Saturday, August 28, 2010

While Galileo Preys

When Galileo Preys by Joshua Corin

“If there were a god, he would have stopped me.”

That’s the message discovered atop an elementary school in downtown Atlanta. Across the street are the bodies of fourteen innocent men and women, each quickly and cleanly murdered. The sniper Galileo is on the loose. He can end a human life from hundreds of yards away. And he is just getting started.

Where others see puzzles, Esme Stuart sees patterns, and these outside-the-box inductive skills made her one of the FBI’s top field operatives. But she turned her back on all that eight years ago to start a family and live a normal life. She now has a husband and a daughter and a Long Island home to call her own, far removed from the bloody streets of Atlanta.

But Galileo’s murders escalate and Esme’s beleaguered old boss at the Bureau needs the help of his former protégée. But how can she turn her back on her well-earned quiet life? How would she ever be able to justify such a choice to her husband? To her daughter?

And what will happen when Galileo turns his scope on them?
--When Galileo Preys by Joshua Corin, Copyright ©2010 by Joshua Corin, published by Mira Books

My Review

The story opens in Atlanta in January. Andre Banks is out waking his dog at 3:16 a.m. when he spies the dead man wearing a pink taffeta prom dress laying in the middle of the road. He calls the police. Within half an hour, Andre, his dog, and the two responding police officers are dead. When the don’t respond to calls from base, additional officers are sent to the scene, and upon seeing the four corpses, they immediately call for backup. More officers arrive. By dawn, fourteen people lay dead. Fifteen, counting the dog.

The following month, someone set the Amarillo Aquarium on fire. Firefighters respond and enter the building. When they realize they have the wrong equipment (the fire went from standard combustible to chemical), they head outside and run into a hail of sniper bullets. It’s the same sniper.

And he’s just getting started.

In her home on Long Island, former FBI Agent Esme Stuart reads the stories about the Atlanta killings. Her interest is piqued, but she restrains herself. After all, she’s a wife and mother now, not a go-get-em hotshot agent. After the second set of killings, however, she speaks to her former boss and mentor, Tom Piper, and she agrees to join the task force—temporarily—in Amarillo. By midnight, she’s in the hospital, severely wounded, thanks to Galileo.

This guy is serious.

In the short period of time she had after arriving in Amarillo and before she was injured, Esme believes she found the connection. There’s a presidential election coming up, and one particular candidate held rallies in the cities where the killings took place. Follow the candidate, she says. Check his schedule and see where he’s speaking next. And check out his main supporter…there’s something fishy there. But stubbornly, the powers-that-be at the FBI refuse to listen and Esme returns to her family on Long Island. The killings continue and Tom tries to enlist Esme’s help, but she refuses. She gave him all the information she could and it would now be up to Tom to solve the case. She’s out of it.

Until the killer arrives in Long Island.

And he has Esme in his cross-hairs.

Mmmm…okay, so he doesn’t exactly have Esme in his cross-hairs, at least not at the point he arrives on Long Island. He has other business to tend to first. Only then does he aim for Esme.

This is a great story that moves at a good pace from beginning to end. There were a few areas where the pace seemed to slow a bit, mostly when background information was given about a particular character, but those scenes helped enrich those characters and the slower pace helped the reader catch their breath, so I don’t know that’s I’d change any of those scenes.

While Galileo Preys is a neat, intense thriller that quickly grabs your attention and takes you for a ride that never slows down. (Am I using “ride” metaphors too much? I need to work on that.) I would definitely recommend this book for those who love thrillers and killers with a unique “twist” on their craft.

This is another of my NetGalley reads.

Galley copies sometimes contain errors and I found one here. At the start of Chapter 26, Kellerman and Piper go to a shooting range owned by a man named Will Clay. Three pages later, Will Clay is now Bill Clay. Later on, he goes back to being Will. Oopsie! I think I’ll go to a book store once this is released (September 1, if you’re interested) and see if they fixed that.

**UPDATE**I checked, and the error was not fixed. I find it odd that such an error could get past the editors and proofreaders like that, but these things do happen. Hopefully, if/when this book goes into additional printings, someone will fix it.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cut, Paste, Kill

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started this experiment. To keep track of my readings for one year, sure. To entertain and inform others through my reviews, okay. Perhaps turn a few on to authors they may never have read before. Not to mention turning myself on to new authors.

I’ve read several books this year by authors I’ve never heard of, simply because I decided it was time to open my eyes and expand my boundaries. A few of them were by good authors, but the subject matter really didn’t thrill me and I’m unlikely to read more books by that author. Others have completely enthralled me and I am/will be eagerly hunting out their other works to read them as well.

I don’t quite remember where I heard about the author of this book (I really must start taking notes), but Marshall Karp has joined that exclusive roster of “My Favorite Authors.” Read on to find out why.

Cut, Paste, Kill by Marshall Karp

There are 33 million scrapbookers in America. Some are passionate. Some are compulsive. One is homicidal.

When Eleanor Bellingham-Crump—a socialite responsible for the death of a ten-year-old boy—turns up murdered on the bathroom floor of a Hollywood hotel, Lomax and Biggs are confronted with a crime of artistic brutality. Along with the scissors sticking out of Eleanor’s lifeless body, the two detectives find a meticulous scrapbook documenting a motive for vengeance in lurid detail.

As more bodies are discovered, each one connected by the intricate scrapbooks left at the murder scenes, Lomax and Biggs go on the hunt for a vigilante stalking unpunished criminals. They must race to decode the meaning behind the scrapbooks before the crafty avenger has time to cut and paste the story of another kill.

With laugh-out-loud humor and crackling dialogue, the chapters hurtle toward a killer finale in the most thrilling Lomax and Biggs adventure yet.
--Cut, Paste, Kill by Marshall Karp, Copyright ©2010 by Mesa Films, Inc. published by St. Martin’s Press

My Review

As you might gather from that last sentence, this is not the first book in the Lomax and Biggs series, but it is the first one I’ve read. I enjoy scrapbooking occasionally so the subject of a scrapbooking killer caught my attention. What held it was the incredibly hilarious writing. If you don’t find something to laugh about on nearly every other page, or at least once a chapter (they’re very short chapters), you need to get your funny bone checked.

Lomax and Biggs are called away from a family cook-out. A woman’s been stabbed at the Afton Gardens Hotel and they get to investigate. The cause of death is clear—a pair of scissors sticking out of her ribs. The scrapbook on the counter gives the reason for the murder—Mrs. Bellingham-Crump got away with murder nine months ago and someone decided she needed to pay. Now they just need to find that someone and they can return to their cook-out.

It’s not quite that easy, especially when the FBI informs them they have two similar cases—both death-by-scissors with scrapbooks left behind. As they investigate, they discover that the killer may have as many as 20 murders planned. Can they find out who the future victims are and warn them before they get in the way of another pair of scissors?

If you watch any of NBC’s Law and Order shows, usually in the opening scene the cops display a kind of gallows humor, making wise cracks over the body (“Better call his boss…that’s one pizza that won’t make it in under 30 minutes.”). This kind of humor is pervasive throughout the book.

”Excuse me, Detectives.” It was Kelly Jo Brownfield, one of the recent crop of uniforms assigned to our station.

“What’s up, Kelly Jo?” I said.

“There’s a really cute guy out at the front desk. He’s here to see you and Detective Biggs.”


“His name? Oh, damn. He told me, but I got distracted. Cory, Colby…”

“Does he look a little like Matt Damon?” I asked.

“Yeah. That’s what distracted me.”

“Is his name Cody Wade?”

“Yes,” she said. “God, you’re a good detective. What should I do?”

“Take him home and handcuff him to your bedpost till we’re ready for him,” Terry said.

“I wish,” she said.

Terry’s the wiseass, but Mike gets more than his fair share of jabs in. I’d put his best one in here, but there’s this secondary story line about Mike’s father deciding to go into the movie business and he needs a screenwriter and Terry jumps at the chance and they’re calling the movie…okay, that’s all I’m going to say. You’ll have to read it and dig out the great line for yourself (it’s in Chapter 27).

The story has a quick pace with lots of dialogue and very short chapters. I probably could have read this in one long afternoon sitting but actually took me closer to a week. I totally connected with Karp’s sense of humor and will be adding his other books to my reading list very soon.

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

After Glow

After Glow / Ghost Hunters Book 2 by Jayne Castle

Para-archaeologist Lydia Smith has spent her entire adult life digging into the past, and building a career. But all that changes when she finds herself lost in the catacombs below the city, with no memory of how she came to be there. Now it's her own past that is eluding her; and the secret of what happened to her will endanger everything she's worked to rebuild, including her new marriage to Emmett London, who has a dangerous past of his own to overcome.
--After Glow by Jayne Castle, Copyright ©2000 by Jayne Ann Krentz, published by Jove

My Review

When the mysterious Curtain opened, people of Earth were able to travel between our world and a new one, named Harmony. Long ago, a mysterious alien civilization abandoned Harmony, leaving behind green quartz ruins, unusual artifacts and a strange “vibe” that brought out psychic abilities in all the planet’s inhabitants. Before long, people began to colonize Harmony and travel and trade between the planets became commonplace.

Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the Curtain closed, stranding the colonists. Cut off from all they knew, the new Harmonics had to find a way to survive…or die.

Two hundred years later, Lydia Smith, a para-archaeologist working at a kitschy “alien horror” museum, is dating Emmett London, the temporary head of the Cadence City Ghost Hunter Guild. He’s the temporary head because the current head, Mercer Wyatt, has been shot and is in the hospital. “It’s personal,” he manages to tell Emmett, “not connected to the Guild.” That doesn’t stop Emmett from wanting answers.

Meanwhile, Lydia receives a call from a former college professor, claiming he has information that will help Lydia uncover what happened during her “lost weekend.” Seven months earlier, while exploring the catacombs beneath the city, Lydia was separated from her group and was feared lost. When she emerged forty-eight hours later, she had no memory of those hours. But before she can meet with the professor, he dies of a drug overdose. He left behind a clue for her, a newspaper article about a young man who disappeared into the catacombs fifteen years earlier.

What’s the connection behind a fifteen-year-old missing person case, Lydia’s “lost weekend” and the “personal” shooting of Mercer Wyatt? Did Lydia see something in the catacombs that connects to the missing person? Why is Mercer’s almost-murder a “personal” matter and not connected to the Guild? What’s the connection to the “Greenies,” a cult of alien worshipers that seems to have taken an interest in Lydia?

And where on Harmony is she going to find a dress for the Restoration Ball?

I give this story THREE STARS.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Naked by Megan Hart

WARNING Somewhat Explicit Content Follows…

I recently signed up with NetGalley to be a test reader. Test readers read books while they’re still in the “galley” stage and I thought, “hey, what a great opportunity for me. That’s what I’m doing with this blog and this way I can read books for free. Wins all around.” It also enables me to push my boundaries and read new artists and new genres.

So I registered, filled out the profile and selected a few books to review. Two of the ones I selected were in the Harlequin Spice line which I knew mean they would be on the racy side. Well, there’s racy and then there’s RACY. My boundaries have been well and truly pushed out of proportion.

That said, here’s my first review for NetGalley.

No strings. No regrets. And no going back.
I didn't think he wanted me. And I wasn't about to get involved with him, not after what I'd heard. Sure, Alex Kennedy was tall, dark and unbearably hot, but I've been burned before. When I solicited him to model for my erotic photography book, I didn't expect such a heated, passionate photo session. And now that we've crossed that line, our bodies aren't the only things that have been exposed.
But I can't give my heart to a man who's so… unconventional. His last sexual relationship was with a married couple. It's enough that my ex-fiancé preferred men, I can't take that chance again no matter how much my body thrives on Alex's touch. I can't risk it, but I can't resist it, either.
Alex can be very convincing when he wants something.
And he wants me.
--Naked by Megan Hart, Copyright ©2010 by Megan Hart, published by Spice Books/Harlequin

My Review

Naked is your basic girl-meets-boy story with a few hair-pin twists and turns. Photographer Olivia sees Alex for the first time at Patrick and Teddy’s (her former fiancée and his partner) Chrismukkah party. “He’s not into women,” Patrick warns her, and she sees the evidence of that with her own eyes before the night is over.

Patrick convinces her to stay the night in the guest room and when she awakens the next morning, she finds that Alex has also stayed the night. Before the day is over, Alex becomes her new tenant, much to Patrick’s dismay.

She figures she’ll get over her crush soon enough. After all, he’s not into women. But after a steamy photo shoot, Alex lets her know that Patrick doesn’t know everything about him and before long, they become lovers.

As their relationship progresses, Patrick becomes more and more jealous. He tries to convince Olivia that Alex is wrong for her, even telling her that he once slept with Alex. Patrick is obviously jealous, Olivia realizes, but does he want Olivia back, or Alex? And what about his relationship with Teddy?

Olivia must cope with her emotions surrounding the man she’s falling in love with, the secrets in his past, and her own mixed race/mixed religion past which she is still trying to come to terms with. Can Olivia and Alex remain together once the final, shocking secret has been revealed?

There’s a good story in here about a man and a woman, sexually and emotionally attracted to each other, trying to maneuver through the minefields of modern-day relationships and the ending, like good sex, was very satisfying. What Olivia went through trying to deal with her growing love for Alex and at the same time trying to shed the almost-obsessive control of her ex-fiancee Patrick was true to the heart and very emotional. I tried very hard to focus on that story and follow the characters development without getting lost in the sex scenes.

Yeah, I know…It’s like a guy that says he reads Playboy for the articles and not the pictures.

The sex scenes were very well written and, in a word, explicit. If you prefer your sex behind closed doors, do not, repeat, do not read this book. The sex is in-your-face and very contemporary for our time. Megan Hart deals with the sexual preferences of each of her characters in a mature, frank fashion. If you can handle that sort of thing, and you enjoy Harlequin-style romances, then you will thoroughly enjoy this story. If you can’t, then as I said, do not read this book.

But I enjoyed it, and will keep Megan Hart on my Favorite Authors list.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

Naked has been released and is available for purchase.

After Dark

After Dark / Ghost Hunters Book 1 by Jayne Castle

A race of aliens once lived on the future Earth colony called Harmony, leaving behind them the ruins of a vast, beautiful, and mysterious culture that is still protected by the psychic illusion traps and eerie ghosts that they created. Lydia Smith is a para-archaeologist who can resonate and dissolve the illusions, and those talents, combined with her lack of finances and questionable professional reputation, make her the obvious hire for Emmett London, who is trying to track down a lost antique and the nephew who stole it. Lydia's first consulting job quickly turns dangerous, however, as corpses, ghosts, and illusion traps start popping up--not to mention the rather unprofessional electricity between her and her first client.
--After Dark by Jayne Castle, Copyright ©2000 by Jayne Ann Krentz, published by Jove

My Review

When the mysterious Curtain opened, people of Earth were able to travel between our world and a new one, named Harmony. Long ago, a mysterious alien civilization abandoned Harmony, leaving behind green quartz ruins, unusual artifacts and a strange “vibe” that brought out psychic abilities in all the planet’s inhabitants. Before long, people began to colonize Harmony and travel and trade between the planets became commonplace.

Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the Curtain closed, stranding the colonists. Cut off from all they knew, the Harmonics had to find a way to survive…or die.

Two hundred years later, Lydia Smith, a para-archaeologist working at a kitschy “alien horror” museum, escorts a potential new client around the ruins. She’s hoping to start a new consulting business, purchasing and selling alien artifacts to collectors. Her previous job at the University came to an abrupt end after her “Lost Weekend” in the catacombs beneath the Dead City and she’s anxious to re-establish her reputation. The meeting is going well, until they stumble across a dead body that wasn’t part of the original display.

Emmett London is not put off and wants her to continue to work for him. He knows his nephew stole the family heirloom and wants both it and his nephew found. And the dead man in the alien sarcophagus was the key to finding both.

Together, Emmett and Lydia must figure out why Emmett’s nephew came to Cadence City, where he is now, where the family heirloom is, and find out where the dead man came across an alien artifact so rare, it shouldn’t even exist.

They must also figure out how to deal with the energy that is crackling between them both. Emmett is a Ghost Hunter, and it was a pair of Ghost Hunters that caused her to lose her memory on that long-ago “Lost Weekend.” She has no love or trust for the Ghost Hunters and wants nothing to do with them, but Emmett is quickly proving to be the exception to that rule.

I give this story THREE STARS.

Only Uni

Only Uni by Camy Tang

Senior biologist Trish Sakai is ready for a change from her wild, flirtatious behavior. So Trish creates three simple rules from First and Second Corinthians and plans to follow them to the letter. No more looking at men as possible dates, especially non-Christians. Second, tell others about Christ. And third, she will persevere in hardship by relying on God. And just to make sure she behaves, she enlists the help of her three cousins—Lex, Venus and Jennifer—the only Christians in their large extended family.

But Trish’s dangerously tempting ex-boyfriend, Kazuo the artist, keeps popping up at all the wrong moments, and her grandmother, who has her eye on his family money, keeps trying to push the two of them back together again. Then there’s Spencer, the hunky colleague at work who keeps turning Trish’s thoughts in the wrong direction.

It just isn’t fair! She’s trying so hard, but instead of being God’s virtuous woman, she’s going nuts trying to stand firm against two hunky guys. Trish thought following her three rules would be a cinch, but suddenly those simply rules don’t seem so simple at all.
--Only Uni by Camy Tang, Copyright ©2008 by Camy Tang, published by Zondervan Books

My Review

Some books easily land in a genre while others sit nicely on a fence between two. This book, a Chick-Lit Asian Christian Romance, manages to straddle four and does so very nicely.

The story is set in San Jose, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley and picks up shortly after Sushi for One? left off. Trish Sakai is in a world of trouble. She’s broken up with her obsession/boyfriend Kazuo (only she forgot to tell him), her grandmother—who lovesKazuo—is pushing to keep them together, she catches her father kissing another woman, who just happens to be her mother’s best friend from college and when she tells her mother what she saw, her mother collapses from a heart attack.

Out of control, she turns to God and finds the answers she needs in First and Second Corinthians. She draws up a short, three-item list to help her stay in control of her life: stop obsessing about men, tell others about Christ, and rely in God in all things. She even decides to pursue a Master’s degree in Divinity.

Perfect, right?

Yes, until God throws Trish a curve ball and her boss partners her with Spenser Wong, one of the cutest guys at work. Too bad he’s not a Christian. Oh, and her roommate sets fire to their apartment, causing her to be evicted right when there seems to be a shortage of available housing in the area. And that darn Kazuo keeps showing up everywhere she goes.

In spite of the huge obstacles, Trish perseveres in her commitment to her rules and continues to seek God’s guidance, even when nothing seems to be going right. Slowly, her luck starts to turn. She finds a place to live, her parents are working out their issues, she holds fast to her “no Kazuo” rule and—wonders of wonders—she discovers Spencer is a member of her new church. And they’re starting to fall in love.

Then the worst possible thing happens. Will Spencer, not to mention the rest of her family members and her new-found church family, still stand by her when she breaks the news?

No, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to read the book for yourself.

Camy Tang is a wonderful author with several titles under Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense line as well as the Sushi Series. I’ve already reviewed Sushi for One? and I’m looking forward to reading the last of the Sushi series, Single Sashimi.

I give this story THREE STARS.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Burning Lamp

Burning Lamp: Book Two of the Dreamlight Trilogy (Arcane Society, No. 8) by Amanda Quick

The Arcane Society was born in turmoil, when the friendship of its two founders evolved into a fierce rivalry. Nicholas Winter’s efforts led to the reaction of a device of unknown powers called the Burning Lamp. Each generation, the Winters man who inherits it is destined to develop multiple talents—and the curse of madness.

Plagued by hallucinations and nightmares, the notorious crime lord Griffin Winters is convinced he has been struck with the Winters Curse. But even as he arranges a meeting with the mysterious Adelaide Pyne, he has no idea how closely their fates are bound, for she hold the missing lamp in her possession.

Their dangerous psychical experiment makes them the target of forces both inside and outside the Arcane Society. And though desire strengthens their power, their different lives will keep them apart—if death doesn’t take them together.
--Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick, Copyright ©2010 by Jayne Ann Krentz, published by the Penguin Group

My Review

Book Two in the Dreamlight Trilogy takes us across the pond and back in time to London, the late Victorian Era. Our tour guide this time is Amada Quick, and she tells us the tale of Griffin Winters and Adelaide Pyne, a crime lord and a social reformer, a man suffering a family curse and the woman who can save him.

Griffin possesses the Burning Lamp, an object created by his ancestor Nicholas, but it cannot be used without the skill of a powerful dreamlight reader. Griffin must find such a person, and soon, for the family curse is starting to come out in him. Adelaide Pyne, known in London society as as “The Widow,” is that person. She agrees to work the lamp for him, but before she can, Griffin is shot. Adelaide helps him heal from his wound and, once he is stable, they employ the lamp to stabilize Griffin’s powers.

But that is not the end of the story.

Griffin is a crime lord, known as the Director of the Consortium, and he wants to know why he was shot. He also wants to know why two men broke into his home and attempted to steal the Lamp and kidnap Adelaide. The men carried canisters that emitted a strange, sleep-inducing gas which allowed them to get past the dogs and the men guarding the house. They also carried mysterious red crystals that they used to channel their psychic energy. Adelaide recognizes the crystals from an incident in her past. Who created the crystals? How do they enhance the user’s psychic powers? Where did the gas come from? Who created it? Why? Why? Why?

Griffin forms an uneasy alliance with Caleb Jones, a member of the Arcane Society and founder of Jones & Jones Investigations to track down the mastermind behind the crystals (and the answers to all those whys). They must act quickly, for the fate of their futures, as well as the future of the Arcane Society, is in their hands.

This second book in the Dreamlight Trilogy answers some questions raised about the history of the Burning Lamp that were raised in the first book, Fired Up. Other questions, such as “where does the lamp wind up in the future?” and “why doesn’t the Midnight Crystal light up when the lamp is activated?” will be answered in the third and final installment, Midnight Crystal, which will be released August 31, 2010.

I give this story THREE STARS.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sushi for One?

Sushi for One? by Camy Tang

Lex Sakai’s family is big, nosy and marriage-minded. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the oldest single female cousin in the clan.

Lex has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the perfect man. But the one man she keeps running into doesn’t seem to have a single quality on her list. It’s only when the always-in-control Lex starts to let God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place.
--Sushi for One? by Camy Tang, Copyright ©2007 by Camy Tang, published by Zondervan Books

My Review

Some books easily land in a genre while others sit nicely on a fence between two. This book, a Chick-Lit Asian Christian Romance, manages to straddle four and does so very nicely.

The story is set in San Jose, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. Lex is smart, athletic and desperate to keep her grandmother from controlling her life. But Grandma knows just what strings to pull and insists Lex have a steady boyfriend by the time of her cousin Mariko’s wedding, or she’ll cut off funding for the junior high girl’s volleyball league that Lex coaches.

With four months to find a boyfriend—or possibly her own independent funding—Lex sets out on her quest. Along the way, she has to deal with her man-stealing cousin Mimi, job troubles, car problems, housing difficulties and always Grandma hovering in the background, her volleyball funding kept in her tight fist. Not to mention this guy Aiden, a friend of a friend, who keeps popping up on her radar.

When Lex tears her ACL, everyone recommends she go to Golden Creek Fitness and Physical Therapy. Great idea, except Aiden is a physical therapist there and he insists on taking over her case. Lex agrees to let Aiden be her therapist, but steels herself against her growing attraction to him. He’s all wrong for her, mainly because he’s not a Christian, and he lacks most of the traits on her Ephesians list.

Lex forgets to put her trust in God while she fights her attraction to Aiden. She tries to keep her distance, all the while God is working on Aiden’s heart, trying to bridge the gap Lex has placed between them. At a crisis moment in her life, Lex finally lets go of her control, giving her all to God, and He seamlessly closes all the gaps in her life.

Camy Tang is a wonderful author with several titles under Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense line as well as the Sushi Series. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Sushi series, Single Sashimi and Only Uni, but I can take only one Chick-Lit book at a time, so I’ll be reading something else in between each one. I hope to have the series finished by mid-September.

I give this story THREE STARS.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fired Up

Fired Up: Book One of the Dreamlight Trilogy (Arcane Society, No. 7) by Jayne Ann Krentz
More than three centuries ago, Nicholas Winters irrevocably altered his genetic makeup in an obsession-fueled competition with alchemist and Arcane Society founder Sylvester Jones. Driven to control their psychic abilities, each man's decision has reverberated throughout the family line, rewarding some with powers beyond their wildest dreams, and cursing others to a life filled with madness and hallucinations.

Jack Winters, descendant of Nicholas, has been experiencing nightmares and blackouts-just the beginning, he believes-of the manifestation of the Winters family curse. The legend says that he must find the Burning Lamp or risk turning into a monster. But he can't do it alone; he needs the help of a woman with the gift to read the lamp's dreamlight.

Jack is convinced that private investigator Chloe Harper is that woman. Her talents for finding objects and accessing dream energy are what will save him, but their sudden and powerful sexual pull threatens to overwhelm them both. Danger surrounds them, and it doesn't take long for Chloe to pick up the trail of the missing lamp. And as they draw closer to the lamp, the raw power that dwells within it threatens to sweep them into a hurricane of psychic force.

--Fired Up by Jayne Ann Krentz, Copyright ©2009 by Jayne Ann Krentz, published by Putnam Books

My Review

My apologies, everyone. I finished this story about two weeks ago, but forgot to post the review.

Jack Winters’ family once had the Burning Lamp in their possession, but inexplicably lost it on a cross-country move. Now Jack needs the Lamp—and a dreamlight reader powerful enough to work the Lamp—or he’ll face an uncertain future of madness and insanity.

Chloe Harper has a talent for finding rare, historical collectibles for her clients and has no trouble locating the lamp for Jack. Making it work is another matter. Not to mention keeping the priceless object out of the hands of Nightshade, an organization rivaling the Arcane Society. Nightshade has developed a formula to enhance the psychic abilities of its members, but the enhancement is unpredictable and unstable, and they believe the Burning Lamp is the key to stabilizing those who use the enhancement formula. They would do anything—literally—to own the Lamp and a dreamlight reader powerful enough to work the Lamp.

Chloe and Jack must not only find the Lamp, but they need to figure out how to use it (Nicholas Winters never bothered to write a user’s manual) to save Jack’s sanity. They also need to keep it—and Chloe—out of Nightshade’s hands, a task made more difficult when the Lamp is stolen and Chloe is kidnapped by Nightshade.

Hmmm…I think I’ll stop there. While I do want to write reviews that will entice my readers to read the books I’ve read, I don’t want to give away the whole story. Leave them hungry for more, as they say. (Please don’t ask me who “they” are. I’ve tried, but “they” refuse to identify themselves.)

This is Book 7 in the Arcane Society series and Book 1 in the Dreamlight Trilogy.

If you’re familiar with Jayne Ann Krentz’s style and her Arcane Society series (historical portions of the series can be found under her Amanda Quick pseudonym), then you’ll definitely want to continue the series with this book. It’s an easy read, though I feel it does get a little tedious as she explains the unique psychic powers her characters have. I enjoy the Arcane Society novels, and will eagerly look forward to the remaining two books in the Dreamlight Trilogy.

I give this story THREE AND A HALF STARS.

One Shot

One Shot by Lee Child

Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: You got the wrong guy. Then he says: Get Reacher for me.

And sure enough, ex—military investigator Jack Reacher is coming. He knows this shooter–a trained military sniper who never should have missed a shot. Reacher is certain something is not right–and soon the slam-dunk case explodes.

Now Reacher is teamed with a beautiful young defense lawyer, moving closer to the unseen enemy who is pulling the strings. Reacher knows that no two opponents are created equal. This one has come to the heartland from his own kind of hell. And Reacher knows that the only way to take him down is to match his ruthlessness and cunning–and then beat him shot for shot.
--One Shot by Lee Child, Copyright ©2005 by Lee Child, published by Bantam Dell

My Review

I have a new hero. His name is Reacher.

Within the last couple weeks, Borders Books came out with their own e-reader software and as a “thank you” for downloading their software, I got to choose a free e-book from a list of available titles (check out their web site…the offer might still be available). I’d heard of Lee Child and his Reacher series but never had a chance to read any of his books. I saw this as my chance to read one for free so I downloaded the software and chose One Shot, the ninth book in the Reacher series.

(Yes, yes, I know I could have easily checked his books out from the library at any time. I’m female…I’m supposed to be contrary.)

I wasn’t so sure I liked Child’s writing style at first. It seemed very quick, almost as if he were rushing to get through the opening out of the way so he could get to the rest of the story (like you might skim through a prologue to get to Chapter 1). As I continued to read though, either the pace slowed down or I got used to it (likely the latter) and I really got into the story.

A man walks into an empty parking garage on a Friday evening and, with his sniper rifle, calmly shoots five people, then disappears before the police can even be called. The evidence left behind on the scene is collected, analyzed, and just six hours later, the gunman, James Barr, is arrested. A slam-dunk case.

Except…the man arrested says he didn’t do it and makes one request. “Get Jack Reacher for me.” The defense team starts looking, but Jack Reacher is no where to be found. He doesn’t have an address, a telephone number, doesn’t file taxes or own a car. How can they find someone that doesn’t seem to exist?

But Reacher does exist, and he’s already on his way. And when he arrives, he stuns Barr’s sister by declaring he’s not there to help James. He’s there to bury him.

Only…as Reacher reviews the evidence, he begins to find problems. Little things that no one else seems to notice or question. But Reacher notices. And as he digs deeper he comes to the conclusion that Barr indeed didn’t do it.

But if he didn’t, who did? And why did they do it? And why are they framing Barr? What’s the purpose behind the assassination of five innocent, unrelated individuals?

These are the questions Reacher must answer, before he becomes the next victim.

An awesome story, excellently plotted and very well written. If you like complicated, seeming unsolvable mysteries and haven’t tried any of the Jack Reacher novels, well, what are you waiting for? I have a few more books in my “to be read queue,” but rest assured I will be lining up the Jack Reacher novels and will begin reading the first in the series very soon.

I give this story FOUR STARS.