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28 January 2014

I,Q: The Alamo (IQ #4)

I,Q: The Alamo by Roland Smith and Michael P. Spradlin is the forth book in the IQ series which follows new siblings Q and Angela as they travel the US on their parent's tour bus - and track a ghost cell that wants to terrorize the United States.

Q (short for Quest) and his brand new step-sister Angela are being pulled out of school to go with their parents on a tour of the US. There parents have both worked in the music industry for years, but teaming up together put then at the top of the charts. The year is supposed to be spent learning about the history of the US from their tour bus. But almost immediately, they were followed. And now they are in the midst of stopping a terror group.

After leaving Kitty Hawk, Q and Angela make their way toward San Antonio, Texas for the next big concert their parents are giving. Their parents will meet them on the way after a benefit for hurricane victims. Q and Angela travel with Boone, head roadie and super-spy, and his team of (semi)retired spies.

For some reason, the targets they keep finding out about seem to coincide with the concert tour. Q and Angela will continue to help the team on their way to Chicago in the next book.

Smith, Roland and Michael Spradlin. (2013). The Alamo. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press.

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25 January 2014

An Inquiry into Love and Death

An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James is her second thrilling ghost story in England in the 1920s.

Jillian Leigh is an Oxford student. As the daughter of a researcher, she is in the only school at Oxford to admit women. When she receives a message that her uncle Toby has died. Usually, as a single woman in her early twenties, she would never be required to take care of such business, but her parents are in Paris for work.

Jillian leaves for the village of Rothewell on the coast. Toby was a ghost hunter and we in town to research the local ghost, Walking John. But Jillian will have to do more that just pack up Toby's clothes. There is a much deeper story that she must solve before she can leave Rothewell and go back to her old life. And Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken also has questions for her.

St. James is a masterful story teller. Her books transport readers back in time and will keep them up late into the night seeking the answers at the end of her stories.

St. James, Simone. (2013). An Inquiry into Love and Death. New York: New American Library.

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19 January 2014

Exclusively Yours (Kowalski Family #1)

Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey is the first book in her Kowalski Family series.

Keri Daniels is a journalist for an entertainment magazine. Her boss has just given her an ultimatum - get an exclusive interview with reclusive fiction author Joe Kowalski and get a promotion to editor, or lose her job. Her boss, who is obsessed with Kowalski, just found out that Keri and Joe dated in high school and is upset that Keri has not used to connection to gain the magazine a coup d'etat.

Keri has no desire to see Joe again. She left after high school and never looked back - leaving not only Joe, but his sister/her best friend Terry. She hasn't spoken to either of them since. Now she has a meeting scheduled with him.

Joe Kowalski is surprised to get a call from Keri Daniels. At one time he thought they would spend their lives together and when she left he was devastated. He knows she is a journalist and that her boss has been harassing him for an interview for years. While he has no intention of granting an interview, he does want to see Keri.

After one meeting Joe has a proposal. Keri must leave every recording and electronic devise behind and come with him for the next two weeks. For each day she lasts, she gets to ask one question. What she doesn't know is that she will be joining the Kowalski family vacation. Siblings, children, grandparents all at one campground for two weeks. And other than the children, whom she have never met, these are the people she abandoned after high school.

Stacey has written a fun romance novel with great characters. Readers will be endeared to the Kowalski family and keep coming back for more.

Stacey, Shannon. (2010). Exclusively Yours. New York: HQN.

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18 January 2014

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James is a masterful telling of a ghost story that takes place in 1920s England.

Sarah Piper works as a temp. She has been asked to meet a potential boss at a coffee shop. While the request is strange, Sarah agrees to go. She meets Allistair Gellis who is a renowned ghost hunter. While Sarah has never thought about whether she believes in ghosts, the job sounds intriguing. She is to assist Allistair while his usual assistant, Matthew Ryder, is out of town.

Sarah and Allistair travel to the village of Waringstoke. There is a ghost in the Falmouth House barn. A ghost that does not like men. It is the ghost of Maddy Clare. She worked as a servant in Falmouth House and even dead refused to leave. Sarah will have to find out why she lingers and try to help her move on. Of course, Sarah has never done anything like this and has to do it on her own as Maddy attacks any man who come close to the barn.

St. James has written a brilliant novel. Even if you have never read a ghost story and think it is not for you, read this book if you have any interest in historical fiction. St. James captures the time period in a similar way to Jacqueline Winspear in her Maisie Dobbs series.

St. James, Simone. (2012). The Haunting of Maddy Clare. New York: New American Library.

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16 January 2014

The Harsh Cry of the Heron (Tales of the Otori #4)

The Harsh Cry of the Heron by Lian Hearn is the fourth book in the Tales of the Otori series and takes place years after the previous book.

It has been sixteen years since Otori Takeo and Shirakawa Kaede have ruled the Three Countries in peace. After years of war, the land and people are flourishing. The Tribe, who used to hire themselves out for murder, are under Takeo's control and working for the greater good. And Kaede and Takeo have three daughters, the eldest of which is about to inherit her mother's land.

But there is unrest in the parts of the Tribe who do not follow Takeo. They have been plotting revenge for a long time. And Takeo's brother-in-law Arai Zenko still harbors ill feelings from what he sees as the murder of his father. These factions will join forces and try to bring the Otori reign to an end.

Staying true to the earlier books, this volume of the Tales of the Otori will delight fans who will always want more. If you have any interest in ancient Japan or fantasy or historical fiction - read this series.

Hearn, Lian. (2006). The Harsh Cry of the Heron. New York: Picador.

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13 January 2014

Belle Epoque

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross is the story of an unlikely friendship in 1880s Paris.

Maude Pichon ran away from home to make a life in Paris. But Paris is more difficult to manage that the young woman from Brittany realized. She when she sees an advertisement in the paper she decides to apply - even though the ad asked for ugly girls.

The Durandeau Agency places plain women in social situations. Their job is to make whomever they are with look better by comparison. They are often hired for events during the season - when young women attend social events in the hopes of catching a good match in marriage.

Maude will be hired for a similar job, but the young woman she is to act as a foil with will not know. Countess Dubern has hired Maude to accompany her daughter Isabelle during her season. While Maude is being paid well and will get a significant bonus is Isabelle gets engaged, Maude likes Isabelle. While she cannot be honest with her new friend, she sees that Isabelle has plans other than marriage.

Ross has written a wonderful and fascinating book based on a real ad she saw in a old Paris newspaper. Her writing transports readers to 1888 and immerses us in the rich life of Paris. A must read for historical fiction fans and people who love Paris.

Ross, Elizabeth. (2013). Belle Epoque. New York: Random House.

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08 January 2014

The Pirate's Wish (Assassin's Curse #2)

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke is the second book in her Assassin's Curse series - a curse that was sent in motion when a pirate saved the life of the assassin who was sent to kill her.

Ananna and Naji are linked by a curse, an impossible curse. In order to break it, he has to do three things: he must have the kiss of the woman who loves him; he must hold a princess's starstones, and he must create life out of violence.

Before he can accomplish any of those tasks, he and Ananna must get off of the island they are trapped upon. Their friend Marjani has promised to come back for them, but sailors are superstitious about the island, so it may take some time.

Clarke's second volume of the series features mythical creatures, pirate battles, magic, assassins, friendship and more. It is an adventurous tale of fun!

Clarke, Cassandra Rose. (2013). The Pirate's Wish. New York: Strange Chemistry.

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06 January 2014

Crash into Me

Crash into Me by Jill Sorenson is the story of an FBI investigation into a serial killer in La Jolla, California.

Special Agent Sonora Vasquez is being sent undercover to catch a serial killer. The killings are taking place in and around La Jolla, a beautiful beach community in Southern California. Sonny is from the area originally. Trace evidence from the slain women leads investigators to believe the unsub is a surfer. Sonny will be following retired pro-surfer Ben Fortune.

Ben lives on the beach with his daughter, sixteen year old Carly. His wife was killed a few years ago. A homeless vet confessed to the murder, but recanted his confession in his suicide note. Now there are other women being killed in a similar fashion.

Soon after arriving in La Jolla, Sonny rescues Carly from drowning in a riptide, giving her a way into Ben's house. While she cannot imagine Ben as a killer, she must continue to investigate him. This gets more difficult as she finds herself attracted to him.

Sorenson has written a steamy romantic suspense novel. Fans of both romance and suspense will enjoy this novel.

Sorenson, Jill. (2009). Crash into Me. New York: Bantam.

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02 January 2014

Passion and Peril

Passion and Peril by Suzanne Brockmann and Jill Sorenson contains two great stories.

Scenes of Passion by Brockmann features Maggie Stanton, a lawyer with an MBA who really wants to be an actress. She has acted since high school, but her family talked her into studying business and law. Now she works at her uncle's law firm.

When she is contacted by one of her high school friends, she is amazed at how much he has changed. Matthew Stone dated her best friend in school. They were all three in plays together in what Maggie thinks of as the best time of her life. Now Matthew has inherited his father's estate and company - if he can improve the company in one quarter. While he does not care about the money, he can't let thousands of people lose their jobs because of something he did not do. Maggie agrees to help, if he will try out of the local play.

Scenes of Peril by Jill Sorenson finds Paige Dawson at her Sierra's cabin in a blizzard. When a tree branch falls out front, she tries to move it before a driver hits it. But when she is trying to slide it out of the way, Colin Reid comes flying around the curve. To miss Paige, he swerves his car off an embankment and into an icy lake. After Paige saves him, they are snowed in for a week - which gives them time to get to know each other.

Brockmann and Sorenson are both great writers. Fans of romance already know about them, but readers who have not yet tried the genre would do well by starting with either of these authors.

Brockmann, Suzanne and Jill Sorenson. (2013). Passion and Peril. New York: HQN.

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