Thursday, December 31, 2009

Books Read in December 2009

Fired Up by Jayne Ann Krentz (C+)
Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (A)
Midsummer Moon by Laura Kinsale (B)
Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale (B+)
Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale (A+)
Three Little Secrets by Liz Carlyle (A)
Two Little Lies by Liz Carlyle (B+)
One Little Sin by Liz Carlyle (B+)
The Marriage Spell by Mary Jo Putney (A-)
Heart of Courage by Kat Martin (B-)
Heart of Fire by Kat Martin (B+)
Heart of Honor by Kat Martin (B)
Royal's Bride by Kat Martin (B)
Curse the Dawn by Karen Chance (A)
Dying Bites by D.D. Barant (B+/A-)
Playing with Fire by Gena Showalter (B+)
Stalking the Angel by Robert Crais (A-)
Hidden Honor by Anne Stuart (B)
This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (A but maybe also D)
Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier (A-)
Hot Pursuit by Suzanne Brockmann (B+)
Night Shadow by Cherry Adair (B+)
Night Secrets by Cherry Adair (C)
Night Fall by Cherry Adair (A)
White Heat by Cherry Adair (B)
The Mercenary by Cherry Adair (B)
On Thin Ice by Cherry Adair (A-)
Out of Sight by Cherry Adair (A)
In Too Deep by Cherry Adair (B+)
Hide and Seek by Cherry Adair (B+)
Kiss and Tell by Cherry Adair (A)
Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (B+)
Born of Ice by Sherrilyn Kenyon (B+)
The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais (A)
Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon (A)
Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon (A-)
Echo Burning by Lee Child (A)
Untraceable by Laura Griffin (paused)
The Watchman by Robert Crais (A-)
Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter (dnf)
Child of Fire by Harry Connolly (A-)
Crazy For You by Kate Angell (B)

(December total: 40, 2009: 442)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New to me in 2009 & what's coming in 2010

Looking back through my 2009 book diary, I just wanted to make note of those authors that were new to me this year. I'm talking about writers that have doing what they do for more than one year. A good example from last year would be Diane Mott Davidson. When I told my grandmother last year that I had started reading Davidson's books, her reaction was along the lines of "You dummy. I've been telling you to read her books for years!" I also got that reaction several years back when I "discovered" Robert B. Parker. OK.

Top Ten of 2009

This is a list of my favorite things from 2009. I'm trying to keep this list limited to new stuff as compared to stuff I discovered in 2009 but it is difficult. I know it's shocking but this list is mostly made of books *gasp* but since most of the movies that came out this year were lame what do you expect? This list is also in no special order...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dying Bites by D.D. Barant

This was one weird book. Here's the blurb, once again from (also the back cover):

Introducing the bold new Bloodhound Files series—and a novel that will knock you out of this world…
Her job description is the “tracking and apprehension of mentally-fractured killers.” What this really means in FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s brave new world—one in which only one percent of the population is human—is that a woman’s work is never done. And real is getting stranger every day…
Jace has been ripped from her reality by David Cassius, the vampire head of the NSA. He knows that she’s the best there in the business, and David needs her help in solving a series of gruesome murders of vampires and werewolves. David’s world—one that also includes lycanthropes and golems—is one with little knowledge of mental illness. An insane serial killer is a threat the NSA has no experience with. But Jace does. Stranded in a reality where Bela Lugosi is a bigger box office draw than Bruce Willis and every full moon is Mardi Gras, Jace must now hunt down a fellow human before he brings the entire planet to the brink of madness. Or she may never see her own world again…

I finished reading it a few days ago and I'm still digesting it. Not sure what grade to give it either: did I love it or was it just okay. Read on and out for spoilers :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts at one a.m.

The special effects on the Ghost Whisperer are quite cheesy. Especially for a prime time CBS tv show that been around for several years. SyFy original shows do a better job than the folks on the Ghost Whisperer. Dressing little girls like the girl from The Ring and popping spirits in and out of a scene just does not cut the mustard. I resisted watching this show because I figured it was schmaltzy crap tv - I was right! Jamie Kennedy being a regular cast member closed the deal. I saw an episode the other night - I was bored, there was nothing else on tv and for some reason I didn't have a book in my hands. It was right after her husband had died and then appropriated some other dude's body instead of going into the light. And he didn't even remember her! But he ends up living in her backyard or whatever. Get some better writers! Gack. There's more compelling programming on Nick Jr.

Now that I have a little more free time, instead of cleaning my house I will be working to update the release date list. I've been pretty lazy about that one recently and have been using my wishlist on BookMooch to keep track of what's coming out and when. Posting some more might happen too. We'll see :)

This past weekend and continuing into tomorrow and possibly Wednesday, I've been plowing through my Cherry Adair stash. What a treat she is! They're perfect: about 300 pages so they're read pretty quickly; plenty of humor and steamy romance though I've been skimming through a lot of those scenes since I'm now on book eight, they're all pretty similar; the characters are pretty likeable (Lucas Fox in Night Secrets is mighty irritating). Series like these with covert ops and counterterrorism organizations are usually good for a quick thrill and a decent whirlwind romance. I'm interested in what happens in Night Shadow, the last of my Adair pile and her last release, since I just read The Mercenary last night and Alex Stone was a background yet integral player in that one and is the main player in this one.

Child of Fire by Harry Connolly

Harry Connolly's first urban fantasy novel is pretty damn good. I picked this one up at my local Barnes & Noble one day during a retail therapy (books) session. The cover is interesting, there was a rec from Jim Butcher and the plot just sounded cool. Here's the blurb from Barnes &
Ray Lilly is living on borrowed time. He’s the driver for Annalise Powliss, a high-ranking member of the Twenty Palace Society, a group of sorcerers devoted to hunting down and executing rogue magicians. But because Ray betrayed her once, Annalise is looking for an excuse to kill him–or let someone else do the job.

Unfortunately for both of them, Annalise’s next mission goes wrong, leaving her critically injured. With the little magic he controls, Ray must complete her assignment alone. Not only does he have to stop a sorcerer who’s sacrificing dozens of innocent lives in exchange for supernatural power, he must find–and destroy–the source of that inhuman magic.
Generally, if I see a blurb from Jim Butcher on the cover of a new author/series, I'll buy it. Kinda like the USDA stamp on beef. I know, I know, they don't usually do it for free and there's no guarantee that it really means anything (i.e. Stephen King recommends everything these days) but the man who created Harry Dresden hasn't steered me wrong yet.

Ray Lilly, our hero, isn't really like Harry Dresden. He's an ex-con who pissed off a seriously badass woman who wants him dead yesterday. To atone for his sins, he agrees to become Annalise's (the badass) "wooden man" and accompanies her on her current mission. He has no idea what a "wooden man" is or where it is that they are going. He has no money of his own, absolutely none, and no idea what she is looking for in a small town in the Pacific Northwest but he gets the feeling that there is definitely something awful happening when he witnesses a child bursting into flame at a rest stop on the way. The parents act like nothing happened and they have no knowledge of their child dying right in front of them. WTF!?! It just gets stranger from there: a toy factory in an idyllic little town, more children spontaneously combusting into worms, fire-spewing Stepford types, and werewolves. Ray's boss gets injured and he's left with the heavy lifting. Armed with only one spell (did I mention there was magic?) and his wits, Ray needs to find out just what the hell is going on.

The resolution of this book gives Ray Lilly a purpose: he wants to keep working for the Twenty Palace Society. Resourceful and smart, Ray rises above his past and hopes to redeem himself. His past kinda comes full circle and I can't explain that without spoiling what happens. Sorry :) I can't wait to see what happens in the next book, Game of Cages, out sometime next year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Private Demon by Lynn Viehl

Book two in the Darkyn series focuses on Thierry Durand, a Darkyn that was tortured by the Brethren, betrayed by his wife/mate, and (you guessed it) horribly disfigured. Alex operates on him and restores him to like new condition, including rebuilding his legs and feet. Understandably Thierry has suffered a psychotic break from reality and manages to break out of Michael's fortress/mansion outside New Orleans, heading for Chicago to find the perps who almost killed one of Alex's other patients. He ends up completely obsessed with Jema Shaw, sickly curator for her family's museum who ends up being Thierry's dinner one evening after work. In an alley no less! Jema lives with her mother and their physician in a big ass mansion next door to Valentin Jaus, another one of these poor Darkyn bastards and who will get one of his own books later down the line. Jaus has been in love with Jema for years but has never made a move because she has a very brittle form of diabetes and fears that he will hurt her. Snooze you lose, man :) As is usually the case, there is evil afoot and someone wants to off Jema. Big surprise.

Alex and Michael's subplot continues to grow in this book as well. Actually, that subplot is the real reason this series moves along and is the best part about it. It certainly is the reason I keep reading them. The romances are strange, almost Christine Feehan strange (I do not understand her Carpathian novels - why not just write about cavemen dragging their women around by their hair?). So far I've read books 1-6 in the Darkyn series and Shadowlight, book one in the Kyndred series, and with the exception of Evermore, book five, I don't think I've enjoyed reading about any of the romances in any of the books. Someone on amazon reviewed this book and claimed that Viehl can write dark fantasy very well but she stinks at the romances. I agree. Writing love stories in which the men have no intrinsic respect for their women and control them however they wish to suit their purposes and in which the women fall for these losers even after they're treated horribly is asinine to me. Not that I want her to stop. No ma'am. I want to see what happens with the Kyndred, the women who were experimented on by the Brethren and are now compatible with the Darkyn.

Next up: Dark Need

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais

I think I may have found another favorite author. I read The Watchman, the first official Joe Pike novel, last weekend and loved it. Pike has been PI Elvis Cole's partner since the first Cole novel, The Monkey's Raincoat, but apparently he's not fleshed out that much but is popular enough for Crais to bless him with the limelight in his own series. After reading The Watchman, I decided I had to read his other series and set out right away to get my grubby hands on as many of them I could. Surprisingly, I already had several of them. Elvis Cole however is like the west coast version of Robert B. Parker's Spenser: He cracks wise and has a smart mouth, has his own morality code that doesn't always jive with the law but he always manages to get the job done. Cole is a Vietnam vet turned PI, does yoga every morning, keeps plastic Jiminy Cricket toys on his desk, and if I'm not mistaken, lives on the same road as Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, Woodrow Wilson Drive. According to Robert Crais's website, Cole made an uncredited appearance in Connelly's book Lost Light. Another website claims that Harry returns the favor in Crais's The Last Detective.Very cool :)

In this first book, Cole is hired by a woman to find her husband. He's been missing for several days along with their son and she's afraid to involve the police so that she doesn't anger him in case he comes home. Elvis decides that he will help this mouse of a woman, mostly so he could see what kind of man her husband was. He ends up in the middle of a case involving kidnapping, murder, extortion, drugs, and even the mob. Did I mention he makes love to two women along the way? Elvis Cole is the cat's ass, no doubt about it.

Best Book of November...

I'm going to do something a little different this month even though I'm almost two weeks late with this post...Since I couldn't pick a favorite book, I'll pick a favorite author: Lisa Kleypas. Big surprise, right? Last month Book Binge sang her praises and, well, they're right. Lisa Kleypas writes wonderful romances and can write both men and women equally well. I worked my way through my collection of Lisa's books and while I didn't get through all of them, I did get through eight; two were revisits. Idiot that I am I gave away my original  copies of Where Dreams Begin and Devil in Winter during one of my manic book giveaway sprees. That won't happen again :) You can see the rest of the ones I read on my end-of-the-month book list for November.  I will say that my least favorite was the duo that included Midnight Angel and Prince of Dreams. I felt that they were much weaker than most of her other books. The past-life expedition that put Nikolai in his ancestor's shoes split the book and it interrupted the flow. I might not have minded it so much if he hadn't been such a jerk for the first half of the novel. Anyhoo, if you're reading this and am looking for a new author to try and you enjoy romances, historical or contemporary, Lisa Kleypas is a winner.

Playing catch-up again *sigh*

What better way to spend your downtime when you have a cold than to pick apart your blog? I have been picking at this thing for a few days and I think I like the new background. Appropriate, no? I've also been reading through programming language texts to familiarize myself with html and css, stuff like that. I still need a xml book. Ultimately I want to write my own blog template. Yeah, right :)

I'm so behind in all things these days and I am aware that I still haven't picked my favorite book of November yet. I also need to pick up with my Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series reviews too. Hopefully my free time will loosen up and I will get a chance to catch up with all my dangling posts out there. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Books Read in November '09

Love You to Death by Shannon K. Butcher (C+)
Feel the Heat
by Cindy Gerard (B+)
by Lynn Viehl (B-)
Finding the Lost
by Shannon K. Butcher (B)
Crash Into Me
by Jill Sorenson (B+)
The Last Hellion
by Loretta Chase (A-)
by Kristina Cook (A-)
Devil in Winter
by Lisa Kleypas (A, reread)
Again the Magic
by Lisa Kleypas (A)
Prince of Dreams
by Lisa Kleypas (B-)
Midnight Angel
by Lisa Kleypas (B)
Worth Any Price
by Lisa Kleypas (A)
Lady Sophia's Lover
by Lisa Kleypas (A)
Then Came You
by Lisa Kleypas (A)
Hundreds of Years To Reform a Rake
by Laurie Brown (A-)
The Heart of Christmas
by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick, & Courtney Milan (in order: B, B, B+)
Dark Lover
by Brenda Joyce (A)
Dark Victory
by Brenda Joyce (B-)
All That You Are
by Stef Ann Holm (B)
Embrace the Darkness
by Alexandra Ivy (B+)
Where Dreams Begin
by Lisa Kleypas (A, reread)
Hunter's Moon
by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp (B+)
Twilight Fall
by Lynn Viehl (C)
by Lynn Viehl (B+)
Night Lost
by Lynn Viehl (B)
Dark Need
by Lynn Viehl (C)
Redeemed in Darkness
by Alexis Morgan (B)
"Burning Moon" by Rebecca York from Cravings (anthology) (B+)
"Originally Human" by Eileen Wilks from Cravings (anthology) (B+)
Cemetery Dance
by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (A-)

(November total: 29, 2009 total: 402!)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Months after it came out, I have finally read this latest installment of the Pendergast saga. Aloysius Pendergast has been one of my favorite literary characters for a while now. He's the Sherlock Holmes of our time; D'Agosta actually calls him on that while they work this case.

First off, I am so so so sad that they killed William Smithback. Smithback has been around since Relic, the first book Preston & Child wrote together and the first Pendergast book. It was turned into a pretty crappy movie but the book rocked. He was one of my favorite characters in these books; he had integrity and was funny and I was happy for him and Nora Kelly, his future widow. I'm still not sure why I was so attached to Bill and I was really ticked after I finished Cemetery Dance. I think I just get offended when good characters are killed for no good reason. (See Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, book seven especially.)

This was not my favorite Pendergast novel. It certainly isn't their best work. They killed Bill; they left Constance dangling in the wind until a little bite near the end; the bad guy was a douche (no surprise there); it just felt like something was missing to me even though Pendergast did his mysterious shtick and D'Agosta followed him around like Watson did with Holmes. I also thought the biggest clue that started the investigation was kinda weak - Bill Smithback, big bad writer for the New York Times, was writing a series of articles about animal killings in Manhattan? And killing him on his first wedding anniversary? That was cold.

I was also disappointed that the writers backed off of Pendergast's personal life. After the Diogenes trilogy, I felt like Preston & Child had become comfortable with letting us into the mystery of Pendergast and they did, a teeny-tiny bit. I wanna know what happened with the chick from Italy and what's up with Constance? Nada. We got to see his apartment in the Dakota (yawn) and him talking to Wren, the little old guy that lives/works beneath the NY Public Library. Been there, done that. Please, please don't make us wait two more years for the next one, okay?

Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series

For me, this series has been an automobile accident: I don't want to look at it but I can't look away. I don't really like the characters; well, not all of them. These books also make me very relieved that I'm not Catholic. Here I'm going to write a few words about each book now that I've read through book six. I don't have a copy of book seven yet.

If Angels Burn is the first book. I will say this: Lynn Viehl does a good job of weaving a continuous (and major) subplot through each book even though each one focuses on someone new. Anyway, the Darkyn are vampires. The original group came from the Knights Templar, the fellas that fought for the Church during the Crusades. They turned after all the fighting was done - they all thought they were being cursed by God. There is quite a bit of background to set up in this book since the main players are that continuous subplot I mentioned earlier: Alexandra Keller, the reconstructive surgeon that Time magazine considers to be the fastest scalpel in the world, is kidnapped by Michael Cyprien, head Darkyn of America, so that she can repair his face. He was seriously disfigured by the Brethren, a nasty offshoot of the Church that charges itself with cleansing the earth of the evil maledicti, aka Darkyn. Cyprien had tried to play nice with Alex - he repeatedly asked her via the phone and fax to come to him of her own volition. He also offered up $4,000,000.00. She said no so he had her snatched and made her fix his face. He then accidentally turns her into a vampire, the first new one in hundreds of years. They fall in love, yada, yada, yada.

Here's my problem: the way I'm wired is this - ask me to do something nicely, fine. Force me/tell me, hell no. So, kidnapping a surgeon, forcing her to operate, killing her and turning her vampire (even by accident), lying about everything, snatching her again later & a bunch of other things does not equal true love to me. Cyprien has the ability to tamper with memories and he can make you forget whatever he wants and he does this to Alex over and over and she still falls for him!?! No freaking way. Even into book six I'm still perplexed by it. And I like Alex so much too - she's strong, very intelligent, so funny and such a smartass. But I just don't get it. How can you love someone that much if you can't trust them? There's no way I'd trust Michael with the tv remote control, much less my heart.

Up next: Private Demon

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Only You by Deborah Grace Staley

Deborah Grace Staley is a new author for me. She's only published two books - this one and the next in the series, A Home for Christmas. Originally published in 2004, these books are being rereleased with new covers. I received Only You through the awesome folks over on LibraryThing as part of the Early Reviewers. This book came in bound manuscript form and I wasn't sure if that would bother me since sometimes the physical attributes affect my enjoyment of a book. Well, it didn't :)

This was a sweet story. An accomplished woman comes back to her hometown to run the local library, fulfilling her childhood dream. She's not having a good time with it though; pressure from the powers-that-be to have everything new and running by Memorial Day and a falling apart house are making it difficult to keep perspective. One good thing happens: reuniting with her high-school savior, the boy that made her life happier at a time when she was most miserable. They were never close but they both admired each other from a distance and as the then-boy was from the wrong side of the tracks and a high school dropout, it didn't seem possible to give a possible romance a chance. They were wrong and I can't wait to see what happens in A Home for Christmas. (This review will also appear on LibraryThing.)

Books Read in October '09

Only You by Deborah Grace Staley (B+)
Fragile Eternity
by Melissa Marr (B)
Grave Secret
by Charlaine Harris (A-)
Blood Promise
by Richelle Mead (B)
Shadow Kiss
by Richelle Mead (B)
by Richelle Mead (B)
Ink Exchange
by Melissa Marr (A-)
Wicked Lovely
by Melissa Marr (A)
Vampire Academy
by Richelle Mead (B)
In Darkness Reborn
by Alexis Morgan (B)
Dark Defender
by Alexis Morgan (B)
Little Bitty Lies
by Mary Kay Andrews (C)
Seeing Red
by Jill Shalvis (B)
Blue Flame
by Jill Shalvis (A-)
White Heat
by Jill Shalvis (A-)
Kiss of Fury
by Deborah Cooke (A)
"Beneath the Mountain and the Moon" by Virginia Kantra from Over the Moon (anthology) (C+)
Dragon Actually
by G.A. Aiken (B)
The Darkest Whisper
by Gena Showalter (B)
The Renegade Hunter
by Lynsay Sands (B)
Private Demon
by Lynn Viehl (B)
Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins (A-)
by Karen Marie Moning (A)
A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray (dnf)
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins (A+)
The Society
by Lilith Saintcrow (A-)
Midnight's Daughter
by Karen Chance (A)
Dust to Dust
by Heather Graham (B-)
Storm Born
by Richelle Mead (paused)
One Bite with a Stranger
by Christine Warren (dnf)
Kiss of Fire
by Deborah Cooke (A-)
Bitten & Smitten
by Michelle Rowen (B)
Forbidden Nights with a Vampire
by Kerrelyn Sparks (B)

(October total: 30, 2009 total: 373)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Best Book of October...

It's not even November yet and I can already tell you what the Best Book of October was: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Absolutely, this choice is a no-brainer :)

It seems to me that I've been hung up on YA novels lately: Shiver, Vampire Academy, Wicked Lovely, etc. I don't generally read lots of YA novels but I've been hanging out quite a bit in my local library's YA section and I keep finding all this good stuff. I did try to read A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray but it just wasn't for me. The Hunger Games, however, was totally and completely awesome.

Suzanne Collins has created a world where the (former) United States is more like North Korea: the citizens are kept under airtight control with poverty and starvation. To reinforce the sovereignty of the Capitol, each of the now twelve districts are forced to hand over two of their young people to be pitted against one another in a survival game to the death. And the citizens are required to watch this spectacle where their children may die on live television after they've been turned into celebrities. The main character, Katniss, volunteers to take her younger sister's place in the games and is sent with Peeta, a boy who she doesn't really know but has a sort-of history with. This book was riveting with its fast pace and smart writing. There isn't a boring part in this book and I had to make myself put it down for the night when I was reading it; otherwise I would have been up way too late and if I didn't hate mornings so much, I would have stayed up to finish it :) Catching Fire, the sequel, wasn't quite so good as The Hunger Games but I think that's more because I became so emotionally invested in the characters and a lot of crappy things happen to them. The next book, still untitled as far as I can tell, will most likely not be out until next September. Ugh. Write faster!

Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity

I'm not sure I like where this series is going. I so enjoyed Wicked Lovely and the introduction of Aislinn. She seemed much older to me in that book, more adult and maybe a little more wise. Definitely more mature. Aislinn wasn't in Ink Exchange that much; she is turned into a part of the scenery in Leslie's world. Delving into the Dark Court was very interesting, seeing Irial's management style and the different types of players definitely helped describe life in Faerie. I felt bad for Leslie and even more so for Niall, who I love. I am so happy that he's a major player now :)

Fragile Eternity is a transitional story. Has a perfect title too. It returned the focus to Aislinn, Keenan, Donia, and in particular, Seth. Ash's honey is now also a major player and it is bound to cause lots of problems. Good. I intensely dislike Keenan - a master manipulator, Keenan couldn't care less who gets hurt or stepped on when it comes to getting what he wants, faery or mortal. He is definitely about to reap what he has sown. Introducing the High Court was important too as that's Seth's court now. War is imminent amongst the faeries and Aislinn has some key decisions to make. Does she still want Seth? Will she finally give Keenan the kick in the ass he so desperately needs? Will she grow up and fulfill her role as Summer Queen or is she going to wallow some more, tempted by Keenan but unsure about Seth? She really regressed in this book and I was so disappointed in her. But she is only a teenager (technically) without much experience beyond high school. Maybe this is the whole point of the story, Aislinn's progress in maturation and turning faery. A coming-of-age story maybe? All I really know is that the next one won't come out until April and I have six more months to wait :)

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

I check in on Charlaine's website weekly; she splits her weekly entry into half book reviews, half journal entry. She's had the first chapter of this book up on her site for a month or two and when I read it, I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. We all know her last Sookie book was pretty serious and I was shocked how many people criticized her for it. IMHO, she can't write a bad book but I just wasn't jazzed up for this one. Harper's life isn't that exciting and her relationship with her stepbrother/best friend/lover Tolliver has, as Harper said in this book, an "ick factor." In many ways, each book is quite similar - Harper and Tolliver travel all over the U.S., hired by people who are generally skeptical at best in Harper's talent of finding the dead. Someone decides that they are worth taking a shot at and then they solve the mystery and go along their merry way. There's also quite a bit of angst, definitely understandable, about their childhood, their neglectful parents who went to prison, their little sisters being raised by an aunt and uncle who don't like Harper and Tolliver, but most of all is Harper's missing sister, Cameron. Well I have news for you-all, Grave Secret ain't boring.

I won't rehash the whole plot of this book since you get the gist on the dust jacket but I will say that several of the dangling plotlines that have around since the first book are resolved. Family stuff in particular is focused upon and I was so relieved about that. It was about time too; backstories tend to be cleared up around this time in a series. We get to meet Tolliver's father and the way he was wrapped in the mystery in this book was interesting, if not exactly surprising. Harper and Tolliver end the book with a (mostly) happy ending and I expect that the next book can be started with a (somewhat) fresh start.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Very freaking cool. As I've said before, I don't usually enjoy books about the
Fae but I LOVED this one. I've had a lot of luck with YA series as of late and I just picked up this one from the library because I recognized the author's name. I'm so glad that I grabbed the second one in the series, Ink Exchange, since I plan to get into that one tomorrow. I recently saw a review for Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series that said (I need to paraphrase here) that the reviewer's favorite thing about that series was that it didn't talk down to the reader. I'm not sure if I agree completely with that statement in regard to Mead's series but it certainly does apply to this one.

Aislinn (love that name, pronounced Ash-linn) is a senior in high school and can see the Fae just like all the other women in her family. Faeries are everywhere in her town and she has learned how to live among them without attracting their attention - think of the creatures in Pan's Labyrinth. That is, until she meets Keenan. The Summer King, Keenan has been searching for his Summer Queen for years. His mother is The Winter Queen, a cruel and murderous woman, responsible for binding his powers and keeping him weaker so she might stay in control. Keenan needs his Queen to release his powers and help vanquish his mother. Aislinn wants nothing to do with the Fae and wants someone completely unrelated to all this mess, Seth. (I wasn't completely sure how old Seth was; he lives alone in a train car of all things, doesn't go to school, and as far as I could tell doesn't work.)

This book focused mainly on the most integral people in Ashlinn's life: her grandmother, Seth, Keenan, Donia (the Winter Girl), and a few assorted friends, none of whom make much more than a few appearances and then only at school. I appreciated the lack of the high school drama; Ashlinn's friends don't know about her abilities or even the existence of the Fae so they weren't important to the meat of the story. Ashlinn has some serious choices to make that could put her whole future in jeopardy, and with Seth, a slightly older boy who isn't involved in the inanities of high school, her romantic life was more adult but not too adult. Keenan did strike me as someone who seemed younger than he should; why would an immortal being like the Summer King look for his Queen to be someone who hasn't even fully grown yet? It is a YA novel after all, I guess :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Best book of September...

And the winner is...well, no need to be redundant :) I don't usually care for books about the Fae/Fairies/Faery/etc. In nearly every book in which they are present, they are almost always the most devious, the most terrifyingly beautiful, and the most malevolent. Give me a werewolf anyday :) However, there are exceptions and this new series by this new author rocked my...brain. I liked the main character, October Daye, and I felt deeply sorry for her (once you discover what happened to her I think you will too). But, by the time I finished this book, I respected her and am in anxious anticipation for the next one, A Local Habitation, due out early March 2010. I definitely can't wait to see happens with Tybalt, the Cat King.

Rosemary and Rue just beat Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead as my favorite read for the month. Also a new author for me, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and I loved Georgina Kincaid, the aforementioned succubus. I don't usually buy trade paperbacks brand new and I went and ordered the next two in the series from amazon. The lesson to be learned from this series is: never judge a book by its cover :)

Books Read in September '09

Secret Life of a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks (B)
All I Want For Christmas is a Vampire
by Kerrelyn Sparks (B+)
When Darkness Comes
by Alexandra Ivy (B+)
Beyond the Pale
by Savannah Russe (dnf)
If Angels Burn
by Lynn Viehl (B-)
Succubus Blues
by Richelle Mead (A)
Dark Protector
by Alexis Morgan (B)
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs
by Molly Harper (A-)
Rosemary and Rue
by Seanan McGuire (A)
Mark of the Demon
by Diana Rowland (A-)
Bloody Awful
by Georgia Evans (B)
Vicious Circle
by Linda Robertson (B)
Ravenous: The Dark Forgotten
by Sharon Ashwood (B)
by C. J. Barry (B+)
Drawn Into Darkness
by Annette McCleave (B)
Run to Me
by Christy Reece (B)
Wait Until Midnight
by Amanda Quick (B)
Return to Me
by Christy Reece (A)
Rescue Me
by Christy Reece (A)
In Twilight's Shadow
by Patti O'Shea (B)
This Duchess of Mine
by Eloisa James (B)
Bet Me
by Jennifer Crusie (A)
A Duke of Her Own
by Eloisa James (A-)
Atlantis Unmasked
by Alyssa Day (B+)
Cloud Watcher
by Lilith Saintcrow (B+)
Fire Watcher
by Lilith Saintcrow (B+)
Storm Watcher
by Lilith Saintcrow (B+)
What a Scoundrel Wants
by Carrie Lofty (B+)
Highland Scandal
by Julia London (A)
The Book of Scandal
by Julia London (A)
Awaken Me Darkly
by Gena Showalter (B+)
Ghost Moon
by Rebecca York (B)
New Moon
by Rebecca York (B-)
Shadow of the Moon
by Rebecca York (C+)
Crimson Moon
by Rebecca York (C+)
Witching Moon
by Rebecca York (B)
Edge of the Moon
by Rebecca York (B-)
Killing Moon
by Rebecca York (B)
The Last Suppers
by Diane Mott Davidson (A)

(September total: 38, 2009 total: 343)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Best Book Read in August 2009

We have a tie: I can't decide between Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels and Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver. Both books were excellent examples of their genres and both elicited laughs and sniffles. Bravo ladies :)

Friday, September 11, 2009


I'm writing this post so that my friends and others from my book-related websites may see this and blow a big fat raspberry at all the literary snobs out there who think romance novels are not legitimate fiction. Admittedly, I don't keep up with newspapers and I don't even read my local paper but I ran across THIS on Julia Quinn's website and it made me want to run out and buy Eloisa James's books. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Books Read in August '09

Loving a Lost Lord by Mary Jo Putney (A-)
The Cursed One
by Ronda Thompson (A-)
The Untamed One
by Ronda Thompson (B+)
The Dark One
by Ronda Thompson (A-)
Sea Witch
by Virginia Kantra (B)
Atlantis Unleashed
by Alyssa Day (B)
In the Midnight Hour
by Patti O'Shea (B+)
The Dream Thief
by Shana Abe (B)
The Smoke Thief
by Shana Abe (A)
The Vampire's Bride
by Gena Showalter (B+)
The Nymph King
by Gena Showalter (B-)
Jewel of Atlantis
by Gena Showalter (B)
Heart of the Dragon
by Gena Showalter (B)
Branded by Fire
by Nalini Singh (A-)
Hostage to Pleasure
by Nalini Singh (A-)
Mine to Possess
by Nalini Singh (A-)
Dark Watcher
by Lilith Saintcrow (B+)
Holding Out For a Hero
by Ana Leigh (B+)
One Night With a Sweet-Talking Man
by Ana Leigh (B)
Dead Men's Boots
by Mike Carey (paused)
Vicious Circle
by Mike Carey (A-)
by Maggie Stiefvater (A)
Lord of Scoundrels
by Loretta Chase (A)
Instant Gratification
by Jill Shalvis (B+)
Mortal Path: Dark Time, Book 1
by Dakota Banks (dnf)
Touch of the Wolf
by Susan Krinard (A-)
To Tame a Wolf
by Susan Krinard (B)
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (B)
His Boots Under Her Bed
by Ana Leigh (B)
The Lawman Said "I Do"
by Ana Leigh (B)
To Catch a Wolf
by Susan Krinard (B-)
(anthology) (B)
Goddess of the Hunt
by Tessa Dare (B)
The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale (C)
Over My Dead Body by Michele Bardsley (B-)
You're the One That I Haunt by Terri Garey (B+)
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson (A)

(August total: 35*, 2009 total: 305)
DNF don't count and neither does "paused"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A few thoughts before bed...

In about twelve hours or less, my copy of Karen Marie Moning's Dreamfever will be landing on our front porch. Can't wait to get my hands on it...I won't even read it right away but touching it will make me happy. Sad, isn't it? Am I the only one who does this: I wait and pine and count the days for a new book of a favorite author to come out and when I get it, it gets put on the bookshelf until I'm "ready" to read it. I still haven't read the newest books from Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, Julia Quinn, and Ilona Andrews yet. I keep looking at them and thinking "Hmm, not yet." And then I end up reading some beat-up copy of something by Lisa Kleypas or Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me for the umpteenth time. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I have noticed that my August count of books read is wayyy below average for me lately. Last month I had over forty and so far I'm managing about a book a day. Fortunately for me they've good ones. Mostly.

First up: Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver. This chick is going to do for werewolves what Stephenie Meyer did for vampires but with teenage nookie. Not explicit teenage nookie but nookie nonetheless. I loved this book and it made me cry. It's funny, heartbreaking, and kinda angsty (it is about teenagers). Grace lives in Minnesota and has been obsessed with the wolves that live in the woods around her home. She is an only child with parents who are distracted with their own preoccupations to worry too much about their daughter so she more or less runs the household. When Grace was eleven, one of the wolves grabbed her off her backyard swing and brought her to the pack to eat only to have one of the other wolves, known as Sam when he's bipedal, save her, becoming her guardian from then on. The interesting thing about these werewolves is that they don't follow the usual guidelines: they aren't affected by the moon but by the weather - cold temperatures/seasons make them turn and heat makes them human. Once bitten there is only a finite number of years that they still live as humans before they become a wolf forever and then their lifespan is the same as regular wolves. Being infected by the wolf toxin is more or less a death sentence. Grace and Sam fall for each other at first sight and when he appears in his human form when it's getting cold outside, he has to fight to stay with Grace, the first good thing in his life just about ever. I loved Twilight the first time I read it - I'm a big sucker for love stories like that - but Shiver kicks the crap out of Twilight. Linger, the sequel, will be out at the end of 2010.

I mentioned in a somewhat recent post that I had been picking up the romances mentioned by Smart Bitches, Trashy Books in People magazine and had been 0 for 1. Well, I read Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase and am now 1 for 2. This was one of the best regency period romances I have ever read. Sexy and so funny - I laughed out loud several times. I loved Miss Jessica Trent. I want to be like her and have her quick brain. Keeping Dain on his toes was the job for an expert and she was wonderful. He was delightful as well. This was a definite keeper.

I am still thinking about Mercy Thompson: Homecoming. Also, I only have a few books in the running for the Best Book in August. 'Night :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

When you have to work for it...

I listed a book lately as "dnf" that seems to be pretty high in demand and two of my acquaintances asked me why I couldn't finish it. Well, here's my explanation and I promise I do have a point so bear with me:

I am not old by any stretch, still youngish in my mind, but as I've grown up I find that my interest in what I enjoyed when I was younger has changed quite a bit. What a surprise, no? I don't watch television like I used to, I dress a little differently, and of course, my taste in books has changed too. Want to know what also is different? Patience, or lack thereof. If I picked up a book and started reading it, I finished it unless it completely freaked me out (i.e. Kiss the Girls and the snake. Fifteen years later and I still have not come across anything that has affected me that much except maybe Breaking Dawn) or was so poorly written that you had to wonder how in the world it got published. Now, the new rule is that if by fifty pages in and it still hasn't grabbed me, it's time to pull the plug. The aforementioned dnf is the latest in this list is Mortal Path: Dark Time by Dakota Banks. I got through the whole setup of the plot: a pregnant healer who lives in Massachusetts in the 17th century is burned at the stake because another woman accused her of being a witch so she could steal her husband. Well, ha ha on you lady - the burned one is offered immortal life with a bunch of cool bennies if she comes a demon's assassin. The first perk: kill the bitch who set you up. After that, hundreds of years go by before the assassin's conscience kicks in and she decides to grow a pair and stand up to the big bad. Turns out that the only way to get free of him is to become mortal again and work her badass ass off saving enough people to make up for all the bad she's done. OK, that stuff was fine and is all background and I kept reading because I knew that the story was just taking off from there but I wasn't sucked in yet. So, I keep reading and read about her apartment in Chicago and the superfantastic burglar deterrents she had and I thought "That's about enough." That stuff was so over the top and I felt that if the author is going to go that silly with details on that issue, I wasn't interested. Enough was enough and I didn't want any more. It just turned me off.

Don't go thinking that I'm some flighty chick who can't commit to a book though. Tonight, finally, after a year, I finished Vicious Circle by Mike Carey. I started it last year right after it came out since I bought it hardback. I made it halfway through when something else caught my attention; something lighter and probably a romance but that's not important. Circle is Carey's second Felix Castor book and he's sort of a british version of Harry Dresden with an even drier wit and Harry's a wizard while Felix is an exorcist. This was no light read and I made myself restart from the beginning again since it had been a year. It didn't always keep my attention - there were three subplots going on that seemed totally independent from one another involving a possessed church, a possessed man in an asylum, and a missing dead girl. Carey ended up weaving them together quite artfully and ended up with a book that had my attention, even if it did take 200 pages to get there :)

The moral of this long and probably boring story is this: follow your gut. If it feels worthy it probably is. If it isn't, don't feel guilty about not finishing the book. Maybe you're just not in the right mood or place for it yet. You can always pick it up again later.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Larsson, Kinsale, Carey, and Barnes. Oh my!

Here's a quick (Ha!) recap of the highlights of what I've read so far this month...Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire was an entertaining sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. SPOILER ALERT! I wondered how Larsson would have Blomkvist and Salander interact after the ending of Tattoo since Lisbeth realized she was in love with Mikael and shortly thereafter was confronted with the reality of Mikael's love life (i.e. she saw him with his married friend-with-benefits, just one of his repertoire). Lisbeth doesn't do anything halfway and I wasn't sure how Larsson was going to negotiate things. I also wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Mikael's reaction to Lisbeth since the man is basically a tomcat :) Not amoral, just free with his affections, shall we say? Well, Larson negotiated things pretty well I thought, and also surprised me by leaving the ending open to be concluded in the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (I don't know why but I just assumed each book would have a real ending). Fire revealed some of the mysteries of Lisbeth's past but after I finished it I realized that the biggest answer wasn't revealed after all! We don't really specifically find out what happened to Lisbeth when she was thirteen. It was hinted at and maybe suggested but not fully revealed. Probably a good thing since there's one more book left that Larsson wrote before he died in 2004. I wonder what will happen - will they continue the series with a new writer or just finish it and let it be?

So I saw the post on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books about their page in People magazine and promptly wishlisted most of the book recommendations they gave there with the exception of Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me since I already have it and it's one of my favorite books. Ever. Anyhoo, Laura Kinsale's The Shadow and the Star was listed and it sounded very promising. A white ninja? Who had ever heard of such a thing! Well, ok, Batman might count :) Now that I've read it here's my reaction: eh. I was so disappointed! I absolutely respect the Smart Bitches and all that they've done for contemporary and romantic fiction but we don't always jive on our taste in books. That's okay, not everyone is going to agree, but I was surprised how differently I felt about this book. Set in late 19th century England and Hawaii(?), this is the story of how Samuel (the aforementioned white ninja) and Leda, an impoverished lady living in not quite poverty and trying to keep her head above water and not end up a prostitute in London, meet and fall in love. Samuel had a traumatic childhood and ended up living with an english earl and his family in Hawaii on the big island, becoming an apprentice to a Japanese butler, as seen in The Karate Kid. He believes himself to be in love with the earl's daughter Catherine but begins to doubt himself when he meets Leda in some pretty strange circumstances. This book just did not work for me. I liked Leda and her sensibilities and I liked Samuel but the flashbacks to his training with Mr. Myagi just didn't mesh with the rest of the story and the ending! It felt like it had just been crammed in at the end (duh) but seem to match the rest of the book. It was like, Let's come up with some kind of drama that will tie up all the strings of the plot and maybe establish some sort of resolution. Sorry, it didn't work. I hope I'm not also disappointed in Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels since it was also listed on that fateful page in People magazine but I am going to give it a shot anyway :)

Today, I'm working to finish Jennifer Lynn Barnes's Tattoo, a YA novel about four teenage girls that develops supernatural powers after they put temporary tattoos on their bodies. One has pyrokinesis (Bailey, our protagonist), one has telepathy (Annabelle), one has transmogrification (Delia), and last but not least, the fourth can see the near future (Zo). They are given these powers to help the sidhe fight a certain force of evil which hasn't been revealed to me yet. So far, it's been a fairly typical YA novel with teenage girls and their problems but hasn't been obnoxious about it :) Last night I restarted Vicious Circle by Mike Carey. I read about half of it last year after it came out but I wasn't in the right, um, place/frame of mind to read it so it's sitting on the shelf since then. Now that Dead Men's Boots has come out and the fourth Castor book, Thicker Than Water, will be available from amazon soon and I want to catch up with the series because I do like Carey's work and enjoy reading about Felix Castor. The plan is to pick it up again after I finish Tattoo today, and after I finish stuff around the house :)

Coming thoughts on Mercy Thompson: Homecoming (the comic book miniseries)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shifter anthology

Well obviously, this anthology has stories from four authors (see picture). I bought this so I could keep going with Alyssa Day's Atlantis series and the fourth story is in novella form here.

"Shifter's Lady" by Alyssa Day is about two characters that are introduced in the second and third stories. Ethan, the alpha of the Florida panthers, and Marie, some high priestess on Atlantis who is the sister of Bastien, one of the warriors. Marie finally gets to leave Atlantis for the first time in 300 some odd years and goes to visit folks in Florida. Romance and violence ensue. Grade: B

"Sea Crossing" by Virginia Kantra was the next one I read and was pleasantly surprised. I don't expect much from books like this; too-short plot lines by favored authors are teamed with novellas from authors I'm not familiar with makes for a crap shoot IMHO. Kantra's novella is (it seemed to me) a prequel to her first book, Sea Witch. Set in the 19th century and beginning in Liverpool, England, and ends on a mystery island that inhabits selkies. I liked Kantra's style and am looking forward to reading Sea Witch. Grade: B+

I read the other two novellas, "Mad Dog Love" and "A Jaguar's Kiss" (Knight and Leigh respectively), and while I didn't hate them, I didn't particularly like them either. Knight and Leigh seem to write books that are more erotica than paranormal romance. In fact, I recently tried to read Knight's Mercenaries, a volume of three short stories, and didn't make it through the first story. I also had the stereotypical porn soundtrack running in my head the whole time :) To be fair, she does warn you in the beginning that two of the stories had previously been published by Ellora's Cave and were not for the faint of heart. And both stories do express heartfelt emotions and are romances but they were both just too explicit for me. Grade: C+ for both

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Green Lantern marathon

I am now caught up except for the most current issues of GL and GL Corps. For the excuse of posterity (really just so I remember where I left off because I'm very bad at keeping up with comics), here's is what I've been reading for the last 24+ hours (I did sleep and do other stuff for most of today so don't worry):

Green Lantern
Issues #26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42,

Blackest Night
0 (Free Comic Book Day issue)

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns

Green Lantern Corps
19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37

Friday, July 31, 2009

Books Read in July '09

Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War Vol. 2 by Geoff Johns (A)
Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War Vol. 1
by Geoff Johns (A)
Atlantis Awakening by Alyssa Day (B)
What She Wants by Lynsay Sands (dnf)
"Paradise" by Meljean Brook (from Wild Thing anthology) (B)
Otherwise Engaged by Suzanne Brockmann (A)
"Wild Hearts in Atlantis" by Alyssa Day (from Wild Thing anthology) (B)
Dark Embrace by Brenda Joyce (B+)
Dark Rival by Brenda Joyce (B+)
Dark Seduction by Brenda Joyce (B+)
The Frasers: Clay by Ana Leigh (A)
A Match Made in Hell by Terri Garey (B+)
Atlantis Rising by Alyssa Day (B)
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong (A-)
Wait Till Your Vampire Gets Home by Michele Bardsley (B)
Because Your Vampire Said So by Michele Bardsley (B)
Don't Talk Back to Your Vampire by Michele Bardsley (B+)
I'm the Vampire, That's Why by Michele Bardsley (B+)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (A)
Deep in the Heart by Sharon Sala (B)
Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge (A)
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (B+)
The Gamble by LaVyrle Spencer (A-)
That Camden Summer by LaVyrle Spencer (A)
The Trouble With Paradise by Jill Shalvis (B+)
Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi (B+)
Burn by Linda Howard (C)
The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews (B-)
Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas (B)
The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout (B)
Undone by Rachel Caine (B+)
No Ordinary Man by Suzanne Brockmann (C)
Taylor's Temptation by Suzanne Brockmann (B+)
Black Hills by Nora Roberts (dnf)
Something Shady by Pamela Morsi (B)
Temptation Ridge by Robyn Carr (B)
Undead and Unreturnable by MaryJanice Davidson (dnf)
A Heart Speaks by LaVyrle Spencer (B)
Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh (A)
The Dream of the Stone by Christine Askounis (A-)
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill (A)
Too Far Gone by Marliss Melton (B)
Don't Let Go by Marliss Melton (C+)
Montana Creeds: Tyler by Linda Lael Miller (B)
Montana Creeds: Dylan by Linda Lael Miller (B)
Montana Creeds: Logan by Linda Lael Miller (B+)
Kiss Me While I Sleep by Linda Howard (C+)
All the Queen's Men by Linda Howard (A)
Nerd Gone Wild by Vicki Lewis Thompson (C+)

(July total: 45*, 2009 total: 270)
*novellas from one book count as one, "dnf" don't count at all

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Obviously, we are under construction here at my book diary. Not sure why I started this today because redoing a blog is such a pain. I'm not even sure if this is the template I'll stick with but I do like it so we'll see.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

So last night we watched the animated movie Green Lantern: First Flight, the latest installment from WarnerPremiere and it was pretty good. They screwed with the story lines of the beginning of Hal Jordan's induction into the Green Lantern Corps but it wasn't enough to get either of us upset. I didn't read comics until I met my husband and lately? I'm so far behind I can't remember what happened last in the buildup to Blackest Night but after watching that movie I'm picking Green Lantern up again. I know, I know, I don't already have enough to read, right? Well, Geoff Johns has been writing some awesome stuff these past few years and Green Lantern is his best work so far. The Husband was nice enough too to root through the piles of comics laying around to find all the issues I need so I expect to be spending Saturday working my way through two years of GL books. Can't wait :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Playing catch-up

I don't usually do "reviews" this way, but since my book choices have been eclectic lately I figured I might as well round 'em all up at once. Here goes...also, spoilers ahead!

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: I have no idea how that author managed to keep track of everything that happened in this book but he did an awesome job. A few things though...Reading blurbs on amazon and the like before I picked up this book gave me the picture of a guy and female autistic hacker type as his sidekick. When they "revealed" that the hacker is actually a hacker, well, the characters seemed to be much more affected than I was. I had to keep reminding myself that this book was written in 2002 and maybe the title of "hacker" was a little different then. The "hacker," Lisbeth Salander, was such an interesting character and I can't wait to see how she deals with Mikael Blomkvist in the next book. Also, changing the title from Men Who Hate Women may certainly have been the smart choice when it came to marketing and all that rot but in my humble opinion, was the proper title. Some of the crimes described were absolutely horrific and were beyond anything I had read before. Having said that, the crimes aren't what this book is really about and if you like intriguing books that grab you from the start, look no further. Grade: A

Michele Bardsley's Broken Heart, Oklahoma series: A big surprise. I'm not sure why I started collecting these books. Before I knew it, I had the first four sitting on my bookshelf. They were not what I expected, let me tell you. I just figured they were related but uninvolved romances based on vampires in a OK town. They actually were strongly connected and focus on a town of supernaturals. Vampires and werewolves basically bought a town that was dying and made it into a place where "parakind" can live in peace. Well, sort of. It starts when eleven single parents are turned into vampires all in one night. The Consortium (the vamps and wolfies) help these poor folks with their transition since they are the ones who are partially responsible for the murderous rampage of one of their members. This series puts an interesting twist on the origin of vampires that I don't think I've seen before. Grade: B/B+

Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge: From the start this series starter sounded more interesting to me than Pure Blood, Kittredge's werewolves series. Street Magic in set in London and involves a cop and a long-lost sorcerer from her past. Pete Caldecott was infatuated with Jack Winter as a teenager. He sang in a punk band and was her older sister's boyfriend. One night Jack took Pete to a crypt and performed some magic that ended up with Pete thinking Jack was dead. Actually, she blocked out what happened that night and went on with her life, grieving for Jack. Ten years later, she finds out he's alive, he's a heroin addict, and he hates her guts. Pete's investigating the kidnapping of children throughout London and Jack becomes her ace-in-the-hole. Okay, I liked this book. I, too, need a time machine so I can go forth into the future and read to my heart's delight. There were some questions that arose while I was reading it but they weren't that important. Can't wait for Demon Bound, the next Pete and Jack book, to come out so that it might answer some of my questions. Grade: A

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong: As good if not better than the first one, The Summoning. Chloe Saunders discovers that she and many other kids her age were lab rats. The Edison Group, a nefarious number of adults, attempted to breed children that had, hmm, adjusted dna. When their powers manifest they are sent to the group home, Lyle House, that most of the action in The Summoning occurred. This time, Chloe, Derek, Simon, and Tori are on the run after discovering that the Edison Group is murdering the kids they decide are failures. Chloe is a necromancer, Derek is a werewolf, and Simon and Tori are witches. Chloe and Derek get closer but not close enough but it's nice how Armstrong hasn't totally paired all the characters off into couples but it does seem obvious which way they will go in the end. Make sense? Probably not :) Grade: A

It does seem that I give out A grades quite a bit, doesn't it? I'm not really that deep when it comes to criticizing books. Don't get me wrong - I like what I like but I'm not going to tear up a book just for being an easy read. A comparison: I really don't like critics who only like fancy films or books that are considered literature instead of fiction. Don't rip something to shreds without keeping in perspective what you should expect. I always respected reviews that came from Roger Ebert for movies; if he likes something, it's good. Even if it's Eddie Murphy instead of some Miramax-type indie film (I like Eddie Murphy too, sometimes). There's no pretension there. So yes, many people would consider paranormal romances to be beneath them and would grade them accordingly. That's unfair and I don't do it. If I like something, it gets a good grade. Period.

A new feature this month...My Favorite Book of the Month. July's book is Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill. This book rocked!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday, 20 July 2009

Well, I'm halfway through The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I've been reading it since Saturday I think, and obviously it isn't a quick read. It's the first of three books written by Stieg Larsson and translated from its original Swedish. This has been a fascinating book even though I'm not at all familiar with Sweden other than where in the world it might be. I'm not ignorant of world geography but I definitely don't know where each country is exactly located. Anyway, this book is like four books rolled into one: (quoted from the front jacket flap) "A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue." I'm not going to even attempt to try to explain the plot in this book, there's just too much going on. The next book in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, is released on July 28. has the third one, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, to be out on October 31, 2009 in paperback but don't hold your breath for that one. Do read the first one (at least) as it's been highly entertaining and it doesn't feel as if it lost anything in translation.

Another interesting book I read lately was The Summoning, the first in a new YA series by Kelley Armstrong. Not sure why I picked that one either but after reading it, I am anxious to get my hands on the next one, The Awakening. I have no idea when the third one is released though. Next year probably. The Summoning wasn't as juvenile as a lot of YA novels seem to me to be and Kelley Armstrong is a good writer but I don't particularly like her Women of the Underworld(?) series (except for Bitten). Exit Strategy was also good.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lost in Austen

There have been some very awesome programs that have come out of the BBC within the last few years and this one may be my favorite. Lost in Austen is about a young woman named Amanda Price who lives in present day London and loves the book Pride and Prejudice. Adores, more like. She fantasizes about Mr. Darcy and knows the story totally by heart. One night after arguing with her jerkoff boyfriend, she finds Elizabeth Bennet in her bathroom. Once she decides she hasn't lost her wits, she ends up trading places with Elizabeth: she replaces Lizzie in the book while Lizzie lives in 21st century London. Amanda's goal is to make sure that the story/book ends up as it's supposed to, with all the proper marriages taking place. That, of course, doesn't happen and Amanda discovers that Mr. Darcy isn't all he's cracked up to be. Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price is fantastic. Elliot Cowan was so good as Mr. Darcy (loved the wet shirt scene). Oh hell, everybody was brilliant and after I watched it, I bought it (I had rented it from Netflix). It's three hours of regency wonderfulness. The only bad thing about this show is that it's finished.

Undone by Rachel Caine

I had kinda given up on Rachel Caine's books a while back. I still have the last two Morganville Vampires books to read but I was burned out on the Weather Wardens. I couldn't have cared less about Joanne Baldwin and David, her big bag djinn. (It probably wasn't a good idea to read the lot of them all at once.) Well, I'm rethinking that attitude now that I've read Undone. It's in the Weather Wardens' universe and is centered around a djinn, Cassiel, that has been stripped of her powers, cast out of her existence and made human. Joanne, David, and Lewis also show up in this one, along with a few other familiars. Cassiel has to learn how to be human and is partnered with an earth warden named Manny. Cassiel becomes attached to Manny and his family, his five-year-old daughter in particular. Cassiel reminded me a lot of Q, the numero uno pain-in-the-ass of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise. The episode I'm thinking of in particular is the one where Q is kicked out of the Q Continuum for being a bad omnipotent boy. Cassiel wasn't kicked out for being bad but she had a good reason for disobeying her superior. Anyway, I liked this book. Now I have to wait until Groundhog Day for the next one to appear :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

I've been trying to write more lately. I get these ideas that pop into my head during my day and when I sit at the computer to put it down, everything worth writing about runs away in the spirit of Monty Python. If you're a fan of Monty, you'll get it, otherwise you're screwed. It's very irritating and not very productive. It's a good thing I don't get paid to do this :)

I just tried to pick up MaryJanice Davidson's Queen Betsy series where I left off, Undead and Unreturnable. I was maybe 80 pages in when I realized why I had stopped reading them: I don't like Betsy. Or Sinclair. Betsy thinks the world revolves around her and Sinclair is just obnoxious. This makes me sad because I loved the first book, Undead and Unwed. It was the funniest thing I had read in a very long time and I laughed out loud many times while reading it. It's not funny anymore. I bought 4-6 brand new and now I don't want to read them. I've decided to let Betsy rest a little longer before I give her another shot. As is the cases for most readers, my mood totally dictates what I read, when I read. I'm also allergic to anything that reminds me of school. That's why I'm not into nonfiction (usually).

I read The Dream of the Stone by Christina Askounis the other day and really enjoyed it. It was a modern version of Alice in Wonderland with a twist. The book is actually close to twenty years old but the publisher decided to revive it in 2007 (I think). Transporting mirrors, allegorical references to Alice in Wonderland itself, and interesting characters made it a very entertaining fairy tale, if not a little sad. If you like books like A Wrinkle in Time, give it a shot.

I also caught up with two Linda Howard books that had been screaming at me from my bookshelf. All the Queen's Men featured John Medina, a character who had a cameo in Kill and Tell, a novel set in New Orleans. Here's a blurb about Queen's Men from amazon:

CIA agent John Medina and electronics expert Niemi Burdock share a violent past: the two were part of a covert operation that went tragically wrong, resulting in the death of several people. Now, five years later, their paths cross again and John, whose love for Niemi has only grown over time, is determined to keep her in his life for good. Having spent the intervening five years living a solitary, staid existence--due to feelings of guilt over the ill-fated operation--Niemi is somewhat reluctant to reenter the shadowy world she once inhabited. Still, she can't resist the lure and excitement of danger when John asks her to join him on his latest mission to discover the origins of a deadly new explosive already in use by terrorists.

Concocting a plan to reveal the source of the explosive, the two enter into a dangerous masquerade, walking a tightrope between safety and death, while passion boils beneath the surface. Unaware of John's feelings, Niemi fights her physical response to the legendary agent as her emotions, in frozen limbo for the last five years, thaw with astonishing speed.

All the Queen's Men was fantastic and Howard at her best. It was unexpected - Howard is a staple in my book diet but she's usually a little more frivolous. Which is where Kiss Me While I Sleep comes in. I'm not sure why this book is listed as #3 in the John Medina series because he's not in it. At all. His name is mentioned maybe once. Anyway, here's a partial excerpt of the product description, again from amazon:

It’s a job that makes a killing. Efficient, professional, and without apology, Lily Mansfield is a hired assassin, working as a contract agent for the CIA. Her targets are the powerful and corrupt, those who can’t be touched by the law.

Now, after nineteen years of service, Lily has been drawn into a dangerous game that hasn’t been sanctioned, seeking vengeance for her own reasons. Each move bolder than the next, she is compromising her superiors, drawing unwanted attention, and endangering her very life. Though stress and shock have made her feel somewhat invincible and a little cocky, Lily knows that she too can be taken out in an instant. And if it’s her time, so be it. She intends to go down fighting.

A CIA agent himself, Lucas Swain recognizes the signs of trauma in the line of fire. His orders: either bring her in or bring her down. Yet he too is drawn into the game with Lily Mansfield, dancing on a tightrope as he tries to avoid a major international incident while still battling a tenacious foe who is dogging their every step. Keeping laser focus on the task at hand while vigilantly watching her back, Mansfield never sees the lethal peril that lies directly in her path . . . and how loyalty has a price.

Now, this wasn't a bad story. It was a bad read though. I had tried it a few years ago and didn't finish. Reading All the Queen's Men gave me hope so I gave it another shot and was bored again. I don't think Lily meets Lucas until halfway through the book and the bad guy is taken out behind-the-scenes by neither of the main characters! Ugh. I think I'll be getting her new book, Burn, from the library tomorrow and haven't the slightest idea what it's about. Hope it's better than this one.

One more thing...Some Girls Bite rocked. This is related to one of the post ideas I've been working on, but when I started thinking about it I couldn't figure out what my point would have been, so I've dropped the idea. Some Girls Bite wasn't just a good vampire book, it was a good read period. I loved Merit, our protagonist, her friends, her love interest, everything. The only thing to complain about it that the next one doesn't come out until October. The ironic thing about this book is...Merit doesn't bite :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Books Read in June '09

Nerds Like it Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson (B+)
City of Dust by Steve Niles (B+)
The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn (A)
The Love Affair of an English Lord by Jillian Hunter (B)
Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts (B+)
Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts (A-)
The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (B-)
The Demon's Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow (B)
Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh (B+)
Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh (A)
Sex and the Single Vampire by Katie MacAlister (B+)
A Girl's Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister (C)
Next to Die by Marliss Melton (A-)
Stolen Magic by M. J. Putney (B-)
Bloody Good by Georgia Evans (B)
Wild Card by Lora Leigh (C)
Then Came Heaven by LaVyrle Spencer (A)
The Seduction of an English Scoundrel by Jillian Hunter (B)
Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros (A-)
Ashes of Midnight by Lara Adrian (A-)
Time to Run by Marliss Melton (B)
Ladies' Man by Suzanne Brockmann (B)
Body Language by Suzanne Brockmann (B)
The Kissing Game by Suzanne Brockmann (B+)
Freedom's Price by Suzanne Brockmann (B)
Forbidden by Suzanne Brockmann (B)
Kiss and Tell by Suzanne Brockmann (A-)
Leaving Normal by Stef Ann Holm (B+)
In the Dark by Marliss Melton (A-)
The Kiss of Fate by Mary Jo Putney (B+)
The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (B+)
The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (A-)
Lucy Gets Her Life Back by Stef Ann Holm (B-)
Harbor Lights by Sherryl Woods (B+)
Flowers on Main by Sherryl Woods (B+)
Edge of Darkness by Cherry Adair (B+)
Edge of Fear by Cherry Adair (B)
Edge of Danger by Cherry Adair (B)
Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett (dnf)
Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr (A)
The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods (B)
A Belated Bride by Karen Hawkins (B+)
Forget Me Not by Marliss Melton (A)
Cry Mercy by Toni Andrews (B+)
Angel of Mercy by Toni Andrews (B+)
Beg For Mercy by Toni Andrews (B+)

(June total: 46, 2009 total: 225)

Monday, June 29, 2009

City of Dust by Steve Niles

What's not to love about Steve Niles's work? He's disturbing, funny, raw, etc. I had left the husband a note to make sure he orders this TPB and then I forgot all about it :) It arrived today and I quickly devoured it in one sitting.

Phillip Khrome is a cop in a world where religion and fiction is against the law. His own father is in prison for telling his son a fairy tale. Phillip should know, he put him there. Anyway, strange murders are happening in his city and to solve them he has to look at that which is against the law. Cryptic, I know, but this book isn't very long and telling much more would give it all away. I liked this graphic novel but would have enjoyed it even more if it had been in regular-type novel format. I felt that the ending came too quickly in the story without it being fleshed out enough. But what can I expect for a five issue miniseries. I want more, Steve Niles! Please :)

Slave to Sensation, Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

I have no words. There's nothing that I could write that would properly convey how good these two books are. They are an outstanding beginning to a series that is about to have its sixth book published. My biggest problem is that I want to know how I had never heard of Nalini Singh before I bought Angel's Blood? I'm fairly new to the blogosphere but I'm certainly no newbie to bookstores. So, in my effort to spread the word...Anybody reading this post who loves paranormal romances (or just good books), read these books!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

NavySEALs series by Marliss Melton

Months ago, I took this book home from the library but ended not reading it. Not sure why exactly, guess I wasn't in the mood. Well, I brought it home again recently and this time I read it. I'm so glad I did - Melton is now one of my can't miss authors. Forget Me Not is the first in this trilogy. She continues with more SEAL books but the first three are all related.

Gabriel Renault has been dead to his wife, Helen, for one year. She was just starting to let Gabe go and move on with her life when she's notified that he's been found and is still very much alive. Here's the catch: he doesn't remember the last three years. That includes the year he spent in captivity and the two before, which includes their marriage. He doesn't remember his wife or stepdaughter at all. Gabriel has to come home to a home he doesn't remember, a wife and stepdaughter that he wasn't ever close to when he was married, and he has to figure out who betrayed him and tried to murder him and why he can't remember three years of his life. I loved this book; I generally enjoy a series about SEALs anyway but this one is almost as good as Brockmann's stuff.

This is book two (duh). It involves a subplot in the first book and continues through this one. The officer that masterminded Gabriel's capture is going to go free if Hannah Geary and SEAL Luther Lindstrom don't get the evidence Gabe needs. Someone else is also trying to kill Hannah, so Luther and Westy (he's the 3rd book) work to keep her safe and save their team leader at the same time. I liked Hannah and Luther and was really anticipating Westy's book after this one. It's almost as good as the first one.

Westy's books was a bit of a disappointment. I was so looking forward to this one because he seemed mysterious in the first two. I also had read the preview in the back of In the Dark; it was a scene where Westy offers Sara a ride to where she needs to go on his motorcycle. It was not in the actual book however, and I felt it would have helped. Anyway, here's the deal: Sara Garret is the wife of the JAG prosecution attorney who is trying to put away Gabe Renault. He's an abuser, and when he strangles his son's pet rabbit in front of him to teach him a lesson about playing his music too loud, Sara decides that it's time to leave. She approaches Westy, who's real name Chase McCafferty, to plead for help. It appears that the two of them have an almost relationship - they keep running into each other, especially when she needs help. (This is where a little more backstory showing their previous run-ins would've helped. I definitely would have been scratching my head if I hadn't read the missing preview.) Chase is leaving Virginia to head to Oklahoma to see the ranch that he inherited from his abusive stepfather and Sara begs him to take her and her son with him. And he does! He risks his military career on this woman that he supposedly barely knows and shortly after they leave he sees an Amber Alert on the tv, showing the boy he's "kidnapped." Awaiting them in Oklahoma are skinheads who want their guns back from Westy's dead stepfather so that their militia can shoot up a country club. You know, I liked Westy in the first two books as a background character but Ms. Melton didn't do him justice in this one. I'm not sure why she had to rewrite parts of it - that's the only conclusion I can come to since the book didn't match the preview. It does have a happy ending though. :)