Monday, October 27, 2008

The Gathering Dark by Christopher Golden

This was actually the fourth in a series of books called the Shadow Saga. I'd heard of Christopher Golden before, but this was the first book of his that I'd picked up. I decided to read it because of the horror label. I guess I've been trying to scare myself recently!

The story begins in a bar where a magician has made several people disappear. The bartender calls in a guy he knows, Peter Octavian. It turns out that the magician is not a magician, but a demon, and he's swallowed the people who "disappeared." He vanquishes the demon and the people come sliding out of the demon's stomach.

Meanwhile, Keomany is having problems. She owns a sweets shop in Vermont. She comes home from a festival to find the sky a pumpkin orange and demonic creatures have eaten or possessed many of the people in her town. Keomany is an earthwitch with magic of her own to fight back with and manages to escape the village.

Peter and Keomany team up with a priest, Peter's former lover Nikki, the vampire shape-changer Allison, and Kuromaku, a former samurai vampire. A Hellgod has opened a portal from his world into their world and is slowly taking cities from the earth, unleashing his demons upon the unsuspecting citizens of the world. Peter and his team must find a way to defeat the Hellgod and send him and his Whispers back to their own dimension.

While I enjoyed this book, it took more suspension of disbelief than I can muster at times. I can get on board with demons, but evil creatures who eat and destroy are not as believable for me. Also, I wasn't very comfortable with the Earth magic that Keomany had. Overall, it was an interesting book, but not as scary as I would have wished because of my disbelief.

If you believe in earth magic and creatures from another dimension, this book is for you.

Ghost Walk by Heather Graham

I've been on somewhat of a horror/scary streak, which is appropriate since it's October. This was a ghostly read!

Nikki leads a tour group around what may be the most haunted city in the United States, New Orleans. She's drawn even further into that world when one of her friends, an employee appears in her bedroom late at night.

The next morning, she discovers that her friend has been murdered, and at the time when she appeared in Nikki's bedroom. Nikki goes to the police after multiple sightings of her friend's ghost as well as the ghost of a man who it turns out was an FBI agent. The police don't believe her, but Brent Blackhawk does. He's a paranormal investigator and a man who can also communicate with the dead.

The two of them embark upon an investigation to find out who killed these two people. Brent joins Nikki's tour company and is able to add some stories to the repertoire of the tour guides since he can speak to the dead and find out what really happened!

I enjoyed this book. There was some steam. There was plenty of action and suspense. I really enjoyed the ghost stories of New Orleans. If you are a believer in ghosts, it may be scarier than you can handle.

Edge of Fear by Cherry Adair

This is one of a trilogy of books, and I've already put the other two on my To Be Read list!

Caleb Edge is one of three brothers who is gifted with paranormal abilities. Caleb can "rewind" into the past and influence the way things happen. He can also heal, among other gifts. He uses his gifts in service to the T-FLAC paranormal unit, working to find terrorists and other evildoers.

Caleb and his brothers are subject to a family curse. One of their ancestors spurned a woman, and she gave them both their paranormal gifts as well as cursing them to lose the women they love. Caleb and his brothers have sworn never to fall in love in order to stop the family line and beat the curse.

Caleb has just been released from the hospital when he is sent after Heather Shaw. Heather's father has disappeared, along with billions of dollars belonging to terrorists who want their money back. Heather has gone into hiding in order to stay safe from the men who would use her to get to her father.

Caleb's been ordered to watch Heather to find out if she is part of her father's scheme as well as to track down her father. Heather is completely unaware of her father's actions or his whereabouts.

The two are (of course) instantly attracted to one another, and steaminess ensues. This one is somewhat graphic, so if that is not your style, choose another book. I really like paranormal romance than involves psi powers, so this book was another hard to put down for me. I would definitely recommend it to those who are interested in paranormal romance, and especially psi powers.

The Secret Cardinal by Tom Grace

I picked up this book because I thought it was going to be similar to Dan Brown's DaVinci Code. I was quickly proved wrong. Yes, it involved the Catholic church. However, there was no mystery to be solved.

Yin Daoming is a priest in the People's Republic of China. He has been imprisoned most of his career as a priest. He attained the rank of bishop, but was unable to attain a higher rank due to the need of Cardinals to make a trip to Rome to accept their positions. Unbeknownst to the world, he has been made a cardinal in pectore, a Secret Cardinal by the Pope.

The Pope knows his life is coming to an end, and he wants Yin freed. He sets Nolan Kilkenny to the task, along with a group of Chinese men in the armed forces. Soon after he turns this group to the task, he passes away, starting the Conclave to choose the next Pope. Surprisingly, Yin's name shows up to be counted among the papabile, those eligible to become the next Pope.

Yin will be unable to assume the office of Pope if he is not rescued from the Chinese prison where he has spent decades of his life. Kilkenny puts a dangerous plan in place that has a slim chance of success.

I won't give away the ending, but it left me in tears. I really enjoyed that the author brought an issue to light that I wasn't really aware of--the plight of Catholics in China. There was an afterword by the author with several facts, and I think I will probably do some more reading on the subject in the future.

This book was more adventure than religion. However, if you're not interested in religion or the Catholic Church, I would avoid this book. I felt like the details were well-researched. If they weren't (and I don't know enough to say for sure), they were definitely believable! Great book.

Touch of Evil by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp

I like reading about vampires. But I don't want to read the same old story over and over again. I was thrilled to find a new twist on the vampire story in Touch of Evil! It's somewhat similar to Laurell K. Hamilton's vampires in her Anita Blake books, so if you like Hamilton, you'll likely enjoy this book.

Kate lives in a house she owns and is slowly renovating into several different apartments. She's also a courier, flying expensive items to the four corners of the earth. As she's returning from a courier trip, Tom shows up to rent her apartment. He's been illegally evicted from his apartment for being a lycanthrope. Kate is immediately attracted to him, and the feeling is mutual.

Kate has a history with the Thrall, this book's version of vampires. There are Hosts, who share their bodies with the vampires through the laying of eggs in their bloodstream, and there is the Herd, those who feed the Thrall. Each Herd is led by a Queen. Kate has been bitten by a vampire after being given to them by her former fiance. She also defeated the Queen, so she is considered Not Prey and off-limits for hunting or feeding.

Something changes, and the Thrall begin to come after her. It turns out that they want her to be their next Queen, and it leads to a confrontation between her, the Thrall, and the area's lycanthropes.

The book was action packed, and I couldn't put it down. The vampires are not pretty in this book, and that's something I've thought since I started reading vampire books! They're evil parasites, and the authors certainly made them evil in this novel. I would highly recommend this book to pretty much anyone who enjoys paranormal romance. I know I can't wait to read the next in the series!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's going on in my Book Kingdom

I'm gearing up to participate in National Novel Writing Month next month. If you haven't heard of it, go have a look here. I will most likely not be reviewing many books during that time since my energy will be devoted to creative writing instead of review writing.

In the mean-time, one of my friends has a giveaway for a mini wallet going on here. I think it's quite pretty. All you have to do is swing by and leave a comment about the charity organizations you support or have supported in the past!

I'd love to hear what's going on for everyone else who reads my blog. Please comment! I love to read what you have to say.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Royal Pain by Mary Janice Davidson

In an alternate evolution of life on earth, Alaska became its own country instead of being sold to the United States. It's not a democracy, but a monarchy. This is the story of the oldest daughter of King Baranov, Alexandria.

Alexandra is having nightmares about an incident that happened in Davidson's previous book about the same family, The Royal Treatment. Her father decides that she needs some time off, so he sends her and her entourage to North Dakota as a liaison to an aquarium there. She meets Dr. Shel Rivers who is determined to think of her as the stereotypical spoiled princess. Alex shows Shel that she isn't at all stereotypical and he helps her get over her nightmares.

This book was not really my type. I liked the idea of Alaska becoming a monarchy as opposed to being part of the United States. It's being difficult to avoid snarky comments about a particular political candidate right now...

The characters were rather rough around the edges. They were meant to be--Alaska is a wilderness. I haven't met many people from there, but the stereotype is that it's mostly men, and mostly manly men. However, I have relatives who live in Alaska, and they're not that type. There was a lot of profanity in this one, and it was pretty steamy, romance-wise. If you're looking for a quick bit of fluff to read and don't mind profanity or explicit romantic scenes, this book's for you.

Fair Warning by Hannah Alexander

I really like these books! Each one I pick up has such realistic, well-rounded, solid characters. They seem like people that I would like to get to know.

Willow, the main character in this book, has moved in with her brother Preston after quitting her job as a nurse. Her husband, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty, and she suffered a miscarriage shortly after. Her brother manages a small apartment building for Dr. Graham Vaughn.

Shortly after Willow's arrival, Preston's house burns down. Preston is injured in the fire, and Willow loses all her belongings. The police find the accelerant used to start the fire in Willow's car, throwing suspicion on her. The forensics point in other directions, so the police allow her to obtain a hotel room with the promise that she will not leave town.

Other suspicious events happen, and Willow becomes convinced that someone is trying to harm her. Graham and his sister Ginger take Willow in and help her to solve the mystery of who is out to get her.

I really can't say enough good things about these books. I really enjoy reading them. If you enjoy suspense/mystery and you want a book with Christian values, these books are perfect for you. There's also a bit of romance thrown in, the perfect combination.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What makes a book YA?

My dad and I had this discussion last week. He said that he'd asked the library about the categorization of a book that he'd picked up. They told him that they categorized as YA when the main character was a young person. I can understand that, and I agree with it. However, the particular book that was categorized as YA had an adult as the main character. It did have some violence, although not gratuitous. There wasn't any sex or questionable content either.

Maybe there have been other discussions about this. I haven't come across any as of yet. If you know of any, please send me a link. Otherwise, I'd love to hear your thoughts. What makes a book young adult as opposed to children's or adult?

The Lost Art by Simon Morden

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book. I had picked it up because my dad was reading it, we have similar reading tastes, and because the cover looked interesting. It was certainly worth the read.

The story begins by telling the stories of different parties, but brings them all together eventually. You meet Brother Va, a monk, and Elenya who follows him around. Va's brother monks have been murdered, his monastery burnt to the ground, and a dozen mysterious books have been taken. There's Benzamir, who has nothing, but is able to bluff his way into being given camels and other valuable things. Along the way, he meets Said, the servant of a sheikh's son, Wahir, a boy with a way with camels, and Alessandra, a woman who bargains with the diggers. All the characters come together to search for the books from Va's monastery.

The author didn't do much explaining about the back story of the book, and it was left to me to figure out. I read the summary on the inside flap after I'd read the book, and it made the book a lot clearer! At one point, one of the characters reads a sign in Arabic that says that it was written in the year 2987, so the story is set in the future of Earth. Benzamir is a descendant of those who left Earth, while people called the Users destroyed the Earth and knocked technology back to the dark ages. Benzamir attempts to disguise his technology at first, but eventually lets his companions in on the past as he knows it.

I enjoy figuring out a puzzle, so I kept at the book, especially since the characters were well written. I like books that play with history or predict what the future might be like, so I really enjoyed it. I thought the author's subtle social commentary about the Users and their destructive technology was a good point, and I appreciated it. There was some violence, but only what was necessary. On top of that, the main characters were very distressed when anyone was killed. There was a tiny bit of romance, but it wasn't the usual genre that I read! The book is labeled Young Adult, and I certainly agree with that categorization.

If you want a book that has plenty of action, is somewhat of a puzzle to figure out, and has an alternative history, you'd enjoy this book. If you want something that is modern and clear-cut, this is definitely not for you. I'd encourage you to go out of your way and read something a little different, however. This book is an excellent choice, and I would certainly recommend it!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

And the winner is...

The random number according to is:

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-10-08 04:00:54 UTC

The winner is: Shelly Burns who said

The book that I would most like to read is Sign of the Cross. I also read and loved The DaVinci Code...saw the movie, though. I even picked up Angels and Demons when I heard it was to become a movie...loved it too!

Congratulations Shelly! I've sent an email, but if you don't get it, please contact me by all means!

Thanks to everyone who helped publicize my giveaway and left comments. I really enjoyed hearing which books sounded most interesting to people. I hope that you will all continue to read my blog and leave comments when you find the books I've reviewed interesting! Every blogger needs encouragement. : )

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dark Embrace by Brenda Joyce

I've read so many werewolf and vampire novels lately that this book came as a bit of a relief. I like books with telepathy and telekinesis better, to be honest. There was a bit of both in this book.

Aidan of Awe, also known as the Wolf of Awe, is a Master of Time, defender of the Innocent. His father, Moray, is a deamhon, and he is determined to turn Aidan to the dark side. He does this by killing Aidan's son, Ian.

Through the centuries, Brianna feels Aidan's pain. They met at a time when Aidan was in the year 2008 saving innocents, and a bond was instantly forged. Unbeknownst to Brianna, she calls for him after she feels his pain. He leaps through time and saves her from a gang of boys, only to take her back to his time with him.

Aidan has spent 66 years grieving over the death of his son. He has amassed an army composed of men who enjoy murder and mayhem and men who are demon-possessed. He has also been committing crimes of pleasure, draining women of their life force. Unlike most, he does not kill the victims of his pleasure crimes.

Brianna is determined to find the Aidan she once knew under the layers of anger, hatred, vengefulness, and depredation he uses as armor to keep people away. Together with the Masters of Time brotherhood that Aidan used to be a member of and the help of Brianna's psychically gifted cousins and friends, they search for a way to stop Aidan's father, Moray.

This was a supremely satisfying book. It was completely up my alley since I love psychic talents. Of course, men in kilts certainly aren't any deterrant for me! I didn't particularly like Aidan, to tell the truth. Brianna is a better woman than me in dealing with him. I really liked how the book ended. I was really happy with how the ends were tied up.

Be sure to look for Joyce's other books, Dark Rival and Dark Seduction!

Hideaway by Hannah Alexander

I've got to balance out the evil werewolves and vampires with some good Christian lit. This is the first in a group of books about a small town called Hideaway. The books aren't a series--each one has different characters. I've read a couple of the books so far, and I expect to see the same characters keep turning up. One has, but in a very small way.

These are listed as romantic suspense, but I honestly didn't find a lot of suspense in this first book. The suspense showed up at the end, although there were hints of it throughout the book. The lack of suspense did not dampen my enjoyment of the book at all whatsoever. I really liked it, and I'm probably going to go through the books I have before I move on to any other books I have on my TBR list.

Cheyenne Allison is an ER doctor. She is on duty one night when her sister comes in, fatally injured in a car accident. Cheyenne does her best to save her beloved sister, but nothing can save her. A month later, Cheyenne is still working despite her struggle with insomnia. Her boss sends her on mandatory leave, and a nurse at her clinic who is a good friend convinces her to take her vacation in Hideaway at a house she has inherited.

In Hideaway, Cheyenne meets Dane Gideon, the owner/mentor/director of a ranch for troubled boys. The boys are not juvenile delinquents, but youth who have stumbled on hard times in their lives. The ranch is an alternative to a group home or foster care. Dane and his boys show city girl Cheyenne how to cope with country living while she uses her medical knowledge to care for her neighbors.

This book won a place in my heart because of several things. First, Dane's faith is amazing. He uses his blessings and his money in such wonderful ways in God's name. Secondly, both Cheyenne and one of Dane's boys, Blaze are dyslexic. Cheyenne helps Blaze to overcome his dyslexia because of her experience, and I love hearing stories like that as a special ed teacher. And lastly, I love how the authors portray this small town. I grew up in a very small town, and the portrayal rings true to me.

I just have to say it again: I highly recommend this book!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

2 More days left to enter my giveaway!

If you're new to my blog, I'm having my first giveaway. I've reviewed the book here, and the link for entering the giveaway is here.

Everybody likes free books, right? : ) All you have to do is tell me which book I've reviewed so far that you'd most like to read!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sign of the Cross by Chris Kuzneski

I love novels that use elements of history as a basis for the plot. My dirty little secret? I loved The Da Vinci Code. I never saw the movie, and I'd like to keep it that way, thanks! I like the twist to history, and I like the adventure, the excitement.

So, if you like Dan Brown's work, you'll most likely enjoy Sign of the Cross. There's so much mystery to the papacy, and Kuzneski dug up an era that I didn't know anything about.
In a way, it was somewhat similar to Brown's novels. I felt that Kuzneski managed to come up with enough "new" historical material and conflict, however. It was enough to keep me up reading until 4:30 a.m.!

Several different stories are woven together at first until the main characters come together about halfway through the book. Maria and Dr. Boyd are investigating an archaeological site in Orvieto, Italy when they are threatened by a helicopter and armed men. Jon Payne and David Jones have been arrested and held without charges in Spain. A mysterious man shows up to offer them a deal in exchange for their release if they pursue the now-missing Dr. Boyd.

The only complaint I have about the book is that the author felt it necessary to warn the reader that something was coming up by saying things like "because tomorrow would be filled with even more excitement than today." There was plenty of excitement in the book, and the author certainly didn't need to preface it! I don't know how his editor let things like that get through. It got pretty predictable, eventually.

I think that part of what I love so much is the search for the truth, for the historical details. It amazes me when people know so many languages, both dead and alive and can translate obscure paintings and manuscripts. This was a page turner that kept me going!

Be sure to pick up Kuzneski's next book, Sword of God as well.

Don't forget to enter this month's giveaway!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Help an author in need

I hope that if/when I become a published author, people will do this kind of thing for me. Gennita Low is an author of quite a few books. She signed on with Mira to do a three-book trilogy. The first book, Virtually His, was published last year. The next installment in the trilogy was due to be published this year. It was pushed back to December, and now has been delayed again indefinitely. Help out Gennita by getting in contact with her publisher, with Wal-Mart so they'll carry the book, and her editor. Below are the addresses:
Book Dept or Sales Dept
Wal-Mart Stores
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716

Gennita Low's Editor (Publisher?)
225 Duncan Mill Rd.
Don Mills, ONT M3B 3K9

Gennita Low's Editor
233 Broadway, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10279

In addition, Gennita is giving away a free downloadable e-book at her website: A Low Profile

Visit her blog, have a look around, and help her out by buying her book Virtually His new. I am certainly one who would like to thwart Wal-Mart's evil ways, so let's all band together to do that. Get them to carry her book!

Catfantastic II

Speaking of cats, I picked up this anthology of short stories the last time I was at the library. I've read these anthologies before in the past, and always enjoyed them. This one has been no different. I started reading at bedtime, thinking that I'd get to sleep earlier if I had short stories to read instead of a longer novel. Unfortunately, that didn't work all that well since I loved the stories that I read and kept going on to read the next story and the next one, and you get the idea.

If you're a cat lover, you'll certainly love these anthologies. In this particular anthology has been a story about a cat who opened a portal from a British ship to a Nazi submarine in order to help defeat the sub and avenge his former shipmates, a cat whose courage helped a girl save her family from the Chinese emperor, a cat who simply wished to make his mate happy by bringing home kittens for her, and a woman whose service to Bastet in caring for the cats in her life saved her own life.

The stories are great, and I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book or any of the other Catfantastic anthologies--there are quite a few. You'll find yourself cheering for the cats (and the people), and sometimes even crying at the bravery and dedication of these cats!

Cat Advice, anyone?

I live with a crazy cat. Seriously. He ends up tearing through the apartment at warp speed. I think sometimes it's when he's mad at us, but mostly it seems pretty darn random. He stalks us when we walk through the apartment. Not from the front, no! He comes up and bites us from behind. It's crazy. He knows we'll be able to see him if he comes at us from the front.

He has his moments when he cuddles up with us, sure. But those times are few and far between. He'd rather gnaw on our hands or feet!

We've been thinking about getting another cat on the premise that the current cat doesn't really know how to be a cat. He was only 3 weeks old when we adopted him. His behavior isn't getting any better, and I'm afraid that he's always going to be wild if we don't do something now. Anyone have any hints, tricks, tips, advice?