Sunday, December 28, 2008

New York Times Bestsellers

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Jason Wright

2. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell

3. Cross Country by James Patterson

4. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

5. The Host by Stephenie Meyer

6. Just After Sunset by Stephen King

7. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

8. Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler

9. A Mercy by Toni Morrison

10. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

2. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

3. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

4. A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity by Bill O’Reilly

5. Too Fat To Fish by Artie Lange with Anthony Bozza

6. Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets by Jon Gosselin, Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson

7. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution-and How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman

8. Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid by Dr. Dennis Leary

9. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

10. Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America by Mike Huckabee

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Seduce Me At Sunrise (The Hathaways, Book 2)

Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas (2008)

Pages: 360

ISBN: 9780312949815

Description: Kev Merripen has longed for the beautiful, well-bred Winnifred Hathaway ever since her family rescued him from the brink of death when he was just a boy. But this handsome Gypsy is a man of mysterious origins—and he fears that the darkness of his past could crush delicate, luminous Win. So Kev refuses to submit to temptation…and before long Win is torn from him by a devastating twist of fate.

Then, Win returns to England…only to find that Kev has hardened into a man who will deny love at all costs. Meantime, an attractive, seductive suitor has set his sights on Win. It’s now or never for Kev to make his move. But first, he must confront a dangerous secret about his destiny—or risk losing the only woman he has lived for…

Review: This story begins just after the ending of Mine Till Midnight. Win has left for the clinic to make herself better and Kev is utterly devastated to be without her. Time warp forward two years and Win returns healthy (for the most part) and anxious to hear about Kev who was silent during those years. Kev has turned hard without Win, but when he sees her the old feelings come back. Naturally, there is another love interest involved as Win is a beauty. Secrets are finally told and much drama ensues.

Will they - won't they? That sums up the majority of this book. We learn a bit more about the history between Win and Kev and why there are all of those smoldering looks. Kev wants Win but doesn't think the is good enough for her. However, he has issues with anyone else wanting her. We are left to sift through hundreds of pages in order to find out if they will finally get over it and get together. Once nice thing about this book is that we finally learn some long awaited answers to burning questions began in earlier books. I didn't enjoy it as much as Midnight, but I still enjoy this series and can't wait for the third book.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Reckless

Reckless by Amanda Quick (1992)

Pages: 371

ISBN: 9780553293159

Description: Phoebe Layton had always imagined Gabriel Banner a brave and valiant knight, which was why she went to him when she was in desperate need of help. but when she lures her shining knight to a lonely midnight rendezvous, Phoebe finds herself sparring with a dangerously desirable man who is nothing like the hero of her dreams. She fears she's made a dreadful mistake when Gabriel sweeps her into his arms and passionately embraces her. Yet it's a kiss that seals her fate. Now Gabriel must possess her—even if he has to slay a dragon to do it!

Review: Phoebe is on a quest to locate her stolen rare volume of a mideaval story. She enlists the aid of the one man who can help her - Gabriel Banner. However, she doesn't want Gabriel to know who she is as her family was involved in his financial ruin. Gabriel is entranced by this mysterious lady, but when he finally discovers who she is, he begins to plan revenge. After being in Phoebe's compay, his plans for revenge begin to change to more permanent ones.

While the story is something that interests me and I usually like the heroins from Quick's novels, I just did not like Phoebe. I did enjoy the dry humor of Gabriel's character, but it was not enough to save this novel. The plot was somewhat thin and the fact that the main character was unable to use reason was more than annoying. Not one of Quick's better stories.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Dragon Earl

The Dragon Earl by Jade Lee (2008)

Pages: 292

ISBN: 9780843960464

Description: A Chinese monk striding down the aisle was the first shock at countess-to-be Evelyn Stanton’s wedding. To watch him dispatch three groomsmen, unarmed, and to learn that he was white and the long-lost heir to the Earldom of Warhaven, was the second. He would be her husband?

After the slaughter of his family in far-off China, Jacob Cato found sanctuary. In a Xi Lin temple he learned to be strong, but now he had a grander goal: to reclaim his English heritage and the woman he’d left behind.

Revenge. It poisoned everything he’d learned, everything he’d done, and yet every fiber of Jacob burned for it—just as he burned for the beautiful but very English Evelyn. Long ago, the conspiracy to kill his family had stranded him, lost Jacob in the exotic East and made him unrecognizable to his countrymen…and women. He had not forgotten that past. It was to make peace that he had returned. The manner was yet to be decided.

Review: This tale begins with a supposed Chinese monk disrupting a wedding... his own. Jacob Cato was left for dead in China and has now returned on the day that was to be his wedding. The girl he was to marry is in the process of getting married to his cousin. He effectively stops the ceremony, but for what purpose. As events draw out, it becomes clear that Jacob is interested in what was to be his future bride, but not in being the earl. There is an obvious attraction between Jacob and Evelyn, but they have their differences. These differences almost cost them everything.

The premise of the story was interesting, but it just seemed to lack something. I really was not induced to read the characters and really didn't care for them much. I just finished the story to find out what happens at the end. The ending was almost too abrupt and many loose ties tied up. A pretty forgettable read.

Score: 2 out of 5

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lady Beware (A Novel of the Company of Rogues)

Lady Beware by Jo Beverley (2007)

Pages: 413

ISBN: 978-0451221490

Description: For generations, the Cave family has been marked by scandal, madness, and violence. But after earning a reputation for bravery and loyalty in the army, Horatio Cave, the new Viscount Darien, has come home to charm London society and restore the family name. He means to start with lovely Lady Thea Debenham.

The magnetism between Thea and Lord Darien is immediate-and enraptured Thea knows this is no innocent flirtation. But can she trust the dark, sexy "Vile Viscount"? Even if she can convince herself, she may not be able to convince her family, particularily her brother, Dare-the most dashing member of the Company of Rogues-that Horatio does not deserve the cursed Cave reputation...

Review: The start of this book is intertwined with the previous book, To Rescue A Rogue. We begin at the engagement ball for Dare and Lady Mara. We follow Dare's sister Thea as she is attempting to change gowns due to an unfortunate incident with a glass of wine. Thea meets a most interesting man in the hall... a man who blackmails her to announce an engagement or he will refuse to aid her brother. Being the good sister that she is (and also enjoying the kisses of this stranger) she reluctantly agrees. After getting to know Lord Darien, she begins to see that there is more to him and begins to truly have feelings for him. However, there are many things that get in their way. She has a rather loose cousin and there is all the bad history of the Cave family that gets in their way. With a shaky start, this is one love that strives to survive.

I began this story with high hopes that perhaps I should not have had. A good chunk of this book takes place during the previous book, To Rescue A Rogue. We see some of the same things happen, but from a different perspective. I really didn't care much for the character of Thea. I found her to be a spoiled little miss for a chunk of the book. While Darien was somewhat a cad, he really did have good intentions and I have to say that I liked him. I think there is just too much extra drama packed into these (Rogue series) books that is unnecessary. It just feels to me like Beverley is trying to add pages to her book.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

To Rescue A Rogue (A Novel of the Company of Rogues)

To Rescue A Rogue by Jo Beverley (2006)

Pages: 411

ISBN: 9780451220110

Description: Lady Mara St. Bride has never backed down from a good adventure, which was how she wound up roaming the streets of London in the middle of the night, wearing nothing but a shift and corset beneath an old blanket. Luckily, her brother's oldest friend, the devilishly sexy Lord Darius Debenham, answered her plea for help. Now she intends to repay the favor...

Before Dare was wounded at Waterloo, he had embraced everything life had to offer. Forever changed by the war, he believes nothing-not even the interference of a lovely young minx like Mara-can rescue him from his demons. But Mara is determined to reignite his warm smile, and enlists the help of all the Rogues to offer Dare a temptation he cannot resist...

Review: The story begins with Lady Mara wandering the streets of London trying to reach her sister's London home without getting caught. Did I mention that she is also only in her corset and wrapped in a blanket? Somehow, she manages to find her brother's best friend's home, but alas, he is not home. After a few moments of Terror, Dare arrives home and saves her. Lady Mara has known Dare for some time, but now she is grown and not the adventurous child she used to be. Even though he is recovering from wounds suffered in Waterloo (and opium addiction), Dare cannot resist helping Lady Mara. In return she tries to help Dare. By planning little outings, she learns more about the man Dare has become and falls in love with him. Dare can't help himself and has also fallen for Lady Mara, but he doesn't feel worthy of her due to his addiction. However, he can't let her fall into some other man's hands so he proposes to her with a condition... he has to be free of the Opium. Other outside forces collide with this couple and they fight for their love to survive.

This is one of the last books in Beverley's Rogue series. The great thing about them is that you can read them apart and still figure out what is going on. I really liked the characters of Lady Mara and Dare and cheered them on throughout the book. The book did start to lag in the middle and there did seem to be a lot of extra drama thrown in that really didn't need to be there. It almost felt like Beverley was trying to make the book at least 400 pages so she had to throw in some extra drama to fill it up. Overall, it was a good story and I did enjoy reading it.

Score: 3 out of 5

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Book of Scandal

The Book of Scandal by Julia London (2008)

Pages: 360

ISBN: 9781416547112

Description: Nathan Grey, the Earl of Linsdey, is infamously known as the Libertine of Lindsey for his scandalous ways with women. But when he hears gossip that his estranged wife, Evelyn, is about to be named in The Book of Scandal, he has no choice but to remove her from London to protect her and himself from charges of treason-even if it calls for abduction! While Evelyn has no legal recourse against the man who broke her hearts years ago but is till considered her lord and master, she is no longer the immature girl Nathan married. Her enforced homecoming quickly turns into a battle of wills that tears down her husband's defenses and lays bare the passion that still burns between them. Before it is too late, Nathan must confront powerful adversaries as he convinces Evelyn that she is not only his wife, but the one woman he will love for all time.

Review: The story begins with Evelyn and Nathan living very separate lives... Nathan living in their country estate and Evelyn in London in high society. Evelyn is currently a companion to one of the royal princesses and contemplating having an affair of her own. When Nathan gets word that Evelyn is up to her eyeballs in one of the most outrageous scandals for some time, he decided enough is enough and comes back to take her to their country home. Naturally, she tries to avoid by going all the way to the king himself. However, nothing stops Nathan and she is returned to their home. They have been separated for three years and are virtually strangers, but with much difficult history between them. Nathan wants his wife back and Evelyn continues to struggle for some time to come to terms with their past and move on. When strange things start happening, Nathan begins to worry about Evelyn's safety. After a few attempts on her life and their meddling parents, the two are thrown together and attempt to start their lives over.

This was a difficult book for me to finish. I really liked the character of Nathan, but I could have thrown Evelyn across the room... several times. For the majority of the book she tries hard to reject her husband and not even try to work things out with him. Not until the end does she grow up and begin to discover that he really is a great guy and she should cut him some slack. Yes, they have had tragedy in their lives, but I think she was overreacting greatly. If I were Nathan, I think I would have dumped her long before he gave up on her. The overall story was okay, but it is a book that you can live without reading.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Silent in the Sanctuary (A Lady Julia Grey Mystery, Book 2)

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn (2008)

Pages: 552

ISBN: 9780778324928

Description: Fresh from a six-month sojourn in Italy, Lady Julia returns home to Sussex to find her father's estate crowded with family and friends-but dark deeds are afoot at the deconsecrated abbey, and a murderer roams the ancient cloister.

Much to her surprise, the one man sh ha hoped to forget-the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane-is among her father's house guests... and he is not alone. Not to be outdone, Julia shows him that two can play at flirtation and promptly introduces him to her devoted, younger, titled Italian count.

But the homecoming celebrations quickly take a ghostly turn when one of the guests is found brutally murdered in the chapel, and a member of Lady Julia's own family confesses to the crime. Certain of her cousin's innocence, Lady Julia resumes her unlikely and deliciously intriguing partnership with Nicholas Brisbane, setting out to unravel a tangle of deceit before the killer can strike again. When sudden snowstorm blankets the abbey like a shroud, it falls to Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane to answer the shriek of murder most foul.

Review: The story begins now long after the end of the previous book, Silent in the Grave. Lady Julia has been recovering from her ordeal in Italy with two of her brothers. There she has a love interest, a young Italian count. After receiving a summons from their father for Christmas, the siblings pack it up, along with Alessandro (the Italian count) and head home to England. At first, it was a nice gathering of family and friends. Brisbane was even there but he was not alone... he brought his fiance. Lady Julia was set back by this, but soon realizes there is more to meets the eye. With this motley crew all assembled, there is of course a crime to solve and a snowstorm that will ensure no one will escape. This situation causes Lady Julia and Brisbane to work together once more, and the sparks fly.

Admittedly, the book did have a slow start. However, once events went into motion I could not put the book down. Raybourn crafts such a great assortment of characters with a great mystery. I especially love trying to reason out who the culprits could be along with Lady Julia. Lady Julia's character has grown more sure of herself in this book and is really becoming a force to be reckoned with. I also enjoy the sparks that fly between Lady Julia and Brisbane. I am desperate for the next installment of this series, Silent on the Moor. A must read for both historical fiction and mystery fans.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Silent in the Grave (A Lady Julia Grey Mystery, Book 1)

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (2007)

Pages: 509

ISBN: 0778324109

Description: These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection. Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret wen she discovers the damming paper for herself, and realizes that truth.

Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues than lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

Review: The novel opens with a house party at the Grey's London home. Sir Edward Grey begins to convulse on the floor and shortly after, dies. Lady Julia is faced with the death of her husband and the questions of Nicholas Brisbane. Brisbane believes there has been foul play, but Julia is convinced that it was just a natural death. After a year passes, Lady Julia begins to discover more about her husband and comes to believe that there may be more to her husband's death. She enlists the assistance of Brisbane and enters a deadly game of cat and mouse.

From the very first paragraph I was intrigued with this story. The writing was fantastic and it was obvious that Raybourn did much research. You felt with every page that you were in Victorian London following Lady Julia trying to discover the truth. This novel will appeal to both historical fiction and mystery fans alike. A must read.

Score: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert (2007)

Pages: 240

ISBN: 1905264127

Description: Jack-of-all-trades Borchert shares wholesome, guardedly witty dispatches from the suburban L.A. library system in this charming tell-all. For 12 years the family-man author has held the post of assistant librarian, keeping a wary eye on unruly kids, mollifying mystified parents and repairing sadly manhandled materials. Borchert relays a conversation with an aged librarian who reveals how it was in the good old days (staff lunches used to be served with wine), then contrasts that account with modern-day multicultural crayons and the preponderance of latchkey kids abandoned in the library for long, numbing afternoons. A few of the regular patrons are inspiring Renaissance types, but most are unsettling and unsavory, such as intensely reclusive crossword-puzzler Henry hounding the reference desk; loser Max looking futilely on the Internet for a South American wife; or the drug dealers working the restroom. From patrons who rack up hundreds of dollars in fines to missing pet rats and fist-fighting mothers, Borchert has seen it all, and his account gives a human interest spin to this undervalued profession.

Review: This biography goes over much of Borchert's interesting library career. He tells stories of his experience in the inner-city library. For the most part, I was bored with his narrative. I work at a public library and much of what he describes happens all over the country. I guess you could say it is just part of the whole job experience. I'm not saying that it should be fine to have a drug deal go down in your bathroom at work, but that is sadly happening everywhere. I like to regale my stories from when I used to work at Borders and now at the library. My friends have a hard time believing it can be happening. That said, I think this book was dry and to be honest it was difficult to finish. I mistakenly thought it was to be humorous, but I barely even cracked a smile. I will give him that it was a great way to get the public aware of what it is we as library workers have to face on a daily basis.

Score: 2 out of 5

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jack of Clubs (House of Cards, Book 2)

Jack of Clubs by Barbara Metzger (2006)

Pages: 337

ISBN: 0451218051

Description: Years ago, Captain Jack Endicott's young half sister vanished after a carriage accident. Now, hardened by fighting in the Peninsular wars, Jack sets out to honor his father's dying wish that he find the missing girl. Disdainful of "proper" gentlemanly pursuits and refusing to live off his noble brother, Jack makes a bold play. He'll open a lavish gaming parlor in London - and, by hiring only beautiful ladies to deal cards, possibly find his sister. All he needs is a little luck.

Schoolteacher Allison Silver is at her wit's end. After an arduous journey escorting a precocious pupil to her grandparents in London, the old folks are not even home to take delivery! And the only possible alternate guardian in a known womanizer who runs a gambling house, of all things.

Yet when the proud Jack meets the prim Allie, the odds are surprisingly even - all bets are off in a wild game of romance...

Review: Jack and Allie did not get off to a great start. They both thought the worse of the other, keeping to stereotypes. They both had their fair share of pride, which seemed to get in their way quite often. Then there was the orphan that tied them together. Not long after their association, it became obvious that there was an attraction. They both tried to stay away from each other, but in the end they just had to be together. As the second book in this trilogy, it picked up where the last left off. We now get a closer look at Jack. The plot of this particular tale is somewhat ludicrous. In an attempt to locate his sister, Jack opens of a gaming club to possibly have an encounter with her. Once Allie and Harriet arrive he seems to forget about this search and gets involved in their issues and his growing lust for her. It seems the Endicott boys only seem to look for their sister when they need to hide or fulfill some other thing lacking in their lives. For the most part it was an average story, but one that you could skip.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ace of Hearts (House of Cards, Book 1)

Ace of Hearts by Barbara Metzger (2005)

Pages: 340

ISBN: 0451216261

Description: Alexander "Ace" Endicott, Earl of Carde, needs a woman who will beget him heirs to the earldom. But never did Ace imagine himself to be thrice betrothed against his will by the doings of three desperate females. So Ace does what any respectable earl would do - he folds.

Escaping the comforts of London, Ace journeys north and follows through with his deceased father's last wish. He and his brother, Jack, promised to find their long-lost stepsister. But he draws a wild card when his search takes a detour and leads him to Nell, whose delicate beauty piques his interest. And when Nell returns his affection, the situation becomes more than either wagered for. Now Ace may have to reconsider his rejection of marriage and see if two mismatched lovers can make a winning pair.

Review: Ace finds himself deep in trouble. He somehow has gotten himself engaged to three different women. Well, to be honest, they just said they were engaged, he didn't do anything to provoke that state. To escape them, he takes off for his family estate and then decides to look into the disappearance of his half sister. This journey takes him right to Nell's door. It is obvious they are attracted to each other and events get in the way of them getting together. This was an average story. It seemed to lack more strength of character. For ever step taken forward, there were two taken back. The characters were bland and the plot seemed to be too flimsy. Not a bad book, but one that you could skip.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fruits Basket (Volume 1-23)

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya (1999-2006)

Description: Tohru Honda was an orphan, living with her grandfather, when one day fate kicked her out of the house and she was forced to take up residence in a tent in the forest. Little did she know that the land she was staying on belonged to the Sohma family, a clan of beautiful and mysterious people. After stumbling upon the teenage squatter, the Sohmas invite Tohru to stay in their house in exchange for cooking and cleaning. Everything's going well until she discovers the Sohma family's greatest secret: when hugged by members of the opposite sex, they each turn into their Chinese Zodiac animal!

Review: Right from the start this manga had me hooked. How can you not like Tohru? She has to be one of the sweetest people on the planet. All the hopes of breaking the Sohma curse fall on her head. It was interesting to see the relationships grow and change throughout this series. Not only are the characters great, but the storylines were fantastic, although somewhat depressing at times. This is the one series that everyone should read. It was outstanding.

Score: 5 out of 5

Monday, September 22, 2008

Then Came You

Then Came You by Lisa Kleypas (1993)

Pages: 371

ISBN: 038077013X

Description: Reckless, wild, and beautiful, Lily Lawson delights in shocking proper London society - and now she is determined to rescue her sister from an unwanted impending marriage to the notorious Alex, Lord Railford, by fair means or foul. But while she succeeds outrageously, Alix is a master gamesmen who is not to be undone.

Alex has lost one bride, yet he is enchanted by this remarkable lady who is willing to break any rule to flaunt her independence. When lily offers him only scorn, he counters with kindness, and he parries her blistering barbs with gentle words and a soft, tender touch. The spirited miss will pay dearly for her interference - with her body, her soul, and her stubborn, unyielding heart. But will Alix's own heart be the prize to be won in this sensuous game of love?

Review: To start off, Alex and Lily dislike one another. It has been said there is a fine line between love and hate... that would be the same with these two. They are bitter rivals from the beginning. Lily shocks Alex with her outlandish behavior and with her determination to save her sister from an unwanted marriage. It is obvious to everyone that Lily and Alex are perfect for one another, it just takes them many pages and exposition to find that out for themselves. For the most part, I enjoyed this story. The characters were well made and enjoyable (or not). However, I found the story to be somewhat repetitive and not very creative. Its not a bad read, but there are far better novels by Kleypas out there.

Score: 3 out of 5

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Mistress Diaries (Pembroke Palace, Book 2)

The Mistress Diaries by Julianne MacLean (2008)

Pages: 370

ISBN: 0061456845

Description: The night I met Lord Vincent Sinclair, son of the Duke of Pembroke, was the night I lost control. I never imagined that I, Cassandra Montrose, could engage in such wicked, wanton behavior with a man I hardly knew. But in that fateful moment, alone in his coach, the passion I felt for him was undeniable, even though I knew that after my surrender I was unlikely to ever see my lover again.

Until a fateful secret brought me to his door...

I always believed my pride would prevent me from becoming any man's mistress - especially a rogue like Vincent, who cares for nothing but his inheritance. Yet I have very good reason to remain in his life. If only he did not tempt me so...

Review: This book starts of with a bang (quite literally). Vincent and Cassandra are instantly besotted with each other. For Vincent this is just one night, but something happens that connects him with Cassandra forever. A year later, Cassandra brings their daughter to his home for him to care for as she thinks that she is going to die. Vincent reluctantly agrees to care for their child, but then when she discovers that she is not as ill as she though, she tries to leave with their daughter. Vincent has other things in mind. Eventually, they become friends and then lovers once more. The book is average. The story was somewhat bland and the characters were even worse. Often I was left wondering why Vincent and Cassandra were even drawn together. The side characters were worse. There were too many gaps in the story. I realize belatedly that this is part of a series, but even so there is too much missing. It wasn't a bad book, but one that I would definitely say to check out at your local library.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wintersmith (Discworld)

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett (2006)

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0060890312

Description: At 9, Tiffany Aching defeated the cruel Queen of Fairyland.

At 11, she battled an ancient body-stealing evil.

At 13, Tiffany faces a new challenge: a boy. And boys can be a bit of a problem when you're thirteen. . . .

But the Wintersmith isn't exactly a boy. He is Winter itself—snow, gales, icicles—all of it. When he has a crush on Tiffany, he may make her roses out of ice, but his nature is blizzards and avalanches. And he wants Tiffany to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever.

Tiffany will need all her cunning to make it to Spring. She'll also need her friends, from junior witches to the legendary Granny Weatherwax. They—Crivens! Tiffany will need the Wee Free Men too! She'll have the help of the bravest, toughest, smelliest pictsies ever to be banished from Fairyland—whether she wants it or not.

It's going to be a cold, cold season, because if Tiffany doesn't survive until Spring—Spring won't come.


Review: This Discworld novel for young adults continues the story of the young Tiffany Aching. She is now a witches apprentice and on her way to a great adventure. While watching the dance, she gets caught up in the rhythm and jumps in. Because of this, she unknowingly interrupted the coming summer and caught the eye of the Wintersmith. Her guardian witch attempts to shield her from his interests, but life intervenes. Throughout this adventure, Tiffany learns many lessons about life and grows up even more. This is a really fun read. Pratchett has such a great wit. A laugh out loud adventure that everyone should read.

A side note, if you haven't read any of the previous novels (two in total), you still can enjoy this book.

Score: 5 out of 5

Friday, September 12, 2008

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)

Pages: 212

ISBN: 0061478784

Description: In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Withc of theWaste was another matter.

After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to torrorize the country again. She had threatened the King's young daugher and had killed the Wizard Sulliman, who had been sent to deal with her. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.

The Hatter sisters - Sophie, Lettie, and Martha - and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.

In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, nothing wand no one are quite what they seem to be. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? What is the mysterious contract that binds the Wizard to Calcifer, his fire demon?

Review: We enter a fantastical world where witches and wizards are part of everyday life. In this world is Sophie, who gets caught up in a duel between the Witch of the Waste and the King, as well as the Wizard Howl himself. This was a fun fantasy novel filled with twists and turns. It kept my imagination going and I couldn't wait to read more. A great book, especially for the young adults.

Score: 4 out of 5

Movie Connection: In 2004, famed director Hayao Miyazakai brought this book to the big screen and it became one of the highest grossing Japanese film in history. It really is a great movie and should be on your "to see" list if you haven't seen it already.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stranger in my Arms

Stranger in my Arms by Lisa Kleypas (1998)

Pages: 344

ISBN: 038078145X

Description: Lara's had been an arranged marriage to a man who was cold and mostly absent, so when word reached Lady Hawksworth that her husband was lost at sea, she happily gave up her title and position and preceded to lead an exemplary life as a volunteer at the community orphanage. But suddenly - after over a year - Lara receives word that her husband is alive and on his way home. while Lara couldn't deny that the handsome man who appeared before her resembled her husband in many ways, and knew things that only he could know, the "new" Hunter was attentive and loving in ways he never had been before. Was it possible that her rake of a husband had reformed - or was Lara being seduced by a cunning stranger?

Review: From the beginning, its obvious that Lara and Hunter did not have a good marriage. He was heartless and uncaring and she was unattached. When she discovers that he perished in an accident at sea, she is more than happy to give the title away to someone else and live out her days as a widow. However, that was not too last. Suddenly, a man claiming to be her husband has returned and is more than willing to return to his marriage and especially marriage bed. However, Lara has other plans. She got a taste of freedom and often encourages Hunter to seek out other women. For the most part, I disliked this novel. The story was not that great and the characters even worse. There is nothing to like about Lara. She is cold, cruel, and selfish throughout most of the book. I think Kleypas was trying to redeem her by making her so interested in the orphanage. However, I think that made things worse. Lara appeared to be nothing but supervicial. I would recommend skipping this book. Most definitely not one of Kleypas' best works.

Score: 1.5 out of 5

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Let Sleeping Rogues Lie (School for Heiresses, Book 4)

Let Sleeping Rogues Lie by Sabrina Jeffries (2008)

Pages: 371

ISBN: 1416551514

Description: When Madeline Prescott took a teaching position at Mrs. Harris' School for Young Ladies, it was to help restore her father's reputation. Instead, she's in danger of ruining her own. The devilishly handsome Anthony Dalton, Viscount Norcourt, has agreed to provide "rake lessons" to Mrs. Harris' pupils so they can learn how to avoid unscrupulous gentlemen, and Madeline is to oversee his classes. She has always believed that attraction is a scientific mater, easily classified and controlled - until she's swept into the passionate desire that fiercely burns between her and Anthony. Nothing could be more illogical than risking everything for a dalliance with a rake - even one who's trying to behave himself. Yet nothing could be more tempting...

Review: Anthony will do just about anything to get Mrs. Harris to allow his niece to enter her school. He agrees to teach "rake lessons" with the assistance of Madeline, who suggested it. Even though they have just met, there is an instant attraction between them. They also do more than plan lessons in her office. Although Madeline hides much from Anthony, he keeps coming back for more. I really felt bad for him. Not only did he have a bad childhood, but then the woman he loves ends up using him for her own ends. For the most part I liked the characters, I just felt that Madeline was a bit annoying. Overall, not a bad read. I would definitely recommend it if you have started the School for Heiresses series.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Worth Any Price (Bow Street, Book 3)

Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas (2003)

Pages: 386

ISBN: 0380811073

Description: Nick Gentry is reputed to be the most skillful lover in all England. Known for solving delicate situations, he is hired to seek out Miss Charlotte Howard. He believes his mission will be easily accomplished - but that was before he met the lady in question.

For instead of a willful female he discovers one in desperate circumstances, hiding from a man who would destroy her very soul. So Nick shockingly offers her a very different kind of proposition - one he has never offered before.

And he knows that this will be much more than a union in name only. For he senses what Charlotte does not yet know - that her appetite for sensuality matches his own. But what Nick learns surprises him. For while London's most notorious lover might claim Charlotte's bod, he quickly discovers it will take much more than passion to win her love.

Review: Nick and Charlotte are both masquerading as different people when they meet. Almost instantly they have a connection that they both do not understand. Nick decides to save Charlotte from her fate and as a result ends up saving himself. This final installment of the Bow Street series does not disappoint. From the begiing sparks fly between Nick and Charlotte. Many of the characters from the previous books are seen, even if only a slight glimpse. The story was good and it was a nice way to end these books. Another great read from Kleypas.

Score 4 out of 5

Monday, September 8, 2008

Where Dreams Begin

Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas (2000)

Pages: 373

ISBN: 0380802317

Description: Zachary Bronson has built an empire of wealth and power, but all London knows he is not a gentlemen. He needs a wife to secure his position in society - and to warm his bed in private. But one alluring, unexpected kiss from lady Holly Taylor awakens a powerful need within him beyond respectability.

An exceptional beauty whose fierce passions match Zachary's own, Holly always inteneded to play by society's rules, even when they clashed with her bolder instincts. But now a dashing stranger has made her a scandalous offer that does not include matrimony. Should she ignore the sensuous promise of a forbidden kiss... or risk everything to follow her heart to a place where dreams begin?

Review: The sparks fly between Zachary and Holly from the beginning when they "meet" at a ball. From that moment, Zachary knew that he wanted her and only her. What better way to get her to be his than to offer her a business proposal. That decision changed her life forever. For the most part, I enjoyed this story. It was an interesting to see a match between someone from the aristocracy to a lower class person who rose to a high position. The characters were well made. I didn't really care for Holly's in-laws. They were overbearing and tried to manage her. Also, how she always made George out to be this perfect man really made me ill. No one is perfect... no one. Overall, a nice story that you can enjoy.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dreaming of You

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas (1994)

Pages: 373

ISBN: 038077352X

Description: A prim, well-bred gentlewoman, Sara Fielding is a writer who puts pen to paper to create dreams. But now curiosity is luring her from the shelter of her country cottage into the dangerous world of Derek Craven - handsome, tough, and tenacious - and the most exciting an Sara has ever met.

Derek rose from poverty to become he wealthy lord of London's most exclusive gambling house. And now duty demands that he allow Sara Fielding to enter his perilous realm of ever-shifting fortunes - with her impeccable manners and her infuriating innocence. But there is a hidden strength and sensuality to the lady that captivates him beyond his better judgment. And in this world, where danger lurks behind every shadow, even a proper "mouse" can be transformed into a breathtaking enchantress - and a cynical gambler can be shaken to his core by the power of passion and the promise of love.

Review: Sara and Derek come from very different worlds. One chance encounter will connect them forever. Even though Sara is from the country and well-bred she has a wild side. That is where Derek comes in to play. He is the one person who can fulfill all of her dangerous fantasies. It was most interesting to see this very bad boy fall for the very proper country maid. The love they felt for each other came off every page. Another great page turner.

Score: 4 out of 5

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Devil in Winter (The Wallflowers, Book 3)

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas (2006)

Pages: 368

ISBN: 006056251X

Description: Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!

Sebastian's reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden's good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.

But Evie's proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine's callously discarded broken hearts - which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions..... or perhaps surrender his own heart or the very first time in the name of true love.

Review: Both Evie and Sebastian needed something... she needed protection only a husband could give her and Sebastian needed her money. What a match. From the beginning Evie was able to see that there was more to Sebastian than his reputation. Soon, Sebastian was able to see past the overly shyness of Evie and see that she was indeed quite a woman. I really love these Wallflower books. The characters are well written and the story is engrossing. This is most definitely a page turner and a must read.

Score: 4 out of 5

Friday, September 5, 2008

Somewhere I'll Find You

Somewhere I'll Find You by Lisa Kleypas (1996)

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0380781433

Description: All London is at Julia Wentworth's feet - and anything she desires is hers for the asking. But the glamorous leading lady guards a shocking secret: a mystery husband whom she does not know, dares not mention... and cannot love.

For years Damon Savage has been searching for the stranger his parents wed him to without his consent, hoping to legally free himself from matrimony's invisible chains. And he is astonished to discover his "bride" is none other than the exquisite lady he'd hoped to make his mistress! But though his wife by law, Julia will never truly be Damon's until he conquers her fears, his formidable rivals... and her proud, passionate, and independent heart.

Review: The premise behind this book is somewhat odd. The main characters were married when they were children. Now they don't want have anything to do with each other. In order to hide from her "husband" Julia becomes an actress under an assumed name. Ironically she meets the man she loathes... her husband, only to realize that he isn't so bad. For the most part I enjoyed this tale, but towards the end I began to get so frustrated with Julia that I wanted to slap her. Not a bad read.

Score: 3 out of 5

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Suddenly You

Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas (2001)

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0061259357

Description: She was unmarried, untouched and almost thirty, but novelist Amanda Briars wasn't about to greet her next birthday without making love to a man. When he appeared at her door, she believed he was her gift to herself, hired for one night of passion Unforgettably handsome, irresistibly virile, he tempted her in ways she never though posible... but something stopped him from completely fulfilling her dream.

Jack Devlin's desire to possess Amanda became greater when she discovered his true identity. But gently-bred Amanda craved respectability more than she admitted, while Jack, the cast-off son of a noblemen and London's most notorious businessman, refused to live by society's rules. Yet their worlds collided with a passionate force neither had expected... but both soon craved.

Review: If I had to sum this book up with one word, it would be steamy. Whew! Instanly Amanda and Jack were attracted to each other. It was fun to watch them interact in public and finally their eventual affair. It was obvious these two needed each other but their pasts and certain events nearly tore them apart. I was on the edge of my chair to see what would happen between them. I would most definitely recommend this book.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lady Sophia's Lover (Bow Street, Book 2)

Lady Sophia's Lover by Lisa Kleypas (2002)

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0380811065

Description: Lady Sophia Sydney would do anything to ensnare the unattainable Sir Ross Cannon. Her goal - to ruin his reputation and cause a scandal that would be the talk of all London. So she insinuates herself into his life by gaining his trust and living in his house.

Every morning, her lush presence tempts him beyond all reason... the way she bends over the table to serve him the meal she has prepared... the way her hands oh, so gently - yet sensuously - brush against him. Every night, she promises with her eyes - and her body - that the hours before dawn could be spent in unbridled passion instead of restless sleep - if only he's let her share his bed.

She knows he is falling more in love with her each day. But she never counted on falling in love with him. And she never dreamed he might very respectably ask for her hand in marriage...

Review: From the way Sophia tried to secure her job with Sir Ross it was obvious that she was there for an alternative reason. Even though it was known that Sir Ross had loved his wife and wasn't really interested in women, he was instantly attracted to Sophia. After reading Someone to Watch Over Me I was glad to get a better look at Sir Ross. He is an interesting character and his interaction with Sophia was lovely. Its obvious that they have great chemistry together and the sparks flew off the pages. A must read.

Score: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Someone to Watch Over Me (Bow Street, Book 1)

Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas (1999)

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0380802309

Description:
A temptingly beautiful woman awakens in a stranger's bed, rescued from the icy waters of the Thames, her memory gone. Told that she is Vivien Rose Duvall, one of London's most scandalous beauties, she finds herself under the protection of enigmatic, charming Grant Morgan. Her life is an his hands. Deep in her heart, she knows he has mistaken her for someone else...

As one of London's most eligible and unattainable catches, Grant Morgan is a man who has known every kind of woman. And the one in his arms now seems so Innocent, so vulnerable, that he can't help but be enchanted. And as his love for this mysterious beauty grows, he's determined to unravel the secrets of her past and discover the truth no matter what.

Review: I've always been interested in the Bow Street Runners and it was interesting to see a romance about them. This was another heartfelt story from Kleypas. I really felt compelled to keep reading and I needed to find out what happened. The characters were well developed and the story was great. A must read.

Score: 4 out of 5

Monday, September 1, 2008

Again the Magic

Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas (2004)

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0380811081

Description: Lady Aline Marsden was brought up for one reason: to make an advantageous marriage to a member of her own class. Instead, she willingly gave her innocence to John McKenna, a servant on her father's estate. Their passionate transgression was unforgivable - John was sent away, and Aline was left to live in the countryside... an exile from Lonon socity.

Now McKenna has made his fortune, and he was returned - more boldly handsome and more mesmerizing than before. His ruthless plan is to take revenge on the woman who shattered his dreams o love. But the magic between them burns as bright as ever. And now he must decide whether to let vengeance take its toll... or risk everything for his first, and only. love.

Review: An almost tragic tale of love lost. It was obvious that Aline and McKenna should have been together from the beginning; however, she was from the aristocracy and he most definitely was not. Lies were told and hearts were broken. It was nerve wracking to see if these two would get over the past and get together. The love story was well written and scorching. A definte page turner.

Score 4 out of 5

Friday, August 29, 2008

Highland Fire

Highland Fire by Hannah Howell (1995)

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0821774298

Description: Swept overboard and stranded on the rocky shores of Scotland, Moira Robertson is left with only the tattered clothes on her back - and the mysterious stranger who came to her aid on the ship. Although their close surroundings unsettle her, she soon cannot resist his touch which awakens a burning ache deep within her. But an she trust her life - and her heart - to this darkly deductive man?

Tavig MacAlpin is a condemned man. Accused of a murder he did not commit, his escape is thwarted by a flame-haired beauty. He must continue his search for justice, but fate has bound him to this Scottish lass - and to a slow, sensual desire that will not be denied...

Review: From the beginning there was an attraction between the main characters. It also appears they have more in common than they thought. They are both heading towards the same destination and both have a "special" ability. I enjoyed the banter between them as the dialogue was rather saucy. The one thing that annoyed me was Moira's obsession that she couldn't be together with Tavig because of their abilities. It was getting tiresome by the end. Overall a nice quick read.

Score: 3 out of 5

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways, Book 1)

Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas (2007)

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0312949804

Description: When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men's dreams, Cam has tired of society's pretty restrictions and longs to return to his "uncivilized" Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship - but intnentions ar no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurn tradition be tempted into that most timehonored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter...

Review: From the beginning it appears that Amelia and Cam have great chemistry and need to end up together. I was instantly enthralled with the story of the Hathaways rise from middle class to the aristocracy. Although many of the siblings are haunted by the past they come out of this story unscathed (for the most part). I do wish we would have learned more about Cam and his past, but I have a feeling we will be learning more as the series continues on. I would definitely recommend this.

Score: 4 out of 5

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Ghost Orchid: A Novel

The Ghost Orchid: A Novel by Carol Goodman (2007)

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0345462149

Description: For more than one hundred years, creative souls have traveled to Upstate New York to work under the captivating spell of the Bosco estate. Cradled in silence, inspired by the rough beauty of overgrown gardens and crumbling statuary, these chosen few fashion masterworks–and have cemented Bosco’s reputation as a premier artists’ colony. This season, five talented artists-in-residence find themselves drawn to the history of Bosco, from the extensive network of fountains that were once its centerpiece but have long since run dry to the story of its enigmatic founder, Aurora Latham, and the series of tragic events that occurred more than a century ago.

Ellis Brooks, a first-time novelist, has come to Bosco to write a book based on Aurora and the infamous summer of 1893, when wealthy, powerful Milo Latham brought the notorious medium Corinth Blackwell to the estate to help his wife contact three of the couple’s children, lost the winter before in a diphtheria epidemic. But when a séance turned deadly, Corinth and her alleged accomplice, Tom Quinn, disappeared, taking with them the Lathams’ only surviving child.

The more time she spends at Bosco, the more Ellis becomes convinced that there is an even darker, more sinister end to the story. And she’s not alone: biographer Bethesda Graham uncovers stunning revelations about Milo and Corinth; landscape architect David Fox discovers a series of hidden tunnels underneath the gardens; poet Zalman Bronsky hears the long-dry fountain’s waters beckoning him; and novelist Nat Loomis feels something lingering just out of reach.

After a bizarre series of accidents befalls them, the group cannot deny the connections between the long ago and now, the living and the dead . . . as Ellis realizes that the tangled truth may ensnare them all in its cool embrace.

Review: A captivating mystery that begins in the present and continues on in the past. There are two storylines that go on throughout the book and the future does impact the past. For the most part, I found this to be a captivating read. Once you start reading, you don't want to stop. My one complaint is that it was difficult to figure out there were two different storylines going on. Once you get the pace of the novel, it becomes interesting. The characters were great and well developed. I would definitely read this again.

Score: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rurouni Kenshin Volumes 2-28

Rurouni Kenshin, Volumes 2-28 by Nobuhiro Watsuki (2003-2006)

Description: Action, romance, and historical intrigue help make Nobuhiro Watsuki's Rurouni Kenshin, the tale of a wandering swordsman set against the backdrop of the Meiji Restoration, one of the most popular Shonen Jump titles among fans to date. Himura Kenshin, once an assassin (or hitokiri) of ferocious power, now fights to protect the honor of those in need.

Review: Not only was this an action packed series, but it was also full of great historical information. I learned so much about Japan's history by reading this series. Watsuki managed to throw in a nice amount of romance as well. All in all, it was a great fun read that kept me wanting more.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Change of Sorts

I've decided to change the way I review manga. Since they are basically one large story, I have decided to wait till I've read all (or most) of the series to review it. It just makes more sense this way.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bella at Midnight

Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley (2007)

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0060775750

Description: A baby girl, Bella, is born to a mother who dies in childbirth. Bella's furious father sends her away to be raised among peasants, where she is befriended by Julian, a prince, a fourth son who has no place in his family. When they are both teenagers, Julian treats Bella cruelly; then he is sent away to a warring kingdom as a hostage for peace. Soon after, Bella is recalled by her father and finds herself unhappily living with him and his new family, including a stepsister who is a handmaiden at the palace. It is from this young woman that Bella learns about an invasion that will bring about Julian's death, which Bella is determined to prevent.

Review: A most interesting take on the Cinderella story, albeit a somewhat depressing one. From birth, Bella is despised by her somewhat mad father and sent to live with the wet nurse. Here, she is well below her station, but loved as one of their own children. Later, Bella is ripped from the family she knows and loves to her father's cold home. She learns her childhood friend, the prince, is in trouble and has to ride to his rescue. There are some deviations from the classic story, however, they were most interesting. Stanley also gives great lessons in the book. That love and loyalty are very important. This was a delightful read and definitely worth a look.

Score 3.5 out of 5

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Highland Wedding

Highland Wedding by Hannah Howell (2007)

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0821780026

Description: Raised among eleven brawny, boisterous brothers, beautiful Islaen MacRoth knew nothing of the tricks a maiden uses to trap a husband. Instead, her desperate father had arranged a match at court - with a man who had sworn never to wed again.

But from the moment Islaen crept into his darkened bedchamber and innocently bared her charms to his hungry gaze, Iain knew he could not deny her promise of passion. She shared his bed - but would she ever be the wife of his heart?

Review: Iain made it clear that he didn't want to wed and had a fear of children as his first wife died in childbirth. However, he was more or less forced into a marriage with Islaen (although there was an instant attraction). As you get farther in the story things get taken a bit far. We are hit over the head with Iain's fear and Islaen's defiance of it. Also, the fact that Iain almost goes to bed with a past flame and then sees her instead of his own wife whom he claims to love while she takes care of the kids. It had its good moments, but overall not one of Howell's better books. You could skip it and not really miss anything.

Score: 3 out of 5

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thrill of the Knight


Thrill of the Knight by Julia Latham (2007)

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0061235156

Description: Lady Elizabeth Hutton will never succumb to the ambitions of a neighboring lord—even after his soldiers imprison the newly orphaned heiress in her own bedchamber. Ever resourceful, the proud beauty has devised a strategy to escape the devil who's determined to possess her and her great wealth: she will switch roles with her loyal maid so that she can save herself and her people.

Sir John Russell's love of adventure has always carried him to far-flung places and dangers—and now he must ride to the rescue of the noblewoman he's betrothed to but hasn't seen since boyhood. However, it is not his bride-to-be but her bewitching servant who enflames his passion—and Sir John's desire for the fiery beauty threatens to undermine his sacred, sworn oath, forcing a noble knight into the most devastating choice of his life: between duty and honor . . . or ecstasy and disgrace.

Review: It is a good thing that I read the second book first. If I would have read this to begin with, I probably would have given up on this series. I was so frustrated while reading this book. The character of Elizabeth just irritated me to no end. She just kept blathering on about how great Sir John's brother was to his face. I had to force myself to finish this one. Needless to say, I really don't give it many high points. The characters of Lady Elizabeth and Sir John just annoyed me. I would pass this one up.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Friday, June 6, 2008

Desire

Desire by Amanda Quick (1993)

Description: Upon her father's death, beautiful, headstrong Lady Clare knew that she must wed, for the protection of the Isle of Desire now fell to her. Yet when her guardian's choice of prospective husband rode through her castle gates, she felt utterly betrayed. All sinewy muscle and savage steel, Sir Gareth of Wyckmere was not the poet she'd requested but a fearsome knight whose only interest was in war.

Legions of robbers had fallen beneath the Hellhound of Wyckmere's sword, and now this bold warrior was certain that he could tame one willful wife. Yet even Gareth could not deter Lady Clare from trying to mold him into her ideal... until their clash of wills ignited a passion that set them both aflame... and a treacherous plot put their love and their lives in deadly peril.

Review: When two people used to commanding others come together, sparks will fly. I really did enjoy this book. It was fun to see the sparks fly between Gareth and Clare. Although, many times the character of Clare was somewhat annoying. As usual, there was much humor and some suspense. All in all, a fun book that you should check out.

Score: 4 out of 5

Thursday, June 5, 2008

One Knight Only

One Knight Only by Julia Latham (2007)

Description: Daring and adventurous, Anne Kendall would give anything to join the secret band of warrior knights known as the League of the Blade, and she eagerly agrees to a perilous masqerade. But the Sir Philop Clifford, a reckless, brutally handsome knight, joins their party, birnging back memories of stolen kisses, passionate longings, and one night when she would have done anything to be his.

Anne would prefer to concentrate on the dangerous mission at hand... but the glorious, savage passion that begins to develop between her and this unruly warrior may prove him to be the knight of her dreams... and her fantasies.

Review: I can sum this book up in one word... steamy. Whew. Whenever Anne and Philip are in a room together, the sparks fly. Its obvious to everyone around them that they have something together. They just have to get over their own misgivings and misconceptions. Latham did a good job with the historical aspects of the novel. My only real problem was some of the verbiage used. It seemed out of place. Other than that, it was a fun novel and a great read.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Steel Trapp

Steel Trapp: The Challenge by Ridley Pearson (2008)

Description: In this riveting crime novel, 14-year-old Steven "Steel" Trapp sets off with his mom and their dog, Cairo, on a 2-day Amtrak journey to compete in the National Science Competition in Washington, DC. Steel is both blessed and cursed with a remarkable photographic memory—just one look and whatever he sees is imprinted for keeps. Trying to be a good Samaritan on the train, he instead becomes embroiled in an ingenious plot of kidnapping and bribery that may have links to terrorists...

Review: This really was quite a fantastic novel. I did not put it down once I started to read it. We follow Steven "Steel" Trapp on his way to a National Science Competition and see all the trouble he gets in. Both his curiosity and photographic memory get him stuck smack dab in the middle of a government investigation and terrorist plot. The characters were well written and very believable. I think this is a great book for mystery lovers as well as that reluctant reader in your life.

Score: 4 out of 5

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Third Circle

The Third Circle (Arcane Society Book 4) by Amanda Quick (2008)

Description: Leona Hewitt, disguised in men's formal evening clothes, has secretly made her way into Lord Delbridge's private museum to recover a relic stolen from her family years ago. But someone else is there in the dimly lite gallery, on the same errand: a tall, black-cloaked man whose very voice is enough to put her in a trance.

Thaddeus Ware, a mesmerist with powerful psychic energy, is accustomed to fearful reactions from others - women in particular. After all, a man who can control the minds and actions of others could rob a lady of her virtue - without her ever knowing! But Leona shows to trace of hysteria in his presence. A force to be reckoned with as both a gifted crystal worker and a a woman, she exerts a rather hypnotic power over the hypnotist himself. And she is determined to keep the crystal they recovered, by giving him the skip and a run-down London inn.

Thaddeus, on assignment for the secretive Arcane Society, knows the menace Leona is courting by absconding with the crystal. It is a source of remarkable energy, and it holds the potential for great destruction. Lord Delbridge has already killed two men to acquire it, for it is his key to membership in the elite, shadowy group known as the Third Circle. And with the help of a seductive hunter of preternatural kill, dubbed "The Midnight Monster" by the press, Delbridge intends to find her. With the stolen crystal in their possession, the danger is only beginning.

Review: We are reunited with some familiar faces in this next installment of the Arcane Society books. This time, we learn a bit more about Thaddeus, a cousin to the master of the Arcane Society (who we met in Second Sight). I really did enjoy this read, I just wish we got to learn more about our characters. Unfortunately, there was not much character development and we had to take a few things on faith. The mystery about the theft of the crystal was interesting, but the end left me somewhat unsatisfied. Not one of Quick's best, but still enjoyable.

Score: 3 out of 5

Friday, May 23, 2008

Highland Savage

Highland Savage by Hannah Howell (2007)

Description: Beaten and left for dead, Sir Lucas Murray is a man wounded in body and soul. He has brought himself back to becoming the warrior he once was - except for his ruined leg and the grief he feels over the death of the woman he once loved... the same woman who led him into his enemies' hands.

Dressed as a masked reviver, it is Katerina Haldane who saves Lucas as he battles for his life - and for revenge. Shocked that she still lives, Lucas becomes desperate to ignore the desire raging through his boy. And Katerina becomes desperate to regain his trust, trying to convince him of her half-sister's role in his beating. Lucas is reluctant to let down his guard, but his resistance melts once Katerina is back in his arms... and his bed. Now he must learn to trust his instincts - in battle and in love...

Review: One mistaken look caused a lot of pain for both Lucas and Katerina. We spend much of the story waiting for Lucas to figure out the truth and then wait for Katerina to stop being bull-headed. A great match these two make. For the most part, I enjoyed the book. However, it seemed to take them forever to work their problems out. There was a lot of action and it made the story go by fast. All in all, not a bad read.

Score: 3 out of 5

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Highland Champion

Highland Champion by Hannah Howell (2005)

Description: Liam Cameron is certain he's died and gone to heaven when he opens his eyes to the angel before him. But the pain that wracks his body proves he is still earth-bound. Keira Murray MacKail saved Liam's life - and he has some enticing way she would like to thank her. Soon, lust gives way to a feeling much more profound for a woman whose battles he wants to fight... though he fears the most difficult one will be for her heart...

Keira quickly learns that Liam has danger chasing him. As her healing kindness frees him to tell his tale, she confides the trouble that plagues her: she is a laird's widow now responsible for saving a small village pillaged by cruel invaders. But even as Liam makes the crusade to reclaim her lands his own, he will face a far greater challenge to win her trust - and her love - for all time...

Review: This has to be one of Howell's most wordy books out there. Not a whole lot of action goes on but there sure is a lot of tongue wagging. Not to mention Keira's most interesting healing ability that leaves her ravenous after using it. The only thing that really irritated me (besides the wordiness) was Keira's utter lack of trust in Liam. It really was wearing me thin. Not one of Howell's best, but not a bad read.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Templar Legacy

The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry (2006)

Description: The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power over kings and popes . . . until the Inquisition, when they were wiped from the face of the earth, their hidden riches lost. But now two forces vying for the treasure have learned that it is not at all what they thought it was–and its true nature could change the modern world.

Cotton Malone, one-time top operative for the U.S. Justice Department, is enjoying his quiet new life as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen when an unexpected call to action reawakens his hair-trigger instincts–and plunges him back into the cloak-and-dagger world he thought he’d left behind.

It begins with a violent robbery attempt on Cotton’s former supervisor, Stephanie Nelle, who’s far from home on a mission that has nothing to do with national security. Armed with vital clues to a series of centuries-old puzzles scattered across Europe, she means to crack a mystery that has tantalized scholars and fortune-hunters through the ages by finding the legendary cache of wealth and forbidden knowledge thought to have been lost forever when the order of the Knights Templar was exterminated in the fourteenth century. But she’s not alone. Competing for the historic prize–and desperate for the crucial information Stephanie possesses–is Raymond de Roquefort, a shadowy zealot with an army of assassins at his command.

Welcome or not, Cotton seeks to even the odds in the perilous race. But the more he learns about the ancient conspiracy surrounding the Knights Templar, the more he realizes that even more than lives are at stake. At the end of a lethal game of conquest, rife with intrigue, treachery, and craven lust for power, lies a shattering discovery that could rock the civilized world–and, in the wrong hands, bring it to its knees.

Review: A promise of a most intriguing story; however, it falls short. I was intrigued with the most graphic beginning of the torture of a Templar. Not long after that my attention sort of left. A great beginning, a not so great middle, and an okay end. If you like Da Vinci Code type books, you will like this one. I think if some of the middle was taken out, it would have been more enjoyable. Not a bad read, but a bit wordy.

Score: 3 out of 5

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Queen's Bastard

The Queen's Bastard (The Inheritor's Cycle Book 1) by C.E. Murphy (2008)

Description: In a world where religion has ripped apart the old order, Belinda Primrose is the queen's secret weapon. The unacknowledged daughter of Lorraine, the first queen to sit on the Aulunian throne, Belinda has been trained as a spy since the age of twelve by her father, Lorraine's lover and spymaster.

Cunning and alluring, fluent in languages and able to take on any persona, Belinda can infiltrate the glittering court of Echon, where her mother's enemies conspire. She can seduce at will and kill if she must. But Belinda's spying takes a new twist when her witchlight appears.

Now Belinda's powers are unlike anything Lorraine could have imagined. They can turn an obedient daughter into a rival who understands that anything can be hers, including the wickedly sensual Javier, whose throne Lorraine both covets and fears. But Javier is also witchbreed, a man whose ability rivals Belinda's own... and can be just as dangerous.

Amid court intrigue and magic, loyalty and love can lead to more daring passions, as Belinda discovers that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Review: This had a most interesting premise, but I somehow feel shortchanged. I was excited to get my hands on it after reading a review of it in Publisher's Weekly. After reading it, I have mixed feelings. While I like the overall story, there was almost a creepy feel to it. Some of the sexual content is a bit bizarre to say the least. Even with all of that, I still liked the main story enough to want to continue on with the trilogy. I would caution readers in saying that if you are a bit squeamish when it comes to literary sex, you may want to avoid this tome. All in all, not bad, but some of that sexual content could have been eliminated.

Score: 3 out of 5

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hellsing Volume 5

Hellsing Volume 5 by Kohta Hirano (2004)

Description: Intense and full of psychotic action, Hellsing continues its fevered pitch into a dark chaos that defies human logic. Human? Well, there are only a few left in the story line, as the emerging Millennium Project, an army of Nazi undead, is unleashed upon the world. What will surely ensue is a war of blood and nostalgia, with a coolly Gothic style and increasingly frenetic pace. Envision the Hindenburg, old sharpshooter rifles, and throwback uniforms, mixed with new jet technology and incredibly bold vampires. Hellsing is piled to the sky with radical mysticism and scary apocalypse... and it's fun as Hell!

Review: Another interesting installment to the Hellsing tale. The story gets more bizarre as time goes on. I am intrigued to see where the rest of the story will go. The artwork is interesting, but sometimes difficult to follow. All in all, a most different tale that you should read.

Score: 3 out of 5