Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fade to Black

Fade to Black by Leslie Parrish is the first book in her Black CATs series. Leslie Parrish is the alter ego of romance writer Leslie Kelly, but her books written as Leslie Parrish are much more suspenseful and intense. From the back cover.~

A group of elite FBI special agents has been brought together to form the Cyber Action Team, aka CAT – and they have one mission: to solve Internet-related murders.

From his years in the FBI’s violent crimes unit, Special Agent Dean Taggert has learned firsthand how vicious people can be. But this is the worst he’s ever seen. Eight victims have been murdered, their final moments captured on film and shown on a secret Web site called Satan’s Playground. And a madman who refers to himself as the Reaper is auctioning off their means of death.

When the investigation leads Dean to the small town of Hope Valley, he enlists the help of sexy and capable Sheriff Stacey Rhodes, who’s dealing with secrets of her own. It’s too late to save the latest victim, but Dean and Stacey still have to work fast, because the Reaper’s next auction is about to begin…

I’ve been reading books by Leslie Kelly for years and loved them. Her contemporary romances are always wonderful, hot stories. However, her first book written as Leslie Parrish shows me her true voice. Fade to Black is a fabulous book filled with suspense, mystery, and romance. I would say the story is more of a suspense book with romantic elements, but those romantic elements are great. Sheriff Stacey Rhodes is a strong, kick-ass female cop who could be an amazing cop in any major city, but moved home to finish out her dad’s term as sheriff. Special Agent Dean Taggert is a take no crap agent who moved to the CAT division hoping to have less vicious people to track. Neither is prepared for the Reaper, who is one of the most evil villains I’ve read about ever. The Reaper auctions off the right for other members of Satan’s Playground to choose his method of killing his latest victim, tapes the murders, and then post each video on Satan’s Playground.  Because of one of the Reaper’s first murders, it looks like the Reaper might just be from Stacey’s home town, Hope Valley. Stacey and Dean must work together to figure out who the Reaper is before he kills again. Stacey and Dean also find they are attracted to one another from their first meeting. So in addition to looking for the Reaper, they are also fighting their feelings for one another. They have amazing chemistry together as a couple and work really well as partners too.

I won an ARC of Fade to Black on the Brenda Novak Auction for Diabetes Research and started reading it the day I received it in the mail. The release date is July 7, and everyone should pre-order from your favorite on-line bookstore, pre-order at your favorite bookstore, or be at the bookstore on the release date. I don’t think I can say enough times how much I loved the first book in the Black CATs series. I normally can figure out the bad guy when I read suspense or mystery, but Leslie kept me guessing until the very end. I have the ARC to the second Black CATs book, Pitch Black, and can’t wait to start reading it. 

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dead End Dating: A Novel of Vampire Love

Dead End Dating: A Novel of Vampire Love is by Kimberly Raye and the first in her Vampire Love series. From the back cover.~


A vivacious vampire with a flair for accessorizing, Lil Marchette is unlike most of her kind. She prefers lively shades of pink to dismal black (so not her color), plus she’s a hopeless romantic. In need of a steady paycheck to support a compulsive cosmetics habit, Lil starts Dead End Dating (DED), a Manhattan-based matchmaking service that helps smart, sophisticated singles like herself find eternity mates–and may even help her stake a claim to her very own Count Right!

When Lil meets geeky vampire Francis Deville, she knows he’s the perfect first client. If she can hook up Francis–after a little revamping, of course–she will prove her skills to the vampire community and turn DED into the hottest dating service in the Big Apple. But just as her business takes off, Lil meets the (literally) drop-dead gorgeous bounty hunter Ty Bonner, who is hot on the chase of a serial killer. Instantly drawn to the luscious vamp stud, Lil really wants a taste. But as a made vampire, Ty can’t procreate–and Lil will settle for nothing less. Luckily, between “vampifying” Francis and helping Ty solve his murder mystery, Lil has no time for silly romantic entanglements . . . even if Ty is all that and a Bloody Mary chaser!

Dead End Dating was a light-hearted vampire story with elements of mystery and romance. Lil wants to make it on her own without taking a job at her father’s business. She needs her new business, Dead End Dating to work, or she will be forced to work in the family business.  While Lil is trying to match up both vampires and humans, she meets Ty Bonner, who is searching for a serial killer. The serial killer has used dating services in the past to find the victims, so Ty thinks the killer might use Lil’s service. Lil is instantly attracted to Ty, but there is just one little problem; she is a born vampire and he is a made vampire, and born vampires do not mate with made vampires.

I enjoyed Dead End Dating and will look for more books in the series in the future. There was really great chemistry between Lil and Ty and I would love to see where their relationship goes as the series progresses. 

This Pen for Hire

This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine is the first book in her Jaine Austen Mystery series. From the inside cover-flap.~

Steamy personal ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer-for-hire Jaine Austen has penned them all – and, in the process, glimpsed the truly desperate side of L.A.’s swinging single scene. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free-of-charge – and uncovering more than she bargained for…

No one seems to need her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request, though strangely stalker-ish, is simple enough: a letter proclaiming his undying love for Stacy Lawrence, a gorgeous aerobics instructor. The fact that he’s never actually met the woman gives Jaine pause- but she soon overcomes her misgivings, warms up her computer, and stars pitching woo on Howard’s behalf.

To Jaine’s surprise, the letter is a success – the unlikely Romeo lands a date! But his triumph is, sadly, short-lived. On Valentine’s Day, Howard finds Stacy bludgeoned to death with a Thigh Master – and is quickly named the prime suspect.

Upon hearing the news, Jaine is shocked. Sure, Howard’s awkward, eccentric, and a tiny bit odd. But a murderer? That’s hard to believe. Especially after a little sleuthing turns up a whole bunch of people who harbored less-than-loving feelings towards the svelte Stacy. Like the woman who coveted her spacious apartment. The jealous wife who saw her husband’s eye wander in Stacy’s direction. The ex-best friend, who’s still angry at Stacy for stealing her man…

Things only get crazier when Jaine meets Stacy’s handsome neighbor Cameron, whose blue eyes and boyish grin turn her knees to Jello. But Jaine doesn’t have time for romance. She’s got a murder to solve. After all, it’s her fault that Howard’s in jail. If she hadn’t written that letter, the only cops on Howard’s case would be the fashion police. Before Jaine knows it, she’s become a nosier – and bolder – version of her usual self, flashing her Bloomies charge card in lieu of a press pass and lying her pants off in her quest for the truth. But Jaine had better wrangle her clues quickly, before a crafty killer catches on – and puts a whole new spin on her ghost writing career.

This Pen for Hire is a really fun mystery. Jaine Austen writes personal ads, promotional items, and brochures for a living. She had never written a love letter before, but when geeky Howard Murdoch shows up, she feels so bad for him that she does take the job to write a love letter to Stacy Lawrence. Of course, Howard has never actually met Stacy, and she is an aerobics goddess and would never give him the time of day. The letter Jaine writes convinces Stacy to go on a date with Howard, but when he shows up for the date he finds Stacy murdered and he is now the prime suspect. Jaine decides that since she got Howard into this mess, she should find a way to get him out of this mess.

I enjoyed This Pen for Hire very much. I was able to figure out who the killer was about half way through the book, but I read lots of mysteries. This series was suggested to me by Wendy at her Super Librarian blog, and I look forward to reading more books by Laura Levine in the future.

Lord of Misrule

Lord of Misrule is the 5th book in The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. From the back cover.~

Morganville, Texas. Just South of Normal.

In the college town of Morganville, vampires and humans have coexisted in (relatively) bloodless harmony…until the arrival of Bishop, a master vampire who threatens to put the evil back in evil undead and smash the fragile peace. But Bishop isn’t the only threat…

Violent black clouds promise a storm of devastating proportions. As student Claire Danvers and her friends prepare to defend Morganville against the elements – both natural and unnatural – the unexpected happens: Morganville’s vampires begin to vanish one by one. Discovering why leads Claire to one last choice: Swear allegiance to Bishop…or die.

Lord of Misrule was another winner in The Morganville Vampire series. Claire and her friends are under the protection of Amelie, but since her father Bishop has returned, no one in Morganville, Texas is safe. Bishop wants the vampires to feed from the humans directly, whereas Amelie has always had the humans donate blood to the blood bank to feed the vampires. Claire must work with Myrnin to try and perfect the cure for the disease that is starting to affect some of the older vampires. Her friends must work in various capacities with the different vampires to keep everyone safe. However, Claire’s boyfriend, Shane has the most dangerous job of all. He must protect “The Book” from falling into Bishop’s hands.  There is lots of action between Bishop’s followers and Amelie’s followers, as well as a horrible storm that is heading directly for Morganville. Between the tornado and vampires, no one is safe in Morganville right now.

I liked Lord of Misrule, and felt that it really set up the story well for the next book in the series, Carpe Corpus, which came out earlier this month. The Morganville Vampires series is a really wonderful YA read. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover

Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover is the third book in the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter. From the back cover.~

When Cammie “The Chameleon” Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she’s in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she’s there to watch Macey’s father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world’s best school (for spies), “exciting” and “deadly” are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers’ plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.

As her junior year begins, Cammie can’t shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn’t feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion’s corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?

Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey’s private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth…

Ally Carter writes another winner with Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover. Cammie and her friends are just like any other girls their age, with one little difference; they are all training to be spies. Once Cammie and Macey are almost kidnapped, the Gallagher Girls have one of their biggest cases to solve. The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is suddenly thrust into the spotlight once Macey returns to school. The girls must find a way to keep Macey safe while figuring out who would want to kidnap Macey. With lots of action a bit of mystery, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover is a fun, fast-paced book that sets up the next book in the series perfectly. The 4th Gallagher Girl book will not be out for at least another year. However, Ally has a new series that comes out in February and I can't wait to read the first book.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover is the first in a new series by Linda Wisdom. From the back cover. ~

Jazz can’t decide whether to scorch him with a fireball or jump into bed with him

Jasmine Tremaine is a witch who can’t stay out of trouble. Nikolai Gregorivich is a vampire cop on the trail of a serial killer. The sizzling love affair between Jazz and Nick has been on-again, off-again for about 300 years- mostly off, lately. But now Nick needs Jazz’s help, and while Jazz and Nick try to figure out their own hearts and resist their increasing attraction, they must steer clear of a maniacal killer with super-supernatural powers. They are surrounded by a hilarious cast of oddball paranormal characters including Irma, the chain-smoking ghost who haunts Jazz’s sports car; Dweezil, her ghoul of a boss; and Fluff and Puff, a pair of bunny slippers with sharp teeth and short tempers (watch your ankles)!

I really enjoyed reading 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover. Jazz and Nick had amazing chemistry together.  They must work together to find out who has been causing vampires to disappear, only to find out that it is actually someone from Jazz’s past. Jazz tries to fight her attraction to Nick, but their history makes it hard for her to hold out for long.  With plenty of mystery and romance, 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover is a fast and fun read with paranormal elements. Linda Wisdom gives the readers witches, vampires, ghost, ghouls, and even bunny slippers that will eat anything that comes across their path. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead is the first book in her Vampire Academy series. From the back cover.~

Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies...

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess:a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Stigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires-the ones who never die.

The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Stigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.

After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking Academy hearts.

Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's - inside the Academy's iron gates, their world is even more fraught with danger. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals, and their secretive nature and love of the night creates and enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...

Vampire Academy is a wonderful paranormal young adult novel. Richelle Mead gives the reader a wonderfully complex story set in the world of vampires.  I loved the true-to-life friendship between Rose and Lissa. Both girls will do just about anything for each other. Even though they are vampires, they still have the same concerns as any other teenage girl, the right clothes, fitting in, and guys. There was also a bit of mystery thrown into the story to keep the reader on their toes. I liked that about this book and figured out much of the mystery before the end of the story, although I didn't figure out everything.

This was my first book by Richelle Mead, but I really enjoyed the story and plan to read many more books by her in the future.  There are currently 2 more books in her Vampire Academy series. I also recently found out about her Georgina Kincaid series that I can't wait to read.

Romeo, Romeo

Romeo, Romeo by Robin Kaye is the first in a series of books about the Ronaldi family. From the back cover.~

Rosalie Ronaldi doesn't have a domestic bone in her body...

All she cares about is her career, so she survives on take-out and dirty martinis, keeps her shoes under the dining room table, her bras on the shower curtain rod, and her clothes on the couch...

Nick Romeo is every woman's fantasy-tall, dark, handsome, rich, really good in bed, AND he loves to cook and clean...

He says he wants an independent woman, but when he meets Rosalie, all he wants to do is take care of her. Before too long, he's cleaned up her apartment, stocked her refrigerator, and adopted her dog...

So what's the problem? Just a little matter of mistaken identity, corporate theft, a hidden past in juvenile detention and one big nosy Italian family too close for comfort...

Romeo, Romeo was laugh out loud funny and very sexy. Robin Kaye wrote an amazing debut novel that kept me reading late into the night. I couldn't put this book down and loved the relationship between Rosalie and Nick. Romeo, Romeo is a fun fast-paced romance that is filled with humor and passion. I loved this debut book and look forward to reading more books by Robin Kaye in the future. The next book in the series, Too Hot to Handle, is currently out and sitting in my ever growing to be read mountain.

Tap & Gown An Ivy League Novel

Tap & Gown by Diana Peterfreund is the final book in her Ivy League Novel series. From the back cover.~

For Amy the countdown to graduation has begun, and suddenly the perfect ending to a perfectly iconoclastic Eli career is slipping from her grasp. Her new boyfriend's been made an offer he just can't refuse. Her fellowship applications haven't even been filed. And the student she's chosen to take her place in Rose & Grave-the country's most powerful and notorious secret society-seems to come complete with a secret life already intact.

Lunging toward the finish line, Amy finds trouble around every corner, from society intrigues and unlikely stalkers to former flames and mandatory science credits. Surely it couldn't get worse...until Initiation Night explodes into a terrifying scene and into a last test of wits for a young woman just trying to make it out of the Ivy League in one piece.

I loved Tap & Gown and thought Diana Peterfreund wrapped up the series perfectly. Amy and Jamie (Poe, and it's so hard to think of him as Jamie(sometimes Pajamie), but since Amy has a hard time, I guess I can too) started dating at the end of Rites of Spring (Break) and I was so excited. I always felt that there was something more to Poe, even when he was being a total jerk, than what we saw in the early books. As Amy and her fellow Diggers work towards picking the perfect "taps" for the next class of Diggers, she learns she has many other things to deal with that aren't Digger related. Amy finds out Jamie accepted his dream job, learns she must take a science class to graduate, and try to figure out where she wants to go after graduation.

I loved this series from the very first book. The story lines of all the characters were wrapped up, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. Not to give away any spoilers, I can only say if you haven't read this series, you should give it a shot.

Order of books in the series:
Secret Society Girl
Under the Rose
Rites of Spring (Break)
Tap & Gown

Monday, June 08, 2009

Be Still My Vampire Heart

Be Still My Vampire Heart is the next book in the Love at Stake series by Kerrelyn Sparks. From the back cover.~

One look at her was enough to stop his heart...

If it was still beating. Angus MacKay has been undead for almost five hundred years and it's not often something, or someone, surprises him. Until Emma Wallace. The sight of this luscious agent from the CIA's elite Stake-Out team was enough to stop Angus in his tracks. But then he discovers that she's a vampire slayer, intent on killing the "monsters" who killed her parents. And it's Angus's job to stop her.

The only good vampire is a dead vampire. Its' been Emma's motto since she committed her life to the destruction of these things. Now Angus MacKay wants to convince her differently. Sure, he's a sexy Highland warrior who seems to have stepped off the cover of a romance novel, complete with brogue, kilt, and sword, but he's also one of them. And it's her job to kill him.

The war is on, but will it end in the destruction of one or both of them...or in total surrender to a passion for the ages?

I think that Be Still My Vampire Heart has been my favorite book in this series so far. Emma and Angus are both such strong and feisty characters, it just made reading about them more fun. As with each of the Love at Stake books, there is a battle going on between the good vampires, those that now only drink from bottles, the Stake-Out team, and the malcontents, or the evil vampires who still feed off of humans. Emma has been slaying evil vampires in her quest to rid the world of all monsters. Angus discovers that Emma is the slayer and knows that he has to protect her. Angus finds Emma attractive in a way he hasn't felt in almost 500 years. Emma is also attracted to Angus, but fights her attraction when she discovers he is undead.

It was fun to watch Angus and Emma fall for one another. Be Still My Vampire Heart was a fun, sexy read with a bit of action thrown in for good measure. I look forward to reading more books in the Love at Stake series in the future.