Category: Book Reviews

Book Review: Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins) by Andrew Lane

Posted August 29, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Title: Death Cloud

Author: Andrew Lane

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication Date: February 2011

Genre: Young Adult Historical Mystery Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.

Review: There may be more stories written by other authors about Sherlock Holmes than by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself.  That says a lot right there. Holmes is clouded in his own mystery- a solitary figure, master in the art of deduction, a bit eccentric and very little is known about his past.

This is what makes Andrew Lane’s Holmes so enjoyable. Whether you are familiar with the original Holmes stories or not, he is so engrained in western culture with his signature deerstalker style hat, its hard to not recognize the popular literary figure.
Lane’s Holmes is young, curious and adventurous. While we see the slowly layered foundation of the man he is to become, this Holmes is fun to read. Along with his tutor Crowe and friend Matty, Sherlock starts his first adventure. He is only just a boy, but the potential is there and fueled by Crowe’s own skill and wisdom, it’s easy to see how young Sherlock develops into the man he is famous for.
Matty is true and loyal supporting character. Young, alone and rough around the edges, he makes the perfect friend for privileged Holmes.
Lane does a good job of prolonging the mystery, even if I had guessed it chapters earlier. There is a good deal of action and a couple of very threatening characters, so I think young boys might really enjoy this early Holmes adventure.  It’s light on the girl, and yes, of course there’s a girl, and heavy on the danger, which makes it perfect for boys maybe around 13 yrs old.
A quick read and a good debut to a promising series.

Review 6 Good but wouldn’t own a copy

Posted August 29, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Posted August 25, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Author: Helen Simonson

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: January 2010

Genre: Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand AloneSynopsis can be found here


Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is a charming story that takes place in the English countryside. As the Major finds himself drawn to Mrs. Ali, a widow who owns the local shop, the townspeople and their own families throw them obstacles which each must overcome in order to be together.

The language rolls over me, warm with beautiful descriptions. Every character is brought to life vividly.  This is a book about a sleepy town and the prejudices that crawl to the surface. The book is on the slower side, but not in a bad way. I felt the rolling of the English countryside and the quietness of the town which accents nicely the mayhem of the shooting party and the drama that unfolds later in the novel. To its core, it is an incredibly romantic story, about two people finding love but having to cross many barriers to be together.

Major Pettigrew, for all his upright and conservative views, is a kind and gentle man. Simonson makes him sympathetic without being narrow-minded and old. Mrs. Ali on the other hand is like a breeze of fresh air. Their courtship starts slow and it’s amazing to read about these two people whose relationship blossoms so slowly and naturally.
Roger, the major’s son is certainly on the other end of the spectrum. He’s equally parts yuppie young man and aimlessly wandering son. While he isn’t a totally unlikeable character, I found myself cringing at Roger’s comments.

I listened to the audiobook, read by Peter Altschuler, which was breathtakingly beautiful. The words and descriptions of the townspeople of Edgecombe St. Mary are well developed, even to the most minor of characters. And Altschuler does a superb job of reading in Major’s narration, his voice rich. 

Review 8 Cookie Worthy, bordering on 9!

Posted August 25, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Overbite by Meg Cabot (Insatiable Series #2)

Posted August 22, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Overbite

Author: Meg Cabot

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: July 2011

Genre: Adult Paranormal Contemporary Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Two

Synopsis can be found here.
You can find my review of book one here.

Review: Meena Harper and friends are in over their heads. It’s been about six months since their fight with Lucien Antonescu, son of Dracula, and where the first book in the series Insatiable left off. Meena is working for the Palatine Guard, only to find something new and more sinister has moved into Manhattan. And it seems to be targeting Meena.

The second book in the series is significantly shorter than the first (only coming in at 278 pages.) I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the first book was almost twice as long.  The story was suspenseful and fun, but it didn’t have the same magic as the first book. There was less humor, more drama and the characters changed so drastically in such a short amount of time, they were almost unrecognizable. The foundation was there from the beginning and I immediately knew which way it was going, so while the ending wasn’t a complete surprise, I didn’t feel like it had a very natural flow of getting there. I also thought this book seemed more YA-ish, while the first book leaned more on the romance adult side. (The heat between Meena and Lucien jumped at you from the first book. The second book didn’t really have any sizzle.)

Favorite characters were back, including Mary Lou and Emil, both adding much needed comic relief. And while Alaric seemed like his old self during the first part of the book, his fun awkwardness and unique thoughts were absent towards middle and end.

It is not that I didn’t enjoy the book. It was fun to visit Meena and her friends, even if this installment was much darker.  I read it in a day and wanted to see what happened. That being said, I just didn’t feel like it lived up to Insatiable, book one.
I wonder if this will continue to be a series, Cabot has certainly left it open a sliver at the end for more adventures. But I would hope she try to channel the first book’s humor and wit.  

Rating: 6 Good, but wouldn’t own a copy.

Posted August 22, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Posted August 20, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 5 Comments

Title: Insatiable

Author: Meg Cabot

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: June 2010

Genre: Adult Paranormal Contemporary Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis: can be found here

Vampires, Psychics and Slayers! Oh My!
Meena Harper, a dialogue writer on a soap opera titled “Insatiable”, has a secret of her own. She can see how people are going to die. Armed with this gift since she was small, she has grown up hiding her gift and helping out when she can. Whether that’s a stranger on a subway, or best friend, she’s found a way to calmly steer people away from their own demise. Now if only Meena could help herself.
Meg Cabot is hit or miss for me. While I enjoyed her Princess Diaries YA series, I did try another one of her adult fiction books and it left me kinda empty.  So I didn’t have high hopes for this book. Sure, it looked like fun and who doesn’t like a good vampire story now and again? (I DO!)
And… Wow!
I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. A new, awesome twist on the Dracula legend, Cabot’s characters don’t take themselves too seriously. There are some funny pop culture references to a couple more famous vampires that made me laugh. 
Meena is a strong female role model. She’s been through a lot, always on the outside because of her gift. She’s fun, compassionate (rescued her little dog Jack Bauer from the pound, and yes, he is named after that Jack Bauer), and still flawed enough to be believable. She stands up for herself, even in the face of certain death a.k.a. crazy Vampire Slayer threatens her with sword for info on her vampire boyfriend. What I love most about Meena is that she thinks for herself. She has strong opinions and her own mind.
Lucian, our Prince of Darkness, is well rounded. His baggage is subtle and in his own dark, brooding way, he’ll capture your heart.
And our Vampire Slayer, Alaric, is awkward, powerful and vain. But as we journey with Alaric, we see something hidden. Something more.
The book is a fun, roller-coaster ride. It’s a thicker book, coming in at over 450 pages, but that just made me enjoy living in their world a little longer.
Who doesn’t want that?
Bravo Meg Cabot.

I’ll be grabbing the follow up, Overbite, as soon as I can!

Rating: 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted August 20, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 5 Comments

Book Review: Sean Griswold’s Head

Posted August 16, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Title: Sean Griswold’s Head
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: March 2011
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
Payton is my type of girl. She loves to be organized, and even color-codes her folders. She’s a smart student who likes to place things in their proper places. Therefore, it’s especially traumatic for her when she learns a secret that sends her reeling into her guidance counselor’s office. Her guidance counselor recommends she find a focus item to concentrate on. And what do you know? It’s Sean Griswold’s head.
I didn’t know what to expect from this book. The synopsis sounded cute and I figured it would be some light-hearted treat I could read quickly and move on. But there’s a lot more to it than that. My friend loaned me her copy, with the words, “No, it’s awesome. You’ll love it.” And I did.
Leavitt is a very talented writer. Her characters are well rounded, full, rich and funny. Even when they’re suffering, they don’t lose their wholeness or depth. The novel touches upon more than just Payton and Sean. It delves into relationships between family members, especially parents and children.
Payton’s character is so real, she felt like she was sitting next to me. Her emotions, thoughts and actions made her into a mature teenager, just growing out of adolescence and trying to figure it all out.
And Sean Griswold is more than just a head. Payton gets to know her focus item, the sweet and kind Sean Griswold. He has such a wonderful personality, reminding me of some of my best guy friends from home.
As their relationship develops, Payton grows in leaps from the character she started out at the beginning to the young adult she eventually becomes.
A wonderful and hilarious story that should not be missed!
Rating: 10 One of the Best

Posted August 16, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Book Review: Across The Universe

Posted August 9, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 5 Comments

Title: Across The Universe

Author: Beth Revis

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: January 2011

Genre: Young Adult Dystopia/Science Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.

Review: Amy joins her parents aboard the massive spaceship Godspeed where she will awaken on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But Amy awakens fifty years too early and begins an adventure that might create more questions than answers.

Revis’s debut novel is not to be missed. A little bit sci-fi, a little bit dystopia, Revis has created a lush and frightening world aboard the space ship Godspeed, where all the characters have hidden agendas.  Just when I thought I had it all figured out, a twist would come out of nowhere and make me go, “Wait, what!” in a good way. Dark, sinister characters move around the spaceship, and Amy is different. Which makes her a target and a threat.

The dual narrative between Amy and Elder is well done. Two distinct voices relaying a story adds to the overall tension and feel of the ship and the relationships on it. I’ve found it hard sometimes for an author to write a narration in the opposite sex, but Revis does this very well. At no time did I feel Elder was anyone but Elder, a boy on a spaceship who had an impressive and complicated job before him.

Across The Universe reminds me of an episode in Lost. You know the ones- the groundwork is laid, the action going strong, but you wind up with more questions than answers. Leaving me unsatisfied and wanting.

This book is probably not for younger readers below fifteen or sixteen.  The first chapter alone is very graphic and traumatic. I almost cried when Amy went through the freezing process. There are other moments through the book that are downright scary.

Overall, the unsettling themes and tone of the book left me off balance, which was probably the point. I’m excited to continue with the series to see how it all plays out. It’s a serious ride.

Rating: 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend

Posted August 9, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 5 Comments

Book Review: Naked In Death by J. D. Robb

Posted August 2, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Title: Naked In Death
Author: J. D. Robb
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 1995
Genre: Adult Mystery Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One
Synopsis can be found here.
Eve Dallas, a police Lieutenant in a futuristic New York City, hunts the killer of a beautiful socialite and gets more than she bargained for. The first book in this beloved and looong series, 32 books and counting, introduces us to the main group of characters that will continue on through the series and grow in our hearts.
J. D. Robb, a pen name for Nora Roberts, writes this mystery series very well. It was recommended to me from a lover of Nora Roberts and having read Nora Roberts before, I thought I would give it a try. I was not let down.  Eve’s world and her voice is sound. She is a strong, takes-no-prisoners character who not only fights crime, but has also her own inner demons every day. I can’t say Eve is likeable, in this first book especially. But be patient. Her character grows with the series.
While investigating this case, she meets the undeniably sexy Roarke, who happens to be a suspect. Handsome and mysterious, Roarke becomes fascinated with Eve also and well, things get…Heated. Irish, rich and very very male, he is the quintessential romance male lead in those Harlequin paperbacks you see in the drugstores. But that doesn’t mean he’s flat. Roarke is a multi dimensional character who I rooted for during the entire book. (Please don’t let him be the killer, please don’t let him be the killer)
This first book hooked me onto the series so bad, I went out and bought the remaining books in the series. Make no mistakes -while this is probably found in your local bookstores’ mystery section, the best parts of the book are the sweet, patient scenes between Roarke and Eve.  And this is where Robb/Roberts shine.
A fun, romantic thriller mystery book. Easy to read. Likeable characters. Lots of chemistry.
Go on! You know you want to.
Rating: 9 Ridiculously Awesome like Cookies and Ice Cream

Posted August 2, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments