothers-to-be at various baby showers, but decided it was about time to get my very own copy. Life is good.

Now comes the hard part.....which to read first?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

30 Days of Demons

30 Days of Demons: Books, Prizes, Demons. Time to get your demon on. Some heroes have a really bad side. Niol’s story is coming…6/30/09. ‘Unforgettable’ - RT Book Reviews.

Cynthia Eden is holding a month-long contest to celebrate the release of Midnight's Master! Lots of great giveaways, so be sure to check it out!
The BookEnter Today!Share Image

Friday, June 5, 2009

quote of the day

What I say is, a town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it's got a bookstore it knows it's not fooling a soul. ~ Neil Gaiman

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Review: Echoes In The Dark (The Summoning, Book 5) by Robin D. Owens

This was one of my favorite series! Loved the six Exotiques - ordinary women who became extraordinary in their fight to save their adopted homeworld.

The planet is dying, slowly being drained by an alien Dark, and only one last, desperate plan can save it.

Deep in another dimension, a disillusioned young singer is summoned as Lladrana's last hope. Uncertain of her future, unaware of her extraordinary magical talent, Jikata will be the sixth and final outsider - Exotique - to step through a dangerous portal of prophecy and magic. Survival will require her to forge closer friendships than she has ever known. The price of those bonds will threaten the very fate of Lladrana: a world where music holds the key to an ancient mystery - and six women will wage the ultimate battle against the forces of Dark.

This was one of my favorite series! Loved the six Exotiques - ordinary women who became extraordinary in their fight to save their adopted homeworld.

I sort of wish that Raine had her own book and didn't have to share with Jikata, but that was my only quibble with this story. Both of these women were strong and resourceful, although very different. Of the two, I liked Raine's story better and felt that she was the more sympathetic character.

And I got a kick out of seeing the other Exotiques again! They're like old friends at this point. I think Alexa is my favorite, and not just because of her name! :)

As the last of the series, this was focused more on the final battle with the Dark as opposed to building a romantic relationship between the Exotique and a Llandran male. Still a satisfying story though, and a great ending! I highly recommend this whole series! Sad to see these ladies go....

Book Review: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

Digging graves is hell on a manicure.

Digging graves is hell on a manicure.

With one of the best first lines I've seen in a long time, so begins an excellent new series featuring Sabina Kane, a mixed blood assassin. The result of a forbidden union between a vampire princess and a high-born mage, Sabina has never really fit in anywhere. Raised to serve the vampire council as an assassin, the only profession fit for an outcast, Sabina excels at her job in order to win her grandmother's approval.

Used as a pawn by the vampires, Sabina is thrust into the role of undercover spy. Sent to infiltrate the cult of Clovis Trakiya, she makes some startling discoveries and is not really sure who or what to believe. Sabina finds some unexpected allies in a mysterious mage, a demon cat, and a nymph roommate. For the first time in her life, Sabina has friends. And she's not really sure if that's a good thing....

I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to more adventures with Sabina, Adam, and Giguhl! Should be interesting watching Sabina explore her mage past, as well as her future with or without the vampires. And Mr Giggles deserves a book of his own!

quote of the day

A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it. ~Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

quote of the day

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. ~John Lennon.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Call me Sisyphus

I think that I may have lost my mind, but it's too late to stop now...

After one too many times of buying a new book, getting it home and starting to read it only to discover that I've already read the darn thing, I decided to categorize my home library. Yes, I was going to take on the herculean task of inventorying all of my books.

Was easily distracted at first by all of the books I had forgotten I had, but eventually got into the groove. First, I had to alphabetize any books which were out of order. Sad, but true....a habit I picked up after working in a bookstore for seven years or so. After everything was in order, then I started taking inventory.

May have been a mistake to put them all into a word document, but that's how I started so I'm stuck with it. Quickly realized it was going to take way more than just one document. I'm up to ten now, but may have to expand further. Trying to stay away from one doc for each letter of the alphabit, but we'll see how it goes. Have them listed by author's last name, first name, title.

Bit of a quandary over how to list anthologies and collections....still deciding.

Also took the opportunity to organize my bookshelves. Have two just for paperbacks, one for my TBR pile, one for hardcovers, one for my favorite authors/series, and one for non-fiction. Only two of them are full size bookcases, but hubby still thinks 6 bookcases are too many. Ahhhh, what does he know! :)

Ultimate plan is to download the word docs into my palm so I have my book list with me at all times to prevent buying duplicates in the future.

Inventory is now finished, just have to finish typing all of the info in. That may take awhile, as I have pages and pages of titles.....