Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: Haint Misbehavin' by Maureen Hardegree

Title: Haint Misbehavin'
Author: Maureen Hardegree
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: 06/01/2010
ISBN: 1935661930

Tis the season for spooky books!

If you asked Heather, she'd probably tell you that her life sucks. Not only is she super allergic to everything & anything, but she also has a sister that treats her like dirt & parents who completely ignore said sister's actions (unless they can't ignore them). Now on top of all of that she's discovered that she can see ghosts. Well, one ghost in particular, the ghost of a small child who died years ago & is intent on spending the rest of her afterlife haunting Heather.

Hardegree has done a good job mystery & world building for her first full length book, creating a character that many readers will be able to relate to. Not only that, but the book makes for a very easy read & should be a lot of fun for young readers in this spooky Halloween season. Also something to praise is Hardegree's setting up of ghostly rules & future plot points, most specifically those surrounding the character of Xavier, a geek with a crush on our young medium.

However there are a few things about the book that might wear a little thin with some readers. Heather's older sister Audrey is almost completely one-dimensional for a large chunk of the book & many might long for some sort of character depth other than “you embarrass me & I’m going to humiliate you in public”. It’s fine at first but it’s almost completely nonstop, which gets pretty old after a while. Also wearing a little thin is how Heather’s parents are completely oblivious to how she’s treated- while I can understand parents wanting to think the better of their kids, Audrey’s actions are so incredibly noticeable that I really wanted to see more reaction from the parents, even if it was signs that they were actively trying to live in ignorance. (Hey, I’ve had siblings who were just as evil, if not more so than Audrey & when it was as noticeable as this they did actually show that they noticed.) I can see where Hardegree was trying to go with this, but I just wanted to see more depth to the characters. I don’t mind Hardegree making Audrey into a villain & the parents into the type who like keeping their heads in the sand, I just want to see a little more of their reasons for behaving as such. (She does show it towards the end, but it’s a bit too little too late in the book for that.)

Overall though, this is a fun read & I can really see a lot of teens & young adults getting into this book. I just hope that Hardegree manages to balance out everything in the second book.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Review: Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title: Rage
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Publisher: Graphia
Release Date: 04/18/2011
ISBN: 0547445288

If you've read Kessler's first book Hunger, you know how well she is at packing quite a bit of story in such a small amount of pages. If you haven't then you really should give her a try- her books really are incredible.

When Missy isn't feeling good about herself, there's one thing she can count on to make it all go away. It lives in a little white box in her closet & it is always there & never lets her down, unlike some of the people around her. Her sister treats her like an embarassment. Her parents barely seem to acknowledge her. Her friends have all but abandoned her. And the guy she thought she knew? He's hurt her in ways she never thought possible. Missy swears that she'll never cut again but when a cruel prank causes her to run to her little white box, she finds that she's been tapped to become the entity of War, a being that knows all about pain & suffering.

I've been lucky enough to have been able to read Hunger, so I was thrilled when I also got the chance to review Rage as well & ended up reading it all in one sitting. Kessler really does have a strong storytelling ability to her & readers will really be able to feel Missy's pain & anguish. While Hunger's weakness was that there wasn't a lot of information about the background of the characters contained within it, Kessler has managed to work out most of that problem in this book. There's more depth & background to the characters, more explanation of what makes their personal issues hit them so hard.

However where some readers will get frustrated is in what exactly the Horsemen are responsible for. You know that they're the embodiment of their station & that they can influence how things unfold, but not much information is really given about how it all happens. It all comes out in a rather confusing jumble, which may or may not be on purpose.

This is still an awesome book & Kessler remains someone I'll be reading in the future. I'm pretty curious to see how the rest of the series plays out, as there's two more Horsemen for the books to focus on. Haven't read Hunger? No worries, you can pretty much read Rage without having read the previous book, but you'd be missing out on a good tale.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Christopher Pike: The next Candace Sams?

When I was a teenager, Christopher Pike was one of those authors that I read semi-religiously. Between him & R.L. Stein, I managed to cut my teeth on books that ultimately set me up to love the urban fantasy & horror genre at large.

So imagine my dismay when I discover that someone uncovered that Pike's been attacking reviewers on amazon who point out that he hasn't been doing proper research. He's been going by the name of 'Michael Brite', although he later outed himself in a discussion thread for one of his own books. (Other people were quick to point this out in various places as well.) On an interesting side note, "Brite" originally had posted two five star reviews for... you guessed it, two of Christopher Pike's books.

The first known incident was over a review where the amazon reviewer pointed out several inaccuracies in the books, some of which she found quite offensive. She'd ended the review with a rather snarky comment about how she'd like to drop Pike in the fictional Turkey he'd created so he could get his hands removed. It wasn't meant as a threat & from the earlier comments it seems that it was more used to point out the inaccuracies Pike had put into the novel. His response? He called it a threat & labeled the reviewer as a crazy girl.

The second known incident was over a review where the reader stated she couldn't see a blond haired, blue eyed girl living in India 5000 years ago. "Brite" replied that Aryans invaded India back then, getting a little snotty with her. Unfortunately for Pike, other amazonians ultimately pointed out that the Aryans that invaded India did not resemble the Aryans he was describing in his book.

And that's not all- apparently Pike has been calling in his buddies, one of which had been confirmed to be his illustrator. The other is believed to either be another a sockpuppet of Pike's or be the president of a Christopher Pike fanclub. Both of course, have written glowing reviews for Pike.

Now other sites such as bookfails on lj & Dear Author have already commented on this, but I couldn't help but make my own blog about it. It just really breaks my heart to see that one of my favorite authors from my youth could be well... a jerk.

It's been theorized that this isn't Pike, but an overzealous fan posting claiming to be him or someone doing it for the lulz. Please let that be true. I really don't want one of my favorite authors from my childhood to be like this. I've already lost other authors that way, only one of them being someone I'd read from a young age. Please don't be Pike.

Book Review: Cypress Lake by Joe Basara

Title: Cypress Lake
Author: Joe Basara
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 1453636528
Available through:

When Owen Cloud sees Tina, he's immediately smitten with her. Imagining her as his Venus de Milo, he spends much of his time daydreaming about her. Owen's fantasies don't stop there. He often finds his mind drifting off into flights of fancy not only during his orderly shifts at a local hospital but also during the off hours. As Owen moves from fascination to fascination to personal loss, he discovers that sometimes the person he really needs in his life is the one right under his nose.

Cypress Lake is just a little too slow to start off for my tastes & I'm just afraid that some readers might not be willing to put forth the effort to read through to the resolution. Also, while Basara does do a decent job of establishing that Owen is a Mittyesque character, at times Owen's visions are just a little too abstract to come across as clearly as some readers might desire. The imagery does become a little easier to read as the book progresses, however. Readers might also be thrown by the often usage of names such as Dr. T. Ali Hassee & Rosetta Stone, not knowing if those are the characters' true names or names Owen assigned them in a flight of fancy. In this aspect the book might just be too surreal for some.

That's not to say that there aren't some strong points to the book. Basara does a fine job of painting his portrait of the late 1970s, an era where the idea of free love was beginning to wane & what the mentalities of the 1980s would become start to creep in. He also does a good job of portraying the lack of depth to Owen's crushes on Tina & Nikki, foretelling what will ultimately become of his affections for either girl.

It's just that in the end this book just didn't appeal to me overall. Perhaps it might be just my personal preference, but I do think that this book will only really be appreciated by a niche readership of people into the surreal & abstract or perhaps by people more familiar with the era. For those readers I recommend this book. For everyone else, this might not be the right fit.

(Reader copy provided by author)

Book Review: Dark & Disorderly by Bernita Harris

Title: Dark & Disorderly (The Adventures of Lillie St. Claire)
Author: Bernita Harris
Publisher: Carina Press
ISBN: 9781426890338
Release Date:

Once in a while you come across one of those books that not only hooks you, but makes you scream when the book ends. Not because it is bad, but because you wanted it to keep going. This is one of those books & Bernita Harris has officially become one of my top ten to watch out for.

About two weeks ago Lillie St. Claire’s abusive husband perished in a car accident. A few nights ago he came back in the form of an undead creature bent on destroying her. She manages to dispatch him THIS TIME but now the trouble comes with figuring out who would want her gone. As a Talent, a person capable of not only seeing but also dispatching ghosts, there’s no end to the list of people who would want her dead, with groups hating her for her abilities as well as for the fact she can exorcise ghosts. When she meets the sexy John Thresher Lillie assumes that she can add his name onto the “people who don’t like me” list. What she didn’t bargain for was her intense attraction to him.

If you love books that deal in paranormal romance or just urban fantasy in general, you’ll probably love this book. As it is, this reviewer found it incredibly hard to put this book down. There’s just so much to love about this book. First you have a female character who doesn’t sit around hoping people will take care of her & protect her. She’s perfectly happy to care for herself, yet she doesn’t come across as one of those characters who is always at odds with men trying to help her out. Even better, when her character starts thinking in terms of “poor me”, she has entirely valid reasons to think that & never really uses it as a way of garnering sympathy from anyone. Then we have the mystery of who exactly is after Lillie & what exactly is going on- this book will have many guessing until the end. Plus there's other things about the book that I loved, such as what ultimately happens between Lillie & John by the end of the book. I can't specify what it is without ruining it, but I loved how Harris is pacing things.

The only thing that needed a little work is that at the beginning a lot is going on & at times it just felt a little jumbled. Not so much that it would turn people off, but enough to where you’ll notice.

Even so, this is a fantastic start to what I’m going to optimistically predict will be a fan favorite for quite a long time. This book may be in e-book format only at this time, but I’m going to guess that it isn’t going to stay that way. Why this isn’t getting a wider release is beyond me- my addiction to this book reminded me of the first time I picked up Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, or Sherrilyn Kenyon. I can only hope that the next book in the series will come out soon- I'm really jonesing for my next dose of Bernita Harris!

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Banned Book Week: Protecting even the books you don't like

Hi everyone!

I discovered an article today that brought up a really wonderful point about book banning. Most can see why some books should never be banned, but what about those books that people assume were written out of hate, anger, or ignorance?

The Christian Science Monitor brought up a list of books that they think are five of the most offensive books out there. Their list is as follows:

1) Mein Kamph by Adolph Hitler.
2) Messages to the World by Osama Bin Laden
3) The Global Bell Curve by Richard Lynn
4) Did Six Million really Die? by Richard E. Harwood
5) The 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis de Sade

I have to admit, I'd be lying if I said that the topics of some of those books didn't make me feel like throwing them into a pit & burying them forever, especially Harwood's book that denies the entire Holocaust.

But even so, I have to keep reminding myself that banning one book could start an exceedingly slippery slope. If we censor or ban one person's opinion (no matter how much we disagree with it), then it might not be too long before others' opinions follow as well.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Book Week: Those who fight against banning

Today I came across a really well written article by Eugenia Kim. In it Kim described how her father Jacob Kim, an immigrant from Korea, stopped a school from banning several books that many of the other parents found offensive.

The time period for this was the 60s & the books in question were The Little Red Book and The Communist Manifesto. While Jacob Kim had every reason to say that he wanted those books banned, he insisted that the books be taught.

"When he said reading breeds intelligence and understanding, not ignorance, treason, fear or hatred, they understood."

I just had to add this to my BBW blog posts- this really was a wonderful story. I hope more people post about how they or their parents helped to keep a book on the shelves of a school.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Win a copy of Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK!

Greetings, fellow book fans!

In honor of Banned Book Week & especially because there are idiots out there that would ban this book from schools, I'm giving away a free copy of the platinum edition of SPEAK. That's right, you can own a copy of the book that's causing all of this fuss.

Not only that, but I'm also giving out an advance reader's copy of Sarah Mlynowski's Gimme a Call. While this is already available on shelves, the copy I have is a reader copy that was only circulated to bookstores, reviewers, & such.

Already have one or both of these books? That's OK- enter anyway & pass this awesome book along to one of your friends!

To enter the contest, just post to this blog by October 4th (next monday) & give some love to both of these great authors or talk about your feelings about book banning! In about a week I'll choose one of the posters & mail them their free books! If you see your name in next week's blog, just drop me an e-mail at geniebrownhair (at)!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Banned Book Week: Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK is pornography?

If yesterday's blog post about the Stockton school district banning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian didn't convince you that book censorship & banning wasn't still alive, today's post hopefully will.

In Missouri there's a man who thinks that the horrifying rape scenes in SPEAK are soft core pornography. The sad thing is that this guy (Wesley Scroggins) is a college professor. He believes that schools shouldn't have anything dealing with sexual themes in their textbooks or in their library. The author of SPEAK herself had to speak out against Scroggins' accusations. Sadly it isn't the first time her book has come under fire from people unwilling to have their children get challenged by work that dares to tell them that *gasp* not only does sex happen, but rape happens as well.

I just have to wonder at Scroggins' opinion that students shouldn't have books with sexual themes in their schools. Seriously? I grew up in a pretty normal "whitebread" area where the biggest problems at my schools were the big test & whether or not Johnny FootballHero would ask us to the prom or not. Yet we still had sex & rape happen, even in middle school. Heck, I remember having a pregnant 13 year old in one of my middle school classes. We didn't often see such obvious signs of sexual goings on, but we knew they happened. I lived in a "nice" area, but I knew people who didn't & the sex & rape problems in their school were much more visible.

I do respect that he has an opinion but I think he's being incredibly moronic about this. Kids have sex & unfortunately, some of those kids will be raped in their lifetime. I wish that there was such a world where hiding our children away from sex & sexual themes would protect them & not stunt their learning, but this isn't that type of world. I'm not saying that kids should be reading the Marqui DeSade, but reading SPEAK would be something I'd recommend. Not only will it show them that they can & should speak up about such things but also that these things DO happen & what the victims of such crimes are going through mentally & physically.

Anderson points out on her website that Scroggins attends a school that's under two hours away, which makes her fear that his words might catch on with some of the citizens & unfortunately end up with the book getting banned in some schools.

That, dear readers, will be a sad day for students & kids everywhere. Not only will Scroggins be sending out the message that they shouldn't talk about rape, but also sending out the message that it's OK to tell people what they can & cannot do.

If you want to complain directly to Scroggins' opinion piece, you can find that here.

Banned Book Week: The Stockton School Board won't let you read this...

You'd be surprised to discover that book banning does still exist in the United States. It's horrendous & stupid, but it does happen.

Earlier this year the Stockton School Board in Missouri got a call from a parent who decided that he didn't want his elementary school kids to read the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Why? Because there's mention of masturbation in the book & he didn't think his kids should read it.

Fair enough, but this man wasn't complaining about a book that his kids absolutely had to read. They could choose another book if they or the parents didn't like the content. But this guy wasn't content with that. He wanted the book removed from the library altogether.

And guess what? They banned it. Despite the ALA's attempts to persuade the school board otherwise, they recently decided to uphold their ban of this book in their school system. All because one man didn't want to explain to his children about masturbation & didn't want anyone else to have to do it either. He removed their freedom of choice.

So if you happen to live in this area & send your kids to one of the schools in this system you should buy your child a copy of this book & tell them to read it while in school.

Banned Book Week: Book banning at Kuwait's International Book Fair

Happy Banned Book Week everyone!

I was thinking that along with trying to draw notice to books here in the USA that people have tried to ban, we should also remember to look outwards to other countries who do their own book banning.

If you haven't heard, the Kuwaiti government recently decided to ban a number of books from being shown at their annual International Book Fair this year. Publishers are being told that they're not allowed to bring certain books that the government thinks offend Kuwaiti principles.

Isn’t it frightening to think that there are still governments that have the freedom to tell you what you should & shouldn’t be reading? If you aren’t scared then you should be. Freedom of speech is one of our most valuable rights & everyone should be allowed to exercise it.

You or I might not have any control over what happens in other countries but we should at least be aware of what is going on. If all we do is ignore such problems then it makes it all too easy for us to ignore it if it begins to happen to us.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Books Week: Operation Dark Heart by Anthony Shaffer

Sometimes the people trying to keep a book off the shelves only want it banned because they think it contains material that is overly adult & is offensive to them in some format. Other times people try to keep it off the shelves because it contains something they think is dangerous to the country.

Author & Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer wrote a book about his time in Afghanistan, intending to get it published. However before the first printing even hit the shelves, the US military demanded that the book be reclaimed & destroyed because it contained highly sensitive material. Part of the material deemed too sensitive was supposedly a meeting between Shafer & Philip Zelikow (Director of the 9/11 Commission), where Shafer informed him about the threat & identity of one of the 9/11 terrorists. Information that according to an article on AllVoices was already made public not in the 9/11 documents released, but by Representative Curt Weldon in 2005 & 2006.

The ridiculous part? The military had previously OK’d the book to be released. Now the military is saying that while Shaffer had cleared the book with one part of the army, he didn’t clear it with the army in general as well as the Department of Defense.

Want to read it? Well, you’ll get your chance because there will be a second printing, albeit one with all of the sensitive material blacked out. According to one article by CNN International, “From single words and names to entire paragraphs, blacked out lines appear throughout the book's 299 pages.”

While this isn’t entirely a banned book, it is something that shouldn’t be ignored. We should always be conscious of when something is censored, no matter what the reason is- regardless of whether such actions are for our own safety or not.

Happy Banned Book Week!

Officially starting today & lasting until October 2nd is Banned Books Week, a week where we celebrate the books that some would have us never read. Maybe it's because they have witchcraft in them or other elements that someone might think makes for an "indecent" read.

Now when most of us think banned books, we think about the titles such as Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, or Lady Chatterly's Lover. We assume that the titles banned were older books & that it all happened years ago, that we wouldn't dare ban books now.

You'd be surprised at what some areas still tries to keep off their bookshelves. Would you believe that some people have tried to ban Blood & Chocolate, The Face on the Milk Carton, Harry Potter, & Twilight? Some of the groups trying to remove these books have actually succeeded, although it wasn't long before many of these books were returned to the public shelves they'd been snatched from.

That's why it's so incredibly important for us to remember Banned Book Week & to try to combat censorship by promoting our freedom to read. It's all too easy to assume that we'll never lose that right & all too easy for us to eventually lose it if we aren't careful.

RIP, Jennifer Rardin

For those of you who have been a fan of the Jaz Parks series, you'll be saddened to know that author Jennifer Rardin has passed away. I don't have any information as to how this happened, just that it happened very suddenly & unexpectedly. Jennifer had already completed her series, so the remaining books will still be released.

If you want to do something great in her name, you can donate to the Riley Children's Foundation. We should all try to recommend her books to at least 2-3 other people just so Jennifer's name can live on & still delight audiences for generations to come.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: Moonstone by Marilee Brothers

Title: Moonstone (Book 1 in the Unbidden Magic series)
Author: Marilee Brothers
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: 08/01/2008
ISBN: 0980245346

As a long time fan of YA fiction, I'm always ready to discover something new regardless of genre. I'll admit though that at heart I'll always be a fantasy & urban fantasy type of girl- there's just something about having a "Sweep" type series that just captures the audience's wish fulfillment needs.

Allie's never really known "the good life". The only life she's known has been one where she's lived in a trailer behind her uncle Sid's house with her mother, a woman trying to gain disability for an ailment she may or may not have. When a fall onto an electric fence jump starts her psychic abilities, Allie discovers that not only is she the proud owner of a slew of powers but also the inheritor of a moonstone necklace capable of great- or terrible- feats. Unfortunately there's more than one person interested in this necklace & their intentions aren't very good...

Brothers manages to create a very readable & enjoyable first entry into her "Unbidden Magic" series. Readers will love the spunky Allie & thrill as they see her stumble into her magic powers & use them for the first time. She's a great character & one that you just can't help but root for- especially when she starts noticing certain handsome young men that are close to her. Many will find this a nice short book that'll be great for a quick read inbetween other series.

The book isn't without its flaws, though. There's a lack of detail to the relationship between Allie & her mother Faye. It just takes a while to really see why Allie would put up with her mother's antics because there's not a lot of emotion (negative or positive) shown between the pair of them. Allie states her mother's actions with a sense of ennui that did show her well on the way to becoming world weary but without enough "oomph" behind it. This isn't the only relationship or element that could've been fleshed out a little more. Parts of the story stream by at an incredibly fast pace & while it did make for a nice fast read, many will wish that Brothers had taken just a little while longer to describe everything- especially Allie's strange otherworldly guide Trilby.

Overall though this is a great read & one that I'd recommend to a great many readers. It's just that I wish that there was a little more to it at times. I'm already planning to get the other two books in the series (both of which are already out), so hopefully the pacing & character info will improve as the series progresses.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Diva Ate Her & Laurell K Hamilton

If you're aware of the inner circle of Laurell K Hamilton, then you've probably heard of Darla Cook. Up until a few years ago, Darla worked for Hamilton as a personal assistant & helped maintain various parts of the website, fanclub, & storefront. Neither party has really given out a lot of information as to why Darla no longer works for Ma Petite Enterprises.

A few months after she'd posted about her newly unemployed status, Darla started posting excerpts of a then untitled book she'd been working on. The book was to be about a beleaguered employee of a best selling author who was well on her way to becoming queen of the divas. While Darla has since removed the posts from her myspace account, excerpts can still be seen on the internet.

When the blog posts were up, Darla claimed that the book was not based upon her time with Hamilton & was instead based on a mashup of various author diva antics, with only one part of the book being based on an actual Hamilton event. (The event in question was an overreaction to a floral delivery.)

Even so, certain sites are still abuzz about how much of the book is based on Hamilton & how much of it isn't. (I'll admit, I started one of the various threads about said book.) I have to admit that when I'd read the book I couldn't help but mentally compare the character of Miriam (the diva author) to Hamilton.

Is the book based off of Hamilton? I can't entirely say because quite obviously, neither side is talking & all I have to go on are rumors that can't really be verified. Either way, the speculation is sure to fuel more than a few sales for Darla's new book.

The Diva Ate Her is available for purchase on Amazon via the Kindle.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review: The Pinchbeck Bride by Stephen Anable

Title: A Pinchbeck Bride
Author: Stephen Anable
Publishing House: Poisoned Pen Press
Release Date: 03/04/2011
ISBN: 1590588584

If you like mystery then it's often troublesome to find books that actually have mystery in them rather than having a hero or heroine just walking through a mystery & having everything unfold for them with little to no footwork. It's incredibly frustrating because sometimes that takes the guesswork out of everything. Luckily for you, this book actually has it's main character do some actual sleuthing & footwork.

Mark Winslow's in over his head. Not only does he have to work on his standup routine but he also has to worry about being a trustee at a local museum dedicated to the Victorian era. Mingo House is well known for it's collection of curios... as well as for it's unsavory past of seances, stolen royal goods, & blood money. When Mark discovers a murdered young woman (in Victorian clothing no less) in the museum, he just can't help but investigate the murder. Is this the work of a calculated murderer or is Mingo House really cursed?

Readers will thrill at this latest entry in the Mark Winslow series, especially since there's so much here to like. Not only does Anable create a series with a gay lead, but he also manages to keep from making him the one note stereotype that can be seen in many mainstream mystery series. Mark is gay, proud of it, & isn't going to conform to anyone else's ideals. It's incredibly refreshing, to be honest.

Many will also like the rich atmosphere that Anable weaves for the audience as he also delivers a page turning mystery that will keep you guessing until the last few pages. (I know I didn't predict the ending until the very last part of the book!) You'll find yourself not only reading for those few more minutes longer, but you'll also enjoy the great interactions between the characters. Another great thing for potential readers is that while this is the second book in the series, it is incredibly easy to pick up & follow along with. (Which is how most series books should be.) No worries about not being able to keep up with previously mentioned story lines.

The only flaws of this book are that the book is a little dry to start off with & that the ending is a little rushed. Some might find that while the ending is very plausible, that they just wanted a little bit more to the story to expand & flesh out the conclusion a little. This doesn't mar the overall enjoyment of it all, though.

This is one book that is worth the read & I heartily recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries & page turners.

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Review: Desperate Choices by Kathy Ivan

Title: Desperate Choices
Author: Kathy Ivan
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 09/27/2010
Format: E-book only

Once in a while you get that book that you find hard to review. It isn't because it is bad or overly strange, just hard to put your finger on what exactly you want to say about it. Desperate Choices was one of those books for me & I found myself really having to think hard about what I wanted to put in the review.

A boy is missing, presumed a runaway by everyone except those who knew him. When his godfather Max needs help, he knows that there's one person he absolutely must go to- psychic Theresa Crawford. However it isn't as simple as asking for her help- there's a lot of tension between the two of them that is begging to be resolved ever since they last parted months ago. With time not being a luxury, the two of them must overcome their past issues in order to focus on rescuing Max's godson as well as a future that involves the two of them together.

Like I said above, this was a hard book to review because I had to really think about what it was about the book that bugged me. This isn't a bad book & there are some strong features to it that readers will really enjoy, such as the wonderful passion that unfolds between Theresa & Max. Their love scenes were one of the best parts of the book. Theresa's psychic abilities were also very intriguing to read about, as was her past.

But where the book fell short was ultimately due to its length. This is a short book, only being about 190 pages long. There's just too much story here for a novella & I felt like the story was a bit too condensed for this length & as a result, things happened just a little too fast. I wanted more detail about the characters, their past, as well as the villain's past & I couldn't help but feel that another 40-60 pages would have helped flesh everything out just that little bit more. I kept getting the feeling that I was missing out on some back story & wanting to see that little something more.

Overall though, this was a decent book & I really do think that this will entice many readers of paranormal romance.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review: Manifest by Artist Arthur

Title: Manifest (Mystyx #1)
Author: Artist Arthur
Publisher: Kimani
Release Date: 09/01/2010
ISBN: 037383196X

When fifteen-year-old Krystal Bentley moves to Lincoln, Connecticut, her mom's hometown, she assumes her biggest drama will be adjusting to the burbs after living in New York City.

But Lincoln is nothing like Krystal imagined. The weirdness begins when Ricky Watson starts confiding in her. He's cute, funny, a good listener—and everything she'd ever want—except that he was killed nearly a year ago. Krystal's ghost-whispering talents soon lead other "freaks" to her door—Sasha, a rich girl who can literally disappear, and Jake, who moves objects with his mind. All three share a distinctive birthmark in the shape of an M and, fittingly, call themselves the Mystyx. They set out to learn what really happened to Ricky, only to realize that they aren't the only ones with mysterious powers. But if Krystal succeeds in finding out the truth about Ricky's death, will she lose him for good?

If you're one of the people who are wondering where all of the black heroines are in the YA supernatural genre, then you'll be glad to know that Arthur gives you just that. You'll be even more glad to know that she has managed to write an interesting tale full of strange powers as well as ominous threats as well. Arthur has a very real talent for not only penning a good phrase, but also making us care about her characters' feelings. Krystal's anguish over her parents' divorce as well as being uprooted to a new area is one of the strongest themes of the book.

However where the story falls short is in character definition. While readers are sure to identify with her characters in at least some regard, many will long for a little more information & background on not only her main characters, but to her secondary characters as well. Since this is an ongoing series, hopefully this will change over time but some readers will still wish for a little more to start off with.

Overall this is a decent tale that is sure to entertain & while it doesn't stand out as much as series such as "SoulScreamers", it is one that I would recommend for any fan of YA UF.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book Review: Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra Bicker

Title: Always the Baker, Never the Bride
Author: Sandra Bicker
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Release Date: 09/01/2010
ISBN: 1426707622

Maybe it was the timing (just came out from a surgery & had to abstain from many foods), but I couldn't help but relate to Emma Rae. Maybe it's just the type of books that I'm reading, but I've not really ran into that many books where the heroine had diabetes. It's nice to see a heroine with an actual flaw that isn't something along the lines of "everyone hates me" & isn't something crippling.

Emma Rae is an awesome award winning cook. However for her, the term "death by chocolate" is a little too close for comfort. Why? Because Emma has diabetes- but hasn't allowed that to stop her from following her dreams to become one of the top bakers out there. When her best friend urges her to apply at a promising new wedding hotel, Emma can't help but feel excited at the possibility to get away from her un-appreciative boss & start cooking up dream cakes for glowing bridal couples. What she doesn't plan on is falling in love with the widower owner of the hotel. The path to happiness isn't an easy one & Emma soon finds that not only does she have her hands full with assisting with the hotel but also with getting this man to open his heart to not only her but also to God.

People who are new to Christian fiction but fans of chick-lit will adore this book. Fans of Christian chick-lit? They'll positively love it. Bricker mixed one part fun, two parts love, & one part God, resulting in a book that is incredibly sweet & touching. With characters that will thrill & infuriate the readers, there's a lot to love in this book. Not only will readers find a well written story & a great plot, but they'll also find several mouthwatering recipies & bridal tips interspersed between the chapters.

The strongest part of this book is that Bricker chooses to avoid romantic cliches (rivals, misunderstandings blown out of proportion, etc) & readers will love this refreshing story. It's something that would be a great story to curl up with & read on a rainy day or to give to that recently engaged friend!
(ARC provided by NetGalley)