Archive for February, 2012

The Black Stiletto

The Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Could Martin Talbot’s elderly, Alzheimer-stricken mother, Judy, really have been the Black Stiletto? When Martin discovers several volumes of her diaries hidden by his mother, he is stunned beyond all imagination. His mother, the underground heroine of yesteryear? The famed, still unidentified woman who battled Communist spies, took on the Mafia, and preyed on common crooks? The woman who exacted punishment on evildoers without mercy?

But it is all described, in great detail, in the diaries. What caused her to begin her quest for justice. Her decision to act outside the law. Her feats as the famed and feared vigilante. How her reputation exploded. In short, how it all played out.

Could it be true? Talbot is filled with doubt and disbelief. But the reappearance of one of the Stiletto’s old enemies with a thirst for merciless revenge makes the story more than real and could imperil the life of not only the Stiletto, but her son and granddaughter as well.

Martin Talbot is an accountant with an ex-wife, a daughter that wants to be an actor instead of getting a business degree, and a mother with Alzheimer’s. He gets a call from his mother’s lawyer. The attorney tells him that his mother wanted him to have an envelope and locked box if she passed away or if she became incapacitated. Martin opens the envelope and box and learns that his mother was The Black Stiletto.

He goes to their old house and finds a secret room in the basement with her costume, newspaper and magazine clipping, other Black Stiletto memorabilia, and a collection of diaries. Martin starts reading and gets sucked into her story.


The book starts with the past and the year 1958. Judy Cooper grew up in Texas with her mother and two brothers. Her father died during the war and her mother remarried Douglas, a roughneck from the oil fields. After an assault from Douglas, she runs away from home. She gets to New York City and makes a living for herself. There she finds that she is drawn to helping others. She starts learning boxing, karate, judo, and how to use a knife. This leads her to becoming The Black Stiletto.

Back in the present time, Martin is bitter that his mother never told him any of this before. He is also having a hard time at work and dealing with his daughter’s career choice. We also meet Roberto. He has finally been released from prison after doing his time for murder charges. He is 78 and has a personal vendetta toward The Black Stiletto. So Roberto begins his hunt for Judy.

I really liked this book. Judy was the best character; it’s great to see someone rise about their beginnings. What’s nice is I have learned some of the techniques that she used to defend herself and it helped me to relate to her. Martin had his own issues and I admit that I was not impressed with him as a person, great for the character though. I loved how the book goes through 1958.

I can’t think of anything that I was not impressed with and can’t think of a single thing. I have to say that I can’t wait to get the next book in this series. If you like thrillers and super heroes, I think that this is one book that you need to read.

I received this book for free from netGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Alone (Vampires and the Life of Erin Rose) by Steve Perlow

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Twenty-two-year-old Erin Rose wakes up one morning with no memory of her past. She’s in a strange apartment with only one clue: a vampire bite scar on her neck.

Determined to unravel the mystery of her true identity, she contacts the Spectavi vampires, who drink synthetic blood. When they can’t help her, she turns to the Sanguans, who feed on humans. Her investigation leads her deep into a centuries-old vampire war.

Erin must decide how far she’s willing to go to learn the truth about her origins.

In this world, there are two kinds of vampires. The Spectavi, who drink synthetic blood, are very spiritual and advertise that they are out to protect humans from the Sanguans. The Sanguans are the bad vampires of the story that drink human blood and always kill those they feed from. The Spectavi hunt down the Sanguans and kill them for harming humans.

Erin wakes up one morning with no memory of who she is or what happened to her. She is in a white, sparse apartment with a credit card and a driver’s license with the name Erin Rose on it. When she looks in the mirror, she has no memory of who she is looking at and is very self-conscious of a scar on her neck from a vampire bite.

A year and a half later, Erin has been trying to find out what happened to her. She went to the police and the Spectavi but no one can help her. So, she has taken it upon herself to go to Sanguans night clubs and ask around if anyone know what might have happened. While one the way to a club, Erin witnesses an old Sanguan killed by the Spectavi. Thinking this strange, she hunts down another Sanguan that was at the scene of the murder but was let go free.

Erin has stumbled into a war between the Spectavi and the Sanguan. Erin becomes caught in the middle when the Sanguan that is helping her find her past identifies her as a favorite human of the leader of the Spectavi. Erin goes undercover to find the truth but gets more than she was expecting.

I really liked this story. I got sucked in trying to figure out what happened to Erin. I liked how the Sanguans were defined as evil yet a lot of them really were just trying to survive like regular human. The only thing that I didn’t like was how wishy-washy Erin was. One moment she is all about finding out what happened to her then the next she doesn’t want to live outside her happy little bubble.

Having said that, I am really excited to read the next book in this series and find out what happens next.

I received this book for free from the Library Thing Member Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

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Run from the Reaper

Run from the Reaper by Cristian YoungMiller

3 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) It awakens; Summoned by the will of a powerful psychic, The Red Reaper forces its victims to live their darkest fantasies. If they resist, they die.

In a college town during a record cold winter break, Jon, a lonely professor, wonders the empty campus barely holding on to his sanity. Unable to stay awake during the daytime he sees a red hooded creature in the shadows at night; immediately after, his twisted desires come to life.

Searching for answers he finds Clay, a local psychic who is more than he seems, and Sarah, a gorgeous expert on the underworld who has depraved secrets of her own.

Chased by demons and with the Red Reaper at every turn, the three must face their fears, survive its relentless attacks, and find a way to escape from the Reaper.

The story starts out with a man running for his life. The moment he stops, everything goes dark. He knows he has to keep running, to stop is to die. But when he has his legs cut off in an auto accident, he is strangely accepting. Jon, one of the people that come upon the accident finds it strange how accepting the guy is about loosing his legs when his life revolved around running.

Jon wants to find out what prompts that kind of reaction. He starts becoming obsessed with it. He even goes to Clay, a psychic that his student Sarah recommends. Clay points out that if you really want something, it will find a way of happening. Jon is not impressed with that answer.

But strange things start happening. He sees glimpses of a red reaper, the dog he adopts goes crazy, and then he starts loosing time. He comes to and finds out that he has lost three days and is accused of assaulting a student. Now he is on the hunt to stay alive.

This is a quick read that shows us how sometimes what we wish for may not be what we really want. The possibilities and the twists kept me wondering where this was going. I liked the idea of the red reaper. It’s a good twist from what we commonly think of when someone says reaper.

I have to say that there was a couple times that I got a little lost but I think that was because Jon had lost time. I was confused with the black reapers. The red reaper is trying to give Jon what he desires but the black ones are trying to kill him. Plus there were several black reapers floating around and only one red.

Overall, I liked this story. It feels like a first story and rough around the edges, but if you like thrillers, I think you might like this story. I do have another story of Cristian and after reading Run from the Reaper, I am excited to see what happens in that story.

I received this for free from the Library Thing Member Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

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The Temple

The Temple by Heather Maria Adkins

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Vale Avari has a mysterious past and a laundry list of super-powers, but that’s nothing compared to what she finds upon moving from small town U.S.A to jolly-good England.

A chance dart throw lands her in Quicksilver, an off-the-map place with a big problem – people are dying, and word is, it’s supernatural.

At her new place of employment, a temple dedicated to the ancient Mother Goddess, Vale learns something even more shocking – women guards are disappearing at an alarmingly patterned rate; women who possess special gifts like her own.

Supernatural powers aside, Vale isn’t ready to believe in the Wild Hunt as the culprit, and she’s determined to prove the deaths are acts of human violence.

Plagued by a brute with a history of domestic violence and lusting after a dark-eyed man with a secret, Vale has a limited amount of time to discover the killer before he strikes again. In the process, she’ll learn things aren’t always what they seem and the supernatural might not be so extraordinary after all.

The Hunt could ride for her.

Vale was found by her parents in the woods behind their house one evening and instantly adopted her. When she got older, she discovered that she had many supernatural powers. With the support and love of her family, she has chosen to move to England and work as a guardian at a secret temple to the Mother Goddess. The job is pretty easy, get to work by ten, trade off car keys, keep the incense burning, don’t mess with the temperature, and lock up the temple between midnight and three am so the Wild Hunt doesn’t take her.

Not believing in the Wild Hunt, Vale is surprised to learn that people have been killed in mysterious ways that are blamed on the Wild Hunt. She also stumbles onto the face that every two years a female guardian disappears without a trace. Vale wants to know what is going on.

During her trips to the library, she meets another guardian, Melissa, who is looking into the same thing. But the more they learn, the more dangerous things get. Vales cat is poisoned then her brake lines are cut. She also learns that something is going on at home, her mother is acting strangely. Also Brett, her co-worker, is getting closer to her. But something strange is going on because he just disappears without giving a valid reason why.

I have to say that I LOVED this book!!! I was sucked in by the second page and couldn’t put it down. The characters were sensational, especially Vale. She was so realistic and actually grew as the story went on. The setting was fantastic. I felt like I was right there. I also liked how you had the romance between Vale and Brett without the over done sex scenes. I admit that I do get tired of that in most paranormal romances.

If you like paranormal romances and science fiction, you are going to love this story. Now I can’t wait for Heather to write more. What a great author!!

I received this for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Puzzle Quizzes

Puzzle Quizzes by The Grabarchuk Family

5 stars

(Excerpt from Amazon) Discover a new type of puzzle challenge – Puzzle Quizzes. It’s a unique mix of quizzes and logic puzzles where your goal is to find out which of the 4 possible answers is the correct one.

Solve 150 pictorial, hand-crafted puzzle quizzes in different themes: visual, spatial, counting, geometric, word, matchstick, coins, searching, and much more.

I have to say that The Grabarchuck Family keeps out doing themselves with every puzzle they come out with. This has 150 puzzles that are both quizzes and logic problems. But that is just the beginning. First, you decide if you want to play Easy, Medium, or Hard. Then you get an index that shows you how long it took you to solve the puzzle. I love that I can see what puzzles I have done and how long it took me so I can challenge myself.

I also love the variety of puzzles. I admit that I get bored easy. But with the variety of puzzles and quizzes keeps me wanting to see what the next one is. I have had to use the hint option, which gives enough of a clue without giving away the answer.

Once again I find myself saying that this is a great way to spend your time if you don’t feel in the mood for reading. It is also worth the money you spend for the game. Each puzzle that they come out with is better than the last. I can’t wait to see what they will come up with next.

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Puzzlebook: 14 Valentine Puzzle Quizzes by The Grabarchuck Family

5 stars

(Excerpt from Amazon) Here is a special Valentine present for the lovers of the Top Rated Puzzlebook series. In this new puzzle collection you will find 14 holiday themed, pictorial, hand-crafted puzzle quizzes.

This is another great puzzle book from The Grabarchuk Family. It has 14 Valentine related puzzles. They are moderate difficulty, not so easy you get bored or so hard that you get too frustrated. They have the same setup as the other puzzles where you can select the option. If correct, your answer will be explained then you can go on to the next puzzle. If wrong, you have the option to go back to that puzzle.

I downloaded this to my phone. It was great to see it in color. Unfortunately, the back option that you have with the Kindle to go back to the puzzle if you select the wrong answer doesn’t work with my phone. I had to go to the index then back to the puzzle that I was working on.

I have to say that I love the Grabarchuk’s puzzles. This is a great way to entertain myself when I don’t feel like reading. Plus they are a great price for what you get. If you love puzzles, you need to get this.

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Ping by Susan Lowry

5 stars

(Excerpt from Amazon) Kate is a young artist who fears she may be the only survivor of a terrible plague. Snowed in and alone for months, her belief that a young boy is contacting her telepathically gives her a reason to hang on until the snow melts. No longer certain of her sanity, she nevertheless decides she must somehow locate and rescue the small child. Instead she finds Jack, a handsome doctor with a secret past who wants her to have his baby and repopulate the earth. Kate’s life gets ever more complicated as she is torn between Jack and the voices in her head.

We start the story with Kate coming home and finding her husband really ill. She tries to call an ambulance but the phones are dead. Trying to get through the huge piles of snow, she tries to get to her neighbors house for help. There she falls ill. After a week, and horrible sores, she manages to come around enough to get back to her house. An unknown virus has raged throughout the world and only a few have survived.

But those that have survived have developed an ability to “hear” others in their mind. Kate talks with a young boy in Texas and works her way from Canada to him. On the way, she meets Jake and although falling in love with him but his past comes back to haunt her. She also meets up with her sister, after a horrible past, and work their way to a safe place to restart.

I admit that I love dystopian novels and this one is one that will be put on my shelf. It is a sad, lonely story as we follow Kate. I liked how the survivors could communicate and work toward getting together. I only have a couple things that didn’t flow for me. The main on was when they got to the lake and then suddenly it was eight months later without any notice except a statement several paragraphs into the chapter. I honestly would have liked to learn more about the astronaut, there was a lot of potential and I was curious about him.

Beyond that, this is a great story. If you like dystopian stories, this is one that you will want to read.

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