Friday, 29 April 2011

A Necessary Evil by Alex Kava

A Necessary EvilTitle: A Necessary Evil
Author: Alex Kava
Series: Maggie O’Dell (Book #5)
Next in series: Exposed
Previous in series: At the Stroke of Madness

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: The one that got away...
FBI profiler, Maggie O'Dell is on the trail of two separate killers. One is leaving the decapitated heads of his victims all over the District and the other is killing priests in public. O’Dell has few leads when she receives an offer of assistance from a most unlikely source – her prime suspect in book one. Are these cases connected and will O’Dell accept the deal offered by a killer?

Review: Another enjoyable addition to the series. While the plot starts off quite slow and there seem to be too many perspectives, the threads soon begin coming together in an intriguing way and the story comes to an extremely satisfying conclusion – I even found myself chuckling with glee at the end.
I enjoy books where the reader can follow the clues and work things out but become frustrated when the hints are too obvious and the killer predictable. This was not the case here. The signs and evidence build up and while it is possible to figure out the killer’s identity, it takes some time and is not immediately clear.
As always, the character development is superb, especially Gwen Patterson’s and it was delighted to see the return of Nick Morelli, who has been suspiciously absent from the past few books. Maggie and Nick’s relationship is particularly engaging and it was great seeing their reunion and interaction.
In sum, an excellent thriller with all of my favorite elements: an intelligent plot, excellent characterization and no skimping on the gory bits. So beware as this book is not for the squeamish.  

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Book Trailer Thursday (4): Darkness Chosen

Book Trailer Thursday is hosted on The Quill Cafe blog. 

My trailer this week is actually for a series of books by Christina Dodd called Darkness Chosen. The series includes the following books: Scent of Darkness, Touch of Darkness, Into the Shadow and Into the Flame.

I've read the first three books in the series and really enjoyed them. Christina Dodd's style of writing makes it so easy to become immersed in the story. I especially enjoy the mythology of the series, which is so different from any other paranormal romance I've read. The Wilder siblings (the hero/heroine on each installment) belong to a family whose ancestor made a pact with the devil and as a result they can shapeshift into various predator animals. Their branch of the family wants to break the pact or their father will be cursed for all eternity. In order to do this, they need to locate and join 4 holy relics scattered across the world.

I am really looking forward to reading the last book in the series and will definitely be reading more books by Christina Dodd.

Let me know what you think of the trailer and/or the books.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Tempting the Beast by Lora Leigh

Tempting the Beast (Feline Breeds, Book 1)Title: Tempting the Beast
Author: Lora Leigh
Series: Breeds (Book #1)
Next in series: The Man Within
My rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis:  Callan Lyons, a human-lion hybrid, is on the run from the powerful Genetics Council behind his creation, which now seeks to destroy him. Merinus Tyler is a journalist set on proving herself to her overprotective family by exposing the council and bringing Callan to safety. These two fiercely independent people clash in an extreme battle of wills compounded by a brutal chemistry that binds them together in a “mating frenzy”.   

Review: A relatively realistic and intriguing premise of humans genetically engineered with animal DNA. It would have been interesting to have more details about the scientific processes involved and the people behind the project. As this is the first book in the series, these details may still be forthcoming.
Merinus is an intelligent, confident and stubborn heroine who refuses to give in to Callan’s dominance, which can be overbearing at times. They have steamy physical chemistry but I was disappointed in the lack of an emotional connection. The secondary characters are also compelling, especially Kane (Merinus’s domineering older brother) and Sherra, whose story I look forward to reading.
Overall, the book is worth reading if only as exposition for the later books in the series. I would, however, have preferred more plot development and characterization. The sex scenes become a little excessive.

Note: the cover art of the book is very appealing and what drew me to the book in the first place.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Unleashing the Storm by Sydney Croft

Unleashing the StormTitle: Unleashing the Storm  
Author: Sydney Croft  
Series: ACRO (book #2)  
Previous in series: Riding the Storm  
Next in series: Seduced by the Storm

My rating: 2 Stars

Synopsis: Kira Donovan is an animal psychic and shares many traits with animals including the need to mate. Once a year for four weeks, she must endure an overwhelming sexual desire and if it remains unfulfilled she will die. ACRO sends Tom “Ender” Knight to either recruit or kill Kira as in the wrong hands her gift can be deadly. Unfortunately, ITOR has similar plans, and Tom and Kira must go on the run at the most inconvenient time – just as Kira goes on heat and Tom is the only one around to satisfy her.

Review: In one word - disappointing. The plot is mediocre at best and primary characters are not as well developed as in the first book. The sex scenes are excessive and the explanation for them borders on the idiotic. Kira and Tom have little to no emotional attachment for the first 3/4 of the book, which makes their story less romantic and engaging. I prefer the last few chapters were the connection intensifies but it is too little too late.

In contrast, Annika and Creed’s story goes from strength to strength and I especially enjoyed their intensity. The relationship between Dev and Oz, however, did not appeal to me.

The writing is effective and the ACRO world is appealing so I am still continuing with the series.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Deadly Lies by Cynthia Eden

Deadly LiesTitle: Deadly Lies
Author: Cynthia Eden
Series: Deadly (book #3)
Previous in series: Deadly Heat
My Rating: 4 Stars 
Warning: Contains sexually explicit scenes

My Synopsis: FBI Agent Samantha Kennedy has faced her worst fear and survived, barely. As a means of coping with her ordeal, she spends one night of passion with a perfect stranger, Max Ridgeway. However, the two soon find themselves embroiled in the deadly web of vicious kidnapper/killer, and must learn to trust each other or lose everything they have fought for.

My Review: The premise of a serial kidnapper escalating into a sadistic murderer is compelling and original. My only problem with the plot development is that if the reader is paying attention, the identity of the evil mastermind is obvious quite early on.
Max and Sam share a sizzling hot chemistry and each is engaging in their own way. Max, the seemingly perfect man, possesses many flaws but these cannot obscure the fundamental core of goodness and integrity that shine through in the darkest of moments. The combination of Sam’s resilience and vulnerability make her an incredibly appealing character.

This is an entertaining end to a highly enjoyable series.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath

Texas DestinyTitle: Texas Destiny
Author: Lorraine Heath
Series: Texas Trilogy (book #1)
Next in series: Texas Glory

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: Emotionally and physically scarred from the civil war, Houston Leigh wants nothing to do with his brother's mail order bride, Amelia Carson. Thrown together on the journey home, this mismatched pair of traveller’s must come together to survive and to fight the passion that consumes them against their wills…

Review: This is a heartwarming romance and a definite two tissue read. Houston is a wonderful character in that despite his tortured past he has an amazing capacity for love. Amelia’s courage and spirit makes here extremely easy to identify with.
The first half of the book where Houston and Amelia work together to overcome the hardships of the trail, get to know each other and fall in love is better than the second half after they arrive at their destination. I felt that the book lacked a certain amount of tension and I can't make up my mind whether or not Dallas is a likeable character. Some of his actions are questionable to my mind and I will read the next book to see if these can be resolved.

Book Trailer Thursday (3): The Boneyard

Book Trailer Thursday is hosted on The Quill Cafe blog. 

OK, so I love books about serial killers and recently discovered Michelle Gagnon's Kelly Jones series. My book trailer of the week is for the 2nd book in the series The Boneyard.

Beware! The trailer may contain some disturbing scenes.

I had put this book on the back burner for a while but after seeing the trailer decided to bring it forward. So I'm off to the Kindle store to get it. The trailer is quite simple with interesting police themed music and no voice over.

Let me know what you think of the trailer and/or the books.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin

The Serpent's TaleTitle: The Serpent’s Tale
Author: Ariana Franklin
Series: Mistress of the Art of Death (book #2)
Previous in series: The Mistress of the Art of Death
Next in series: Grave Goods

My rating: 4 Stars
Synopsis: A forensic scientist in medieval times, Adelia Aguilar finds herself embroiled in another case of murder and politics when King Henry II's mistress is poisoned. Adeila must discover the murderer's identity before she and her loved ones are caught up in the civil war that threatens to break out between Henry and his rebellious wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Review: Gets off to a slow start but increases in pace and tension and packs a huge wallop at the end. Adelia is one of my favorite characters. Her intelligence and fierce independence are awe inspiring and I really enjoy reading about her love/hate relationship with Rowley Picot, now the Bishop of Saint Albans.
The political machinations that constitute the basis for the murder plot may be a little confusing at times, especially for those unfamiliar with English history in that period. Nevertheless, the basic motives of greed and ambition come through quite clearly. I must say that the identity of the assassin caught me by surprise. He turns out to be the one character I never suspected.
All an all, an interesting and entertaining read and I am eagerly looking forward to the next one.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Midnight (The Midnight Breed, Book 1)Title: Kiss of Midnight
Author: Lara Adrian
Series: The Midnight Breed (book #1)
Next in series: Kiss of Crimson

My rating: 3.5 Stars

Synopsis: Gabrielle Maxwell has always felt like an outsider until the night she witnesses a brutal murder and is thrust into a hidden world of vampires on the verge of a blood war. Gabrielle soon learns that her destiny is intertwined with this strange yet compelling world as well as that of Lucan Thorne, the fierce leader of the vampire warrior class, who suffers from private demons of his own. Can these two people come together despite their differences to battle the threat in their midst?

Review: Not the most original of plots for its basic premise and characters are far too similar to the first Black Dagger Brotherhood book (which I began reading but could not finish).
The descriptions of bloodlust, mind control, blood sucking and flesh burning remind me of why I am not a fan of the undead and prefer ghosts, psychics, demons and shapeshifters in my paranormal romance.  
Moreover, there is something about Gabrielle and Lucan’s relationship that just did not mesh with me. Each is intriguing in his/her own right but something is missing, perhaps a lack of chemistry or underdeveloped tension between them.
In addition, I don't like it when extraterrestrials are used as an explanation for paranormal phenomenon as this demonstrates a profound lack of imagination – let’s just blame the aliens!
Despite these shortcomings, I did enjoy the romance and the twists and turns in the plot, especially the intriguing revelation at the end. I am also interested in reading about the other members of the warrior class, especially Tegan and Rio, and will be reading the next book in the series.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Into the Shadow by Christina Dodd

Into the Shadow (Darkness Chosen, Book 3)Title: Into the Shadow
Author: Christina Dodd
Series: Darkness Chosen (book #3)
Next in series: Into the Flame
My rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis: Adrik Wilder is a dangerous warlord and a shapeshifting panther to boot. Unaware of the curse that has beset his family from whom he is estranged, Adrik becomes obsessed with Karen Sonnet, the overseer at a nearby construction site. In his attempts to possess her, Adrik turns her against him but they are later reunited by circumstance and must work together to save both Adrik’s family and his soul. Nevertheless, the price they must pay may to do so may be too high.

Review: The best in the series so far. This one had the background story that was missing in the 2nd book. Adrik is the darkest of the brothers and the one most in need of redemption (a favorite motif of mine) and he has definitely found his soul mate in Karen, the strongest and most resilient of the heroines in the series, as evinced by their chemistry which just sizzles the pages.
I can’t wait to read the final installment.

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

The Surgeon: with Bonus ContentTitle: The Surgeon
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Series: Rizzoli & Isles (book #1)
Next in series: The Apprentice
My rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis: A sadistic killer, who enjoys immobilizing and removing his victims’ organs, is on the loose in Boston, and the police have only one significant lead: his apparent obsession with Dr. Catherine Cordell, a prominent surgeon and the only survivor of a different killer with a similar modus operandi. Can the police make the necessary connections and find the killer before it is too late?

Review: As someone who enjoys serial murder books, I am always on the hunt for well-crafted and gripping tales, and The Surgeon certainly fits the bill.
The author’s background in medicine adds credible detail to the plot, and the characters are gritty and believable with very human desires and flaws. I particularly enjoyed Jane Rizzoli’s character and I was not surprised to learn that subsequent books in the series focus on her rather than the male lead, Detective Thomas Moore. As the only female homicide detective in her unit, Jane must cope with the prejudices against women in her profession.  At times she comes off as overly aggressive and belligerent but it becomes clear that this conceals a profound vulnerability and need to prove herself. I found her to be a realistic and engaging character and look forward to seeing the direction in which her character develops.
The plot is intelligent and it is possible to work through clues and follow the investigation with the fictional detectives. It is necessary to warn readers that some scenes are particularly disturbing with vivid and gruesome descriptions.
In short, this is a brilliant read and I can definitely recommend it for lovers of thrillers and mysteries.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Book Trailer Thursday (2): The Keepsake

Book Trailer Thursday is hosted on The Quill Cafe blog. 

I am a Tess Gerritsen groupie so my trailer for today is for the last book of hers that I read: The Keepsake.

Beware! The trailer may contain some disturbing scenes as it is about a serial killer who mummifies his victims. Don't say I didn't warn you, lol!

The trailer gave me the chills due to the combination of the spooky music and the narrators cold and clinical voice. What do you think? Is it effective?

Note: Since this book, Gerritsen has written two others in the Rizzoli & Isles series: Ice Cold and The Silent Girl (out in July, 2011). I hope to read and review them soon so stay tuned. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Night PleasuresTitle: Night Pleasures
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark Hunters (Book #1)
Next in series: Night Embrace
My rating: 4 Stars

Note on series: The prequel, Fantasy Lover, provides some background to this tale but need not be read in order to enjoy this book.

Synopsis: Unlike the other members of her family, Amanda Deveraux is not enamored of the supernatural. She is, therefore, unimpressed upon finding herself handcuffed to Kyrian of Thrace, a former Macedonian commander reincarnated as a vampire, or Dark Hunter, and sworn to protect humanity from soul-sucking demons. As they grow closer both emotionally and physically, Amanda and Kyrian must overcome their individual fears in order to rid the world of the dangerous demonic foe fixated on destroying them first.

Review: Let me preface this review with a disclaimer that while I enjoy paranormal romances involving psychics, ghosts and shape shifters, I am not a fan of vampires. That said, I like the premise of the Dark Hunters perhaps because they are not vampires in the traditional sense, but rather creations established on the basis of Greek mythology, which is one of my academic interests. 
The characters are endearing, especially Kyrian, whose tortured past contributed greatly to my enjoyment of the book. The world of the Dark Hunters is unique, intricate and imaginative, and I look forward to the incorporation of various mythologies in future installments.  Unfortunately, Kenyon’s imagination does not extend to the formulaic storyline, or the insipid and clich├ęd descriptions of her male characters. There are also numerous references to popular culture, which may irritate some readers. Lastly, I was disappointed by the incongruity between the origins of the characters and their use of modern language, which seems inconsistent with their characterization. The reading experience would be better served if they used more period appropriate language and dialect.
Overall, this book is a solid beginning to the series and I recommend reading it.