Friday, August 31, 2012

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

Our favorite bounty hunter, Staphanie Plum, is back in action in this sequel to One for the Money.  She is now after Kenny Mancuso, a local boy from "the Burg" who is none other than Joe Morelli's cousin, who skipped bail and is tormenting his long time friend Spiro.  Kenny is accused of shooting another friend, Moogey Bues, in the knee. Moogey turns up dead shortly after the initial shooting and now Kenny is nowhere to be found.  Joe is also working on an investigation that involves Kenny, so Stephanie and Morelli become an unofficial team once again.

This book was released in 1996 and contains a lot of old school references, which I found to be very amusing.  She has an answering machine, a "car phone", Walkman, Doc Martins, watches movies on a VCR, etc.  The one liners between all of the characters along with the strange happenings scattered throughout the story had me literally laughing out loud.

One of my favorite characters is Stephanie's Grandma Mazur.  I don't know anyone who spends as much time at funeral homes as she does.  Most people dread going to the funeral home, but Mazur is constantly checking the obituaries to find her next big outing.  The events that unfold every time she is at the funeral home are hysterical to say the least.  Spiro is the step-son of the owner of the "best funeral home in the Burg" according to Grandma Mazur.  While Spiro is a bit of a creeper himself, he is really given a run for his money with Grandma Mazur and "Crazy Kenny" hanging around. 

I actually liked this book better than One for the Money.  Stephanie is still relying more on luck than skill when it comes to her profession, but she is definitely showing signs of improvement.  The relationship between Morelli, Ranger, and Plum continues to develop and really strengthened this story.  I will definitely continue with this series. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rift by Andrea Cremer

I am a HUGE fan of the Nightshade series, so I was thrilled when I heard that Andrea Cremer was going to release a prequel series.  Rift is set in the 1400's in Scotland, so clearly we have a whole new set of characters...with one exception.  I'm not giving away any spoilers since Andrea said in an interview that one character from the Nightshade series makes an appearance in this book.  For the life of me I couldn't figure out who it would be until the individual appeared.  In retrospect, I should have known.             
This book starts out with Ember, a sixteen year old girl from a noble family who wants nothing more than to leave her father's house to join the warriors at Tearmunn.  They are a religious order that protects their lands from other worldly dangers.  Her father does not want her to join the order, but he has no choice.  When Ember was born both mother and child almost died and the family called upon Conatus's healers to save them.  In return, the child was pledged to serve Conatus. 

The first third of the book was a little slow for me.  There was a lot of necessary history, background, and introduction to the characters.  Once Ember was at Tearmunn and training to become a member of the guard, it began to take off.  Once the character from Nightshade arrived, I was absolutely hooked and could not put it down.  

You don't need to read the Nightshade series to appreciate this book.  For those who have, we get more information about how the witch's war began.  We see the formation of the Keepers and Searchers and what led up to the events that unfold in the Nightshade series.  There is the beginnings of a love story, but it doesn't really develop until the end of the book.  I was hoping "he" and Ember would eventually get together, but Andrea left us COMPLETELY hanging at the end of this book.  The only good thing about this cliffhanger is that we don't have to wait the customary 1 year to get our hands on the next installment in this series.  Rise is scheduled to be released January 8, 2013.  I was not aware of this fact until I was getting ready to write this post.  I was literally *squeeeeing* out loud.  If I have anything to say about it, you can count on this to be one of the Book Nerd's read alongs in January.  I absolutely love Andrea's writing style and would highly recommend all of her books.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key is a stand alone contemporary YA novel.  That sentence alone should tell you this is not your typical YA book.  The protagonist, Ruby, is a 17 year old girl who is a senior in high school.  She has been living alone for ten years with her mother who is divorced, has a substance abuse problem, and is clearly not a good role model.  She attends school all day and helps her mother work in the evening just to meet their basic needs.  Living under these circumstances has left her very guarded and suspicious of others. 

One day, her mother abandons her without warning.  The authorities ultimately figure this out and contact her sister Cora.  Cora is 10 years older than Ruby and has not been a part of her life since she went away to college.  She is now an attorney and is married to Jamie, who hit it big with an online social networking site.  When Ruby goes to live with them, her life is turned COMPLETELY upside down.  She is now living in a wealthy neighborhood, attending a private school, and has everything she could possibly need or want.

Family is a theme that is continuously explored throughout the novel.  As Ruby begins to unravel the truth behind her own family, will she be able to overcome her upbringing and begin to thrive in her new setting?  Will she be able to trust others and develop the social contacts she so desperately needs? 

Cora, Jamie, Nate, and Olivia were all amazing characters in their own right.  Ruby learns that everyone has their own struggles.  The seemingly perfect lives that some people may appear to have are not always a reality.  Through friendship and a willingness to offer and accept help from others, these characters are able to make tremendous strides in their own lives. 

I have to give Adam from Hitting on Girls in Bookstores credit for selecting this book.  He reviewed a couple of Sarah Dessen's books a while back and was raving about her.  I decided to give one a try and I am VERY happy that I did.  I will absolutely read another one of her books, most likely sooner rather than later.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Arise by Tara Hundson

Arise is the second book in the Hereafter trilogy.  In the first book we met Amelia, who is a ghost, and her human boyfriend Josh Mayhew.  Josh is part of a family of "seers" with a long history of being able to see and interact with ghosts.

At the beginning of Arise, we learn that Josh's grandmother Ruth (who was the leader of a coven of seers who tried to exorcise ghosts in Oklahoma) had moved to New Orleans.  After Amelia helped save Josh's sister from the evil ghosts at High Bridge in book 1, his grandmother no longer wanted to harm her.

At this point I thought life would be more normal for Josh and Amelia because they no longer had Ruth to contend with, but that was far from the case.  There were new Demons trying to lure Amelia to the netherworld.

A large portion of the book is actually spent in New Orleans because Josh's family spent the Christmas holiday with his extended family.  There were several new Mayhew seers for us to meet along with their apparent leader Alexander Etienne.  I have to admit, when I read his name I immediately thought I would like him because his name reminded me of Etienne St. Clair.  WRONG.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but he is about as far from St. Clair as one can possibly get.

Amelia also met Gaby, another ghost in New Orleans, who comes from a voodoo family.  Thanks to Gaby, Amelia acquires some new abilities, but she may have lost her ability to touch humans in exchange.  Will she still be able to touch Joshua?  You will have to read the book if you want to find out the answer to that question.

Overall, I enjoyed Arise.  Much like New Moon in the Twilight series, I struggled through a large portion of this book because Josh did not have as large of a part.  The main focus was on Amelia and Gaby trying to conquer the demons.  Amelia was trying to protect Joshua by keeping him out of most of the action, which was a bit of a mistake for this reader.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if Josh and Amelia worked together and were the focus of the book.  Hopefully that will be the case in the final book in this series.