January 1, 2012

The Reading Files - End of Year Edition

Welcome to a whole new look (and name) for my adventures in reading! Of course I didn't manage to read all seven books featured today in just seven days. Due to my Blogoversary and Christmas those are the books that I pawed through over the course of the last three weeks.

Oh, but before we start - please let me know how you like this new format! I'm curious about what you all think!

And now ...

Doris Day: Her Own Story (A.E. Hotchner)
Source: bought used
Genre: Autobiography

My public image was that of America's la-di-da happy-go-lucky virgin, carefree and brimming with happiness. An image, I can assure you, more make-believe than any film part I have ever played. At ten years of age I discovered that my father was having an affair with the mother of my best friend. At thirteen I was in an auto hit by a train, and that threatened to make me a cripple for life. At seventeen years, I was married to a psychopathic sadist. When my third husband died, a man I had been married to for seventeen years, I discovered that he had left me with a debt of half a million dollars. My reward for a lifetime of hard work.
There's another Doris Day, a woman I know well. It's she who's subject of this book - no holds barred. This is the life I have lived.

Title & Cover: My own book has a different cover - a profile shot of Doris with red background - though I really like them both!
Story: In-debt look into Doris Day's life, from childhood to the mid-70s.
Narrative: Hotchner let's Doris tell her story in her own words - downright honest and heart-wrenchingly open, with a whole lot of interesting tid-bits from her work in music and movies.
Characters: Doris tells about her life, yet Hotchner also included what others tell about her which really rounds off the whole picture.
Thoughts: There have been a lot of books on Doris Day's life and career, but this is the only one where she's actually sharing her story. I was so enthralled and really wished I could have continued reading about the years that followed up to the present day.

Invitation To Ruin (Bronwen Evans)
Source: won
Genre: Historical Romance

The only thing Miss Melissa Goodly has ever wanted out of a marriage is love. But any hope of that dissolves one wild night, when she loses herself in the arms of the most irresistible--and unobtainable--man in all of England. For when they are discovered in a position as compromising as it is pleasurable, she has no choice but to accept his proposal.
Avowed bachelor Anthony Craven, Earl of Wickham, never meant to seduce an innocent like Melissa. Yet now that the damage is done, it does seem like she'd make a very convenient wife. After all, she is so naive he won't have to worry about ever being tempted. Or so he thinks, until the vows are spoken and they are left alone--and his new bride reveals a streak just as brazen and unrestrained as his own . . .

Title & Cover: Nice cover!
Story: Run-of-the-mill plot of handsome rake meeting kind hearted virgin who, after some back and forth (no pun intended), inevitably get their happily after after.
Narrative: Nothing special though, admittedly, the steamy scenes were, for the most part, not all too bad.
Characters: Awfully cliched!
Thoughts: How can an "accidental" rape lead to love!? Seriously!?!? If it weren't for that scene I'd say the book is your average historical romance read, but the way it is, all I can say is WTF!? Again, no pun intended.

The Great Betrayal (Millenia Black)
Source: won
Genre: Contemporary Romance

By all appearances, the Cavanaughs of West Palm have an ideal marriage and family life-the perfect home with few complications. Leslie, the beautiful mother, shines brightly in corporate America. Her adoring husband, Luke, is movie-star handsome and an award-winning architect. Their privileged daughter, Kathryn, enjoys the best that life has to offer.
But castles built on sand are eventually washed away by the sea.
Leslie Cavanaugh is not who she claims to be-she's a woman with a painful secret that's about to shake the entire family to its core. And she's not the only one playing a game of deception. Her daughter is risking more than the family's good name with her search for love and attention in all the wrong places, and Leslie finds the unmistakable clues that her husband is having an affair. As she struggles to hold her family together, nothing can prepare her for the most intimate betrayal of all.

Title & Cover: Could a cover be even more non-descript than this?
Story: The blurb pretty much sums it up. Everyone has secrets, yet they aren't all that surprising.
Narrative: The story is being told jumping back and forth in time which is something I usually love if it's well done. Here it's just utterly confusing.
Characters: I couldn't connect with them at all. People died, people cried, I didn't care.
Thoughts: In one word? Boring. Even more tragic than the fact that I had an inkling (which turned out to be right) about what the betrayal is all about very early on, is how none of the events touched me, excited me or engaged me in the slightest. I guess you could say the cover matches the story perfectly.

Evilution (Shaun Jeffrey)
Source: bought
Genre: Horror / Thriller

Shrouded by fog for nearly two years, the picturesque village of Paradise harbours more than its share of secrets. Having won a cottage in a competition she can't remember entering, Chase Black moves to Paradise, only to discover that its beauty is skin deep - murder and madness fester in its shadows. When her travelling companion, Jane mysteriously disappears, she starts asking questions. Why are the villagers behaving so oddly? Who are the strange figures she sees lurking in the fog? As Chase becomes afraid that something terrible has happened, events escalate dangerously out of control. A virtual prisoner; too late she discovers the real reason she's there ...

Title & Cover: Scary and fits the story to a T!
Story: Interesting premise with the feeling of a horror story, yet at its core a thriller, the book's a bit of a bumpy ride, uhm, read where especially the beginning lacks as far as believability is concerned.
Narrative: Fast paced and suspenseful, but not as smoothly written as his later books.
Characters: Stereotypes galore!
Thoughts: Not bad for a first novel though I have to say I read two later books by the author first and those were a whole lot better. Still, you do get an idea of what Shaun's got up his writer's sleeve and it was neat to see his humble beginnings.

Killers (Shaun Jeffrey)
#2 Prosper Snow Novels
Source: bought
Genre: Thriller

Murder makes monsters of people. Prosper Snow knows that better than most. Now he’s back on the trail of another serial killer, only this time there’s far more to the case than meets the eye. Thwarted at every turn, Prosper unwittingly uncovers a human experiment more monstrous than anything he could ever imagine. Now the only way to crack the case is to work from the inside and join a shadowy government agency that operates outside the law. Only he might be too late as the experiment has spiralled out of control.

Title & Cover: Certainly fits the genre, yet not exactly outstanding!
Story: Starts out like your average thriller, but then ... evil-twists and whiplash-turns, just the way I like it!
Narrative: Gripping page turner!
Characters: He's done bad things trying to do the right thing. Snow isn't your typical hero, and that's exactly what makes him feel so likable and real.
Thoughts: I was already taken in with the The Kult, which I highly recommend to read first for a deeper understanding of Snow's character. Once again, great movie potential!

Death's Hand (SM Reine)
#1 Descent Series
Source: bought
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Policing relations between Heaven, Hell, and Earth is messy and violent, but Elise Kavanagh and James Faulkner excelled at it-- until coming across a job so brutal that even they couldn't stand to see one more dead body.
Now they've been pretending to be normal for five years, leaving their horrific history a dark secret. Elise works in an office. James owns a business. None of their friends realize they used to be one of the world's best killing teams.
After years of hiding, something stirs. Bodies are vanishing. Demons scurry in the shadows of the night. A child has been possessed.

Title & Cover: I like this second version of the cover a lot better than the first one, still the elements on it feel a bit cobbled together!
Story: Not all that unique a premise, yet nicely written!
Narrative: Fluent, fast paced, yet the descriptive action scenes did drag a bit!
Characters: I really liked the kick-ass heroine, unfortunately her trusted side-kick remained too shallow for my taste, not quite giving their relationship the balance it deserves (and needs).
Thoughts: I honestly couldn't wait for Sara to write a novel for adults after having read and enjoyed her two Seasons of the Moon books which are YA. Let's just say, it was a good book, but for the future I'll stick to werewolves!

Solstice (P.J. Hoover)
Source: bought
Genre: YA Dystopia / Fantasy

Piper’s world is dying. Global warming kills every living thing on Earth, and each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy humanity. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives with her mother who suffocates her more than the chaotic climate. When her mother is called away to meet the father Piper has been running from her entire life, Piper seizes an opportunity for freedom.
But when Piper discovers a world of mythology she never knew existed, she realizes her world is not the only one in crisis. While Gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper's life spirals into turmoil, and she struggles to find answers to secrets kept from her since birth. And though she’s drawn to her classmate Shayne, he may be more than he claims. Piper has to choose whom she can trust and how she can save the people she loves even if it means the end of everything she’s ever known.

Title & Cover: Oh so lovely!
Story: Mythology goes dystopia - what a unique approach and great implementation!
Narrative: Told in a very clear, almost poetic voice!
Characters: I liked them all. Period. And I'd love to have my own Cerberus *woof*.
Thoughts: Who knew that these two genres mix so well? A fantastic novel to end the year with.

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