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.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Michael Thomas Ford's Jane Goes Batty

I know many readers, especially of romance, prefer to not read books written by men. I was drawn to this series, originally, because it was another Austen spin-off. I am addicted to them. Reading it, I had to remind myself that this novel was written by a man. It was not apparent and that, to me is telling of the author’s success, especially when the main character is Jane Austen.
While Jane Goes Batty is a sequel, it could also be read as a stand-alone novel. The author gives the reader reminders, retellings of story line and facts, so that the reader never struggles to guess or remember the previous story. The series is the story of what Jane Austen would be doing now, in our time, if she had been Lord Byron’s lover and he turned her into a vampire. Today, Miss Austen lives in a small cute town, runs a successful book store, just published her first novel and has a human boyfriend. She is constantly harassed by Lord Byron and attacked by an angry and jealous Charlotte Bronte (also a vampire thanks to her love affair with Lord Byron).  It is a fun Austenite spin-off with cute and quirky ideas and plot twists. I would recommend it to Jane Austen fans, paranormal readers or someone who just wants to try something new and fun.  For those looking for romance, it is in there; however it is not the dominating force of this series.

Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Prince

This is the second book in the Infernal Devices series. The dust jacket aptly describes Clockwork Prince, “As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.” It was an engaging read but left many unanswered questions to the plot while answering many questions about the characters. Unlike the first book in the series, The Clockwork Prince focuses more closely on the individuals, mainly Jem, Tessa and Will, than the storyline. The lover’s triangle and teenage angst sucked me in. I felt like I was back in my school days of dating. I am relieved to say I do not have to endure that anymore, all those overwhelming and confused feelings were draining just reading about them.  That said I am ready for the next book in the series to pick up the pace and move the story along. I would recommend trying out this young adult series and author if you are looking for a fun read and new twist on the supernatural world.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley

I am a fan of the Austenite literature and was joyed when I received Death Comes to Pemberley as a Christmas gift. It is a fun read that I definitely recommend. P.D. James is a master of her craft. Her style, I would describe to others, is Jane Austen meets Michael Connelly with a touch of John Grisham. Death Comes to Pemberley is insightful and realistic with the approach of crime. The reader is immersed in the life of Pemberley and revisiting beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice then the story is interrupted with a murder on the grounds of Pemberley Estate. From there the story follows the investigation, court proceedings and life afterwards (which I was very pleased with the fate of the Wickhams, too bad it could not have happened earlier). It was interesting how similar yet changed the process of law is from then to now. I also appreciated that while the reader is walked through the process of an investigation to its resolution, it is a crime novel, and it was not tedious or over-burdening.

P.D. James did a wonderful job staying true to the characters of Pride and Prejudice. Even thinking back on the book now, there are not any discrepancies that stick out to me. I was very relieved with this because that is generally the downfall of the Austenite spinoffs. Their histories, mannerisms, speech, relationships, everything, were thought out and continued on in a way even Miss Austen could be happy with. I was also surprised when, towards the end of the book, we learn the resolution of one of the issues and suddenly, the names of that portion were surprisingly familiar. I was not sure what to think since I had, obviously, never read this book before. After a moment, I realized that the author was able to weave in characters from Emma!

If P.D James continues to write about characters born of our beloved Jane Austen, I will definitely read them.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Brenda Novak's Inside

After reading the dust jacket to this novel I was a bit leery of how the book would unfold. Would it be cheesy, unbelievable, forced, or would it be believable and leave me pleased I read it? Inside is a romantic suspense about, female, Chief Deputy Warden Peyton, of the super-max prison Pelican Bay, who is put in charge of an impossible mission: to infiltrate the Hells Fury gang and find out about a judge’s murder. The informant is to be a man named Virgil, who was recently exonerated and released from a federal prison after 14 years for the supposed murder of his stepfather. As you can see, it is obvious where the love interest is going and the plot is pretty much laid out for you, so it was hard to imagine, other than the logistics of a hopefully excellent steamy romance, how it will actually happen. In the end, I was pleased I had read Inside.

Brenda Novak was able to insert great researched tidbits, paint pictures of life inside and outside of the prison, and inform the reader of why this was such a hard and scary task to accomplish while also adding depth to the characters. I found myself rooting for some of the characters and hoping that others would themselves end up in the prison system by the end of the novel. Another thing I appreciated about Novak’s novel was that she was able to make both sides (the prisoners, gang members, friends, and the various government employees) both good and bad people. It was their nature that was shown and not a political view thrust on the reader.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Erin McCarthy's Hard and Fast (#2)

I’ll start by saying this was a “cute” story. Overall the story was an enthusiastic and descriptive plot of various sex scenes between the two main characters that had great sexual chemistry. It had me panting page by page through the book (and skipping a lot of the regular scenes for the next romp between the characters). At one point I wondered if I should mark some of the scenes for my husband to read for ideas for later but really, he should just read the whole book for that. I was curious what hurdles the author would eventually through in, since this is a romance novel, for a happy ending. In general there seems to be a basic formula most authors of contemporary romance follow and this is attained only after the formulaic fall out or misunderstanding of the main characters. About twenty pages from the end of the novel, there is a point where I thought, “That’s a good ending. Cute book, I liked that as the ending choice…wait, there is still twenty something pages left! Now what?” It was downhill from there with forced fallout of the characters, them being miserable until they realized they have to overcome the obstacle so life can be happily ever after and then it is. I am going to take a break from this series for a while but will probably keep reading it here and there.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Erin McCarthy's Flat-Out Sexy

Flat Out Sexy is the first in a contemporary romance series recommended to me by my mother-in-law. And no, she does not recommend these spicy novels to ensure her son is happy (although that is a positive side effect). The series is introduced as a fast track novel which is very fitting. The series follows racecar drivers and their hectic and dangerous careers. It is best described by Ryder as “life and love in the fast lane.” Flat Out Sexy is cute, endearing, believable, and flat out hot. The characters are realistic in their flaws, habits, wants, humors, and needs. The sex is steamy and satisfying. The story is sentimental and sweet. For lovers of romance I would recommend this first book (I have not read the next 4 currently published but soon will).

Flat out Sexy follows the story of race car rookie Elec Monroe and race car widow (and single mother) Tamara Briggs. Tamara is looking for a new, sexy, no-strings-attached man. Elec is looking to settle down, sick of the one-night-stands and NASCAR floozies. From the start Elec gets Tamara’s heart racing, and Tamara decides to give in to her passion. From juggling impossible schedules, deciding if Elec meeting her children is a good idea, to the stigmas and possible heartache of dating a driver, Tamara must decide how much risk she is willing to take to experience true love.

Tom Clancy's Patriot Games (Jack Ryan #2)

My dad reads through my blog from time to time and decided that I needed to expand my reading pallet. I figured that my reading choices were diverse but decided to go with whatever my dad decided to recommend. Patriot Games by Tom Clancy was his first pick. All in all I am delighted with this recommendation.

While it takes time and patience to get through the introductions of the various players in the game and getting the playing field lined up (probably the first 100-200 pages), it is well worth the wait (and might save time in future novels since I know the characters now). The novel picks up steam and hustles the reader into a politically and personally driven war of brains, guns, strategy and heart. Patriot Games begins with the Ryan’s visiting England. Jack Ryan ends up saving the Royal Family from an assassination attempt. The cause is soon determined to be international terrorism. Jack Ryan, his pregnant wife and young child, eventually return home to America. The CIA, FBI, and various international agencies all think America, and the Ryan’s, are safe from the terrorism. However, the ultra-left-wing faction of the IRA has decided to target Jack Ryan for his act of heroism that ruined their assassination attempt. Now it is up to Jack Ryan to pull all the pieces together to save his family, friends, and keep America safe.

Brenda Novak's Dead Silence

This was a quick and entertaining read. It, like most great “summer reads”, involves some suspension of belief. Novak gives her readers a hook into her series with steam scenes, sexy characters, and a plot that is full of intrigue, mystery and suspense. I appreciated that the book has its own conclusion while still tying into the next book in the series. The reader gets closure with the current characters and can decide if and when they want to try reading the next book(s) in the series.
Dead Silence tells the story of a gossiping small town still trying to find out what happened to the beloved Reverend, who disappeared or was killed, years previous. One family, the Montgomery’s, are the only ones who know the truth about what happened one dark night and held by the town with the most suspicion. Dead Silence introduces us to Grace, a District Attorney and a Montgomery, and Kennedy, a widower and currently running for town mayor. Will the past, and its truth, ruin their inescapable attraction or will Grace’s enemies find out the truth and ruin them both?