Monday, September 24, 2007

Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter

First sentence:




Snow is in the forecast.

In a time and place not too far away, Mia Snow is an alien huntress for the New Chicago Police Department. Heading up her expert team of Alien Investigation and Removal agents, Mia's unmatched at battling the elusive enemy among us, and she's the perfect girl for the job. She's seen her brother die at the hands of aliens. She's earned each of her scars. And she'll die before she cries. Now, a series of killings have Mia and her partner Dallas tracking alien suspects -- but a sudden blast of violence leaves Dallas fighting for his life.

They are ice and fire.

The chance to save Dallas appears in the form of a tall, erotic stranger. An alien. A murder suspect. Kyrin en Arr, of the deadly Arcadian species, holds the power to heal the injured agent but not without a price. For Mia Snow, that price is surrendering to Kyrin's forbidden seduction...and embracing their electric attraction. She's walking a knife's edge, risking her badge and even her life. The closer she gets to Kyrin, the more Mia learns about her own heart, her human needs -- and the shocking secret that will shatter everything she's ever believed."

My thoughts:

This book was a good mix of police procedural and science fiction. It had a futuristic setting featuring aliens alongside humans with a nice dash of romance. I liked learning Mia's history along with her as her powers are gradually revealed.

Date read: 9/22/2007
Book #: 86
Series: Alien Huntress, #1
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 074349749X
ISBN-13: 9780743497497
Publisher: Downtown Press
Year: 2005
# of Pages: 336
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Non-Fiction Five Challenge

Yep - another challenge! This one is hosted by "Thoughts of Joy" and the idea is to read five non-fiction books from May to September.

I have many non-fiction books on my TBR shelves, so it was hard to narrow them down and to find a good variety from true crime to history to adventure to exploration. So, here's my list (in no particular order!):

Sir Gregor MacGregor and the Land That Never Was by David Sinclair

First sentence:

"The new year of 1823 announced itself in violent fashion with a vicious storm that battered the east coast of Britain for a fortnight."


"Once upon a time, in the heart of Central America, there was a country called Poyais. It was exceptionally rich in natural resources, civilization and culture and it was ruled by a brave and enlightened Scottish soldier, General Sir Gregor MacGregor, who had been made its cazique, or prince, of Poyais, after his many heroic exploits in the cause of South America's struggle to liberate itself from the Spanish empire.

In 1821, the Cazique of Poyais and his beautiful princess arrived in Britain to promote the virtues of their country and encourage immigration and investment. They rapidly became celebrities, honoured with an official welcome from the Lord Mayor of London, feted in the press, and enthusiastically sought after in the best social circles. Within a year, Sir Gregor MacGregor had persuaded thousands of people to subscribe to a £200,000 development loan he floated on the London stock market. More importantly, he had succeeded in attracting hundreds of would-be settlers, many from his native Scotland, who set off on the long and perilous journey to this promised land -- a journey from which the majority would never return.

It was not until some time later that the truth about Poyais and its prince began to emerge..."

My thoughts:

This was an informative account showing how one persuasive man with a well-written, descriptive document exploited people's greed and gullibility. Other major topics include the independence movements in Central and South America in the early 19th century and the eagerness of Europeans to help militarily and financially. Sinclair wraps up the book nicely in his analysis of how MacGregor started becoming caught up in his own fantasy towards the end.

Date read: 9/21/2007
Book #: 85
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Nonfiction - History/Biography

ISBN-10: 0755310799
ISBN-13: 9780755310791
Publisher: Headline Review
Year: 2003
# of Pages: 384
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing Page

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

lost boy lost girl by Peter Straub

First sentence:

"Nancy Underhill's death had been unexpected, abrupt -- a death like a slap in the face."


"A woman commits suicide for no apparent reason. A week later, her son– fifteen-year-old Mark Underhill–vanishes. His uncle, novelist Timothy Underhill, searches his hometown of Millhaven for clues that might help unravel this horrible dual mystery. He soon learns that a pedophilic murderer is on the loose in the vicinity, and that shortly before his mother’s suicide, Mark had become obsessed with an abandoned house where he imagined the killer might have taken refuge. No mere empty building, the house whispers from attic to basement with the echoes of a long-hidden true-life horror story, and Tim Underhill comes to fear that in investigating its unspeakable history, Mark stumbled across its last and greatest secret: a ghostly lost girl who may have coaxed the needy, suggestible boy into her mysterious domain."

My thoughts:

This book was a good mix of mystery and horror. I liked how the point of view switched from Mark while he was obsessed with the house and his uncle Tim trying to figure out what happened to his nephew.

Date read: 9/17/2007
Book #: 84
Genre: Horror/Mystery
Rating: 3* = good

ISBN-10: 0449149919
ISBN-13: 9780449149911
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 2004
# of Pages: 368
Binding: Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Book of Shadows by James Reese

First sentence:

"In 1812, I went to 'the Stone,' the holy house at C____, a village straddling the ill-drawn borders of Brittany and Normandy, dependent upon the grace of the Church."


"Alone among the young girls taught by nuns at a convent school in nineteenth-century France, orphaned Herculine has neither wealth nor social connections. When she's accused of being a witch, the shy student is locked up with no hope of escape ... until her rescue by a real witch, the beautiful, mysterious Sebastiana. Swept away to the witch's manor, Herculine will enter a fantastic, erotic world to discover her true nature -- and her destiny -- in this breathtaking, darkly sensual first novel. "

My thoughts:

This was a mixed book for me. It was beautifully written - at times evocative and at times poetic. I especially liked the description of the French Revolution as seen through the eyes of the witches and other characters. I also liked the characters Herculine, Madeleine, Father Louis and Sebastiana. While there were parts that dragged, especially chapters concerning the convent and Sebastiana's first coven meeting, the crossroads scene towards the end made the read worthwhile.

Date read: 9/12/2007
Book #: 82
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror

ISBN-10: 0066210151
ISBN-13: 978-0066210155
Publisher: William Morrow
Year: 2002
# of Pages: 480
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing Page

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

First sentence:

"In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages."


"Once upon a time, in eighteenth-century France, there lived a human monster unlike anything mankind has ever known. Enter the world of an evil genius, a murderer so depraved that only the most hideous of crimes could satisfy his lust...a killer who lives to possess the essence of young virgins...a vampire of scent, whose bloody insane quest takes him beyond the boundaries of love...and death."

My thoughts:

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille - human or monster? Both? Just when I found myself feeling sympathetic to this young man who grew up without human kindness, the monster side of him would emerge and I could sense his scorn for people he fooled with his pretense of humanity. This was a beautifully written book about the importance of smell that we all take for granted and how one man with an incredible gift took advantage of people.

Date read: 9/9/2007
Book #: 82
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller

ISBN-10: 0671749609
ISBN-13: 9780671749606
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Year: 1991
# of Pages: 310
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Friday, September 7, 2007

Necroscope IV: Deadspeak by Brian Lumley

First sentence:

"Christened Harry 'Snaith,' in Edinburgh, 1957, Harry is the son of a psychic-sensitive mother, Mary Keogh (who is herself the daughter of a 'gifted' expatriate Russian lady), and Gerald Smith, a banker."


"A new vampire stalks the earth, and only Harry Keogh can defeat him! The silence of the grave is not silent at all. In their millions, the dead are screaming....but no one can hear them! Atop a perilous cliff, deep in the Balkan mountains, rises the castle of the Ferenczy. Once it was a stronghold of the Vamphyri....and now it will be so again, for Janos Ferenczy, vampire and black magician, has risen from his ages-long sleep. Powerful and evil, Janos conjures dead men and women into a semblance of life and subjects them to fiendish tortures.But the shrieks of the dead do not satisfy Janos's lust for blood-- for that he needs living humans. His terrifying armies of the risen dead will soon overwhelm a helpless, defenseless mankind......Helpless and defenseless because a terrible battle against the vampires has destroyed Harry Keogh's deadspeak, leaving the Necroscope deaf to the teeming dead....and to their warnings of Janos's reign of terror. To save the world, Harry must join forces and link minds with the most powerful, and deadliest, vampire of all!"

My thoughts:

It's been a while since I read the Necroscope books which are a riveting blend of horror and espionage thriller. I liked the way the dead find ways to help Harry regain his powers in time to defeat the vampire Janos.

Date read: 9/6/2007
Book #: 81
Rating: 3* = good
Series: Necroscope, #4
Genre: Horror

ISBN-10: 0812530322
ISBN-13: 9780812530322
Publisher: Tor Books
Year: 1992
# of Pages: 496
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Next Accident by Lisa Gardner

First sentence:

"Monday afternoon, private investigator Lorraine Conner sat hunched over her paper-swamped desk, punched a few more numbers into her old, cagey laptop, then scowled at the results shown on the screen."


"New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, whose first three novels rocketed onto national bestseller lists, is one of today’s hottest suspense stars. Now, in her powerful hardcover debut, she takes us on a desperate manhunt for a sadistic killer who preys upon his victims’ innermost fears — just before he claims their lives.

What do you do when a killer targets the people you love most? How do you protect them when he knows their most secret fears and hidden desires? When he knows just when to strike? And, most of all, when he knows the same about you?

These are the questions that haunt FBI Special Agent Pierce Quincy. The official police report concluded that his daughter’s death was an accident. Amanda Quincy was driving drunk when her car careened out of control.

Pierce knew about his daughter’s problem with alcohol. He knew about her loneliness and insecurity. And so, he is certain, did the man who killed her. Quincy is prepared to risk everything to learn the dangerous truth about Amanda’s death — and there’s only one person willing to help.

Rainie Conner knows all too well the dark side of the human heart. An ex-cop haunted by her own violent past, she had once been paired professionally — and personally — with the brilliant, supremely logical FBI profiler.

Quincy had helped Rainie through the harrowing case that shattered her career and left her charged with first-degree murder. Now it’s time for Rainie to return the favor.

But this killer is like none these two hard-boiled pros have ever encountered. This twisted psychopath has an insatiable hunger for revenge ... and for fear. He isn’t satisfied with taking his victims’ lives. He wants to get inside their minds, strip them of every defense, render them powerless to resist.

He’s already killed twice; now he’s taunting Quincy and Rainie by making it no secret who his next victim will be: Quincy’s only surviving daughter.

The killer’s plan is chilling, brilliant, and unstoppable. The cops won’t help; the FBI can’t be trusted. As the clock ticks down to the final minutes of one unspeakably intimate act of vengeance, the only way Rainie can unmask this faceless killer is to step directly in his murderous path. She will become a murder waiting to happen. She will be ... the next accident."

My thoughts:

This was an gripping mystery which kept me guessing throughout. I realized after I started it that it was the third book in the Pierce Quincy series, but I enjoyed it anyway. I liked the characters Quincy, Rainie and Kim and was rooting for them to outwit the killer. Good twists and turns as both the heroes and the villain set up obstacles against the other. Now to find the first two books, The Perfect Husband and The Third Victim!

Date read: 8/29/2007
Book #: 80
Rating: 3* = good
Series: Pierce Quincy, #3
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0553802380
ISBN-13: 9780553802382
Publisher: Bantam
Year: 2001
# of Pages: 352
Binding: Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Shadow Man by Cody Mcfadyen

First sentence:

"I have one of the dreams."


"Once, Special Agent Smoky Barrett hunted serial killers for the FBI. She was one of the best–until a madman terrorized her family, killed her husband and daughter, and left her face scarred and her soul brutalized. Turning the tables on the killer, Smoky shot him dead–but her life was shattered forever.

Now Smoky dreams about picking up her weapon again. She dreams about placing the cold steel between her lips and pulling the trigger one last time. Because for a woman who’s lost everything, what is there left to lose?

She’s about to find out.

In all her years at the Bureau, Smoky has never encountered anyone like him–a new and fascinating kind of monster, a twisted genius who defies profilers’ attempts to understand him. And he’s issued Smoky a direct challenge, coaxing her back from the brink with the only thing that could convince her to live.

The killer videotaped his latest crime–an act of horror that left a child motherless–then sent a message addressed to Agent Smoky Barrett. The message is enough to shock Smoky back to work, back to her FBI team. And that child awakens something in Smoky she thought was gone forever.

Suddenly the stakes are raised. The game has changed. For as this deranged monster embarks on an unspeakable spree of perversion and murder, Smoky is coming alive again–and she’s about to face her greatest fears as a cop, a woman, a mother…and a merciless killer’s next victim."

My thoughts:

This was a gripping thriller which provided great insight into both the criminal mind and the ways the agents gather clues both physical and emotional. I also liked learning about interrogation tricks. I look forward to reading the sequel, The Face of Death.

Date read: 8/28/2007
Book #: 79
Rating: 3* = good
Series: Smoky Barrett, #1
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0553804650
ISBN-13: 9780553804652
Publisher: Bantam Books
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 384
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing Page