Monday, December 31, 2012

Autumn's Top 12 Books of 2012

In no particular order

1.  Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
2.  Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
3.  The Twelve by Justin Cronin
4.  The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
5.  Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer
6.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

7.  Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks
8.  The Healing by Jonathan Odell
9.  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
10.  Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
11.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
12.  Taylor Stevens' Vanessa Michael Munroe series

Bonus:  The Last Survivors Trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  These were published several years ago, but I read them this year.  So that sorta counts.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Kari's Top 12 of 2012

These aren't in order. I don't think I could do that! Loved them all!

1. Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas
2. Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall
3. Defending Jacob by William Landay
4. Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell
5. Release Me by Julie Kenner
6. New York to Dallas by J. D. Robb

7. The Witness by Nora Roberts
8. Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
9. Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery
10. Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward
11. Ketchup is Not a Vegetable by Robin O'Bryant
12. Exceeding Expectations by Lisa April Smith

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Disappointments in 2012

The Casual Vacancy-Autumn was really excited to read an adult JK Rowling book.  However, despite it making Goodreads Best Fiction of the Year, it fell really short for Autumn.

The Wolf Gift-Autumn & Kari both read The Wolf Gift.  We were really psyched that Anne Rice was coming out with a new book!  Yay!  Back to her paranormal roots!  Yay!  Then we started reading the book.  Boo!!  Our boos devolved into a lot of giggling and eye rolling.  We agreed that it was a really bad book.

Red Rain-Again Autumn & Kari both read this book.  This book was written by RL Stein so we had a bit of nostalgia for our middle school days reading all those scary books he wrote.  This year he came out with this adult book.  He needs to stick with MG or YA because I think that's where he's comfortable.  This book was weird, it felt off.  Like a kids book trying really hard to be a grown up book.

Shadow of Night - Kari was excited to read this one as she loved A Discovery of Witches.  Sadly, it was too long and was just so-so.  Often a problem for the second in a trilogy.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Blog Tour: Author Interview with Brady Christensen

Please welcome author Brady Christensen who is promoting his book, The Devils' Garden.   

Want to win a copy?  Just leave a comment below with a valid e-mail address for a chance to win a PDF copy of The Devil's Garden.  This giveaway will close on January 2, 2013.

Author: Brady Christensen
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Date of Publication: November 2012

A Marine’s past is never far behind him, but sometimes it’s a lot closer than he thinks . . .

After years of enjoying the soft, quiet, civilian, family life, former Recon Marine Brandon Colson still has a large price on his head…only his family doesn’t know it. That is, until a heavily armed squad of terrorists breaks into his house and tries to kill him and his family.

After swiftly dispatching the would-be assassins, Colson realizes the ghosts from his past have somehow managed to come back to haunt him. His worst nightmare has come true. His identity—a secret until now—has been mysteriously compromised. Something he did years ago, while on a recon mission during his tour of service, has kept anger burning in the hearts of powerful Arab adversaries. And the men who attacked his house are simply an omen of what is to come.

With his family in hiding, Colson and local detective Sam Collier set out to locate and neutralize the remainder of the terrorist cell. It’s a race against time, and the plot they uncover along the way defies all expectation.

Their fates in the balance until the last second, the two men must fight for their lives as they navigate a trail littered with bloodshed and revenge that leads straight to hell on earth: The Devil’s Garden.

Please tell us about your current release.

My book is titled The Devil’s Garden. It will be available on Veteran’s Day, November 11, which is appropriate because the book is dedicated to the veterans of The War on Terror. The story is centered on two main characters who are military veterans, both of whom participated in such military campaigns.
The first is Brandon Colson, who is from the wilds of Kentucky and served as a Recon Marine. The other is Sam Collier who is from Atlanta, served in the Army’s Military Police in Iraq, and then later became a detective. The two men’s paths cross unexpectedly when heavily armed Muslim terrorists from Colson’s past come back to pay him a visit in the dead of the night. Following the aftermath at his residence, and subsequently at the local airport, Colson finds himself being interrogated by Collier while the authorities are trying to sort out and understand the night’s events. The problem is Colson isn’t talking because the event is directly connected to his past service.

Due to the circumstances, the two men are diametrically opposed at first. In fact, they don’t even like each other. Colson soon decides Detective Collier takes too much pleasure with interrogating prisoners and Collier quickly decides he doesn’t like Colson’s cocky, uncooperative attitude. Of course, Collier comes to the realization that if a man is going to swim with sharks, run with lions, or fight with those special forces Recon types, then they are going to have to possess a certain kind of confident swagger about them. On the other hand, it is only after Colson discovers the detective is an Iraqi War veteran that he begins to appreciate Collier’s potential as an ally. With the stage set, the two combat veterans quickly find themselves joined at the hip and fighting for their lives.

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

I suppose the journey started when I was 17 years old and looking to join the military. I knew I wanted to serve in a specialized warfare unit like the Army Special Forces or the Navy Seals. So I did some research and talked to the recruiters. That was when I discovered the Marine Corps had this unit called “Reconnaissance.” To make a long story short, the Navy and the Army guaranteed me a spot in whatever specialized unit I wanted and offered me a hefty enlistment bonus. The Marines, on the other hand, guaranteed me nothing and I guess they decided to keep the bonus money. They only guaranteed that I would first have to prove myself against all the other Marines before I could even have a chance to try to become a Recon Marine. These words did little more than wave a red flag at a bull and dare it to charge. The Marines have a unique way of taking a young man’s pride and turning it into a work of art. Of course, I must admit not all art is pretty or pleasing.

So I went, I made it into Recon, I served and got out. After that it was the typical college, career, family scenario. Then a few years ago, a Department of Veterans Affairs laptop was stolen. It contained the names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and social security numbers of every veteran who served this country since the Vietnam conflict. The “missing” laptop was not recovered until about a month later, which was an eternity for someone to copy the information and sell it. There is a market for such information. In fact, according to the news it is not uncommon for some military personnel to sell their identification cards to people off base in order to get some extra cash. Of course, most do so not knowing to what end their identification cards will be used. Although common sense would dictate that nothing good could come of it, there are still those who do it anyway even though the military has harsh penalties for such conduct.

Considering these events and weighing them against the fact that there are those in the military services whose identities are protected — and they are protected for good reasons — the potential for disaster becomes painfully apparent. Combine all of this with one slightly paranoid, socially gruff, former Recon Marine and the story almost wrote itself.

Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?

The Devil’s Garden is not just the title of the book. It is also an actual place in the wilderness of south-central Florida. It is a large geographic area with an old name that no longer appears on any modern maps. For the book’s cover I tried to visualize what kind of garden the Devil would keep. Instead of the Devil tending a field of crops, I see him fanning a field of flames and watching in delight as they grow toward the sky. Hence, the book’s cover is a field of flames reaching upward for its title.

What approaches have you taken to marketing your book?

The book’s website is at . There you can read excerpts and order it directly from me. The book will also be available through online retailers and bookstores. We are sending out press releases and setting up book signing events. We are also using social networking as well as my own personal network of friends who are either still in the military or are veterans of the military services.

What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?

The book could be compared on many levels to any popular action-packed mystery thriller that involves a highly-trained military operative or agent who is pitted against a powerful enemy. However, I wanted to introduce a hero unlike any other, who is much more simple and yet, much more complex at the same time. I wanted him to be exceedingly more colorful, realistic and human. As such, Colson is a man of many faults, with a unique flair that is only amplified by his intelligence and the confidence that is required to obtain the title of United States Marine. He is impulsive, compulsive, and confrontational and yet has the capacity to be loyal, loving, gentle and kind. Moreover, I believe the most significant defining difference is Colson’s pure, unadulterated killer instinct which is only balanced by his unwavering faith.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I cure writer’s block by target practicing with my knives. I can spend hours throwing them. Focusing on the target helps focus my thoughts. Not to mention the fact that it is both fun and effective.

Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.

Page 151. Colson and Collier are patrolling through a forested area to the location where two fugitive Palestinian terrorists are hiding out. Colson is advising his new “hunting buddy” as to the dangers of the Floridian woods and wetlands such as the native predatory animals, poisonous snakes and spiders, as well as the dangers associated with booby traps when infiltrating a bomb maker’s lair. Needless to say, this is a matter of great concern to Collier who quickly decides he would have been better off not knowing.

Do you plan any subsequent books?

Yes. I do have a sequel in the works. In rough draft form, it is about a third of the way done.

Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

I am nearly finished reading Biblica, which is a social and historical treatise on the many lands and cultures of the Bible. It is a wonderful and detailed work which only fuels my desire to take my family on a tour of the ancient world from Rome to Constantinople to Jerusalem to Cairo. I’d like my family to experience the lands of the exodus, the lands of promise, and the Kingdom of David, the paths of the Apostles John, Peter and Paul, but most importantly, to see where Jesus journeyed, preached, suffered, died and arose again into glory.

About the author:
Brady Christianson is a former United States Marine Corps Recon Marine whose military service and Christian faith has shaped his writing.

Brady Christianson's Web Site:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

The Devil's Garden blog tour site:

Amazon buy link ($14.95): paperback buy link ($14.95):

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Somewhere I'll Find You by Lisa Kleypas

Author: Lisa Kleypas
First Published in 1996 by Avon

All London is at Julia Wentworth's feet—and anything she desires is hers for the asking. But the glamorous leading lady guards a shocking secret: a mystery husband whom she does not know, dares not mention ... and cannot love.
For years Damon Savage has been searching for the stranger his parents wed him to without his consent, hoping to legally free himself from matrimony's invisible chains. And he is astonished to discover his "bride" is none other than the exquisite lady he'd hoped to make his mistress! But though his wife by law, Julia will never truly be Damon's—until he conquers her fears, his formidable rivals ... and her proud, passionate, and independent heart.
Somewhere I'll Find You is the first in the Capital Theater series by Lisa Kleypas.  The premise is that Damon and Julia were married when they were children by their parents in exchange for money and a title.  They have never met because Julia fled when she turned 18 and became an actress.  Once they find each other, Damon is determined to make Julia his for real.
This was just an OK read for me.  I think had I not listened to the audio, I would have given up on it.  I wasn't sure I really liked Julia.  While I understood her need for freedom and her love of the theater, I thought she was a bit too unbending about it.  I also got tired of her indecision about Damon.  She claims to want to have nothing to do with him, yet she keeps sleeping with him.  Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for that this time?  I do have the sequel, Because You're Mine on my MP3 player.  Hopefully, it's better.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Shout Out: Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

by:  Michelle Gagnon
published by:  HarperCollins
publish date:  August 28, 2012

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her computer-hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa's talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation called AMRF threatens his life in no uncertain terms.

But what Noa and Peter don't realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who'd stop at nothing to silence her for good.

I was a little bit surprised by how much I ended up liking this book.  Initially it took me awhile to get into it, the first couple of chapters I wasn't sure if I was going to stick it out or not.  I don't know what it was, but it just wasn't clicking with me.  However, I stuck with it and by the end I was totally engaged.

Looks like this is the first book of the Persephone YA series/trilogy.  I'm interested in seeing where it goes, it was a really exciting book.  I've been noticing it getting a lot of mentions on end of the year lists.  I'm guessing we'll be seeing a lot more from Michelle Gagnon in the future

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

From the TBR Pile is taking a break today so we can celebrate Christmas with our families. 

We wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy 2013!  

Love, Autumn & Kari

Monday, December 24, 2012

Review: Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas

Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher:  Piatkus Books
Date of publication: August 2012

Dream Lake takes readers once again to the exquisite setting of Friday Harbor, and tells the story of Zoӫ Hoffman, an innkeeper who has all but given up on love. She’s a gentle, romantic soul, but has been so hurt in the past that she dare not trust her heart with anyone. Especially not Alex Nolan. Alex is the most haunted of all the Nolan brothers.

Dream Lake is the third book in the Friday Harbor Series.  Out of the first three, I think I liked this one the best.  Alex is the most troubled of the Nolan brothers. To me, he goes through the biggest transformation out of his siblings.  He comes from alcoholic parents and didn't really grow up with a sense of family and trust.  He seems to have developed his parents taste for alcohol as well as their addiction.  His marriage is over and his major business deal has gone south.  His transformation starts when meets Zoe.  

Zoe and Alex are so different from each other, but they are so right for each other.  I just loved watching them fall in love.  Despite his protests, Zoe sees the good and gentle side of Alex.  The scenes with Alex and Zoe's grandmother were very sweet and just make you fall for Alex along with Zoe.

There is a paranormal mystery element to the story that helps with Alex's transformation.  I loved how it tied in with the love story of the present day.  The other thing I thought is was cool was that this story takes place alongside the events of the second book in the series, Rainshadow Road.    This series as a whole is very good.  I definitely recommend it if you haven't had a chance to read it.  The 4th book, Crystal Cove, comes out in 2013.  Can't wait!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Joint Review: The Dinner by Herman Koch

by:  Herman Koch
published by:  Random House
publish date:  February 12, 2013

On a summer's evening in Amsterdam, two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act, one that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children, and as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

I had read that this book was an international bestseller and how it was full of controversy.  That this book was sure to be the topic of intense discussion.  So, I told Kari "let's do a joint review of this one!".   We both like a bit of controversy, to see on which side of the debate we land.  

I get the book and I'm reading it.  It's all about these two couples meeting at a restaurant for dinner.  For the whole first half of the book, that's pretty much all it's about.  Then they start discussing the incident with their sons.  Their sons were caught on camera, however have not been identified, committing a violent crime.  Their parents are discussing what should be done about it.  

The conclusion left me seriously underwhelmed.  I was expecting something really outrageous.  I guess maybe it was a little crazy, but from all the comments about the book being controversial and a conversation piece I was expecting more.  The rest of the book was good.  It was well written.  It had to be!  How can you write an entire book about 4 people eating one meal and keep the reader going to the end?

I guess my bottom line was that it was good, but not earth shattering.  I could see it being a pretty decent book club pick.  I'm sure there is a lot of conversation fodder in there.

I'm always up for a joint review and this book seemed very interesting.  Unfortunately for me, it didn't live up to my expectations.  I thought it was very dull in parts.  I found myself skimming passages.  While the main part of the story takes place in the restaurant, we do get a pretty good idea of events leading up to the dinner through the narration of Paul.  

I found this book incredibly disturbing and sick.  I hated all of the characters.  None of them seem to have a conscience.  I was also annoyed by the omission of certain details.  Such as the name of the condition that Paul was supposed to be afflicted with that made him violent.  Why not just say it?  I really dislike having to read between the lines.  The ending was puzzling and left me looking for more.  I think I liked it a lot less than Autumn.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blog Tour: The Fart That Saved Christmas by Jacob Morningside

Author: Jacob Morningside
Publisher: Publish Green
Date of Publication: September 2012

The behind the scenes story of what really happened "The Night Before Christmas."

It's Christmas Eve. The reindeer go on strike with a list of demands for Santa, the elves and Mrs. Claus. Santa gets "loaded" and threatens to cancel Christmas, fire the deer and divorce Mrs. Claus. But, just when all seems lost, Christmas is saved by a timely fart.

The Holiday season can be a stressful time, especially for the adults.  Sometimes, you just need some comic relief to help you relax.  The Fart That Saved Christmas could be just the thing you need.  It's a very quick read and amusing for the most part.  While I wasn't blown away by the poem, I did find myself smiling in a few parts.  For me, the illustrations were what made the book.  They are well done and very amusing. This definitely isn't a book for the kiddos. So parents, keep it to yourselves.  Even if they can't read, the drawings may be a bit hard to explain.  

About the author:

Born into a body inhabited by multiple muse personalities, I create stories by stretching the "normal" beyond the boundaries of the absurd.  The result is a worm-hole ride to the Far Side.  I love a good story — so, I wrote one.  Enjoy it with my wishes for a happy holiday season.

Jacob Morningside's Facebook:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

The Fart That Saved Christmas blog tour site:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Release Me by J. Kenner

Please welcome author Julie Kenner who joins us with her debut book, Release Me.  She shared some thoughts with us, so check it out after my thoughts on the book!

Giveaway Details:  We have been authorized to giveaway one copy to a lucky winner. (US only please).  Just leave a comment with a valid e-mail to enter.  The giveaway will close on December 28, 2012.  Good luck!

Publisher: Bantam
Date of Publication: January 1, 2013

 He was the one man I couldn’t avoid. And the one man I couldn’t resist. 
Damien Stark could have his way with any woman. He was sexy, confident, and commanding: Anything he wanted, he got. And what he wanted was me. Our attraction was unmistakable, almost beyond control, but as much as I ached to be his, I feared the pressures of his demands. Submitting to Damien meant I had to bare the darkest truth about my past—and risk breaking us apart.
But Damien was haunted, too. And as our passion came to obsess us both, his secrets threatened to destroy him—and us—forever.

Release Me is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

My take:

Just like Bared to You by Sylvia Day, which I loved, (my review) Release Me by Julie Kenner is yet another book that proves there are great writers of erotica out there. You just need to know where to look.  Ms. Kenner has produced a well written and extremely sensual story.  I devoured this book.  The characters were strong, the writing was flawless and the story was captivating. 

I read this one pretty quickly.  I had a hard time putting it down once I started it. Both Nikki and Damien share secrets from their past. As their relationship grows, Nikki comes to realize that their backgrounds are very similar. I really liked Nikki.  Nikki is a flawed, yet strong person.  She may be young, but she is uber smart and is not naive.  Damien is powerfully rich, but he isn't an ass.  Yes, he is very much an alpha male, but he was never crude to Nikki and I felt he genuinely cared about her.  This book does deal with the Dom/sub topic, but I felt it showed a genuine portrayal of that type of relationship. It's about pleasure and trust, not about demeaning the other person.

I won't bring up that other book, (you know... the one I didn't like), because frankly, there is no comparison. You should read this one, not that one. Seriously, what are you waiting for? It comes out January first.  Why not start the year right? 

I can't wait to read the next one, Claim Me, which comes out sometime in 2013.  I know I will be stalking the bookstores for that one!

Thanks for joining us today, Julie!

Kari & Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Julie: That is such a good question, and just don’t have a solid answer.  I can’t remember really wanting to be anything else (though there was the obligatory “I wanna be a vet” thing—do all little girls have that?).

I've always written stories.  Even before I could write—or read, for that matter—I’d bang out stories on my dad’s old typewriter.  His home office was in a loft accessed by a spiral staircase that overlooked the living room and I would go up there, sit at his desk and (dating myself here) type so fast that keys stuck together. 

In high school, I tried to write very erudite and “important” short stories that were really just boring and pretentious.  Why I did that is anyone’s guess, as my reading was primarily Stephen King and Sidney Sheldon,  so it’s not like I was reading boring and pretentious!

I did journalism in high school and college until I switched my major to film.  Then I wrote screenplays.  Then I went to law school and had no time to write, but when I started working I wrote a play, then moved to Los Angeles and had no time to write.  Then I realized I was going crazy for the lack of a creative outlet and moved to a smaller firm so I could write.  I finally wised up and started to write genre fiction, and I “broke in” with a romance.  I've been writing non-stop ever since!

Kari & Autumn: Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Julie: I would say that I wish I knew, but I really don’t; that might steal the magic!

Seriously, they come from all over.  Sometimes, it’s a snippet of conversation.  Sometimes it’s a title; “The Good Ghoul’s Guide to Getting Even” came to me as a title before the story or characters.  Sometimes it’s a concept (a judicial system for paranormal creatures became my Shadow Keepers series, written as J.K. Beck).  Sometimes it’s a genre.  I wanted in chick lit, but I love paranormal.  That managed to morph into my demon-hunting soccer mom series. 

I’m an only child and as a kid I traveled a lot.  I get car sick when I read, so I made up stories in my head.  Whether that’s a cause or an effect, I don’t know.  I do know that I have enough book-worthy ideas that I could spend the rest of my life writing them.  Toss in the crappy ideas and I have several lifetimes’ worth!

Kari & Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Julie: The most exciting is the next two books after Release Me – Claim Me and Complete Me.  I’m thrilled they’re both coming out next year, but at the moment writing and revising them is my primary focus. 

In addition, I’m re-releasing my demon-hunting soccer mom books(written as Julie Kenner) in digital format, and once they’re all up early next year I’ll be releasing the sixth book! I’m so thrilled that Kate’s coming back to fans and new readers!  (and I just accepted an offer from 1492 Pictures and their producing partner to renew the movie option on book one, Carpe Demon, so fingers crossed!)

Of course, I’d love for folks to check out my website to see all the stuff I have going on!

Kari & Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Scarlett O’Hara, and for so many reasons.  She’s such an honest character.  Her good qualities and her bad are right there on the page.  She’s strong, but it takes awhile for her to realize it.  She’s frustrating in that she could have everything she wants, if only she weren’t so thick-headed.  She’s smart, except when she isn’t.  She’s cold, except when she isn’t.  She’s utterly fascinating.

Other favorites are Claire from the Outlander series, Eve Dallas from the In Death series, Meg from A Wrinkle in Time, Charlotte from the Inspector Pitt mysteries.  Oh, man, I could go on and on (can you tell I love books in series?)

Kari & Autumn: Just for fun, if you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

Julie: A cat!  I love cats.  Cats are pampered and petted.  Cats are independent.  Cats were once worshiped (I’m pretty sure my cats still think they are).  Cats get to sleep whenever and wherever they want.  Cats have attitude.  Cats can purr. 

And I have an “interview” question for readers:  What’s the first book that truly made an impact on you?  Mine was “Half-Magic.”  I read tons of books before that, but something about that one clicked with me and I read, re-read and then glommed the author!

Thanks so much for having me!

About the author:

J. Kenner is the pen name of USA Today bestselling author Julie Kenner (who also writes as J.K. Beck).  Release Me, an erotic romance, will be available in the U.S. and the U.K. on January 1, and in over a dozen other countries later in 2013. 
You can hang out with J.K., learn more about Release Me and her other novels, or just poke around and see what catches your eye at her website,, and also at her J. Kenner Facebook page, and on Twitter at

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Author: Chelsea Cain
First published in 2007 by MacMillan

Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him, she mysteriously decided to let him go. She turned herself in, and now Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, while Archie is in a prison of another kind---addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie's a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she's right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth---he can't stay away...

It's been a while since I have read a straight thriller with no romance   Heartsick definitely falls into that category   Archie Sheridan has been asked to come back on duty to lead the task force as they hunt down a serial killer who is taking young girls. Two years before he was captured and tortured by a female serial killer, Gretchen Lowell.  Working with a journalist, he tries to track down the killer.

I did enjoy this book, however it was pretty gruesome.  The flashbacks to the time that Archie was being held by Gretchen are pretty gross and disturbing.  I was cringing as I was listening.  I liked Archie.  He is a good cop, but he is majorly flawed.  He is addicted to painkillers and still has serious issues from his torture.  I'm not sure I liked Susan, the journalist.  She seems to immature for her age and profession.  Maybe she will grow on me as I get further into the series.

The hunt for the killer was intriguing.  It wasn't obvious to me who it was and that made it worth listening to .  I liked the little twist toward the end and how everything tied together.  This is the first in a series of 5 books.  If you are looking for a good thriller with very flawed characters, give this one a try.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Seven Locks

by:  Christine Wade
published by:  Atria Books
publish date: January 1, 2013

In the years before the American Revolution, a woman’s husband mysteriously disappears without a trace, abandoning her and her children on their farm at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. At first many believe that the farm wife, who has the reputation of being a scold, has driven her husband away. But as the strange circumstances of his disappearance circulate, a darker story begins to unfold, sending the lost man's wife on a desperate journey to find the means and self-reliance to ensure her family’s survival.
I read up a little on this book before I started it.  The write ups kept referencing American Folklore.   I was really excited to see what folklore this story drew upon.  I kept reading and reading and nothing was jumping out at me.  It wasn't until the very end that it becomes obvious.  I won't say what it is, because that ruins the whole mystery of the story, but it is an interesting story to come at from a different angle.
The main character is a difficult woman.  Some readers may not care for her, because she is a hard and has had many disappointments in her life that have left her bitter and angry.  However, there are flashes of how much she deeply loves her children.  Her hardwork and resilience is to be admired.
Several of the chapters are told from the viewpoint of her daughter.  I had more issues connecting with the daughter than I did the mother.  I felt like she was spoiled and selfish.  Her mother is having to work day and night to keep a farm running and the daughter spends all day at school and then complains about everything.  I found her to be a little frustrating.  However, her character seemed to be somewhat redeemed in the end.
In my 2012 reading I only gave a handful of books a 5 star rating on Goodreads and this was the last one.  It's one of those books that's been lingering in the back of my mind since I've finished and that's always the mark of a great book.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Delusion in Death by J. D. Robb

Author: J. D. Robb
Publisher: Putnam
Date of Publication: September 2012

After years on the force, Eve Dallas didn't think she could be shocked anymore... until now.

In the latest installment of the "In Death" series, we find Eve Dallas trying to find a killer who uses people against themselves.  Someone is releasing a bio weapon that causes extreme rage and hallucinations in people.  The result is mass carnage.  The first scene is a bar filled with people who have turned turn on each other.  The scene is horrific.  As Eve and her team investigate, they realize they have a terrifying mess on their hands. One of the themes that runs through this book is "Any time, anywhere, any place".  How scary is that?  The book is so relevant to today with the potential of bio terrorism always around the corner.  It was a little frightening. 

As for the rest of the story, I enjoyed it.  As you know, I'm a fan of Eve and her crew.  This one was more of a straight cop story.  However, Eve and Roarke are still dealing with the events that happened in Dallas.  Eve has a long way to go to recover. Most people who have had similar  experiences would probably react n the same ways as Eve. We also learn a little more about Summerset and his background.  The usual suspects round out the story nicely.  I don't think I'll ever get enough of the humor that is included in the these books. 

As this is the 35th book, I wouldn't read it as a stand alone. At this point, there is just too much back history involved.  Number 36 comes out in February.  I can't wait!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Bared to You by Syliva Day

Author: Sylvia Day
Publisher: May 2012
Date of Publication: Penguin Group

Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness… 

This is the book I was hoping to get when I picked up 50 Shades of Grey.  Bared to You was a million and one times better!  I actually finished it for one.  In fact, I couldn't put it down!  Ms. Day has produced a well written, compelling and very erotic story.  It is an emotional ride that features two survivors of abuse trying to find love and acceptance.  

For Eva and Gideon, the attraction is instant.  At first, all Gideon is interested in is getting into bed with Eva, but the more time he spends with her, he realizes there is so much more he can get from her.  Both of them harbor deep secrets.  In order for them to work, they will have to reveal all of themselves and work through their issues.  Their relationship is so dysfunctional, but I can see hope for them if they are willing to work things out.

I loved both characters.  Eva is young, but she has a brain.  She recognizes potential in Gideon and is willing to work things through.  Gideon is rich and powerful, but as Eva breaks down his walls, we see a softer side of him.  He wants to change for Eva and is even willing to go into therapy for it.  I loved that about him.  The book is the first in a trilogy and it definitely ends on a "to be continued" note.  I have the next one, Reflected in You loaded up on the kindle ready to go.  I look forward to reading more about this couple.  I'm rooting for them.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review: American Tropic by Thomas Sanchez

by:  Thomas Sanchez
published by:  Knopf
publish date:  January 15, 2013

The exotic island city of Key West is terrorized by horrific murders committed by a mysterious voodoo assassin.

For some reason when I started this book I had it in my head that this book was about bio-terrorism, but it wasn't about that.  No clue where that came from, but what American Tropic really is about is rage fueled murder on the little island of Key West.

The novel centers a group of characters that are all interrelated.  Noah Sax runs a pirate radio show out of his boat while he drifts off the coast.  He rails against the greed and selfishness of corporations and the damage they're doing to our planet.  His Key West callers talk of impending doom and potential damage that new high rise condominiums will do to their island.  Luz Zamora is a detective that has lived on Key West all her life and when bodies start turning up, killed and mutilated in horrific ways she gets the case.

The murders are blamed on Bizango a mythical voodoo avenger because the killer wears an elaborate disguise.  However, when 2 of the 3 investors of the condominiums are among the murder victims, a common thread starts to develop.  It seems that Bizango doesn't want the high rises to be built.

This was one of those books that is a little bit hard for me.  It was good.  I liked the story.  However, at times I felt the writing was a little too sparse maybe is the word?  Ordinarily that wouldn't bother me because usually I get annoyed with overly wordy writers.  I just felt like there were some details missing here and there.

American Tropic did do something that not too many books have.  The ending was such a shock and I was so thrown by it that it put me in funk for a few days.  I couldn't start any other books because I was in such a hangover from this book.  I even hashed out the ending with my husband, which is something I never do because he is such a non-reader, wondering why this character would do such a thing.  By that standard, American Tropic was awesome!

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

by:  Barry Lyga
published by:  Little, Brown and Co
publish date:  April 3, 2012

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.  But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.  In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows.

If you're a fan of Dexter (the TV show, not the cartoon) you'll probably like this book.  Jazz is struggling with the inner demons left from growing up with a serial killer father.  His father gave him all the tools he needs to become the greatest serial killer he world has ever seen, but Jazz also has too much empathy for the victims to become like his father. 

In order to quiet the voice of his father in his head and use the tools that he has for good, he seeks out other killers to put them behind bars. 

It looks like this will the be first book in a series featuring Jasper Dent.  I'm pretty happy about that.  I really liked this book and think it will make a great franchise.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ashfall Trilogy by Mike Mullin

I got a copy at Ashfall at the ALA Convention in New Orleans in 2011.  My daughter and I met Mike Mullin and I have to say he's a terrific guy.  He spent time talking with my daughter talking about her softball team, because she had just come from a tournament and he signed her copy of the book especially for her.  It was really nice.

I kept putting off reading the book until just recently and now I'm a little mad at myself for taking so long.  It was an awesome book.  Very well written and intensely engaging.  I read the whole thing in a day and a half.  I couldn't put it down.

On the day the Yellowstone caldera erupts Alex is home alone for the weekend while his family goes to visit his uncle.  He's alone when his house catches on fire and goes to a neighbor's house to ride out the first couple of days.  Things get bad FAST.   He decides he has to go find his family even if he has to walk the entire way. 

Ashfall tells the story of his journey to his uncle's house and the people he meets along the way.  He meets Darla a girl who saves his life.  She decides to go with him when she has no reason to stay in her home any longer.

When I finished Ashfall I knew I needed to find the second book stat!  I did and it was just as good.  The second book Ashen Winter picks up with Alex and Darla at the Uncle's house.  Alex's parents have set out for home looking for Alex so he decides that he must back track and find them and bring them back to the relative calm of his Uncle's farm.

Ashen Winter was quite good, not as good as Ashfall in my opinion, but second books in a trilogy are rarely as good as the first.  I didn't feel quite as connected to the characters because Darla wasn't as present in Ashen Winter and Alex was like a crazy person trying to find her.  Also, when Alex finds his parents, they are really creepy in my opinion.  I don't know if that was the intent, but it seemed like they went way off the deep end.  The book is definitely worth the read to keep up with the series and keep people watching shows like Doomsday Preppers.

Looks like the third book Sunrise is due to come out some time in 2014.  That's a bit of a bummer.  I don't like having to wait so long to tie up a story!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Edge of Oblivion by J.T. Geissinger

Author: J.T.Geissinger
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication: October 2012

There exists a world beyond our own. It is a world of ancient magic and well-guarded secrets, a world of strict laws and harsh punishments for those who betray them, a world inhabited by the Ikati, a race of gifted people who are so much more than they first appear. Brought together by fate in this world of danger and beauty, two people with dark pasts will meet.

Edge of Oblivion is a well written, fast paced book.  Morgan is charged with treason and faces death.  A last minute assignment from the queen, may be the key to saving her life.  Xander is an assassin who is sent to Rome with Morgan to hunt down the Expurgari.  If she succeeds in finding them, she will be free.  Not finding them means Xander must end Morgan's life. Morgan and Xander are Ikati.  They are shifters and each possesses unique gifts.  The gifts are pretty cool.  Who wouldn't want to be able to walk through a solid wall?

I did enjoy the book.  I liked the connection between Xander and Morgan. Given the way mating and attraction works in the world of the Ikati, their romance was very believable   I always love when two people who have lost faith and hope in the future find that one is possible.  The other characters were engaging and interesting.  I hope to read more about Tomas and Mateo in the future.

While I did enjoy the book, I had the constant feeling that I was missing a lot of back story. It is a sequel and I don't really feel like this was a stand alone book.  I wish I had read the first one before this one.  I know I will be seeking it out the first book, Shadow's Edge, before I continue with the series.