Sunday, December 20, 2009

The American Heiress by Roxanne Dent

I normally don't review works available for sale from Ravenous Romance on this blog because I keep this one for non-erotic works, but The American Heiress was more of a sweet romance to me than an erotic romance, so I've chosen to review it here. I bought this title for 99 cents as part of the Ravenous Romance 1 year anniversary sale this past December, and it was one of the first ebook titles I bought in a big batch that I read in December of 2009.

This book very much reminded me of a Regency romance with the London setting, the balls, fancy gowns, uses of chaperons etc. I like picking up a Regency every once in awhile to remind me that there's more out there than murder mysteries and fantasy.

Dent does a good job of keeping her characters consistent. The only thing I didn't like about The American Heiress was that I wasn't sure if I was rooting for the protagonist to fall in love with Miles or Lord Stratford. It took me a long time to figure out which one I was supposed to be rooting for.

I can't say I was very shocked or surprised by how this novel ended, but Regency romance are usually a little more predictable than murder mysteries with the happily ever after type endings and the conventions of the sub-genre in general.

I give this one 4 stars **** and would read another Roxanne Dent title again. I enjoyed the novel.

A Thousand Bones by P.J. Parrish

A Thousand Bones by P.J. Parrish is the story of Joette Frye's early career as a police office when she worked in Echo Bay, MI. Louis Kincaid makes a very small appearance in the beginning and end of this novel, though almost all the action takes place years before she met Louis.

I made the mistake of reading this one after reading South of Hell, so I was a little confused because I didn't realize until later that they were released in the opposite order. The confusion wasn't enough to make me not understand this story. The plot was very much self contained, and had I plucked it from the middle of the series without any knowledge of Louis or Joe, I would have still thought it was a really good book.

The pacing of this one wasn't quite as fast as some of the others. I read A Thousand Bones in four days. I was still gripped by the plot, but the first half of the book took a lot more setup than the others I've read by Parrish so far.

I still give this one 5 stars ***** because the plot was very well done as was the characterization. Even though I didn't always agree with the characters' choices, I found myself liking Joe more and more by the end.

My one criticism is that I was confused by having a character named Mike and one named Mack. They're distinct enough names, but since they both have an M and a K in them, I found myself rereading a few random paragraphs trying to figure out what was happening because my mind was reading one name when the other name was actually written on the page.

South of Hell by P.J. Parrish

South of Hell by P.J. Parrish was a delight to read. Louis Kincaid and his girlfriend, Joette Frye, work together to solve a complex crime, a cold case, in Ann Arbor, MI. I got to see a new side to Louis Kincaid that I rather enjoyed as well as read a murder mystery that contained the perfect balance of the paranormal.

Usually I have a few reservations about mixing paranormal and murder mysteries, but I completely bought this plot. The book was spooky. It crossed the paranormal into reality in such a way that I found myself wondering, What if something like this really happened? I couldn't completely dismiss Amy's knowledge of the past and of her mother.

I liked the complexity of the characters. All of them, from Jake to Louis, Joe, Amy, and Louis' daughter were three dimensional to me. I couldn't get enough. I read this book in under a day also, because there was more than a need to know how it ended. I needed to know how it began.

I give this one 5 stars. *****.

Cherry Bomb by J.A. Konrath

Cherry Bomb is the latest in the Jack Daniels series by J.A. Konrath. Like the previous books, it is fast-paced and action packed.

The tone of this book is much darker than the other books. I don't believe in spoilers, so I won't mention why, but I will say that Jack Daniels in many ways is a changed woman in Cherry Bomb.

I give this one 3 1/2 stars ***1/2 because I like that Jack is flawed, but I thought she was a little too flawed in Cherry Bomb. I wanted the good guys to win in the right way, and Jack, Phin, and Harry go about the action of this book in a way that reminded me more of a vigil ante than the hero I'm used to.

I still read this one in under two days, I still recommend it, but I hope that the next book in the series is a little less dark. I liked the old Jack better.

One thing I did like was the scene where Jack's mother was on the cruise ship. That part brightened the mood a little for me.

I also wasn't sure I wanted to root for Jack and Phin to hook up. Part of their relationship felt really right, and other aspects of it felt totally wrong. I still haven't made up my mind yet.

Fuzzy Navel by J.A. Konrath

Fuzzy Navel by J.A. Konrath is the next book in the Jack Daniels series. Of all the books in the series, this was the one I enjoyed the most. The speed was break neck; the action was well written, and the characters all got a chance to interact throughout the scenes.

I read this book in under one day. I actually threw the book on the floor when I finished because the end made me want more. Konrath leaves the reader hanging at the end of this one. I could wait to read the next book in the series, Cherry Bomb. I had to know the outcome of the action from Fuzzy Navel. Like the other books in the series, there was an except at the end from the next book, but it didn't hold any clues to what I wanted to know.

I was on the edge of my seat during the entire book. I give this one 5 stars ***** because it was one of the best page turners I have ever read.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dirty Martini by J.A. Konrath

Dirty Martini by J.A. Konrath is the fourth book in the Jack Daniels series. Jack has to catch a poisoner before he kills thousands of people in the greater Chicago area. The killer is so effective at his work that Jack sees many of the people closest to her die in horrible ways.

I wanted to give this book 5 stars. Up until the final few chapters, I would have given it 5 stars, hands down. Of the first four books in the series, this was the one I read the quickest. I digested the entire thing in under 6 hours. I was riveted by the killer and couldn't wait to figure out how Jack would catch him.

I thought the methods the killer used were the most unique of the first four Jack Daniels books, and the characters more human. I liked that I finally got to see more of Jack and Herb's humanity.

What makes me give this one 3 stars *** is that the end was too tidy. I lost my suspension of disbelief. My inner voice kept screaming at me in the final 3-4 chapters that it was too far out in left field for Jack to be able to survive all the things she was going through.

I wasn't deterred from continuing to read other books in the series.

Rusty Nail by J.A. Konrath

Rusty Nail by J.A. Konrath is the third book in the Jack Daniels series. Jack has to figure out the clues of the Gingerbread Man's family to figure out who the Killer(s) is/are. Her partner, Herb Benedict, returns to being his normal self. (Herb was a bit of a jerk in Bloody Mary). I was glad Herb was more likable in Rusty Nail.

It took me a really long time to figure out why this one was titled Rusty Nail, but after finishing the entire novel, the title made sense. Mr. Friskers, Jack's cat, plays a nice role in this book too. I was glad Konrath kept Mr. Friskers as an active character.

I give this one five stars ***** for several reasons.

I finished the book in under a day because I had to know how it ended.

I liked that Konrath was able to mix the darker characters of the Kork family with the humor I was used to from Whisky Sour and Bloody Mary. I think Konrath struck a nice balance between giving the reader a dark, funny, and twisted plot.

Harry McGlade makes another appearance in Rusty Nail. He plays what I felt was a large role in this novel. I don't know why, but I like Harry better than even Jack. He's an annoying SOB, but I like him anyway.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bloody Mary by J.A. Konrath

Bloody Mary by J.A. Konrath is the second book in the Jacqueline, "Jack" Daniels series of murder mysteries. This book took on a little bit of a different tone than Whiskey Sour, and I liked it for a lot of different reasons than I liked Whiskey Sour.

After the killer is caught and about to be tried, there's a twist I completely didn't see coming. I raced to read the end to find out how the trial with the killer would conclude.

Mr. Fiskers, the cat Jack rescues from one of the murder victim's apartment, is a character in and of himself. The thing I will remember the most about Bloody Mary was Mr. Fiskers, hands down. I actually read parts of this book aloud to my husband because I was laughing so hard at the cat and how Konrath describes it.

Herb Benedict, Jack's partner, acted very differently than in Whiskey Sour. I didn't like him as well in Bloody Mary, though I thought Konrath did a good job of redeeming him in the end. I didn't like thinking of him as a jerk. I was glad to find out at the book's conclusion that he really wasn't a jerk.

Harry McGlade, Jack's old partner and annoying friend makes a comeback in Bloody Mary. He manages to help Jack and drive her crazy at the same time. I liked him more in this one than in Whiskey Sour.

What I liked the best about Bloody Mary (other than Mr. Fiskers) is the conflict Jack has to face between her ex-husband and Latham. Jack is a flawed woman, and I love that she has to choose between the two men. I wanted to slap Jack's mother for bringing the ex-husband back into the picture because I really liked Latham from Whiskey Sour and the beginning part of Bloody Mary. I wanted to slap Jack's mother, actually.

'Tis a sign of well written characters when an author elicits the urge from me to slap characters around. They're alive in my head :)

I give this one 5 stars also. *****

Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

This book was good enough that I couldn't sit down to write a review of it until I also read the second and third books in the series: Bloody Mary and Rusty Nail. I asked for Bloody Mary as a Christmas gift last year. Just as I was sitting down to read it, I went to J.A. Konrath's website and realized I didn't have the first book in the series. So, it took me a few months go get off my rear end and buy the first book so I could read the second one.

I'm sure glad I did.

Whisky Sour is a mixture of wit, fast-paced action, and lovable characters. Even the characters who get under the protagonist's skin are characters I love to hate. Jack Daniels, the hero cop who solves crimes in the series, has a knack for solving murders using the help of characters she wants to avoid. Harry McGlade is one such character.

I also love Jack's partner, Herb Benedict. He compliments Jack's police skill well. I found myself wanting to give the guy a great, big, teddy-bear hug. He reminded me a little of Santa Claus with his love of food and his knack at being there for Jack.

The action scenes in Whisky Sour are nail biting, especially the scenes in which the killer, The Gingerbread Man, is inside Jack's apartment. I found myself checking my closets before going to bed after reading Whiskey Sour.

I give this one 5 stars *****. It had been awhile since I read funny hard-boiled fiction. The change was refreshing.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Virgin's Knot by Holly Payne

I listened to the audio book version of The Virgin's Knot by Holly Payne. Before I write anything else, I have one thing to say.


Double wow.

If I had to lump this novel into a category, I'd categorize it as literary fiction, but it was so much more than the label can capture. Payne is a master with words. She paints a verbal picture so vivid in this book that I could taste, see, smell, hear, and feel the characters and setting of The Virgin's Knots.

The symbolism in the novel alone could take up volumes essays.

This was one novel that I'd listen to again in a heartbeat. I know I'd get more out of it upon a second listen. Payne has such a way with words, that if I was a betting woman (and I am btw), I'd wager she spoke every word aloud prior to committing it to the final draft of the manuscript. I don't know this for sure; I don't know the author, but I'd still make the wager. Every word seemed crafted.

The Virgin's Knot tells the story of a Turkish weaver named Nurdane. She is crippled by polio at a young age but grows into a woman famed for her weaving bridal prayer rugs. Set in Turkey and intermingling two separate brands of monotheism, I was enchanted by the novel. I give it five stars. *****

What I liked the most about Payne's novel is that I was able to believe in multiple truths. There was not only one correct way to view reality. There are multiple truths in the character's lives. I was enriched by reading this book.