WELCOME to the Small Book Blog! I am a voracious reader. I love losing myself in books and cannot wait to read myself into my next adventure. It is because of this love for books that I created this blog. I want to share my passion of books with you! I hope you enjoy my recommendations and reviews. My goal is that they will lead you to a new book, series or author, that you can fall in love with and recommend to others as well.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Laura Griffin's Snapped (Tracers #4)

Snapped opens with Sophie Barrett (a returning character from previous Tracer novels) trying to get to the college campus to enroll in classes. When she gets there a sniper opens fire on the campus and Sophie is trapped in the middle of the terror. When the shooting is over, three people are dead and dozens more injured. As the investigation ensues, Sophie becomes more convinced there was an accomplice to this horrible crime and that it wasn’t random at all. Jonah and his team investigating the Summer School Shooting hope she is mistaken. As more events jeopardize Sophie’s safety and the investigation gets messier, it is apparent Sophie may be right.

This is the fourth book in the Tracers series and finally, I am not disappointed. Griffin did a terrific job. This is by far my favorite of her books and a romantic suspense I would re-read. With Griffin’s previous Tracer novels there were characters or sections of the novel that just bothered or annoyed me. This does not happen in Snapped. Jonah and Sophie have gritty, sexy and believable chemistry. The pace of the book is great. There is terror and quirkiness. This novel is a great mix of mystery, investigation, romance and action all rolled into one. I also appreciated that Griffin does scenes throughout the novel with other characters that are just as important to the plot and add to the story and the host of characters relationships.

Melissa de la Cruz's Witches of East End (Beauchamp #1)

The three Beauchamp women--Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid--live in North Hampton, a little town on a magic seem that people are unable to find without stumbling on it. The Beauchamp women are magical witches, from the beginning of time, whose magic was forbidden by the higher ups at the Salem witch trials in order for them to remain immortal. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, Freya, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache. After hundreds of years of suppressing their magic, each witch decides to start using their magic for various personal reasons. From there the story unravels, the town turns against them (much like Salem), there is a love triangle with Freya and two hot brothers, and mysterious and violent attacks begin to plague the town. It is up to the Beauchamp women to solve the magical mystery.

This was a cute light hearted read. I wished that the 3 main women interacted a little more with each other as the mother/daughter dynamics could have been highlighted a little more. Overall, I enjoyed the book but also was frustrated with it. I feel like the author could have given me more information or more clues throughout the novel for how she actually wanted to end it. At the end of the book you find out that these witches are not just Salem witches but Goddesses from the days of old. The story goes from witches and vampires to an ongoing battle between various Gods and Goddesses. For me that was frustrating because it was squeezed in at the end after expanding on the “witch” side of things for the entire rest of the book. **Spoiler: If you want to read the book without a cliffhanger, do not read the epilogue. It sets up the next book and you can tell it has the possibility of being adventuresome but frustrating. Like an action movie that makes you clench and have to leave the room, is what it sounds like.**

Overall I would continue to read this series to see the author’s writing progress and how the characters develop. It was a fun Halloween read.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

This was an interesting book. Parts of it were original feeling which I appreciated and one of the main reasons I had to read it in the first place. Essentially, the author is the first character in the book you meet. He is living an unfulfilled life with aspirations to be a writer. He is soon given the long lost diary of Abraham Lincoln by a vampire, oddly a former friend of Lincoln. From there the reader travels through the diary of Abraham Lincoln and how he became a vampire hunter, not just a President. (Who was actually assassinated by a disgruntled vampire, not just a man with the name of Booth.) The book is laid out so you have parts that are “obviously from the diary” with the authors additional dialog to keep the story moving. It gets a bit dry and sometimes I just didn’t care and skimmed ahead. Overall, I liked the idea of the novel and skimming the text rather than actually sitting and reading the novel like I would most books. I suppose it was more schoolish than I expected. Also, there was just something lacking. I was engaged although I did want to read to the end (and did). People who like history and biographies will probably enjoy this novel more than I.  

The cover of the book mentions that the book is going to be turned into a Tim Burton movie. I actually think, for me, the movie is going to be much more entertaining and engaging than the novel.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Books vs. Television Series

The CW has two series to watch that are both based on separate book series by L.J. Smith. The first is The Vampire Diaries and this year was the kick off to The Secret Circle. I read The Vampire Diaries first and then became hooked on the show. The show is true to the characters but the plots are completely different. Somehow I have enjoyed that. I can picture the characters’ lives continuing on past the book. I struggle to watch HBO’s Trueblood series, after reading the Sookie Stackhouse book series. HBO has built each season off the next book in the series and uses that as a skeletal structure to stay with the books, however, the characters are soooo different from what I read I struggle to watch the show.

The second series on the CW by L.J. Smith is The Secret Circle. I am reading the books right now and DVRing the series to start watching after I am done with the books. I am staying hopeful.

Does anyone else watch or read these series or any others and struggle with the differences but feels guilty about loving some of the changes?  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lauren Willig's The Masque of the Black Tulip

The Masque of the Black Tulip was a fun read. This was my first experience with the Pink Carnation series and I look forward to future adventures with Eloise. This second novel in the series is about Harvard grad student Eloise Kelly trying to once again unmask a famous historical spy, this time it’s the Black Tulip, the Pink Carnation’s deadly French nemesis. Eloise is pretty sure that her handsome on again, off-again crush, Colin Selwick, has the answers somewhere in his archives. But what she discovers in an old codebook is something juicier than she ever imagined.

 I appreciated that the author gave the historian, Eloise, a flair for the dramatic and whimsical thoughts. Many times the historians are shown as dry or we are immersed in their research of things, but not the fun tidbits, unless they fit in with the present story. This novel is all about finding out more in an adventure seeking way, with the historian guiding us through her findings, musings, conjecture and visualizations of the adventures as she reads them.

 I liked how the plot was laid out to give us, the reader, a classic spy adventure. We are finding the clues with the historian playing the narrator/Nancy Drew. As Eloise finds letters and other historical documents, giving her clues as to who the famous spies may be, we are seeing it as she sees it. I loved how she was able to bring to life the past… I thought Hen and Miles’ story was fun, flirty, romantic and dramatic. I was almost sad when brought back to the present day story and feel the author did a good job projecting that emotion on me the reader and not just me reading about Eloise feeling that way.

 I do wish that there was a little more given to us between Collin and Eloise, but I assume that they will meet again in the next book and the author just wanted us to know that there are sparks there.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry

Be careful what you wish for…When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer; she leaves her London apartment to her mirror-image twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers but with an abnormally intense attachment to one another. The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. From here they start a journey that will forever change and haunt their lives as well as the lives of the neighbors of Elspeth’s flat. For me, this novel was about two main things: Beyond being careful what you wish for and, “She was trying to be your ideal girl, and you were in love with a ghost. Now your ghost is alive and *spoiler* is a ghost.” The ghosts in this story are both the ghosts of our past locked away holding tight to secrets and the visceral ghosts of the dead. Every character in this novel is haunted.
I enjoyed this novel more than The Time Traveler’s Wife but still had issues really caring for the characters and not being disturbed by some of the decisions made. I don’t want to give any spoilers out because everything is weaved in this novel for a reason so mention of one sets off spoilers for the whole. Like TTW, there was also an odd timeline in this book that never really made itself known to me.

The novel is very well written and visual. We can look forward to that in Audrey Niffenegger’s writing. The setting in London and all its proposed gloom added to the ghost story and depression that hangs over the overarching theme of the novel. I think mentioning that the cemetery was especially popular for the Victorian’s was reaching to add a gothic element to the novel. Having ghosts makes it a ghost story, but for me it was not necessarily gothic, especially having ready Anne Radcliffe, the Bronte sisters, and Jane Austen, for me that classic gothic was not there. This was definitely a good read for October though, the perfect setting for ghosts and the introduction of fall to winter weather.

An interesting aspect of this novel is that while there is a main plot, the side stories of neighbors and the cemetery staff are mixed in and do not detract from the main plot. For me it helped create needed breaks in the main storyline and helped water down (just a smidge) the selfishness and almost horror of what was going on with Robert, Julia and Valentina. The side plots were also intriguing because they were the “other side of the story” I always wonder about. In life, when something is happening, I always wonder, “I wonder what this looks like to an outsider” or “I wonder what the neighbors really see or don’t see.” This novel gives various glimpses of that answer for the reader to construct opinions, guesses to the plot and additional information for the main story being weaved.

It is a book about love, loss and betrayal with a backdrop of ghosts, a famous London cemetary and twists and turns that never let you feel completely comfortable. This novel definitely made me feel like I never want to meet any twins in my life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Author Recommendation: Laura Griffin

If you are a romantic suspense reader waiting for the next book by your favorite author(s) to come out, I would recommend trying Laura Griffin while you wait. The series Griffin writes is the Tracer series. So far there are four novels out following the character surrounding the elite workers of the Tracer facility in Texas.  My mother-in-law recommended her to me, knowing I love reading authors like P.D. Martin, Allison Brennan, Karen Rose, James Patterson, Michael Connelly and the list goes on. Griffin, like these mentioned, is a blend of suspense, murder (generally serial killers), and some romance, with characters in law enforcement, PI’s and (special to this series) the elite Tracers. I have to admit that she is not my favorite author and I do not eagerly await her next novel (biting my nails, adding to my wish list, and constantly checking the release date), but as a filler between novels I wasn’t disappointed or ready to throw my book at the wall in disgust or frustration. Griffin falls flat in a few areas of her writing but overall it’s a series worth looking into for those readers that like a blend of suspense, science, and the legal system. I should mention that while I know my recommendation feels a little off, but remember it is an endorsement, looking at the Goodreads reviews most of her readers feel the same, “It may falls flat in a few places, but worth continuing to read between other books overall.”    

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Victoria Dahl's Crazy For Love

Crazy for Love is a fun contemporary romance. True to Dahl’s style it has hot, caring and quirky guys, loveable females despite their flaws, and steamy sexual encounters that may have the reader wondering “Hmm…. I wonder if I would have the guts to try that in a place like they did…” Rather than throwing in the thrills and chills many romance writers rely on today to keep their readers engaged, Dahl is able to weave a plot of secrets. She makes the reader want to find out the secret and even if you have guessed it you have to keep reading to find out how it’s going to unravel. Who’s going to tell, how are they going to find out, will they make it, and with this author is it going to be crazy, dramatic, funny or sad?!
I would recommend Crazy for Love. It is a fun book about friendship, love, and forgiveness. I found myself laughing, cringing, and wishing my husband was home to read a few of the scenes out loud to. TMI, I know, but it’s my review. As an afterthought to that remark, it is not explicit and erotic like Lora Leigh, it’s gracefully done with a rating of “R”.  For fans of this genre I absolutely recommend Dahl’s book Talk Me Down. It is definitely one of my favorite contemporary romance novels and worth re-reading.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

And the winner is...

I apologize for the tardiness, but the winner of the personalized autographed copy of The Legend of Lady MacLaoch by Becky Banks is Angel! Congrats! Please e-mail me your contact info so we can get your book to you!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by for our Legendary Tour. I hope you continue to visit The Small Book Blog.