Archive for November, 2012

The Witness – Nora Roberts

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Review, romance
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Elizabeth Fitch was raised by an emotionally remote mother to be a perfect daughter who never puts a foot wrong.  But one night she decides to rebel.  After forging fake ids, she and a friend, Julie, get into a trendy club to party and met he owners of the club, Ilya and Alexei.  The girls leave the club with Alexei, to go back to his place, with Ilya meeting up with them after he finished some business.  They two men are Russian mafia though and the business is Ilya killing Alexei.  Julie is caught in the crossfire and Elizabeth runs, contacting the police and agreeing to testify against the shooters.  Placed in the witness protection programme, she is betrayed before the trial and two FBI agents are killed defending her.  So she must run again.

Abigail Lowery is a mystery.  Buying a house in a small town in the Ozarks, she keeps to herself and rarely goes to town, causing the residents to be insanely curious about her.  She designs security software and by hacking, keeps tabs on the Russian mafia, FBI, US Marshals, and anyone connected with the Fitch case.  Oh, and she has a fierce guard dog called Bert who is adorable.  Brooks is the police chief of the town?? and interested in knowing more about Abigail.  The subplot involved the son of the town’s wealthiest man vandalising the property of a well liked family  The father was trying to buy the sons way out of trouble and it was interesting to view his frustration and escalation as he didn’t succeed.

The beginning was interesting but the middle dragged, with the last third of the book being interesting again.  I love the ending, though it would have been brilliant to see the reactions of the bad guys as justice found them!  I didn’t like how Brooks wouldn’t take no for an answer, pushing his way into Abigail’s house and life after being told no, because he ‘knew’ what she secretly wanted.  Things worked out ok because it’s a romance book, but no means no.  I also found his mother, Sunny, to be pushy and annoying; pushing her way into the house of a woman her son was interested in.  It worked out ok but you can see she’ll be interfering in the future.

This turned out to be a good read, perfect for a lazy day.

Piatkus

Reviewed by Jan

Royce and Hadrian are back!  Riyria perform a last job before Hadrian decides to retire and take a new path.  Hadrian sets out to find the Heir of Novron and takes Royce with him, having thrilling adventures along the way.  We met new characters, get reacquainted with old ones, see where they each grew up, and undertake a wild ride.  The author isn’t afraid to kill characters off either.

Wintertide is the first volume, where Riyria attempt to free Degan Gaunt, the Heir of Novron, from the palace dungeons in Aquesta.  They discover Princess Arista is being held there too and attempt to free her as well.  The second volume is Percepliquis, which has Hadrian and a reluctant Royce leading a party of familiar characters on a quest to find the Horn of Gylindora, thought to be in the ancient city of Percepliquis which had vanished.  While they’re away finding the city of Percepliquis, Empress Modina has to protect her people from a war with the elves.  Along the way Hadrian and Royce face more ‘certain death as prisoners in dungeons’ situations.

This one book holds all the missing pieces we didn’t realize we were missing, yet piecing all the secreted comments throughout the series together to complete everything. Michael has taken a series to all different levels throughout this series, and this book is a fabulous ending to it all!

The ending was very grownup with the realistic planning for the future but with lots of ‘wow, that was unexpected’ moments, ‘ah yes, that makes sense’ realisations, and the very last page was ‘light bulb moment!’  Perfect!’  All loose ends were neatly tied up though I’d love to read more history of certain characters.  I highly recommend the Riyria Revelations series to any fans of fantasy adventure novels.  Michael J Sullivan, please keep writing.  Your talent for producing awesome characters in exciting stories is wonderful.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

Royce and Hadrian are back!  Riyria perform a last job before Hadrian decides to retire and take a new path.  Hadrian sets out to find the Heir of Novron and takes Royce with him, having thrilling adventures along the way.  We met new characters, get reacquainted with old ones, see where they each grew up, and undertake a wild ride.  The author isn’t afraid to kill characters off either.

There are two stories in this book.  Nyphron Rising shows the rising power of the church and the ordinary people fighting against the New Empire.  Princess Arista hires Riyria to escort her to meet with the rebel leader and along the way we find out how Hadrian learnt his amazing fighting skills and see where Royce grew up.  The Emerald Storm takes place in the jungle (with cannibals everywhere), on the ocean in a sailing ship (lots of pirates), and in the Imperial Palace (intrigue, magic, hidden rooms).

The stories are action packed and full of lots of action, as Riyria battle everything from religious zealots to goblins.  There is also complexity with castle intrigue, court politics, secrets, threats and traitors.  You never know who to trust or can anticipate what’s happening next.   The relationship between Hadrian and Royce is constant and enjoyable and fun, after some of the backbiting and betrayals of others.

This book can be read as a standalone; a brief explanation of previous events is given and there is a helpful glossary.  I recommend you read Thief of Swords first though, mainly because it’s such a fun read.  The last few pages had a ‘didn’t see THAT coming’ revelation.  The Riyria Revelations series is a must read.  You won’t be disappointed.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

Royce and Hadrian are known as the Riyria – successful and daring thieves who managed always to escape. Thieves for hire, they have been known in the past to be assassins. Royce was once a member of a well known thieves’ guild. However his successes made someone jealous and fearful so they set him up and got him banished.

“Hey man, wanna go steal a magic sword?”
“Awww, do we have to?”
“Well, I already signed us up. So yeah.”
“Alright.”

This book actually contains two stories in one.  The first story is titled “The Crown Conspiracy”, where Royce and Hadrian have just returned from a successful job.  They normally wouldn’t undertake another assignment immediately but Hadrian gets talked into stealing a famous sword.  Unfortunately, when they enter the chapel to get the sword they find the King murdered and are captured and sentenced to execution by the Prince.

An unexpected person helps them escape if they kidnap the Prince, for his own protection. Hunted criminals, they go on a quest to find a powerful wizard incarcerated in a secret prison, before returning to unmask the King’s murderer.

Avempartha is the second story in the book, taking place two years after the first story.  Royce and Hadrian are sought by Thrace, a young farm girl who hires them to save her father and village by slaying a beast no one has seen.  This takes them on an adventure where a lot of the characters from the previous book return and they finally end up defeating the monster with their friends’ help.

This story is packed with action and has a clever plot with many twists, but without being too complicated.  The characters are interesting without there being too many to comfortably remember, and their names don’t sound similar. Elves, a wizard, prines, princesses, a gnome, stereotypical villains, loveable rogues as heroes, political intrigue and villainy as nobleman and church leaders battle for power.

These books are addictive; once you start you don’t want to stop.  First self-published on e-book, Orbit has recognised what an enjoyable read they are and published them.  This book begins a series with treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

From a Californian native to a celebrity psychic, this book interviews many people and asks why they enjoy fishing, as well as getting them to share tales, tall and otherwise!  This book has snapshots of people’s lives – specifically kiwi fishermen.  The look at their lives is fascinating and they all share a positive outlook on life, enjoying doing what makes them happy. There are some real characters out there and this book lets you view some of them.

Attractively laid out with stunning photos of the New Zealand coastline and rivers, this book looks good and is easy to read.  The format of short interviews with different people telling good stories let readers pick it up and put it down without losing the plot of the book.  You can dive in anywhere and be captivated by a story.

Preferring my fish to be already cooked and on a dinner plate when I see them, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  This is a must read for the fisherman in your life and for anyone who enjoys a good yarn or two.  Anyone with an interest in New Zealand will enjoy the beautiful photos that accompany each story.

HarperCollins

Supplied by HarperCollins

Reviewed by Jan

Set in the trenches of WWWI, this details the flashbacks of the home life of a young soldier as he spends the night waiting for something terrible to happen.  Thommo Peaceful recalls growing up, poor but happy, in the English countryside.  He has two older brothers, Charlie and Big Joe, his mother and Molly, who he loves.  Believing he killed his father, Thommo never speaks of his death.

Charlie is his protector, his ally and best friend.  as boys the have a best friend in Molly.  As Molly and Charlie get older they fall in love, excluding Thommo and changing the triangle of friendship.  Then the war starts and every able bodied young man in their village joins the army.  Technically too young to enlist, Thommo pretends to be Charlie’s twin in order to get in the army.

This is a well written book about adventures and experiences in war.  I won’t say it’s enjoyable (because hey, it is about a scared young boy in a warzone) but it’s compelling.  The descriptions of the trenches and being gassed were very realistic and show vividly the horror of war.  Made into a film, this book is suitable for ages 10 and upwards.

HarperCollins

Supplied by HarperCollins

Reviewed by Jan

Covet: Fallen Angel Book 1 JR Ward

Posted: November 4, 2012 in paranormal, Review
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Jim Heron is a drifter who has found a temporary construction job in Caldwell.  He has walked away from his past as an assassin for the US, only to find they’re not letting him go that easily.  Jim’s temporary construction job is building a house, Vin’s latest status symbol.

Vin Di Pietro started from nothing and is a self made man, having plenty of toys and an obscene amount of money.  He only had to sell his soul to achieve success…  Marie-Terese works at the Iron Mask, a job she abhors but she needs the money.  She’s on the run from her past – a past she’s terrified has caught up to her.

Jim is electrocuted on the job and dies, meeting a pack of arch-angel who have decided to use him in an epic battle of good vs evil.  To win he only has to convince seven souls to choose the path of righteousness over sin.  And Vin’s is the first soul.

Vin and Marie-Terese get to know and trust each other, only to have the shadow of Vin’s ex-girlfriend cast over them.  Jim knows she’s evil, so he and his two trusty sidekicks (who cast no shadows) must ride to the rescue on their Harley…

As a fan of JR Ward’s Brotherhood series, I was a little apprehensive Covet wouldn’t measure up.  I’m happy to say it does.  The Fallen Angel series is one to watch out for.  It has the good vs evil battles, the redemption of souls, angels, demons, and hot guys in black leather.  This is very good.  Read it.   I look forward to the next.

For Brotherhood fans:

No vampires – well, apart from a blink and you’ll miss him sighting of Phury.  Trez is the owner of the Iron Mask and shows his softer side.  It doesn’t matter though.  The angels are just as hot.

Published by Piatkus

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

There’s a battle going on between Heaven and Hell, and the side that saves seven souls wins.

Jim Heron is the Saviour, the man chosen by Heaven because he is both good and bad.  He has the help of two fallen angels, Adrian and Eddie.  They are monitored by a group of archangels, led by Nigel, who represent the ‘good’ side but are not allowed to interfere.  Hell is represented by Devina, a demon who wears the skin of a curvy brunette.  She’s evil personified with a fascinating mix of quirks – sees a therapist, has a crush on Jim, hoards trophies from her victims.  Devina has her hooks in so many evil plots.  It must be tiring being so evil.

Devina won the last round in Crave.  Now the next soul is at the crossroads between good and evil, a serial killer’s son called Veck.  Veck was first introduced in Lover Unleashed: Black Dagger Brotherhood Book 9, another series by J. R.  Ward.  It was fun to have that cross-over and little mentions of the BDB world.  I was wondering how Veck’s vampire-induced “memory loss” would be explained!

Homicide detective Thomas “Veck” DelVecchio is certain he tried to kill Kroner, a serial killer who abducted many girls.  He’s convinced he’s tainted with his father’s evil and it was only a matter of time until he gives in to the dark side.  Unfortunately he doesn’t remember the attack (as his mind was wiped by a vampire in Lover Unleashed) and the evidence says he’s innocent.

Sophia Reilly is the internal affairs officer sent to investigate Veck.  She’s a good girl who follows rules, a no nonsense, strong character.  She proceeds to get close to him and trust him.  The one thing I didn’t like was how quick she was to believe the worst about Veck.  Reilly and Veck’s investigate a missing person. Sissy Barton, who was sacrificed by Devina in Crave.   Jim is obsessed with her and determined to find her body and retrieve her soul from hell.  Evidence points to Sissy being killed by Kroner though.

This book has an involved, well written plot full of twists, double crosses, some loss, steamy romance, and lots of action.  As with most stories by the Warden, the sex is very hot, so this is a book for adults.  You should read the other Fallen Angel books first, as this is a series that has a lot of back-story.  I highly recommend reading this book in one sitting, it’s too good to put aside!

Published by Piatkus

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

Jim Heron returns in another good vs evil battle to save the souls of seven people.  He’s joined by Adrian and Dog, his remaining angelic soldiers now Eddie has been cut down.  The soul they have this time is Jim’s former boss in XOps, the soul Devina won in Crave.

Matthias has been given a second chance, waking up naked on a grave after being released from Hell. Stumbling from the grave, he’s hit by a car driven by Mels.  A reporter for the Caldwell Courier, Mels feels terrible about the John Doe she hit.  Upon finding out he has amnesia, Mels sets about finding out his identity and about his former life.  The XOps team is after its former head though and operatives are after Matthias

Mels also has someone trying to kill her, as Devina knows she’s Matthias’s weak link and without Mels around, he is more likely to choose an evil path.  Jim and Adrian follow her, protecting her from ‘accidents’ Devina has plotted, so Matthias doesn’t make the wrong choice.  Furious that Jim fooled her in the last battle for souls, Devina plans a payback involving Cissy, a lost soul Jim is obsessed with.

The story is tightly plotted with a lot of action happening in the tight timeline.  The preceding there books should be read, to give the backstory and figure out who the characters are.  The occasional minute BDB reference is also dropped.  I don’t like seeing Devina’s vulnerable side and struggles with OCD – she’s supposed to be evil incarnate and I don’t want to be sympathetic to her!  Another great story from the Warden though.

Published by Piatkus

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

Written for everyone who ever proclaimed it wasn’t me’, this book gives a light hearted look at why it wasn’t you.  There is a double page scene with different scenarios and you can’t help but feel indignant for the boy being blamed for what the monster did.

Attractively laid out, there are richly drawn illustrations that convey humour and the ‘funness’ of the book.  This is a must-read for children, and the adults who find farts funny.

Supplied by HarperCollins

Reviewed by Jan