Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton, 328 pages

This Anita Blake book features vampires, zombies and faeries, including one really disturbing boggle. This book was the first book that Anita admits that she lusts after Jean-Claude and Jean-Claude that he loves Anita. This was one of the darkest books so far, but each book does get darker and more disturbing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier, 384 pages

I was a huge fan of choose-your-own adventure books as a child and always hated the fact that I had outgrown them. But no longer! "Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?" by Max Brallier had brought back the choose-your-own adventure books, revamped and ready to go for adults. The zombie apocalypse has hit and it's up to you to make the decisions that will keep you alive or have you end up as zombie fodder. There is tons of blood, gore, and zombie butt-kicking to keep you entertained. With tons of multiple storylines, there are a variety of ways for your story to go, with you spending hours making choice after choice. One of the fun things about the book is when it calls you on making a stupid or selfish choice. This book is one that I have already recommended to a ton of people, and I will pick it up many times to see just how well I do during a zombie apocalypse. I even read through every page at the end just to make sure I had explored every path and option in the book.

Bloodroot by Amy Greene, 549 pages

One of my younger sisters mentioned she was reading this for her book club, so I thought I would pick it up. I probably wouldn't have chosen it otherwise, but it was a different and interesting read. It section is narrated by 1 or 2 characters, alternating between their viewpoint, with the characters changing in each section. It takes place in the hill country, in what must be the Appalachians. Myra fell in love with John Odom and we see how this romance affected not only her grandparents who raised her, but also the neighbor boy who loved her from afar, Myra and John's two children and even Myra and John. This was was therapists would call a disfunctional relationship. The story weaved back and forth in time, and between the characters, but it served the story well.

Hangman by Faye Kellerman, 422 pages

This is the latest entry in the Peter Decker/Rita Lazarus mystery series set in California. It's around the 15th book, so I don't recommend picking this book up unless you've read the others, but if you like dark and intriguing mysteries, this is a good series. I really like that fact that Rita is Orthodox Jew, so I've learned about some of the practices involved. Imagine never having a Big Mac because you can't mix meat and dairy. If you do pick this series up, you should really start at the beginning, otherwise you'll miss out on a lot of back story.

The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton, 369 pages

This book in the Anita Blake series dealt with shapeshifters, lycanthropes, and immortals, all of which have distinct differences. Also, Jean-Claude, vampire master of the city, demands that Anita gives him a chance to woo her. Lots of action, supernatural activity, and blood. Anita Blake really changed the face of vampire fiction.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton, 303 pages

I had forgotten how much I liked this series. This book had werewolves, vampires (including one that was 1,000s of years old), a lamia (snake woman), giant cobra, and little Anita Blake, zombie raiser. I finished this book on my break today and with 15 minutes left I had to go and immediately get the next book in the series. I'm enjoying this series for the third time just as much as I did the first time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Decadent Way to Die by G. A. McKevett, 294 pages

Savannah Reid is a private detective, born and raised in Georgie, now living in sunny California. She is hired to investigate possible murder attempts on doll-maker and grandmother Helene. With lots of help from her girl-Friday Tammy, former partner and still cop Dirk Coulter and lots of chocolate and gooey desserts, Savannah may solve this case before she ends up dead as a doll, I mean, doornail.
I've read all the Savannah murder mysteries and always enjoyed the great intrigue, wonderful characters, and Savannah's love of food, but this was one of the best so far. The ending had me shocked and upset and then clapping for joy. If you haven't read one, I recommend starting with the first in the series and settling down for a long, enjoyable weekend of reading them all.

The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies by David Lubar, 192 pages

Sammi picked out this book at her last Scholastic Book Fair and was raving about some of the short stories in it. I read one and was instantly hooked. With stories involving books banning problem patrons from a library, vegans getting eaten on Thanksgiving Day (yes, I did think of you Stephanie) and the retelling of a classic fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea Brain", this was one of the wackiest and funniest short story collection I had read. In fact, I used the inter-library loans, and requested his three other collections for Sammi (and me) to read. Ask nicely and maybe Sammi will let you borrow this book.

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin, 400 pages

This is the ReadMOre book this year and the JPL book club Readers Without Borders is reading it this month. So I read it, and I finished it only because I had to. It dealt with communism, free thought, gender roles, language, physics, and tons of other deep and serious issues in a sci-fi genre. I'm not a sci-fi fan unless it's Star Trek (I've got a thing for Q) and I could feel my eyes glaze over when the novel went into pages of physics and time theory. Maybe it's a great book that was revolutionary and shocking for it's time (published in 1974) but I just didn't like it.

Wicked Joplin by Larry Wood, 107 pages

This book is by an local author and is all about Joplin's sin spots and rowdy ruffians during it's raunchiest heydays. If you got to hear Jill at Reference give her program on the Bad Girls of Joplin, this is similar in content. It covers prostitutes, drinking, and bad guys and girls galore. One of the best parts is the quotes regarding Mr. Cox, an early settler in Joplin who lost his bid for surveyor. I will just say it was because, in part, due to some sexual shenanigans, and he makes a joke based on his last name. I've read some of Larry's other books on the history of the area and really enjoyed them. Larry is even going to do a presentation for Adult Summer Reading as part of our grand finale!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton, 301 pages

This is the second book in the Anita Blake series. I've read it before but felt an urge to re-read the series. Reading these early books again makes me realize how much darker and erotic the series has gotten. But I will continue to enjoy this great vampire series. If you want a great vampire read, this is a really outstanding series.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton, 266 pages

I've read this book at least two times before but felt a longing to read some of the early books in this series again. Anita Blake is an animator, raising the dead, in St. Louis, MO. She is also a vampire slayer and consultant for the police on their spook group. She is approached by the Master Vampire of the city to help solve vampire murders. Anita initially declines but quickly changes her mind due to some "persuasion."
This book features vampires, zombies, wererats, seduction, blood, and lots of action. The Anita Blake books have played an integral part in changing vampire fiction. This first book in the series introduces many of the characters that will play an important in the series over the next books.

The Corpse Wore Tartan by Kaitlyn Dunnett, 278 pages

Liss MacCrimmon is usually busy running her Scottish store in Moosetookalook, Maine, but she has agreed to serve as a assistant for the Robert Burns appreciation dinner that is being held at The Spruces, a hotel her boyfriend helps run. But not longer after the haggis is served and Auld Lang Syne is sung, one of the members of the Scottish Heritage Appreciation Society is found dead. With everyone trapped in the hotel due to a blizzard, Liss must depend on her friends' help if she will solve the murder before she is pushing up heather herself.
This is the fourth murder mystery in this Scottish series. I've enjoyed them all due to the interesting plots, intriguing characters, and general fun. I will continue to pick up books by Kaitlyn Dunnett as she writes them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston, 305 pages

Bess Hawksmith in 1628 has watched her brother, sister, and father die of plague, and her mother hung for witchcraft. She turns to warlock Gideon Masters as her only hope of surviving. He teaches her the dark arts, but before he can become her mate in a dark ritual, Bess escapes. She is determined to live a good life, healing and helping others, but Gideon follows, determined to make her his forever. Bess is now an immortal like Gideon, but a life alone and on the run is no true life. In current day England Bess has settled into a tiny village and is quickly befriended by teen Tegan. Tegan starts to learn the ways of the Hedge Witch and makes a place for herself in Bess' heart. But will Gideon show up and destroy all Bess has come to care for?
This was an interesting read, filled with history, witchcraft, love and excitement. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good book to pick up.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Kenken Killings by Parnell Hall, 326 pages

This is the newest entry in the Puzzle Lady series. Cora Felton's ex-husband Melvin (one of many) had conspired to trick Cora into not getting any more alimony. During the course of the trial, dead bodies start to pile up and it looks like Melvin is guilty. Cora works to prove his innocence while denying that she still has feelings for the cheating scumbag.
This series is always a lot of fun, with great crossword puzzles. This book included Kenken puzzles which are evidently like Suduko but slightly different. I'm incapable of solving Suduko and Kenken both, but love crossword puzzles. Luckily, the book supplies the solved puzzles.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

To Be Queen by Christy English, 380 pages

From an early age, Eleanor of Aquitaine has been taught by her father, Duke of Aquitaine, to rule. With her mother dead, and no sons to be heirs, she must, as a woman, be strong and feminine, able to walk a fine line in a world working to tear her down because of her sex. Eleanor and her father work for years for her marriage to King Louis VII of France, with Eleanor determined to have the next Charlemagne as her son. But she quickly realizes how weak Louis is, answering always to the Church. After a distaster-filled trip to Jerusalem, and years of marriage that result only in two daughters, Eleanor is determined to end her marriage to Louis and return to Aquitaine to rule in her own right, alone. But when the young Henry of Normandy comes to France, Eleanor realizes that her future may not lay just in Aquitaine. Has she finally meet a man strong enough to let her stand beside him as ruler?

Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of those timeless women who has captivated the world for hundreds of years. With beauty, strength, and intelligence, she is one of the few women to rule alone and to also wear the crowns of two countries. "To Be Queen" by Christy English is an outstanding work, recreating the early years of Eleanor's life. For anyone who is a fan of historical entertainment, this is a must-have addition to their collection.

This book is slated to come out in April and I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed "The Other Boleyn Girl" or historical fiction with strong women characters.

Lord of Danger by Anne Stuart, 350 pages

This romance book (or bodice ripper) was referenced in an Unshelved comic strip a few years ago. I have wanted to read it, but the library doesn't have it and I kept forgetting about it. They reran the comic strip a little while ago and refreshed my memory. I then requested this book through a inter-library loan request so I could satisfy my need to read it.
Simon of Navarre is magician and sorcerer to Richard the Fair. Anxious to keep his sorcerer happy, Richard offers either of his two illegitimate sisters in marriage. Claire and Alys have been raised in a convent, and they are both sure Claire will be the one chosen due to her beauty. Alys is determined though to make Simon choose her to save Claire from this horrible fate. But Simon is immediately attracted to Alys due to her grace, intelligence, stubbornness, and hidden beauty. Evil soon besets this couple as they struggle to fight their attraction to each other. Can they overcome all, including their troubled backgrounds, to have any chance at a future together.
This wasn't one of the most tawdry and torrid romances I've read (that makes them more fun) but it wasn't bad. If you want a fun and steamy read set in the time of Henry the Third in England, you would enjoy this book.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Swamplandia by Karen Russell, 316

Ava lives in the Florida swamp with her father, older sister and brother, helping run the family alligator amusement park. Ava's mother was the crowd-drawing alligator wrestler, but died a few months ago from ovarian cancer. Now the park is going under, her sister talks to ghosts, her brother has gone to work for the competition and her father has basically checked out. Ava has a plan to save the park and family though.
This was an extremely odd read. It made me uncomfortable at times, especially at the end. I still haven't made up my mind as to if I like it or not. I can't decide if it was a great book or a bad book. Maybe that is the sign of a good book?!?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crap by Erin Conley, Karen Macklin, and Jake Miller, 96 pages

This book is dedicated to learning how to recognize and deal with the crap in your book. You will become a crapologist and learn how to deal with crap dumplings. This was a fun and entertaining read that contained some actually useful techniques.

The Radleys by Matt Haig, 370 pages

It is interesting how many different types of vampire books there are. This book is about a family of abstainers, vampires who are non-practicing. Peter and Helen decided to give up their wild vampire life and settle down in a quiet English village when she became pregnant. Their children Rowan and Clara grow up into teenagers never knowing that they are vampires (you can either be born vampires or be converted.) One night Clara is consumed by bloodlust and attacks a fellow teen. The family is forced to face the secrets that they have been hiding, and not just the ones about being vampires.
This book combined vampires with a story about marriage (some people would say both are life-sucking monsters) and accepting what makes us different. This was very British, stiff upper lip, and all that. I'm still trying to decide if I liked it or not, this was very different.

Amazing...But False by David Diefendorf, 256 pages

This book examines all the facts that get passed around that are totally false, like the fact that it takes 7 years for bubblegum to digest in the stomach. One that I had never heard but is evidently very popular with boys the supposed fact that you will die if you burp and fart at the same time. This book is filled with tons of "facts" and the actual truth behind them.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig, 339 pages

This is the continuation of the flower spies books that started with The Secret of the Pink Carnation. This one was different in that is doesn't feature research student Eloise in modern day London. Instead, the story is completely set in historical England. Turnip finally gets his love story. Arabella's expectations have been dashed by a elderly aunt so she is forced to find work in an elite school for young ladies as a teacher. Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh's sister is a student. When Turnip goes to drop off a Christmas basket for his sister, him and Arabella discover a Christmas pudding with a secret message that seems to be for a French spy. The two quickly find themselves investigating, and fighting feelings for each other.
This was sweet and funny, a great continuation of the series. I think it was one of my favorites so far. I enjoyed the appearance by Jane Austen. If you liked The Scarlet Pimpernal, you should pick up this great series.

The Good, The Bad, And the Babie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone, 130 pages

Stephanie reviewed this a month or two so I won't go into it too much. Basically it gave a little history of how Barbie got started and how everyone either loves or hates Barbie. I must say I'm one of those who loves Barbie. My favorite thing to do in the toy store is to walk the Barbie aisle and see all the new ones. I even bought a Scarlett O'Hara Barbie doll at a flea market last year because I've always wanted one. This was a good read. It makes me want to get some on my female friends together with a bunch of Barbie dolls to play. You're never too old for Barbie.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Affair Without End by Candace Camp, 384 pages

Lady Vivian may be the only daughter of a duke, but she has long since decided that marriage is not for her. She is content with her life, but the oh-so proper Earl of Stewkesbury stirs emotions that tempt Vivian into proposing a tempting arrangement for the two of them. Oliver is determined to live by the guidelines set by Society, and he knows that the beautiful, but tempteous Vivian would never be a suitable wife. But the attraction between them has him breaking the rules he has lived his life by. Throw in American cousins, jewelry heists, and a murder mystery, and Oliver quickly finds himself questioning whether he wants to live his life without Vivian in it.

"An Affair Without End" is the third in the Willowmere Series by Candace Camp. It is a light-hearted Regency romance, filled with romance, intrigue, and lots of seduction. For anyone who is wanting a fun, romp of a read, this is a good read, but I wouldn't make a special trip to pick it up. It lacks the humor of Georgette Heyer and the steam of Johanna Lindsey.

Livia, Empress of Rome by Matthew Dennison, 320 pages

I had to review this book and was excited, because I love biographies of powerful women, and I hadn't read anything about Livia. Livia was the wife of Claudius, nephew of Julius Caesar, who basically finished turning Rome from a Republic to a oligarchy (ruled by an emperor.) Her son (stepson of Claudius) was then the next emperor. She is considered to be the power behind the throne of both emperors.
Unfortunately, this novel was not an enjoyable read. It was disjointed at times, with the storyline presented in a very dry manner. At times I thought I was perhaps reading someone's college thesis instead of a published biographer. I would recommend picking up a different book if you want to learn about Livia.

Jane Goes Batty by Michael Thomas Ford, 295 pages

This is the sequel to Jane Bites Back, with the premise that Jane Austen didn't die, she actually was turned into a vampire by Lord Byron. She now owns a bookstore in a small town in New York. She has had a book finally published, and it is being turned into a movie. But instead of being on top of the world, Jane must deal with writer's block on her new novel, her boyfriend's mother is in town, she still hasn't told her boyfriend about her being a vampire, and she's afraid a vengeful vampire is back for revenge. What's a vampire to do?
I really enjoyed the first book and this one was a fun, light read also. I love Jane Austen and vampires, so what's not to like about a book that combines both.

Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux, 348 pages

This is a new breed of zombie novel, featuring a story interspersed with blog entries. Allison is trapped in the book store she works in with customers and co-workers when a zombie plague breaks out. She must fight to survive, try to work her way to a safe place (if such a place still exists) and find her mother (if she is still alive), all while maintaining her humanity.
This was a fun read. One of my favorite parts was Allison scrounging for supplies while avoiding zombies, and she almost dies because she stops to grab books. This book does make you think about what would you do to survive.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, 579 pages

Diana Bishop is from a long line of witches, but she is determined to live without witchly powers, instead throwing herself into her scholarly career. But when she is in Oxford, England, researching ancient texts, she comes across a bespelled text that drops Diana into the middle of a supernatural war. She finds herself being stalked by vampires, daemons, and fellow witches. Diana quickly finds herself attracted to centuries old vampire Matthew who is searching for the book that only Diana can access. Will they be able to overcome centuries of hatred between the witches and vampires? Will Diana learn to accept the powers that dwell within her? Will she and Matthew survive this battle?
This is probably one of the best new books I have read in a long time. It combines vampires, witches, history, and science in what promises to be an enthralling trilogy. How many books combine DNA, Charles Darwin, Knights Templar, witches, and vampires? The only drawback to this book is the fact that it will be a year before the next one comes out.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

City of Brotherly Mayhem by Ron Avery, 142 pages

I love Inter-Library Loan requests, you can get pretty much any book you want to read. This book had been mentioned in another book I was reading and sounded interesting. In less than 2 weeks, I was reading this.
The book is a look at some of the most interesting true-crime cases that have taken place in Philadelphia over the years. The first kidnapping for ransom took place in Philadelphia in fact, with the child never returned or found. I am a sucker for mysteries, especially true ones, so this was a good read.