Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One bad apple by Sheila Connolly

Book: One bad apple by Sheila Connolly

Series: An Orchard Mystery


Extras: Apple based recipes

Plot (Goodreads):
Meg Corey has come to the quaint New England town of Granford, Massachusetts, to sell her mother's old colonial home and apple orchard. Instead, she becomes embroiled in development plans that include her land, and her former flame from Boston. When he's found dead in the new septic tank on her property, the police immediately suspect Meg, whose only ally in town is the plumber Seth Chapin. Together, they'll have to peel back the layers of secrecy that surround the deal in order to find the real murderer, and save the orchard

My four-sentence or less take on the plot: Meg Corey (Core-y--ha! Apple based puns!) moves up to a dilapidated Massachusetts Colonial house to quickly flip it. Of course, it's a giant money-trap style disaster, complete with fading Orchard. When her ex-husband is found dead and stuffed in her septic tank, she's an obvious suspect and has to clear her name.


What worked: I liked this book. I learned quite a bit about apple orchards and I thought the state of the house (and orchard) was believable, especially as a rental with out-of-state owners. I also liked that Meg wasn't immediately accepted in to the small town--I always find that very hard to believe in cozies.

What didn't: I wasn't surprised at all by the "big reveal". I like more of a mystery than this book gave me.

Keep reading?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Buzz off by Hannah Reed

Book: Buzz off by Hannah Reed

A Queen Bee Mystery

Honey based recipes

Plot (Goodreads):
It's September - National Honey Month - in Moraine, Wisconsin. After her mentor in the honey business is found suspiciously stung to death in his apiary, beekeeper Story Fischer must sort through a swarm of suspects, including her ex-husband.

My four-sentence or less take on the plot: Story Fischer is shopowner who is also dabbling in beekeeping. Her beekeeping mentor is murdered, honeybees are implicated, and Story and her ex-husband are both potential suspects.


What worked: I liked the beekeeping concept--it was different, which is saying quite a bit in the cozy mystery world.

What didn't: I hated (HATED) the bulleted points that are sprinkled throughout the book. It also felt like I was reading a guidebook about Wisconsin at times. I expect to learn during a cozy mystery but I don't expect it to be so obvious. I know the character of Story's mom was supposed to be off-putting but she was so incredibly unlikeable it was distracting.
The cheating ex-husband in a small town trope is getting pretty played out in cozy mysteries.

Keep reading?
I will give the next book a chance.

Monday, May 9, 2011

An Uplifting Murder by Elaine Viets

Book: An Uplifting Murder by Elaine Viets

Series: Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper


Extras: Bra shopping tips (yes, you read that right)

Plot (Goodreads):
On Josie's latest assignment, her former teacher-now working in a lingerie shop-is in need of some serious support when a customer is found murdered. Unfortunately, the teacher's alibi is flimsier than the camisoles she sells, so Josie will need to bust out her sleuthing skills to expose the real killer...

My four-sentence or less take on the plot: Josie Marcus, a mystery shopper, is evaluating a lingerie chain, in which one of her old high school teachers now works. Of course, she is immediately embroiled into a murder investigation when she stumbles on a corpse in the toilet.


What worked: Not much in my opinion. Even the characters are starting to get pretty repetitious. I like Viets Dead-end series much better.

What didn't: Look, I can suspend disbelief while reading a book. I can believe that detectives wouldn't get incredibly suspicious about a person who always "happened" to be around dead bodies. I can even take the "cops find it helpful that I'm investigating" bit. But WHY would anyone accused of murder ask a mystery shopper (not a cop, not a PI, not even a reporter) who they haven't seen in about 15 years, to look in to the murder they are getting charged with? It defies belief to an extent that throws me right out of the book.

Keep reading?
I'm not sure. Probably give it one more shot.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

UF Sunday: Prince Charming doesn't live here by Christine Warren

Book: Prince Charming doesn't live here by Christine Warren

Series: The Others


Extras: No

Plot (Goodreads):

Danice Carter is not one for glass slippers. A stilettos-wearing lawyer at one of Manhattan’s most elite establishments, Danice has a very strong grip on reality. So when she’s asked by one the firm’s founding partners to take on a personal case, Danice knows she’s in for the opportunity of a lifetime. All she has to do is convince her top boss’s granddaughter, Rosemary, to file a paternity suit. Sounds simple enough…until Danice arrives at Rosemary’s home and is pounced on by a handsome stranger.

Private investigator McIntyre Callahan’s was only following his powerful client’s orders: Find Rosemary—at all costs. Instead, he’s found a super-hot lawyer prowling around looking for answers he can’t give. The half-human, half-Fae Mac tries to warn Danice that she’s way in over her head—that Rosemary may roam among The Others, and may have dangerous ties to the Unseelie Court—but she won’t be deterred. Even if that means following Mac to the ends of the earth to find Rosemary…or surrendering to his supernatural powers of temptation…until death do they part.

My four-sentence or less take on the plot: Danice Carter is a lawyer who is strong-armed in to hunting down the missing daughter of her boss. McIntyre Callahan is a half-Fae private eye. Events occur.


What worked: This is my first DNF review, so not much.

What didn't: Danice is an incredibly stupid character. She makes stupid mistake after stupid mistake in this book. People tell her to be quiet in front of fae royalty, instead, she constantly shoots off her mouth. Mac spends a lot of time trying to convince Danice not to be an idiot and, yet, it doesn't seem to ever work. And, of course, Danice and Mac have to have frequent magical sex. Apparently this book is a reworking of a erotic short story written much earlier in Warren's career and that is exactly how it reads.

Keep reading?
I just ordered the recent book off of Paperbackswap for some reason.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Romance Sunday! When Harry met Molly by Kieran Kramer

Book: When Harry met Molly by Kieran Kramer

Series: The Impossible Bachelors


Extras: None

Plot (Goodreads):
Dashing Lord Harry Traemore is perfectly content to live out his days in the pursuit of pleasure. But when he's named by the Prince regent as one of society's 'Impossible bachelors', Harry is drafted into a ribald romantic wager. The rules of engagement are scandalously simple: the bachelor whose mistress wins the title of 'Most Delectable Companion' gets to remain unmarried. Harry is utterly unconcerned about his status...until his latest lightskirt abandons him. Enter Lady Molly Fairbanks. Harry's childhood friend - actually, 'foe' is more like it - is the most unlikely companion of all. She's attractive but hot-headed, and in no mood for games. Besides, what could the self-indulgent Harry possibly know about what makes a woman delectable? It's time for Molly to teach him a lesson once and for all...but will it lead to happily ever after?

My four-sentence or less take on the plot: When Molly is 12-years-old, she performs an embarrassing poem that ends up getting her sent away to a strict boarding school, as well as getting family friend Harry sent in to the military. They consider themselves enemies. When Harry is pulled into a stupid little game of the Prince, he commandeers Molly (who he found running off to Gretna Green with a milksop employee of her father) to pretend to be his mistress for a week. As this is a historical romance novel, hijinks ensue and they fall in love.


What worked: The characters were definitely likable. You absolutely got the feeling that they got badly screwed by the sort of stupid thing that tweens do all the time (which seemed realistic to me). I'm very impressed that Kramer even gave the villain a good reason to be villainous (something that romance writers usually forget to do).

What didn't: Come on. A virginal relatively young member of the ton masquerading as a mistress? Who would believe her? Why wouldn't she be recognized in the future (I realize they didn't have Google and tabloids but they had eyes)? It seemed even more unrealistic than your average romance novel.

Keep reading?
I was actually halfway through the next book in the series "Dukes to my left, Princes to my right" when I started this book, so I suppose so.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Young Adult Super Post 2! Glimmerglass, Gone, The Lightning Thief, and My Soul to Take

As a continuation of yesterday, I've gone on a bender of young adult books and decided to post about them all at once. I'm not including my own synopsis because I am linking to Goodreads and it seems redundant. I realize that I am not the main audience of these books but I really like Young Adult books as a whole.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Goodreads synopsis: In this stunning collectors' edition of The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson’s world is brought to life with eight full-color plates by the series jacket artist John Rocco. The edition comes in an elegant slipcase with a ribbon bookmark, rough edges, and cloth cover—a perfect keepsake for fans of this truly epic series.

After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There's little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.

This first installment of Rick Riordan's best-selling series is a non-stop thrill-ride and a classic of mythic proportions.

My take: I didn't know how I was going to feel about this book because several friends told me it wasn't very good. I imagine they were comparing it to the Harry Potter series and didn't realize that The Olympians series is Middle Grade (ages 7-12) rather than Young Adult.

The book is definitely a middle grade book. That being said, I really liked it! Percy is a likable hero who just wants to save his mom. Percy is the son of Poseidon (and, thus, is a demigod) and is sent on a quest to find Zeus's lightning bolt which has gone missing. If the bolt isn't found it will likely cause a war between the "big three"--Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades.

I'll admit, I was that dorky kid that was really in to Greek and Roman mythology but I like Riordan's spin on ideas like the Lotus Eaters, who now run a high-end hotel in Vegas, to the idea of Percy being able to talk to Zebras because his father created horses, to what he does with Procrustes (which is pretty accurate to the original myth). I also appreciated the update of the gods--Poseidon in bermuda shorts for example or Ares riding a motorcycle. The secondary characters were interesting too. And it's a rare first novel that actually manages to have a story of it's own in addition to setting up the rest of the series. A minor quibble: It's hard to imagine a group of children being able to transverse the country while "Wanted" ads are being posted for Percy and not get stopped, I still liked the ride.

The lines that made the book for me:
"Be honored, Percy Jackson. Lord Zeus rarely allows me to test a hero with one of my brood. For I am the Mother of Monsters, the terrible Echidna!"
I stared at her. All I could think to say was: "Isn't that a kind of anteater?"
She howled, her reptilian face turning brown and green with rage. "I hate it when people say that! I hate Australia!..."
I actually laughed out loud at that exchange.

Keep reading? Absolutely! I have the next two on their way to me as we speak (

A continuation of yesterday! I decided to go on a Young Adult novel bender and post about the Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

Goodreads synopsis: It’s all she’s ever wanted to be, but it couldn’t be further from her grasp…

Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides she’s had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl—she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she’ll never have a chance with… until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn’t sure where she’ll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again…

My take: I loved this book but it's possible my standards were slightly lowered by all the dreck I've been reading. I was optimistic because I really like Jenna Black's adult series but you can never tell if an adult writer can write young adult books or vice versa.

1. I like novel Fae creatures outside of the norm. Spriggans, for example, are interesting and unique to me and much more interesting than the trolls or imps that show up in every fae-type novel.

2. The interaction between Dana and her dysfunctional family felt very real to me. Her love-tempered disgust with her drunk mom, not knowing how to deal with the father that she never knew--it all seemed realistic.

3. Although Dana makes the inarguably stupid move of flying across the world to meet a father she's never met and didn't know she existed who lives in a half-fae, half-human town (and a man her mother has warned her about), she is generally pretty smart and logical. A nice change in YA books where the heroines often fall in to the too-stupid-to-live trope. And what teenager wouldn't want to escape normal life and meet their unknown father?

Keep reading? Heck yeah! Great start to a series

Gone by Michael Grant

Goodreads summary: Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else...

My take: This book was incredibly boring. I'm actually not sure how I finished it. The book seems to be based on a sort of X-Men meets "The Lord of the Flies" approach, which I would have expected to be a lot more interesting. It was spectacularly predictable. Obviously, I am in the minority, because most of the Goodreads reviews rate the book very high.

Read more? Heck no. I probably wouldn't even see the movie that is bound to be spawned from this series.

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Goodreads summary: She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be nex

My take: I had the exact opposite issue with this book as I had with "Glimmerglass"--I don't like Rachel Vincent's adult series. In fact, I think Faythe, the protag of that series, is one of the least likable characters in UF. So I didn't know what to expect from this book.

I was pleasantly surprised! The main character, Kaylee, is living with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, a family in which she isn't very accepted, which leads to excellent conflict. She finds out the hard way that she is a banshee (bean sidhe), which is a nice departure from the average fae, when she starts screaming when she sees a death and is placed in a mental institution. I know there is a prequal to this book that was free on Vincent's website and I'm actually glad I didn't read it before reading the book--I think it gives away a major plot point that I liked not knowing until it was revealed in My Soul to Take. I was genuinely surprised by the ending of the book, even though it was set up perfectly. I recommend this book.

Keep reading? Absolutely.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Young Adult Super Post 1! The Replacement, Hex Hall, The Iron King, and Hex Education

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (2010)

Goodreads summary: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

My take: I thought the book was good but not great. Sophie was a pretty obnoxious character in my opinion. She doesn't listen to anyone, flies off the handle, doesn't pay attention to what's going on. Of course, that would be pretty typical for a teenager, so maybe those are ridiculous arguments. Sophie is funny, though, and I liked her vampire roommate--it isn't very often that you get a gay character (especially where it's treated like no big deal) in YA. It is pretty accurate to teenage girl drama--the mean girls that get less mean when their friends aren't around, the random social cliques that form, how people deal with stress and the unknown. I will say that I was surprised by the "bad guy"--both of them (and I won't say any more than that or I will be giving away spoilers).

Will I read the next in the series? Sure.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (2010)

Goodreads synopsis: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs

My take: Honestly, this book has one of the best covers I've seen in years. It totally drew me in from the minute I started to see the book reviewed on blogs. I was absolutely judging the book by it's cover. Once I read about the book on blogs, I knew I wanted to read it.

I was disappointed. The book is has some great ideas--a town that is both grateful to and terrified of the sidhe. The main character, Mackie, being unable to be around blood (a concept I haven't seen explored before but which makes perfect sense because of the iron). The idea of a changeling being totally accepted (and eventually loved) in a family. But it was a slow book. A really slow book. Most of those ideas were not fully explored. The "Underworld" portion of the town seemed remarkably cheesy to me and not nearly as scary as it was obviously supposed to be. Mackie was hard to relate to for me and kind of bland. I actually think secondary characters like Mackie's sister Emma, crush Tate, and friend Roswell were more interesting than the main character--never a good sign.

Keep reading the series? No. I will admire future covers though.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (2010)

Goodreads synopsis:Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

My take: I didn't know what to expect from this book, although it has been sitting in my TBR pile for quite some time. I had read both good and bad reviews of it over the last year. I still don't know what I think. I liked all the characters from Meghan to Ash (and especially her little brother--the "death" of his stuffed bunny was actually one of the more upsetting deaths I've read in the last year). I think in some ways this is the "set-up" book, setting up the series for future books. It seemed to be more about introducing the characters than about actual action. I thought the idea of the Iron Court was truly novel and interesting--worth a star totally on it's own.

I liked the mixture of Shakespeare (Puck--a very Shakespeare Puck rather than the Puck of other UF) and Alice in Wonderland (there is no way to mistake that the basis for Grimalkin was the Cheshire cat). But I don't really like when a love triangle is set up before you even care about any of the characters--I can't be on Team Ash or Team Puck because I don't really care about either of them so far.

Will I keep reading? Yes.

Goodreads synopsis: Sophie Stone doesn't want to leave the bright lights of LA for the dreary little burg of Mythic, Massachusetts. So why, then, does she feel eerily drawn to the place? And why, after she crosses the county line, does she begin having headaches, accompanied by strange and frightening visions? At least school is a bright spot--Sophie is immediately accepted by the coolest, most popular, best-dressed girls at Mythic High. But what she doesn't know is that her new friends don't buy their couture--they conjure it! They're a coven of witches, formed to save the town from an evil that is rising, an evil that was foretold decades ago. And Sophie is their leader!

Will Sophie embrace her powers and save the town? Or is Mythic totally hexed?

My take: Read another paranormal YA book. This one is seriously boring. The writing is of the "tell, not show" school of thought. The lone item I liked--the main character is the daughter of a horror movie director and his muse. I could imagine if Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter moved to New England and how their kid (who, in this case, is far more interested in shopping than paranormal activity) would fare. This book was a "Did not finish" for me. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't very good either.

Keep reading? I'm not sure if this is a series or not but either way, no.