03.25.14

The Doll by Taylor Stevens

Posted in Review at 4:02 am by Amber

Title: The Doll
Author: Taylor Stevens
Publisher: Broadway Books
Source: Publisher for Review

The Doll by Taylor Stevens

Haunted by a life of violence and as proficient with languages as she is with knives, Vanessa Michael Munroe, chameleon and hunter, has built her life on a reputation for getting things done—dangerous and often not-quite-legal things. The ability to survive, fight, adapt, and blend has since taken her across the globe on behalf of corporations, heads of state, and the few private clients who can afford her unique brand of expertise, and these abilities have made her enemies.

On a busy Dallas street, Munroe is kidnapped by an unseen opponent and thrust into an underground world where women and girls are merchandise and a shadowy figure known as The Doll Maker controls her every move. While trusted friends race to find her, everything pivots on one simple choice: Munroe must use her unique set of skills to deliver a high-profile young woman into the same nightmare that she once endured, or condemn to torture and certain death the one person she loves above all else.

In this high-octane thriller Munroe will have to fight fast, smart, and furious to overcome a dangerous nemesis and deliver her trademark brand of justice.

Released in paperback earlier this month, The Doll is the third book in the Stevens series featuring heroine Vanessa Michael Munroe. It includes an excerpt of the fourth book, The Catch.

This is the first book I’ve read in the series. Munroe has been likened to Lisbeth Salander of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series which is why I decided to read it. Who doesn’t need another action heroine?

While Stevens does a good job catching the reader up on Munroe’s past, I rarely felt a connection with Munroe so it may have been worth it for me to read the first book in the series to get to know Munroe better.

The action and story didn’t suffer at all from this lack of connection. There were certainly surprises in the plot and I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

About Taylor Stevens

TAYLOR STEVENS is the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of The Informationist, The Innocent and The Doll. Featuring Vanessa Michael Munroe, the series has received critical acclaim and the books are published in twenty languages. The Informationist has been optioned for film by James Cameron’s production company, Lightstorm Entertainment. Born in New York State, and into the Children of God, raised in communes across the globe and denied an education beyond sixth grade, Stevens was in her twenties when she broke free to follow hope and a vague idea of what possibilities lay beyond. She now lives in Texas, and is at work on the next Munroe novel.

03.24.14

2014 Niteblade Fundraiser

Posted in Event at 8:54 am by Amber

It’s time for the annual Niteblade fundraiser! This year’s perks include original art, Niteblade submission feedback, books, subscriptions and story critiques.

03.17.14

Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Posted in Review at 3:12 am by Amber

Title: Don’t Even Think About It
Author: Sarah Mylnowski
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Don't Even Think About It

Contemporary teen fiction with romance, secrets, scandals, and ESP from the author of Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have).

We weren’t always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what’s coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We’re always listening.

The ARC I received suggested this book for ages 12 and up. I think my 12-year-old self would’ve loved it. My 42-year-old self found the writing and the story interesting. Overall it was a nice light read. Mylnowski empowers the telepathic teens to take control of situations when they would’ve floundered otherwise.

With over a dozen characters in the homeroom class getting the telepathic flu shot, Mylnowski was smart to focus on a handful of characters and situations. Pi, the smart girl, who has to decide if she’s going to use these new powers to augment her studying; Brian Joseph, aka BJ, the class pervert who can overhear his classmates romantic worries and  offers himself as a boy toy; Tess, the slightly overweight best friend of Mackenzie who is constantly criticized by her mom about her size.

I don’t know if Mylnowski has any small children in her life but one of the teens, Cooper, has a 3-year-old sister. I’d just heard an NPR interview with Jennifer Senior who points out young children can’t be reasoned with because they live in the present. The prefrontal cortex is not developed enough for logic. Ashley’s thoughts, when Cooper is able to hear them, is a perfect example. I found the relationship between Ashley and Cooper adorable. It was nice to read about a male teen character who was caring, not cruel, towards a young child.

The book released last week so Mylnowski is doing several readings and signings specifically related to the book. Check out her website for her schedule.

03.11.14

The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating by Carole Radziwill

Posted in Review at 11:25 am by Amber

Title: The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating
Author: Carole Radziwill
Publisher: Henry Holt And Co.
Source: Emily K. from Henry Holt in exchange for a review

Book cover of The Widow's Guide to Sex & Dating

Claire Byrne is a quirky and glamorous 34-year-old Manhattanite and the wife of a famous, slightly older man. Her husband, Charlie, is a renowned sexologist and writer. Equal parts Alfred Kinsey and Warren Beatty, Charlie is pompous yet charming, supportive yet unfaithful; he’s a firm believer that sex and love can’t coexist for long, and he does little to hide his affairs. Claire’s life with Charlie is an always interesting if not deeply devoted one, until Charlie is struck dead one day on the sidewalk by a falling sculpture … a Giacometti, no less!

Once a promising young writer, Claire had buried her ambitions to make room for Charlie’s. After his death, she must reinvent herself. Over the course of a year, she sees a shrink (or two), visits an oracle, hires a “botanomanist,” enjoys an erotic interlude (or ten), eats too little, drinks too much, dates a hockey player, dates a billionaire, dates an actor (not any actor either, but the handsome movie star every woman in the world fantasizes about dating). As she grieves for Charlie and searches for herself, she comes to realize that she has an opportunity to find something bigger than she had before—maybe even, possibly, love.

The first time I was approached about reading and reviewing this book, it was noted it was written by a Real Housewives of New York City cast member based on some of her own experiences as a young widow. I had other stuff going on so I passed. Then I saw it on a display table at Barnes and Noble and thought, “Oh, yeah. I remember that book.” And a few days later I was going through my emails and found a second request to read and review the book. So I went to Radziwill’s site, read the first chapter and said I’d like to read and review it.

Radziwill’s book is an amusing tale about a woman who arrives in Texas to conduct an interview as a married woman and flies back to New York a widow. Obviously, Claire’s new status is a lot to process. Ethan (Charlie’s assistant and Claire’s college friend) and Sasha (Claire’s best friend) offer Claire guidance and shoulders to cry on. Some of their advice is spot on such as: This is your time to be alone and figure out who you are. And some is not so spot on such as: You need to start dating again – I have a rolodex of men for you.

While Claire’s lifestyle is different from my own, I could identify with the knowledge that in your 30s you still have an entire lifetime ahead of you. This is one of those books that lets you escape the winter doldrums. The situations Claire finds herself in are often of her own making (or her friends well-meaning advice) but that’s just like life. Sometimes you have to stumble around a little bit before you find the right path.

About Carole Radziwill

Carole Radziwill grew up in upstate New York and earned a BA at Hunter College and an MBA at New York University. She spent more than a decade at ABC News, reporting from around the world, and earned three Emmys. Her first book, What Remains, a memoir, spent over twenty weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She has written for many magazines, including Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Town & Country and Porter. She currently is a star of and “the voice of reason” on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City. – See more at: http://thewidowsguidetosexanddating.com/

03.07.14

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert

Posted in Review at 1:02 pm by Amber

Title: Season of the Witch
Author: Natasha Mostert
Publisher: Portable Magic Ltd.
Source: NetGalley

In her award-winning novel*, Natasha Mostert blends alchemy, the art of memory, high magic and murder to create a highly original psychological thriller.

Gabriel Blackstone is a cool, hip, thoroughly twenty-first century Londoner with an unusual talent.  A computer hacker by trade, he is also a remote viewer: able to ‘slam a ride’ through the minds of others.  But he uses his gift only reluctantly — until he is asked to find a young man last seen months earlier at Monk House, in the company of two mysterious women. Gabriel becomes increasingly bewitched by the house, and by its owners, the beautiful Monk sisters.  But even as he falls in love, he suspects that one of them is a killer.

*Winner of the World Book Day: Book to Talk About Award 2009.

Book Cover for Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert

Mostert manages to give a thoroughly modern tale a gothic feel without pinning it into a single genre. The London setting where modern and ancient buildings coexist is perfect.

When we meet Gabriel he is working on an information retrieval assignment. Gabriel’s doing scout work and seems to be the people person in the operation. His partner and friend, Isidore, is the hacker who spends most of his time in a filthy flat attached to a computer.

Gabriel is contacted by a new potential client. William doesn’t have the usual request – he wants Gabriel’s help in find his son. For personal reasons Gabriel finds himself drawn to the assignment.

One of the sisters, Morrighan or Minnaloushe Monk, knows what happened to the missing son. Gabriel’s intelligence, looks, and psychic remote viewing ability gets the sisters’ attention. He puts himself and Isidore in danger by acting with his heart and not his head.

I found myself caught up in trying to figure out which of the sisters was involved with the son’s disappearance but never connected with the main characters. I wanted to know more about the secondary characters. It was difficult at times to keep track of the Monks due to the similarity of their names and some of their interests. These easily provided red herrings for the reader.