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)