Friday, August 17, 2007

#72 -- Among the Impostors (Shadow Children #2) by Margaret Peterson Haddix

From the Publisher


Luke Garner is an illegal third child. All his life has been spent in hiding. Now, for the first time, Luke is living among others. He has assumed a deceased boy’s identity and is attending Hendricks School for Boys, a windowless building with cruel classmates and oblivious teachers. Luke knows he has to blend in, but he lives in constant fear that his behavior will betray him.

Then one day Luke discovers a door to the outside. He knows that beyond the walls of Hendricks lie the secrets he is desperate to uncover. What he doesn’t know is whom he can trust – and where the answers to his questions may lead him…

My Opinion
This was another good book in the Shadow Children Series. After the events of the first book, when Luke’s friend Jen is killed trying to lead a rally to denounce the fact that third children are illegal, Luke is offered the opportunity to have a fake id and leave home. He accepts, knowing that he can not spend the rest of his life hiding out in the attic of his parents house. He is given the identity of a Baron boy who was killed in an accident and sent to Hendricks school for boys.

Luke tries to adjust to his new identity. He tries to fit in with the other boys, but after spending the first 12 years of his life hiding, it is overwhelming to be surrounded by so many other boys all the time. So one day when he discovers a door leading outside and he sneaks out. He discovers a spot in the woods near the school where he can be alone and visits it frequently. Until one day he discovers that he is not the only one sneaking out. There is a group of other boys who sneak out and meet in the woods. A group of other third children like himself. Luke discovers the meaning of friendship, loyalty and betrayal, but he also discovers a way to make a difference in the lives of other third children.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

#71 -- Among the Hidden (Shadow Children #1) by Margaret Peterson Haddix

From the Publisher
Luke has never been to school. He’s never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend’s house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.
Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He’s lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family’s farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.

Then, one day Luke sees a girl’s face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he’s met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows—does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford not to?

My Opinion
This was a fantastic start to this series.

In a not to distance future, overpopulation and years of droughts have devastated the world’s food supply. The Government has taken over and declared that it is illegal for any one family to have more than 2 children.

When they start building new homes near Luke’s house he has to go into hiding because he is a third child. His parents are poor farmers and are terrified that Luke will be discovered and taken from them, so he is forced to stay in the attic and has limited interaction with his family. One day while peeking out of the attic vents he sees a face in one of the new house’s windows that should not be there. Another Third Child like himself, could it be? He decides that he has to find out and one day after weeks of planning and waiting he sneaks out and over to the neighbor’s house. To his surprise he discovers another Third like himself, a girl named Jen. Jen lives a very different life than Luke as her family are Barons, one of the elite in the new world order, but she still has to hide as it is illegal for even Barons to have more than 2 children.

What follows is a growing friendship between shy, timid Luke and outgoing, determined Jen. As Jen plans a Rally for all of the Shadow Children that she has befriended via an Internet chat room, Luke becomes concerned for her safety. What will happen when Jen leads a march on the President’s House with other Shadow children, demanding that they be allowed to come out of hiding?

This is really a very scary and sad story about a not so unbelievable future. I look forward to continuing the series.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

#70 -- Replay by Ken Grimwood

From the Publisher
Jeff Winston, forty-three, didn’t know he was a replayer until he died and woke up twenty-five years younger in his college dorm room; he lived another life. And died again. And lived again and died again – in a continuous twenty-five-year cycle—each time starting from scratch at the age of eighteen to reclaim lost loves, remedy past mistakes, or make a fortune in the stock market. A novel of gripping adventure, romance, and fascinating speculation on the nature of time, Replay asks the question: “What if you could live your life over again?”

My Opinion

This book came highly recommended and I was not disappointed.

Jeff Winston is a 43 year old man who dies of a sudden heart attack, to wake up moments later as his 18 year old self with all of his memories of his previous life, including his painful death, intact. As it becomes obvious to him that he has his entire life to live over again he ponders the how & why of what has happened. He uses his knowledge of the future to place some well timed bets that make him wealthy and he lives his life over again, much differently than the first time. Right up to that moment 43 years later when he dies again, and wakes up again as his 18 year old self.

As he is faced with the possibility of a never ending cycle of lives he ponders those questions that we have all faced. If you had it all to do over again with the knowledge of what was going to happen how would you do it. Would you change your life? Would you try to stop tragedies that you know the world was going to face?

During his second or third cycle of life he encounters another person who replays, Pamela. As they meet and compare notes about there lives and the puzzle of their replays, they begin to fall in love.
They develop an enduring love that carries them through a cycle to be remembered and sought out in the next cycle. Each cycle is different. They use their knowledge of the future to try to affect change, but it is not always successful.

Unfortunately in their search for answers they become aware that their cycles are becoming shorter each time. Before they know it they are losing years of the cycle and coming back later and later into their lives. What will happen when they have no more time left between cycles? When they face that last cycle that they will not return from?

It is a very thought provoking book. What would you do if you could do it all over again?

This is a great video about this book. Take a few moments to watch it --

#69 -- He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot by Stephanie Rowe

From the Publisher
Her heart may be in the right place...but her soul belongs to Satan. Being Satan's most infamous minion is the only life Becca Gibbs has ever known. But now she's restless, sick and tired of stealing souls, and ready to break free on her own. Unfortunately, this gig isn't like any other job. Its first rule: Walk out on the Devil-and kiss your life good-bye.
Nick Rawlings is the last of the Markku, a race of fighters that broke from Hell to pull for the good. When his sister goes missing, and her ransom is the death of Satan, Nick's more than willing to take on the fight. The first step? Getting the devil's sexy right-hand helper on his side. The second? Well, if he can take his eyes-and hands-off of her, he's sure he'll think of it...

My Opinion
I absolutely love these books by Rowe. They are such fun quick reads and the characters are fabulous.

This book centers around Becca who we have met before in the two previous Rowe books. Becca is a Rivka. Is in fact Satan's right hand Rivka. But she hates her job. Hates her life really since she does not have one of her own. She lives off of Satan's life force and has to obey his commands. But she does her best to thwart Satan as often as she can and she has spent the last 100 years trying to figure out how to break free of him.

Nick Rawlings is the last of the Markku, the first servants of Satan who managed to break free and live there own lives amongst Mortals. He is also half healer, so he has the ability to feel the emotions of others as well as share his emotions with others.

When his younger sister is trapped in a Hell blister with a time limit on her life, he seeks out Becca, Satan's best Rivka, to try to convince her to help him kill Satan. Of course if Becca allows him to kill Satan then she dies too! Unless she can use Nick to figure out how to break free, since he is the last of the Markku.

Since they each have their own agendas and need to use each other to accomplish them, they work together. Of course that starts the sparks flying and when you combine sex with intermingled emotions, boy do the sparks fly!! lol

It is a fun adventure as they try to break Nick's little sister out of the Hell blister while trying to keep Becca alive and set her free. There is also the introduction of a new character, Paige, Becca's new apprentice. She is quite annoying at first but she does tend to grow on you. Good thing too since the next installment in this series centers on her, 'Sex & The Immortal Bad Boy'.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

#68 -- Desire After Dark by Amanda Ashley

From the Publisher
Sexy vampires, dangerous devotion, unparalleled romance, no one does desire after dark like bestselling author Amanda Ashley. Now, in her enthralling new novel, she explores a passion as smoldering as it is risky… Vicki Cavendish knows she should be careful. After all, there’s a killer loose in town—one who drains women of blood, women with red hair and green eyes just like her. She knows she should tell police about the dark, gorgeous man who comes into the diner every night, the one who makes her feel a longing she’s never felt before. The last thing she should do is invite the beautiful stranger into her house…
Cursed to an eternity of darkness, Antonio Battista has wandered the earth, satisfying his hunger with countless women, letting none find a place in his heart. But Victoria Cavendish is different. Finally, he has found a woman to love, a woman who accepts him for what he is—a woman who wants him as much as he wants her…which is why he should leave. But Antonio is a vampire, not a saint. What is his, he’ll fight to keep and protect. And Victoria Cavendish needs protecting…from the remorseless enemy who would make her his prey…and from Antonio’s own uncontrollable hunger…

My Opinion
Well I don’t know where to start. I enjoyed this book. It was romance through and through. The problem that I had was that I had gone out and picked up the two books that preceded this one since I am anal about reading books in order. I really enjoyed both of them—‘Shades of Gray’ & ‘After Sundown’. While those two books were very much tied together and had wonderful characters, this book, which is very loosely tied to the first two and could be read as a stand alone, had characters that to me were not as interesting. The plot also was pretty much the same as the previous two books, but with new characters, so it was like reading the same story over again, but with the names changed.

Don’t get me wrong. If I run across any more of Amanda Ashley’s books I will probably read them. They are good romances. But I probably won’t actively seek them out as I understand that most of them are just the same plot, different characters. While the plot was great the first time around with ‘Shades of Gray’ and still interesting since the characters were really likeable in ‘After Sundown’, by the time I got to ‘Desire After Dark’, I had had my fill.

There were several elements to the story that just did not make sense. One example is when Vicki is going to rescue Antonio from Falco. She just so happens to run into a guy who not only sells her a gun but spends an hour training her to shoot it. While they are in an empty lot practicing they just so happen to run into a group of 4, what I would describe as hoodlums, who volunteer to go with Vicki and help her out. They don’t know her, have no clue what she is going to do, but they go along for the ride. Pretty far fetched. There are a few instances like that where you just go, wait a minute, what is going on here! But put that aside and the story is okay. Lady Katherine is a fun character and we do get to revisit Edward Ramsey a bit. Worth an afternoon to read, but nothing fantastic~

Monday, August 6, 2007

#67 After Sundown by Amanda Ashley

From the Publisher
Edward Ramsey has spent his live hunting vampires. Now he is one of them. Yet Edward’s human conscience – and his heart- compel him to save beautiful Kelly Anderson, and soon their growing love is his reason for living. And as the ancient, stunning and merciless vampire Khira seeks supremacy among Los Angeles’ undead, Edward and his former nemesis Grigori Chiavari, once Khira’s lover, must unite to stop her – before the city, and everything they cherish, is in her power…..

My Opinion
Another excellent book in this trilogy. This book, although published 5 years after it’s prequel ‘Shades of Gray’, takes up right where that one left off.

Edward Ramsey has been turned into a vampire, in an attempt to save his life. Turned into a creature that he was born and raised to hunt, to despise. How does a vampire hunter, dedicated to destroying what he has always thought of as evil beings, deal with the fact the he is now one of those creatures? That is one of the things that I love about this series of books. We see a completely different POV. We see the struggle of a newly made vampire, who despises what he has become, struggle to adapt to his new life. With the help of Grigori, the vampire who gave him the Dark Gift, Edward tries to accept his new life. It is not until he meets Kelly, another lost human soul, and begins to fall in love with her that he begins to accept what he has become and embrace his new life. Just as it seems that things will be good, Khira moves into town. Khira is the ancient, evil vampire who turned Grigori 200 years ago. She is the oldest vampire and as such terrorizes the other vampires who live in her newly claimed territory. When she comes after Grigori & Edward, they must once again join forces to try to stop her. With the help of an old friend of Edward’s, Tom Duncan, another vampire hunter, the group battles Khira, in an attempt to not only save their lives, but the lives of the innocent victims that Khira enjoys preying on.

Excellent book and I am looking forward to starting the next on the trilogy.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

#66 -- Shades of Gray by Amanda Ashley

From the Publisher
Bound by chains, the vampire had slept for 100 years, locked in pain and hunger, until the scent of one woman’s blood recalled him to life. Lost in darkness, Grigori finds new sustenance in the light of Marisa’s love, and new purpose in his life. Only he can protect her from the evil that stalks the night. Grigori vows to show Marisa that not all the undead are monsters, and that somewhere between the black and white of damnation and desire lay infinite shades of gray.

My Opinion
I guess that I am a romantic at heart, because I really enjoyed this book. I picked this book up because I have Ashley’s ‘Desire After Dark’ on my TBR mountain and after looking through her books it seems that ‘Shades of Gray’ is the first book in a trilogy that ends with Desire. So being anal about reading books in order I had to find the first two in the trilogy to read prior to reading Desire. Glad I did too, because I loved this book.

The characters are fantastic. I was really drawn into their lives. Grigori is a Vampyre who has been roaming the earth for 200 years, trying to exact revenge on the ancient vampire who destroyed his family. Edward is a vampire-hunter from a family of hunters, who has forged an uneasy alliance with Grigori, in order to destroy the one vampire, who as of yet, has been too powerful for him to destroy. Marissa is the woman who’s blood reawakens Grigori & Edward’s enemy from a deep sleep. She is also the woman who both men are falling in love with as they try to protect her from that enemy, Alexi, while they attempt to hunt him down and destroy him.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book is that the characters are realistic. The author is very detailed in showing us their lives, struggles, fears, and hopes.

Totally enjoyable book, and I am thrilled to say that I have the next in the trilogy, ‘After Sundown’, to start on first thing in the morning.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

#65 The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

From the Publisher
Timothy Carrier, having a beer after work at his friend’s tavern, enjoys drawing eccentric customers into amusing conversations. But the jittery man who sits next to him tonight has mistaken Tim for someone very different—and passes to him a manila envelope full of cash.

“Ten thousand now. You get the rest when she’s gone.”

The stranger walks out, leaving a photo of the pretty woman marked for death, and her address. But things are about to get worse. In minutes another stranger sits next to Tim. This one is a cold-blooded killer who believes Tim is the man who has hired him.

Thinking fast, Tim says, “I’ve had a change of heart. You get ten thousand—for doing nothing. Call it a no-kill fee.” He keeps the photo and gives the money to the hired killer. And when Tim secretly follows the man out of the tavern, he gets a further shock: the hired killer is a cop.

Suddenly, Tim Carrier, an ordinary guy, is at the center of a mystery of extraordinary proportions, the one man who can save an innocent life and stop a killer far more powerful than any cop…and as relentless as evil incarnate. But first Tim must discover within himself the capacity for selflessness, endurance, and courage that can turn even an ordinary man into a hero, inner resources that will transform his idea of who he is and what it takes to be The Good Guy.

My Opinion
This was another book in a string of books by Koontz that tends to follow the same path. Reminiscent of ‘The Husband’ this book is about a man, who is unknowingly dragged into a circumstance that he would rahter have no part of but handles brilliantly. Tim Carrier is just another guy having a drink in a friend’s bar when he is approached by a man and mistakenly identified as a hit-man. Then a few moments later as he is trying to digest what is has just happened to him, he is mistakenly identified by the real hit-man as the person who has contacted him about a job. This sets Tim on a path of intrigue and danger that a normal mason would be ill equipped to handle. But then Tim is so much more than he appears to be at first glance.

I like how Koontz introduced us to the main characters with very little information about them, and throughout the book adds a few more details at a time, until finally we see who Tim and Linda really are. I enjoyed the book and really liked the way that everything was tied together in the end.

An enjoyable read, by one of my favorite authors, even if he does seem to have mellowed a bit with age. I enjoyed his earlier books that had elements of supernatural, but these books recently, that are basically thrillers, are okay.