Sunday, June 29, 2008

One Hundred Book Challenge

Wrapping up my posts for this year challenges I still need to report on two more challenges that I have been working on from the sidelines.

This challenge is hosted by J. Kaye Book blog and you an sign up at the 100+ Reading Challenge Blog.

The One Hundred plus Reading Challenge is an extreme challenge for those casual readers. There is just one rule and that is to reach the goal of reading 100 books in 2008. For the last four years I have successfully met that goal so I'm hoping that I will be able to complete this one with out a problem. I am well on my way so I think I'm good.

Have you read over 100 books in a year? That would be 1 book every 3.65 days. Was it difficult to pass the 100 mark? If you didn't get there, What was the most books you ever read in a year?

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Stephenie Meyer mini-Challenge

Marg from the Reading Adventures blog recently posted a mini-Challenge she joined that was right up my alley since I had recently discovered Stephenie Meyer, so I rushed over to Becky's Reading reviews and joined.

If you think you would like to join and discover the wonderful talent that is Meyer head on over to Becky's blog and leave her a comment.

Let me break down the challenge:
:: The challenge started on June 1st and you have until January 30th 2009 to finish it.
:: You need to read two (yup, just two) books authored by Stephenie Meyer.
:: No reviews are required but you need to leave a comment on Becky's site letting her know the titles you read.
:: IF you read the Twilight series, she would like to know who you are rooting for, Edward or Jacob.

That's it. Pretty straight forward, huh? Well, I recently completed this challenge (will post reviews shortly) but I'm not closing the door on this one just yet.

The newest installment of the Twilight Series will be out in August and it is a must read for everyone that has been following the adventures of Bella Swan.

So keep an eye out for Breaking Dawn (Don't you just love the covers!!)

Another of Meyer's titles I'm waiting on is The Host. I'm on the hold list at the library but I'm number 18. So it might be a while. This is Meyer's first Mainstream title, since the Twilight Series is marketed to Young Adults (I believe I'm young and I am an adult, nothing wrong with my enjoying them!)

So if you read twilight and decided it was not for you, give The Host a chance, it just might be your cup of tea!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline

Lady Killer brings us back to Bennie Rosato's land where Mary DiNunzio is her star attorney and bringing in the bulk of the business for Rosato and Associates. Mary is a bit conflicted with her role in life. She has loved and lost, she wants to stay one of the neighborhood girls but her duties threaten her loyalties to the neighborhood and we see those ties seriously tested when Trish Gambone goes missing.

Trish had approached Mary out of the blue asking for legal advice because her boyfriend, Bobby was physically abusing her and she was scared for her life. Unfortunately there is just so much Mary could offer and when Trish refuses to go to the police her options are reduced to nothing. When Trish turns up missing Mary is raked by guilt for not being able to do more for her, but when The Mean Girls (Giulia, Missy and Yolanda, all of who made Mary's life miserable while attending St. Maria Goretti High) show up at her office her guilt goes into overdrive. She sets out to find Trish at all costs.

On the flip side those "loyal" neighborhood clients that are helping Mary align herself for a partnership (if Mary can ever develop enough nerve to ask Bennie) start distancing themselves from her because they have heard that she stiffed Trish in her most vulnerable time. Mary starts spending time with another outsider from the neighborhood, Anthony, the 'gay' son of one of the few neighbors sticking by her. It doesn't take long to discover that Anthony is not flying the rainbow colors and Mary finds herself once more conflicted about her feelings. She feels she is betraying her deceased husbands memories every time Anthony comes over to her parents house. Mary is a complete mess at this time.

Excellent installment in the Rosato & Associate series. Mary eventually shows she has a back bone but not after letting everyone and their brother stomp all over her. She runs the gambit searching for Trish putting up with hostile brothers, groping parents and especially her past. Seems that Bobby, Trish's abusive boyfriend was Mary's boyfriend too and she questions whether their life would have been different if fate had not stepped in the way and caused them to drift apart. We discover a very big secret Mary keeps from everyone which makes us appreciate her more for what she has gone through.

All this and sprinkle a bit of humor in the pot... we have a excellent read! Scottoline does not disappoint and even though this book has the recurring character from her previous novels the book can easily stand alone in the series as most of the other installments have.

Grade: A
Format: Audiobook

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stone Cold by David Baldacci

I love David Baldacci as an author. He has so much to give those readers that could care less about the HEA in a story and are adrenaline junkies. His books just keep you glued to your chair and keep you guessing. Even his bad books (yeah, everyone can't be perfect) are really not bad. And if you are returning to a group of characters you have grown to love... It's the bomb!

Stone Cold is the last of the Camel Club series and it picks up where The Collectors left off. We left our merry bunch of conspiracy theorist completely unaware that shunned mob boss Jerry Baggert was closing in on our newest member of the club, Annabelle Conroy because she conned him out of mula money. She is determined to pack her bags and flee the scene but Oliver convinces her to stay and stand her ground. He has a plan and one of the players is someone Annabelle would more likely not be around. Her Father, Patty Conroy.

Patty is very ill and is regretful for many things in his life but most of all he regrets not being there when his wife was killed at the hands of Baggert. It seems he was not guilty of abandoning his wife and child to this monster but just not able to get to them in time. Between Patty, Annabelle, Oliver and Alex Ford (another side member of the club and ex-secret service agent) a plan takes shape to end Baggerts tyranny and avenge those that have been hurt by his actions. Unfortunately there is another plan afoot and Oliver has to turn tail and run himself.

This new plot brings an assassin into the fold. The assassin is systematically killing off old tripe 6 members. John Carr (Oliver Stone for us fangirls) is off his radar because John is supposedly dead and buried but when Carter Gray exposes Oliver's true identity, he has to go on the offensive instead of waiting for Finn (our local assassin) to come for him.

This last installment brings closure to many of the story lines that have carried over since our first intro to the Camel Club. We find out more about John Carr's life and what made him take the persona of Oliver Stone. We also discover Carter Gray's role in John's life. We also lose one of our Camel Club members making it impossible to ever get back the lightheartedness of this group of friends. Baldacci wraps things up nicely although not in the HEA way we would like but he does give us the resolution needed to rest on this series. And yet... I hope Baldacci finds it in his heart to bring the group together again.

For those new to the series, to really enjoy this one you NEED to read the first two installments. Stone Cold will be released in Paperback on Aug. 26th 2008. The others (The Camel Club & The Collectors) are already available in Paperback and for those like me that prefer to hear it, they are all available in Audiobook as well.

Grade: A
Format: Audiobook

Friday, June 20, 2008

Family Man by Jayne A. Krentz

Krentz is a hit or miss with me. She publishes under several alias most notably Amanda Quick. This title in particular has been recommended to me in so many instances I needed to just break down and read it. It helped that I put it among the lists of many of the Reading Challenges I am doing this year. This year would not pass without me reading the darn book!

Katy Wade is the personal assistant to the matriarch of the Gilchrist empire. The Gilchrist restaurant business is floundering and the grandmother asks Katy to bring back to the family fold Luke Gilchrist. He is the son of the black sheep of the family. Luke's father ran off with a nobody and lived happily ever after before dying in a car accident that claimed his life, his wife's and Luke's wife and daughter. The accident left Luke alone in life and he has lounged in the solitary life style for Four years. He hates his grandmother for causing pain to his family by her dismissal. He has no intentions of helping the family save their business. Until Katy shows up at his door and he cannot refuse her allure and the challenge she presents.

Katy is the daughter of the woman Luke's father left at the altar. Her parents died when she was a teenager and she had to take on the responsibility of raising her brother. Matt is about to graduate high school and go off to college some place, giving Katy a chance to start living her own life. She is determined to have Luke step into his role as savior to the Gilchrist fortune so that she can step down from keeping everything in order and she can open up her own business.

When Luke shows up the whole family expresses their misgivings and question his motivations. He sees this all as a business arrangement that will gain him possession of the one restaurant he really cares for, the key stone to the Gilchrist empire and the restaurant his father most missed. He does not hide why he is stepping up to the plate but everyone thinks he is out for revenge (which he would have been entitled to). Between Luke and Katy, they must find why the businesses are failing after so many years of prosperity and take action to stop those that are really seeking revenge.

Katy Wade drove me mad with Gilchrist this and Gilchrist that. Everyone referred to those in the family as Gilchrist this and that. Everyone except Luke and it was refreshing. I liked that he was fed up with it too. I understand that Krentz wanted to make the family sound elitest but I feel she overplayed that hand.
I kept waiting for the big misunderstanding and it never arrived. Yeah Krentz! Luke and Katy had complete faith in each other and that was such a relief. When Luke, at one point, shows a bit of doubt, he smacks himself over the head and recommits himself to Katy almost immediately. Katy never doubts Luke and doesn't hide things from him which is a step off the beaten path in the romance genre, especially back when this one was published (1992). It was re-issued in 1997 and is available in Audiobook (cassette) format but it's HTF (Hard to Find)

Although I don't regret reading the book since it was very entertaining and is among Krentz best, I could not give it an A because Katy's third person reference and generalization of the Gilchrist family drove me to really despise her at one point. It was such a strong flaw that I had to kick the book down a bit. I would highly recommend this one, even with the annoying heroine.

Grade: B+

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Baby, I'm Yours by Karen Templeton

What a refreshing read. Short, sweet and very strong. Picked up this recommendation from The Good, The Bad and The Unread. They were having a Harlequin spotlight and Karen Templeton was featured (You can find the Spotlight Here). The premise and reviews were very good so I picked it up in eBook. It was wonderful! I will definitely be keeping Ms. Templeton in my radar for her future work.

Kevin Vaccaro is a recovering addict who after wandering through life in a misguided effort of rebellion decides to get his act together. Unfortunately at the time his girlfriend was an addict herself and, although he tried to help her, he realizes that he needs to help himself first. He walks away from the relationship ignorant of the fact that she was pregnant. A year later he is ready to make amends. He is not looking to go back the relationship but to salvage the friendship he once had with Robyn. When he arrives at the home of Victor Booth he finds a hostile welcome from Robyn's father and sister. He later discovers that their hostility is justified having discovered that his ex-girlfriend is dead and he is a father.

Julianne Booth seems to find herself always recovering. First she has to recover from her mother's suicide, taking on the role of caregiver to her parent and younger sister, then when she finally thinks she will live her own happily ever after, a drunk driver takes the life of her husband and subsequently her own unborn child. Since the accident her life has been left in limbo until she is called to care for her pregnant sister and then for her newborn niece. She has built a barrier around herself, limiting her life to her niece's existence. When Kevin shows up her world threatens to crumble once again.

This is a book about growth. It's about three people learning to overcome the fear of living. Kevin, who is the recovering addict is actually the less damaged among them all.
Victor (Robyn and Julianne's father) writes self help book but cannot seem to help those closes to him. The only ways he feels he can protect them is by isolating them from the big bad world, but by doing so he is shutting himself out from the world too. He has given up on a second chance for love himself in an effort to stay close and protect the only daughter left to him.
Julianne's compliance to her father's safe harbor is destroying her. She knows that the right thing to do is to give up Pippa (the baby) to Kevin but she is lost without her and cannot find the strength to recover from that blow. When she starts falling for Kevin, her fears magnify because she cannot love again.

Templeton is a master and her trade. She took what could have been a cliche of a plot line (grieving widows, surprise pregnancies, love between in laws) and made it a poignant tale of individual growth and strength. Each character find within themselves the strength to heal so they could be open tot he love they were being offered. Wonderful!

Grade: A
Format: eBook

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Racing the Moon by Michele Hauf

Thanks to Sybil and The Good, The Bad and The Unread blog I won a copy of this intro title to the new Silhouette Nocturne Bites line. It's a very short tale whose premise promised an interesting story but as most short stories go, it fell short.

Sunday is a Familar (as in witchcraft and demons) that has a bit of a control issue when in the through of a sexual climax. She tends to open bridges between her world and that of the demon world which allows the demons to infiltrate our world. Unfortunately her human lovers don't appreciate the evil demons that appear after Sunday's climax or the fact that she turns into a cat at that time either. So Sunday has given up on Sex as well as humanity.

Dean is a werewolf racing against the moon. He needs to "get some" before the full moon rises to stop the wolf from emerging but his truck has left him stranded in the middle of nowhere just hours away from midnight. It's just his luck that a sexy mechanic drives by and offers him a tow to her garage. If he plays his cards right he might be able to stave off the wolf after all. All he needs to do is convince the greasy sex 'kitten' to let him flush her pipes.

The book actually started quite good, having a different standard for short stories. But when I hit page 30 and Dean starts talking about "booty calls", Hauf lost me. She had me rolling my eyes in disgust and when Dean starts showing feelings for Sunday, I was about to drop the book altogether. I was happy that in the end there was no real commitment of feelings or words because I would have graded this VERY low.

Hauf has a strong voice and I think she would do well in a longer format. It felt like those last twenty pages were written by someone else. As if Hauf gave up on the story. I would give her another try just because the first half of the book had me quite engaged.

Grade: C-
Format: eBook

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Only with a Highlander by Janet Chapman

I've read all of Chapman's Highlander series with exception of the last two and I guess Robbie's story was so forgettable I really put this one on the back burner for a while even though I had it in the TBR pile. When my Yahoo reading group selected Chapman as AOM in June it gave me the perfect excuse to pull it out.

Winter MacKeage is the prophesied 7th Daughter of Grey and Grace. She was the reason why Father Daar pulled Grey and his brothers (these were an accident) into the future. He was destined to meet Grace and have seven daughters on the winter solstice, the last one would inherit Daar's druid powers and save mankind.
Winter has no idea she has a destiny to fulfill because Grey and Grace want to give her choices. She can renounce her calling and live a normal life but by doing so, she will cause the end of the world as we know it (not much of a choice if you ask me). Winter is a successful artist in Pine Creek and owns her own gallery where she meet the man that will alter her destiny.

Matt Gregor walks into Winter's gallery and sees in her art more than most. He has just bought Bear Mountain and wants to build his home there. He also wants a bit of the magic Winter puts in her art and commissions her to find the best site to build his home.

Winter is a bit skeptical of the offer but there is a mystery and an allure to Matt that she cannot resist. She is drawn to him in a way that defies all reason.

From the get go you get a vibe about Matt. You know he is more than what he says he is but he is also a contradiction. He is a successful business man and he pays attention to his business, (it's not just a front) which is what I would expect if he was the 'bad' guy. He also runs away from Winter whenever he feels he can't control his baser needs, again not typical of the 'bad' guy that comes to steal the heroine's magic. So, although I knew who he was from early on, I really could not discern his intentions.

The book unfortunately suffered from a flat line syndrome that gave me an entertaining read but held no surprises. The only really blip in that line was when Winter finally discovers who and what she is and the turns around and discovers who and what Matt is. Even the 'end of the world' scenario was a anti climactic because you knew where salvation was coming from.
Chapman did well in hiding Matt's intentions but she needed to keep a bit of everything else locked up and close to her chest so that there would be more suspense. Still the book was entertaining and I really enjoyed revisiting the clan.

While reading the book I discovered that it not only met my need for the AOM reading but all was a good fit for my Book A Month Challenge.
In June the theme was Knowledge and Winter had to go through a transference of knowledge where all Father Daar's powers and knowledge of nature passes to the heir of the druid powers. Also there is alot of discovery that takes place when Winter finds out where her destiny lies. Matt also discovers his own heart with Winter.

Grade: C+

Monday, June 09, 2008

An Unexpected Song by Iris Johansen

This is one of Johansen's earlier titles. Like Sandra Brown's earlier work, I find these category romances by Johansen not able to stand up to her more recent work, yet sometimes I need something lite and these short pieces work. This title actually surprised me.

Daisy Justine is a talented singer/actress that is living in a remote town in Europe when Eric Hayes discovers her and convinces his brother Jason to travel away from his Connecticut estate to listen to her perform. Eric is convinced that she would be perfect for the new musical they are producing. Daisy though is not so convinced since she has decided to stay close to her ailing father who is suffering from a rare disease and has little time left.

Jason Hayes is a bit of a cynic. His life has made him a bit rough around the edges but when he hears Daisy sing he is enchanted. When she refuses to join the production he is even more intrigued since his work is renowned and to have her shoot down this opportunity has him curious. No one will do for the main character to his musical except her and he sets out to conquer her and his rampant desire for her.

At first I really disliked Jason. Found him to be very arrogant and brash with a side of manipulator (playing on her desires to get her into bed). But he really grew on me by overcoming his fear to love. He never came out and told Daisy he loved her but after getting the whole picture we can see by his actions his deep love for her. Yet his reasons for isolating himself were a bit far fetched since his reputation and clout should have given him the leverage to put that situation to rest, but I guess Johansen had to rely on some type of plot twist to separate our lovers.

Daisy showed herself to be a bit weak at first, giving into anything a man said but she became a strong character toward the end. Don't get me wrong, she was never annoyingly like a doormat, which is usually the case with weak heroines but she seemed to take everything at face value and lets herself fall into situations that were a bit bizarre (agreeing to Jason's demands of evening meetings for example).

The writing was good enough to keep me engaged but the passage of time was not clear enough to avoid confusion. What appeared to be a day in the lives of our characters, at times, turned out to be weeks which caused the confusion that I mentioned and had me readjusting my perspective in many scenes.

The book was a nice short read that gave me more than I expected.
Grade: C+
Format: Audiobook
Texas-BookWorm © 2009