Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review of Summer Hideaway

Summer Hideaway
Susan Wiggs
421 pages
Welcome to Avalon New York, home to Susan Wiggs’ famous and sometimes infamous Bellamy family, in this installation we find a whole new branch of the Bellamy tree. George Bellamy has lived a long life and has regrets and now that his time is nearing the end he’s decided that it’s time to put things to right. Claire Turner has secrets, secrets that could kill if revealed and so she’s lived a life of solitude and service as a private nurse caring for the terminally ill. Ross Bellamy returns from the war zone of Afghanistan to find his grandfather dying. Claire and Ross are fighting a powerful attraction to each other both for different reasons and as George tries to match make watch out for the fireworks because even though these two might be perfect for each other, convincing them of that is another story..
There is no better storyteller than Susan Wiggs and when she uses that talent to further our journey with the Bellamy family, well, there’s just no words to describe it, but I’ll try. Susan has a way with words that puts her readers right on the page with the characters, you feel a part of the story as you meet and greet each of the cast members. And what a group of characters it is. The family is as large and larger than life then you could imagine and yet they are each so memorable in their own right. Let’s take her double heros of this story, George and Ross Bellamy grandfather and grandson who’s characters will make you weep with worry with joy and with empathy. Then there’s our heroine Claire Turner, who’s character you will feel emotions for all over the board. Then we have her supporting cast of characters that include most of the Bellamy clan. Susan will literally pull you into her story with her dialogue, it will amaze you how intricate her details become and while you’re reading the story comes together seamlessly. Her story line is an ongoing portrait of the Bellamy family and it amazes me how fresh she can make each installation while keeping us up to date on the members she’s previously headlined. Her love story is as always complicated and at times frustrating to her fans who know the right moves and unfortunately can’t convey that to the characters in the novel. Her love scenes are vivid and sensual and spicy and yet you see the innocence in them as well.
Summer Hideaway is another example of what an amazing talent Susan Wiggs is. There is no author I know of who can write a family biography with such finesse and tenderness. This novel could very well stand up by it self, but to get all the nitty gritty details of the histories of the Bellamy Family start from the beginning of the series, you won’t be sorry you did.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review of Dracula The Un Dead

Dracula The Un Dead
Dacre Stoker-Ian Holt
Penguin Group
432 pages
The stage is set, the characters have gathered and we the readers are very fortunate indeed to be able to witness the production. The time is 25 years after the grand adventure to Transylvania the characters are the survivors of that adventure with the addition of Quincy Harker and the production is non other than Dracula.
Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt give us a new twist on the old story of Price Vlad Dracula. We get to see how the characters have faired in the past 25 years and we get to see the return of the most infamous of villains, but is the villain who we are led to believe or is there something or someone more sinister to deal with. And we get a rare chance to meet the author of the first novel as a character in this one.
Mr.’s Stoker and Holt have given readers a most remarkable piece of literature. Fully intending it to be a sequel to the original written by his great-granduncle. They have hit the mark. How many times do we as readers wonder what becomes of the characters after their happy endings, how many times do we wish to be a fly on their wall to see them after the story has ended for us. Well now we get to do just that. In this rendition of Dracula we find ourselves in Europe just after the turn of the century and are able along with the characters in the book to discover the wonder or in some cases the disgust of the technological advances in the early part of the last century. We get to experience the culture of England and we get to share in the horrors of what’s happening there. The characters are vivid and interesting and follow very closely to the feel we remembered from the original work. Quincy Harker makes an absolute wonderful hapless hero in the novel, followed closely by Mina and of course our Dark Prince. The authors have taken every care in learning their characters every nuance and delivered it onto the pages of their novel with care and expertness. The story/plot is unique and exciting filled with intense mystery and abject horror, they take your senses through many emotions not many of them easy to read. But read you will because this is a page turner, with dialogue that fits with the time, that describes the scenes so vividly that the reader can easily picture it in their minds and those pictures aren’t for the faint of heart.
So ask yourself. Are you prepared to be scared witless? Are you ready to believe again in the myth of Vampires? Are you ready to experience fear like you never have? Are you ready for a can’t put it down page turner, a nail biting edge of your seat adventure? And are you prepared to have everything you’ve ever believed about Dracula to be shot to hell? Well if so and with a note from your doctor saying you can withstand the stress be prepared to read one of the best novels of 2009.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Review of Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden
Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Press
400 pages

Winter Garden is the first must read of 2010.
Meredith and Nina Whitson have grown up glowing in the love of their father Evan and always fearing the contempt at worst or neglect at best from their aloof mother Anya. When Evan has a heart attack and is near death he makes the women he loves make a promise, a promise to hear Anya’s famous Russian Fairy Tale to the end. The Fairy Tale is a double edged sword for the sisters, but they honor a father they love above all else his dying wish. And as their mother tells her fairy tale, will the daughters finally get a glimpse of the mother they have always longed to know or will they be disappointed and a disappointment once again.
Kristin Hannah gives us an exceptional work of fiction in her newest heart-wrencher, Winter Garden. With her amazing storytelling abilities she will show us love in all of the different varieties, love of parent, of sibling and romantic love. She will tell us of loss, loss that is so unbearable that no-one speaks of it of loss that is debilitating to the point of madness. She gives us multi-dimensional characters, people you want to know, people you want to learn about and people you want to forget. Her dialogue is full of flowing prose that paints her scenes in our minds with large brushstrokes. And her love stories are truly amazing, she makes us thankful of what we have and makes it so we never forget what some have given up or lost or had taken away from them.
This may not be the first book you read this year, but it will be the best. Be prepared to use the tissue box, but don’t be embarrassed because even the most macho of men would find it hard not to shed a tear over this incredible novel. But it’s not all about crying, it’s about love, it’s about life and Kristin Hannah tells it the only way she knows how, with a lot of heart.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Max Hardberger
Broadway Books
304 pages
Max Hardberger’s Seized is a rip roaring high seas adventure. A non-fiction that reads like a novel.
Max gives us an amazing read in Seized, amazing mostly because he lived the adventure and sometimes only survived by the skin of his teeth, or the angel on his shoulder. His story line/plot reads like a contemporary swashbuckling novel complete with the pirates and hero rushing in to save the day. And yet as he introduces us to his friends and his loved ones, the story takes on a more intimate feeling. His dialogue is a Mirriam Webster of ship speak (but you’ll catch on quickly), mixed with the edgy, terse talk of his dangerous thug and gangster characters, and then he mixes it with the more personal language of family. And speaking of his characters they are so larger than life that you’ll have a hard time believing they’re real, but real they are and most you’ll really like and some you’ll really hate, but all are incredibly memorable.
Everyone who enjoys a great adventure, mystery or grand life journey will enjoy this soon to be best selling read. It gives you adrenalin junkies all that you require, edge of your seat thrills and chills and puts your emotions through a roller coaster ride. Thank you Max for letting us into your crazy but amazing life in Seized.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hell Gate
Linda Fairstein
Penguin Group
400 pages

Linda Fairstein shines again in her latest installment of the life and times of Alex Cooper. Those of us who know Alex from her previous adventures will be ecstatic for this one.
Ms. Fairstein gives us a mystery/thriller that could be taken off the front page of any newspaper or the headlines of any TV news magazine. Alex finds herself knee deep in victims trying to be illegally smuggled into the US and criminals who always appear to be one step ahead of her. But in addition, there’s an underlying crime where young girls while looking for a better life find themselves at the mercy of human traffickers. Linda once again brings us her expertise and knowledge as she takes her readers on a journey of legalese and cop speak, a journey down the darkest alleys of human suffering. Her dialogue while eloquent can also take on a gritty edge as she takes her readers on that journey. Her starring characters of Alex, Mike and Mercer still wow us and while familiar, still surprise us as we get more in depth looks into their lives with each new adventure.
Be prepared to be furious, to be saddened, and sickened by this intensely riveting novel. It will be a wild ride for the senses and emotions. It will appeal to all Alex Cooper fans as well as hard core mystery lovers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review of Tate The Texas McKettricks

Tate – The Texas McKettricks
Linda Lael Miller
ISBN 13 9780373774364
368 pages

The Queen of the Western Romance brings us another branch of her endearing family The McKettricks in a trilogy of the three brothers from Texas big country. The first book and oldest brother is Tate the confirmed head of the family and ranch, trying to make it all work with 6yr old twin girls a ranch the size of some small countries and an ex-wife with the middle name of trouble. Enter small town girl, coffee shop owner and oldest of three sisters Libby Remington. Besides dealing with the return of an absent mother and the declining economy’s effect on her business the last thing she needs is to deal with ex-beau Tate McKettrick, the one man who broke her heart and the only man that might get away with it again. What’s in the cards for these two and more important is love enough.
Ms Miller can spin a yarn like nobody I’ve ever read and she can spin it with a Texas twang dialogue and sense of the great outdoors like you’re actually there smelling the sweet air or feeling the water splash on you from a river crossing on the back of a horse. Her storyline is nothing new and something she recreates a few times a year, but no matter how many of them she writes, they’re all unique, all just different enough that even though you recognize the author’s unrivaled style, these are definitely not clones. And her characters, let’s talk about these larger than life boys and girls she parades across the pages of her novels, they are as extraordinary as can be, her readers will actually live vicariously through them through out the duration of the read. Her hero Tate and heroine Libby are as different as two people could be and yet she convinces us through her storytelling that they’re the bee’s knees of the perfect couple. The love scenes will make you wish for a Minnesota winter or air-conditioning in February as they sizzle on the page and yet she treats each encounter with tender care.
So put on your Stetson, tie on your chaps and step into your cowboy boots and enjoy the first of the three brother’s McKettrick of Texas, Tate. This is as unforgettable a cowboy as you’ll find and a better read you won’t find.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review of The Poacher's Son

The Poacher's Son
Paul Doiron
St. Martin's Minotaur
336 pages

Be prepared to by awed, awed by Paul Doiron’s imaginative, realistic and hard lined look at Maine’s vast wilderness and his sometimes all too human inhabitants in his debut novel The Poacher’s Son.
In this unforgettable novel Paul gives us a very human hero, a man at the cusp of maturity, trying to escape from his past while running toward his future. This man is Mike Bowditch, a Maine game warden and as the author explains is a cop who’s beat is the forest.
Paul takes us on a wild ride of an adventure where there’s been a double homicide and Mike’s dad Jack Bowditch, poacher and all around tough wilderness man is the main suspect. He takes us through the Maine wilderness with such vivid descriptive dialogue that the scenes pop in your mind’s eye like you’re part of the background. He introduces us to his many co-starring characters with their varying degree of effect and their obvious importance to the story. His star character/hero Mike is a multidimensional, complex and complicated character and as we watch him grow up in front of our eyes it becomes crystal clear how much the author likes and respects him and by the end of the novel we readers will feel the same way. But make no mistake this is not for the feint of heart, it’s a gritty, edgy and realistic mystery with no sugar coating, a wilderness adventure that takes us to places as untraveled and wild as you’ll ever find in our own country and the sometimes untamed people who populate it.
If you love a great mystery, this is for you. If you love a wilderness adventure, this is for you. If you love great storytelling, this is for you. And when it’s over, don’t despair because Paul will be working on Mike’s next adventure in this series.

I was fortunate to be a part of Barnes & Noble's First Look program where a group of us read and conversed with not only the author but his editor as well. It's a great service that B&N provides absolutely free to the readers who wish to belong.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Review of The Girl Who Chased The Moon

The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Sarah Addison Allen
Random House
288 pages

When I was a little girl my grandmother would tell me the most fantastical stories, stories of magic and stories of wonder. When I was a little older she found me crying once and asked what was wrong and I told her that my friends said there’s no such thing as magic and her stories were lies. My grandmother raised my chin, dried my eyes and said, “child, there is magic all around us, but only for those who believe”. When I opened the pages of Sarah Addison Allen’s The Girl Who Chased The Moon, my grandmother’s words came back to me and I smiled and thought how fortunate it is that I still believe in magic.
Sarah gives us a uniquely wonderful story. A story about secrets, love lost and love found, about friendships and family, about learning from the mistakes of our past and going forward. She spins her tale with whimsical prose, words that take her readers on a journey to her small town of Mullaby North Carolina where we meet and intimate ourselves with her amazing characters. And what a cast of remarkable and memorable characters she gives us. Her co-heroines steal the show. First we have teenage Emily Benedict who after her mother’s tragic death finds herself in her mother’s hometown with a grandfather she didn’t know existed. Then there’s Julia Winterson returning to the town of her childhood after her father’s death to take over his restaurant, with the intensions of selling it and getting out of dodge with her two year plan. Sarah also gives us a remarkable and unforgettable cast of supporting characters, a gentle giant, a family with unimaginable oddities and other characters that will imbed themselves in your head and your heart and all of them help to complete the story. She has some love scenes and while a few are sensual they would not offend any reader or any age of reader.
So if you believe in magic still or you want to this novel is the one you must turn to. It will give you that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes when magic takes flight and dreams come true. It’s a definite must read of 2010. And if you want more magic Sarah has two other novels you should try, Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen and let love and magic back in your life.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Review of Spider's Bite By Jennifer Estep

Spider's Bite
Jennifer Estep
Simon & Schuster
432 pages

Spider’s Bite is the first book in a new urban fantasy series starring Gin Blanco an assassin known as The Spider.
Jennifer gives us a great story line for her new series, which takes place in a fictitious southern town where a focal point is the barbeque joint known as The Pork Pitt. She gives us memorable characters and the evilest of evil doers some with elemental powers over air, stone, fire or water. Her protagonist Gin is an extremely complicated and likeable character and in the first novel you find out all the elements in her life that created what she is today, her co-star in this novel is police detective Donavan Caine who has conflicting feelings for Gin and with good reason. He’s a lone good wolf in a department full of crooked cops. Her supporting cast of characters are all extremely well developed and interesting. Her dialogue is witty, edgy and a little raw but necessary to support the feel of the story. She paints her scenes of dirty downtown and gritty nightclubs with vivid detail.
Spider’s Bite is an urban fantasy/paranormal novel with romantic tendencies. This novel would appeal to all lovers of dark paranormal romance, urban fantasy or anyone just looking for a witty gritty edge of your seat fantasy novel.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review of Drive Time

Drive Time 4th in the Charlotte McNally series
Hank Phillipi Ryan
ISBN 13:9780778327974
352 pages

Charlie McNally, Investigative Reporter extraordinaire is busy getting her story for the February Sweeps, and what a story it is. And while stumbling into the uncharted waters of her new roll as step-mom to be and wife to hunky private school professor Josh, she discovers something’s not right within the haloed halls of Bexter Academy. Two mysteries to solve, both equally sinister, both resulting in murder and mayhem. Will Charlie save the day or will it be “Sorry Charlie”.
Hank’s story line/plot is as usual right off the front pages of any local newspaper, or the leading story on any network news station. And as always a who-done-it worthy of Holmes or Miss Marple. She knows her stuff and it shows with her smooth dialogue and edgy context. Her characters are some of the most personable and memorable you’ll ever read and not only her heroine Charlie and main squeeze fiancĂ© Josh, but all the incredible people that co-star and even those just making appearances in the story. Her romance is sweet and sensual but definitely the main focus is on solving the mystery
Drive Time is the 4th installment of the Charlotte McNally series by Hank Phillipi Ryan and it’s the best by far so far. It reads well as a stand-a-lone but to get the whole picture my suggestion would be to read the whole series. Hank has a hit on her hands with Drive Time, it hits all the marks and is an incredible who-done-it. So don’t walk, run to your nearest bookseller and pick up a copy of this great read.

Check out the others in the series Prime Time, Face Time and Air Time - You won't be sorry you did!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review of False Mermaid

Title False Mermaid
Author - Erin Hart
Publisher - Scribner
ISBN-10 1416563768
Pages - 336

Nora and Cormac drawn together by not only their passion for archeology and pathology but by their commonality of being led or misled by haunted pasts. Nora’s of her sister’s murder and subsequent fall out over her accusation against her brother-in-law for the crime and Cormac with his absent father’s sudden appearance again in his life, and the role that absence played in who he became. These chain of events leave Cormac and Nora separated by The Atlantic Ocean while they try to solve their respective mysteries. But will they grow closer by being apart or will the breach continue to grow.
Erin’s 3rd installment of the life and times of Nora and Cormac are very different from her first two adventures, in those we just brush the surface of what makes these two incredible characters tick, while in False Mermaid we really get to know them and why they’ve made some of the choices that they have. If you’re not familiar with Erin Hart, you are in for a treat when you experience her eloquent dialogue so full of Irish whit, charm and language while also in this novel giving us an accurate look at America as well. Nora leaves Cormac in Ireland while she travels back to the States to finally look further into the horrific crime that sent her across the Ocean in the first place. In this novel you will of course be re-introduced to Nora and Cormac, but you will be acquainted with the characters from the first two books that you only heard about. Erin’s character development and production of these co-starring characters is amazing, and from them you will learn the history that Nora has been running from for so long and learn more about Cormac and his history as well. This is definitely not a romance, but there is a love story between Nora and Cormac and that continues to develop in this book. So there are love scenes and they are crucial to the plot because they give us a more in depth look at our hero and heroine.
False Mermaid by Erin Hart is the 3rd in her Nora Gavin, Cormac Maguire series and she’s made her readers wait for more than five years for this one. Now you may ask, was it worth the wait, and the answer would have to be a resounding Yes! This will definitely make it to the best seller list and soon. It gives mystery fans all they long for, a great who-done-it, great characters and the finality of solving the crime. But this will be attractive to more than just mystery fans, romance fans and Irish literature fans and literary fiction fans will also stand in line to get this book. It has the cross-genre pull that few authors can master. The only thing this true fan requests Ms. Hart, is please don’t make us wait this long for our next journey with Nora and Cormac.

Other books by Erin Hart - Haunted Ground - Lake of Sorrows

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