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