Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review: Tiger Eye by Marjorie M. Liu

He looked completely out of place in Dela Reese's Beijing hotel room - like he belonged to a myth, was the tragic hero of some epic tale, exotic and poignant. He was like nothing from her world, neither his variegated hair nor his feline yellow eyes. Yet Dela had danced through the echo of his soul, and she knew this seven-foot warrior would obey.

Hari had been used and abused for millennia; he was jaded, dull, tired. But upon his release from the riddle box, Hari saw new mistress was different. In Dela's eyes he saw a hidden power; himself within reach of all he had lost, of avenging those wrongs. This woman was the key. If only he dared protect, where before he had savaged; love, where before he's known hate. For Dela, he would dare all.

I love to discover fantastic new-to-me authors like I now have with Marjorie M. Liu. She was on a panel at NYCC on shapeshifters in pararoms and also signed autographs for fans and I thought to myself that I really needed to get on the ball and start reading her books. If I hadn't already had this copy of Tiger Eye at home I would have bought one as soon as I was ready to read it.

Tiger Eye is one of the best paranormal romance novels I have read in some time. It has an exotic flavor that is missing from most; the Beijing setting at the beginning lends some of that flavor but it lingers even after it switches to California. The plot moves along at the right speed so it doesn't give you any opportunity to get bored and the characters were all pretty compelling. Hari pulled at my heart with his quiet dignity and I wanted to jump in this book and tear at the Magi myself. Dela and her metal-sense was pretty darn cool; I mean, who doesn't think that chicks who know their weapons are sexy?

I am so excited to read more of Marjorie M. Liu's books and Tiger Eye was an excellent start for both of us. It is being rereleased at the end of this December by Avon Books.

My Michelle Rowen Binge

I have recently been immersed in all things Harry Dresden and it was starting to turn on me. Listening to Butcher's series on audiobook and then catching up with the last two, Turn Coat and Changes, is a lot of The Dresden Files. Harry is one of my all-time favorite characters ever and his world and adventures are always good reading but in Changes, Harry's world is, well, changed. So much so that in the books to come, nothing will be the same again. Butcher really went all out in it and I couldn't finish it. I chickened out. I didn't want to know what happened at the end, not with Ghost Story still six months away. Look, I love my books and fall in and out of  love with characters on a regular basis but my love affair with Harry is different. I still find it hard to believe that I only just discovered this series a few years ago - it feels as if I've been reading them my whole life. Right now though, I needed some space from Harry. Also, I accidentally spoiled the end of Changes for myself when I checked out Ghost Story on and am horrified enough that I don't want to witness whatever happens. Not yet at least.

So. I needed something that would be light but fun and maybe a bit, um, frothy? Nothing too serious, you understand. I turned to Michelle Rowen. A good while back I read Michelle Rowen's Bitten and Smitten and liked Sarah Dearly so much that I collected the rest of that series and then bought The Demon in Me, book one in her Living in Eden series. Sarah and Eden have been calling my name for about a month or so; it was obviously time for me to read them and I have to say, they really hit the spot.

Rowen's Immortality Bites series is a five-parter about a young woman named Sarah Dearly who is turned into a vampire while on a blind date by her blind date. In Bitten and Smitten, Sarah's date bites her, turns her, and then tries to bury her. She manages to get away only to be chased by a group of vampire hunters who want to stake her. Fleeing for her life again, she runs into another vampire named Thierry (pronounced tee-yairy), a master vampire who is utterly depressed and just about to take his own life when Sarah pleads him to help her escape. They get away and Thierry agrees to help Sarah through her transition and teach her what she needs to know to be a vampire before offing himself. Instead, Sarah falls head over heels in love with Thierry and goes to work in his vampire bar while she searches for a cure for vampirism. In the following books, Sarah has her hands full: she gains the reputation of a super badass hunter killer and has to work at keeping that reputation lest the other master vampires believe that she's a wimp and decide to take her out; Thierry keeps trying to flake out on her and all her friends try to convince her to dump him; she befriends a former hunter turned vamp who believes he's in love with her, making Thierry jealous; she gets cursed by a witch and turned into a nightwalker, a vampire that is different from regular vamps (not allergic to sunlight, holy water, etc.) and more dangerous (nosferatuish with serious bloodlust, superstrength, ability to thrall someone, etc); and attracts the attentions and manipulations of the presumed dead leader of the vampire hunters. Lady and the Vamp takes a break from Sarah, picking up a secondary plot following the aforementioned former hunter, Michael Quinn, and a mercenary named Janie Parker.

This series was a lot of fun, reminding me a lot of Lynsay Sands's Argeneau series in its tone. Sarah is a plucky twenty-something who seems to always come out of a situation smelling like a rose. It is rather questionable that she becomes so enamored of Thierry, who is portrayed as a scaredy-cat vampire for most of the series. I figured that there had to be a payoff for Sarah for staying so loyal to him and there is, finally (!), in Tall, Dark & Fangsome, that explains to the reader why Sarah stayed with him the whole time. Michelle Rowen does a good job keeping this series light and humorous; it could very easily have been flat and heavy.

The Demon in Me, isn't as light or humorous as the above series but I liked it just as much. Eden Riley is a regular woman with a bit of psychic ability who gets talked into becoming a consultant for the police. A serial killer is on the loose and they want Eden to visit the site of the latest murder to see if she can "see" anything. Instead, she meets a handsome police detective who thinks she's a fraud and gets attacked by the serial killer himself, who had been hiding in the kitchen closet (believe it or not) and when he dies after trying to take Eden hostage, she inherits his demon. Yes, he was carrying a demon named Darrak that jumps from host to host after they die and now he's in Eden. Darrak claims he's a "good demon," a demon cop if you will; he roamed around Earth, recapturing the demon's who had escaped Hell and were wreaking havoc with the humans. He also drops a bomb on her: his human hosts usually only live for a year once he's part of them. Eden is in for the fight of her life, literally. She's also starting to have feelings for Darrok and that's not good. She wants him out of her but does she really want him gone for good? Is he telling her the truth? He is a demon after all and they lie a lot, right? The Demon in Me is pretty similar in plot to Jenna Black's The Devil You Know but I liked it better and I identified with Eden much more than I did Morgan Kingsley. I've already downloaded Something Wicked onto my nook and can't wait to see how Eden and Darrok handle their problems. I also have this Michelle Rowen book on my shelf to be read someday:

And then there was one.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Leaving Paradise, Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Leaving Paradise and Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles are a pair of books about two teens named Caleb and Maggie and their weird relationship. Weird doesn't even begin to cover it: at the beginning of Leaving Paradise, Caleb is released from juvie after a year long sentence for hitting Maggie with his car while drunk and driving off, leaving her unconscious and injured on the street. Maggie is left with a crushed leg, a year's worth of PT, a permanent limp, and lots of anger. Caleb and Maggie grew up as next door neighbors and his sister was Maggie's BFF until the accident. After unintentionally reuniting when Caleb comes home, he and Maggie each discover understanding and solace in the other after struggling to find it in others. They end up falling for each other by the end of Leaving Paradise but unsurprisingly, circumstances - including a whopper of a secret - force them to split. In Return to Paradise, which takes place eight months later, Caleb and Maggie reunite when they both participate in a summer-long trip, traveling with a group to see other teens so that they can share their stories about the aftermath of underage drinking and driving. Will Caleb and Maggie resolve their problems after being pushed together again or won't they? What's the big secret and what will it do to their families?

Simone Elkeles has reputation of writing earnest and realistic YA fiction and I first heard of her book Perfect Chemistry and it's sequel Rules of Attraction - both books I plan to read someday - but Leaving Paradise appealed to me a bit more. After reading Paradise, I wanted Return to Paradise in an almost rabid intensity but was disappointed by the reviews for it; some people disliked it intensely. Reviewers I respect panned it and I am still surprised by those reactions because I thought that these two books handle their stories capably and honestly. I didn't like Return quite as much as Leaving but I respected the way Elkeles wrapped up the two.

In Leaving Paradise, Caleb gets out of juvie only to find that his family has imploded. His mother pretends that he wasn't in jail but instead makes the pretense that he was away for much more innocent reasons so that she can keep face with her friends; his father treats him as if he's a threat to the family; his twin sister has done an about face - she's gone goth and is  antisocial. He's angry at his family and his former friends and himself but most of all, he's angry with Maggie. She shouldn't have been at that party where he got drunk and she shouldn't have been on the street where she was hit. He's always liked Maggie but now she is The Girl Who He Hurt and The Girl Who Sent Him to Jail. She makes him feel guilty and ashamed and tries to avoid her at all costs. Maggie also has problems: her dad left she and her mom when she was little so they don't have much money; her friends, including Caleb's sister, ditched her after the accident; she can't play tennis anymore; her trip to Spain to study abroad, once a sure thing, is now slipping through her fingers; Caleb is now home and keeps showing up where she doesn't want him. They fight, grow closer, and eventually fall for one another.  

Return to Paradise, however, has a tone much different from the young love feeling of Leaving. Caleb had left at the end of Leaving Paradise because he couldn't handle all the feelings and issues that come with being at home and with Maggie. He's in danger of returning to jail because he's self-destructing, folding under the pressure of everyone's expectations and that horrible secret he's keeping. Seeing Maggie again scares him and so he keeps lashing out at her, trying to drive her away even though he can't let her go. It's a little painful to watch, seeing Caleb hurting Maggie even further, but I understood his reasons even if I didn't like them. I found it a bit surprising that between the two, Caleb's voice was the one that spoke to me the most. I liked him, this stubborn yet loyal boy who sacrifices more than anyone should have to in order to protect someone he loves. You'd think that I'd identify a bit more with Maggie and while I liked her, she didn't appeal to me as much as Caleb. I see him as much a victim as Maggie.

So. Here is a positive review of Return to Paradise. Leaving Paradise is a more obvious choice for applause but Return to Paradise deserves it too. Those Elkeles fans who prefer her Perfect Chemistry storyline will be happy to know that she's writing a third book for them. In either case, give Simone Elkeles a try sometime.

Review: Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle

It began with Krentz...continued with Quick...and now it will end with Castle.

For many earthly centuries, a legendary curse has plagued the Winters family, stemming from the tumultuous founding of the Arcane Society. But now, on the futuristic world of Harmony, the curse's final mystery will be unraveled...Head of the ghost hunters guilt Adam Winters and dreamlight reader extraordinaire Marlowe Jones must break the curse, save Harmony's entire underworld - and fight a passion that could destroy them both.

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned before that out of the three Jayne Ann Krentz incarnations Quick is my favorite. I've only read one other Jayne Castle book, the first one in her Ghost Hunters series, After Dark. I wasn't all that impressed, more disappointed with it and haven't made any other efforts with her Castle books. I wasn't planning on reading Midnight Crystal either; the first two parts of the Dreamlight Trilogy left a lot to be desired for me but I saw this in the library and thought what the hell.

Midnight Crystal felt lackluster to me. I liked Adam and Marlowe but was bored throughout most of the book. The revealed secret of the midnight crystal was a let down and this being the third and final installment in this trilogy, I hoped for some kind of a resolution here. The mystery of the crystal had lasted for centuries and it was all for a simple message? Is that really supposed to be the payoff for sticking with a trilogy of dissatisfying books?

Midnight Crystal meanders its way through a familiar plot that is quite a bit like After Dark and many other of her Arcane novels: two fairly powerful people on different sides of the fight get wrapped up in a mystery that involves psychic powers on either Earth or a futuristic-ish world inhabited by Earth's descendants called Harmony. You know what it really reminded me of? The Tommyknockers by Stephen King. All that quartz glowing that eerie acid green that is found hidden in the woods (or jungle in this case) and messes with your head with evidence of highly intelligent aliens who lived in freaky mazes made of the stuff. I didn't finish reading The Tommyknockers and it's one of the few King novels that I didn't really like. I'm surprised I made it through to the end.

Jayne Ann Krentz's next book, In Too Deep: Book One of the Looking Glass Trilogy, is the book I've been waiting for in her Arcane series for a long time now - Fallon Jones's book. Fallon pops up in every Krentz (not Quick or Castle) Arcane book and he's been desperately needing a woman. I like Krentz too much as a writer to be turned off by a less-than-captivating trilogy. Please let it be a good one!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous - but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks, and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by - and torn between - two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

As a big fan of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, I was delighted to find out that not only is she continuing that series past the original trilogy but she's also writing a prequel trilogy too. Whoo-hoo! I loved Clary and Jace and Simon and Izzy; I gushed about them at the circulation desk at my library when I would check them out and I was always be the first on the request list, just as I was for Clockwork Angel. It was almost painful for me to leave it at home when we went to New York for the comic-con. (I was already toting enough books to give me flashbacks to college.) I was somehow able to make myself be patient and wait but have I ever mentioned here how much I hate to wait? We have been home for a week now and things were still be crazy enough to keep me away from Clockwork Angel a while longer was worth the wait. Oh yes it was.

I think I liked Clockwork Angel more than City of Bones and I think it was because of the setting. City of Bones is set in the present in New York and Clary seems like a fairly normal contemporary teenage girl but Tessa's story takes place during that Victorian time period that I love reading about; the car-wreck fascination of that unfamiliar lifestyle of living before electricity, the internet, and tampons that makes it so absorbing to me but I am completely sure that I would never want to live then. Clockwork Angel also has an steampunk element in the presence of the actual clockworks, used to create zombie-like automatons to be used as minions. They were actually a bit scary, these automatons, and seeing them be so relentless in their pursuit of Tessa that they would be injured and unconcerned was unnerving.

The parts that most caught my attention were, of course, the boys. Will and Jem, two young Shadowhunters who are as tight as brothers and are about to fight over a girl. Jem has a serious secret but Will is so much the jackass that no one tries to get close enough to find out what makes him...tick. Will's the one who rescues Tessa from the Dark Sisters and he's the one who she starts to fall for but will he let her? Predictably, it won't be easy for them. I don't think Clare will be attempting anything like the brush of incest that tortured Clary and Jace in TMI but Will's definitely got something standing in his way to Tessa and he's not about to share it with anyone anytime soon.

Cassandra Clare's pretty open about her publication schedule - which I love - but unfortunately the second Infernal Devices book, Clockwork Prince, won't be out until September 2011. Nooooo! However, we do get a taste of Clary and Jace again in April 2011 in City of Fallen Angels, book four in the Mortal Instruments series. I shall endeavor to distract myself so the hand wringing and garment rending symptoms of book withdrawal don't begin too soon.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Seductive danger and steampunk adventure abound in the gritty world of the Iron Seas, where nanotech is fused with Victorian sensibilities - and steam.

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire of the power - and fear - of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

Mina can't afford his interest, however. Horde blood runs through her veins, and despite the nanotech enhancing her body, she barely scratches out a living in London society. Becoming Rhys's lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him...and the Iron Duke's ruthless pursuit makes him difficult to resist.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans - and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

The Iron Duke is the first in a new steampunk series by the wonderful Meljean Brook and I was super excited to read it because not only am I obviously a big fan of hers but I haven't read many steampunk stories and I wanted to see what the buzz is all about. I got a taste of it from her short story "Here There Be Monsters" in Burning Up (see our review HERE) and instantly wanted more. I was definitely not disappointed.

Mina is amazing. She is strong, forthright, brave, vulnerable, and kind. My favorite thing about her is that she doesn't turn to a pile of quivering female flesh when Rhys touches her. That is a complete turnoff in so many romances that I've read and I was thrilled that Mina keeps her wits about her. It's not easy for her either; Mina desperately wants Rhys even though she believes a relationship with him is futile and finite because of their social stations. I didn't like Rhys at first. His imperial attitude was irritating:

“You’ll come to my bed. And you won’t think it a waste of time.” (pp. 67)

"You will accept me. And now I will know you, even if you come to me in the dark.” (pp.68)

“I warn you, inspector. The next time I have you alone, I’ll have you. Your mouth, at the least – and more, if you offer it.” (pp.69)

You'll notice that all those lines were in a small span of pages but it seemed to me to be awfully early in their acquaintance for him to be saying ridiculous things like these to Mina. The more I read, however, the more I respected Rhys. He is a good man who just doesn’t understand women, all that well. He consistently manages to stuff his huge foot into his mouth without realizing it and I liked that about him. It humanized him, this big hulk of a man with an even bigger reputation for being ruthless. He and Mina are a well matched pair.

What a fascinating world in which these characters exist. Dirty beyond belief from all the coal required to power steam engines, I thought Brook had a firm grasp of steampunk and the Victorian era. There's lots of world-building here and this series isn't going to be set in just England - airship travel is popular and kraken show up on the way to Africa. Zombies too! The Blacksmith from the Burning Up short story makes a reappearance and gets fleshed out a bit more, which I liked. I appreciated that Mad Machen and Ivy are absent from The Iron Duke. Another blogger recently expressed her ire at paranormal romance series that begin with a short story in an anthology and while that is annoying, it doesn't really apply here.

Right after I finished The Iron Duke, I asked Meljean on twitter who the next book is about and was delighted to get an answer. (I won't spoil it here.) I will share that book two in this series, Heart of Steel, is scheduled for release in November of 2011. I'll be another year older when it comes out. Do I care? Nope. I just want it to get here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Best Book of September 2010

Better late than never, right? I usually try to have this post done within the first few days of each month but I'm going to blame this one on NYCC. Sooooo. The book that I have picked did not have the best grade of all books I rated in September but it was my favorite reading experience last month.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NYCC 2010 Recap

As I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago, NYCC is the just about most exhausting fun I have had in some time. (It may be tied with taking small children to the beach.) I got to meet my fellow blogger Jen D. and spied a few others I recognized. I scored lots of free books, bookmarks, tote bags, and a few autographs. I saw some really cool costumes. I learned some tips on what not-to-do while visiting in NYC. For example, do not hold a venti cup of anything from Starbucks over your lap while riding in a taxi. There should be signs. I also discovered that anime fans are hard core. Hard. Core. A suggestion if I may for the people who coordinate these conventions: please do not schedule book panels next to the big-ass room where the anime fans scream as they watch people breakdancing and they get extremely loud and obnoxious. It sounded like a nightclub out there and the door to our room wouldn't shut properly. Thank you.

So here we were, Jen D. and I, standing in line for the Jim Butcher book signing. (I am on the right.) This was day two, aka Saturday or The Day of Insanity. We stood there for just over an hour, waiting somewhat patiently so I could walk up to Mr. Butcher and stare at him as if I was Spongebob in one of my favorite episodes. He signed Jen D.'s book too.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Day one was great but unfortunately I don't have many pictures because Spider-man had the "good" camera that day.

The Two Jens went to a few panels that day. First up was Fighting Like Cats and Dogs: Shapeshifters and Paranormal Romance. This was moderated by Jeaniene Frost and showcased Pamela Palmer, Jocelynn Drake, Margaret Ronald, Marjorie M. Liu, and Juliana Stone. I was familiar with all but Juliana Stone and managed to meet her later and get a signed copy of her newest book in her Jaguar Warriors series, His Darkest Embrace. Jen won a huge stuffed tiger at that panel and I wish I had a picture of her and her boyfriend sitting with it on the subway. *snicker*

Much wandering ensued (after all the chaos). Truth be told, I spent most of my time cruising up and down the sections where all the book publishers were. After a while they probably started hiding stuff when they would see me coming.

I also got my copy of Acheron signed by Sherrilyn Kenyon. She missed her kids that day.

That evening, the geniuses behind this shindig managed to schedule three, yes count them THREE panels I wanted to see all at the same time. Fantasy Writers Panel (7:30-8:30), Venture Brothers (8-9), and the James Marsters Spotlight (8:45-9:45). I ended up seeing the Venture Bros. but little did I know that the PENGUIN YA and Adult Authors Talk Monsters, Myths, and Mayhem in Literature panel with Anton Strout and Seanan Mcguire was going on at the same time. Had I known that I would have dumped Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer like a hot potato. They were hilarious as usual but Seanan McGuire was one of the main reasons I went this year and I missed her. Completely! *sobs*

Day Two, Saturday, was cra-zy. That morning, we went to the PUBLISHER SPOTLIGHT: HARPERCOLLINS – Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy and Paranormal List Leaders panel and I failed to win either a galley of Kim Harrison's Pale Demon or a Kindle. But I did get to see and hear some stuff like how EOS books is going to become Harper Voyager in the near future. Here's some of the stuff I saw:

(EOS Editor Diana Gill, Jeaniene Frost, and Pamela Palmer.) 

HarperCollins publishes a bunch of my favorite authors but they've turned me down more than once on I'm really trying to not take that personally. Anyway, afterward we went to the Jim Butcher thing. See if you can spot him in this picture.

I was looking for this guy:

Maybe it was the eyebrow that threw me off? The Burger King crown? The fact that his hair was short? I just hope he didn't think I was giving him the stink eye or anything.

Once we were done ogling Mr. Butcher we left the convention for a while. It was absolutely necessary, I assure you. There was so many people around and it was driving us crazy so we went out for lunch. Yummy dim sum in Chinatown. It was definitely worth the cab fare. (Thanks Jen! Seriously, the next time is on us!) The Del Ray and Spectra books panel was that evening and some of the upcoming and already available books they talked about were so  good. These people publish mostly fantasy and sci-fi.

If you're going to talk about cool books, you've got to mention Carolyn Crane, right? The folks up there said lots of good things about Mind Games and Double Cross. Duh.

I reviewed Child of Fire last year and have Game of Cages waiting for me on my nook. I was so happy that they mentioned Harry Connolly here.

No words necessary for this one.

I want this book. Here's the blurb from Hobson's website:
It’s 1876, and business is rotten for Emily Edwards, town witch of the tiny Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pine. With everyone buying patent magicks by mail-order, she’s faced with two equally desperate options. Starve—or use a love spell to bewitch the town’s richest lumberman into marrying her.

When the love spell goes terribly wrong, Emily is forced to accept the aid of Dreadnought Stanton—a pompous and scholarly Warlock from New York—to set things right. Together, they travel from the seedy underbelly of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast, across the United States by train and biomechanical flying machine, to the highest halls of American magical power, only to find that love spells (and love) are far more complicated and dangerous than either of them could ever have imagined.

Peter Brett was awesome. He was signing free copies of The Warded Man on Sunday morning and he was so friendly and generous. He signed each book with a short note to the recipient - mine said "Jen, The sun is setting..." - and signed a bookplate that you can put in your copy of The Desert Spear. Now, I don't read much regular fantasy but The Warded Man has been on my radar for a while.

Galen Beckett's editor described this one as what Jane Austen would come up with if she wrote fantasy. The House on Durrow Street is the second in its series and I am intrigued.

On Sunday...

Sherrilyn Kenyon's booth was huge! I kept missing the opportunities for one of her tote bags though.

Ash and Simi figures. Simi looks too old to me and Ash's hair is too long.

This is Peter Brett signing other books.

Anton Strout was signing Sunday as well but as I was not aware that he would be there, I did not bring any of his books. He was nice enough however to sign a post card for me.

The day and convention finished up with some big panels. M. Night Shyamalan was in a panel celebrating the ten year anniversary for Unbreakable. It was interesting to hear him talk about his reactions to that movie and how he dealt with the critics. The last panel of the convention was the biggest one, no doubt about that. It completely filled up the IGN theater.

Robert Kirkman's comic book series The Walking Dead is premiering on AMC on Halloween night and so they had their first big media event for the show in New York this year instead of San Diego. It was a pretty big deal for NYCC. The panel was great with lots of footage, Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Frank Darabont, and six members of the cast. Make sure you watch it!

Check it out:

I love free books! I've also got bookmarks, a poster, and plenty of other swag. Could a giveaway be in this blog's future? Hmmm...

I did buy two hardback books while I was there just so you know. I'm not a total cheapskate.

So to wrap up, NYCC 2010 rocked. You'd think with a mob like that there would be problems but everyone was just cool. I can't wait until next year.

Home At Last

We are finally home from our week-long trip to the Big Apple. We had a blast at NYCC and then both came down with colds that would send us back to our hotel room for lengthy naps in the afternoons. (I spent several hours yesterday watching the Billy the Exterminator marathon on A&E. It's so depressing.) We stayed near Times Square and for those of you out there who someday plan to go to NYC let me give you a little bit of advice: don't stay near Times Square. It's way too busy what with all the theater people and everything is crazy overpriced. Next time we go, I'll be looking around Union Square up to possibly Bryant Park for a hotel.

One of my main objectives for this trip was to experience the New York Public Library. 

It is, I think for me and many other people, THE public library, the library that all public libraries aspire to be. Being the bookworm that I am, this library represents my ideal heaven - a large but well-lit cavern filled with books and people who know all about them. See?

This is what I found as I came around the corner from Bryant Park:

WTF?!! They were doing renovations there and the noise! I can't even describe my horror and disappointment when I came face to face with it. The scaffolding and false front plus the construction noise inside the entrance that sounded clear as a bell on the sidewalk all bothered me so much that we just walked away. Maybe on my next visit to NYC? I did get to see this in person though:

I was happy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery

Welcome to Fool’s Gold, California, a charming community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. There’s lots to do and plenty of people to meet, especially women. Because there’s just one tiny problem in Fool’s Gold: the men don’t seem to stick around. Maybe it’s the lure of big-city life, or maybe it’s plain old bad luck, but regardless of the reason, the problem has to be fixed, fast. And Charity Jones may be just the city planner to do it.
Charity’s nomadic childhood has left her itching to settle down, and she immediately falls in love with all the storybook town has to offer — everything, that is, except its sexiest and most famous resident, former world-class cyclist Josh Golden. With her long list of romantic disasters, she’s not about to take a chance on another bad boy, even if everyone else thinks he’s perfect just the way he is. But maybe that’s just what he needs — someone who knows the value of his flaws. Someone who knows that he’s just chasing perfect.

My thoughts:
I was looking for a comfort read. Something to cleanse my palate after having just read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I found just what I was looking for in Chasing Perfect. Charity wasn’t the only one to fall in love with the town of Fool’s Gold. This town is charming and chock full of wonderful characters. People I would like to be friends with in real life. There are secrets that unfold that give the story some interesting twists and turns. The only part of the story I didn’t particularly care for was the subplot regarding the missing state funds only because it wasn’t well developed and really didn’t add to the story line. All in all, it was a quick enjoyable read.

Chasing Perfect is the first book in the Fool’s Gold series. There is also Almost Perfect (Liz and Ethan’s story) and Finding Perfect (Pia and Raoul’s story).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

NYCC 2010

One day down and two to go! More pictures will be forthcoming, I promise. We have had an awesome (but exhausting) day and not long ago, I downed a glass of Harp Lager on an empty stomach...I think it's past my bedtime. Here's some more pictures though:

(This is the literary section part of the main floor.)

(Part of the Penguin Group display.)

(Here's my copy of Acheron which the lovely Sherrilyn Kenyon signed for me today. Woot!)

And last but not least:

(We really need to bring home a bobblehead of Dr. Mrs. the Monarch so The Monarch doesn't get lonely while he stares. Look Jen, he's shaking his fist at me!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Three Days and Counting

There's just three days left until NYCC! I can hardly believe it's this weekend when for so long it seemed so far away. I've got a stack of books all ready to be signed, so many in fact that I'm going to feel like a bag lady while I haul them to the Javits Center. I am optimistically planning to post pics during the con but since that's not likely to happen, I will promise that I'll post them after I get home. I'll also be meeting up with Jen from Not Now...I'm Reading! while I'm there. Book blogger meetup! NYC here I come!

I haven't been productive lately, that much is obvious. I have been dealing with an illness to one of my immediate family members while at the same time stricken by a heinous case of writer's block. The state I live in has just put into action a law that prohibits drivers from using cell phones while driving unless they are using hands-free devices and as a result, I have decided that bluetooth devices were created by Satan. So, as of late it has felt as if the universe has been conspiring against me. I'm still reading when I can, however, as books are my refuge and I'm holding fast to that.

Stay tuned!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Outlander! For Free!

B& is giving away ebook copies of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander for free. It's the full length novel plus whatever is in the blue cover editions. All you Sassenach wenches get thee to B&!

Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

I love stories about dragons. What's not to like? They're beautiful and majestic and a trump card because if you have one on your side you will most likely always win. I recently read the preview for Firelight on Harperteen's site and was hooked. Go HERE to read the first three chapters.

What a gorgeous cover! It certainly made me look twice before I caught the glimmer of scales around her eye with the slitted pupil. It very much suits Jacinda, our heroine. Jacinda fights to both hide and hold on to her draki, her dragon half, but it keeps peeking out and threatening to give her away. After her rebellious nature gets her into some serious trouble in her family's pride, she and her mother and sister run away to a climate completely opposite of what they're used to the idea being that it would help Jacinda's draki disappear completely. What a horrible concept: being required to force an integral part of your existence to wither away and die, for survival. It might have been possible for Jacinda if she didn't encounter at her new school the boy who saved her that night, the one who makes her draki happy like nothing else. But Jacinda is quickly nearing her breaking point; her mother is starting to sell off her family's gems, the ones that make her draki sing inside, and her sister, who was born sans draki, is pressuring Jacinda to stay human. And maybe most horrible of all is Will, the boy she loves, who is a dragon hunter from a family whose legacy is killing dragons.

Firelight was like a tasty treat - delicious but gone way too quickly - and I devoured it in one gulp. Jacinda and Will's Romeo and Juliet-like romance was almost tragic and the addition of Cassian, future alpha of the pride and Jacinda's intended mate, makes for one deadly love triangle. Can Jacinda trust Cassian and his promises? Probably not but he's most likely safer in the long run than Will and his family's draki-covered furniture. We get a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of Firelight and unfortunately I can't find any info on its sequel. Firelight is a nice new addition to the growing ranks of YA paranormal romance.

Other reviews: