Thursday, April 28, 2011

James Rollins has a New Book Coming!

James Rollins is one of my favorite authors - nobody writes a better thriller.  His Sigma Force novels feature intriguing, multi-dimensional plots, exciting action, exotic locales, and some great military-style missions with Grayson Pierce and his team. Check it out!  I will read and review this as soon as it's published.

The following excerpt is from Barnes & Noble:
"New York Times bestselling thrill-master James Rollins is back with The Devil Colony, another electrifying combination of suspense, history, science, action, and ingenious speculation. In The Devil Colony, Sigma Force stalwarts Painter Crowe and Commander Grayson Pierce must investigate a gruesome massacre in the Rocky Mountains and root out a secret cabal that has been manipulating momentous events since the time of the original thirteen colonies. Once again, Rollins delivers a spine-tingler that will leave fans of Michael Crichton, The Da Vinci Code, and Indiana Jones breathless as he exposes the dark truth behind the founding of America."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Barnes & Noble Announces New Software/Apps for Nook Color

Lots of goings-on in the world of e-readers lately!  Amazon just recently announced a major update for Kindle users, and now Barnes & Noble has done the following:
"Barnes & Noble is providing a major firmware update for NOOK Color that contains exciting new features, addresses key customer requests and provides ongoing performance improvements. Among the enhancements, NOOK Color v1.2 now offering popular NOOK Apps™, NOOK Email™, an enhanced web experience, NOOK Kids™ Read and Play™ titles, enhanced NOOK Books, and more. The software update will be automatically downloaded to devices that are registered and connected to Wi-Fi®, beginning the week of April 25 and over the coming weeks. There’s no need for you to take any action. The software update is also available immediately via a manual download offered here. Please refer to the instructions below for the manual download. To check the current software version of your NOOK Color, please click here for additional instructions."

I have a Nook Color, and really love it.  Nothing will ever replace paper books for me,  but my Nook has quickly wormed its way into my bibliophile heart, with its huge storage capacity (so many books all together and they're mine, mine, mine!!), easy to read and navigate screen, and portability.  

For those of you considering an e-reader, this is a very helpful link comparing the Nook, Kindle, Kobo and Sony EReader:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Broken by Shiloh Walker (Reviewed by Derenda)

Back of the book:
Quinn Rafferty is a working bounty hunter for a private detective agency in St. Louis when a new neighbor catches his eyes. Sara Davis is on the run and hiding something, but does she dare to trust him? She is the target of a missing persons case he is ironically assigned to. What will he do, can he trust her, will she trust him?
Derenda's Review:
This book intrigued me when I noticed the tease on the front. It simply stated, "The hardest battles are fought within."  Okay, okay, the attractive man with the dog tags on the cover did not hurt either! The story begins with Quinn Rafferty. His heartbreaking childhood the first few pages, nearly made me cry. Quinn was with his mother who had a drug problem. Upon her death, he discovers he has a twin and a father who offered a very different life from that he has ever known. However, Quinn is already broken. Suddenly, the story zooms twenty years in the future. It seemed like a quick rush as I would had preferred to follow Quinn more through his younger years and his choice of the military. However, Quinn is now a bounty hunter living in St. Louis.

Sara Davis, is offered a place to live by a sweet, loving lady named Theresa. Theresa is described as a collector of lost souls offering rooms in her home to boarders. Sara is one of those lost souls trying to simply go unnoticed. She hates to exercise but does it anyway, works at a restaurant, and is "carrying anger on the inside for too long and it started to show on the outside." She keeps recounting comments, made by a man named James, that leaves the reader to assume he's her husband, but turns out he is not. It was an interesting turn of Sara's story that left me very surprised, since in my arrogance thought I already had it figured out. A compliment to Walker!

Quinn and Sara start an intimate relationship, I do mean intimate! It is very descriptive, intense, white hot sex scenes! If you blush much, your face will be red for chapters and chapters! The irony is that Quinn is hired to find a missing person who turns out to be Sara. While he can not tell Sara that he is in love with her, he does manage to shout it out to his boss in a heated discussion. Thinking Quinn has turned his emotional corner, I am expecting him to share his feelings with Sara. Instead, he reverts back into his broken emotional status when he thinks Sara has lied to him. Finally when the truth is revealed  of Sara's secret, he walks away from her. I wanted to yell at him to turn around, but he feels Sara did not trust him enough to share her secret. Nearly a month later, Sara returns to Quinn to see if there is a chance for their love. There is!

I did enjoy this book and look forward to others by Walker. Broken is one of those books you really shouldn't read sitting outside on a hot day with the intense scenes. You just might explode from the heat!

The Abandoned (The Graveyard Queen Series prequel novella) by Amanda Stevens

The Abandoned

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading The Restorer by Amanda Stevens.  It's the story of Amelia Gray, cemetery restorer and second sight possessor.  She sees ghosts, lots of hungry, energy-sucking ones, and her life is a precarious tightrope of avoiding these wraiths and trying to have a life.  The book was fascinating, an outstanding blend of paranormal mystery and suspense with a bit of romance.  It had a delightfully spooky, chilling atmosphere, great characters, and both a brutal crime and a mystery for Amelia to solve.  To read my review of The Restorer, click here:

 Life only got better last week when I discovered The Abandoned, a prequel to The Restorer.   Amanda Stevens' website describes The Abandoned thusly:
"There are rules for dealing with ghosts. Too bad Ree Hutchins doesn't know them.  When her favorite patient at a private mental hospital passes away, psychology student Ree Hutchins mourns the elderly woman's death. But more unsettling is her growing suspicion that something unnatural is shadowing her.
Amateur ghost hunter Hayden Priest believes Ree is being haunted. Even Amelia Gray, known in Charleston as The Graveyard Queen, senses a gathering darkness. Driven by a force she doesn't understand, Ree is compelled to uncover an old secret and put abandoned souls to rest—before she is locked away forever...."

As the ebook exclusive prequel to The Graveyard Queen series,  The Abandoned is a novella (66 pages) and introduces us to Ree Hutchins, a psychology grad student volunteering at a mental hospital in Charleston, South Carolina.  When her favorite patient passes away while Ree is sitting next to her, an unsettling series of events begins.  Ree begins to feel as though she is being followed, experiences cold chills and touches where there is no draft, and accidentally overhears evidence of a blackmail plot involving her professor and head of the mental hospital.
Ree is a skeptic, and denies the possibility that she is being haunted, even as the evidence begins to add up.  She is also a realist, and has no intention of jeopardizing her graduate degree by accusing her professor of something she does not fully understand.  But one night Ree wakes up in a nearby cemetery with a dark past, kissing a startled ghost hunter, with someone else's memories of a horrific past.  Hayden believes Ree is being haunted by a ghost who wants revenge, and wants to help Ree.  For a short story, these characters are really well developed.  Heck, I've read novels with lesser developed main characters.  Both are believable and relatable, and their attraction creates its own suspenseful subplot as Ree learns that there is more to Hayden than meets they eye.  The plot is fast-paced and Ree's actions are sensible, as the danger to her becomes more real.  Amelia Gray and Detective Devlin are introduced in this story, and many plot threads from The Restorer are established here.  Compulsively readable, with a chilling atmosphere and a great mystery, my only complaint was the shortness of the story  - I wanted more!  But sadly, I have to wait.....
There are two more books coming in this series,  The Kingdom and The Prophet, both to be published by  Mira in 2011.  I can't wait to read these!
Learn more about The Graveyard Queen series and author Amanda Stevens at her website (link is at the bottom of this page).


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vampire Mine by Kerrelyn Sparks

 The Back of The Book:

Nothing on earth can make this vampire fall in love . . .
After 499 years of existence, Connor Buchanan has arrived at an inescapable conclusion: he is a cold-hearted SOB. He's been watching his friends—those poor romantic fools—plummet off the cliff into love like a dazed herd of sheep. But not Connor. He knows that love leads to nothing but heartache.
Until Marielle . . .
She is an angel cast down from heaven for disobedience. Trapped in mortal form, she finds a protector in Connor, a Scottish vampire haunted by a dark past. Marielle hopes to heal his broken heart and earn her way back home, but suddenly she has these . . . feelings. This strange yet pleasant physical yearning—for a vampire! Is this the work of a demon luring her into hell, or has this angel found heavenly bliss?
 My Review:
Kerrelyn Sparks' 10th book in her popular Love At Stake series has all of her trademark sparkling wit, sexy humor and dangerous adventure.  Connor rescues Marielle after she has lost her wings, and he is immediately smitten by the gorgeous angel, falling head over heels in love and lust.  Connor, although nearly 500 years old, is the young one in this relationship, as Marielle was created thousands of years ago.  But Marielle, for all her experience as an angel of death, has never spent time in a human body.  Particularly a body with working parts.  There are several really funny incidents as Connor must teach Marielle how to take care of herself (her reactions to toilets, running water, chocolate and zippers are laugh out loud funny). 

As she and Connor begin to fall in love and are overwhelmed and confused by their emotions and physical reactions to one another, Marielle is also dealing with her sudden separation from the Heavenly Host.  But Connor's behavior toward Marielle is so tender and sweet, she begins to question whether she really wants to earn her wings back.  Taking place over a seven day period, their romance is strengthened by her faith and compassion, and his strength and sacrifice, as their love transforms each other.  If you think this is sounding too serious and gooey, have faith, dear reader!  Because somebody has the nerve to paint Connor's nails hot pink while he is in his death sleep, the murderous Casimir is still on the loose with a wacked girlfriend, and the early stages of a new romantic couple are evident. 

Kerrelyn Sparks has seamlessly tied together information mentioned in previous books to support Marielle's role in the Vamp's lives, providing evidence of a divine plan.  This belief is strengthened when the Vamps learn Marielle can sense death,  and they decide to use her to hunt down Casimir.

There are a two really unexpected plot twists in Vampire Mine, and I won't spoil it for those who have not read the book.  But I will say I never saw either event coming, and I like being surprised in a book series that's been around as long as this one. Another great aspect of this book is the theme of the redemptive power of love.  Connor's selfless love for Marielle, and his attempts to help her get back to Heaven, cause her to love him more.  And Marielle's love and faith in Connor as a good and noble man allow him to overcome his belief that he is damned. 

Vampire Mine is the 10th book in the popular Love At Stake series.  Kerrelyn Sparks has done a great job maintaining a sparkling, witty and sexy voice throughout the entire series. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sookie Stackhouse is Back! Check it Out

According to, the 11th Sookie Stackhouse book will be released May 3rd, 2011.  I love this series, but was disappointed in the last two books, as they seemed to be lacking in character development and emotional depth.  Sookie, Bill, Eric and crew were all present and accounted for, but the books had a lifeless quality to them.  I felt as though the characters were being moved through the plot to keep it going, but their actions felt forced, and the story lacked the spark and energy it had in the earlier novels.  However, I love this world Charlaine Harris has created, and will definitely check out the new book.  Any chance the sexy were-tiger Quinn will reappear?                                                                          

Young Adult Recommendations by Guest Reviewer Derenda

My best suggestions for young boy readers, say 8-12'ish, is John Flanagan's Ranger Apprentice Series. It's fabulous! I got it for my son but I was the one on the thrill ride. It's about the life of an orphan, Will, and his friends. It is  set in a Robin Hood like time period, with swords, mystery, and a twist no one saw coming. I was so eager to get this series, I ordered them all. I have since passed them out, doubting I ever have the series complete again! ha!

My best shape shifter series for teens is Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. Her last book in this trilogy comes out in June, I believe. It's called Forever. I enjoyed this series as Grace discovers the true identity of the wolf, Sam, that has spent his life watching her. Its a beautiful first love experience. In Linger, the story continues with a role reversal and potential heart break that will have you literally screaming NO! at the end of the book.

Amazonia by James Rollins

The Back of the Book:
 The Rand scientific expedition entered the lush wilderness of the Amazon and never returned. Years later, one of its members has stumbled out of the world’s most inhospitable rainforest—a former Special Forces soldier, scarred, mutilated, terrified, and mere hours from death, who went in with one arm missing . . . and came out with both intact. Unable to comprehend this inexplicable event, the government sends Nathan Rand into this impenetrable secret world of undreamed-of perils to follow the trail of his vanished father . . . toward mysteries that must be solved at any cost. But the nightmare that is awaiting Nate and his team of scientists and seasoned U.S. Rangers dwarfs any danger they anticipated . . . an ancient, unspoken terror—a power beyond human imagining—that can forever alter the world beyond the dark, lethal confines of Amazonia.
My Review:
James Rollins is one of the best adventure writers working today, and this early example of his work is typical of his writing and is a great escape. With his usual blend of adventure, science, politics, culture, myths and a little "what if" and romance added in, Amazonia is another exciting roller coaster ride of suspense. If you need sleep, don't start one of his books, as it's very hard to put them down once started.
A science/military team is going deep into the rainforest of Brazil, following the years old trail of an earlier expedition that disappeared. The prize: a potential miracle drug with regenerative properties. The dangers are numerous, from monstrous caimans, head-shrinking shamans, man-eating locusts, to double-crossing humans working for morally bankrupt, greedy pharmaceutical corporations.
As team members are killed off willy-nilly, time is running out for the desperate, remaining members of the expedition. Readers will be kept guessing as to who survives in this thrill ride of a novel.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Some Love for a New Author

I am also a book reviewer for a great website called Nocturne Romance Reads (, and a while back I was fortunate enough to read a really amazing book called Cads and Cadavers by Kelly Lougheed (for the full review click here (

Cads and Cadavers is one of those rare little gems of a story that sparkle, making other books seem dull by comparison. A satirical Young Adult book by classification, it is so smart, witty and literate, while being simultaneously spooky and chock-full of adolescent angst, that it will appeal to adult readers as well.  It was wholly original and you need to read this.  As soon as possible.

Dark Predator by Christine Feehan

I'm very excited for the release of Dark Predator, book #22 in Christine Feehan's Carpathian series.  It's scheduled for release September 6, 2011 and is the story of Zacarias de la Cruz, eldest of the de la Cruz brothers, who have lived in South America for centuries.  There is a lot of speculation about who will be his lifemate but so far no hints from Feehan's website.

Christine Feehan is a powerhouse writer of the paranormal romance genre, and currently is actively writing four series:  Carpathians (Dark Series), Ghostwalkers, Leopard Series, and Sea Haven series ( of which there are two subseries).  Fans new to Feehan are in for a treat, as she is prolific and very, very good.    The Dark series and the Leopard series are of the paranormal genre, and deal with vampires, shapeshifters, mages and werewolves.  Both have an extensive and multi-layered back story full of far-ranging conspiracies, evil plots and action, as does the Ghostwalker series.  The Ghostwalkers are elite special forces soldiers who have been psychically and genetically altered, creating amazing abilities and gifts. If you like military ops books with lots of romance, sex and action you will love these books.  The Sea Haven series deal with seven psychically gifted sisters - I can't say much more than that as I've only read one of these so far.

There are several common themes throughout Feehan's books.  All of her stories have similar elements - sexy and powerful alpha males, smart and capable heroines, action, adventure and great sex.  That being said they can frequently feel like multiple variations on the same theme.  But what saves them from being repetitious is Feehan's incredible story-telling ability.  She creates compelling characters the reader can relate to and actually like, places them in rich and varied settings that create an urge to travel in the reader, and adds in fantastic detail about a variety of subjects.  She is an author who really does her research, and then seamlessly adds in these details, enriching the story.

If you like your romances sweet and chaste with the sexy parts kept private, skip these books, because her sex scenes are extensive, imaginative and hot.

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

The Back of the Book:
Anna never knew werewolves existed until the night she survived a violent attack…and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But Anna is that rarest kind of werewolf: an Omega. And one of the most powerful werewolves in the country will recognize her value as a pack member—and as his mate.

My Review:
Charles and Anna were originally introduced in a short story anthology, and this is their first stand-alone novel in the Alpha and Omega series.  Readers can jump right into Cry Wolf, though, as Patricia Briggs has done a great job of explaining how they met without the reader feeling like she’s being “caught up”.
Cry Wolf is a fast-paced blend of paranormal mystery and suspense with a bit of romance all mixed together.  As with Briggs’ previous novels, the worlds she creates are rich, and multi-layered, with believable characters who don’t always make the wisest decisions, just as in real life.  
Charles and Anna are trying to figure out the nuances and capabilities of their mate bond while adjusting to life as a couple.  Anna is particularly compelling, as she is dealing with the effects of being abused by her pack while simultaneously trying to trust her instincts about believing in Charles.  When their lives are threatened, her true inner strength is revealed, and we understand how she was able to survive her past.  Charles is a very sexy character, mysterious, quiet and lethal, with magical shamanistic abilities he inherited from his Native American mother.  Although we meet Anna at a low point in her life, there is more to her than meets the eye. When Charles is in danger, she embraces her werewolf strength and learns to kick some butt of her own.  The plot twists and suspense kept me reading late into the night, as Charles and Anna figure out who their enemies are.  The Montana wilderness is a powerful and  image-evoking backdrop as Charles and Anna try to survive both it and powerful supernatural enemies.  This book was well worth reading and highly recommended.