Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Murder in Paradise by Kate William, 229 pages

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are living it up on a mother-daughter retreat at Paradise Spa, where their biggest worry is whether to go for a cucumber facial or a splash in the waterfall. And with so many cute guys on staff, the girls decide that what their boyfriends back home don't know won't hurt them! Then Jessica and Lila Fowler go for a late-night swim and find a dead body in the steam bath! The manager insists the death is a freak accident, but when Alice Wakefield disappears, Elizabeth and Jessica are terrified there's a murderer on the loose. Desperate to find their mother, the twins set a deadly trap-with Elizabeth as the bait!

Happily Ever After edited by John Klima, 477 pages

This is an anthology featuring fairytale retellings by some of the best writers in the field. These stories are dark, twisted, sweet, and compelling as the Grimm Brothers collected originally. The stories here aren't your Disney versions to be read to your kids, but instead tantalizing tales to be savored and enjoyed. But watch out, who is that knock-knock-knocking on your door?

The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting by Rachel Shteir, 256

This was a non-fiction look at shoplifting and how it has evolved over the years, along with society's approach to it. The book starts with a look at London as one of the world's busiest mercantile capital, examining who shoplifted and how, along with how the legal field treated them. The author then follows how the development of department stores seemed to foster an explosion of shoplifters and "kleptomaniacs" a term that still isn't accepted by some of the medical field. I had never known that during the 60's shoplifting was a symbol of resistance against "the man" with Abby Hoffman publishing a book called "Steal This Book". Shteir also looks at how even today, shoplifters are treated extremely different based on race and money in their treatment and sentencing. One of the things I particularly enjoyed was the author going into how libraries and bookstores are targets for shoplifters.
While this book was a little dry at times, it was still an informative read.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Blameless by Gail Carriger, 374 pages

I am totally in love with this series. I devoured this book after finishing book 2, but I'm waiting just a little bit before reading book 4. It's still a little while until book 5 comes out, and I don't want the series to be over. This book has Alexia dealing with her pregnancy, almost everyone thinking she cheated on her husband, homicidal mechanical ladybugs and a trip to Italy. Oh, and did I mention homicidal mechanical ladybugs!?! That statement alone should have you picking up this series immediately. This is a fun, great new twist on the regency paranormal genre (did you even know such a genre existed) that continues to hold my interest.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

All-Ghouls School by Mark Sumerak & David Bryant, 118 pages

How could I not pick up this graphic novel with such a cool title. It reminded me of the Scooby movie, Scooby and the Ghoul School. Basically, Darkmoor is a school for monsters that is looking to integrate some humans to help the monsters learn how to deal with the real world. Becca is the first human student, but it's up in the air as to how long she'll survive the honor.
This was fun, campy, well-written and drawn (except for the fact that all girls in comics at boarding school have to wear slutty uniforms) and interesting.

Morning Glories Volume 1 by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma, 189 pages

This graphic novel looked interesting from the cover and blurb but really failed to measure up. While it seems to be Breakfast Club meets X-men, with a little bit of Matrix thrown in, it spends the whole book laying groundwork while not explaining anything at all. If you like a book that leaves you puzzled and confused, be sure to pick this up.

Changeless by Gail Carriger, 388 pages

This is the second book in a fun and unusual series that my mother-in-law suggested to me. Alexia is a preternatural, meaning she has no soul and negates supernatural creatures, i.e, with her touch she restores the mortality of vampires and werewolves. But it seems that someone or something else has the same ability, but thrown over a much larger area and lasting longer. Alexia must track down whatever this is before it falls into the wrong hands as a weapon. Throw in a missing werewolf husband, a way too friendly French hatmaker and inventor, and a Queen Victoria expecting results and it might almost be too much for Alexia to handle, even with her handy parasol.
This is Regency meets paranormal with a heavy dash of steampunk thrown in. This is one of the most original books I've read in a long time, with lots of humor and intrigue. As soon as I finished this book I immediately started the next one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forgetting Ireland by Bridget Connelly, 263 pages

In 1880, a shipload of starving Irish paupers were brought to America and settled in Minnesota. Just 4 months later, a blizzard hit in October, and a long and bitter winter settled in till April. These Irish immigrants were found in December to be starving and freezing, and blame quickly began to be shifted around. The Irish were removed from their homes and sent to live in cities, with the name "Connemara" denoting shiftless, no-good failures. Over a hundred years later, Bridget Connelly, discovers that she is actually a descendant of these immigrants, and what is known as historical fact may not actually be true.
This was a somewhat interesting read, but the author did have a tendency to be dry and wandering at times. Once I realized that this was the same winter that is featured in "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I enjoyed and appreciated the story more.

Return of the Evil Twin by Kate William, 330 pages

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield have no idea that their world is about to be turned upside down-again. Last Christmas, Margo-a girl who looked, talked, and dressed exactly like Jessica and Elizabeth-arrived in Sweet Valley to take what she considered her rightful place in the Wakefield home. On a dark winter's night, Margo fell to a violent death, and the Wakefields thought their nightmare was over. But they didn't know about Nora, Margo's own twin sister. Nora, separated from Margo at birth, is outraged when she discovers that the sister she'd never known is dead ... and that California's picture perfect twins are to blame. Now Nora wants revenge-and she's capable of evil beyond anything Margo could have ever dreamed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

MYTH-Fortunes by Robert Asprin & Jody Lynn Nye, 277 pages

Skeeve is back with MYTH Inc. and for his first job, him and Aahz are hired by Samwise the Imp to figure out why there's so many accidents at his construction site. Samwise is building an enormous pyramid and selling blocks as a claim for immortality. Skeeve is shocked when Aahz buys the top stone, and starts getting people to invest in the lower blocks. Skeeve must figure out why Aahz is so worried about the afterlife now, and who is sabotaging the pyramid. Just another normal day for your average wizard.
I've enjoyed every one of Robert Asprin's MYTH books, and "MYTH-Fortunes" by Robert Asprin & Jody Lynn Nye is just as funny and great as all the others. While I'm sad to find out that Robert Asprin has passed away, I'm confident that Jody Lynn Nye will continue to create MYTH books that are hilarious, full of adventure, and fabulous. If you haven't read any of this series, you need to pick them up immediately. This is one fantasy series you don't want to "MYTH" out on!

Brazen by Margo Maguire, 370 pages

Captain Gavin Briggs feels that he is not fit for polite society after serving as a sniper for the British Army, so he is determined to earn the money that will enable him to buy an estate to serve as home for his sister and her small child. All that is standing in the way is Lady Christina Fairhaven. Hired by her grandfather, a bitter duke who is on his deathbed, Gavin has been tasked to bring Christina to the duke's estate. Christina is startled to learn that she is the granddaughter of a duke, but feels no urge to meet the man who abandoned her mother after a marriage against the duke's wishes. Christina agrees to go though, in exchange for Gavin first helping her find her missing brother. The only snag is that he's supposed to be dead. The trip to London is filled with burglars, a conniving cousin, adventure, and lots of passion. The heat between Christina and Gavin soon blazes into a maelstrom of romance, but will it continue to simmer and boil or soon burn out?
"Brazen" by Margo Maguire was hot and steamy while being sweet and funny. Filled with tons of adventure and intrigue, the plot keeps the reader engaged, while the romance advances. This was a great read for fans of historical bodice rippers.

The Walking Dead, Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman & Jay Bonansinga, 308 pages

This is a prequel to the Walking Dead graphic novels, showcasing how the character known as The Governor got his start and explaining his link to the zombie he keeps in his apartment. I thought it would be hard for this book to measure up to the graphic novels and television show, but it was superb. This story was full of action and suspense, and illustrated how people are changed by traumatic and stressful events, like a zombie outbreak. I wouldn't recommend this book if you aren't familiar with the world of The Walking Dead, but for fans of it, this is a fantastic read.

Close to Home Uncut by John McPherson, 143 pages

A funny and sarcastic comic collection.

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure, 336 pages

Wendy McClure grew up loving the Little House on the Prairie books, imaging herself as Laura, picturing showing Laura her world, all in all, a Little House fan. When she rediscovers the books as an adult, what could be called a mini-obsession forms. Wendy buys an old coffee grinder to grind wheat seed so she can make bread like in The Long Winter, and even makes butter. She finds herself making treks to the sites of Little House homes and museums. This book is an homage to her love affair with Laura and the books.
I totally identified with this book, because I grew up loving Little House on the Prairie. I always consider Mary a goodie two-shoes, and enjoyed watching Laura, especially her interactions with Nellie. I have to say though that I prefer the television romance between Laura and Almanzo over the book version. I've even had a new appreciation through my youngest daughter's passion for the books, with me trying to track down a pig bladder so she can make a ball. This book was wonderful, sweet, poignant and funny, a must read for all those people who found themselves wanting to be a part of these books.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! edited by Otto Penzler, 810 pages

This book is a massive collection of zombie stories, featuring a wide variety of authors. A lot of the stories appeared in the pulp magazines during their heyday, but also includes stories by Stephen King, Robert Bloch and such. It also has the very first story to feature the word zombie, by W. B. Seabrook. One of the nice features of this book is that it has author bios at the beginning of each story, giving a little background about the writer. One of my favorites was the one for Robert Bloch who is also known for his book Psycho. He was accused of being a macabre writer and defended himself by saying "Why, I have the heart of a small boy. It's in a jar, on my desk." If you enjoy zombie fiction this is a must read book. I'm even considering buying a copy for my personal collection.

Within The Flames by Marjorie M. Liu, 376 pages

Eddie owes his life to the Dirk & Steele Agency, they gave him a reason to live when he joined their agency. As a pyrokinetic, he spent years on the street doing almost anything to survive, so he's grateful for the chance to gain control of his life. When he's asked to track down one of the last surviving shape-changing dragons to save her from a band of witches seeking her for blood magic, Eddie knows that he's her best chance for survival. Lyssa has been on the run for years, hiding from the woman who killed her parents and is after her. She knows that no one is safe around her, especially with her wild fire power, except for Eddie. These two have secrets that haunt them, and keep them from any chance of a happy future, unless their willing to step within the flames and let go.
I haven't read any of Marjorie M. Lui's Dirk & Steele books, but I am definitely going to fix that after finishing this book. I loved the mixture of romance, intrigue and paranormal, with shape-shifters and witches galore. "Within The Flames" was still extremely enjoyable as a stand-alone book, and I look forward to reading more about Eddie and Lyssa.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wet & Wild by Sandra Hill, 352 pages

Ragnor Magnusson, a Viking who has lost his enthusiasm for bedsport, fears that at the ripe age of twenty-seven, he may never find his soul mate. When he drowns and finds himself in the future, he instantly knows that Alison MacLean is who he is meant to be with and protect. Finding himself in the middle of SEAL training, this rough-and-tough Viking must figure out a way to woo the woman he wants. Alison, a doctor for the Navy, has hopes of becoming a female SEAL, and this muscle-bound hunk, won't keep her from achieving her dreams, even though "Max" seems to showing up in new dreams. When this Viking and doctor get together, the combination is sure to be explosive!
"Wet & Wild" by Sandra Hill is a re-release, but since I missed it the first time, I'm glad I caught it this time around. This time-traveling Viking series promises to be fun, steamy, and an enjoyable treat. I look forward to reading about Ragnor's family, especially his sister, Madrene.
In my defense, this was a review book sent to me, I didn't pick it out myself.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman by Elizabeth Abbott, 510 pages

I read this book for my Joplin Globe review and really enjoyed it. I don't want to go into too much detail since my book review comes out Sunday.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, 390 pages

This book was recommended on by Unshelved (a wonderful library-based comic strip) and looked really interesting. A group of teen beauty pageant contestants crash on a deserted island and must find a way to survive while still practicing their routines and getting that perfect tan. When you through in an evil corporation who wants to use the girls' "deaths" for their own profit and some sexy tv pirates, this isn't your normal "pretty girl" book.
From the very first, this book promised to not be the normal "beauty queen" finds a deeper beauty type of book, and it totally delivered. It was snarky and funny, filled with tons of action, and well-done.

Circus of the Damned -The Ingenue by Laurell K. Hamilton, 117 pages

I've read all the Anita Blake books at least once, and the graphic novels are a fresh new look at the same stories. The artwork is superb and really brings new life to the stories. While I wouldn't recommend just jumping into the the books with this book, they are a treat for vampire fans. It will be interesting to see how the graphic novels handle the storyline when it becomes more sexually explicit down the line.

What I Hate From A to Z by Roz Chast, 58 pages

I saw this book when another patron had it on hold. It looked really funny and I'm glad I read it. It's a collection of things, one for each letter, that makes the author uncomfortable or nervous. It was quirky, fast to read and enjoyable.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dark Companions by Ramsey Campbell, 355 pages

This is a re-released collection of fabulously dark and creepy short stories by British horror author, Ramsey Campbell. "Out of Copyright" features an anthology editor who cuts costs by using stories out of copyright protection to avoid having to pay authors, but ends up paying a much higher cost. Another highly disturbing story was "Call First" featuring a nosy library employee who finds that curiosity didn't just kill the cat. One of the best things about these stories is that they didn't rely on blood and gore for the fright, but utilized mood, timing and pacing to bring the horror to the proper boil. While at times I found the stories overwhelmed by the British flavor and I felt like I was unable to appreciate them properly, these were still very reminiscent of Lovecraft and Poe.