Reviewed by Piper Grey on August 6, 2010
Chocolate, anyone? I guarantee when you read Joanne Harris’ Chocolat, you will need some! No book has ever made me more famished and craving confections EVER! This tug of war story between Church and chocolate comes to bare in a sleepy little French community that holds a few less appetizing secrets of its own. But how can magical visitors, an ornery old matriarch and a sexy redheaded gypsy unlock the community’s unappetizing skeletons and overcome evil disguised as virtue? By way of indulgence, that’s how!
Flashy and unmarried Vianne Rocher and her 6 year old daughter, Anouk, meander into the petite community of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes as it prepares for Lent. Within a few days, Vianne opens a copious chocolate shoppe on the town square that the local church also borders. Countless handmade delicacies temp the town’s folk into disregarding their Lenten vows which draws the enraged attention of the austere parish priest, Francis Reynaud. Being the daughter of a “witch”, Vianne distrusts the rigid policy of organized religion and lives by a pagan belief in the wind that drives her along her life’s path. She holds a little magic of her own that she is careful not to abuse. However, in true Vixen form and to fuel the fire a smidge, Vianne announces a chocolate festival to follow Easter Sunday service and a sweet holy war breaks out!
Harris’ secondary characters were as scrumptious as the delicacies Vianne creates. Her uncanny ability to guess her clients favorite confections brings curious minds into her shoppe. Once there, Vianne becomes a savior to these suppressed souls. The abused kleptomaniac, Josephine, finds sanctuary and safety in Vianne’s friendship. The grumpy but wise senior, Armande, uses Vianne’s advice and trickery to help her develop a relationship with her only grandchild, Luke. As an elder of the town, Armande is privy to many of Lansquenets secrets and one in particular has Father Reynaud salivating in panic. And there’s Anouk! Vianne’s 6 year old daughter is a sweet little imp who has so much to teach about love and life; even to her mother.
Well, you can’t have sweet without a little sexy, right? My favorite must be “Roux Chocolate!” Roux is the mouthwatering leader of the river gypsies that stop at Lansquenet to sell their handmade goods. They are given a threatening welcome at the indirect hand of Reynaud; but Roux manages to spread some much need sugar Vianne’s way!
I’m giving this book 4 outta 5 pumps, taking one away for the sometimes drawn out discussions between Father Reynaud and a mute mentor he calls “pere” whose significance isn’t evident until the very end….which is why I didn’t mention him. Harris’ little morsel, Chocolat, was a bittersweet story of good vs. evil, new vs. old, change vs. stagnation. If you’re in need of something sweet but don’t want to burden your Vixeny waistline, savor this bon bon of a book and your taste buds won’t be the only thing that ends up satisfied!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on April 22, 2010
Fashion, flirting and fornicating! The three staple things a girl of today’s modern world embodies, right? But does that translate to the women of the 1920’s? You bet-cher Betty Boop it does! At least it does in Sophie Kinsella’s book, Twenties Girl. Sadie is a partying, fashion forward flapper who makes the most out of life but she has a few problems. She’s lost her necklace and, oh yeah, she’s sorta dead!
Sadie was born in the early 1900s and died a drooly old lady in a nursing home when she was a ripe old 105. However, her ghost is in her younger 23-year-old form and she’s haunting her 27-year-old great niece, Lara Leighton who turns out to be a serious mess. She’s just been dumped by the love of her life AND her business partner. She’s broke and going crazy because she thinks her Great Aunt Sadie’s ghost is haunting her. She can hear and see her plain as day going around screaming at strangers to get them to do her bidding… and its working! Of course, Lara is the only person who can see and communicate with Sadie so she badgers Lara into recovering her beautiful dragonfly necklace. Sadie is not all together sure why, but she knows that she cannot rest until its back in her possession. But where could it be? Or should we say “Who lifted it?”
We meet various lively and expertly developed cast members along the way to solving this mystery. A greedy, rich snake of an uncle, a ditzy self-centered flake of a cousin and boring yet bothersome parents are all suspects! Enter the classic preppy business man with penetrating eyes that has caught Sadie’s attention! Hello Daddy-O!! And she wants him. But the only way she can get him is through Lara. “Anyway you can get it” is what I always say! OWW! A reluctant albeit comical romance develops between Lara and this frowny American. Much to Sadie’s shagrin.
Eventually, Sadie and Lara start to unknowingly learn from one another and the impressions that they leave on the other are life (and death from Sadie’s point of view) altering. Lara uncovered the fact that Sadie’s life meant so much more to so many more lives than she could ever imagine. And Sadie helped Lara figure out the difference between going through the motions of a relationship and really living and loving another person by letting go of her inhibitions.
This was a fun and light story that I absolutely loved! The ending was a bit heavier but delivered a sweet and tender message of family and keeping yours close. I’m giving this book 4.5 outta 5 pumps. Minus .5 for the lack of steamy sex! Sheesh, can I catch a break with the no-sex books already??? But I took away a valuable lesson from Twenties Girl. I want to be just like Sadie when I am 105 years old…. minus the drooling of course!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on March 24, 2010
I-CARUMBA!!! If you’re in need of a sensually steamy, yet still very romantic getaway…than Too Wicked To Kiss is the book for you! This story totally claimed my interests (in more ways than one!) with its mystery, suspense, and sexy, brooding bachelor! Filled with elegant fashions and proper society of the time period, this murder mystery is jam-packed with unexpected twists that lead you to suspect every character.
The setting for this historical romance is in London in the year of 1813. More specifically, the story takes place at Blackberry Manor, the home of Gavin Lioncroft – our delightfully irresistible man-treat. The main character and heroin, Evangeline Pemberton, is a gifted psychic that has just lost her mother and is now desperate to escape her abusive stepfather. She runs to a family friend, Lady Stanton, whose daughter Susan was recently disgraced and shunned from proper society. Unfortunately, Evangeline soon finds herself being blackmailed by Lady Stanton and forced to assist Susan in trapping Gavin Lioncroft (a rich, alleged murderer) into marriage.
When Evangeline arrives at Blackberry manor and meets Gavin, she is caught off-guard by the attraction she feels for him. After a couple accidental and tantalizing encounters with this mysterious man, she learns just how mutual that attraction is. Due to her psychic abilities, Evangeline has never been able to touch anyone without experiencing emotional visions. Yet when her lips meet Gavin’s, she finds that her psychic visions vanish! After a mysterious death occurs in Blackberry Manor, Evangeline uses her gift to unearth the true culprit. It’s a very unique “who done it?” kind of story.
The author, Erica Ridley, has an easy-to-read writing style, with great descriptive qualities and emotional tones. Her vivid and lengthy love scenes are wildly intense, and exceptionally erotic! I am definitely looking forward to reading more from Erica Ridley. The raw sexual tension that is built between Gavin and Evangeline is enough to drive you insane! This man will take you from zero to climax in 60 seconds ladies, and I challenge anyone who thinks they’ll last longer! OOOWWW!!!
Overall, I give this book a 5 outta 5 Pumps! I found it refreshing and one of the best romances novels I have read in a while. With plenty of action, romantic tension, and sensual love scenes, readers will be eager for more. It is only fair that I give you a warning though: If you decide to journey into this lusty novel, I would whole-heartedly recommend picking up a pack of smokes to boot! You’re gonna need it! WHEW!!!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on February 5, 2010
What does the death of a child do to loved ones left behind and what happens to that too young lost soul? The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold provides the Salmon family’s answers to just those questions when their eldest daughter, Susie, 14, is viciously murdered in December of 1973! It’s a tragically sad story that is beautifully written and it really makes readers examine their own moral strength.
The book begins with Sebold’s teenage character narrating the story of her brutal rape and murder by a serial killer neighbor as she takes a shortcut through the cornfield on her way home from school. It’s a brutal scene that was hard to get through but it was never crude. After her death, Susie watches over her grieving loved ones from her perch in heaven; specifically, Susie’s personal heaven. She watches as this vicious crime tears her family apart, brings together her community, and alters her friends’ lives forever. I pitied her father, was confused by her mother, wanted to love her little brother, and identified with her sister. And I, of course, wanted a long and painful public quartering for the murderous bastard that caused all of this. In a perfect world, right?
Sebold’s writing style is light and graceful which is odd when dealing with such a tragic subject. Losing a child is neither light nor graceful. The fact that she wrote this entire story from the murdered 14 year olds perspective as a heavenly soul, gives an air that I can only describe as sweet and content. This calmness sometimes resulted in slight boredom for me. But there was a great suspense-filled incident and then, later, a very tasteful and intimate love scene that reopened my interest when I thought it couldn’t be won over again.
The ending was particularly difficult for me to get through. Not because the writing style was bad or it wasn’t interesting, but because of the sad injustice that it presented me with. I certainly wouldn’t call it a happy ending. I believe the moral to the story was “forgiveness and letting go” but I wanted “substantial and committed justice” and “never letting go”! To be honest I’m crying as I type this so there must be something that really resonated with me. I’ll have to dig deep to figure that one out.
My first hair trigger response was to give this book a big fat 2 because of how affected I was by the ending. But after further reflection I’m giving it 4 outta 5 pumps and here’s why: Sebold is a charming and superb writer. I just realized that I simply disagreed with her view of justice and it made me think about my own sense of morals, which everyone hates doing. I didn’t know what I was in for when I pick this book up but I’m glad I did and I believe I’m better for it.
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on November 6, 2009
I’ve never considered myself a thriller junky. As a matter of fact, I absolutely loathe television murder mysteries and good-guy/bad-guy dramas. Yet, my mind has been opened to a new world of novels after reading The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner. A friend loaned me the book and told me, “this is not your average kidnapping mystery, you will love it” and HOLY EDWARD, was she right?! The Neighbor is a fast-paced ride that throws readers for several loops while they attempt to find out what happened to the blonde bombshell named Sandra Jones.
I know what you’re thinking: BO-RING! But I’m telling you, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth! This book has everything avid readers crave; drama, suspense, romance, mystery, and interesting characters. It begins from Sandra’s perspective; she’s at home with her four-year old daughter named Ree, going through their normal nightly routine. You know; make dinner, play around, bath time, read books, and go to bed… except that when Sandra turns out the light there is a male figure in her bedroom doorway ready to attack! Dun, dun, DUUUN!!
So who was it? Could it have been her devastatingly attractive husband, Jason? He is clearly hiding something from police. Could it have been a convicted sex offender who lives down the street? He has taken quite an interest in the case, and Sandra had her car serviced at his shop recently. Or was it a particular student who has been spending entirely too much time with Mrs. Jones one-on-one? He obviously fell in love with Sandra. Oh, but let’s not forget that little Ree was home the whole time. What did she see and hear? Where did mommy go? Only time will tell….
I loved this book because it challenged me to figure out what pieces of information would lead to finding Sandra dead or alive. The story became a menacing web of lies and deceit that were masterfully woven between misinformation and disturbing pasts. However, Gardner struggled in her attempts to interest me with one of her main characters, Sergeant D.D. Warren; she had the personality of a wet mop who desperately needed to get laid. Other than that, not much can be said for her. Still, I can hardly complain because Gardner’s male characters compensated with their hot and mysterious nature.
The Neighbor, is a crime thriller that will completely knock your socks off! I still can’t wrap my mind around everything that happened from beginning to end, because it was so baffling and obscure. I enjoyed the viewpoints of multiple characters, loved the thrill of uncovering disturbing hidden secrets, and was in constant fear and wonderment of “who dun it.” I’m giving The Neighbor 4 ½ pumps out of 5. I’m taking a half of a pump away for the ending that didn’t quite come together due to its hurriedness. Even so, this book is worthy of your time, especially if you’re looking for an entirely different, very real, and gripping journey!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on October 16, 2009
Halloween has always been my very favorite holiday ever since I can remember. Not the gory / monster part but the ghostly / cemetery part is how I explain it to people. There is just something about the possibilities of ghosts roaming the earth on that one special night that just gets my heart pumping and my imagination soaring. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman gave me butterflies like Halloween was just around the corner. Please understand up front that this book targets an audience of 4th to 8th grade readers but carries great weight & depth; a story that anyone can enjoy. So there is absolutely no hanky-panky, people!
This novel opens with a pretty macabre event. A family is massacred off-screen and the killer searches for the sole remaining family member to complete his gruesome task. The toddler he seeks has wandered out of the house, up the hill, to an old graveyard and into the protective hands of its residents. The babe is given the name Nobody Owens (Bod for short) by his ghostly adoptive mother, Mistress Owens, and is granted the “Freedom of the Graveyard.” This status enables Bod to execute various tricks of the dead like fading and dream-walking. Just give me one day with those little tricks and Diabolical Piper would RULE THE WORLD BABY!
Bod experiences the pains and thrills of growing up through a string of otherworldly adventures. As a result, he discovers various life lessons through his interactions with a treasure-trove of descriptive and beloved characters from various historical periods. These characters include an impish witch, a melodramatic poet, a roman leader, and a shadowy nocturnal guardian (who I suspect to be a vampire but can’t be sure) just to name a few. Readers are first introduced to each ghost through their clever epitaphs engraved on their headstones. This will certainly get you thinking about what might be on your own headstone! Hmm… “Piper Grey – 19(blah-dee-blah) to 20(someday) – Rawkin the Afterlife in Pink Sequins!” Whadayathink??
The villains in this gothic fantasy are all a bit sketchy and vague. One version of the ‘bad guy’ is a coiling, 3 headed serpentine called The Sleer and is the oldest thing in the cemetery. Imprisoned in its tomb, it guards a small treasure and fruitlessly waits for a master to protect. We never get to the history of the creature, the treasure, or the missing master. Another type of villain belongs to an ancient order whose members names are puns off of the name “Jack” but not much else is explained about them.
Although this novel is dark at times, the overall message it delivers is one of self-discovery and overcoming fears of experiencing life. Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is a 5 pumper in this Vixen’s opinion. This coming of age story of Nobody Owens has the potential to become a classic…. and would create delight in graveyards everywhere if it were to make its way to the big screen. Here’s hoping!
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on July 27, 2009
In Twilight, did you enjoy the fact that Edward could read minds and Alice could predict the future? Well, you’re in luck! Shiloh Walker’s The Missing introduces Taige Branch, a teenage psychic who has a precious skill for visions involving children. Early in the book, she becomes known throughout her area as a heroine who has rescued children from drowning, has discovered missing bodies, and even aided in solving murder cases. However, Taige is not your typical cheery, bubbly teenager. While very beautiful, she is known as a freak that purposefully closes herself off from the rest of the world.
Enter Cullen. No, I’m not talking about Edward Cullen, ladies! I know he is our every reason for living, but stay with me! Cullen Morgan is a new breed of Cullen HOTNESS! Picture this: he’s tall, has chocolate brown hair, a nice build, and eyes that make the cool shades of the ocean look ordinary. Hello? Can we say eye candy?! Well, he gets even MORE desirable when he saves Taige from a nightmare that almost comes true; and from that moment on they are forever bonded.
What I liked most about this book is that the plot is especially captivating. It is a monster of a page turner that left me feeling as though I was cheating on my book by going to bed instead of reading! Taige’s unique visions are woven throughout the storyline. However, because she doesn’t quite have a grasp on her gift, she isn’t sure if what she sees occurs in the past, present, or future. This allowed me to creatively explore the possibilities, and when I was able to predict a few outcomes, I was left feeling slightly unsatisfied.
Still, Taige and Cullen’s relationship made this book worthy of my time. The reader can easily see why they belong together; but life crapped on their plans for a happy ending, sending them on separate paths. Several years later, Cullen finds Taige to help him with a situation involving his daughter. I was so excited for his return even though their reunion is less than ideal, and their actions were awkward and clumsy. Even so, there is no denying their past and unexplainable connection. Their romance left me sexually stimulated and needing some action of my own – A girl’s gotta ‘eat’, right?!
The Missing is a dark love story about two incredible characters. Their relationship gave me whiplash, to quote our girl Bella, but I never gave up on their potential. Yet, it is the plot that I enjoyed the most! The atmosphere is murky and depressing, and their circumstances overwhelm the reader. If you are sensitive about situations involving children, you should know that I’m a big baby, and I managed to get through this story unscathed. This book gets 3 ½ out of 5 pumps. I’m taking 1 away for the fact that I had predicted what would happen early on, and another ½ away for the author’s average writing style.
Reviewed by Piper Grey on July 23, 2009
Can I say how incredibly excited I was to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula? It is the literary work of art that started it all! There would be no Twilight or Edward Cullen without the Grand Pubah that is Dracula! I am grateful to its existence for that reason and believe it deserves a high level of respect for never going out of print since its debut in 1897! 112 years of longevity, baby! Oww! However, I found myself conflicted between the longing I’ve always had for the more romantic and simple era and my modern expectations of what a horror story should be.
The seven main characters in Dracula, minus its namesake, form a union to eradicate the evil that is the ‘undead’ and all that it has infected, to include England. After a young and beautiful acquaintance of theirs is struck down with a strange blood disorder, or so it’s believed to be, they make this their sole mission. The two most distinctive characters were Dracula and the mentor-hero, Dr. Abraham VanHelsing. These are the only characters that Stoker takes the time to give detailed physical descriptions of! He even bestows his own first name to the good doctor. After much research, Dracula’s character emerges out of the history books and is brought back to life based on a real fifteenth century Wallacian warrior prince, aka “Vlad the Impaler.” So Drac’s not from Transylvania, people! Stick that in your Trivial Pursuit and sit on it!
If you consider yourself a bit of a ‘Nosey Nelly’ and would just love to get your hands on your neighbors mail or your daughters diary, you will love the fact that this entire novel is written in the form of personal documents ranging from journal entries, to news articles, to even telegrams. This form of writing does chronologically jump around, but also gives you various characters perspectives of the story line.
There are many editions of this book in print. I read the version that includes a Foreword by Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian. She drew inspiration from Bram Stoker’s Dracula in writing her novel and I was convinced of her deep love for this story. It was extremely interesting to read her interpretation of Stoker’s thinking behind his writings and how it may have all tied into his own life experiences. The Foreword may have actually been my favorite part of this book!
I give Dracula Three, Three Vixen Pumps! AH AH AH AH! (Okay, bad “Count from Sesame Street” impression, just couldn’t let THAT opportunity pass me by?) I have to take one pump away for the lack of suspense. Back in the late 19th Century, readers considered this novel overly suspenseful but it just doesn’t measure up with today’s expectations of the genre. I took another pump away for the difficulty in reading the various European accents (albeit, comical at times) and English dialect that was common in Victorian England.
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on June 30, 2009
Tall, dark, and handsome. These are the typical criteria for most women looking for the real-life men who star in their dreams. In the Midnight Breed Series, by Lara Adrian this wish is granted and even magnified over and over again with each turn of the page. This series offers up another perspective on vampires; they don’t sparkle, they don’t drink the blood of animals, and they certainly aren’t teenagers! Instead, Adrian’s vampires are gorgeous, dangerous, erotic, and statuesque warriors referred to as the Order. These men are the ultimate protectors who take the law, and their women, into their own hands.
With the Breed collection, I enjoyed how each book followed a different member of the Order, and introduced a new female love interest. Every volume delivers several no holds barred, juicy, and scintillating love scenes that left me aching with pleasure and yearning for more. If you’re needing to release some pent up sexual frustration, Adrian certainly delivers the goods! On more occasions than I am willing to admit, I actually released several “mmm hmm’s” while reading these steamy sex scenes. I kept imagining how very different our world would be if these bad boys were the real deal. Oh, and if you have a thing for men with tattoos, just wait until you envision these handsome vampires in the buff; their body markings are beautifully described and incredibly spectacular!
While the love stories and the interactions between the vampires and their mates are quite prominent in this series, it is not done in a cheesy or degrading manner. Adrian’s female characters are very strong-willed, and gifted women in their own distinct ways. Each would be welcomed in with the Vixen crowd any day! With each book, I found myself relating to these women and agonizing over their mistakes and celebrating their bravery. In addition, the love scenes are well-balanced out by adding some hearty conflict between “good and evil” along with the Order’s desire for justice to be met.
Now, let this serve as your warning: The Midnight Breed Series is not intended for young adults! If you’re looking for sparkling, self-loathing vegetarians, don’t come here! Adrian’s warriors are wild, unashamed animals in the sack and trained, blood thirsty assassins on the streets. She gives her mature readers what they want: vampires, sex, action, and details! Now, I’m by no means a prude, but the language does become quite vulgar due to the testosterone charged characters. Also, only 6 of the 8 books are currently out, so there is definitely more of our Breed Boys to follow! Because of these little annoyances and minor inconveniences, I have to take one pump away giving this great series 4 out of 5 pumps!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on June 30, 2009
The Sookie Stackhouse Series, by Charlaine Harris is an absolute MUST READ for vampire lovers everywhere!! BE WARNED though—The vampires in this exciting series are not like the swanky, glamorous, vegetarians that you find in Twilight.
The Sookie series takes place in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana; a backwoods, redneck location. At first I was taken back by this setting, allowing my bias for the usual sexy, urbane vampires take over. However, once I got to know the delightfully-tacky people of Bon Temps, I completely fell in love! Their tendency to resemble what most people would call “typical trailer trash” surprisingly became the heart of my enjoyment. The setting truly adds to the unique charm and continuous comedy in the series.
The readers enter on a BANG, starting with a news broadcast of a scientific breakthrough among the medical community. You go on to learn that the Japanese have invented a synthetic blood substitute, TruBlood, in hopes of alleviating the demand for human blood donors in hospitals. Of course, the secret race of vampires see this is as opportunity for them to ‘come out of the closet’ and announce to the public that they are real! They go on to claim that this new invention of TruBlood will enable them to live among society with humans, on account of they won’t have to kill anymore to survive.
The nine books continue to revolve around the adventures of a barmaid named Sookie, who is anything but your average girl. Sookie has the gift of telepathy, though she refers to it as her disability. Relationships are not easy for Sookie, as she is always aware of what everyone is thinking. But something happens the day she meets her first vampire; Sookie discovers that her disability doesn’t pertain to this recently “outted” race, and with that she finds the peace of mind she’s been longing for. As her relationships grow with the second-natured so does her status among them. This humorously presents just as many challenges as benefits. Sookie’s uncanny ability to attract danger at every turn helps form the series overarching plot which will keep you constantly entertained.
Vampires are not the only fictional characters introduced in this series; each book holds new surprises and enticing drama to boot. The character development is flawless, allowing the reader to really appreciate each individual’s circumstances. Charlaine Harris has an incredible knack for using humor during moments that would seem too intense to most authors. Using heavy sarcasm, she is able to maintain a light hearted feel even during the darkest hours.
In reading these books, you get to experience Sookie’s many exciting escapades in which love is formed and lives are always at stake! It’s definitely my favorite adult vampire series thus far! I give this series 5 outta 5 pumps for being full of imagination and unique flavor.