Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

The Informationist is the debut thriller of Taylor Stevens.

Book Description
Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information—expensive information—working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle's most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she's never looked back.

Until now.

A Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter who vanished in Africa four years ago. It’s not her usual line of work, but she can’t resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself back in the lands of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead. If she has any hope of escaping the jungle and the demons that drive her, she must come face-to-face with the past that she’s tried for so long to forget.
I'm excited Taylor Stevens has given us a new badass female lead.  I'm a fan of Steig Larsson's Millennium trilogy, and Stevens's new series will more than fill the void.

The Informationist starts out a lot like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  A rich business man's daughter is missing and presumed dead.  He hires Vanessa Michael Monroe to find the answers no one else has been able to produce.  Monroe starts out resembling Lisbeth as well, but both the story and Monroe pull away to stand strongly on their own merits.

Monroe's investigations leads her to Africa where she must face unknown enemies as well as the enemies of her own past.

If you are a fan of mysteries or thrillers, I highly recommend The Informationist.  I loved the African setting, and many moments shocked me and kept me glued to the pages.

The Informationist is the first book in a series.  I don't know if it will be a short series or a long running Vanessa Michael Monroe series, but either way I know I'll be reading every single one of them.


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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Hop: Turnaround Time

Today's Follow Friday question over at Parajunkee's View is:

Q. How many books do you read in a week? And in what format do you read them, or listen to them?

My answer varies greatly depending on circumstance.  If I'm reading short works - which I love - I can read several books in a week.  If I'm reading a longer work, it can take all week or more for me.

I read and love all formats.  I usually have an audiobook, a physical book, and an ebook going at the same time.

Are you are multi-reader or a one book at a timer? Right now I have four going which is probably my limit.

Book Blogger HopJennifer over at Crazy For Books asks: 

"What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked? Which have you disliked?"

I'm easy going when it comes to movie adaptations.  Even when it's a loose adaptation, I'm always happy to visit my old friends.

I love the Lord of the Rings movies.

I wrote a couple of posts recently regarding The Ruins and I Am Legend and their respective movie adaptations.

I think I've liked every Stephen King adaptation.

I loved Jurassic Park.

I also love all of the Harry Potter movies.

There have been adaptations I did not like.  Most fresh in my mind is the I Am Number Four movie that was released to DVD this week.  I didn't like it.  Mostly I didn't like it as a movie (it was ridiculous), but loving the book does make it harder because I know everywhere they could have done things right.

I also did not like the adaptation of Preston and Child's The Relic.  I loved that book, and again the movie was just bad as a movie.

Are you hard on movie adaptations? Does it make it harder when the book is one of your favorites?

Blogger's GFC widget seems to be having issues.  If you want to follow someone's blog today, try the Follow link on the very top bar of their blog.


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Movie News: The Hunger Games

Have you been wondering the latest on The Hunger Games movie?  Of course you have!  Well, I've been enjoying all of the updates Jenni Elyse has been posting on her wonderful blog.  Click here to see all of her Hunger Games updates.

I'm really excited about this cast which includes some surprises like Lenny Kravitz and Woody Harrelson.

Go check out some of the news.

Are you excited about the movie and the cast?  Did you check out Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of Entertainment Weekly?  I was so happy to pull that issue out of my mailbox.  I had no doubt they could Katniss-ize her.

P.S. I stole this picture of Lenny Kravitz from Jenni Elyse's blog.  I hope she doesn't mind, but it makes my blog more attractive like that.  You're welcome.


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Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Review: The Ruins by Scott Smith

The Ruins is a great book by Scott Smith - the guy who wrote A Simple Plan.

Book Description

Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine.Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.

I didn't care much for the beginning of The Ruins.  The characters were annoying and a few things were cliche.  Thankfully this did not last long.  The Ruins managed to turn into a great page turner.  Do not let the beginning sway you.  I loved this book.

I'm pleased to say I also loved the movie.  Scott Smith wrote the screenplay as well, but the movie is surprisingly different than the book.  The characters were switched around, the injuries and events were switched around, and the ending was changed.  This rarely happens, but I liked the movie ending more than the book ending.

If you haven't checked out either of them - read it (always first) and watch it!  It's fun to see the Scott Smith's different visions between print and screen.  Plus, it makes for some awesome entertainment.

Have you read and watched The Ruins?  Which ending did you prefer?


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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: The Turtle Boy by Kealan Patrick Burke

The Turtle Boy is an excellent novella from Kealan Patrick Burke.

Book Description
School is out and summer has begun. For eleven year old Timmy Quinn and his best friend Pete Marshall, the dreary town of Delaware Ohio becomes a place of magic, hidden treasure and discovery.

But on the day they encounter a strange young boy sitting on the bank of Myers Pond a pond playground rumor says may hide turtles the size of Buicks everything changes.

For it soon becomes apparent that dark secrets abound in the little community, secrets which come cupped in the hands of the dead, and in a heartbeat, Timmy and Pete's summer of wonder becomes a season of terror, betrayal and murder.

I loved The Turtle Boy.  It's a fantastic mix of youth, magic, and horror.

The Turtle Boy is first novella in Kealan Patrick Burke's Timmy Quinn series.  I'm really looking forward to reading The Hides and the rest of the series.

If you haven't read The Turtle Boy yet, you can download it free from Smashwords.  Kealan says it's only for a "limited time" so don't be crazy and wait.  You will love this one.


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Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago listing some of my favorite vampire books.  I cannot imagine what I was thinking leaving off a very excellent book - fit for the top of the list - Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.

Book Description
Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone.

An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.

By day, he is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn....

First of all, the movie with Will Smith is a cool movie.  I dug it.  But... it is so loosely based on Matheson's work you can barely call it an adaptation.

I Am Legend is a fantastic read.  The vampire virus (to which Robert Neville is immune) is plausible, and Neville's plight is heart-wrenching.  The ending of I Am Legend has to be one of my all time favorite endings.

There are a couple of movie adaptations that pre-date the Will Smith version.  One of them is a great adaptation starring Vincent Price called The Last Man on Earth.  This adaptation follows closely to I Am Legend.  If you haven't seen The Last Man on Earth, I highly recommend you read I Am Legend first.  While the movie includes Matheson's ending, it fails to capture the same depth and meaning that Matheson conveyed.

If you are a zombie fan - especially a George Romero fan - or a fan of the vampire, I Am Legend is a definite must read, but I also highly recommend it in general.


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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: In the Dunes by John Leahy

In the Dunes is a novelette by John Leahy.

Book Description
When his friend vanishes into the sand dunes by a remote Irish golf course, Neil Marshall is mystified and worried. Rejecting the local advice never to explore the beach alone, Neil is determined to discover the truth about his friend's fate. What horror lurks in the dunes?
I think I'm going to spend every Sunday night curled up with a short piece of fiction. That is simply the best way to end the week.

In the Dunes was a quick and entertaining read.  I've always been a fan of Irish folklore and the unseen creatures hidden away in nature.  The creatures of In the Dunes's folklore didn't stay as hidden as I expected, but I enjoyed their strange horror.

I also enjoyed Leahy's writing style.  I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.

Have you read any great short fiction lately?  I'd love some recommendations.

Review copy provided by author


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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blog Hop Friday: Happy Mother's Day!

Today's Follow Friday question over at Parajunkee's View is:

Q. Circle time! Time to share. What character in a book would you most like to be?

I would definitely want to be someone with a magic power or special ability. It would be pretty cool to be Hermione Granger. She's pretty powerful with all types of spells.  It's kind of like wishing for more wishes.

I'd also like to be Lisbeth Salander for a while.  Not during the books - after the books.  LOL.  She has the whole world at her disposable.

What about you guys? Who would you want to be?

Book Blogger HopJennifer over at Crazy For Books asks: 

"Which book blogger would you most like to meet in real life?"

It would be awesome to know some book bloggers in real life!  It takes a lot of passion to do what we do.  It's great that I can feel that passion on so many blogs, though, and I can hop on twitter to get some great book buzz.

My top choices would be the fine folks who take the time to stop here, read my reviews, and comment back to me.  I love each and every one of you.  This book blogging gig is the best.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to each of you.  I ordered myself some kitchen stuff "from the hubby".  ;)  Have an awesome weekend!


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Book Review: Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

Guilt by Association is the debut book of both Marcia Clark (of O.J. Simpson fame) and Mulholland Books (a new imprint of Little, Brown).

Book Description
Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wise-cracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor in the city's most elite division. When her colleague, Jake, is found dead at a grisly crime scene, Rachel is shaken to the core. She must take over his toughest case: the assault of a young woman from a prominent family.

But she can't stop herself from digging deeper into Jake's death, a decision that exposes a world of power and violence and will have her risking her reputation--and her life--to find the truth.

With her tremendous expertise in the nuances of L.A. courts and crime, and with a vibrant ensemble cast of characters, Marcia Clark combines intimate detail, riotous humor, and visceral action in a debut thriller that marks the launch of a major new figure on the crime-writing scene.
When I first heard about Guilt by Association, I knew right away I wanted to read it.  Experts claim you should "write what you know", and there is an automatic expectation when someone like Marcia Clark (whose career was in spotlight) writes a book.  I'm happy to report Guilt by Association surpassed my expectations. 

Clark's insight into criminal behavior and law enforcement made Guilt by Association very authentic.  The characters were likeable - the kind you would want to go out and have a few drinks with at the end of the day.  The story was complex and complete.  If you are a fan of mysteries, crime fiction, or legal thrillers, Guilt by Association will not disappoint you.

Review copy provided by publisher


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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Releases This Week

Earlier this week I read a great novella by Jude Hardin (writing as Carson Wilder) called UnbornYou can read my review of Unborn here.  Jude Hardin released a new novel this week called Pocket-47.

Book Description

Fifteen-year-old Brittney Ryan has taken to the streets. Leitha, her older sister and legal guardian, hires private investigator Nicholas Colt to find her and bring her home. Piece of cake, Colt thinks. With Brittney's forbidden boyfriend's address in hand, he plans to make a surprise visit and put this one in the scrapbook.But something more sinister is behind Brittney's disappearance, and Colt soon finds himself in an ever-widening maze of deceit, betrayal, and murder. When Colt learns what the mysterious phrase "Pocket-47" means, he is haunted even more by the plane crash that killed his family and rock band twenty years ago-a crash he now realizes might not have been an accident.Determined to save Brittney, Colt struggles to untangle the threads of his own tortured past. Unfortunately, one of the most heinous and violent criminals in modern history has other ideas.

Expect a review in the near future!

Another book released this week was Cherry Beach Express - the debut novel from R.D. Cain who has "worked for the last 18 years in emergency services as a paramedic, firefighter, and police officer".

Book Description

When Steve Nastos is wrongfully accused of murdering his dentist—a man whom he believes committed an unspeakable crime against his daughter—he decides to take the law into his own hands. Freed on bail, he attempts to track down the actual killer in a town where laws are seen more as guidelines and law enforcement agents adhere to their own moral relativism. Handicapped by a recovering alcoholic lawyer, a rogue cop, and a two-faced judge, Nastos has the cards stacked against him. As his estranged yet beloved wife inadvertently becomes involved in the case, the stakes become higher, and Nastos is forced to protect her.

I'm looking forward to reading both of these!


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Monday, May 2, 2011

Book Review: Unborn by Carson Wilder (Jude Hardin)

Last night was the end of a very long week.  All I wanted to do after putting the kids to bed was curl up and lose myself in a story, so I paid a visit to my favorite suspense junkie's blog The Man Eating Bookworm and "shopped" for a shot of adrenaline.  Unborn by Carson Wilder (Jude Hardin) sounded just right.

Book Description
The vengeful ghost of an aborted baby girl goes on a killing rampage. Highway drifter, day laborer, and world-renowned psychic medium John Rock tries to stop her.
Unborn is short, but it packs a big punch.  Do you remember that awesome scene at the end of Final Destination where the kid steps off the curb and BAM! gets hit by a bus?  Unborn is like that.

From the opening scene I was pulled in, and every page scared me.  I was scared of what was happening, and I was scared for what would happen next.  Now I can't wait for the sequel.

If you are easily disturbed, steer clear of Unborn.  If you love having a look of terror on your face as you read, please add Unborn to your list.  There is no better way to spend your hard earned $.99.


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