Wednesday, February 27, 2013

(13) The Surrogate

Title: The Surrogate: A Novel by Tania Carver
Publisher: Pegasus
272 pages
Genre: Mystery

Synopsis: A shocking double-murder scene greets Detective Inspector Philip Brennan when he is called to a flat in Colchester. Two women are viciously cut open and lying spread-eagled, one tied to the bed, one on the floor. The woman on the bed has had her stomach cut into and her unborn child is missing. But this is the third time Phil and his team have seen such an atrocity. Two other pregnant women have been killed in this way and their babies taken from them. No one can imagine what sort of person would want to commit such horrible crimes.
When psychologist Marina Esposito is brought in, Phil has to put aside his feelings about their shared past and get on with the job. But can they find the killer before another woman is targeted?

Review: This book is not for the faint of heart. The scenes are graphic, the story line frightening and twisted.  DI Brennan is called to the scene of a murder and a kidnapping.  The kidnapping is of a baby that was torn from its mothers body. To help with the search DI Brennan's boss calls in psychologist Marina Esposito who on a previous case had an affair with the DI.  Now she is back, 5 months pregnant and hiding that from her team. She tries to hold it together as she helps to investigate the gruesome murders of pregnant women and is confused about her feelings for Phil.

This is a great fast paced book with flawed characters and a violent story line.  If you like mysteries and can stomach the reality of seriously twisted damaged killers than this story has it all.

Monday, February 25, 2013

(12) The Twelve

Title: The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A Novel by Justin Cronin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
589 pages
Genre: Sci/fi

Synopsis: In the present day, as the man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, is so shattered by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” has been forced to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a landscape of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned—and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest of nights.

One hundred years in the future, Amy and the others fight on for humankind’s salvation . . . unaware that the rules have changed. The enemy has evolved, and a dark new order has arisen with a vision of the future infinitely more horrifying than man’s extinction. If the Twelve are to fall, one of those united to vanquish them will have to pay the ultimate price.


Review: This was a great follow up to The Passage.  It gave some background on what happened during the chaos that ensued after the Twelve escaped from their lab and the building of the Colony.  Its a great way to learn more about how this world became what it is.

Mixed in with this background is information about the current time about 100 years from the start of the plague. I have to say this book can be a little confusing at first as it thrusts you back and forth in time but as you get further into the book it gets easier and better.

There are old characters that you will love, new characters that you will hate, and people you will mourn for.  I am totally hooked on this series and can't wait for the sequel.  The mysteries are in place and the final showdown for humans is about to begin.


Monday, February 18, 2013

(11) In the Unlikely Event

TitleIn the Unlikely Event... by Saxon Bennett
Publisher: Bella Books
264 pages
Genre: lgbt fiction, humor

Synopsis: Chase Banter has always been about risk avoidance, but parenthood has changed all that. Among other things, she’s embraced a writer’s life, joined the board of the Lesbian Illumination Institute and fomented rebellion within the PTA.

When she and her BFF Lacey butt heads over the Institute, Chase decides it’s high time she prove once and for all that she is a changed woman. Her daughter, Bud, is an eight-year-old filmmaker, and will document her mother’s fearlessness, once she figures out how to focus past knee caps. Chase proves she can visit Urgent Care and not wash her hands afterward. She can skateboard, teach people how to drive and—to the surprise of many, including herself—she can gift wrap anything.

All these changes can only lead to one thing: the Gift Wrapping National Finals. How hard can it be, after all? It’s not as if she’s going to jump out of a plane or anything like that.

Review: Quirky, witty and fun. Chase Banter is the most dysfunctionally functional person you will ever meet and her daughter Bud is a precocious and brilliant young girl who gets Chase to do things that she normally wouldn't do. Chase is also dealing with her best friend and employer Layce whose is having control issues and her muses, Divine Vulva and Commercial Endeavor are having an affair and causing all kinds of turmoil for Chase but she is determined to overcome some of her phobias.

There are several times I found myself laughing out loud, this is a sidesplitting ride that is quick, quirky, witty and fun. If you need a good laugh, some witty banter and the feeling of being perfectly normal in a crazy world then pick this book up!

Friday, February 15, 2013

(10) Damaged

Title: Damaged: The Heartbreaking True Story of a Forgotten Child by Cathy Glass
Publisher: Harper Element
352 pages
Genre: memoir, foster parenting

Synopsis: Although Jodie is only eight years old, she is violent, aggressive, and has already been through numerous foster families. Her last hope is Cathy Glass…
Cathy, an experienced foster carer, is pressured into taking Jodie as a new placement. Jodie's challenging behavior has seen off five carers in four months but Cathy decides to take her on to protect her from being placed in an institution. Jodie arrives, and her first act is to soil herself, and then wipe it on her face, grinning wickedly. Jodie meets Cathy's teenage children, and greets them with a sharp kick to the shins. That night, Cathy finds Jodie covered in blood, having cut her own wrist, and smeared the blood over her face. As Jodie begins to trust Cathy her behavior improves. Over time, with childish honesty, she reveals details of her abuse at the hands of her parents and others. It becomes clear that Jodie's parents were involved in a sickening pedophile ring, with neighbors and Social Services not seeing what should have been obvious signs. It’s clear that Josie needs psychiatric therapy, but instead Social Services take Jodie away from her, and place her in a residential unit. Although the pedophile ring is investigated and brought to justice, Jodie’s future is still up in the air. Cathy promises that she will stand by her no matter what – her love for the abandoned Jodie is unbreakable.

Review: Cathy Glass is a foster mother with a lot of experience taking care of hurt and neglected children.  When she consents to take Jodie into her care she is shaken by how deeply troubled she is.  Jodie’s tantrums range from cursing and kicking to multiple personalities, the level of abuse she experienced is beyond what most people can imagine. 

This book can be hard to read at times but Cathy’s strength and her dedication to helping this child is impressive, it held a lot of good ideas and lessons about taking care of children in pain. Reading about the patience and determination that Cathy shows in caring for this little girl is inspiring, although her no holds barred story shows the tremendous hoops many foster parents have to jump through in order to get the support and help they need for the children in their care.  Cathy shows foster parenting isn't for everyone but if you are willing to put in the time the rewards can be great.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

(9) One Step at a Time

Title: One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Publisher: Pajama Press
128 Pages
Genre: Adoption, Bio

Synopsis: Brought up in a Vietnamese orphanage and rescued from the invading North Vietnamese army, Tuyet has been adopted by a kind and loving family in Canada. But polio has left her with a weak leg, and her foot is turned inward, making walking painful and difficult. She must have a series of operations but dreads doctors and the hospital because they bring back troubling memories of helicopters, a field hospital and another operation in Vietnam. But now that she has been given a chance at a normal life, Tuyet is determined to do what it takes to finally stand on her own two feet.

Review: Tuyet was born in Vietnam and raised in an orphanage until a family in the US adopts her.  Tuyet was stricken with polio which has left her leg weak and her foot twisted.  She needs to have a series of operations to help her walk again and this is her story. Tuyet doesn’t speak English and is very scared about what is happening, but her parents find people to for her to help her along until she learns English.  This is a story of bravery, love, and courage.

Monday, February 4, 2013

(8) Ever After

Title: Ever After by Kim Harrison
Publisher: Harper Voyager
448 Pages
Genre: Fantasy, Witches, Demons,

Synopsis: The ever-after, the demonic realm that parallels our own, is shrinking, and if it disappears, so does all magic. It's up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to fix the ever-after before the fragile balance between magic users and humans falls apart.

Of course, there's also the small fact that Rachel is the one who caused the ley line to rip in the first place, and her life is forfeit unless she can fix it. Not to mention the most powerful demon in the ever-after—the soul-eater Ku'Sox Sha-Ku'ru—has vowed to destroy her, and has kidnapped her friend and her goddaughter as leverage. If Rachel doesn't give herself up, they will die.

Forced by circumstance, Rachel teams up with elven tycoon Trent Kalamack—a partnership fraught with dangers of the heart as well as betrayal of the soul—to return to the ever-after and rescue those she loves. One world teeters on the brink of interspecies war, the other on the brink of its very demise—and it's up to Rachel to keep them both from being destroyed.

Review: Rachel is truly on her own in this one.  Ivy (the vampire) is off playing house in another city, Jenks (the Pixy) can't enter the Ever After during the day.  So its up to Rachel to help Trent save his daughter and Ceri and fix the Ever After from becoming extinct.  Of course that isn't easy when you have the most powerful demon ever created trying to kill you and redesign the world.

I think that Rachel and Trents relationship really gets solidified in this book and even though Rachel hates the Ever After and doesn't like being a demon she doesn't want to see it destroyed.  You also get to really know her demon mentor Al and I started to have a soft spot for him, there is much more to him than his harsh nasty exterior.

While the ley lines go crazy and the Ever After shrinks Rachel and her Gargoyle teen try to figure out how to fix it for everyone.  Without the ley lines, magic will be seriously inhibited and without the Ever After there will be no more demons, which may not be a bad thing but some of them are planning on escaping through babies that have a rare genetic disease that can be genetically fixed to make them demons...of course only millionaire Trent knows how to make that happen.

While so many of these books are just fumbling mind candy I really enjoyed this one.  There seemed to be more depth to it and you really got to see a peek into some of the characters other layers.  I would caution you that if you haven't started this series don't start with this one there is too much back story you really need to know, too many relationships you need to understand.  Out of all of them though this one I think is my favorite and its good to see Rachel starting to come into her own instead of always being the one to screw things up that everyone else has to come in and fix.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

(7) Catching Fire

Title: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, Book 2) by Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
391 Pages
Genre: Fantasy, dystopian society

Synopsis: Katniss, again the narrator, returns home to find herself more the center of attention than ever. The sinister President Snow surprises her with a visit, and Katniss’s fear when Snow meets with her alone is both palpable and justified. Catching Fire is divided into three parts: Katniss and Peeta’s mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, preparations for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a truncated version of the Games themselves. Slower paced than its predecessor, this sequel explores the nation of Panem: its power structure, rumors of a secret district, and a spreading rebellion, ignited by Katniss and Peeta’s subversive victory.

Review: The book starts with Katniss and Peeta needing to get ready for their Victory tour of the districts...where they get to go and stand in front of the families of those that they killed or at least avoided long enough for someone else to kill. Before that Katniss receives a visit from President Snow who basically tells her, her time is limited and he can't have her around after she found a way to best the Capital at the Games.  Undone and trying her hardest to hold it together for her family and to save them, Peeta and Gale you often forget that Katniss is supposed to only be 16 or 17.

When she returns from her tour she finds that things have changed in her district.  Things are stricter, she can't go hunting anymore and rules that hadn't been enforced are now being enforced in cruel ways on the people of her district.  Katniss blames herself and her actions for the plight of her people but doesn't know what to do to help them.  When the announcement is made for the special Hunger Games called the Quell she learns that the people competing are to be picked from all the past winners.  Since she is the only female winner in District 12 she knows she is going again.

This book was much more intricate than the first one, more political and much more dangerous.  You can really feel the danger. Peeta seems to step up and really find himself in this book and I think Gale becomes a whiney little bitch.  I know there are people who think Gale is the best choice for Katniss but I think he is a little too self absorbed to be of any balance to her.  Of course this book ends on a cliff hanger so now I have to go find a copy of Mocking Jay asap!

I think this was a really nice follow up to the Hunger Games and didn't sugar coat the atrocity that is the Hunger Games.  You can't win that and lead a normal life, its no wonder that Hamish is an alcoholic or that other winners turned to other types of drugs.  Yay you won! You just killed a bunch of other kids in the most gruesome way possible and it was televised and people were betting on you like you were a dog or something...gross.  I think that this is the book that really brings home how out of touch the people in the Capital are and how much those in the districts suffer.  Did they really think there wouldn't be another rebellion?
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