Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Testimony by Anita Shreve

anitashreve.com
Released: September 2008

I've been a huge fan of Anita Shreve since reading The Pilot's Wife almost 20 years ago. Since then, I've stayed on top of reading all of Shreve's novels over the years whenever I get hold of one. Testimony is one of two books I hadn't read by Shreve previous to now.

In the first chapter of Testimony, a headmaster of a prestigious New England boarding school gets hold of a sex tape featuring three seniors and a freshman girl. As the sex tape starts hitting the email accounts of students and staff members throughout the school, the boys go to trial over the incident and their lives basically become ruined. The boys' families also end up suffering for their mistake.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Gift by Danielle Steel

daniellesteel.com
Released: Christmas 1994

I'm usually not one to pick up novels by Danielle Steel. My beef with her is that her novels are just too "Lifetime Channel" and predictable for me. Before reading The Gift, I think the only other Steel novel I've read all the way through was Ransom, which I ended up purchasing at an airport that year because it was my only option other than The Da Vinci Code or The South Beach Diet (now you see my dilemma).

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Book of Common Dread by Brent Monahan

www.amazon.com
Released: June 1993

The early 1990s: a lovely era during which some of the best vampire fiction was released. Anne Rice's vampire chronicles featuring Lestat were going strong, Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series was just starting out, and LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries had just made its debut on the teen scene (before The CW ruined it for me. Long live LJ Smith and her original works!).

Considering the early 1990s were great years for vampires, I wasn't surprised to find that The Book of Common Dread was ranked right up there with them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Someone at the Door by Richie Tankersley Cusick

fantasticfiction.co.uk
Released: October 1994

Richie Tankersley Cusick, RL Stine, and Christopher Pike are the authors I lived for between the ages of nine and 12. During those years, I devoured everything in print by these authors. Their style was spooky and edgy, and the mysteries were great! I think toward the end of my twelfth year when I was about to turn 13, I graduated to Dean Koontz, John Saul, and Stephen King, and never looked back...until recently.

I don't quite remember how Someone at the Door came to reside on my bookshelf. I never read this one since it was published after I stopped reading these "teen thrillers," so I figured I would read it for nostalgic purposes. I've been holding on to it for several years only because the cover features a snowman -- I wanted to save it for winter reading.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Midnight Whispers by V.C. Andrews

www.amazon.com
Released: November 1992

I decided to relive my preteen days with V.C. Andrews after watching Lifetime's version of "Flowers in the Attic" back in January. Normally I wouldn't take the time to review V.C. Andrews (because hasn't everyone already read these?), but Midnight Whispers was the ONLY book I owned that qualified for the July monthly keyword challenge at Bookmark To Blog. "Whisper" is one of July's keywords.

Midnight Whispers is the fourth book in the Cutler series. In this one, Dawn's daughter Christie falls prey to the same twisted incestual family curse as did her mother. After a fire destroys the Cutler Cove hotel and kills her beloved parents, Christie and her brother Jefferson are forced to live with Uncle Philip, his wife Aunt Bet, and their evil twin children, Richard and Melanie.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

www.amazon.com
Released: April 2008

One Foot in the Grave is the second novel in the "Night Huntress" series by Jeaniene Frost. While I loved the first novel in the series called Halfway to the Grave, I actually chose to read One Foot in the Grave because it qualified for June's Monthly Keyword Challenge at Bookmark to Blog. "Grave" was actually one of June's keywords.

One Foot in the Grave picks up about four years later, and Cat Crawfield is now working as a Special Agent for the government to control the world's undead population. Having spent four years without Bones -- her vampire lover -- Cat spends most of her time working and avoiding the dating scene. After she meets the vampire who had turned Bones years earlier, Cat learns that there is a price on her head, which is not surprising given her reputation as the world's most bad-ass vampire slayer.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Falling by Christopher Pike

amazon.com
Released: March 2007

Christopher Pike was one of my favorite authors as a child. I devoured all his books throughout the 80s and early 90s -- becoming hooked after a girlfriend loaned me a copy of Remember Me. I haven't read anything by Pike in years because I'm not a huge fan of the young adult genre, and I actually don't even remember how I acquired Falling.

This particular "adult" novel by Pike has been on my bookshelf for several months, and it only recently caught my eye while I was rearranging my books. I'm glad I picked this one up, because Falling has turned out to be one of the most complex, genius novels I've read in awhile! I'm disappointed that I hadn't heard about it previously.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

www.laurachilds.com
Released: May 2001

Death by Darjeeling is the first novel in the "Tea Shop Mysteries" series by Laura Childs. I first attempted this series years ago shortly after its release, but ditched it in favor of Cleo Coyle's "Coffeehouse" mystery series. I guess since I was a huge coffee-drinker back then, it made more sense to put off Childs' series, but now that I no longer drink coffee, I thought I'd go back to giving the "Tea Shop" series a try.

I chose to read Death by Darjeeling this month because it qualifies for the Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge over at Bookmark To Blog. "Death" is one of May's keywords.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay

linwoodbarclay.com
Released: February 2010

Anyone who follows this blog or visits the site often may already be well aware of my newfound love for Linwood Barclay. I recently purchased Never Look Away from Amazon while on a Barclay buying-binge, and couldn't wait to dive right into it. I would have finished this novel about a month and a half ago had review deadlines for other new releases been nonexistent.

Never Look Away opens with newspaper reporter David Harwood visiting a local amusement park with his wife Jan and their 4-year-old son Ethan. Shortly after arriving at the park, Jan goes missing, and David immediately calls the local Promise Falls police to report her disappearance. David soon learns that not only has Jan disappeared without a trace, but that there is no record of her entering the park, and that Jan is not his wife's real name.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Light of the Moon by Luanne Rice

Amazon.com
Released: January 2008

I plucked Light of the Moon off my bookshelf this month so I could qualify for the April monthly keyword challenge over at Bookmark to Blog. "Light" was one of this month's keywords in the challenge. Plus, you just can't go wrong with Luanne Rice.

In Light of the Moon, cultural anthropologist Susannah Connolly decides to take a trip to the Camargue in France to fulfill the wishes of her late mother, whom Susannah has recently lost to cancer. Susannah's mother has always claimed that Susannah's conception was largely due to Saint Sarah - also known as Sara-la-Kali - whose mythic presence has been influencing the Gypsies that inhabit the Camargue region for many years.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay

tatianaderosnay.com
Released: April 2014

I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of The Other Story after having read Sarah's Key this past summer and loved it. Though this novel is nothing at all like Sarah's Key, it's guaranteed to fascinate - especially if you're at all familiar with the publishing industry.

The Other Story is practically a parody about how bestselling authors can lose their sense of self and creativity as a result of being sucked into celebrity lifestyle. In this novel, we're introduced to Nicholas Kolt - man who wrote a novel about his family's past that eventually became a worldwide bestseller and was also turned into an award-winning film. Before becoming famous, Nicholas was a humble, compassionate writer - now, he's internationally famous and recognizable, rich beyond comprehension, and highly sought-after.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

catherinemckenzie.com
Released: April 2014

The last few months have been great for review books! I was thrilled when the publisher contacted me to review Catherine McKenzie's latest novel, Hidden.

During the prologue of Hidden, a man named Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed while walking home from work. His death has a significant impact on the two most important women in his life -- his wife Claire and his co-worker named Tish -- whom Claire had never known about prior to Jeff's death.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Forevermore by Jacqueline Marten

www.amazon.com
Released: December 1979

Jacqueline Marten is one of my favorite romance novelists, though she hasn't published any novels in nearly 20 years. I chose to read Forevermore this month because it qualified for the March monthly keyword challenge over at Bookmark To Blog. Initially, I had chosen to read Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, but finally discarded it around page 150 after growing bored with the novel (yes, I invested that much time in it!).

In Forevermore, a woman named Michael Normand thrives as a successful career woman, but for most of her life, she has seen visions of two veiled women wearing long medieval gowns from centuries ago. Unfortunately, Michael's visions usually result in the death of someone close to her.

Lexicon by Max Barry

www.maxbarry.com
Released: June 2013

I fell in love with Max Barry's work while reading Syrup almost 10 years ago. I loved his quirky characters and his fresh, dark and twisted writing style. So of course when Penguin contacted me to review Lexicon, it was easy to say yes!

Voted one of the best books of 2013 by a number of different publications, Lexicon is a thriller about the power of words and their ability to persuade. The novel kicks off following Wil Jamieson, a man who lands at an American airport and has completely forgotten his identity. Wil is then ambushed by two men in the airport bathroom who question him about what he knows about a particular dangerous word. After he begins to regain some of his memory, Wil escapes to Australia to learn more about his identity.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

www.authorwendywax.com
Released: April 2013

I'm a huge fan of the British television series Downton Abbey, so of course it was hard for me to resist this title when I saw it at the bookstore. This latest by Wendy Wax is about how four people desperately in need of friends during the most difficult time periods of their lives bond with one another during viewings of Downton Abbey.

Edward Parker is the concierge of one of the most beautiful, historic apartment buildings in the heart of Atlanta. When British-born Edward notices that a handful of the building's occupants seem a bit lonely and troubled, he organizes a weekly screening party during which he shows episodes of Downton Abbey. It is at these parties that Samantha, Claire, and Brooke meet one another and become the most unlikely group of best friends.

Pearls and Poison by Duffy Brown

www.duffybrown.com
Release Date: March 2014

Pearls and Poison is the third installment in Duffy Brown's "Consignment Shop" cozy mystery series. The series takes place in Savannah, Georgia and features sleuth and heroine Reagan Summerside - the owner of the Prissy Fox consignment shop. Since reading Iced Chiffon, which is book #1 in the series, Brown has been generous enough to have Penguin send me a copy of each new release to review and feature on Dreamworld Book Reviews.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Night Rituals by Gary Paulsen

www.amazon.com
Released: July 1989

I'm a sucker for vintage thriller and suspense novels such as this one. I've had Gary Paulsen's Night Rituals lying around for a few weeks, and decided to read it immediately to take part in the February monthly keyword challenge over at Bookmark to Blog. "Night" is one of February's keywords.

Its gruesome synopsis is what originally drew me to Night Rituals. The novel begins when a janitor at the Denver airport finds a severed boob in an abandoned carry-on bag. Ed "Push" Tincker - the homicide detective assigned to the case - soon learns that a serial killer is cutting up women and scattering their body parts across the western part of the United States. Push also learns that the murderer is trying to follow a crazy ritual that could be satanic, or just merely part of an ancient Indian or South American ritual.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Lydia's Party by Margaret Hawkins

margarethawkins.com
Released: January 2014

Lydia's Party is Margaret Hawkins's third novel, about a middle-aged woman who hosts a belated holiday party every year at the end of January and invites the same group of friends (no men allowed!). Lydia has been hosting her Bleak Midwinter Bash for 20 years, but this year, Lydia plans on breaking some serious news to her friends that may break their hearts.

The first four-fifths of the novel takes place over the course of the weekend during which Lydia throws the party - with most of it being dedicated to Lydia's party-preparation much in the manner of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. Although most of the novel is told from Lydia's point of view, there are a few chapters here and there told from the perspectives of Lydia's party guests.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay

linwoodbarclay.com
Released: September 2008

Linwood Barclay is my new favorite suspense novelist, so I couldn't help but read another title from his backlist and post the review for it before I moved on to my next Barclay (which will be happening today, hooray!).

Too Close to Home is the spookiest, most disturbing Barclay novel I've read so far. In the prologue, teenager Derek Cutter is at his best friend Adam Langley's house saying goodbye before Adam's family goes on a week-long vacation. Since Derek lives right next door to Adam, he has plans to hide in Adam's basement until the family leaves so he can disarm the house's alarm system and use Adam's house as a sort of sex-getaway for the week.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Addison House by Clare McNally

fantasticfiction.co.uk
Released: November 1988

I'm addicted to old-school horror novels. They remind me of my middle-school days, when I used to walk over to the library after school and check out stacks of horror novels by V.C. Andrews, John Saul, Dean Koontz, and any others I could get my hands on. (My reading list was NEVER supervised by my parents.)

I scooped up Addison House at my local indie bookstore. I thought I'd devoured every Clare McNally novel ever published, but this one somehow fell off my radar.

Monday, January 20, 2014

No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay

linwoodbarclay.com / amazon.com
Released: September 2007

After reading Fear the Worst several weeks ago I've become hooked on Linwood Barclay, and my newest goal is to read his entire backlist. I chose to read No Time for Goodbye because its synopsis was irresistible. A 14-year-old girl wakes up one day to find that her parents and older brother have vanished forever without saying good-bye. Who could resist a story like that?

Also, No Time for Goodbye just happened to qualify for the January monthly keyword challenge over at Bookmark to Blog, so that gave me even more incentive to jump all over it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton

laurellkhamilton.org
Released: 1995

Circus of the Damned is the third novel in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Anita Blake is actually an animator who raises zombies for a living, but also has the ability to kill vampires as long as they are legally considered "criminals."

I originally read the first several books in this series shortly after they were released about 20 years ago, but lost interest somewhere around book #8. I've decided to re-read the series a few decades later to see if I would enjoy it more the second time around. So far, so good!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Catch in Time by Dalia Roddy

fantasticfiction.co.uk
Released: April 2010

I decided to read A Catch in Time this month for the January Monthly Keyword Challenge over at Bookmark to Blog. One of the January keywords is "clock," so I figured the word "time" would work as an acceptable variation.

A Catch in Time is about a group of people who band together after the majority of the population dies due to a mysterious global blackout. For 3 minutes, everyone in the world falls unconscious during the blackout, but only a few are enlightened with visions that help them grasp and understand the true meaning of life.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Glasswrights' Test by Mindy L. Klasky

mindyklasky.com
Released: June 2003

The Glasswrights' Test is the fourth novel in Klasky's Glasswrights' Guild series, which tells the story of how a young woman and artisan named Rani Trader tries to rebuild her beloved guild from the ground up after it was held responsible for the king's death and disbanded years earlier.

But, before she can become a Master Glasswright and rebuild a new guild in Morenia, Rani must travel to another kingdom and have her skills tested by her former guild members - all of whom still look coldly on Rani for betraying the guild years ago. Additionally, a secret society known as the Fellowship of Jair challenges Rani to kill the current queen of Morenia with hopes of restoring the kingdom's power - but Rani suspects that the Fellowship may not really have the kingdom's best interests at heart after all.