Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Whispering Room by Amanda Stevens

New Orleans homicide detective Evangeline Theroux has hit a rough spot in her life. She is a widow after her husband Johnny Theroux, who was also a New Orleans police officer, was shot three times and killed in what appeared to be a drug hit.

She has a 5 month old baby who she feels disconnected from. Not that she’s a bad mother. She’s definitely not. She just feels that she hasn’t done enough to earn the love of the precocious little boy and he looks too much like Johnny to get past the resemblance.

Evangeline is something of an outcast among her fellow officers. They find her to be a cold fish, cynical, tough, confident, and tenacious enough to earn the nickname Ghoul girl. What they don’t understand, since they are mostly men, is that women have to work 100 percent harder than men on the job in order to earn any semblance of respect from their counterparts. She also has the highest clearance rate of any murder cop in the city.

Evie and her partner Mitchell Hebert end up with a bizarre case of a man who was killed by snake bites. Not just one or two, but numerous. The man was a high profile lawyer to a scum bag drug runner who we learn, has his hands in everything including corrupt Police Officers. If that wasn’t enough to pique the interests of many people, Evie and Mitchell find out that the dead mans own brother was killed in a similar way; bitten by snakes.

Evie soon finds that her own life and as well that of her 5 year old son JD, has turned into a puzzle of its own. The FBI under Special Agent Declan Nash has been keeping an eye on Evie and tried to keep her away from the nefarious drug dealer to save her from the same fate that killed her husband. Soon thereafter, a strange man and blond woman are seen not only at her house, but at her mother’s as well and someone continues to leave origami birds lying around for Evie to find.

After pulling Evie from the case, her captain Angelette Lapierre advises Evie that she needs to find time to speak to a true crime writer named Lena Saunders. Saunders claims that she may have the answers to who the real killer of Paul Courtland is, as well as answers to her husband’s death but will only speak to Evie.

Lena spins a story about the Lemay family who 30 years ago, was left devastated after the mother, Mary Alice Lemay, killed her two young sons. Lena tells Evie about the two surviving sisters Rebecca and Ruth, who may have helped their mother kill their brothers because they contained the evil gene. There was another survivor to the nightmare; a little baby girl that was born at the same time Mary Alice was killing her two boys. If you connect the dots, you will find out almost immediately who the baby is, and why her own son has been targeted to be killed off.

Whispering Room transverses 30 years from the start of the book, to the final conclusion. It is the story of a mother’s fight to save the life of her little boy from being just another victim of those who truly are sick and disturbed into believing there is a so called Evil Gene within their family. It is also the awakening of Evie to the discovery that her husband wasn’t who she thought he was, and finding the means to move on with someone else to care about and love instead of reveling in self-pity.

I’ve always liked the setting of New Orleans for the background for any story. The city itself has a steep history that truly hasn’t been fully explored enough in my opinion. The story takes place after Katrina came through New Orleans and forever changed the landscape and the people who lived there. It does take a shot at police corruption in New Orleans, but that is fact, not fiction as anyone who has read the news or has lived in Louisiana for any period of time is well aware of. It's the nature of the beast called Louisiana politics.

One thing, if you don’t like snakes, and I don’t mean just one, or two, but a whole shit load of snakes--you might want to keep the light on when you read this book otherwise you will find yourself looking under your couch, and bed, and everywhere else you might think to find a snake.

I've become a fan of Stevens writing after reading her solo works The Dollmaker, and The Devil's Footprints, as well as the Restorer an Urban fantasy novel which is the first book in the Graveyard Queen series. I look forward to reading the second book in the series called The Kingdom when it releases April 1, 2012.

Title: The Whispering Room
Author: Amanda Stevens
Release Date: March 1, 2009
Genres: Mystery & Thriller

Friday, September 23, 2011

Book Review - Crossroads by Jeanne C Stein

Crossroads is the seventh installment in the Anna Strong Chronicles by Jeanne C. Stein. For Anna, it has been two months since she was named the Chosen one, or the leader of the 13 vampire tribes as well as the person destined to resist the dark forces in the vampire community that seeks to dominate mankind and make them food sources only.

Anna has to face several new challenges including the arrival of Detective Harris of the San Diego PD who is looking into Police Chief Warren Williams’s death. He goes on to tell Anna that they have found some startling new information that just doesn’t make any sense. Of course, Anna, being the last person to see Williams alive, and knows what really happened, is a prime candidate for Detective Harris’s investigation.

The second challenge comes after Anna is approached by her former lover Max, a DEA agent who she hasn’t seen in 8 months. Max asks for her assistance in what he believes is a vampire killing illegal aliens crossing into the US. Anna, while weary and still angry at Max for dismissing her so easily after discovering she was a vampire, agrees to help. It seems however, that the ploy was set in motion by Anna’s direct challenger Chael who has some interesting information for Anna.

That, of course, is the third challenge since Chael has thrown out an interesting concept in that he can lead Anna to her heart’s desire; to revert back to being human once again, and living life away from the supernatural community and thus putting her family and friends out of danger. Chael claims that there is a Native American shaman who has the capability of bringing the dead back to life.

Of course, anyone including Anna, knows that Chael only wants the moniker of Chosen one and doesn’t care who he has to hurt in order to gain his goals. Chael is one of those vampires who wish to relegate humans to nothing more than fodder, and an expendable food source doing their masters, the vampires, bidding.

The last challenge is Anna’s reunion with Daniel Frey, the panther shape shifter who is also the Keeper of the Secrets for the supernatural community and their travels to the Navajo Indian lands in Arizona where we learn a little more about Frey's background. Frey, who has been with Anna from the beginning of her change into a vampire, was a welcome addition back to the story that has seen Anna suffer so much since becoming a vampire.

Crossroads is an interesting name for this book since Anna has to make more difficult choices that can either lead her back to her mortality, or continue on as the protector and soldier for goodness within the vampire community. The ending itself, was as expected with Anna going one way, and her only real friend in the world going another. I'm not sure in what direction this series is heading, but I will definitely look forward to seeing where Anna goes from here.

Title: Crossroads
Author: Jeanne C. Stein
Release Date:  August 30, 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy

Book Review Blood Sacrifice by Maria Lima

Blood Sacrifice, by Maria Lima, is the fifth book in the Blood Lines series. The story itself picks up right on the heels of Blood Heat where Keira Kelly was named as the Kelly family heir and has returned to Texas to gather her court alongside her vampire husband and partner Adam who is part Unseelie fae.

As the celebration is taking off, her cousin, and former lover Gideon, also a challenger to the title of Kelly clan heir, makes a startling challenge to Keira and Adam, throwing all their plans into jeopardy. Along with Gideon is Keira’s own mother Branwen who she hasn’t seen since she was seven years old and was being taken away from Faery by her father Huw Kelly.

Gideon and the Fae directly challenge the Kelly’s family’s right to hold onto their land that has been in the family for generations. There is also the fact that there is a doorway to Faery that lies on their land, but has been closed for a long time for some obvious reasons like not letting out the Dark Fey from their Underhill. Gabriel, we learn, is a manipulative and ego driven maniac who is power hungry and driven by revenge and dark magic.

Keira muddles her way through this story finding that the more mistakes she makes the more troubles come her way. Her own comments about being part of the Scooby gang was poetic and worth mentioning. Keira has gone from being an Escort, or one who takes a family member who has given up on living to the veil for which they leave this life--to an all-encompassing person who has all the Kelly family abilities like shape shifting, weather watching and healing.

Adam remains the one constant in the story as the firm, guiding, level-headed partner to Keira’s irrational behavior and actions.

On her blog, Maria Lima stated that Blood Sacrifice is the final Blood Lines book. I guess that makes since the storyline has come full circle, and most of the so called bad guys have been dealt with. There are more than a few major casualties in the story as well, and the fact that Keira and Adam become so much more than they ever expected to be.

I feel as though I’m spoiling what actually happens in the story, but I have stood on the edge of this abyss before without getting hammered for my commentary or reviews. So let the chips fall where they may.

Maria Lima's Blood Lines Series
1. Matters of the Blood (2005)
2. Blood Bargain (2008)
3. Blood Kin (2009)
4. Blood Heat (2010)
5. Blood Sacrifice (August 30th 2011)

Title: Blood Sacrifice
Author: Maria Lima
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Genres: Paranormal Romance

Review of Christine Cody's Blood Rules

Christine Cody’s Blood Rules is the second book in the Bloodlands series. The Bloodlands series is set in a post-apocalyptic US after wars, terrorism, zealots and crazies have decimated the country leaving it fractured and relying heavily on other countries to support its well-being.

Blood Rules picks up two months after Bloodlands ended with the “monsters” of the New Badlands getting the better of Johnson Stamp and his men after they tried to invade their habitat and steal their aquifer water supply. Even by winning, they lost because the group decided to flee for safer confines while avoiding yet another run in with Stamp and his surviving lieutenant Mags who want nothing better than to eliminate all monsters from existence.

In the first novel Bloodlands, readers were introduced to 23 year old Mariah Lyander who was infected with the were-wolf virus when her family was attacked and killed in Dallas. Mariah has become sort of a pariah or pet psycho because she continually puts her neighbors in jeopardy by shifting when she is under emotional distress or anger and then running out into the open desert. Her relationship with Gabriel has reached a tipping point and it’s become harder to control her anger.

Gabriel is a vampire who came to the new badlands looking for his girlfriend Abby and was angry when he found out the truth about what happened to her. Gabriel and Mariah ended up imprinting on the other so that now they can basically calm the other when distressed. Gabriel was told that he will revert back to being a human if his creator dies. He, at least, has something to look forward to that those like Mariah don’t.

In Blood Rules, Gabriel and Mariah decide that they will travel to one of the hubs, better known as a former city like Denver, and explore the possibility of finding a cure for Mariah’s were virus before it completely takes over her.

This being the second story in the trilogy, it lacks some of the depth that Bloodlands had created. While interesting enough to continue to the last book of the series In Blood We Trust (09/27/2011), it had what I thought were too many points of view.

Readers will continue to journey with Mariah and Gabriel, but Cody has also added the oldster (were-scorpion) and Stamp to the story mix. Cody introduces readers to the mother of all monsters named 562 and the possibility that his/her blood could either cure Mariah, or make her even stronger and something entirely different from what she already is.

Overall, the world building and introduction of several new characters along the way, kept my attention right to the ending which obviously leaves the reader wanting to continue to the last book in the series. For me, I can only hope that Cody doesn’t go off the reservation and add more POV’s to the storyline.