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:
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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

The Spellman Files (Spellman, #1) by Lisa Lutz

Published January 27th 2009 by Pocket, Mass Market Paperback, 470 pages, ISBN-13: 9781416594178

Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, twenty-eight-year-old private investigator with relentlessly intrusive bosses (Mom and Dad), a chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress), and uncle who randomly disappears on benders (“Lost Weekends”), and a kid sister on her trail (hired by her parents to ascertain the identity of her new boyfriend). When Izzy snaps, the only way out of the family business is to solve an ice-cold missing persons case that leads to the disappearance of someone she loves…

Review: Offbeat and quirky, a book you can’t pass up!

Isabel Spellman grew up purposely being the complete opposite of her “absolutely perfect in every way” older brother. So she did the only thing that came naturally: Rebelled in every way, shape and form. Constantly getting into trouble. It didn’t help having private investigators for parents who taught their children the business early. Isabel used those skills to land herself in all that trouble.

They spy and blackmail each other as much as they spy for their clients. But Izzy’s patience is tested when her parents assign her fourteen-year-old sister the job of spying on her for the purpose of identifying Izzy’s boyfriend. Things go from bad to worse, Izzy has had it, and decides to quit. So, her parents persuade her to take one last case – the dead-cold missings persons case. Negotiations ensue, and Izzy is to work the case for 2 months, whether she solves it or not, and she’ll be able to leave without any hounding from her parents.

But as Izzy’s suspicions grow, with facts in the case that just don’t add up, Albert and Olivia do everything in their power to stop Isabel’s pursuit. But Izzy’s doggedly determined to find out what happened to Andrew Snow, no matter what.

And just when Izzy believes she has a break in the case, her sister, Rae, goes missing. Question is: Does Rae’s disappearance have anything to do with the Snow case?

**Worthwhile read, something for everyone.

It’s hard to try and determine which genre to put this book in. The spine specifically says “Fiction”, but it has other genres tied in. There is a case, a mystery that needs solving, but it’s not the basis of the plot.

There is comedy. Between the spying, the dirt, the blackmail, the negotiations, your snorting with laughter at some of the characters antics.

There is a little drama. Not only does little sister Rae go missing, the family does what they can to find her, you feel what Izzy’s feeling. But Uncle Ray needs to be included in that drama. “Lost Weekends” are the norm; Uncle Ray disappears for days on end, drinking, gambling, and bedding women. I cried when Izzy and Rae went to Reno to bring him back the final time, only they weren’t bringing him back the way the family usually did.

Well worth the read! My mistake was reading the excerpt of the next book in the series, Curse of the Spellmans. LOL, now I really want to get my hands on that book!

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:

The Screaming Room (Lt. John Driscoll, #2) by Thomas O’Callaghan

Published May 1st 2007 by Pinnacle - Paperback - 352 pages - ISBN-13: 9780786018123

Every serial killer has a special place…

John Driscoll has laid the ghosts of his past to rest. He’s ready to start over – both personally and as an NYPD homicide commander. But it seems that a serial killer has other plans for Driscoll.

The victims’ bodies are found, brutally mutilated and carefully arranged for the world to see – grotesque visions to all except for the depraed killer, who considers them masterpieces. These blood rituals spell out a message to Driscoll. And they are just the beginning…

Driscoll’s investigation will lead him down the darkest of journeys, toward an evil beyond his worst nightmares. In a hellish landscape conceived by the all-too-clever mind of a twisted schemer, Driscoll must play a killer’s deadly game. It’s up to him to save his city – or die trying.

**Gruesome, chilling, a killer’s game.

Driscoll has finally made peace with the ghosts of his past and has accepted things he cannot change. And just when it starts getting better, his wife Colette, who was comatose for over six years from an accident that also killed his daughter, takes her last breath. And just when John lays her to rest, a serial killer is loose in New York City, leaving gruesome bodies in the most public places possible.

What begins as a strange case only gets worse, for more bodies are lining up. At first, the only connection to the victims are that they are tourists, all of different nationalities. Stranger yet, each victim was clubbed on the left side of the head hard enough to be fatal, and each has been scalped.

The deeper Driscoll and his team dig, the creepier the case gets. For forensics left behind point to a set of identical twins, male and female. Why? Why kill these seemingly innocent people? The more the team uncovers, the more their realize that these victims aren’t innocent at all.

Angus and Cassie Claxonn are in their late teens, and they are killing in vengeance. Abused by their “so-called” father when they were young, Cassie raped and her face disfigured by him, used as child prostitutes, they’d had enough. First they got rid of their father, then decided to rid the world of those disgusting and vile people like him. And the scalping… being sent to the foster mother who’d taken care of them when they were small, a spiteful note of anger at how she could have let their birth mother take them away from what they knew as a happy home, to a life of absolute terror and misery.

The case is heating up. As the team digs, Driscoll gets closer and closer to Angus and Cassie. A thorn in his side, Malcom Shewster, the father of one of the victims and a pharmaceutical mogul, doesn’t just want the killers found… He wants them dead, just as his daughter is now dead. The one million reward he put in the press is boosted to 3 million, and he wants the killers, bad. The tip hotline number is being observed, not only by the police, but Shewster’s team; he’s determined to get to Angus and Cassie first.

And just when Angus and Cassie are located and surrounded, Driscoll faces a terrible surprise, for Angus wanted something against “Lieutenant Bulldog”, and he found her: Driscoll’s sister, Mary. Angus had kidnapped her, and now plans to use her for his get-away.

But that doesn’t happen. Driscoll always gets his man.

**Fast-paced and twisted, this book will not let you down. Creepy facts that get creepier, you want to feel sorry for the twins and what they went through. But the more the bodies pop up, the more disgusted you get and cheer on the good guys.

Driscoll, although he just lost his wife, knows that she’s better off and no longer suffering. While he’ll always love her, he can put the pain to rest.

Margaret is back on his team. Both know their feelings for the other, and while Driscoll wants to pursue it as much as Margaret does, Margaret is terrified at the thought of a relationship with him. She has ghosts of her own that haunt her, which also screws up her feelings on the case.

Cedric Thomlinson is also back, the third in the trio. He knows he owes Driscoll for the second -chance he’d been given, and he’ll push himself as far as he can go.

Then there’s the mayor of NYC. William “Sully” Reirdon is the typical mayor; another one of those mayors everyone reads who’s let the power behind the title fill his head and boost his ego. Sure, like hounding Driscoll will make solving the case go faster. *eye roll* You’ll love to hate him.

And then there’s Malcom Shewster, the father of one of the victims. Another ego-maniac who believes he’ll get what he’s after, and only makes solving the case more difficult than it needs to be. And just when it looks like he’s about to get his way, Thomlinson spoils his plan, to which Driscoll now owes him hugely. If it hadn’t been for spoiling the plan, Driscoll’s sister would have been dead, right along with the killers.

This story will grip you from beginning to end, and you’ll be itching for the next book!

On a side note, at first, I wasn’t sure what to make of the title. Upon finishing the book, you’d think that The Screaming Room had something to do with the killers and their victims. But upon reflection, I think I figured it out; when we read the flashbacks, the killers are young, placed on a table, in a room in the basement. With the torture that went on, I think that’s where The Screaming Room comes in. While the title still doesn’t do it for me, the story sure as heck did!

Rating: !

Evil Without a Face (Sweet Justice, #1) by Jordan Dane

Mass Market Paperback, 377 Pages, Published February 1st 2009 by Avon, ISBN:9780061474125

Evil Without a Face

(Sweet Justice, #1)

by Jordan Dane

Haunted and obsessed . . .

She sleeps with a Colt Python in her nightstand and her senses on alert—Jessica Beckett isn’t taking any chances. Hiding a chilling secret, living in a world of snitches and felons, good cops and bad dreams, Jessica is a bounty hunter who brings lowlifes to justice. But not even she can imagine what she’ll face when she tracks an online predator who has abducted a naïve teenage girl.

Making promises that can’t be kept

Former NFL quarterback Payton Archer swore to his sister that he’d find her only child. But the police have no leads, and the teen’s trail has turned cold. Plagued by personal demons, Payton’s never considered himself a hero, but this time he has to be.

And fighting a faceless enemy

Joining forces to save the seventeen-year-old girl, Payton and Jessica discover that she’s nothing but a pawn in an insidious, terrifying global conspiracy. They’re battling a new kind of criminal . . . and soon their race for answers will become a dangerous struggle for survival.

**Review: **Spoiler Alert!**

Seventeen-year-old Nikki Archer is running away from home, away from her single-parent, alcoholic mother. She wants to start a new life far away from Talkeetna, Alaska. And a friend she met online, promises she and her dad can help her.

And after finally getting to Chicago, Nikki learns all too quickly that her friends isn’t whom she said she was, and neither is her father. Nikki has been kidnapped with a subtle ploy, one where she believed her friend could help her get into a modeling agency. In reality, teenagers no more older than children, are being kidnapped and sold … privately, the biggest sex trade that stretches around the globe.

Payton Archer, an ex-NFL’er, believes himself worthless, and has acted that way for a long time. But when his sister calls, begging for his help, he realizes that he has to face life head-on: he’ll find and help Nikki, no matter what it takes.

Jess Beckett’s past is actual hell, and she won’t bring herself to think about it. She believes she’s moved on. She is now a Fugitive Recovery Agent, aka Bounty Hunter, sleeps with a Colt Python either in her nightstand or under her pillow, and doesn’t trust anyone with a 20-foot poll. The only one that can remotely touch her is her best friend, Samantha Cooper, a Chicago Vice cop.

Most cops don’t like Jess. She pushes to the max, and more times than not, jumps way over the line of the law, to apprehend the fugitive she’s after. But when she bumps into one fugitive she’d love to rid the world of, she does everything physically possible to bring him down, only for him to be let loose again. Seems the pedophile is a paid snitch for the cops, and that grinds Jessie’s cookies to dust. After stealing property, a laptop, Jess has her hired tech employee, Seth Harper, try to break into it, but he’s unable to get much out of it. But both are curious and suspicious of what’s on there, and Seth loads the computer with a device that can keep track of keys that are typed. And when she has to trade the laptop for Seth, both are determined to bring the man down. But the pedophile ends up murdered, and detectives suspect that Jess was the one that took him out. And now Jessie’s racing against the clock – find the killer and stop Globe Harvest.

Meanwhile, Payton and his friend, Joseph Tanu, a retired trooper, follow clues that lead them right to Chicago, and on the trail of Nikki, and what is now known as Globe Harvest.

And now it’s down to the wire. Find the missing and kidnapped kids and shut down Globe Harvest.

**Not bad… not bad at all!

I liked Jess right off. A no-nonsense tough cookie, Jess does what she has to in the heat of the moment. As a character, she had me snort with laughter quite a few times with her one-line quips and sarcasm. She reminded me very much of me in that aspect. While I felt bad about her past, I didn’t pity her, for she’s pushed herself to get passed it, to become better than ‘what could have been.’ If she was a real person, she’d be something to admire.

Payton irked me a little at the beginning of his part in the story. I don’t like characters that are introduced with stupid moves and self-pity. But Payton overcomes my first thoughts about him, and turns into a loving and heartsick uncle who’ll do whatever it takes to find his niece and bring her home.

All the characters are interesting, some coming of in a suspicious manner, but as you learn more about them, you learn who you can trust, and who you can’t.

I liked the mystery, suspense and action in the book. It wasn’t sparsed too wide, and it wasn’t too thick. I liked the romance that started between Jess and Payton, but I can’t see it lasting into anything serious. Their worlds are just too far apart. I also liked how the author put it bits and pieces of what Nikki and the other girls were going through. It added to the suspense and the horror I felt as a mother who can’t imagine what I’d do if my daughter ever ended up in Nikki’s position. Scary.

While not my favourite book, it definitely shows promise to the beginning of a series. I’m looking forward to the second book, The Wrong Side of Dead.

Street Game (GhostWalkers, #8) by Christine Feehan

Mass Market Paperback - 450 Pages - Published December 29th 2009 by Jove - ISBN-13: 9780515147605

Street Game

(GhostWalkers, #8)

by Christine Feehan

For Mack McKinley and his team of GhostWalker killing machines, urban warfare is an art. But despite a hard-won knowledge of the San Francisco streets, Mack knows from experience that too many things can still go wrong. Danger was just another part of the game—and now he’s come face-to-face with a woman who can play just as tough.

She’s Jaimie, a woman with a sapphire stare so potent it can destroy a man. Years ago she and Mack had a history—volatile, erotic, and electric. Then she vanished. Now she’s walked back into Mack’s life, as a spy with more secrets than are good for her. Against all odds, she’s hooking up with Mack one more time to take on an enemy that could destroy them both, or bring them back together in one hot, no-holds-barred adrenaline rush.

**Review: The past can haunt you.

A GhostWalker team, headed by Mack McKinley, heads to San Francisco after receiving a tip that an arms dealer has a cache hidden and waiting to be shipped. But the address can’t be right: only one loan occupant on the top floor of a three-story warehouse in the building? Tight security, but bypassable. Something’s not right. There’s nothing on the first floor, the second is high-tech, state of the art computers. But, discovering Jaimie, the woman he once had and lost, on the top floor, couldn’t be a coincidence… Could it?

Together since they were kids, the team is happy to see Jaimie again. She left a few years before, when Mack broke her heart. She’s determined to make it on her own. Creating her own software company, she on contract with the government creating high-tech software. But she has her own agenda: she’s hunting Whitney down. She wants to expose him, and those in the government who are backing him, to expose what he’s done, especially the experiments on children. She’s getting close, and they want her eliminated. However, they’ll only accomplish that over Mack’s dead body.

Mack’s ego and pride are what stopped him from going after Jaimie when she left. This time, he has no intention of letting her go. But can he convince Jaimie that he is what she wants him to be? A man who loves her?

**Another incredible book in the series! Strategy and adrenaline-packed action, it’s awesome to watch the play-by-play with all the characters. To see the comradeship between players who‘ve known each other since they were kids.

Mack, the strong, silent type, is a very intense man who will stop at nothing to keep Jaimie safe, and to bring her back with him. He refuses to lose her again.

Jaimie is determined to stop Whitney, to keep her team, especially Mack, safe. No matter how hard she guards her heart, she still loves him, even when he infuriates her.

The mystery continues, and you know the next book will receive top marks, just like this one. Action-packed, strategy-filled, with plenty of psychic energy between them all, you can’t help but love all the characters, and you can’t wait for their own stories. Two thumbs up, Ms. Feehan!!!

Rating:

Mania by Craig Larsen

Mass Market Paperback - 376 Pages - ISBN-13: 978-0786021543

Mania

by Craig Larsen

On the foggy streets of Seattle, a serial killer known as the Street Butcher is terrorising the city. Newspaper photographer Nick Wilder is accustomed to seeing gruesome homicide scenes. But when the Street Butcher claims Nick’s brother his latest casualty, the case suddenly becomes very personal. Determined to find his brother’s killer, Nick stumbles into a dizzying labyrinth of deceit and danger. As he digs deeper, Nick discovers his own past holds a key to unmasking a clever, diabolical psychopath. But the real motives behind the murders are as cold and stark as Seattle’s winters – and much more blood will spill before Nick learns the horrifying truth.
 
**Review: A definitely terrific read!

Before I even get started on my own review, I gotta mention: widely known and loved authors, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Gregg Olsen and William Lashner, all give this book high marks. I’m right there with them! Two thumbs way up, Craig Larsen!

Nick Wilder isn’t new to gruesome scenes. As a photographer for a Seattle newspaper, he’s seen his fair share of crime scenes. The lastest aren’t any better. But soon enough, a pattern developes, and the Street Butcher is turning into a serial killer.

The deeper Nick begins to dig, the more the pattern developes, for Seattle isn’t the only city seeing these gruesome murders. But things are getting more complicated. Nick’s brother, Sam, is murdered. A public official is murdered, and Nick is having dizzy spells, blackouts with missing time, and is starting to have flashbacks of traumatic experiences from when he and Sam were kids.

But all of this goes deeper than anyone realizes, and who’s to say if it’ll ever stop.

**Incredible first novel by a talented author. Keep ’em coming, Craig!

When Mr. Larsen PM’d me to see if I’d like a copy of his book, I jumped at the chance. His novel is one in a genre I like very much. Who’d say no to a book that’s getting terrific reviews? Of course I said yes, LOL! And, boy howdy, am I ever glad I did!

The confusion, the flashbacks, the twists from past to present, all that blended well. The character is confused and baffled, and the feeling is pressing into the reader. You feel that confusion, and you keep turning the page to see what happens next.

I found it suspicious that Nick met Sara the way he did. I didn’t like her from the beginning. Now I know why. There’s just something about her that puts a person off, especially her “vagueness”. And this is all before Nick follows her when she sneaks out of their bed so as not to wake him.

But I never even thought to think that Sam’s brother had anything to do with this. Or even the detective for that matter. There is a certain amount of predictability, but not enough to put off a reader. A few too many adjectives, but as author Stephen King as an influence, I can see where that comes from. SK is one of my fave authors, LOL, so I didn’t mind the overuse one bit. I did find that the characters, some of them, lacked depth.

Yet still, the confusion, the blackouts, the flashbacks of Nick’s past, all play the part well. Put all together, they turned an incredible book that much better.

Mr. Larsen, you keep cranking out books like this, and you’ll have a fan here who’ll keep reading them. Bravo!

Rating:

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 9:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The First Sin by Cheyenne McCray “Lexi Steele” Book #1

Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages - Publisher: St. Martins Paperbacks; 1 edition (February 3, 2009) - Language: English: - ISBN-10: 0312946449 - ISBN-13: 978-0312946449

Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages - Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; 1 edition (February 3, 2009) - Language: English: - ISBN-10: 0312946449 - ISBN-13: 978-0312946449

 

The First Sin

by Cheyenne McCray

“Lexi Steele” Book #1

No seduction is too dangerous.

AN ELITE PARTNERSHIP

Alexi Steele is determined, relentless, and driven to protect the innocent. She’s a top agent of the NSA’s clandestine Recovery Enforcement Division, specializing in human trafficking and sex crimes. Her current mission: to infiltrate the inner circle of Boston’s exclusive S&M clubs in order to save thirteen young women who are about to be auctioned off to the highest bidders. But Lexi’s only way in is under the “control” of her new partner in crime, Nicholas Donovan.

AN EROTIC END GAME

Nick will do whatever it takes to bring down the billionaire sex-ring mastermind who’s kidnapped his sister. But the games he must play as Lexi’s “dominant” are burning away his icy control and blurring the lines between partners. Meanwhile, their enemies are closing in as they enter a devastating race against time … bringing them dangerously close to THE FIRST SIN.

Review: Warning: Dark and Very Graphic

Alexi Steele is a top RED agent. She and her team plan to infiltrate exclusive S&M clubs of Boston’s inner circle; young ladies seem to be disappearing from clubs around Boston, never to be seen or heard from again. Word is, the women are being auctioned off to the highest bidder. And Lexi is determined to bring them down. 

Nick Donovan’s sister is one of those missing young women. His only hope to finding her – join RED. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Karen Oxford, Lexi’s direct boss, has been trying to recruit him for years – nothing but the best of the best for RED’s clandestine operations. He’s turned her down every time, but now he has no choice, for he’s sure it’s the only way of finding his sister. Plus, he’s been eyeing Lexi: he wants her.

Now Lexi isn’t happy to end up stuck with Donovan. For her, he’s too close, too emotionally involved. Now she has no choice but to include him in the op, and now he’s her partner. The man is gorgeous as sin; does she want him as a partner in an S&M club? Only time will tell.

And as they go further under cover, not only are they getting close to who is behind the missing women, but they’re getting closer to each other as well, and they can’t deny themselves any more. But will this pose a problem for their undercover operation? Time is ticking, and both are afraid they may be too late.

**An excellent first novel!

I’ve never read a full-length Cheyenne McCray before. Now I’m wondering what the hell too me so long, LOL!

Lexi is a strong woman with a difficult past. Her family has no idea what she went through a few years before. Details of her past capture and torture are what Lexi hold deep – no one knows the full extent. But during her capture and subsequent torture, she was given an option: join them and become their assassin, or die – very slowly and very painfully. To save herself, she did as they asked, never asking questions, yet always looking for a way out. And just when she was close to getting caught, Karen Oxford gave her that way out. Now nightmares plague her. Lexi is one hell of a strong woman, who is willing to do what it takes to get the job done, no matter the cost to her. No one in her family, save her brother who is also another RED agent, knows what she actually does for a living, and Lexi has to keep it that way. I think not being able to talk about her past, holding it so close, is what hurts her the most, and when Donovan arrives into the picture, she may tell him some of it, but he doesn’t look at her as a monster; he understands what she went through.

Donovan will do whatever it takes to find his sister. Both, he and Lexi are like pitbulls, never giving up. Both are strong, determined characters, and the heat between them is palpable! Whew *fanning myself*! Some of those loves scenes would have fogged my glasses if I was wearing them!

The action is superb. The mystery is great and I’m glad it’s not completely over, which means on to Book #2, LOL!

Warning: Memories of Lexi’s past torture, her capture by one of the current bad guys, as well as the BDSM aspect of the book, are very graphic and are not for everyone.

Rating:

Tribute by Nora Roberts

Paperback: 464 pages - Publisher: Jove; Reprint edition (March 31, 2009) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0515146366 - ISBN-13: 978-0515146363

Paperback: 464 pages - Publisher: Jove; Reprint edition (March 31, 2009) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0515146366 - ISBN-13: 978-0515146363

 

Tribute

by Nora Roberts

The #1 New York Times bestselling author presents her latest blockbuster novel, the story of a big-screen legend, a small-town scandal and a young woman caught up in the secrets and shadows of both.

Cilla McGowan, a former child star, has found a more satisfying life restoring homes. So she comes to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to save the dilapidated farmhouse that once belonged to her grandmother – a legendary actress who died of an overdose more than thirty years ago.

Plunging into the project with gusto, Cilla’s almost too busy and exhausted to notice her neighbor, graphic novelist Ford Sawyer. Determined not to carry on the family tradition of ill-fated romances, Cilla steels herself against Ford’s quirky charm, though she can’t help indulging in a little fantasy.

But it’s reality that holds its share of dangers for Cilla. A cache of unsigned letters found in the attic points to a mysterious romance in her grandmother’s life – and may be the catalyst for a frightening, violent assault. And if Cilla and Ford are unable to sort out who is targeting her and why, she may, like her world-famous grandmother, be cut down in the prime of her life.

Review: I was expecting more from NR…

Cilla McGowan, former child star, has grown up a woman who knows what she wants. And when she figures out how to get it, there’s no stopping her. Finally, her grandmother’s house, legendary actress Janet Hardy, is hers, and she wants to restore the old farmhouse that her mother has let fall apart. She dreams of becoming a contractor, ‘flipping’ houses for profit. And she’s well on her way.

And yet, at night, she has dreams – conversations with her long dead grandmother. And while cleaning out the attic, she finds letters written to her grandmother, left unsigned. Could it be real? Was Janet really pregnant before her death thirty years ago? And if so, why wasn’t that included in the autopsy? Cilla’s determined to figure it out.

Ford Sawyer, graphic novelist and neighbor across the road, has been forbidden to hold a power tool, LOL! Family and friends know that he couldn’t fix anything if his life depended on it. And that’s fine with him. He’d rather draw.

When the two finally meet, Cilla likes Ford, but doesn’t want anything to do with him. His charm seems to have power over her, but seeing her the dozen marriages between her mother and grandmother, she refuses to follow into their shoes. And yet, Ford’s subtle pushing hooks her in, and she falls for him. And to Ford, Cilla’s in an amazing woman.

Meanwhile, someone doesn’t want Cilla in town, fixing up the farmhouse. A violent assault on Cilla’s ex-husband/best friend, destruction of property, all attempts to make Cilla leave. But Cilla isn’t having it. The question is, can Cilla and Ford figure out who could hate her so much before the destruction turns to murder?

**I was expecting more.

I really liked Cilla’s determination, and going for what she really wants. The relationship between her and her mother soured my stomach; my mother and I have a best-friend relationship, and I couldn’t imagine going through what Cilla constantly goes through with her mother. I can understand her reluctance toward Ford, but I loved watching the sizzle between them. LOL, the banter couldn’t have been more perfect.

I liked how Ford viewed Cilla, and how he fell for her hard. It’s nice to see the guy admit it first for a change.

I felt really bad for Cilla’s ex-husband, Steve, who ended up nearly killed.  And everything was the same old, tired, run-of-the-mill, suspense stuff. The property destruction could have been amped up; frankly, I thought it wasn’t enough. And the dreaming of conversations with her dead grandmother? Overdone and I could have done without some of it.

I was surprised by Cilla’s would-be murderer – yes an no. I was close. And again, that was predictable. The suspense could have been amped up as well.

And the only reason I’m giving this one 4 stars is because of Cilla and Ford. I really liked the two of them together.

Rating: