Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Grave Peril

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

I borrowed the ebook from the Free Library of Philadelphia's OverDrive collection.

My review:

Number 3 in The Dresden Files, Grave Peril continues the trials and tribulations of Harry Dresden, wizard. This installment brings back characters from the previous two books, including trouble-making vampires and talkative skulls. It also introduces us to a new character, Michael, who is a devout Knight of the Cross and makes an interesting counterpoint to the agnostic Harry.

The action and thrills continue to deliver, and there's plenty of Harry's dry humor to keep the reader chuckling and the pages turning. It would be easier to begin the series at the beginning than to jump in here, but fans of the first two books should be thoroughly satisfied with this continuation.

Stars: 5

Three Bedrooms, One Corpse

Three Bedrooms, One Corpse by Charlaine Harris

I downloaded the ebook from the Free Library of Philadelphia's OverDrive collection.

My review:

The third volume in the series, Three Bedrooms is another tale told by former librarian and constant murder enthusiast Aurora Teagarden. In this book, she stumbles upon a (naked) corpse in a house she is unofficially showing on behalf of her realtor mother. It becomes apparent quickly that someone in the town's real-estate business has rather a lot to hide and also a lot at stake.

Roe's personal relationships and personal life are thinly-sketched and generally uninteresting, but the whodunnit has enough spice to make up for that. A cozy murder mystery that will appeal to fans of Charlaine Harris's writing.

Stars: 3.5

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Intentions of the Earl

Intentions of the Earl by Rose Gordon

I received a free copy of the ebook from Barnes & Noble in a Free Fridays promotion.

My review:

Hard-up nobleman sets his sights on wooing a girl in order to cure his financial woes. The twist in this story is that the earl isn't after the lady's dowry; he needs a payoff from a friend who has an unexplained interest in seeing the family's reputation shredded.

An easy, entertaining read, Intentions will pass for neither great romance nor accurate historical portrayal, but those in an undemanding mood will enjoy this light regency romp. Circumstances and explanations are often contrived, but forgiving readers won't mind.

Stars: 3

Despite the cover art, the sex is milder than most "scandalous" romances. It's hardly a bodice-ripper, though there are some scenes with some spice.

Surrender to Sultry

Surrender to Sultry by Macy Beckett

I purchased the ebook from Barnes & Noble.

My review:

Another sweet, sexy romance in Sultry Springs, Texas. Long-lost Leah shows up back home to care for her pastor dad as he recuperates from a health scare. She brings back some secrets that she's afraid to share with her high school boyfriend and the town's current sherriff, Colt.

There were allusions to the Colt/Leah romance in the previous Sultry books, but a reader could jump into the series at this installment with no problems. While it's a light, undemanding read, there are enduring themes of trust, truth, and what it really means to be a family. Love in Sultry is never just about the chemistry; Beckett always gives her romances a firmer foundation.

Stars: 4

Macy Beckett's romances are a treat. They're sweet, funny, clever, sexy, and as comforting as a big slice of apple pie at the kitchen table.

A Dance With Dragons

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

I downloaded the ebook through my public library's OverDrive service, borrowed the hardcover from my local public library, and finally finished up with an ebook copy from the Free Library of Philadelphia.

My review:

Yes, this book took me THAT long to read. There isn't much to say about this book other than Tyrion is back, which is wonderful, but most of the other characters I like barely put in appearances and there are new characters that were hard to place and follow.

I am starting to have more interest in Dany, though.

Stars: 3.5

Saturday, November 9, 2013

World War Z

World War Z by Max Brooks

I borrowed the audiobook on CD from the public library.

My review:

This "oral history of the zombie war" chronicles humanity's global struggle for survival in a zombie apocalypse. The individuals' stories are presented in chronological order, building upon one another though the characters have never met.

Max Brooks apparently has a wide array of interests, as evidenced by the many, varied, and completely believable characters he has created to tell this tale. From old-school rural doctors to hot-shot pilots, annoying basement-dwellers, and mystic Russian priests, readers get a cross-section of humanity and lots of convincing detail.

The audio production is read by a full cast, which does an excellent job. Though there is no single hero to follow through the war as the book unfolds, each individual vignette will grip through the last word. There are heroes to cheer for, clueless bumblers doomed to failure, and despicable mercenaries out to save their own skins and make a buck at any cost. This book and the audiobook production should appeal to a wide range of readers and could be a great recommendation for younger men who struggle to find compelling reading material.

Stars: 5

Runability: 4

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I got an audiobook copy courtesy of YA Sync.

My review:

A family of psychics in a small town in Virginia ends up becoming inconveniently tangled with some boys from the local prep school. Blue, the daughter who hasn't inherited the family gift, sees the ghost of one of the boys on the "corpse road," which can mean one of only two things: he's her true love, or she kills him. Either way, he's doomed to die within the year. Despite her efforts, Blue can't stay away from the boys, and they get involved in a centuries-old mystery surrounding lines of magical power and personal ambitions and greed.

Maggie Stiefvater writes a compelling story filled with complex, finely-turned relationships. Persephone, Moira, Neeve, and Orla are the coolest bunch of aunts you could ever hope to meet, and Gansey and Adam are the boys that every high school girl has a crush on. The mystery keeps things interesting.

Stars: 4

Runability: 4

Aside from a few details that are implausible or incorrect (what backyard mechanic can't drive a stick shift, I mean really), this is an exciting YA fantasy. Stiefvater does YA very well; relationships and characters are realistic and complex. While her teens are real teens, they have enough depth and maturity to them to reward even adult readers who typically avoid YA.

My main complaint is that the book is plainly the beginning of a series, which feels like an unnecessary drawing-out of the story. I plan to listen to the sequel, as well; I hope the same narrator does the reading, as he was excellent and his whiskey-rough voice made for thoroughly enjoyable listening.


Graveminder by Melissa Marr

I purchased the ebook when it was on sale at Barnes & Noble.

My review:

I read this creepy little tome leading up to Halloween, and it was perfect for that. An idyllic small town has some odd customs when it comes to their dead; everything from how the body is handled to how the graves are tended is a bit unusual, and nobody seems to be able to explain why. When the current "graveminder" dies in a gory and mysterious fashion, her step-granddaughter returns to town for the funeral. She soon realizes that she and her ex are both in for way more than they bargained for.

The premise of this book was fascinating, and for almost the entire way through it kept me turning pages and picturing the world it portrayed. The relationship between the main characters unfolded in a clunky and unsatisfying way, however, and unfortunately came to overshadow the stronger elements of the story. I am intrigued by the complexities of the underworld, however, and I might be persuaded to pick up the sequel.

Stars: 3

I want to be Amelia. Sexy, mysterious gunslinger-girl? Sign me up. She is pretty much the main reason that I'd be interested in reading follow-up books.


Heartbroken by Lisa Unger

I borrowed the ebook through my local public library's 3M service.

My review:

Heartbroken is what I think of as thriller-lite; it's a thriller without some of the gore and violence that can accompany that genre heading. It follows the eventually-intertwining paths of a working-class girl trying to rehabilitate her loser boyfriend and the more rarefied existence of an upper-middle-class soccer mom who has issues with her well-off but demanding mother.

This one kept the pages turning, and everyone in my book club enjoyed it very much.

Stars: 5