Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Krewe Of Hunters Is At It Again

 I've been reading Heather Graham since my teen years.  She writes good stories, whether they're historical, suspenseful, or paranormal.  Her latest trilogy involves the Texas Krewe of Hunters.  They're a group specially formed by the FBI that all have one common talent:  they can see and speak to the dead.  They first appeared in The Unseen, which takes places in San Antonio and involves ghostly happenings and murders at a hotel.  Logan Raintree and Kelsey O'Brien first meet to investigate the hotel, and from this book the Texas Krewe of Hunters is formed.  Logan, Kelsey, Sean, Kat, Jane, and Tyler all become trained and certified with the FBI to travel the country and investigate crimes that have a touch of the paranormal.  They're smart, gifted, and have a reputation as "unusual FBI agents".  

The Unholy takes the group to Los Angeles, and the investigation of a murder involving the son of the owner of a well known special affects company.  The studio is located directly next to a very old cemetery, and the studio itself has been around for decades.  They're currently producing the costumes and effects for a remake of a 1930's film involving a mummy, an ancient curse, and murder. The original film was clouded in murder, too.  But now someone is killing people disguised as Amun Mopat, the alleged  evil magician who lived during the time of Ramses II.  How is it all connected?  And can the Krewe--especially Sean, a film effects wizard, put the pieces together before more people are killed?  How will his budding feelings for artist Madison Devril play into this investigation?  Oh--and guess what--Sean and Madison can both see and hear the dead.  One very special spirit even hangs out at Madison's apartment.  

The story of Amun Mopat continues in the second novel of this trilogy The Unspoken.  While still in Los Angeles, Kat is tagged to go to Chicago to find out if the drowning of a diver in Lake Michigan was an accident or murder.  It's got the Krewe's attention because the diver was a well known expert on a local shipwreck:  The Jerry McGuen, which mysteriously sank in the lake 100 years before. When the ship sank, it was on its way to Chicago with a cargo hold full of artifacts from the real Amun Mopat's burial site in Egypt.  The ship went down with 60 souls, and no one has been able to find it.  Until now.  

But someone is willing to kill for the treasure.  But who is dressing up as a mummy?  Who is diving the wreck?  What are they looking for?  Kat soon arrives and meets Will Chan--a member of the original Krewe of Hunters.  He's been in Chicago on other business, and finds himself becoming part of this investigation.  The two soon find themselves diving the newly discovered wreck; Kat is having dreams and visions of what happened to the ship just before it sank.  What are all the dreams and visions trying to say?  The rest of the Krewe soon arrive in Chicago and the investigation swings into action.  Just who was Amun Mopat, and why is someone trying to steal the artifacts from the bottom of Lake Michigan?

I found The Unholy to be a bit thin as far as a storyline goes.  It's definitely readable and an entertaining story, but not much to it.  The Unspoken was much much better.  I loved the Egyptian history and diving the wreck of the Jerry McGuen.  There was a much more solid story and more to work with in this novel that the previous story and many more suspects.  I figured out who "did it" in the The Unholy pretty quickly, but The Unspoken  took a little longer to figure out.  

The third in this trilogy is called The Uninvited and it will be out in paperback this week.  I will definitely pick it up.  

Ratings:  The Unholy 2/5 for weak storyline and not much action.
The Unspoken 3/5 fascinating look at Egyptian history and shipwrecks.

Both are available as mass market paperbacks and e-books at your nearest bookstore.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What I'm Reading This Week

I made pretty good progress on my list of books last week.  Still working on The Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart.  It's just not catching my attention.  I hate it when that happens.  But I may just be getting to the turning point in the story, so I will keep reading.

This week's reading has a lot of mass market paperbacks.  Easy to read, easy to pass onto others.  I have two to return to their owner, and two I want to pass on next week, so they are a priority:

Third in the series.  Love it!

Atticus' adventures take a turn in book #4

Fiction about Frida Kahlo.  ARC from publisher

Krewe of Hunters are back in a new trilogy

Creepy Great Lakes mystery/romance
second in trilogy

On my Nook!  Turn of the century drama
So.  Plate full.  I've hit 100 books for the year, and only have 25 more to complete my goal.  Bud tells me next year to not have a goal, and not put so much pressure on myself to read all the time.  I may take his advice.  I am still whittling away at my piles, and for every book I read, I'm either giving it to someone else, finding a place on a bookshelf to keep it, or putting it in the pile for the used book store.  I do like this planning each week's reading.  But as soon as I hit "post" for this blog, I will find another book I'd rather read first.  Too many choices!

And dang it all!  I bought 5 books last week.  And I have 2 more on hold at the bookstore.  
Anyone selling ADDICTED TO BOOKS t-shirts?  I'd like one, please.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Iron Druid Chronicles: Hounded and Hexed

 I enjoy my sci-fi/fantasy novels, but lately I've had a hard time finding books that appeal to me.  It seems that everything involves a leather -clad hot chick with either a sword, motorcycle, or an attached demon.  

Enter The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.  I've read the first two in this series:  Hounded  and Hexed.  Hounded sat on my bookshelf for many months, and after a few false starts, I committed myself to sitting down and reading it.  It started off a bit slow, but quickly picked up speed.  The main character is Atticus O'Sullivan.  He appears to be a twenty-something red haired young man, but in reality he's a 2100 year old Druid.  He's full of tattoos that connect him to the Earth.  He's chock full of knowledge about many different faiths, magic, and Gods and Goddesses.  You live for 21 centuries, you pick up a few skills.  

Atticus lives in Arizona and owns an occult bookstore.  He likes to live quietly and wants no trouble.  Living in Arizona keeps the fae away and Atticus has successful stayed hidden from Aenghus Og--a god he pissed off centuries before by stealing his magical sword, Fragarach. Well, actually, he didn't steal it--he got it fair and square in a battle.  

Unfortunately, Atticus has been found, and now everyone is after him.  He's got to pull out all the stops to stay alive, protect his friends, and end the battle with Aenghus Og once and for all.  

If you are a fan of mythology of any kind, this is the series for you.  Every God and Goddess from all mythologies are alive and well in this series.  Native American Coyote, Celtic Goddesses, Thor, witches, vampires, and werewolves are everywhere.  The writing is quick paced, action packed, and full of humor.  A friend read these and said while he liked the novels well enough, he felt the characters were too perfect.  I can see his point a bit.  But, I figure if you've lived 21 centuries, you probably have figured out a lot of crap and have learned how to stay alive by always being prepared.  Atticus is a Druid, which I find fascinating.  He's actually the only Druid left on the planet.  His love of the earth and all of nature and his relationship with it are one of the more interesting aspects of the novels.  

I'm going to dive into Hammered, book three in the series.  It's followed by Tricked.  A fifth novel is coming out this fall, so I have a few months to catch up.  I usually don't like to read a series book after book, but I'm so enjoying this one I am breaking one of my rules and doing just that.  I liked Hexed even more than the first novel, as Atticus gets involved with some nasty witches trying to take over Tempe.  Toss in a group of Bacchants arriving from Las Vegas to create chaos at a night club, and Atticus has his hands full of trouble.

Rating:  4/5 for the first two novels in The Iron Druid Chronicles.  Great action, characters you immediately like and cheer for, and the blend of mythology is out of this world!

All are available as mass market paperbacks and e-books.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What I'm Reading In The Dog Days of August

Once again trying to maintain some order in my book world.  I figure grabbing a few titles and telling myself I will read them in the next week or so is better than staring helplessly at my piles and not knowing what to pick up next.  I'm finishing up a few odds and ends here and there--I think I have 4 books that I have less than 100 pages each to finish.  Then, this is what I'm reading during the middle of August:

Teen has a deadly talent

A favorite author!

2nd in series--I am liking this series
about a 2100 year old Druid in
contemporary Arizona

Sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood--a great
blood teen ghost story!

A quirky novel about living at Hampton Court
in the Victorian Era
As you can see, I'm all over the place in my reading.  But having lots of choices always keeps it fresh!  And I'm reading off the bookshelves at home, and some new titles I've had on my radar.  What are you reading?

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

This book really surprised me.  I thought I would like it, but I didn't expect such an emotional ride, and I ended up thinking this book was just wonderful.

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel has many layers, much like the baklava Hope makes in her family's bakery.  She's inherited the bakery from her Grandmother Rose and mother Josephine, and the recipes she uses Rose brought over from France during WW2.  What Hope doesn't know is just how those recipes are part of her Grandmother's heritage and journey from Paris to Cape Cod.

This novel is about family secrets, incredible loss, the Holocaust, and those who save us and keep us going even after devastating, life altering events.  It's about finding your family, opening your heart, and not being afraid to love.  All these things Hope faces as she struggles to uncover Rose's French past and why she came to America as a young teenager.  Rose is now in her 80's and suffering from Alzheimer's disease and is quickly forgetting the present and spending more and more of her time in the past--Paris in 1942.  After one day of extreme lucidity, she gives Hope a list of names and asks her to travel to Paris and find out what happened to them during WW2.  What Hope uncovers is amazing, heartbreaking, and a tale that you won't soon forget.

This novel also includes recipes for the pastries and goodies Hope makes in her bakery.  You'll learn the origins of these sweet treats and how they tie Rose's past into the present.  

Rating:  4/5 for a really wonderful story--got me a little teary-eyed. 

For fans of Sarah's Key and historical novels about World War 2.  

Available in paperback and as an e-book.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Giveaway Winner Is....And It's August, Too!


No one responded to my giveaway of Heather Gudenkauf's novel One Breath Away. So--that means  I will gift this novel to someone in my family and friends circle. 

What the heck?  I guess I will have to think long and hard about trying that again.

August is here, and I am at 91 books towards my goal of 125 for the year.  It helps to have a few days off, hot weather, and central air.  Kept me reading this past week and making inroads in my gigantic piles of books.  

But not enough.

Somehow I think moving piles of books around from one spot to another will make them shrink.  This is not working.  They are still the same size.  

While I'd like to make a firm plan that I won't read anything new in the bookstore, this would last about halfway into tomorrow, when I see some great new reads at work.  Instead, I'm going to make about 75% of my reading for August come from those piles on the floor, those double and triple stacked rows on the bookshelves.  Uggh.  

And you probably wonder where I get all those books I have all over my house.  

I buy them.  

A few are ARCS, but mostly (90%) books I have bought.  So while I am appreciative of getting ARCS (saves me some money!) and love getting books from Netgalley and Edelweiss,  I do spend an awful lot on books.  I like to own them.  I don't like to borrow from the library, and I don't like to borrow from friends.  An employee discount comes in handy!  I don't get too many books as gifts.  Pretty much none.  My wonderful Bud does give me gift cards to B&N for special occasions, so that helps.  If I get an ARC for something that I won't read, I leave it for others to enjoy.  When I'm done with an ARC, if I don't want to keep the book on my shelves, I take them to work to pass onto other book lovers.  

But I still have a lot of books.  I think I may adopt the rule of:  For every one that comes in, I must take one out.  It may very well kill me, but I have to try!

Here's to August and another full month of reading.  Tomorrow night at my B&N we are welcoming author Tracey Garvis Graves, author of the very enjoyable and hard to put down On The Island.  Looking forward to meeting her and telling her how much I enjoyed her novel.  If you haven't picked it up, do it!  It's a quick read and really sucks you in very quickly.

I am hoping to reach my goal of 125 books by November 1st so I can give NaNoWriMo  a shot!  Can't wait.  How is your reading goal for the year?