Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Canyons of Night

Canyos of Night by Jayne Castle

The island of Rainshadow is home to the mysterious, privately-owned woods known only as the Preserve. Now, after fifteen years away, both Charlotte Enright and her teen crush, Slade Attridge, have returned. But will their psi talents and Slade's dust bunny companion be enough to keep them from getting drawn into the darkness at the heart of the Preserve?

--Canyons of Night
by Jayne Castle
Copyright © 2011 by Jayne Ann Krentz
Published by Putnam Adult

My Review
Canyons of Night follows the same predictable pattern as the previous two books in the series. The beginning where Charlotte and Slade first meet as teenagers was sweet, and I like that they’re reunited fifteen years later as they both return to Rainshadow and seize the opportunity to pursue their attraction as adults. But from there, the plot follows the same predictable patterns that I won’t bother describing because, as I said, it’s predictable.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, the standard “villain explains his/her motive to the heroine right before he/she delivers the killing blow only to be interrupted and arrested/killed by the hero” trope that Krentz/Quick/Castle employs needs to be put to rest. She’s not the only author who employs it, but her use of it stands out in my mind because she seems to use it in every novel she’s written lately.

One of Mrs. Bridewell’s Clockwork Curiosities makes an appearance, as does the eponymous Looking Glass, but again, the mirror almost seems like an afterthought. Why name a series after an item that barely makes an appearance?

There is a place on the island called simply The Preserve. The land is privately owned and it’s protected by a “fence” that interferes with a person’s psi abilities and effectively keeps people out. Most people, anyway. There are a select few, Slade being one of them, who can cross the barrier and enter The Preserve. Activity inside The Preserve is “heating up,” and it’s an obvious set-up for another series of Harmony-only based stories. Hopefully, Ms. Krentz/Castle will stay away from the tropes and come up with a new plot for this series.

Rex, the dust bunny, was probably the only really interesting, fun character in the story.

I give this story THREE STARS because I’m glad this series is over.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Affair

The Affair by Lee Child

Everything starts somewhere. . . .For elite military cop Jack Reacher, that somewhere was Carter Crossing, Mississippi, way back in 1997. A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A coverup.

A young woman is dead, and solid evidence points to a soldier at a nearby military base. But that soldier has powerful friends in Washington.

Reacher is ordered undercover—to find out everything he can, to control the local police, and then to vanish. Reacher is a good soldier. But when he gets to Carter Crossing, he finds layers no one saw coming, and the investigation spins out of control.

Local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux has a thirst for justice—and an appetite for secrets. Uncertain they can trust one another, Reacher and Deveraux reluctantly join forces. Reacher works to uncover the truth, while others try to bury it forever. The conspiracy threatens to shatter his faith in his mission, and turn him into a man to be feared.

--The Affair
by Lee Child
Copyright © Sep 27, 2011 by Lee Child
Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House

My Review

In my last Lee Child review for Worth Dying For, I was less than enthused by Reacher’s motivation for sticking around and resolving the mystery. May I say my enthusiasm has been revitalized.

In The Affair, Jack Reacher is talking to us, telling us the story of how he got kicked out of the Army. I knew, from book one, that Reacher’s departure from the Army was not a voluntary thing and I wanted to know how it all came about. And now, with this story, we know.

Reacher is sent undercover to the town of Carter Crossing, Mississippi to help another Army investigator figure out if anyone from Fort Kelham, the nearby Army base, is responsible for the death of a local girl. The other investigator, Munro, will work on base while Reacher works the town. He meets the town sheriff, Elizabeth Deveraux and, being a former Marine Chief Warrant Officer herself, easily makes Reacher for who he is. They team up to figure out the mysteries surrounding Fort Kelham and the mystery of the deaths of five—not one, but five local people.

I think Reacher took justice a little bit too far in this story, but I guess that’s just Reacher’s way, and he had to take it too far in order to achieve the end result—his removal from the U.S. Army. There’s also some intriguing foreshadowing… Backshadowing? Hindsight? Flashback? … okay, I don’t know if the right term exists, but there’s a hint toward the events that take place in Child’s first book, The Killing Floor. It almost—almost—makes me want to pick up the first book and read it again.

I’m glad to finally have the answer to one of the mysteries that surround Jack Reacher, namely why he left the Army. I was also happy to see Frances Neagley make an appearance. She’s another intriguing mystery and I hope to see her again in a future Reacher novel, however, in a recent interview, the author said that is unlikely to happen.

I give this story FOUR and a HALF STARS.

Finishing this book actually made me a little sad. Now that I’ve read all the Jack Reacher novels (in less than a year, mind you), I have to wait at least another year for the next novel to come out. Fortunately for me, I have a lot of other novels to fill that void. But I’ll be watching…and waiting…

Dr. Morgan Snow: In Session

Dr. Morgan Snow: In Session by MJ Rose

IN SESSION from international bestseller M.J. Rose, features the return of Dr. Morgan Snow, in a brand-new story collection!

As a therapist specializing in sexual issues, psychiatrist Dr. Morgan Snow isn't easily shocked, or shaken, as readers of the popular "Butterfield Institute" novels know. There are times, however, when the need for her services leads her out of the office... and into unfamiliar worlds.

In these stories the therapist matches her wits -and her training - against three men of mystery: Jack Reacher, John Rain, and Cotton Malone.

Those characters are, of course, familiar to readers as the creations, respectively, of NYT bestselling authors Lee Child, Barry Eisler, and Steve Berry. All three swore that their characters would never agree to therapy - unless Rose found a way to get then there. And she did.

In EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES with Steve Berry's Cotton Malone, a woman seeks help for her lover, and sends Dr. Snow overseas on a most unusual house call....

DECISIONS, DECISIONS where Barry Eisler's John Rain forces Dr. Snow out of her own comfort zone, and into the world of a former patient's worst nightmare...

And KNOWING YOU'RE ALIVE with Lee Child's Jack Reacher results in revelations for both the injured Dr. Snow, and her unexpected savior/patient...

--Dr. Morgan Snow: In Session
by MJ Rose
Copyright © 2011 by MJ Rose
Published by Amazon.com as a Kindle e-Book release

My Review
As my regular readers know, I’m a major fan of Jack Reacher, but I’ve also read a couple books in Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series and I’ve read the first in Barry Eisler’s John Rain series (I do plan to read more, I promise—both Cotton Malone and John Rain). So when an author has one of her characters interacting with characters I know and enjoy, I had to give it a read. Her character, Dr. Morgan Snow, is a sex therapist based at the Butterfield Institute and she has the opportunity to interact with all three of these wonderful characters. Oh…only one is having a slight problem that she’s able to help professionally. The other two…well, she has different reasons to interact with them.

I felt Rose had both John Rain and Cotton Malone down perfectly, but she made two mistakes with Jack Reacher. Regular Reacher readers will have no trouble spotting the errors. But still, it was a fun, quick read and I liked it.

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS. It would have been four, except for those two errors.

I received an Advance Uncorrected Proof from NetGalley.

The story will be available for purchase through Amazon.com on October 17, 2011.


Quicksilver by Amanda Quick

Virginia Dean wakes at midnight beside a dead body, with a bloody knife in her hand and no memory of the evening's events. Dark energy, emanating from the mirrors lining the room, overpowers her senses. With no apparent way in or out, she is rescued by a man she has met only once before, but won't soon forget.

Owen Sweetwater inherited his family's talent for hunting the psychical monsters who prey on London's women and children, and his investigation into the deaths of two glass-readers has led him here. The high-society types of the exclusive Arcane Society would consider Virginia an illusionist, a charlatan, even a criminal, but Owen knows better. Virginia's powers are real-and they just might be the key to solving this challenging case.

by Amanda Quick
Copyright © 2011 by Jayne Ann Krentz
Published by Putnam Adult

My Review

I liked the character of Virginia Dean, even though she seems like a carbon copy of all the other Amanda Quick heroines in the Arcane Society series. And Owen Sweetwater? Well, he’s like a carbon copy of the other Amanda Quick heroes in the Arcane Society series. The sameness of the characters and plots, along with the very formal Victorian-style language made the story a bit difficult for me to read.

That being said, Quicksilver also gives us some background into the Clockwork Curiosities that appeared in the first novel, In Too Deep. The Quicksilver Mirror makes an appearance in this novel and we discover its true potential as a weapon when it’s used against Owen. Naturally, Owen recovers from the psychic shock and the mirror is neutralized and turned over to the Arcane Society for safe keeping.

So now I can’t help wondering how big a part it and the Clockwork Curiosities will play in the third novel in the series, Canyons of Night.

I give this story THREE STARS.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tortured Rake

The Tortured Rake by Sarah Morgan

Nathaniel... Icon. Celebrity.Heartthrob. Underneath the movie star's good looks is a man battling with the demons of his past. No one knows the real Nathaniel, they only see the pin-up, the man he pretends to be. Until one night he is forced to rely on Katie Field, an ordinary young woman from a very different world to Nathaniel's. She may be starstuck but she isn't blinded by the bright lights of fame. Can Nathaniel trust her enough to reveal the man behind the mask? Let the seduction begin...

--The Tortured Rake
by Sarah Morgan
Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Morgan
Published by Harlequin UK

My Review

This was a nice, light-hearted romance, so different from the stories I’ve been reading lately. Most romance novels focus on the woman, so it was nice to read one where the man was the primary focus. Nathaniel had a traumatic childhood and turned to acting to escape, burying the secrets of his past. Katie is also hiding, though not from her past. She’s very different from her glamorous, supermodel sister and does everything she can to not be like her.

Together, Nathaniel and Katie make an unlikely pair, but their opposing personality types are exactly what each other needs to break out of the cages they’ve locked themselves in. Katie brings out Nathaniel’s fun side and makes him see he can have a personal impact on people, not just his screen/stage persona, and Nathaniel brings Katie out of her shell, making her see herself for the beautiful person she is. He also gives her career a well-deserved boost while she helps him figure out how to slay his personal demons.

These two make a great couple and showcase what a great romance should be…fun, passion, a touch of angst and emotional healing on both side, culminating in a kiss that burns the pages.

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.

I received an Advance Uncorrected Proof from NetGalley, however, the book was released by Harlequin UK in May 2011. It may no longer be commercially available, but can be found through on-line used book sellers or in your local used book store. The link below can connect you to some of those on-line used book sellers.