Deathscape by Dana Marton (Broslin Creek, Book 1)

Deathscape by Dana MartonDeathscape

by Dana Marton

(Broslin Creek, Book 1)

After a near-death experience, artist Ashley Price is compelled to paint visions of the dead, and fears she’s gone crazy. Then she paints a man buried alive and, recognizing the surroundings, she rushes to save him.

Instead of being grateful to her for rescuing him, Detective Jack Sullivan accuses her of being in league with a serial killer. He swears he will put her behind bars. Except, the more time he spends with her, the more he falls under her spell. Can he trust her, or is he walking into another deadly trap?

Review: Fast paced, easy breeze!

Ashley Price is doing everything she can to get her life back on track and convince her father that she can once again take care of her own daughter, Maddie. But cheating death a year ago has changed her profoundly, especially blaming herself for not being able to save her neighbour’s child, Dylan.

Detective Jack Sullivan has moved from city to city, transferring when he could, searching for a serial killer who murdered his older sister when he was thirteen. He blames himself – it was his fault because of his plea for pizza that night for dinner that had her leaving the house, never to be seen alive again.

He believes that Brady Blackwell, the killer, has made his home in Broslin, and he’s determined to find him. And certain circumstances have him believing that Ashley can lead him to said killer.

**Spoiler Alert** Do not read past this point if you don’t what to know what happens. … Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Right from the prologue, the author draws you in. I mean, c’mon, a serial killer setting up a trap for a relentless detective hot on his ass is bound to suck a reader into the story. And chapter one just cements it.

After her near-death experience, Ashley has visions. Visions she never asked for, doesn’t want, and would do just about anything to stop. She paints what she sees, almost in a trance with a bad migraine, and the scare the crap out of her.

One night, a rather vivid vision floods her, and she paints what she sees. Only this time, the body’s eyes are staring back at her – that had never happened before in an of her visions. Recognizing the backdrop in the painting, she goes in search of the big boulder, knowing it’s on her property, that she needs to save him.

She rescues him and the live happily ever after.

Psych! (Yes, I know – an oldie but a goodie!)

Jack believes she’s in it with Blackwell, as either a willing or an unwilling accomplice. But she’s not. Not only does he force her to tell how she knew where to find him, but to make matters worse, he witnesses one of her visions. He wants to believe she’s a great actress, but deep down in his obsessed mind, he knows she’s the real deal.

He’ll protect her – even when he’s falling in love with her.

Being removed from the case, du to his closeness – his conflict of interest, doesn’t stop him. His obsessed mind won’t allow it.

**Watching the characters “tip-toeing” around each other was fun to watch. Attracted to each other, it was great to see the give and take between them, fighting the attraction. IMHO, I needed to feel a little more steam, heat, and sparks between them. But it was still good.

I changed my mind on the suspect several times but kept coming back to the same character – I liked that I was right (doesn’t happen too often,) and that it wasn’t predictable. It was intriguing!

Secondary characters run the gamut of emotion, and I can’t wait to get to Bing’s story. That man needs someone to love him.

Overall great read. I recommend it!

Rating: emstaremstaremstaremstar

Published in: on April 26, 2013 at 10:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2) by Patricia Briggs

Mass Market Paperback, 292 pages, Published January 30th 2007 by Ace, ISBN13: 9780441014736

 

Under the rule of science, there are no witch burnings allowed, no water trials or public lynchings. In return, the average law-abiding, solid citizen has little to worry about from the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes I wish I was an average citizen…

Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places – and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind.

But this new vampire is hardly ordinary – and neither is the demon inside of him…

Review: An excellent addition to the first in the series!

**Spoiler Alert!** If you plan on reading the book, do not continue reading this review. … Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The second book in the series, we begin not too far where the first one left off.

Stefan, a vampire, calls Mercy for help. A vampire has come to the city but not has not asked Master vampire, Marsilia, for hunting rights. That is vampire law. But Stefan also believes that this is the vampire that hurt his friend Daniel, and he wants to make the vampire pay. But he wants Mercy’s help – in her coyote form. The vampire won’t see more than that, and if Stefan’s right, he’s going to need a human witness. Reluctantly, being the wee hours of the morning, she agrees, and changes form when he picks her up.

Trouble quickly escalates. This new vampire, Littleton, isn’t just a vampire. He’s also a sorcerer. This was known to be forbidden, to turn a sorcerer. Whoever turned him has lost control of him, and now they need to discover who.

Marsilia sends Stefan to hunt down this vampire. Stefan wants Daniel at his side, even though he’s in bad shape. Adam sends Warren and Ben with Stefan to help, and as back up. But then they all go missing. Warren turns up beaten and near death. Mercy has seen the ghost of Daniel and knows that bad is getting close to worse. Worse comes when Adam and Samuel both go missing after they set out to find Ben and Stefan. And the strange thing happens: Marsilia asks Mercy for her help. Together, with Marsilia’s second, Andre, they set off to find the missing and make sure Littleton’s dead. However it was unsaid, Marsilia wants Littleton alive. Mercy’s determined to make sure he’s dead.

Oh, I loved this one almost as much as the first! What I hadn’t realized in the first book, was that Mercy is a Shifter, not a were and because she is a Shifter, vampire wiles don’t work as well on her. Plus, she can see and talk to ghosts. I hadn’t realized that Mrs. Hanna was a ghost in the first novel. Oh, but I got it this time, when she saw Daniel’s shaking form and no one else did.

I was sort of surprised by who had turned the sorcerer, and sort of not. If I’d known about how jealous this vamp was of Stefan, I’d have caught on earlier. (And while my reviews are usually littered with spoilers, I’m not saying who!) What I truly took to heart and completely understood, was the final chapters and what Mercy felt and her actions. I completely understood and agreed why she went after the vamp. She did what she had to do, what she thought was right, regardless of whatever trouble she could get into. And for another vamp to tell her that he could do the same, gave me chills. Will he keep his word and not tell Marsilia? Will he keep his word and not turn a sorcerer? Only time will tell – but I get the chills every time I think about it.

Again, Mercy’s integrity plays a roll, and I adore her for it.

Samuel has been having a tough time. He’s admitted to something in his past, while he was in Texas, and I can understand why his current state of mind is close to destroying him. Still, I don’t trust him. I don’t trust that he truly wants Mercy for her, and not for the fact that she’s a Shifter and could very possibly carry their children to term.

The attaction between Mercy and Adam still simmers just below the surface, and I quiver every time. There’s a scene where they are sparing, and just when I think this is it, Jessie, Adam’s daughter, interrupts. Dang it!

Rating:

Raven’s Shadow (Raven duology, #1) by Patricia Briggs

Mass Market Paperback, 334 pages, Published 2010 by Ace Fantasy, (reissue of) ISBN: 9780441011872

 

For many years, the city of Colossae was a haven of magical study. As generations of wizards pushed the limits of their abilities, an evil entity was unleashed that could only be contained by the sacrifice of their city. From the ashes of Colossae, the Travelers emerged – roaming the world to ensure that the Stalker would remain imprisoned forever…

Seraph is a Raven mage and among the last of the Travelers. Unwelcome among those who fear magic, the wizard clans have been decimated by the very people they’ve sworn to protect. But Seraph is spared a similar fate by the ex-soldier Tier – and together they build a life where she is no longer burdened by her people’s responsibility.

But now Tier is missing – or dead – and Seraph’s reprieve from her duty is over. Using her magic to discover her husband’s fate, Seraph realizes the Stalker’s prison is weakening – and only she can fulfill her ancestors’ oath to protect humanity from destruction…

From the author’s website:
The first of the Raven duology. Can be read as a stand-alone novel (no cliffhanger endings), although some plot threads are not fully resolved.

Review: A terrific read from an incredible story-teller!

**Spoiler Alert!** If you plan on reading the book, do not continue reading this review. … Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

After ten years of battle and war, Tier is finally on his way home. Coming to a village a few days from home, thoughts of a warm meal and comfortable bed are waylaid when he passes a pyre on fire – with a dead Traveler in the center of the blaze. Thoughts of leaving are reinforced when he walks into the local inn only to come upon the “trial” of the dead traveler’s sixteen year-old sister, Seraph, also a Traveler, a Raven of the Clan of Isolda the Silent. He feels her magic stirring when she becomes furious, for the innkeeper believes she cannot pay the outrage sum against her. She is now being sold to whomsoever will pay the wage. Tier comes to her rescue, and they quickly leave the village. But the nobleman who had intended on buying Seraph for himself has every intention of taking her back… And loses.

Tier has every intention of helping her find her another Traveler family, bought plans are waylaid again when he gets home to find his mother abed and sick. He has the bakery to run, even though his sister and brother-in-law had been doing just fine. He’s asked to stay a few weeks at least, so spend time with his mother before her passing, but the more time he spends at home, the more he wants to get out. Restless after so many years of battle, the thought of a monotonous life is too much to bear. And he comes to Seraph’s rescue once again. After yet more harrassement from Tier’s sister, Seraph’s anger gets the better of her and unleashes a wave of destruction in the front room of the bakery, breaking everything. Once they were married, he buys a plot of land believed to be of little value, and becomes a farmer.

Twenty years and three children later, Seraph is happy, even though the guilt of eschewing her people’s responsibility ways on her, even through her little family’s having rough times. Tier has gone on another winter’s hunting trip, and he’s late in returning home. When a hunter arrives, bringing news that he believes Tier to be dead, Seraph is getting the feeling that something is most definitely not right. Now she must tell her children what exactly they are. There are 5 Orders of the Travelers; her children were all born into different Orders. Something that had never before happened.

Unearthing the bones, Seraph is sure that the bones do not belong to her husband. Another Raven, Hennea, finds them and explains what she believes is happening. Rinnie, her youngest child and only daughter, gets kidnapped, and all four: Seraph, her son’s Jes and Lehr and Raven Hennea, discover where she is and get her back, leaving her with Tier’s sister. Seraph believes that Tier has been kidnapped much for the same reason: for his magic. While Tier wasn’t born of the Order, he is a Bard: he can keep people calm with his voice, he can absolve an argument, and his songs can create pictures with his words. Travelers are dying. The Masters of the Secret Path are stealing magic with every intention of unleashing the Stalker. And as a Raven of the Order, Seraph cannot let that happen.

Patricia Briggs is a Master Story-teller. She weaves a suspenseful mystery plot with excellent characters, great action scenes, and feelings. You can feel the inner battles of the main characters, from Seraph and Tier to Lehr and especially Jes. Every word pops the picture in your mind and you can swear you’re right along with each character, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel. What I also really liked wsa the ending of the book. Even though this is the first book in her Raven duology, it doesn’t leave this huge cliffhanger ending. While the book can be read as a stand-alone, only a couple of the plot lines are left unresolved, which does leave you wondering, but not frustrated. If you like fantasy novels, you will definitely like this one.

Rating:

Published in: on November 4, 2010 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Mass Market Paperback, 370 pages, Published January 1st 1998 by Avon, ISBN13: 9780380789016

 

Richard Mayhew is a plain man with a good heart – and an ordinary life that is changed forever on a day he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. From that moment forward he is propelled into a world he never dreamed existed – a dark subculture flourishing in abandoned subway stations and sewer tunnels below the city – a world far stranger and more dangerous than the only one he has ever known…

Review: An enjoyable read!

**Spoiler Alert!** If you plan on reading the book, do not continue reading this review. … Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Richard Mayhew is just your everyday Average Joe who moved to London to procure a number-crunching job. He meets a girl and becomes engaged. Life seems to be great. However, Richard is an absent-minded person. He forgets his keys, loses track of time, etc… On the way to dinner with his fiancee (with a reservation he forgot to confirm), where he was supposed to impress her boss, Richard stops by a rag girl who is exhausted, frightened and hurt. Jessica (who is most definitely a woman who prefers her way or the highway) demands he leave her for someone else to take care of. And when he picks up the girl to take her home, Jessica (her name isn’t Jess) threatens to end their engagement. Richard disregards her statement and takes the girl home to mend. Little did he know how bad life was about to get.

“Door” can open doorways without keys, can open doors where there are none. It was her ability that helped her escape her would-be assassins, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, and brought her to London Above. But Richard doesn’t understand her meaning. No worries, reluctantly, he soon will. Her would-be assasssins manage to track her down, but Richard manages to get rid of them. With her face now plastered on Missing posters throughout the neighborhood, Door sends Richard for help and he brings back the Marquis de Carabas. As she leaves, she apologizes. Little does Richard know how deep that apology actually goes. For Richard’s life, as he knows it, is now over. Jessica broke their engagement and refuses to see or talk to him. When he arrives at work, his possessions are removed from his desk. His flat is leased to another couple – while he’s in the tub! Richard is gone. It’s as if he never existed. He can be seen, but is immediately forgotten. Throwing some of his belongings into a duffle bag, he sets off to find Door, wanting answers, wanting his life back. There’s only one way he figures he can find her. Start with the very place she’d sent him before for help.

And help he gets – from unlikely characters. For under London lies London Below, filled with shady characters, talking animals, tunnels, sewers, hidden passageways and a mysterious market that’s never held in the same place twice. A market that provides, but people barter, and not with money. Money means nothing in London Below. For Richard, this isn’t reality. He wants to go home.

Door is on her own quest. She wants to find her family’s muderer. She wants to know why. And only the Angel Islington can help. But after finally finding him, she is sent on a quest to retrieve a certain key, and when she returns, he will tell her all she needs to know. Richard, reluctantly, is along for the ride, for afterwards, the promise is he’ll be sent home and his life will be as it was.

But Door was warned; they have a traitor in their mists. The Hunter is hired to bodyguard her from the assassins who are after her. Richard deals with more than he bargained for. And just when they think they have the story right, how wrong they were.

An enjoyable read, it was an adventure. Places where people have no business being. Strange and shady characters, some you enjoy, some you dispise. A solid mystery that leaves you asking questions until you finally get the answers you seek. For me, it was missing just that little “oomph”, that little “spark” to make the story completely believable. While I could picture a different world of London Below, I couldn’t really picture some of the characters and what they did. I enjoyed the banter with Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. And I felt, at heart, how Richard came to care for Door. Definitely an entertaining story to read.

Rating:

Blood Born (Vampire, #1) by Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones

Published April 27th 2010 by Ballantine Books, Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages, ISBN13: 9780345520760

When the human and the vampire worlds collide

Luca Ambrus is a rare breed: He is a vampire from birth, begotten by vampire parents: blood born. He is also an agent of the Council—the centuries-old cabal that governs vampirekind, preserving their secrecy and destroying those who betray them.

When a cryptic summons leads him to the scene of the brutal killing of a powerful Council member, Luca begins the hunt for an assassin among his own people. But instead of a lone killer he discovers a sinister conspiracy of rogue vampires bent on subjugating the mortal world.

All that stands in their way are the conduits, humans able to channel spirit warriors into the physical world to protect mankind. Chloe Fallon is a conduit—and a target of the vampire assassin who’s killing them. When Luca saves her life, an irresistible bond of trust—along with more passionate feelings—is forged between them. As more victims fall, Chloe and Luca have only each other to depend on to save the world from the reign of monsters—and salvage their own future together.

**Review**
**Spoiler Alert!** If you plan on reading the book, do not continue reading this review. … Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Luca Ambrus, a vampire of over two thousand years old, is in Scotland, taking a little time off, so to speak. While he prefers the hussle and bussle of the city, at times, he needs the calming effect that his place in Scotland brings to him. The peace, the quiet. He’s lived a long life, a blood born, the son of vampire parents. Stronger than most vampires alive, he works for the Council, dispatching rogue vampires. Vampires who believe that humans are nothing but sheep, chattel, food, that they’re higher up in the food chain. Luca believes in leaving the world as it is: where humans don’t believe in things that go bump in the night.

But a war is brewing. A Rebellion has formed, and now they’ve found a descendant of the witch that cast a spell a very long time ago. This spell prevents vampires from entering a human’s home without an invitation. And once this spell is broken, the Rebellion will bring war with the humans in full force, showing the humans what they are truly meant to be.

However, the Warriors, spirits that lie in wait for each and every war, are whispering, talking, pleading with their conduits to bring them to their world. Conduits are descendants of the Warriors, and only the conduits can bring them across from their plain of existence.

Chloe Fallon is one such conduit. But she believes she’s slowly going nuts. Dreams, whispers are keeping her awake, for when she sleeps, the dreams and whispers grow stronger.

Luca is called by a longtime friend on the council, Hector. He’s certain that a Rebellion faction is forming, and asks Luca to come immediately. But Hector is murdered before he can arrive, but left enough clues with his powers to plainly show Luca his killer. But Enoch is only a foot-soldier to a higher power, and Luca plans to follow him, to see what Enoch can tell him.

The Rebellion queen, known as Regina to protect her true identity, has coerce Jonas’s help. He’s helped the council before, and she knows he has the power to do what she wants – find the location to all the conduits. If the conduits are killed, the Warriors cannot cross over, thereby ensuring the Rebellion wins the war.

But when Enoch attacks Chloe, and whispers to her, Luca hears it all, and defeats Enoch. But another surprise lies await for Luca – for Chloe can remember him. It is one of Luca’s gifts as a blood born vampire. No one remembers him the moment they turn their back. Only a very strong vampire can. It’s been a lonely life for Luca, but he’s accustomed to it. When Chloe remembers him, it’s a blow; even Glamour doesn’t work on her the way it should. There is something truly different about Chloe. The more time he spends with her, the more time he realizes she’s a conduit. The more information he gathers, the more he’s sure that there’s a Rebellion faction in the works, and the more he’s sure that the Queen, is none other than a member of the Council.

So now Luca’s job is two-fold. Not only does he have to stop the Rebellion to prevent a war, he needs to keep Chloe safe. For more reasons than one… Chloe has gotten under his skin. Even in the face of danger, she holds her head high, no matter how scared she is. She’s lived in danger all her life. A small aneurysm too dangerously close to her heart cannot be operated on, and the threat of it bursting is always there. Chloe is determined to live life to the fullest each day. Luca has never met a human like her before, and she’s gotten even more under his skin… she’s dangerously close to his heart.

**A great story, but could have used more.

I loved Luca in this story. To watch him see the world anew through Chloe’s eyes. Sure, Luca is a very old, very strong, very dangerous vampire, but Chloe is unlike anyone he’s ever met, vampire or human. Realizing what she means to this world, he vows to protect her at all costs.

Now, most who know me know I’m a paranormal nut. Paranormal in any form. There’s a mystery here, and it’s a good one. I sort of had an inkling of who the rebel queen was, but it wasn’t until one last clue is thrown to the reader do you really know who she is before seeing her real name. The mystery part is pretty good. So’s the action, the fighting. But one thing bugged the living daylights out of me.

For a paranormal-romance, I didn’t feel the romance. Luca and Chloe bonding together was an added measure for Chloe to be stronger, to help defend herself, even if only for a few seconds. While I felt a love start to grow, I felt no romance whatsoever.

And just once, I’d like to see the hero and the heroine declare their love for each other before the inevitable “about to lose the love of their life” confession happens. Just once. Anyone know of an author who can indulge me with that one?

Watching Sorin come to the realization that the queen would destroy even him, if he was in her way, was sort of bittersweet. I just wish he’d come to the realization a different way.

What I really liked was the difference in the play of the vampire world that Howard and Jones created. First, the old saying “a vampire cannot entire a home without an invitation” has been around for years/centuries, I liked how they tweeked it a little, but mentioning that it was a spell cast by a very strong witch a very long time ago. I liked that twist.

I liked how the young witch, Nevada, managed to outsmart the queen somewhat.

And I especially liked how Chloe managed to get a couple of good licks at the queen herself before and after receiving a strike from the queen that insured her death. Even while Chloe lay dying, she still managed to get one last “in your face” to the queen (ha! In your face… if you read the book, you’ll catch the unintended pun.)

The ending is a sure set up for book number two, which is what I’d expected. You can’t have a story end completely and expect to write a second book. Kudos to Howard and Jones on a book worth reading.

Rating:

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) by Suzanne Collins

Published July 6th 2010 by Scholastic, Inc, Paperback, 374 pages, ISBN13: 9780439023528

 

WINNING MEANS FAME AND FORTUNE.

LOSING MEANS CERTAIN DEATH.

THE HUNGER GAMES HAVE BEGUN…

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on life TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

**Review:**

**Spoiler Alert!** If you plan on reading the book, you may not want to read my review. … Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

What an incredible book!!!

Collins creates an alternate world where North America is no longer as it stands now. Divided into 13 districts, each has their way of life. Not liking the powers that be, a rebellion had been formed, and squashed, which explains how District 13 no longer exists. Now new rules make just about everyone’s lives absolutely miserable. Poor, starving, people do what they need to stay alive – and pray they don’t get caught.

Katliss Everdeen, 16, is one of those people. After her father had died in the coal mine explosion, she has done what she needed to do to keep her family alive. Her father had taught her well. She hunts, she barters, and does what she can.

And then enter the Hunger Games, created after the rebellion. It was Capitol’s way of keeping the people, the Districts, under their thumbs, a constant reminder that – look what we can do. We can take your children and make them kill each other. Rise against us and it will become infinitely worse for everyone. Children from the ages of 12 to 18 are at risk, male and female alike. Thrown into a situation where it becomes kill or be killed, and be the last person standing – the victor, do whatever is necessary to stay alive. At the age of 12, their name is entered once. At 13, twice. 14, three times, and so on, until their 18th year. After that, no more. Obviously, the older you get, the more at risk you are. A catch to that: say you are poor and starvation is knocking on your door. As an adolescent between the ages of 12 and 18, you can exchange your name for tesserae, which is worth one meager year’s supply of grain and oil for one person. And the entries are accumulative. Your names from the year before, from each tesserae, stays in that ball, until your final year. And this just raises the stakes – your name could be next.

This year, Katliss’s sister, Prim, turned 12, and her name had been entered, but only once. And yet… her name was pulled. Out of desperation and panic, Katliss volunteers herself, to take her sister’s place.

Already nervous, anxious and fearful, her heart sinks to her stomach when the boy’s name is called. Peeta Mellark’s name is pulled from the boys’ ball. The baker’s son, he had risked a beating at the age of twelve and stole to stale loaves of bread and gave them to a starving Katliss. She had never spoken to him, before or since, but she was always grateful for that small act of kindness. And then reality hits – only one victor, one person can win. How is she supposed to be able to kill Peeta, the first person to give her that small act of kindness.

From District 12 to the Capitol, it’s an experience no one will ever receive – unless their name is pulled from that ball. From rich foods to clothes and costumes, from training and judging and scoring, Katliss takes it all in, no matter how much she abhors it, no matter how much it twists her stomach. She has to, for reprecussions would fall on her mother and sister and the rest of her district.

And then the Games begin, and it is all about survival. (I won’t go into details – except to say there are times were you become furious and times where a box of Kleenex is handy.) Strategy comes into play, and some of it leaves Katliss’s mind reeling. It seems the strategy is that Peeta is supposed to be in love with Katliss. Yet, she doesn’t know if it’s real or not. Then an announcement sounds – rules have been changed. The two people from the same district can both be the victors, if they are the last alive. Now Katliss is determined – she won’t have to kill the first person who showed her an act of kindness. They can both live, and both go home.

More twists, fighting, trying to stay alive. And just when they believe they make it, another twist occurs that makes your own stomach drop, your heart rip out, and you may have to put the book down to wipe your tear-filled eyes.

And just when Katliss thought the “star-crossed lovers” strategy was simply that, strategy, it turns out, Peeta wasn’t lying. She doesn’t know what she feels, but she is warned. Play it up, cause both of their lives depend on it.

**An incredible book, one of the best YA novels I’ve ever read. I think it surpasses Twilight!**

The story sucked me right in from the beginning, and quickly became an unputdownable book. If you are a YA fan, this book is a definite must-read and a book for your “keeper” shelf.

Those who know me know I’m not big on YA novels. Because they are written with young adults in mind, the dialogue isn’t quite adult. The scenes aren’t adult. I have a hard time putting myself in that frame of mind to really enjoy it. But I have to admit, this one sucked me right in. While it’s YA, I personally feel that the violence may be a bit much for younger YA. However, my niece is going on 12, and she’s loving it, so what do I know? *shrug*

The violent scenes are just that – violent. But, even though they are quite violent, it’s so well written that you are literally in the characters’ shoes. You feel what they feel; hope, fear, adrenaline, loss, sadness, anger… the author pulls them out of you, no matter your age.

The characters are superb! You get a feel for what their lives are like, what they go through, how they live, what they feel. You become the shadow over their shoulder, watching and hearing everything they do, right there in the story with them.

You root for them, and root hard. Then you hit the end of the book and immediately want to grab the second. So, ladies and gents of all ages, make sure you have Catching Fire on hand. Like me, you’ll regret it if you don’t, LOL!

Rating:

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund

Hardcover, 400 pages, Published August 16th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company, ISBN13: 9780316089517

The Postcard Killers

by

James Patterson and Liza Marklund

NYPD detective Jack Kanon is on a tour of Europe’s most gorgeous cities. But the sights aren’t what draw him–he sees each museum, each cathedral, and each restaurant through a killer’s eyes.

Kanon’s daughter, Kimmy, and her boyfriend were murdered while on vacation in Rome. Since then, young couples in Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Stockholm have become victims of the same sadistic killers.

Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter, Gabby Larsen. Every killing is preceded by a postcard to the local newspaper–and Kanon and Larsen think they know where the next victims will be. With relentless logic and unstoppable action, The Postcard Killers may be James Patterson’s most vivid and compelling thriller yet.

*Please note: I cannot quote anything from the book. I’d won and received an ARC copy through the contest on the author’s website.

NYPD Detective Jacob Kanon has been all over Europe for almost six months. His on the trail of a serial killer, one that sends postcards and pictures to the newspapers before and after each killing.

But it’s for sure the murders are being committed by a serial killer. Victims are of young couples in love, either boyfriend/girlfriend, engaged, or newlyweds. The victims are drugged, murdered (throats slit), and posed, and polaroid pictures are taken and sent to the same person they previously sent the postcards to. The murders are committed once, in one city, then the killer moves on.

Jacob is on the hunt for what he calls The Postcard Killers, and won’t stop until they’re caught. At every murder, he becomes more and more frustrated, and despair is crashing on him. You see, he’d sent his daughter on vacation to Rome with her fiance, and she was one of the Postcard Killers’s victims. Guilt-ridden, he’s determined to catch them, no matter the cost.

Dessie Larsson, a Swedish reporter, received a postcard and wonders what it’s supposed to mean. But then the polaroid arrives, and she’s dragged into the case, against her wishes. She’s persuaded by the police to write a letter and publish it in the newspaper, meant to capture the killers’ attention. It does, in a gruesome way, and now Dessie feels responsible for the second set of victims, believing that, if she hadn’t written the letter, the killers would have moved on and the victims in Stockholm would still be alive.

Together, Jacob and Dessie comb through the evidence, the postcards, the polaroids. There’s a pattern, but just when it seems obvious, it floats away. One picture in particular haunts Dessie, for the posed victims remind her of something. After talking to her ex-husband, she’s figured out what all the polaroids have in common; the victims are posed to immitate reknown paintings, famous paintings.

When clues fall into place, pictures of the killers are released to the media, and a widespread manhunt ensues, only to have the tables turned on them. The killers give themselves up, acting like a pair of tourists caught in the middle of the whole fiasco. Jacob is sure they are the killers, but there’s not enough evidence. No prints, no DNA, no nothing.

But when they’re released, Jacob loses it. He needs to find evidence it’s them, and decides to investiage their pasts – in Los Angeles. The more people he talks to, the more he’s certain that Sylvia and Malcolm Rudolph, twins, sister and brother, are the killers.

As more clues fall into place, he returns to Dessie, and together the find another clue: a website created about their art group. One page needs a password to access, and no matter what they try, the password is denied. That is, until they hit the right password. What they find, is indescribable.

The killers aren’t just Sylvia and her twin brother, Malcolm, but several other people, all over Europe. All part of the same art group, and art group formed by Sylvia and Malcolm.

Jacob and Dessie are hot on the twins’s trail, through northern Sweden, where Dessie had enlisted the help of her cousin to see if they could find and track the twins. When news of a second car theft reaches them, Dessie passes on the information to her cousin, and the car gets spotted.

The climax of the story is swift and brutal, but the epilogue is very sweet.

**Not your garden-variety killers. Ha! (If you read the book, you’ll catch the pun, LOL!)

I liked Dessie right from the beginning. Even though she was a small-time reporter, she didn’t want to be reknown. That wasn’t for her. She didn’t care if her byline was under the biggest story. She wasn’t in it for the prestige. Her morals and beliefs grounded her, and I liked that about her very much. When the police persuade her to post a letter to the killers, offering them a large sum of money for an interview, she’s viewed in the media as unethical and immoral, and this really disturbs her.

Jacob is on a one-track mind: to find his daugther’s killers, no matter the cost. Severely depressed by guilt, believing that if he hadn’t sent his daughter and her boyfriend/fiance to Rome on vacation, she’d still be alive, he’ll stop at nothing to find and capture her killers. I liked his tenacity, even if I found him to be immoral at times. For him, morality flew out the window the minute he confirmed his dead daughter’s body was his daughter’s. I also loved how the walls he built around himself came crashing down when Dessie came into the picture, and how her face kept coming to mind while he was away from her. I think Dessie was his “saving grace.”

The killers, Malcolm and Sylvia Rudolph… what a pair of psychotics. I think the most disturbing to me was watching them interact with their victims. *shudder* Reading a murder-mystery, you expect gruesome crime scenes, so I was prepared for it. But you don’t really get into the killers minds, you just see them interact with everyone around them, how they act with their victims, how they “put on a show” about being simple art students and tourists, taking in the sights and museums… that was disturbing.

The climax was perfect. And the epilogue was sweet. One thing, though… I’d have liked to see Jacob “say goodbye” to his daughter with Dessie beside him.

Another perfect James Patterson novel. No unneeded details or descriptions, vivid descriptions bring mental pictures to mind that make you shudder, characters that are complicated with simple words, and short chapters make this a quick, but very enjoyable, read. Highly recommended!

Rating: .5

Angels’ Blood (Guild Hunter, #1) by Nalini Singh

Published March 3rd 2009 by Berkley, Mass Market Paperback, 339 pages, ISBN-13: 9780425226926

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she’s the best—but she doesn’t know if she’s good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, only one thing is clear—failure is not an option…even if the task is impossible.

Because this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other…and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn’t destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break…

Review: I had a very hard time putting down this book. Singh created an alternate world where vampires mix with humans and it’s just fact. But the twist is one I enjoyed very much. Angels rule over vampires, and archangels rule them all. The Quadre of Ten is made up of ten archangels, posted all over the world, and rule. Archangels are born, not made. Angels are one step up from vampires. Now, vampires aren’t ‘turned’. Humans petition archangels to be ‘Made’. Their lives are scrutinized, background checks, etc… to see if they qualify. If they are, then the process begins. Some make it through the transition, some die. Regardless, those humans who are accepted are made to sign a contract: they owe 100 years to their maker in complete subjugation. Should a vampire feel that they’ve served enough, they leave, effectively going ‘rogue’. And that’s where the Guild Hunters come in.

Hunters are hired by angels to go after the vampires that have taken off before their 100 years of servitude. Hunters find the vampires, bring them back to the angels and receive payment for services rendered.

Elena Deveraux is a hunter, and one of the best. Born ready, she can use their scent to track them down, making her one of the best hunters there are. She can tract wayward vamps anywhere. But being the best has its drawbacks; Archangel Raphael wants and needs the best, and has hired Elena through the Guild.

One of the Quadre of Ten has gone rogue; Uram has succumbed to his bloodlust, and if the world doesn’t want a repeat of the Dark Ages, Uram must be stopped – at all costs. Elena cannot scent archangels, but she can scent Uram – because he has gone rogue, he is emitting an acidic scent. But archangels and angels have an advantage: they have wings and can fly, making them harder to track.

Elena knows that failure is not an option, for failure means certain death. She may be scared to death of Raphael, of all archangels, but she cannot let a killing spree move forward.

But things become complicated, for Raphael finds Elena an enigma, and now he wants her for himself. And the more time they spend together, the harder it is to ignore what’s happening between them.

The author created a fabulous world that comes across completely believable, as if this is the way the world is now. Her writing fluid, you get swept up into the story and find it very hard to put down. The characters seem very real; the banter between Elena and Raphael is something I enjoyed the most in this book. The plot is great, with the subtle twists that get thrown in (like archangels having different powers; some being able to become completely invisible, etc…), watching all the characters interact make for very entertaining and sometimes intense scenes.

I did find a few things that got to be annoying, but it wasn’t overpowering enough to make me stop reading. Elena is a human-born tracker, and because she chose being a hunter as her profession, her father disowned her completely from the family, being told that she would have to crawl and beg to be able to return to the family. Elena refuses to back down or crawl for anyone, and constantly being reminded of it, including when she talks to Raphael about being no one’s toy, it got to be a little obnoxious. And no matter how you put it all together, you get glimpses of something that happened in the past, but not enough to really get the picture, to really understand her past, and it’s one that she refuses to talk about, no matter how many times Raphael asks. Those glimpses, without explanations, was getting rather annoying, and I hope we finally get the entire thing.

And still, even with the annoying parts, watching Elena and Raphael fall in love, the tracking of Uram, their final fight scene, what we believe to be Elena’s death – the book is fantastic! I balled my head off when I believed Elena to be dead.

An excellent first novel to a new series, and I absolutely recommend it.

Rating:

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) by Stieg Larsson

Published September 22nd 2009 by Penguin Canada, Mass Market Paperback, 841 pages, ISBN-13: 9780143170099

A spellbinding blend of murder mystery, family saga and financial intrigue.

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from the secluded island owned by the Vanger family. No one saw her leave the island, and no body was ever found. Her uncle, Henrik, is convinced she was murdered by a member of her own dysfunctional family. Disgraced journlaist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to investigate.

But when Blomkvist uncovers new evidence, it suddenly becomes too dangerous to proceed alone. Enter Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker with the wisdom of someone twice her age – and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it. She’s unwilling to take orders, rides a motorbike like a Hells Angel, and handles makeshift weapons with a skill born of rage.

Together this unlikely team unravels a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out how far they’re prepared to go to protect themselves.

**Solid mystery-suspense, 4 Stars out of 5!

Mikael Blomkvist, early forties, a finacial journalist and part onwer of the magazine, Millennium, has just been convicted of libel against industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. He’d rather take the conviction and jail sentence than fork over the name of his source. To protect the magazine, he steps down.

Lisbeth Salander, 24, has been a ward of the state since the age of thirteen. Under a guardian, her life is pretty much topsy-turvy. While a brilliant hacker with a photographic memory, she is emotionally shut down. Questions asked that she doesn’t want to answer remain unanswered; she clams up. No one really knows her, and she’s keeping it that way.

Industrialist Henrik Vanger followed the trial, and had his lawyer hire a security firm to check into Mikael. He wants to hire him. Back in 1966, Vanger’s niece, Harriet, disappeared without a trace and is feared dead. Obsessed, Vanger wants his niece, or her killer, found. Every year, since her disappearance, on his birthday, he receives a pressed and framed flower, just like Harriet used to give him. He believes he’s being tormented, and he wants answers. Adding incentive, he promises Mikael dirt against Winnerstrom. Very reluctantly, Mikael agrees to a one-year contract, on the premise of ghostwriting Vanger’s autobiography, which would help open doors to questions he needs answered.

The Vanger family is very extensive, with several oddballs in the bunch. It takes a while to sort through who’s who, and in the meantime, Mikael is going through every stitch of paper, every photograph, that was put together on Harriet, right down to police reports. He believes he’s on a wild goose-chase, believing that, if the police weren’t able to find anything, than neither would he.

How very wrong he was. With bits of information, and old pictures found and located, Mikael begins piecing what happened to Harriet together. Later, with the help of Salander and her photographic memory and her computer skills, they break the case. Only, it’s much worse than anyone could have imagined.

And with a sweet added bonus to end the novel, and again, with the help of Salander, Mikael blows Winnerstrom and his illegal activities right out of the water.

**A lengthy mystery with a happy ending… for some of the characters.

Right from the beginning, I had a hard time with the relationship between Mikael and his partner, Erika. I could understand the long-time friendship, and I could understand the partnership with the magazine, but I really didn’t understand their sexual relationship. His marriage fell apart because he couldn’t stop sleeping with Erika, even though he loved his wife and daughter. She’s married, and yet her husband is completely okay with it. Now, I’m happily married (10 years this July 1st and have been with my husband for 15 years), so maybe that’s why I don’t understand that aspect of their relationship? *shrug* Who knows?

Despite her emotional hang-ups, I admired Lisbeth and wish I had her courage. She doesn’t take anything lying down, and plots her revenges meticulously. She’s brilliant in her strategies, a genius hacker who will find whatever it is you’re trying to hide.

I liked how Mikael treated Salander right from the beginning, never pushing for information she didn’t want to give, but he explained the terms of what a true friendship is, and gave Salander the right to choose for herself if she was willing to accept Mikael’s friendship.

While I found the book slow-paced for about the first-half of the book (of 841 pages, that is a long first-half), I could understand that the author was setting up all the characters so that, like Mikael, you can fgure out who’s who. It was needed, even though it was frustratingly slow. But by the second-half, the mystery, the action, the danger, started heating up, and I was actually surprised at who the “bad guy” was. I had my ideas on someone else, until information that Mikael and especially Lisbeth unearthed. I rooted for them both, was just as creeped out, just as fearful, just as disgusted as they were. Lisbeth ends up having to really examine her emotions, something she never did, and just when she “man’s-up” and decides to lay it all out on the table for Mikael, at the very end of the last chapter, my heart broke for Lisbeth. I won’t say what and spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet. I’ll simply state: Go get this book! It’s a must-read!

Rating:

Nightwalker (Dark Days, #1) by Jocelynn Drake

Published August 1st 2008 by Eos, Mass Market Paperback, 370 pages, isbn13: 9780061542770

She rules the night…

For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker—an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed . . . and may be all that prevents her doom.

The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt . . . or be hunted.

Review: Mira is a Nightwalker, a 700 year-old vampire to be precise. But she isn’t like any other vampire, for she can manipulate fire. She doesn’t kill needlessly, taking only what she needs to survive. As Keeper of her Domain, she resides in Savannah, and “takes care” of her out-of-control brethren who kill for sport and turn humans into vampires at an alarming rate. She refuses to be a “baby-sitter”, dealing with them only when absolutely necessary. For the most part, she just wants to be left alone in her domain, and is happy that way.

But events don’t allow for that wish.

A hunter is in her domain, killing off younger vamps that aren’t strong enough to defend themselves. And he’s looking for Mira. Something is going on in the Nightwalker world, and Danaus is looking for answers; answers that Mira should be able to provide, if only she could remember.

The Naturi, men and women of the elements (earth, light, wind, and so on) are looking to break the seal placed on the doorway between two worlds, looking to bring back the rest of their brethren and their queen. The Naturi want to regain the earth that the humans are destroying, and vampires are nothing more than parasites that need to be squashed. But vampires were the Nightwalkers that forced the Naturi behind that doorway, and placed the seal on the door. Mira was part of that, even though she doesn’t remember.

What she does remember, however, was that she’d been kidnapped by the Naturi five centuries before, tortured by them; they wanted her to betray the Nightwalkers, wanted her to protect the Naturi in a war against the Nightwalkers and break the seal on that door.

And now, according to Danaus, it’s happening again. Naturi are killing Nightwalkers, and Mira is looking for answers, not just for Danaus.

But it seems that even trusting your own brethren can get you killed.

**Interesting twist to the paranormal/fantasy world.

I liked the main character, Mira, very much. Strong, independent, determined, she sets out to find answers that she needs. The answers, however, are far from what she wanted. She wanted to lay the problem on the Elders and return to her domain. That is far from what happens.

Danaus… a guy I’d like to have in my corner, if he didn’t see everything in such a black & white fashion. Over two centuries old, Danaus had spent time with monks, which is where his frame of mind was instilled: good was good, evil was evil, and that was that. Mira was a vampire and therefor evil. Vampires kill, they have no souls, that makes then evil. However, spending time with and around Mira, Danaus is learning that vampires aren’t what he was meant to believe, and is struggling with it.

Other characters in the book make for an interesting mix. Some that Mira can’t stand but deals with anyway. One that she adores and respects but comes to learn that he isn’t what she believed him to be.

And just when things go from bad to worse, and Mira realizes that her life will never be the same, the book ends with the perfect set-up for Book #2. Oh, I so freaking hate that when authors do that. But, que sera, sera, and onto book #2, which is in my TBR pile already. I have a few more I need to read this month before getting to this one.

But I thought the entire cast of characters were colorful, personalities completely different from each other. Actions scenes are superb (even if a little overboard on the gore), and the mysteries behind Mira’s faulty memory make for wide-eyed surprises.

Information is the only thing that bugged me, which diminished my usual 5-star ratings on books I think are superb. First, when the author gives you information on the Nightwalker work (in any part of it), you’re overloaded and trying to remember it all – and keep it straight. Then there’s the lack of info: what, exactly is Danaus: we know he’s over two centuries old has has very strong powers. What, exactly is Mira: constantly being told that she’s no ordinary vampire isn’t enough, dang it! We know she can wield fire, and while you get a bit of info (we know she is a First Blood. What the heck is a First Blood?!)

Despite that, I Definitely recommend it!

Rating: