Sunday, March 25, 2007

J.D. Robb - Naked In Death

Naked In Death is J.D. Robb's first Eve Dallas mystery, and Nora Roberts first book written as J.D. Robb. It introduces us to Eve Dallas, a cop in the mid 21st century (around 2065, IIRC).
Eve grew up without her family or any recollection of the first 8 years of her life. Now she works as a cop in a society where licenced companions (LC) can be found pretty much everywhere and guns (as we know them) are prohibited. Only collectors with a permit are allowed to own them. When the granddaughter of a important politician, who worked as a LC, is found murdered in her apartment in an obvious pose, the police has to work fast and carefully to find the murderer. But then, a second LC is found dead in her apartment, and it apparently was the same modus operandi as with the politician's granddaughter.

It was a fast-paced mystery which drew you right into the story and still didn't let my mind go entirely. I catch myself thinking about it every now and then and it is still fascinating. I read the second book in series a few years ago thinking it was the first, so when I found out I had to get the real first book, but it took me ages to get to read it.
Now, though, I hope to re-read the second and then the third soon, despite all the other books that are waiting for me. I enjoyed the thought of a world with stricter regulations when it comes to weapons (see Jodi Picoult's latest novel) and possible holiday resorts in outer space, though it still was a world with crime and criminal energy.
Besides the murders and the subsequent investigation, there was also sort of a romantical aspect when Eve meets Roarke, a powerful man who is a suspect at first. The sparks are flying, but in a moderate way so that this part of the story does not overshadow the mystery plot.
Usually, I also pick one or two of my favorite scenes for the review, but this time I just couldn't make up my mind. This explains quite a bit about how I feel about Eve Dallas and the book. I just can't come up with only two scenes I'd like to share, so I will leave it at recommending the series with a big smile on my face and a determination to read my other books faster so I can get to the second in series.

Rating: A-

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tracy Quan - Diary Of A Manhattan Call Girl

Diary Of A Manhattan Call Girl
Quan's 1st book
1st book featuring Nancy Chan, high-class Manhattan call girl
226 pages
Harper Perennial

This is a fun, witty, sexy, page-turning novel written by a real-life, high-priced Manhattan call girl. This is the diary of Nancy Chan, busy career girl, in her thirties, newly engaged and trying to balance job and romance. But Nancy is a high-class call girl, a fact her banker fiance, Matt does not know (he thinks she's a copy editor) and Nancy wants to keep it that way. With one foot in the bedrooms of her rich and demanding clients and one in the world of her fiance and his family, Nancy demonstrates, in her inimitable fashion, that if you know the dance, you can keep those two worlds from colliding. At least for a while. This wonderfully intelligent, sexually frank, rollicking novel gives us fresh insight into the machinations and politics of being an expensive call girl in the modern world. Quan pulls no punches, gives no apologies, and has written one of the best and most honest books yet on the topic. [synopsis from]

This is a BC bookring I have to finish and send on as soon as manageable. Can't wait to read it.

First sentence:
"Today I had the most embarrassing experience - with one of my regulars."

Katie MacAlister - Noble Destiny

Lady Charlotte Collins comes back from a marriage gone bad, one for which she eloped. This marriage completely ruined her reputation in the ton and her father cut her off from all her privileges before his death. But she is back and will do anything to get back into her place in the ton - even if this means another marriage, for which she deems Alasdair McGregor the right man, him being wealthy, of good looks and with a title. But it is not exactly in his plans to marry, despite Charlotte's plans and so she takes extreme action putting him into a position where he can only marry him. But whether her plans will turn out the way she intended will not be sure until she solves a mystery from the not-too-far past...

It has been quite a while since I finished this book, but I just didn't have the time to write a review, so this one will be only a short collection of thoughts that are still in my mind from reading this book.
Of course, for a romance, one doesn't expect much, so there is - at least for me - a different scale for ratings used. While I at first had no real connection to the main characters (unlike I had it with Noble Intentions, the first in this "series"), the characters grew on me through their own struggles with life. Otherwise the plot was thought through and I didn't find plot holes like I did with quite a few other romances.

Rating: B+

Shirley Damsgaard - Witch Way To Murder

Ophelia Jensen is a librarian and a reluctant psychic who doesn't want her gift as she considers it a burden, while her grandmother Abby has no problems at all being a practicing witch and enjoys her encounters with the paranormal.
When a mysterious stranger arrives in their small Iowa town, bomb-making materials are being stolen, and a murdered man is found, Ophelia and Abby's psychic abilities come in quite handy. The two are determined to set things right and find the real evil people, not realizing how much in danger they might get.

This series was recommended by some good friends and book buddies of mine and I can't thank them enough! I know I'll get the second in series, Charmed To Death, for my birthday, so I'll try to make some free time to read this book pretty much as soon as I get it.
It was easy to like the characters, though Ophelia's job as a librarian certainly helped, me being a book addict. The plot was okay though at times it appeared a bit far-fetched, which is why I rated this book only a B+.

Rating: B+

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Katie MacAlister - Noble Destiny

Noble Destiny
MacAlister's 3rd book, this time featuring Lady Charlotte Collins and Alasdair MacGregor, Lord Carlisle
366 pages

Dear Worthy Reader,

I take quill in hand to warn you of the inaccurate picture hinted at in this very tome of my modest self. A poor widow, I returned to England eager to take my place in the ton, only to find myself shunned by all. My one choice was to marry again, and who can chastise me for picking a groom who combined those attributes - wealth, a title, and good looks - that would ensure my utter happiness.

I know you will understand my frustration when Alasdair McGregor, the manly personification of those attributes, cruelly refused to be the answer to my problems. In fact, I was forced by Dare's obstinacy to take extreme action - the faulty codpiece that led to our marriage, the weding that was literally a circus, and, of course, the time I shot Dare to cheer him up.

Not even an annoyance such as the loss of Dare's fortune could stand between me and what I wanted most: the love of my husband. I am confident that you will disregard comments from those jealous ladies who refer to my having trapped Dare into an unwanted union, and instead look beneath the obvious to read the true story of our love.

Most humbly yours,
Lady Charlote Collins

I got the first Noble historical (Noble Intentions) through Bookcrossing and enjoyed MacAlister's style. It is different from her paranormal novels, but I enjoy both styles a lot. I just have to read this second Noble historical.

First sentence:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Stephanie Barron - Jane And The Unpleasantness At Scargrave Manor

Jane And The Unpleasantness At Scargrave Manor
Barron's 1st book / Francine Mathews' 4th book
1st book featuring Jane Austen, famous author in 19th century Great-Britain
318 pages

For everyone who loves Jane Austen... a marvelously entertaining new series that turns the incomparable author into an extraordinary sleuth!

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor

On a visit to the estate of her friend, the young and beautiful Isobel PAyne, Countess of Scargrave, Jane bears witness to a tragedy. Isobel's housband - a gentleman of mature years - is felled by a mysterious and agonizing ailment. The Earl's death seems a cruel blow of fate for the newly married Isobel. Yet the bereaved widow soon finds that it's only the beginning of her misfortune... as she receives a sinister missibe accusing her and the Earl's nephew of adultery - and murder. Desperately afraid that the letter will expose her to the worst sort of scandal, Isobel begs Jane for help. And Jane finds herself embroiled in a perilous investigation that will soon have her following a trail of clues that leads all the way to Newgate Prison and the House of Lords - a trail that may well place Jane's own person in the gravest jeopardy.

I'm reading this one for pleasure and for a buddy read in early April.

First sentence:

Jane's Introduction

17 March 1803
No.4 Sydney Place, Bath
"When a young lady of more fashion than means has the good sense to win the affection of an older gentleman, a widower of high estate and easy circumstances, it is generally observed that the match is an intelligent one on both sides."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Shirley Damsgaard - Witch Way To Murder

Witch Way To Murder
Damsgaard's 1st book
1st book featuring Abby & Ophelia Jensen, two witches in a small town in Iowa
292 pages

An embarrassment of witches
Ophelia Jensen wishes she was just your typical, thiry-something librarian. Unfortunately, she's been burdened with psychic powers - an unwanted "gift" she considers inconvenient at best and at worst downright dangerous. Her kindly old grandmother Abby, however, has no compunctions about the paranormal, being a practicing witch with unique abilities of her own.

And sometimes the otherworldly arts do come in handy - like when the arrival of a mysterious, good-looking stranger to their normally tranquil corner of Iowa seems to trigger an epidemic of catastrophes, from the theft of bomb-making materials to a murdered corpse dumped in Abby's backyard.

Luckily Ophelia and Abby are on the case and determined to make things right. But it'll take more than magick to get out of the boiling cauldron of lethal trouble they're about to land themselves in.

This book was recommended by a fellow ARMie and when I ordered the DVDs to Grey's Anatomy season 2 part 1, I just added it to the shopping cart!

First sentence:
"Rising panic clenched my stomach."

Monday, March 12, 2007

J.D. Robb - Naked In Death

Naked In Death
Robb's 1st book
1st book featuring Eve Dallas, New York police detective
305 pages

'Crime and punishment is Lieutenant Eve Dallas's business. Murder her speciality...'
Named by the social worker who rescued her as a child, Eve Dallas is now a New York police detective who lives for her job. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all - and knows her survival depends on her instincts. But she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, a charismatic Irish billionaire - and a suspect in Eve's latest murder investigation.

This is a first in series and another read for the TBR challenge, as I just discovered. It is set about 50 years in the future, IIRC, and it's been on my shelf for ages, well, maybe a year, as I got it through Bookcrossing...

First sentence:
"She woke in the dark."

Kerrelyn Sparks - How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire

Lines to remember:
[my addition: Roman, the vampire, to Shanna's father]
Roman cleared his throat. "I don't suppose this would be a good time to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage?"
Sean whipped a wooden stake from his belt. "I'll see you in hell first!"
Roman winced. "Yeah, bad timing."

When Roman Draganesti, vampire and coven master in New York, loses one of his fangs in an accident, he urgently needs a dentist to prevent from spending the rest of his - looong - life as a one-fanged vampire. This is when he meets Shanna Whelan, a dentist who is afraid of blood and running from some really dangerous men. Before she can take care of his tooth, though, he has to rescue her from an attempt assassination.

My first Kerrelyn Sparks will certainly not be my last and I hope to be able to read the second in the Heart At Stake series soon. I have read quite a few vampire novels so far and this one certainly was intriguing and fun.
I would like to say more about the book, but I'd rather avoid spoilers, therefore I'm going to keep it as short as possible. All in all, I have to say I enjoyed the plot a great deal as the hilarious, suspenseful and "loveable" scenes were at a nice balance, so that - if you don't absolutely despise one of these - you might just as well try it!

Rating: B+

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Kerrelyn Sparks - How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire

How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire
Sparks' 2nd book, this time featuring vampire Roman Draganesti and dentist Shanna Whelan
371 pages

Nobody said love was perfect...
Roman Draganesti is charming, handsome, rich... he's also a vampire. But this vampire just lost one of his fangs sinking his teeth into something he shouldn't have. Now he has one night to find a dentist before his natural healing abilities close the wound, leaving him a lop-sided eater for all eternity.

Things aren't going well for Shanna Whelan, either. After witnessing a gruesome murder, she's next on the mob's hit list. And her career as a dentist appears to be on a downward spiral because she's afraid of blood. When Roman rescues her from an assassination attempt, she wonders if she's found the one man who can keep her alive. Though the attraction between them is immediate and hot, can Shanna conquer her fear of blood to fix Roman's fang? And if she does, what will prevent Roman from using his fangs on her...?

This is one of the Bookcrossing book rings I have waiting on my shelves and I just started it - meaning I've read about two pages. I can't wait to read more and it will hopefully turn out a good read!

First sentence:
"Roman Draganesti knew someone had quietly entered his home office."

Laura Childs - Gunpowder Green

When a member of Charleston's elite dies while firing an antique gun meant to end the annual yacht race, it seems to be an accident. But when Theodosia along with Hayley and Drayton takes a closer look, she is not so sure about that anymore. After all, Oliver Dixon, the dead man, not only was about to start up a company. He also had a very young wife and there was a family feud.

Oh my, how did I enjoy Gunpowder Green - of course while sipping some Gunpowder green tea ;-) Not only did this installment bring back old acquaintance, it also introduced us to some new people in town. As I said for Death By Darjeeling, this series is wonderful and I'm really glad I have the next in series, Shades Of Earl Grey, on my shelves waiting for me :-)

Rating: A-

(belated) February reads

I just realized that I had completely forgotten about my February reads, so I'm going to post them now. Only 5 books, but 4 of them finished - but at least the reading slump I was in most of February is over - I hope!

Here they are:

01. Rachel Gibson - S ex, Lies, And Online Dating; 384 pages; rating: A-
02. Carolyn Haines - Them Bones; 318 pages; rating: A-
03. Lee Harris - The Thanksgiving Day Murder; 245 pages; rating: B+
04. Sarah Strohmeyer - Bubbles Ablaze; 309 pages; rating: DNF
05. Frederick Forsyth - Avenger (in German); 378 pages; rating: A-

Longest book finished:
Rachel Gibson: S ex, Lies, And Online Dating (384 pages)

Shortest book finished:
Lee Harris: The Thanksgiving Day Murder (245 pages)

Mystery series I've read:
Barolyn Haines' Sarah Booth Delaney
Lee Harris' Chris Bennett
Sarah Strohmeyer's Bubbles Yablonsky

Mystery series I started:
Barolyn Haines' Sarah Booth Delaney

January reading - an overview:

books read in in total: 6

books started in total: 5

books finished: 4

books not finished: 1

books read in by genre:
6 fiction
3 Mysteries
3 Suspense/Thrillers
2 Romance

authors read by gender:
5 female
1 male

books read by author's gender:
5 female
1 male

new-to-me authors:
Carolyn Haines
Frederick Forsyth

new-to-me authors I most likely won't read again:

books read by rating:
3 A
1 B
0 C
0 D

book size:
short books (- 200 pages) ~ 0
intermediate books (201 - 450 pages) ~ 6
chunksters (451+ pages) ~ 0

books by type:
0 hardcover
2 trade paperback
4 mass market paperback

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Laura Childs - Gunpowder Green

Gunpowder Green
Childs' 2nd book
2nd in the Tea Shop Mysteries featuring Theodosia Browning
244 pages
Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

Tea shop owner Theodosia Browning knows that something's brewing in the high society of Charleston - something other than her newest tea...

The Indigo Tea Shop, Charleston's favorite spot of tea, has just come out with its latest flavor: Gunpowder Green. Theodosia Browning cannot wait to hear its praises as it is unveiled at the annual yacht race. But when she hears the crack of an antique gun meant to end the race, a member of Charleston's elite falls dead. Theodosia has a hunch that his demise was no accident - and will go out of her way to prove it. But if she doesn't act fast, Theo will find herself in hot water with some boiling-mad Charlestonians - and more than a little gun-

This is a buddy read for ARM. I started reading it yesterday on the train and I really enjoy it. It is just great to meet all the characters again!

Oh, one thing: Actually, the latest flavor from the Indigo Tea Shop is not Gunpowder Green (a delicious green tea, I'll drink while reading the book, by the way), but a blend of Gunpowder Green and fresh mint.

First sentence:
"Theodosia Browning reached up and removed the tortoiseshell clip that held her auburn locks tightly in place."

Barbara Seranella - No Human Involved

Lines to remember:
[My addition: Detectives Mace St. John and Cassiletti at a crime scene.]
"I think what we got here is a clear case of AVA, NHI," St. John said.
Cassiletti looked confused.
"A**hole versus a**hole," Mace translated, "no human involved." He grinned at the rookie detective.

[My addition: Mace St. John thinking about the ID bracelet the doctor suggested he gets for his confused Dad quite a while ago.]
He couldn't feature his dad with atag that said, "My name is Digger, if found please return me." The guy was a war hero, not some German shepherd.

When strung-out waif-cum-ace auto mechanic Munch Mancini ends up suspect for her abusive father's murder, she is on the run not only from the police but also from her addiction and rather bad lifestyle. Only when she is linked to a series of gruesome murders, cop Mace St. John really starts looking for her. And in order for Munch to start a new life, she has to find the murderer and cut a deal.

I can't believe it took me so long to discover this series, and it is even sadder that it had to be due to Barbara Seranella's passing. I read this book as a buddy read and I can't wait to find the time to read the next in series.
Actually, it wasn't really hard-boiled, but not cozy either. We have Munch, an amateur sleuth, who's been through a really tough time, then there are gruesome murders and some really creepy people. While I wouldn't know what category to place the book in, I have to say it was just one awesome book, so I won't worry about categories for the time being.
I couldn't find any plot holes, and the only reason I didn't rate this book higher was the rather yucky description of a suicide attempt that almost made me vomit on the train LOL Actually ridiculous, but I just sat there reading - no, skimming, and could just imagine what it must have looked like...

Rating: B+

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Kate Borden - Death of a Tart

Lines To Remember:
[my addition: Ian's message to PJ]
What's past is Prologue.

Peggy Jean Turner is the mayor of Cobb's Landing, a small town in a dire financial situation. When Max, the man who bought the local bank and has a knack for appearing out of nothing, offers an idea to help the town out of its financial woes, everyone's game. So Max helps the town to turn itself into a tourist attraction - a colonial village, to be exact. And they want it all, the costumes, the buildings, the stores, the carriages, etc. What they didn't expect was that the town tart, Selma, would turn up drowned short before the opening of the colonial village...

I enjoyed this first in series quite a bit, though I assume I missed a bit because I had to take a rather long break between the first few pages and finishing it - almost a month! But then, I had to remember the plot for a group read :-)
I really enjoyed the setting, especially how they turned the whole town in a colonial village. As with every series, they left some questions unanswered, so I can only hope to find out more about Max and Ian, and discover how things will continue for Cobb's Landing.

Rating: B+

Friday, March 2, 2007

Sarah Strohmeyer - Bubbles Ablaze

I gave up on this book. It just didn't work for me. I tried to get into the book, but it bored me a lot! I can't explain it, and I enjoyed the previous books a great deal, so I am indeed a bit sad. But then - no way will I force myself to read a book I don't like or enjoy...

Lee Harris - The Thanksgiving Day Murder

When Chris and Jack attend a Thanksgiving Dinner at the Gross's, they don't know this will get Chris into a new case. Mel's uncle's wife, Natalie Gordon, disappeared the year before while they attended the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City when she wanted to get a balloon. Natalie is a rather mysterious woman - the only thing left of her life fits in a cardboard box, and no one seems to know much about her, not even her husband. Who is this woman, and why did she disappear?

I actually enjoyed this book quite a bit, but it was not as good as the previous Chris Bennett mysteries. Somehow the mystery lacked the "heart". Unfortunately, it's been a rather long time since I finished the book, so I can't say much more about the book.

Rating: B+