Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I will be heading to my parents' house either this evening or tomorrow morning to cook, eat, celebrate, and probably decorate for Christmas too. 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (163)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

It's been a few weeks since my last It's Monday post. It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is here and November is nearly over. We had our second snow of the season yesterday but nothing stuck to the ground thankfully. I'm not ready for that! I was surprised to realize how little I've blogged this month. I have a lot of catching up to do with review writing so maybe next month will see more posts. 

This week I will be visiting my parents for Thanksgiving and helping to prepare two Thanksgiving meals which should be fun. I may even be helping to decorate the Christmas tree if my dad doesn't get to it first. For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving this week I hope you have a great time with family and friends and safe travels.

Books reviewed:

Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Books read:

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

This was a difficult and moving story and a good companion novel for Code Name Verity. I recommend reading Code Name Verity first because there are some spoilers for it in this one. 

Candlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs

I think this book could be a Hallmark movie. It is a little saccharine but after reading Rose Under Fire, it was just what I needed.

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

I hate the cover of this book but I thought  it was a fun holiday romance and as it is the first in a series about three brothers, I plan to check out the other books too. 

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (reread)

It's nice to discover that his book is just as enjoyable every time I reread it. I think it is my favorite in the series though I liked The Golden Lily a lot too. 

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

This is one of my book group picks for November and I was worried that I wouldn't get it finished in time but I was able to just sit down with it over the weekend and read it pretty quickly. I liked it and I think there will definitely be much to discuss but I wasn't as wowed by it as I expected to be.

Currently reading:

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (reread)

I am enjoying rereading this series before I pick up The Fiery Heart. It is funny to see Sydney figure out social cues. The scenes where she interacts with Brayden reminded me of The Rosie Project a little bit. I don't remember this book as well as the first one so it is almost like reading it for the first time.

What I plan to read next:

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (reread)

The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: The Naturals

The Naturals
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published: November 5, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

My review:

I am a fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes but I have only read her paranormal teen fiction (Raised By Wolves series and Every Other Day). Here she writes about teens who do not have paranormal abilities. They just have natural gifts that the FBI is interested in such as being able to profile people, read emotions, and tell when someone is lying.

Cassie is new to the program which allows readers to learn about it from an outsider's perspective. There are four teens in addition to Cassie who are part of the program. Sloane is Cassie's roommate and she is gifted at working with statistics and data as well as computer hacking. Lia is a little crazy and she lies all the time but she can tell when others are lying or telling the truth. 

The guys are sort of love interest for Cassie although it is kind of clear who she is going to end up with. I still found the love triangle aspect really irritating. Thankfully the romance is used as a way for Cassie to figure out who she trusts if anyone and it doesn't really overshadow the plot.

The serial killer story line and how Cassie and the others work the case are really what drew my interest. I found it fascinating to see how they used their abilities to look at a crime scene and try to figure out the killer's motivations and other clues. I really had no idea who the killer was until they tipped their hand (though I did figure it out before the main character does). 

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It does focus more on the plot rather than character development unlike the Raised By Wolves series (which manages to give more depth to the characters) however I still found it entertaining. While I could have done without the minor love triangle, I found the writing to be suspenseful and the characters are suitably mysterious. Though the main story is wrapped up, not everything is resolved at the end so I hope there will be a sequel. I think fans of Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder and similar books would certainly appreciate The Naturals.

Note: I received an ARC for review courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: Delia's Shadow

Delia's Shadow
By Jaime Lee Moyer
Published: September 17, 2013

A dark, romantic fantasy set against the backdrop of San Francisco devastated by the Great Quake

It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again. 

And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.

My review:

I was curious about Delia's Shadow because of the setting and the idea of a serial killer. I wasn't as sure about the ghost part of it. Thankfully the elements all worked together really well to present an entertaining story that I found difficult to put down. There is plenty of suspense as well as romance and just a touch of the paranormal. The book reads more like a historical suspense novel than a paranormal book. I think this will increase its appeal to a wide variety of readers.

The ghost aspect is believably incorporated and Delia's friends quickly come to believe what she sees. There is also a young woman who happens to be a medium as well as a friend of Sadie who helps Delia to understand her abilities and to solve the mystery. 

The setting is fascinating with its details about the Panama-Pacific Exposition (1915 World's Fair). The crime scenes are also detailed and can make for gritty reading. I also appreciated the look at what detective work and forensics was like during that time period.

I liked Delia and Gabe, the police detective and Delia's love interest but what really appealed to me about this book was the suspense as the characters always seemed to be two steps behind the killer and the body count rose. I was glad to see that though this story wraps up neatly, this is the first book in a series. If you are a fan of historical suspense and don't mind a little bit of paranormal, then give Delia's Shadow a try.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (162)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I've had a couple of crazy weeks due to illness and work projects. I am feeling better and finally on a new medication for my sinus infection which will hopefully clear it up without the unpleasant side effects from the last medicine.

Yesterday was the big Downton Abbey themed murder mystery tea at my library and it went very well. Everyone had a lot of fun though no one figured out who the killer was. I will hopefully be able to do another murder mystery program next year. It was fun playing a suspect though I was a little disappointed that I wasn't the killer :)

Books reviewed:

Books read:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (reread)

Midsummer Night by Deanna Raybourn

While this is a Lady Julia Grey novella, it isn't a mystery and though the cover suggest a steamy romance it isn't that either. It is a short look at the events surrounding Lady Julia's wedding.

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

I liked Isaiah's story but it didn't quite live up to Dare You To in my opinion.  

Longbourn by Jo Baker

It is interesting to see the characters and events of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the servants. I liked that the servants had their own stories and romantic troubles too. It wasn't just a rehash of the classic.

Currently reading:

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

While it is great to see the character of Maddie again, so far I find the main character of Rose to sound a little too much like Julie from Code Name Verity. I am not sure I will continue reading this at the moment as I am more in the mood for something light rather than a really dark book like this one.

What I plan to read next:

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger