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review 2015-11-03 01:28
Devoted in Death - A Review


Ella-Loo and Darryl were fated to be together.  The moment he walked in to the bar where she was waiting tables (and turning tricks) and their eyes met, stars exploded and fireworks went off.  They started their cross-country journey to NYC that very night, but when their car broke down on a secluded country road they ended up accidentally killing the Good Samaritan who stopped to help them.  For Ella-Loo and Darryl stars exploded and fireworks went off all over again … it was a rush … an aphrodisiac!
Leaving a trail of bodies from Arkansas to New York City, their handiwork finally crossed paths with Det. Eve Dallas.  Eve would not let this rest.  The intertwining hearts they carved with their initials was the only clue she had to their identity, but she knew eventually she would lock them up.
Once again the reader goes on a case with Eve, Peabody, Roarke, et al to catch the bad guy.  With this the 41st (or is the 42nd?) installment in the “In Death” series one would think that the books would be getting tired?  Admittedly, there have been some duds and the crime solving is getting to be a little cookie-cutter but Ms. Robb miraculously manages to find a way to keep things fresh.  “Devoted in Death” achieves this with the introduction of a new character – one Detective Banner – a gold old boy from the south on the trail of the same killers.  I enjoyed how Eve’s tough New York cop clashed with and then compliments Detective Banner's more relaxed southern ways.  Carmichael and Santiago, on assignment following leads, traipsing around the backwoods in the southern states gave this installment in the series the comic relief it usually gets from Mavis and Nadine.  They were missed, but the new characters (Banner and FBI agent Zweck) stood in well.
I never thought I would find myself typing these words but the character I am beginning to think I wouldn’t mind seeing less of is Roarke.  He is starting to get really annoying.  I find him turning more and more into a controlling, know-it-all husband/sidekick rather than the sexy, black Irish, richer than god, I own half the universe husband and sex toy.  Yes, he’s the electronics whiz and all that, but geez, let Eve decide for herself what she is going to wear in the morning, what and when she is going to eat and STOP following her around on her cases.  (All the reasons I don’t watch Castle!)  Each book unfailingly has one tiff between Eve and Rourke because things can’t be paradise in a marriage all the time and it gives Ms. Robb an excuse to write a good make-up-sex scene.  In this book the argument was lackluster, as if the author herself couldn’t muster the enthusiasm for something “knock-down-drag-out” followed be any equally (yawn) boring make-up scene.
If left to my own devices I would probably give this series a rest but my BFF is totally devoted to it and buys the books as soon as they hit the shelves.  She finishes it off in record time and passes it one me.  All in all, I do enjoy them so it’s not much of an obligation to read them but I’d like to see something shake up the series.  Maybe give George R.R. Martin a call for some advice on how to kill off a beloved character?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from www.jdrobb.com)
With a phenomenal career full of bestsellers, Nora Roberts was ready for a new writing challenge. As her agent put it, like Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and caffeine-free Pepsi, a pseudonym offered her the opportunity to reach a new and different group of readers. The first futuristic suspense J. D. Robb book, Naked in Death, was published in paperback in 1995, and readers were immediately drawn to Eve Dallas, a tough cop with a dark past, and her even more mysterious love interest, Roarke.
The series quickly gained attention, great reviews, and devoted readers. Since the debut of Loyalty in Death (the ninth In Death book) on Halloween 1999 on the New York Times bestseller list, every J. D. Robb title has been a New York Times bestseller. While fans had their suspicions, it wasn’t until the twelfth book in the series, Betrayal in Death (2001), that the publisher fully revealed that J. D. Robb was a pseudonym for bestselling powerhouse Nora Roberts. Unmasked, Nora Roberts fans who hadn’t yet picked up one of the Robb books were quickly playing catch-up.
Robb’s peers in the mystery world are fans as well, with accolades for the In Death series from such blockbuster authors as Stephen King, Jonathan Kellerman, Dennis Lehane, Kathy Reichs, Lisa Scottoline, Janet Evanovich, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Robert B. Parker, Ridley Pearson, Linda Fairstein, and Andrew Gross.
Every Nora Roberts and J. D. Robb title released in 2009 hit the New York Times bestseller list. That*s keeping up a streak started in 1999.
With Fantasy in Death (February 2010) Nora will have published 190 full-length novels. Fantasy in Death is also the 30th book in the series.
Nora has written 165 New York Times bestsellers including 23 written as
J. D. Robb and one written together with J. D. Robb.
Innocent in Death was the first book written as J. D. Robb to debut at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list on March 11, 2007
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review 2015-11-01 00:08
Slade House - A Review

SLADE HOUSE by David Mitchell

Slade House is mansion that stands down a narrow, dark alley in a working class part of London.  Those who know of it always think that it is very out of place.  Those who visit it find it’s garden enchanting, it’s hosts charming and the food better than any ever tasted before.  Those few never want to leave … then they do – desperately … none do.
Slade House is a short novel told in five vignettes.  Each part is told from the perspective of a different character.  Each telling gives the reader a little more information about what is actually going on in Slade House.  None of what we learn is good!  When we meet and get know the inhabitants of Slade House, brother and sister twins Norah and Jonah Grayer, things start to fall into place. 
Despite the fact that this book is written in what amounts to five separate stories Mr. Mitchell manages to write so that it all blends together quite seamlessly.  As each story began I foolishly hoped that this time it would be different; this time the visitor would best the twins.  It was not to be.  The author certainly kept me on a roller coaster of belief, hope and then despair for the victims, each consecutive story amplifying that sensation more and more.  That was some excellent writing.  As the final vignette began I was drawn in once more.  I was having that “boy who cried wolf” feeling and swore I would not get my hopes up again.  I needn’t have worried.  Mr. Mitchell did a superb job of keeping me in suspense and not so blissful ignorance.
The final outcome?  Let’s just say I could have screamed – and not only in horror.
As thoroughly as I enjoyed this book one drawback for me was the use of what I can only describe as “mystic psycho-babble”.  I got so bogged down in the names for the various locations and “rites” that I found myself concentrating more on the vocabulary than the narrative.  It resolved itself in the end and didn’t lessen my angst about what was happening but it was distracting.
As my last official “Halloween Read” for this year I’ll call it a very well written and frightening story.  The concept behind the evil was original and despite the “mystic psycho-babble” I “got it”.   Four ghosts for this one. 
* I received this ebook at no charge from Random House
via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review *
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from Amazon)

David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of Slade House, The Bone Clocks, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell translated from the Japanese the internationally bestselling memoir The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

And now Hallowe'en is over for another year.
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review 2015-08-09 02:32
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (Leviathan #3)
Goliath - Scott Westerfeld,Keith Thompson

Okay, wow.


This book was an amazing conclusion to the series! After I put this book down, I felt like a little kid who’d eaten more chocolate than considered legal and now has a terrible stomach-ache! Or, you know, aka, book hangover.


Like I’ve said before: my favorite thing about this series is it’s world building. The way it’s intricately described, and the way Keith Thompson manages to illustrate such amazing pictures (which get better and more detailed with every installment) makes you wonder, “How?! How is this amazingness even damn possible?!”


As usual, I’ll just say it. You have a set stage, the props are amazing. You have the great cast and a span of main characters. And then there’s the star of the show—YOUR star to be specific. The one that you bought your ticket for! For me, that star is Deryn Sharp. Forever and always (actually, Bovril is pretty close as well).


I liked the political tactic and intrigue behind the premise of this book! It felt like you could trust no one at a certain time in the book, and I LOVED it!


It seems like Scott Westerfeld explores a lot of unknown ground in the build-up/beginning in the first World War. Well, at least for me. He manages to take real characters that I didn’t really know about and turn them into such important parts of Deryn and Alek’s world! And I liked how he clarifies this fact at the end, so you can see how these characters played out in the real world. :D


Personally, I still was weirded out by Alek’s “my destiny” because I agree more with Dylan about how your destiny is in your hands, but whatever. Alek at least got over that in the ending, because my oh my, did he shine at the end (literally . . . almost *winky face*)!


I liked how the Goliath itself was a really big deal in this book! With the previous book, Behemoth, we saw how the Behemoth was meant to be a peace kind of trade, but we never really saw much of it. I feel like in this book, the Goliath was much more involved.




Overall, Goliath, is the stunning conclusion to a great series! You will find an attachment to the characters, and the world-building that is highly ambitious but made stunning with the illustrations by Thompson! I think all fans of alternate history should read this! This is a great series that everyone should try out!


Thanks for reading my review everyone, and until the next one! :D

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review 2015-07-28 22:18
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

Due to the unfortunate fact that I cannot decide between giving The Night Circus three stars or four stars, I’m going to be nice and give it four (of course, I wouldn’t give it four stars if I didn’t think it deserved it).


I’m going to be honest in everything I say and not sugar-coat this. I can see this book as an all-time favorite for so many people! So, if you ask me, I will recommend this. Whereas liking this book or not is up to you, I will say it will not appeal to everyone, but this is a masterpiece and deserves the high acclaim. When I say it deserves it, I seriously mean it. So what if the first 35% was unbearable for me to get through? I could see the effort and what made people like it, if the author can show me that even if I don’t like it, then that’s great!


Which leads to the next topic. From the premise of this story we’re told this: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called "Le Cirque des Reves," and it is only open at night.


I think this part was done fairly well. There were quite long descriptions in the story that intrigued me, and I can see the prose and appreciate it. So thumbs up to Erin Morgenstern for that!


Then there’s this: But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.


Actually, what REALLY happens is that I’m reading this, going like. “Okay, they have to meet up SOMETIME!” by the time I reached 35%! The actual “competition” part of this story didn’t really make any sense until I got into the Bailey story—another subplot that ties into the story—and by then, I felt kind of stumped. Did anything really even matter anymore?


Then there was, finally, the love story. The thing that is kind of ironic is that usually, it’s the romance that ruins the story in some cases. For The Night Circus, it was romance that really moved things forward for me because after the romance started, Celia and Marco both reflect on some things that helped me understand the story better. The romance, while I thought at some points was cheesy and obvious, still was enjoyable to read about.


I think towards the end was when I really started to enjoy the story. Erin Morgenstern really decides to give this a “figure it out yourself” tone and I guess that this story will be different for everyone. I’m glad I still gave this story a shot though, because there were more things I enjoyed and appreciated that made up GREATLY for that first 35%—keeping in mind when I say that it’s unbearable, I mean plot-wise and character-wise, NOT the writing!—so that was great!


Overall, The Night Circus has an intriguing premise and plot! While I enjoyed the overall tie-in of the plot, the prose and all the writing, and the romance and main characters, I think the pacing and narrative style of this story will appeal to different people . . . well, differently! Give this a shot if you are intrigued by the premise!  


Thanks for reading this review everyone and hope you have a great day! Until the next one! :D

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text 2015-07-21 15:43
Thing That Go Bump in the - well ... Anywhere
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HAUNTED ONTARIO 4 by Terry Boyle.
* I received this ebook at no charge from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review with special thanks to Dundurn Group
for making it available *
Back in the days of my not-so-misspent youth, when The Amazing Kreskin had his own show, Uri Geller was bending spoons on the Michael Douglas Show (or maybe it was Phil Donahue?) and Kolchak (played by Darren McGavin) chased beasties on Thursday night's episode of Nightstalker, I became quite fascinated with things other-worldly.  I don’t think “paranormal” was a commonly used word yet and the library still had a section labeled “Occult” – before that word become synonymous with all things evil and serial-killer-ish.  My go to guy for ghosts was Hans Holzer (1920 – 2009).  I blame him entirely for my never-ending quest for a really good ghost story, be it fact (?) or fiction.  When I saw “Haunted Ontario 4” as a choice on Netgally I knew I had to request it.
As I started reading I knew I’d made a good choice.
The book tells of haunted houses in cities and towns that I know of, have visited or have lived in so right away that made it fun to read.  The fact that there may be haunted places in some of “my haunts” made it even that much more interesting.
Mr. Boyle takes his readers to such varied places as Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake, to restaurants, Inns and hotels throughout Ontario and even to the prestigious University of Toronto.  I even found out a little tidbit I never knew … Marilyn Munro frequented French River in Northern Ontario.
Unlike Dr. Holtzer, who entered supposedly haunted venues with both guns blazing in the form of an entourage of psychics, mediums, infrared and night-vision cameras and a plethora of scientific equipment, Mr. Boyle takes a friendlier approach that I thoroughly enjoyed.  First he introduces his reader to the area explaining much of its history and its historical significance (if any).  The he gives some background on the specific location (because its not always a “house”) and introduces us to the people living and/or working there now, at which point he hands the tale over to them to fill the reader in on the details of the “ghost”; their own experiences, common stories or legends they may have heard and their personal reaction to the ghosts, as some are friendly and soothing and others quite angry and vengeful.  Mr. Boyle ends the chapter, wherever possible, with the current status of the location; some still being open to the public – as in the case of restaurants and Inns, some no longer exist and some are tourist venues – such as Fort George.  Pictures, both historical (if they exist) and current when possible are also included.
As proven throughout this book the stories of many a haunting and ghosts are so often intertwined with love, war and/or tragedy.  My favorite entries in this book?  Definitely the description of the activity at Fort George gave me goose bumps.  I have visited that site and have walked through the buildings and I definitely had an ominous feeling about them … not because I felt the presence of any ghosts, but because the history itself was quite haunting.
The Hockey Hall of Fame story was sad, and the haunting of the doorway and stairwell at the University College in Toronto was downright creepy.  That location is included in many “haunted tours” of the city and one can still see the gouges the axe made as a cuckolded lover chased his rival up into the stairwell. 
What I enjoyed about Mr. Boyle’s writing is he did not try to debunk the ghost story or anyone’s experience, he did not take it upon himself to banish the ghost, he did not try to browbeat his readers into believing with eerie spectral pictures showing misty figures … he simply told a good story.  Whether skeptic or believer, it makes for some interesting reading.  I will definitely be on the lookout for Mr. Boyle’s other books in this series.


(from Dundurn Group website) 

Terry Boyle is a Canadian author, lecturer, and teacher who has shared his passion for history and folklore in many books since 1976, including four Haunted Ontario titles. He has hosted television’s Creepy Canada and radio’s Discover Ontario on Classical 103.1 FM. He lives near Burk’s Falls, Ontario.
My two daughters and I went on a trip to Boston a few years ago.  Like their mom, both girls have an interest in all things goose bumpy.  They lay blame squarely on my shoulders for reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz while I was pregnant – I ask you, how do they even know I did that?  Anyway, back to my tale, what would a trip to Boston be without a little side trip to Salem.  We decided to take a walking tour called “Hocus Pocus” which not only gives the participants an excellent informational tour of Salem and its history including the witch trials but covers others points of interest such as the why and how of common architecture of the homes of the time, leading community figures through the years and, of course, some famous places of legend and haunting.
As one does when one is on holiday in this age of digital photography, we took pictures of EVERYTHING and then when we got back to our hotel in the evening we would compare, share and delete accordingly.
Since we had taken the train from Boston to Salem we had time to look at our captured images on the train ride back.  As we were looking through the pictures of John Ward’s (not to be confused with the famous, reputedly haunted house of Joshua Ward) saltbox house (where coincidentally, or not) we had all snapped a picture of the same side of the house at (we assume since we were together) about the same time.  As we were looking from one camera to other my youngest daughter noticed something odd.  Her picture looked a little bit different … there was a glimmer in the window that was not present in the pictures her sister and I snapped.  As she clicked and clicked again on that up-arrow that enlarges the picture on the camera viewfinder we all felt the hair on our arms stand up.  Was that really an image of a man in a hat standing in the window?  We quickly eliminated the most common explanations of car lights (the window is too high and not facing a road), a residual of her flash (she wasn’t using one) or anything else we could think of.  Was there possibly someone (caretaker?) in the house at that time of night?  Nope ... we contacted Hocus Pocus Tours to ask if that was possible and they in no uncertain terms told us there was no one in the house.  We forwarded them a copy of the picture.
Was it an apparition?               
          We like to think so!
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