Thursday, 31 March 2011

At the Stroke of Madness by Alex Kava

At The Stroke Of Madness (Maggie O'Dell, Book 4)Title: At the Stroke of Madness 
Author: Alex Kava 
Series: Maggie O’Dell (book #4) 
Previous in series: The Soul Catcher 
Next in series: A Necessary Evil 
My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: Maggie is asked by her friend, Dr. Gwen Patterson, to look into the disappearance of a patient. At the same time, several bodies are found stuffed into barrels in a quarry near the patient’s last known location. Is she one of the corpses? Who killed them and why?

Review: The plot is enjoyable and well-paced. The new characters are easy to like, and the killer's motivation is unique as far as serial killer’s go. The problem is that I did not get that “can’t put it down” feeling that comes with really good books. In addition, I felt that Maggie's character was under-developed. She does not seem to be growing or learning from her mistakes. She keeps getting herself into the same situations with the different killers in the series. I am interested to see where the characters are going, especially Tully and Gwen, so I will keep on reading.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Deadly Heat by Cynthia Eden

Deadly Heat
Title: Deadly Heat
Author: Cynthia Eden
Series: Deadly (book #2)
Previous in series: Deadly Fear
Next in series: Deadly Lies
My Rating: 3 Stars 
Warning: Contains sexually explicit scenes

My Synopsis: Seeking revenge after her lover dies as a result of arson, firefighter, Lora Spade, calls in the FBI. Agent Kenton Lake is sent to capture the serial arsonist labeled “The Phoenix” and finds himself drawn to Lora’s courage and passion. But as they grow closer so does the killer, and the two find themselves in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a sadist who enjoys burning his victims.

My Review: This is an enjoyable romantic thriller. The writing flows, the tension is tangible and the description true to life. I particularly enjoyed figuring out the villain's identity moments before he was revealed in the book. However, while the main characters are likable and easy to identify with, their chemistry is not as vibrant as that of the couple in the first book: Monica and Luke. Neither is the tension in their relationship sufficiently developed.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Riding the Storm by Sydney Croft

Riding the StormTitle: Riding the Storm 
Author: Sydney Croft 
Series: ACRO (book #1) 
Next in series: Unleashing the Storm

My rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis: Remy Begnaud has an unwanted gift: the ability to control a storm’s fury. Now, ACRO, a covert agency that seeks to help people with special powers, has sent para-meteorologist, Haley Holmes to seduce Remy and recruit him to their cause. Unfortunately, another rival agency is also in the running but their purposes are far more sinister, and Haley must contend both with them and her growing feelings for Remy if she is to help him master his extraordinary abilities before they destroy him.

Review: This book has the kernels of a strong mythology and an interesting paranormal plot focusing on X-Men like characters. However, the sexually explicit descriptions have a tendency to overshadow the story.

The characters, both primary and secondary, are well developed. Remy and Haley have interesting back-stories and great chemistry. However, it is the characters in one of the two additional side stories that really drew me in: Annika and Creed, whose sizzling relationship continues and develops in the next two installments. I was not as enamored of Dev’s story.

Overall, the writing duo of Stephanie Tyler and Larissa Ione (of Demonica fame) have fashioned an intriguing world of action, suspense and passion. Even though I enjoyed the book, I think that the sex scenes become repetitive and could have been toned down a bit. Let’s see what happens in the next book.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Touch of Darkness by Christina Dodd

Touch of Darkness (Darkness Chosen, Book 2)Title: Touch of Darkness
Author: Christina Dodd
Series: Darkness Chosen (book #2)
Next in series: Into the Shadow
My rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis: Rurik Wilder, a shapshifter who can turn into a bird of prey, is determined to break the curse that afflicts his family and goes in search of the holy icon that may fulfill this goal. Little does he know that the woman with whom he spent a night of unbridled passion is bent on revenge against the same assassins who seek to stop his quest. Can the two overcome their personal issues to triumph over their adversaries?

Review: Starts out a bit slow but increases in pace as the quest/adventure proceeds. While the Wilder men are very similar, the heroines are vastly different. Ann is shy and unassuming while Tasya is fiercely independent with trust issues. I enjoyed the differences in their characterization.
The mythology of the series plays an important role in the story but it could have been developed more substantially. Moreover, Tasya’s backs story is not as compelling as Ann’s and her relationship with Rurik is more complex and conflicted.
In sum, this is a satisfying addition to the series and I am interested to see how it will play out at the end.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

The Alienist
Title: The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
Series: Alienist (book #1)
Next in series: The Angel of Darkness
My Rating: 5 Stars

My Synopsis: Before the modern day criminal profiler, there were "alienists" - psychologists interested in the workings of the criminal mind. In this book a crime reporter, John Schulyer Moore, is asked by his friend, Theodore Roosevelt in his days as the police commissioner of New York, to assist one of these alienists in the search for a serial killer butchering young children in the sex trade.

My Review: This is a well-researched take on life in New York at the turn of the 20th century. The characterization is excellent, especially that of Sara, Roosevelt's secretary who is determined to become the first female detective, and the alienist, Lazlo Kreizler who seeks to understand the origins of monstrous behaviors while at the same time fighting demons of his own. The books includes some fascinating details on the beginnings of forensic science and has a profound message about humanity and society. The language and descriptive passages can be quite challenging to get through but they are well worth it.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz

White Lies (The Arcane Society, Book 2)
Title: White Lies
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Arcane Society (book #2) 
Previous in series: Second Sight
Next in series: Sizzle & Burn
My Rating: 4 Stars

My Synopsis: Clare Lancaster is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy member of the Arcane Society. She also just happens to be a human lie detector. Jake Salter is a psychic hunter sent by the Society to discover who is searching for the formula that enhances psychic abilities. The two connect immediately and become embroiled in a complex case of greed, murder and revenge.

My Review: The banter between the main characters and the feisty heroine transform a mediocre plot into a great story. The descriptions of Clare's ability are tantalizing and it would have been great to have more about how her skill developed. One other complaint is that the identity of the villain is predictable - I guessed it the minute the character was introduced.