Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Top Ten Favorites from '08

All the blogs I've been reading lately have been listing their favorites from this year so I figured I would give it a shot. I've only just recently started a book journal (not this blog, obviously) so I'll do my best to be accurate not to mention that I will be forgetting so many that I would want to include (so sorry)...These are in no particular order:

Black Magic Woman by Justin Gustainis
Magic Bites & Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews (count them as one)
Moon Called, Blood Bound, & Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs (count them as one too)
Demon Night by Meljean Brook
Touch the Dark, Claimed by Shadow, & Embrace the Night by Karen Chance (also one)
Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series
Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Faefever by Karen Marie Moning
Hunter's Prayer by Lilith Saintcrow

Other authors I discovered for myself this year:
Diana Gabaldon
Terry Goodkind
Lee Child
Gena Showalter
Christine Feehan
Julia Quinn
Lori Handeland
Tara Janzen
J. R. Ward
Julia London
Vicki Pettersson
Anne Stuart
Cindy Gerard
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Lara Adrian
Maryjanice Davidson
Laura Griffin
Faith Hunter
Lynsay Sands

Looking at this list makes me wonder what I read before 2008 :) Thanks to all those hardworking people who are much more diligent than I and are able to keep their book blogs up to date and so damn interesting. You have no idea how much I (and so many others out there) appreciate all your efforts. The genre of urban fantasy (as well as romances of any type) has become an utter obsession of mine that I can't keep up with all the books I want to read (and I read a-lot). Please keep up the good work in '09!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Historical Romances

I resisted reading historical romances for a long time. Looked at them with disdain actually. I don't know what I expected - I guess I just figured they were just bodice-rippers (or "do me" books as a friend of mine called them). Would they have any substance or would they just be flimsy plot devices crammed in between raunchy sex scenes? I still can't bring myself to read the ones with Fabio-like cover models and if I read any that dance on the threshold of those dreaded covers then I do it on the sly. :) I recently broke down and read The Duke and I by Julia Quinn and was instantly hooked. I devoured each one as I got my grubby hands on it. Another writer is quoted on the covers of some of her books as saying that (I'm paraphrasing) Julia Quinn is the contemporary Jane Austen. I guess that is supposed to lend some legitimacy to this genre; romances are generally considered fluff (as I already admitted to) and no "serious" reader would never stick their big toe in the lake of romance novels (or something like that). But the aforementioned paraphrased author is right. I read the first seventy or so pages of Pride and Prejudice just prior to reading The Duke and I and I was struck how similar the stories are, though certainly not the prose. The time period, the society scene in London and surrounding english countryside, and attitudes toward the sexes and marriage are all seriously considered. I will also admit that I while I did enjoy (and will finish) Pride and Prejudice, I enjoyed Julia Quinn a great deal more. Jane Austen wrote some wonderful stories (ironically, most of them romances) but Julia Quinn was easier to read; Austen's prose can be difficult to navigate. Having said all this, I can no longer stick my nose up at historical romances. However I still sometimes can't take myself seriously when I read them but I'm not going to let that stop me. Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Johanna Lindsey and others, here I come. :)

Blog Templates

Picking out a new template for a blog has been a pain in my petunia. I either find one I like that won't allow me to tinker with it or it won't work at all. For now, I'll stick with this boring one while I continue to play around with the format. For those who have been looking at this blog to see what I've been reading, I'm sorry I haven't added anything new. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Beauty Queen by Julia London

Well, I guess I have to take back what I said in my review of American Diva. This book, Beauty Queen, wasn't as formulaic as her other books. The beauty queen (Miss Texas 1990) in question, Rebecca, is freshly divorced and raising her five-year-old son while she tries to figure out what to do with her life now that she's no longer a figure in society in Dallas. She's living in a house in a teeny town near Austin and is searching for some direction. She is approached by a senator who is running for Lieutenant Governor who wants her help with his campaign. There she meets Matt Parrish, a lawyer with District Attorney aspirations. Romance ensues but it's not an easy one. I think this has been my favorite so far of all her books and I am interested to see what happens in the conclusion, Miss Fortune.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox

This is Angie Fox's first book. It's about a woman named Lizzie who becomes a Demon Slayer on her 30th birthday. Hell of a present (pardon the pun) to get just after her biker witch grandma shows up to meet her for the first time ever. Lizzie and her little dog end up having to leave their well-ordered home to go with Grandma on her harley to her coven to keep from letting a demon snatch her up and drag her to hell. Did I mention that her dog starts talking too? And if that wasn't enough, she meets a ridiculously sexy man who is also a griffin who claims he's her protector and will teach her how to use her new powers. This book reminded me a lot of Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum. Goofy and funny and sexy, this book was a lot of fun.

Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

It is so not fair that we fans of KMM have to wait another whole year to find out what's going to happen to Mac. Loved this book, loved it. I was so caught up in what happens at the end that I turned the last page looking for more, oblivious that I had reached the end. Stupid cliffhangers!

Spoiler alert!

Is Mac going to become pri-ya? Probably. Where the hell was Barrons? I know he was giving in to Mac since he'd been an ass to her and was letting her do what she wanted for a change and all but good grief. He picked a hell of a time to do it. V'lane was AWOL too. They did find the book though. And discovered that neither of them can be around it. Where does that leave them in terms of their working relationship? Their personal relationship takes an interesting turn (really, a birthday cake? What did she think his reaction would be?). I also wonder what kind of history Barrons and V'lane have. What is Barrons anyway? I bet we'll never get an answer to that one. I have too many questions to list them all. I still have a few Highlander books to get through so maybe they'll tide me over until next September. Come on Dreamfever!

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

I actually read this one a while back. I didn't like it. Usually werewolves are right up my alley (in books anyway, ha). I love werewolves written Patricia Briggs, liked Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, Ilona Andrews, and Charlaine Harris among others. I think one of the things that turned me off the most in this book was how much of a wienie her alpha was. I am used to alphas that are totally dominant - Curran the Beast King (Andrews) and Bran (Briggs) are perfect examples. Nobody screws with them, least of all their mates. I didn't like Kitty either. Really, a werewolf called Kitty? Who likes to run her mouth on the radio about the existence of werewolves and vampires and such but is absolutely submissive to her wienie alpha. Vaughn also killed off one of the few characters who I actually did like. After I finished this I went on wikipedia and looked it up and found out the plots for all the other books (just to see where it was going). Great thing, wikipedia. Goodbye Kitty.

American Diva by Julia London

Julia London writes addictive romances. They are also pretty formulaic - a well-to-do woman meets a less-than-well-off man. They fight like cats and dogs for a while and then they succumb to their nuclear level chemistry. The guy falls harder than the woman and she will eventually break his heart in the end before she comes to her senses. Doesn't necessarily make for bad reading, it just gets a little predictable. The first Julia London book I read was Material Girl, the first in the Lear family trilogy. I liked it (not loved) but it obviously didn't turn me off her books. And I'm still not sure why I picked this one up since celebrities aren't my thing but I liked this one too. The ending was happy (of course) and I liked the main characters, Audrey and Jack. I would probably listen to her music if she were real. Right now I'm in the middle of the second book in the Lear trilogy, Beauty Queen. More on that one in the future.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This book was so good that I'm actually afraid to read the sequel. To me, Claire and Jamie are literary perfection and I want them to stay that way (I've heard that the rest of the books don't live up to this one). Even more importantly is that the scottish accent didn't even annoy me. I had a hard time getting through some of KMM's Highlander books because of use of words like "wee" and "lass." Maybe it was just KMM's style, I don't know, but Gabaldon used it "verra weel."

The story goes like this: Claire Randall and her husband are on holiday in Inverness, Scotland. It is 1945, the war has just ended, and they are rekindling their marriage since they were physically separated for something like six years while they served England (Claire was a nurse and I think Frank was a soldier). Frank is a history nut and is determined to chart out and research his ancestors. Early one morning Claire goes to study plants around a henge a short hike away. When she touches one of the stones, she is transported 200 years back to the 18th century. She immediately meets and is accosted by one of Frank's beloved ancestors. Then she's kidnapped by another man and taken to a cottage where there are a group of men, one of whom is James Fraser. Jamie is injured and Claire takes it upon herself to be his personal physician and caretaker. They become friends and eventually have to marry to keep Claire safe. Claire has some major issues about this - she doesn't love Jamie yet, she's already married to Frank and loves him still but the biggest problem is that she wants to get back to her time. Being a woman in the 18th century definitely isn't the same as being one in the 20th but she can't tell anybody what her real story is because who would believe her? They already think she's a spy for England and she definitely can't tell Jamie what her real last name is since her has a horrible history with Frank's ancestor Jack Randall. If he found out, he'd never be able to see past it. I won't spoil the rest of the story, you'll just have to read it yourself. I'm glad I did.

Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I love this woman's books. They are romantic, violent, funny and heartache-inducing. Ash has been one of my favorite characters for a while so I surprised myself after I bought this book - I didn't want to read it. Chomping at the bit for months, this book was one of my most anticipated yet when I finally got my hands on it, I put it on my bookshelf and tried to ignore it. I knew Ash's life was going to be unpleasant in the least and I also knew that it would be the end of one chapter in Kenyon's books. Leaving Acheron behind and focusing on Jaden next seems like it's almost a betrayal. I know, I'm being dramatic and all but still. Anyway...

Acheron is not a nice story. Being hated by almost everybody who knew of his existence, Acheron endured so many evils in his first twenty-one years. Being murdered was almost a blessing. Ash's first life takes up over 400 pages of this tome, which I will admit does take away from the telling of his relationship with Tory. But, this book is called Acheron, not some other fluffy title like all the other characters (read: dark-hunters) got so I will forgive Mrs. Kenyon. I don't think I would have wanted to finish it if I didn't know there would be a payout at the end. And it was a good one. I like Tory but I was surprised that she was The One. She wasn't terribly fantastic (i.e. a goddess) like Artemis but maybe that was the point. Acheron is the biggest, baddest being in the universe and his mate is a human female, albeit the one who discovers Atlantis for real. You gotta love irony. I loved that Kenyon made Ash the most vulnerable emotionally out of all her men; not everybody can put away their past and forget it to move on. In all the other books I never considered his appearance to be armor; I just figured he liked to be that way.

It would have been nice, I suppose, to have spent a little more time with Tory to learn more about her past, stuff that didn't necessarily involve her family or Atlantis. Whatever her history, one of my favorite parts of the book was when she put Artemis in her place. Halleleujah. Oh, and I loved the part where she learns about Ash. Whoever heard about somebody not being able to hold their Sprite? Also, I have a hard time listening to Nickelback's "Savin' Me" without getting choked up a little. Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed this book but I'm not sure I'll reread it. Maybe just the second half.

Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow

Dante Valentine is one bad-ass chick. She's also a mess. Being hauled to Hell by a gun-wielding demon to meet Lucifer himself is where this series starts and it doesn't stop until the very end (duh). I guess I was lucky I got sick and had some downtime because once I started the second book, The Devil's Right Hand, I couldn't stop until I finished the fifth and final book.

These books aren't just about killing demons or any work that Dante does as a necromance; Dante is continually in an emotional upheaval: Her friends keep dying. She falls in love with a demon. Avenging the murder of her friend Doreen. Finding Doreen's daughter. Witnessing someone who goes through what Dante goes through is hard; I became way too emotionally involved in what happens. The second book really upset me. Japhrimel and his antics pissed me off in the third, fourth and fifth books. I still have to finish the second book in the Kismet series; I like Jill but she's not keeping my attention like Dante did.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I would just like to say that while I have enjoyed the first three books of George R.R. Martin's The Song of Ice and Fire series I am very glad that I am not eagerly awaiting the arrival of book number five. I have a copy of #4 and have not read it just so I wouldn't be waiting like others I know. Recently, amazon.com had A Dance with Dragons (aka #5) listed as being readily (read: listed when you search for Martin's books) available on September 30, 2008. That listing has now disappeared from amazon and the only listing I can find now is on Borders.com, claiming that it will be released on December 30, 2009. Holy cow! Haven't his fans waited long enough already? He certainly seems willing to publish other works in between #4 & 5. I would think giving #5 some extra attention (read: getting his ass in gear) would behoove him. At this point, I may just wait until #5 comes out in paperback. What's another year?

Wolf at the Door by Christine Warren

I really liked this book. The setup is great: introduce a world where humans in general don't know that there are other "species" living among them: vampires, weres, etc. There was also an irish guy that wasn't annoying! A nice, heady romance, a conspiracy that involves murder and the in/out question faced by anyone who has a secret. I've put the rest of this series on my mooch list and somebody better come forth with some soon. :)

Blood Drive & The Watcher by Jeanne C. Stein

This is a series that is improving with each new installment. I agree with my friend the Booknerd when she said the first one was boring with flat characters. Most definitely. Anna Strong, main character and vampire bounty hunter, is growing. She's trying to keep a grip on her humanity so she doesn't end up like Avery who kept his late human girlfriends in boxes in his attic. She needs her family, her friends (David) and her boyfriend Max, whom she is afraid to reveal herself to. She keeps putting off her "training" and tries to manage her life on her own. Difficult, no? Blood Drive deals with Anna's family and a possible long-lost niece from her dead brother. She meets Daniel Frey, a shape-shifter, and discovers a community of supernaturals in her town. The Watcher involves more supernaturals including a witch, a demon, more shape-shifters and obviously, more vampires. Max is kidnapped, her relationship with David is deteriorating due to his girlfriend's machinations, she is "relocated" my her sometimes mentor to get her out of the area after she has a wild night and a witch is trying to call up a demon to rid the world of people like Anna. The next book, Legacy, is out now and I will read it when I can get my hands on a copy without buying it brand new so I may have to wait awhile.

Smoke Screen by Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown usually wraps a story around a romance - the romance is what's important, not the story. In Smoke Screen, she turns that theory around and the romance becomes a minor plot point IMHO. As far as the story goes, I thought that she came out of left field when the "crux" of the mystery was revealed. Obviously I'm trying not to reveal anything but when I read it I was baffled, not pleasantly surprised. This isn't a bad book by any stretch but it wasn't one of my favorites.

The Devil You Know by Jenna Black

If this first book in this series was a four-car pileup on the beltway then this one is more like a few fender-benders at once. That means that story aside, the graphic scenes in this one are much less disturbing. No gay s&m in this one, just straight sex. The scenarios that Morgan finds arousing continues to, well, not astound really, just surprise. I guess it's just my hetero sensibilities but that stuff doesn't do much for me. Anyway, Morgan's association with Adam and Dominic continues. Adam was much less annoying in this one; he and Morgan actually become something like friends. Or at least partners. One mystery solved too. I'm not sure if I actually like Morgan and her demon but this story is definitely keeping my attention. The next one isn't out until November and since I have plenty to keep my attention I won't suffer too much until it comes out.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Safe Harbor by Christine Feehan

Having read only the first book in this series, Magic in the Wind, this was the book I was looking forward to reading the most. Seeing how antagonistic Jonas and Hannah were to each other made me think that their book would be especially feisty. Not so much. I obviously forgot about Hannah's anxieties that make her a bit of a mess. And Jonas, well, he seemed to be descended directly from a caveman. The way he bullies and demands of Hannah got a bit old and it didn't really mesh for me that they took this long to finally admit their feelings to one another. I anticipated this to be cut more from the pages of an installment of one of Nora Roberts's trilogies. I haven't decided whether or not to pursue the other books in this series; Feehan's Game series is much more interesting. And I've only read the first one in her Dark series but I'm leaning toward regretting purchasing the first three books of it. So, this wasn't a bad read, not hard to follow since I didn't have a lot of the backstory that was made in between this one and the first but I'm not so excited about the following installments.

The Devil Inside by Jenna Black

Demons with a twist. Gay S&M. Exorcisms. This book was like a car crash - I just couldn't look away even though I wanted to. Morgan is an exorcist in a world where demons are legal. Humans can allow themselves to be possessed; they take a backseat to their lives while the demon they let in takes control. Not that this is a bad thing necessarily: demons have to behave or they get exorcised. To that end, many of them are productive members of society. They are cops, firefighters, etc. Morgan's brother is one of the possessed and she can't understand why anyone would willingly allow such a thing. What she doesn't know is that there is much more going on in her life that has to do with possession than she realizes and ends up working with Adam, a possessed gay man/demon; a demon cop who has a taste for torture. Much of this book turned me off but like I said before, I couldn't stop looking. And I'm looking forward to reading the next two books the first of which is out already.

Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles

Freaking awesome. What more is there to say? Lots, actually. Steve Niles is a horror writer best known for 30 Days of Night. Comics mostly but he took several of his graphic novels and turned them into a book of short stories about a private investigator named Cal McDonald. Cal is a mess. A former cop who was kicked off the force because he failed a drug test, he works cases that involve the supernatural. Oh, and he a drug addict. He hangs out with a ghoul named Mo'Lock who, for reasons unknown to Cal, keeps tabs on Cal and helps him out. These stories start out in D.C. but end up in L.A. Cal is a true anti-hero; he protects the people of the world from beings that, well, aren't very nice. The big head is one, a baby alien creature that eats everything and everyone is another along with teenagers who make deals with demons. Niles's writing is frank but funny. In fact, I found this stuff to be more amusing than scary (which was probably his intention). After I read this I found out my husband has been reading his comics for a while now so I have other material of his available in my own home. Yay me! Thanks to Lori from the library; she's the one who introduced us. Chick has great taste.

Stray by Rachel Vincent

I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of this one. I already had a copy of her second book, Rogue, courtesy of WalMart but I didn't want to read them out of order. Stray reminded me of Kelley Armstrong's Bitten on so many levels. The main character, a female were-something-or-other, is estranged from her pack by her choosing but gets sucked back in by a crisis. There's an ex-boyfriend left at home with a new one in her new life. She is a rarity in her were-life; Faythe (Stray) is one of only 8 females able to reproduce while Elena (Bitten) is the only female werewolf on the planet. Both Faythe and Elena are independent and headstrong. They'd have to be; leaving their families and familiarity behind is not something everybody could do. Especially since both of their families are depending on them for something that the males in their packs can't provide. The endings are similar as well. I liked this book and plan to read the next one I have and any others that come after.

Almost too much to keep track

Last night as I was describing the plot of a book by yet another new author I have recently picked up, my husband sighed and said, "I'm going to have to learn a whole new bunch of names aren't I?" My husband, dear man that he is, tries to keep up with whomever(?) I like to read. I guess it's not fair to him that I keep changing the names and all but oh well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann

Love this woman. This was another touching and entertaining book from Suzanne Brockmann. Actually, I was more interested in what was happening with the members/staff of Troubleshooters Inc. than I was the players in the main plot (Izzy in particular) and now have to wait another 6+ months for a new Seal Team 16 book from her. Oh well, she's worth the wait.

Michael Phelps!

This would be one of those posts that have nothing to do with books (duh) but I have to say Congratulations Michael! It was just so awesome watching him make history last Saturday. I had no plans whatsoever to watch any Olympics coverage but I ended up hooked on Michael. And other swimmers too but mostly Michael Phelps. Maybe it's just that I live in Maryland that makes it so cool but watching the last relay he was in on that Saturday, my hands were shaking by the end. As my 3-year-old nephew would say, "Good idea!"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

*SPOILER ALERT* Argh. I never thought she'd do it. I never thought Meyer would allow Bella to be turned into a vampire. Not only that, but she made Bella pregnant! I haven't finished this book yet; I started it the day it came out and have read probably two-thirds of it but I can't bring myself to finish it yet. I've read that it has a happy ending where everyone lives happily ever after. Literally. I'm so disappointed. I adored Twilight and liked New Moon but the last two books let me down. I have to admit that I was a member of Team Jacob; Edward became flat to me in New Moon. I was interested in the version of Twilight Meyer was working on in which the story is told from Edward's point of view but Jacob was so much more alive (pardon the pun) to me that Bella's loyalty and insistence of being with Edward really has annoyed me enough that I don't know that I would even bother reading it if it's ever published. I also have Meyer's The Host on my bookshelf, waiting to be read, but I don't have much enthusiasm for it right now.

Heart of Stone by C.E. Murphy

I liked this one. So much so that I was looking for a cheap copy of the next one online since my library doesn't have it. Margrit Knight is a lawyer who works for Legal Aid and is living in New York. She's black or mixed race and becomes well known in NYC after she wins a big case involving a woman in prison for the homicide of her abusive husband. Margrit discovers the existence of other races living in her world and becomes close with a gargoyle, of all things. Murder ensues. I enjoyed the idea of gargoyles flying around NYC; this is the first book I've read (I think) where gargoyles play a major part in the plot. There was one in Kim Harrison's last book but he was practically part of the scenery. Races in this book and their boundaries in society are very integral to Margrit's character. Too much so for my taste. I'm interested in what will happen with Margrit and Alban (the gargoyle) but I don't think I'll get that invested in their characters since their story will only last for three books total. The third one comes out next month.

Hot Ice by Cherry Adair

I learned about Cherry Adair through a book blog I read on a regular basis (thanks Booknerd!). Seeing the types of books she writes made me hopeful that I would like since she reminds me of Suzanne Brockmann; she reminds me of Tom Clancy on estrogen and Cherry Adair also fits in that category. Definitely my type of story. I'm still working on this one since I only started it last night and it is very promising. I'll hold off on writing about the plot and everything until after I've finished it but it makes me interested enough to be glad that I've already got another of her books on it's way to be via BookMooch. BTW here's the blog I like: http://booknerdsbrain.blogspot.com/

The Beginning of My Blog

To all you blog readers who have somehow landed here, welcome. The plan is this: keep a somewhat regular journal that covers what I read. Since I read lots of books I figured that keeping track and making some observations might be something fun to do. I'm sure I'll talk about other things too but books are a major part of my life so they'll be the emphasis. Not that I expect anyone to actually read this but still it would nice to feel like I'm contributing something other than my carbon footprint. :) Here we go...