Friday, November 6, 2009

Review: Academ's Fury

Academ's Fury (Codex Alera, #2) Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book really deserves more than five stars because it was better than Furies of Calderon. Tavi, our furyless hero from book 1, has moved on to the big city and the Academy. Of course this is danger and intrigue there. Of course, he is hated and bullied for being different. Of course he gathers together a group of loyal friends/accomplicies to take them (and everyone else) on. It is fantasy lit 101. But, in my opinion, it is when you can do all of that and STILL make it irresistible....that's when you know it is good.

New secrets are revealed in book 2, some you might have suspected already if you read Furies of Calderoncarefully, and some that were straight out of left field. New characters were introduced, some you're supposed to love, some you're supposed to love to hate. And, as I've learned by listening to the Dresden series, there are seeds planted which will grow in importance over the next few books. Things that seem insignificant/unimportant at first have a habit (sometimes a bad habit) of biting characters (and readers) in the ass four books later.

The action of this book is both physical (with an new breed of Big bad invading on TWO fronts) and political. There are places, of course, where they intersect. If political intrigue fantasy is NOT for you.... you may find yourself disappointed. It isn't all political intrigue, but it is a large part of the book as well as the overall story. If it bores you, you may find yourself skipping over huge chunks to get to the characters you like/fighting scenes/etc.

Speaking of skipping: I split this book between listening and reading. What is great on audio (Kate Reading is a genius, by the way) can be kind of tiresome on the page. Butcher describes. A lot. It sounds much better when someone is reading it to me. When I'm reading all of that description for myself, my eyes tend to glaze. Yes, even thought I know something of it will likely be important later. It isn't a criticism or a accolade, just something to be aware of. If you're a person who gets bored with that kind of detail, you may find your thoughts wandering. In my case, the incredible way Butcher does characters and family dynamics is more than enough to keep me reading his books. Codex Alera series has hooked me in a way that Dresden could not (even though I like those books very much.) This is the new book crack.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Review: The Furies of Calderon

Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, #1) Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have a strange relationship with Jim Butcher. I tried to read his Dresden series and couldn't get through the first book. I picked up that same book on audio and became HOOKED on it. I'm not sure if it was the reader or if I could really concentrate on the language. Or, maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time. At any rate, that is why I immediately bypassed the print version of Butcher's other series, and started off with the audio.

I was not disappointed.

This book is a traditional, straight up, fantasy, complete with heavy Roman overtones. There is political intrigue, magic (of a sort) a boy who is "different", secret identities and, Butcher's forte, characters with more depth than an Olympic diving pool.

And a whole lot of people get the hell beat out of them too, which is something carried over from the Dresden series. If you were looking for something a little lighter than the normal Urban Fantasy series, you won't find it here. There were places in this book that made me wince and I wondered (as I often do with the Dresden series) how these people can get up again.

The book, for me, started off slow. I saw the "twist" near the beginning coming like a telegraphed punch, and I thought the entire book was going to be one big fantasy trope that we've all seen before. But the action and intrigue picked up sometime when I wasn't looking, and I was hooked. So much so that I had to bring CDs from the car into to work, and into the house, so I could keep the story going long after I left the car.

Am I as hooked on this as the other series? Not quite yet. But, I'm about to start book 2 (which I have both on audio AND Sony reader) so we'll see how that goes. So far, it has been a very promising start.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, October 19, 2009

Review: Made to be Broken

Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford, #2) Made to Be Broken by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Although there aren't any supernatural elements in the Nadia Stafford books, if you like Armstrong's writing style, you will probably like this series. There are less "rules" to the world to deal with so she doesn't have to spend as much time with that, and she can focus more on the characters. Also, there are fewer characters clamoring for attention so she can fully explore them. If you're looking for resolutions for any relationships in this book, you won't find them. In fact, they just get deeper and more complicated.

The plot is good too. It isn't a murder mystery, even though someone does get murdered. It turns out to be murder, kidnapping, more murder, undercover work, all with some lighthearted moments at a rural bed and breakfast mixed in for laughs. Armstrong seems to hit all the right notes as she keeps readers turning the pages trying to unravel the dirty deeds done dirt cheap in the book. The only thing that might irritate readers is that there really is no ending. The particular conundrum gets wrapped up at the end, but the dance continues. If you're a person that wants everything wrapped up, you'll be left hanging. For me, it just makes me want the next installment quicker than ever. I do wonder if she'll have the momentum to continue this series, the Otherworld series and her YA series. It seems like this series is at the bottom of the food chain given how popular the other two series are. It would be easier to put this one down if she was pressed for time, needed a break, or what have you.

Love Quinn. Love Jack. Love this series.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Review: Covet

Covet (Fallen Angels, #1) Covet by J.R. Ward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Overall, this was a good book. Ward is great with characters, and that doesn't change here. Her hero(es) are fantastic, down to their witty one liners, and her two main female characters (heroine and villainess) were outstanding. For all the knocks that Ward has taken about under-developed female characters, she certainly seems to have taken that criticism to heart and fixed it in this book. There is actual character development with her heroine, and her villainess is just plain evil. And kinda scary, like all the best villains are. I was expecting a lot more from the fallen angels, but ended up liking their roles just fine. Maybe, in time, they will become more front and center, but I found myself liking their sideline role very much. They are helpers, but ONLY helpers. Heavy lifting has to be done by someone else, and I thought that was very nice.

I liked the nods to people and places of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books. I liked seeing a lot of Trez. (Who doesn't?) Other throwbacks were more subtle but made me smile. The story, for the most part, moved along nicely and this was the first full length novel I read on my Sony e-reader so it, and the book, passed the test.

A few things I could have done without: I liked this MUCH better than the first Black Dagger Brotherhood book, Dark Lover but this one still suffered from a few first book problems. There was a lot of telling (and not showing) in terms of world building. When you're setting up a new world, new rules of engagement, new characters, it is really hard to get around the pages of explanation that are needed for the reader to understand what is going on. I get that. Some authors do this really well, and some do not. Ward does not. It is all stuff the reader needs to know, but the delivery method leaves much to be desired. Quite frankly, I get bored. Pages and pages of exposition, important or not, makes for droopy eyelids. That's just how it is. Where she does characterization REALLY well, this could use some work.

The other thing I hate is the narrator's voice. The narrator speaks like a thirteen year old girl. Calls a new beer a "freshie". That is the one example that is still grating on my nerves even though I'm done with the book, although there are more examples. If a character talks like that, I'm fine with it. That is their vocabulary. I may want to smack them, but if it is consistent with the character, so be it. But when the omniscient narrator speaks like that, it grates on my nerves. A lot. It wasn't as bad as the BDB books can get sometimes, but it was bad enough that I noticed it. I could have taken notes about it on my new Sony toy, but I haven't made it to that advanced user level yet!

Overall, though, this was a good book. I liked all the characters, I am interested in their past, present and future, and I'm excited for the next book.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I have an addiction

I can't stop checking out library books materials. No, really, I'm serious. We have new item limits coming into play in a few months, and I am currently WAY over those limits. Meaning, if I don't find things to return, I won't be able to check anything out. Sounds like a good fate for someone who can't stop checking things out, right?

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The problem is that when you are constantly seeing new books, people with addictions (ie. me) are compelled to put them on hold or check them out. There was a time when I had absolutely NOTHING checked out on my card. I had returned everything, paid a ginormous fine, and said I would *never* blah blah blah.....yeah, you get the picture. Yesterday, I had 100 items checked out. 100.


And what am I currently engrossed in? What can I not put down? Which library book, CD, movie am I going to return to break out of three digits borrower's prison? Yeah. Covet, by JR Ward. On my Sony ebook reader. If only that was a library item so I could return it......

Monday, October 5, 2009

Review: Frostbitten

Frostbitten (Women of the Otherworld, #10) Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You CAN go home again!

While Kelley Armstrong has never traveled too far afield from the werewolf clan that started the Women of the Otherworld series in Bittenthere have been many characters and storylines added since then. But, coming back to Elena and Clay was like a GOOD trip back to the place you called home. You can see how they've grown and changed over the years, but some part of them is still the same couple that I remember. And, even beyond the relationship aspect of the book, the plot and the mystery and the action was as good as it has ever been. If you're looking for a straight romance book, this will disappoint you. The "couple" after all, is married with children already. This isn't a boy meets girl kind of book, although some of her books are heavy on that element. This is a boy and girl battle snow, beasties, bad guys, kick ass, have sex, save the day kind of book. But, if you're an Armstrong fan, you already knew that, right?

While there are some mentions of other characters, this is a Clay and Elena book. No Paige, No Lucas, No Savannah, etc. You get the picture. So, if those are your favorites, just know you won't find them here. A couple of new, potentially future main characters were introduced and I found myself loving them both. I was recently in Anchorage (2007) and could practically feel the place through Armstrong's scenery descriptions. I felt like I was back there. They felt like visitors, having the same experiences (for the most part) that I had when I was there. Even Reindeer sausage was mentioned (although I didn't try it like Clay and Elena did.)

Overall, reading this book made me happy. I enjoyed every part of it, was up late three nights in a row reading, and am already anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. All of these are good signs that whatever it is Armstrong is using to power this series, it is still going strong.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review: An Echo In the Bone

An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7) An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Don't get me wrong, I liked this book. I liked it very much, in fact. But, it is hard to read (or rate) this book without comparing it to the others in the series. In that comparison, this book rates three stars for me. There were pages where my eyes glazed over at the intense minutiae of Revolutionary War time historical accuracy. Partly, not my cup of tea. Partly, give it a break already, will ya? I get it. You're accurate. Wonderful. I don't care what was on that guy's buttons.

The "Story" seemed to move along much more slowly than usual too. It seemed compressed, even though a lot happened in that small amount of time. The "present day" part of the story was interesting, but I really just wanted them to do something. Anything. Brianna's job seemed like a vehicle to get treachery moving again. RogerMac....well, his adjustment was interesting, but not much more than that. Jem and get the picture.

It was nice seeing people I never thought to see again in these books (without giving spoilers, of course) and my favorite characters (Ian, John Grey) did not disappoint. But, something in this book was just off. Maybe it was the excessive detail about a time and place I care little about. I will say that the process of reading this book made me want to go back and read favorite parts from the previous books. I don't anticipate having the same feeling about this one when the next book comes out.

Speaking of the next book.....

Cliffhangers...... there was definite cliffhanger fail in this book. When you KNOW the next book is going to be years in the making, why would you leave so many cliffhangers?!

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: What White Boyz Ride

What White Boyz Ride What White Boyz Ride by Kelley Nyrae

I'm not going to drag this out: I didn't find anything redeeming in this book. Not the characters in the stories, not the plots of the stories,not the writing, not the settings, not a thing. If you're a fan of these authors, this book might be for you. If you're picking it (and them) up for the first time, prepare to be disappointed. I won't be reading anything by any of these authors again.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Review: Tortured

Tortured Tortured by Amanda McIntyre

I'm not giving this book a rating because I didn't finish it. But, unlike most DNF's, I'm not sure it was entirely the book's fault. It isn't badly written, and there are some interesting historical details. But, I was bored. I didn't engage with the characters, and I skimmed more than half of it before I decided to just give up. The parts that I read seemed well written, and the premise I was getting was interesting enough for me to pick up the book in the first place. But, I just didn't find it enough to keep reading. I would try another book by this author, but I won't be giving THIS book another try.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: Lamentation

Lamentation (The Psalms of Isaak) Lamentation by Ken Scholes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The audio version of this book was fantastic, but this may have been a case where the print version would have made things easier. You can flip back, in the print version, when things start falling into place. Or, when things get even more confusing. Both situations happened during this book.

If you're a fan of the political intrigue, twisty plot and twisty characters version of SF/Fantasy, this book will be right up your alley. How Scholes ever kept it all straight could probably be a book all its own! Yet, he doesn't sacrifice characterization for the sake of plot. Each of the characters makes you feel somthing for them. It isn't always a good something, but Scholes manages to make even the worst characters seem redemptive. And I mourned the absence of Gregoric secondary characters I probably wasn't meant to get so attached to. I won't say more than that for spoilerish reasons.

I was a little bit lost at the end, but that could be because I was listening, working and/or driving while I listened and was bound to miss important clues given at important times. But, it is possible that there were a few too many twists and turns. Nothing is as it seems in the Named Lands, and, possibly, even beyond. Can't wait for book 2, which I'll be taking in with my eyes instead of my ears.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Review: In the President's Secret Service

In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect by Ronald Kessler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Parts of this book were so good I didn't want to put it down. Yet, there were some parts that were so boring I skimmed the pages. There were some good insights into the Secret Service, and the history of the organization was wonderfully done. But, at times, the book took on a gossipy tone which, while fun to read, didn't really add much to the core content. On the other hand, that is probably what will move books because we have an unquenchable thirst for gossip about....well, everyone.

What I found most amazing about this book was how stupid some of my fellow citizens can be when it comes to how (and how not to) behave in regards to people who enjoy Secret Service protection. Most of the things that are detailed in the book had me saying "Really? Someone would really be that dumb? Seriously?!" The book passes a lot of it off as mental instability/illness and I'm sure some of that is true. But there seems to be just a lack of common sense in these anecdotes as well.

As always, readers have to decide for themselves how much of it they're going to believe. When you're dealing with real people, especially real people who aren't around to defend themselves anymore, you take it all with a grain of salt. I can't remember what I said to half the people I saw last week. Do I really believe all of the reports in this book were remembered correctly from 10, 20, 40 years before? Not necessarily. And, there is always bias involved when you have people reporting what other people may have done or said. That's just how things go. But, taking that into account, I believe you can still get the gist of the Secret Service job and a sense of how they felt about the particular people they were assigned to guard. If you're a political history buff, or have an interest in the secret service,you'll probably want to check this one out.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review: Blindman's Bluff

Blindman's Bluff  (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #18) Blindman's Bluff (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #18) by Faye Kellerman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The rating of this book depends on why you're reading it. If you're reading because you're a Rina Lazarus/Peter Decker (and friends) fan and you want to catch up, it is a solid 4. If you're reading for a good, suspenseful's a solid 3, possibly 3.5.

This isn't one of Kellerman's best mysteries. From the very beginning, you can make a pretty solid guess about who is behind the murder. She tries to throw you off with a few events, but all the information is right there in front of you. There are some gun fights, some investigation, but very few surprises. By the time the end of the book rolled around, I was curious as to the why, but only for a few of the more minor details. The main WHY (as in why the three people were killed) was evident long before the end.

But, for the most part, the characters shine in this book. If you're a longtime fan of the series, you'll be happy to catch up with your favorite people to see how their lives have progressed. The relationship between Decker and Hannah is a little bit awkward, and maybe that is on purpose as Hannah is in an awkward teen place. There was barely a mention of the boys and Koby, but other than that, it was like a reunion. I only wish Kellerman could have done BOTH well, instead of just one side or the other. I always said I cared more about the characters than the actual mystery of the books, but maybe that wasn't as true as I had hoped. It was a good book, as far as it went, but I was expecting more.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, August 10, 2009

Review: Bound By Honor

Bound By Honor: An Erotic Novel of Maid Marian Bound By Honor: An Erotic Novel of Maid Marian by Colette Gale

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
You know.....this book surprised me. There was more of a story here than I expected. The problem for me started and ended with "An erotic novel" because it wasn't. I didn't find anything in this book erotic. I was far more fascinated with the political machinations, the threeway friendship between Robin, Marian and Will and the romance between Alys and Will. I think it was SUPPOSED to be erotic, but if that's what you were looking for.....well, maybe other people got that out of this book. I did not. So, in that sense, I found it disappointing.

And, while the historical fiction part of this book was good, there are many, MANY that are better. I just think it missed the mark here. Don't know if that is typical because this is the first book I've read by Gale. Not sure I'll try another one.

View all my reviews >>

Review: Start Me Up

Start Me Up (Tumble Creek, #2) Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
After reading "Talk me Down" I wasn't sure how any other contemporary romance could win my heart. But, after reading Start Me Up, I've learned that my heart can be an incredibly fickle bitch! Start Me Up is more funny, more sexy, and more romantic than Talk Me Down. Of course, I'm a sucker for the "old friends" vehicle so I was already pre-disposed to like this book. (I'm also a sucker for exes getting back together if anyone is keeping score!)

Because I didn't talk a lot about the sex in Talk Me Down, let me make up for that here. Wait....can I do that without giving anything away? There is one sex scene in here that made my book catch on fire. Seriously. I burned my fingers turning the pages. It is spoilerific to tell you what it is, but, trust me when I saw you'll know it when you see it! Hot. Now that sex is all the rage in romance books, the scenes can range from ho hum, to pretty damn ridiculous. It is the rare writer who can write sex in a way that isn't just believable, but incredibly exciting. Worth re-reading. Again. If it sounds simple to you, that's because you haven't read enough bad examples. Quinn and Lori weren't exceptionally hot separately, but they were combustible when together. It just reinforced my already widely held beliefs: Nerds (and Geeks) are hot. But please, don't take my word for it. That means more for me!

The characters, alreeady introduced in Talk Me Down, were developed nicely here. Although, I have to admit, I had a hard time picturing Lori in my head. The description was there, but that isn't what I wanted her to look like so I could never get a focus on her physical appearance. Her personality, though, was crystal clear. Dahl gets a bad rap on her heroines, but I happened to love Lori Love. I don't think she was unsympathetic at all. I thought she was a bit hard headed at times, but never in a way that seemed uncharacteristic. It always seemed to be in the way of someone who was used to fending for herself and not relying on the kindness of strangers, or even friends. She wasn't whiny about the things she'd given up, just matter of fact. She wasn't asking anyone to feel sorry for her, and she didn't waste time feeling sorry for herself either. If anything, that made her more sympathetic because who wants to read 300+ pages of someone feeling sorry for themselves? And who doesn't have a longing for something more? Something else? You can be happy with what you have and still wish you had something different. Travel? College? Or whatever it may have been you feel you've missed out on. That is a universally human characteristic (even if you don't want to admit it) which made Lori seem all the more likeable.

Quinn surprised me. The impression I had of him from Talk Me Down didn't go away -- he lived up to my geeky expectations -- but there was an entirely different side to him that I was surprised to meet. His interactions with Ben were especially entertaining. And just thinking about him speaking Spanish is taking....away....the chill....of the air conditioner..... ahem. Right. Geeks (and nerds) = sexy. All I'm saying....

The only "complaint" I might have about this book is that the ending and resolution seemed a bit rushed. You got an explanation about "who did it" and why. And, you know, it solves the mystery, but didn't seem particularly satisfying as endings go. I almost wish it had been an ongoing thing, continued into the next book, so it could be more exciting. But, it certainly wasn't disappointing enough to move this off the five star mark. All in all, it was a fantastic book. Run, don't walk, to pick it up.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Review: Turn Coat

Turn Coat Unabridged CD (The Dresden Files) Turn Coat Unabridged CD by Jim Butcher

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
The only thing wrong with this book is that there was no Michael Carpenter. :) Everything else was spectacular. It started out fast, and as I listened to it, there didn't seem to be any points where it dragged. Normally, I only listen to audiobooks in the car but this one went from the car, in to work, back to the car, into my apartment and back to the car. I could not wait for the next car ride to find out what happened. The down side of that, of course, is that it is over quicker.

For long time readers of this series, you may not like the audio editions of these books. Sometimes, fans have an idea in their head of the voice and can be disappointed when what they hear doesn't match that. For me, the audio versions of these books are magic. I wanted to like the books, but I never could get into Storm Front. Once I listened to it, though, I finally saw what all the fuss was about.

Hard to summarize this book without giving away major plot points, so I won't do that. There are plenty of summaries online. Hell, I think Dresden has his own wiki! There are a few beatings, some crying, some dying, some transitioning, some regretting, and a very unsettling ending. I already can't wait for the next one.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: Lord Demon's Delight

Lord Demon's Delight Lord Demon's Delight by Gia Dawn

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I expected to hate this book. I can't remember where I even heard of it. Was it on Twitter? A blog? Samhain's webpage? Can't recall. But, I expected to hate it. The cover did not help. I thought it would at least be good for some laughs, right? Turns out, it was pretty darn good!

It started out with a terrorist fistbump to William Shakespeare's Macbeth. The whole witches watching, plotting and scheming. Elitist though it may be, literary reference made me more curious and interested in the book. It got my attention. And, not only that, but the witches were funny. They had personality, AND got the story going.

The voyeuristic aspects of the story were also interesting. Some people may find it creepy, I didn't. I liked how Dawn made sure to always let the reader know the couple being spied on were fully aware they were being watched. She didn't hit you over the head with it, but it did make the whole thing less stalkerific.

Hero and Heroine were both well developed, and the secondary characters were rounded as well. The plumbing of the book (grammar, sentence structure, spelling) was also very good. It seems almost shameful that it needs to be mentioned, but there are some really badly edited books out there!

Which leaves the plot. There were some holes. Tne end of the book was rushed. Not so much the romance between H/H, but the backstory. Jessaline's father was a son of a bitch, we got that. Why did it take him so long to get to her for confrontation? He knew where she was. If he was waiting so long to set up things with the King, he didn't do such a hot job. And if he's so good at machinations, why did it all end so badly? It seemed a bit glossed over towards the end. I understand that wasn't the "real" story, but I wanted to know details! Dawn had done a good bit of world building and that's why I wanted to know more.

All in all, it was a good book. I don't think romance fans will be disappointed.

View all my reviews.

Monday, June 8, 2009


While I can't stop reading completely (not even for my own good!) book reviews and other various activities will be light around here while I study for the bar exam. It might be linky for awhile, or maybe crazy (or crazy good) book covers. Regular scheduled reading (and posting) will continue after July 29th.

Review: Skin Trade

Skin Trade (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #17) Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, I'm not sure this was enough to get me back into the Anita Blake fold, but I did like the book. Very much. It made me realize some things about the series, though.

I hate Anita Blake. I think I've always known this, and I believe this is where my problem with heroin(e) started. All the guys want to screw her, and all the girls want to be her. And poor Anita Blake, she just can't figure out what to do with this wacky, crazy life of hers. But, as much as she doesn't want to be a "victim" she's just a crazy slave to her unfortunate, but of her own making, circumstances. Whine. Whine. Whine. It has been this way since Circus of the Damned, and it hasn't really changed except for the circumstances have gotten more complicated.

Yet, what I have really liked about the books were the other characters. Okay, Jean-Claude and Edward, mostly. Asher some. The rest of them I could give a toss about, really. And, what has really irritated me about the path the books were on was that she diminished Jean-Claude's power to raise Anita's. Either he is or he is not the shit. Right? I know characters change throughout the series, but she has watered JC down so much that I'm almost wondering what purpose he serves. I know Richard fans have similar complaints.

Back to this book: It had plot. I know! A plot that centered around something other than who Anita was going to screw. Don't get me wrong, there was screwing. And, you know, I thought I was pretty well innoculated from the name issue thanks to JR Ward, but something about her screaming "Wicked" during sex still made me laugh out loud. But we got tbrough 300 pages before there was screwing, so take that for what it's worth. Sadly, though, I didn't find the sex hot. There were parts that were luke warm, but never reached hot. That's what happens when you make sex something other than what it is supposed to be (ie. food). It becomes common. Mundane. "Oh, huh. She's getting off with someone she either doesn't like, doesn't trust, or doesn't want to add to her stable." To me, that's kind of the equivalent of eating vegetables. You do it because you have to, not because you're really digging parsnips.

The only character here who had actual growth was Edward. There were some plot issues here as well, and it seemed like Hamilton lost the thread towards the end. The end of the book was the weakest part by far. Bernardo, Olaf, and Edward just drop off the face of the Earth. What happened to them? No goodbyes? Suddenly, she's back in St. Louis, new playthings in tow, and life is back to some shade of normal. Okay. Um....right. But, there were some good parts, which is more than I can say for the previous 6 books. It did read very much like Obsidian Butterfly so if you didn't like that one, you're probably not going to be much for this one either.

View all my reviews.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Review: 52 pt. 1

52 - Part 1 (DC Comics) (DC Comics) 52 - Part 1 by Greg Cox

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, the first part of this was not as engaging as Infinite Crisis, but it has an appeal all its own. It is much easier to keep up with all the characters, and there seems to be more drama than Infinite Crisis had, but not as much action. Normally that is good, but you really have to pay attention to this one or you might miss something other than just another fight sequence.

It isn't just no Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, though. Where is Green Lantern? Martian Manhunter? Aquaman? MIA. Nightwing? Teen Titans? Nope. I love The Question, don't get me wrong. Black Adam is a little much, but okay. Green Arrow? Nada. If you're not giving me Batman, throw me something, right?

The time travel angle is a good one, but there wasn't enough of it in part 1. It was good enough that I want to get to the next part and find out what happens, but not so great that I want to keep driving until I reach the end.

View all my reviews.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Review: Lover Avenged

Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #7) Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was better than Lover Enshrined, even though I gave it a 4 star review as well. But, it just didn't reach the five stars for me.

What I love about Ward's writing is also what I hate about Ward's writing. When I read her prose, it isn't just filler. The narrative voice in this book is almost another character. An omnipotent one, to be sure, but still a separate character. I don't like how this character adds "ilies" to everything. Is it really that hard to say Stilettos, Mr. or Ms. Omnipotent? And I REALLY wish the word "shitkicker" was permanently deleted from your vocabulary. But, you do have a way with words and I appreciate how you could turn something very dry and boring into a fast, page turning adventure.

This whole series reminds me of how easy it was for me to make the leap from Fantasy to Romance lit. The world building is good and I love huge casts of characters. The more pages the merrier, and I love series. I can also see how this would be disturbing to those who started this series expecting one thing, and find themselves in this new place. It is dishonest to market this as a romance series with a hero/heroine focused plot. That is not where the plot is focused. The world does not revolve around the hero/heroine finding their happily ever after. They do find it, don't get me wrong, but I don't think anyone can say that is where the focus is. It seems to be something that happens along the way in the larger story. To me, that is absolutely fantastic. To people who are expecting the beginning, middle and end to be about Rehv and Elena, your set may need to be slightly adjusted.

I'm not sure what the endgame is here with the whole Lessers/Vampire war, and I'm not sure I care. I assume Ward wants me to care, so this may not be a good thing. I enjoy the characters, and I tune in to see what is going to happen next with them. I am more than a little caught up in how the war is affecting Wrath. But, other than that, it's background noise to me. It's a little like North and South. You know there is a war going on in the background, but the battle scenes are not the reason why you're watching. It's what goes on because of the war, during the war, before and after the war, that holds your interest.

Very hard to do this without spoilers, by the way.

Ward also has a style of writing, and dropping hints of future plot lines, that means if you have an interest in this series and where it might be going, you have to pay pretty close attention. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here, and I'm hoping that what looks like a recycled plot isn't going to be a recycled plot. I'm crazy about Xhex, John-Matthew, Blay and Qhuinn so the next book will be wonderful for me. I'm hoping that Bella gets a rest because she had a hell of a book this time around. She deserves some R & R. She had like, five scenes and all of them were drama? Come on.

I hate Lassiter. Just had to get that out.

And a word about the "gangsta": I wonder why people get so bent out of shape that some of Ward's characters don't act or talk like run of the mill white bread. Each of these characters has a distinct voice and, contrary to popular internet opinion, they don't all embrace the street talk. But the ones that do, seems completely consistent with the other characteristics they have. Is it so unusual? To me, the bigger question is why so many people have a problem with it?

And I hate Lassiter.

View all my reviews.

Review: Hard as Nails

Hard As Nails Hard As Nails by M.A. Ellis

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the first book from Ellora's Cave that I can say, unequivocally, that I loved. That isn't to say I've read everything they published and hated it all, obviously that isn't the case. But everything I had read before was not good. Maybe I was picking the wrong ones. It had gotten so bad, that I didn't even want to pick up anything published by them. So why did I pick up this one? Your guess is as good as mine. But, I absolutely LOVED EVERY BIT of this book.

All four stories was fantastic. The sex was hot, as you'd expect, but there was much more to these stories than the hot sex. The characters had emotion and depth. My favorite story was "Twisted Steel and Sex Appeal" which made me laugh out loud and swoon in equal measure. Shelly and Luke were a fabulous couple, and I wish their story could have been a full length book instead of just a short story.

The weakest story, for me, was the first one. The Cake Babe. I thought there was a little too much serendipity in how the two of them got together. I didn't believe it. And, even though the sex was hot, I bought the idea of hot sex for the sake of hot sex much more than I bought longlasting love. That story needed more time to, bake (as it were) and I would have thought it better if they had started as a couple and worked their way up through the other three stories. Even though the other three brothers met their matches (ha!) in similarly short periods of time, Jason and Marissa just didn't work for me. But, even that wasn't enough to knock off a star. It was really that good. I look forward to reading more from Ellis.

View all my reviews.

Review: Hittin' It

Hittin' It Hittin' It by Amie Stuart

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
If it weren't for the first person confusion in "Screwed" this would have been a five star review. That bit threw me off and, even though I eventually got used to it, I think there may have been a more effective way of pulling it off. Maybe putting names at the beginning of the chapter when the voice changed? I mean, I could see that the voice changed, of course, but...I don't know. I'm not opposed to first person on general principle, it just seem to stall the story each time the voice flipped and the reader had to re-adjust how they were seeing the world. That's all. Purely personal preference, I suppose.

None of that did anything to dull the excitement of the characters, though. Stuart populated her world with fascinating people who you wanted to follow. I wanted Will to read more of Sabrina's diaries so I could learn more about her too! I wanted to hear more about Will's family, hear more about his background with the bitchy exes. I loved the world that was built around a family of assassins and how they make their way in the world. Worldbuilding only works if you care enough about the people who populate that world. Stuart succeeded in making me care about them. Of course, making me care about the main characters is really a basic characteristic of a good writer. I know it may seem like it is complex, but that is because so many writers can't make that happen. A truer sign of a complex writer, however, makes you care about the secondary and tangential characters as well. They aren't just props for the main characters to move around, but they have three dimensional thoughts and motivations of their own. I got that from the secondary characters in both "Screwed" and "Hooked". The characters weren't just there as roadblocks (cockblocks?) but could easily be turned into heroes and/or heroines in their own right. Well, maybe not Mark Green. I really don't like that one.

Even though I liked all four of the main characters, I think I preferred "Hooked". Don't get me wrong, I loved Will and Sabrina (and Will....did I say that already?). But, I really thought John and Tish had more chemistry. And while I really liked Tish, she seemed to irritate me in a way that made me wonder why I cared so much. That isn't to say that Will and Sabrina weren't good, because they most definitely were. There was a real depth there, definitely more serious, and not just because of the circumstances that led to them being on the run. Each of them had (or seemed to have)lived more life, had more to overcome which made it nicer when they found each other. John and Tish seemed to be more fun. I was equally happy that they found each other. And, even though there was the drama in John's past that made him commit to the non-lying, it still seemed more light hearted and fun.

Overall, very good book with two very strong stories. I can't wait to read more from her.

View all my reviews.

Review: Body Chemistry

Body Chemistry (Kimani Romance) Body Chemistry by Dara Girard

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I should tell you, up front, that I did not finish this book. So, take that into consideration if you plan to keep reading.

Girard had a few good things going on in this book. I like the idea of the Black Stockings Society, and it could have been a very interesting plot point. Who doesn't get all excited at the thought of a secret society? And I absolutely love a plot line with exes. Yep, I sure do. But this was a book where the ideas were good and the execution just didn't do it for me.

First of all, all of the characters were problematic. Brenda had her moments where she was extremely likeable. But, there were more moments when she seemed defensive and angry and condescending. I didn't see why anyone would want to be with her at all, quite frankly. Dominic was boring. There was no conflict in him. He had everything (except the girl) but that made him kind of blah. Where was the excitement? The only character that showed some spark was the resident jerk, Dr. Franklin. I was looking for more in the way of character development (or even interest) and it wasn't there. There were glimmers of it (which is why the book gets 2 stars from me) but I was hoping for more.

The real problem I had with this book, however, was the writing style. I realize this is a personal preference, but it really did bother me. There was much "telling" in this book instead of showing. The book started with a letter, which sets the plot into motion. But, immediately after that, things are slowed down my the way Girard puts too many words between the reader and the characters.
Brenda Everton calmly put the letter down on her desk. She had no urge to crumple or throw it but accepted it for what it was: a rejection.
Well, does the reader need to be told what she had the urge NOT to do? I know she didn't have the urge to do that. Why? Because she didn't do it.
She swung around in her chair and stared out her office window. She placed her hands on the arm rest. "Damn" she said in a soft whisper that quickly disappeared in the empty room. She listned to the sound of the clock, which seemed to keep time with the light drizzle of rain outside and the footsteps walking past her office door.
That last sentence was the best in a paragraph that was desperately in need of an editor.

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I read through the cumbersome writing, hoping that when hero and heroine finally met up it would be worth it. Unfortunately, there was very little magic between the main characters. They didn't spark with me individually or together. At that point, I gave up. I would try another book by Girard, but this one was a wash for me.

View all my reviews.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: Infinite Crisis

Infinite Crisis - Part 2 (Audiobook) Infinite Crisis - Part 2 by Greg Cox

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Yeah, I can't see any reason to review the parts individually. Both parts of this are awesome, although I haven't read the original graphic novel so I don't have much to compare it to. This isn't just a reading of the novelization, however. It is a full production with cast and effects and it sounds much like it would if you were watching it on tv, but with the added descriptions because you are listening and not watching. The hits and the violence can sound almost brutal, which, I suppose, they really are when you think about it.

The "not seeing" can be a problem if you, like me, have a very limited familiarity with DC comics. There is a very large cast in the Infinite Crisis and it was sometimes hard to tell who was good and who wasn't just by hearing the names. It took some effort, but I'm sure that wouldn't be the case for people who were better versed in the DC Universe. That really was the only downside to this audio. Run right out and get it.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Review: I Love a Man in Uniform

I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles by Lily Burana

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
You all know how I feel about memoirs: don't trust 'em. Not my fault, I've been hurt before. BUT, I found this book absolutely charming, brutally honest (sometimes more than I think I needed to know) and very entertaining. It starts off strong, giving you a picture of the "perfect" Army Wife and then Burana tells you she is not that woman. Usually, the best compliment I can give to a memoir is that it "reads like fiction". This, to me, means that it isn't slow or overly detailed or dry like some memoirs, but is fast paced with snappy dialogue like the best fiction books. This book is fast paced with snappy dialogue, but you never get the feeling that it isn't real. There is always something there, lingering in the background, that tethers you to the reality that this is someone's life.

The Iraq War looms large over this book. First in anticipation of Major Mike going, then while he is gone, and then when he comes back. Burana was mostly very respectful of the Army, both as an institution and the political leadership thereof, so if you're looking for a book that bad talks the military, or something along those lines, best to move along. It doesn't happen here. What you get here is a wonderful insight into her life as an Officer's wife, and the adjustments she had to make. The chapters on West Point were fascinating and informative, but there was also plenty of humor to be found in the book. I'd always wondered what real Army wives think of the show Army Wives for instance. (She is an addict. Like me.) And calling the military "Uncle Sugar" cracks me up for a reason I still cannot identify.

One of my favorite parts came near the end where Burana, sick about the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, came face to face with Donald Rumsfeld at the Army-Navy football game.

"Shifting back and forth, I weighed the possible outcome of saying something to her husband, and no matter how angry I was over the hell that Rumsfeld and his crw had wrought, all I could envision were my words casting a long, dark shadow over my husband. For all my fury and indignation I would not win this war with a personal attack, and by Rumsfeld on the spot, I would be serving no one but myself. What he did to our contry might be unforgiveable, but so, too, would be turning a football game into my own personal bully pulpit. My husband committed to a vocation of selfless service and sacrifice. I would match his sacrifice with discretion. For the first time in my loudmouth life, I chose impassioned silence."

I'm glad she chose to break that silence to write this book. Very well done.

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday dump!

Ever wondered how books are ordered for a library? I was cleaning out my email today and found this lurking there. Someone in the system asked for a brief (ha) description of how we decide what to buy. This was my reply. Enjoy.

Well, I guess the first thing to say is that all fiction titles are eligible for purchase. There used to be an unwritten policy that we didn’t buy certain types of romance fiction (mostly the series romance books) but that is no longer the case. I don’t immediately reject something just because it was published by a certain company (like Harlequin) or because it is romance or whatever. If it is fiction, we consider it. But, just because everything is considered doesn’t mean everything is purchased.

Reviews are less helpful in fiction than in non-fiction because, unlike with non-fiction, there isn’t a blatant wrong answer. In NF, you can reject a book because it gives out bad information. (Like saying, for instance, that AIDS is spread by sharing water fountains.) That is just completely wrong, and we wouldn’t buy a book that gives out bad information. With fiction, reviews are just what people think about the book. They can like the story, or not. They can like the writing, or not. They can like the author, or the genre, or not. That doesn’t mean that any given reader will agree. So, it is difficult to rely strictly on reviews. Plus, there are a lot of fiction books that don’t even get reviewed and some that are, in genre specific magazines, may or may not be anything more than “I hated this book.” Not helpful. That said, I do READ reviews. Sometimes.

So, if not reviews then what? Well, the aforementioned genre magazines. Mystery News, Mystery Scene, Romantic Times, Locus, The Bulletin of the SFWA and Starlog are the main ones. Lots of web sites. Overbooked. ( Early Word ( GalleyCat ( CoaIM ( are the best ones. Plus a handful of fiction listservs.

When I first started here, I had SS make me a list of branches with all kinds of neat demographic info. But, with floating, none of that matters. You just put a number in and that’s how many we have. They start out in certain places, but who knows where they will end up. Most things end up just fine, but there are some collections we haven’t been able to get right. African American fiction is the one that immediately comes to mind. The others are classics and science fiction/fantasy. I have found things in the Booksale, discards, that still have holds because people think that just because a SF/F book is not going at their branch, they should throw it away…..without checking Horizon. Floating is a partnership and I really rely on public service staff to make sure we are keeping things we need to have. They have to know who the big authors are, who has a high re-read rate, or a large number of new readers (Nora Roberts comes to mind) and who is just a flash in the pan. They need to know multiple genres and authors in those genres, an they need to do all of this without their own personal biases entering into it. For the most part, public service librarians do an awesome job. But, as with anything else, there are some areas that need work. Without them, though, this system won’t work. I only buy the books, and if they’re discarded, then we’re right back where we started.

Keeping up with new trends is essential. We buy erotic fiction, which is pretty much standard in the romance genre now. No more holding hands and then ending with a smooch. J We buy urban fiction. We buy books with werewolves, and were-lions, and…, I’m not kidding! Vamps, and ghosts, and whatever it is. We have a ratio of number of copies to holds, but that is flexible. I rely heavily on previously purchased works by the author to determine the number of copies. If their most recent books have done well, I’ll increase the number of copies. If I look on Horizon and see that the author’s last book has 5 copies, with 5 circ between all of them, then I’ll probably buy fewer. If those 5 copies all have double digit circs or a current hold list, then I’ll probably increase the number of the next title. If the author changes styles, or genres (for instance they go from historical mystery to paranormal romance) then I’ll increase if the new area is more popular, and decrease if not. I NEVER BUY ONE COPY OF ANYTHING. NEVER. There is no place in a 24 branch system for one copy of a new book. The fewest I’ve bought is 3 copies and even that makes me feel like I’m not giving it a chance to succeed. The most copies I’ll buy is 300. Anything over that requires more fortitude than I have. We rarely have anything go over 900 holds, so 300 is sufficient. For the bestsellers, I’ll start out with 200 (James Patterson, John Grisham, hardcover Nora Roberts) and then go from there. Strangely enough, paperback Nora Roberts titles don’t gather as many holds, even when they aren’t re-issues. Don’t know why, that’s just how it is.

Audiobooks: Because we are getting them at a much more reasonable price, I buy more copies and I buy more titles. More titles are coming out in audio format, and it is everything from the huge bestsellers to paperback originals. If it is available, I’ll try anything once. I’ve found that until you put it out there, you don’t know if people will like it. GraphicAudio specializes in paperback original authors and they make audiobooks that are like big budget action movies. People find them entertaining. They circ pretty well, and they’re only $19.95, so it’s a win-win situation.

Downloadable audio: the same basic rules apply. Because they have a mandatory 3 week loan period, I’m likely to buy more copies than I ordinarily would so people don’t have to wait so long.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review: The Steel Remains

The Steel Remains The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was my first experience with Richard Morgan, so I have nothing else to compare it to. Reading some of the other reviews on GoodReads, I see that many people prefer his straight Science Fiction works to his new Fantasy series.

I thought this was an excellent book. It started with action, and it rarely let up. Yet, it was had complex plotting, intrigue, and the most realistic characters I've seen in a book in a long time. All of the characters in this book, even the characters you see just briefly, are multi faceted. If there are "plot device" characters in this novel, I certainly couldn't pick them out. They were well integrated into the story, not just devices stuck in to move plot points along. The main and secondary characters showed a depth that, frankly, has been missing in fantasy fiction of late. The relationships between the characters was complex, each of the three main characters having lives that were not easily described. All of them had faults, some big some little, and all of those faults weren't neatly tied up when it became time for them to become heroes again. They continued to be faulty characters who rose to the occasion. Isn't that just the way of people?

The one thing I would change about this book is the beating me over the head with the homophobia of the general populace. I get it. Ringil is gay and the peoples don't like it. Honestly, his being gay is not the most interesting thing about him, or the book. Bigotry happens. Archeth faced it too. Egar's situation was much more interesting as the bigotry towards him was about ideas (him having them instead of sticking with traditions) instead of physical attributes. I just thought it was overdone. But, if that is the biggest problem with this book, that isn't much of a problem at all.

The book is action filled and thought provoking and complex. If Fantasy novels are your thing and you don't object to violence or sexual situations, this is the book for you. But, it is violent, so be warned. Definitely an adult book, not for the kiddies.

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review: One Taste

One Taste One Taste by Allison Hobbs

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
The blurb on the front says "A Fast-Paced Sex Thriller with a lot of Eroticism" but the book did not deliver. It delivered fast pace and sex. There was nothing "thrilling" or "erotic" about it. You can't create eroticism just by using naughty words. That isn't enough anymore and there wasn't enough here to get me engaged.

I didn't like the characters and I don't think I was supposed to. The first thing we see is materialistic Regina and it all goes downhill from there. She isn't sympathetic at all, even though Hobbs tries to build in a backstory of heartbreak around a son who died in an accident. Maybe if we would have gotten the full story about the son up front it might have helped create more of a connection with Regina. Instead, we get the barest hint of her pain, but it seemed contrived without the full story. Her husband is another completely unsympathetic character. Did this man have ANY redeeming qualities? Any at all? He was a cardboard cutout character, there only to give Regina an excuse to do everything she did. Not only does that not work for him, it doesn't work for her either. Why do I feel badly for her when she stayed with someone like that? I don't believe that she did it for love. Why? Because there wasn't anything lovable about him, that's why. There wasn't anything lovable about either of them.

The rest of the characters were equally two dimensional and un-interesting. They showed no depth, no growth, no individualism. So if you have characters like that guess what suffers? That's right, the sex.

To put it bluntly, there was nothing sexy about the sex in this book. It wasn't hot. It wasn't "freaky" (despite the blurb from Zane on the back of the book). It was plain, like checking off the list of words: Pussy? Yep. Dick? Uh huh. Clit? Gotcha. Cum....yep. Great! We hit our quota. If it wasn't plain, it was ridiculous. I mean, did you really say:

"Yeah, his dick was husky like a mufucka"

Seriously? And I'm supposed to be aroused by that or laughing my ass off? Because I'm still laughing. Which is too bad because the one redeeming quality of this book was Cochise (aside from his nickname.) He was the only character that straddled the line between two dimensional and fully developed character. He wasn't all the way there, but he came closer than any of the others. He had his own voice and hinted that Hobbs might be a better writer than this book suggests.

But I knew I was in trouble on the first page with
"She could eye spy a knockoff with just a glance"

She could "eye spy"? Really? That's something a person might say, that doesn't belong in the narration. There is an old adage for writing called "show, don't tell." There is a lot of tell in this book, and not nearly enough show. Would I try another book by her? Probably. There were glimmers of things in this one that gave me hope. But, I'll definitely be checking out from the library instead of forking over my own recession dollars.

View all my reviews.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It could just be me

But I think it kind of dulls the danger to be advertised as having a special (read cheaper) price.

Maybe you could be Cheap as Sin? Somewhat Dangerous? Maybe they could put the frickin' sticker somewhere else?

Review: Talk Me Down

Talk Me Down (Tumble Creek, #1) Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Do you know what is harder than writing a review of a book you really didn't like? Writing a review for a book you LOVED. You don't know where to start. You don't know when you're crossing the line from intelligent review to giggly fangirl. You don't know how you can do the book justice. The truth is, you can't do it justice because you have to READ THE BOOK to understand why it is so good. You can't capture that in a review. The best you can do is a "Why I liked this book" summary:

First and foremost, I loved the heroine in this book. If any of you read my reviews (and really, why would you?) you know that I have a longstanding problem with heroines. Either they are whiny, or stupid, or have GHH (glittery hoo haa) or everyone wants to sleep with them, be them, worship them, and have done nothing to earn that devotion. They often are mean with no repercussions treat their best friends (and everyone else) more like sidekicks than friends and make me wonder why anyone would want to be around them at all. Molly Jennings wasn't like that at all. Instead, she was warm and funny. She was kind, vulnerable and, most importantly, she was hilarious. Seriously hilarious. Yes, there were times when I wanted to hit her over the head with my book (just TELL HIM ALREADY, MOLLY!) but that happens all too often in real life as well.

Ben was equally awesome and didn't leave me wondering "What the hell would he want her for?" He wasn't hunky yet brainless. He wasn't, in my opinion, easily cateogized in the alpha or beta boxes many people like to shut heroes in. He was well rounded. He wasn't perfect, wasn't superhuman, wasn't anything other than himself. The fun part of the book was finding out exactly what that was. You found out right along with Molly and Ben as they found out about each other.

The plot was perfect. It kept you guessing, it threw you off track, it moved at the same pace as the book. A lot of books really want to focus on the "romance" part of the book and let the rest of the plot drop until it is needed to advance the book. This one kept all parts integrated so you never really forgot the overall story.

The best part of this book, though, was the voice. All the characters, including the narrative voice, were distinct. No one sounded alike and, better yet, no one sounded stilted. Conversations flowed, and sounded like people talking not characters talking. It makes me wonder if Dahl read this out loud as she was writing, because there weren't any awkward phrases or pieces when any of the characters talked to each other. It didn't matter if they were main characters, or secondary, they all sounded realistic. And hilarious. I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading this book. The circumstances Molly got herself in to, many times unapologetically, were great. Lori, Helen, Juan, Quinn, even icky Cameron and Molly's parents were all people you could picture in your head as you read the words. You really can't appreciate how special that is unless you've read books that never come close to that level of writing. It isn't something everyone can accomplish.

And the sex? Hot. Fun. Hot. I don't know what else to say about that.

Overall, I can't say enough good things about this book. It'll be like catching up on the exploits of a friend you lost touch with. And I think, at the end, you'll be happy to see whatever happened to that Molly girl you used to know.....

View all my reviews.

Review: 3

Three Three by Julie Hilden

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
It wasn't so much dislike that made me give this only one star. It was more disinterest. There was an interesting hook to start the book: a woman catching her husband with another woman. Okay, I'm intrigued. And back cover copy told me that said wife would agree to an "open" marriage of sorts. That's why I picked it up! The author has already won me halfway over because I picked up the book. But, it takes more than that to keep me interested.

The prose was written well. The book had a literary look and feel to it. And, even though it may seem like I have a bias against modern literary fiction, I really don't. Some of it is interesting, and some of it isn't. This one wasn't. The characters were bland. They weren't sympathetic at all. I didn't like any of them, and I didn't dislike them either. I just turned pages. Pretty soon, I didn't care enough to continue to do that. I didn't care about their motivations. The sex was boring, even though it was supposed to be illicit and exciting. It wasn't the words that made the sex boring, it was the lack of interest in the characters.

A lot of people enjoyed this book, and that's great. Anything that is positive feedback for an author is a good thing. For me, though, this was a disappointment. I probably won't be trying any of her other fiction.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Review: I'm Down

I'm Down: a memoir I'm Down: a memoir by Mishna Wolff

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm skeptical about memoirs now. It wasn't just James Frey that made me skeptical. Since then, there have been many memoirs, both published and unpublished, that have proven to be false. So, while I very much liked this book, I'm not at all convinced that it was true. The beautiful thing is that it doesn't matter. If it is true, great. I can't wait to read the rest of the story. If it isn't true, great. I can't wait to read the rest of the story.

The writing was engaging and it read like fiction. It moved along fast and there weren't really any lulls to skim through. I almost wish this book was fiction, because that would make the narrator a lot more reliable. When I was reading this, I kept thinking "This is how YOU saw it. But I wonder how it really was." Which isn't to say, of course, that she deliberately lied. But, if these things are happening to you, then of course you're going to spin them with your own interpretation. That, and you're only privvy to the conversations you had access to.

The other thing was that the book ended too soon. Unless she's planning to do another one, and maybe she is, I thought it ended way too early. What happened in high school? What happened with her parents? What happened post high school? I know it was supposed to be about her "growing up" but it just seemed to end in an awkward place. I wanted to know more. I suppose wanting to know more is the best compliment you can give a memoir.

If you're planning to read this book (and from the cover how could you NOT want to read it) don't expect any deep philosophical answers about race relations (or anything else) from it. Expect to be entertained, and you won't be disappointed.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bad Cover

Seriously. If you can look at this and NOT make Hulk sex jokes, you are a better woman than I. Love her. HATE the cover.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dumb is.....

Not including a link to your own blog on your own blog! Check out Obiter Dictum, which will turn 5 (!!!) this year.

I started Unpaged so I wouldn't clog the other one up with stuff about books. Then, I promptly abandoned it. But, maybe now I'll be more diligent about updating my life over there.

Love is in the air!

Everywhere you look around! Big news in romance publishing, and really all genre publishing. Sales are up up up!

A brief cameo by me towards the end of the article. Come one, come all. Pick up a book!

Review: Be With Me

Be With Me Be With Me by Maya Banks

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I guess this would be more of a 3.5. (Hey GoodReads, why can't I give half stars?!)

Basically, my problem with this book all stems from the fact that I don't believe the underlying premise that there can be HEA with three men and one woman. I'm sure it's me, but I don't think I'd like to share. I have a problem suspending my disbelief long enough to think that the three guys would all be happy sharing one lady they all loved.

So, if you don't buy in to the book on the most fundamental level, how can it get three stars? Well, because I loved all the characters. Towards the middle, Reggie started to get on my nerves, but I have a notorious problem with heroine(s). I either love them or hate them. Overall, she was a win for me. I liked her attitude and her determination. I like how she had to give in and became part of a group instead of just an individual. I loved how she stood up to her parents. I liked her relationship with her partner and her boss. She was great. The boys were equally fantastic. I thought Banks did a really good job giving each one their own space for development. And that is partly why the rest of the book didn't work for me. It felt like they were all cheated out of the HEA that each deserved. I preferred her with Hutch, and I thought Cam and Sawyer (God, I loved Sawyer) deserved their own books. Even though they were all three dimensionally developed, I wanted to know MORE about them. I don't know, I just didn't feel like they were done. Did I mention how much I loved Sawyer?

The creepy stalker plot was enough to move the story along, but I could have used more there as well. I never really felt like it was an imminent threat. It was, of course, but I was too busy trying to figure out how the relationships were going to work to care about anything else. I think if it would have been just a story about her and Hutch, then it would have fallen into place easier for me. I did like the revelation of the stalker, and I wanted to feel badly for that person (and I think I was supposed to) but by that time, I didn't care about any of that anymore. I was invested somewhere else, and just wanted it to be over so we could get back home to see THAT resolution.

So, I liked the book. I did. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Maya Banks, but I wish two of the guys would have gotten more love.

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Review: Long Lost

Long Lost Long Lost by Harlan Coben

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Right before I started this book (on audio) I read a less than stellar review from a newspaper critic. I'm a big fan of Coben and of Myron Bolitan (well, of Win mostly, but you know...) and I was sure that I would love the book regardless of whatever problems it might have. When I finished, though, I thought the critic had been a little bit harsh in her assessment.

First of all, I thought the story was good. The ending was a little bit creeptastic, but I'm sure that was entirely on purpose. If I had to criticize the plot at all, it would be that it is so easy to design a plot around muslim extremists now that it doesn't even register with me anymore. It's like making walls cream or eggshell in a room. You don't even notice them. There are just some things that don't leave an impression anymore because they are so overdone both in real life and in entertainment. You want to be impressive or memorable, make Danish extremists. Finnish extremists. Wow, that is something new. Buddist extremists and I may never forget it. Muslim extremists? I've seen that season of 24 at least 2 years in a row. The story was good, there was a twist that I'm still thinking about, but until that happened, it was mostly a forgettable plot line.

But the characters were spot on. Everyone you expect to see in a Bolitar novel was present and accounted for. The one thing about a longstanding series is that there are some things you see over and over again. Almost all the usual jokes were there (MB Sportsreps, etc.) And because they were almost all there, I could tell which one was missing ( the airline.) I understand that not everyone has read all the books in the series (and why not?) and that you have make them accessible to newcomers to the series. I'm just saying, when you've read them all it can be a little.....repetitive.

But even after all of that, this book delivers everything I expected and even some creeptastic chills that I didn't expect. I could read about Win all day and this one will definitely get a re-read.

A word about the audio: Every character seemed to be right on the money except Esperanza. It just wasn't right. Everything else was perfect, and she wasn't there enough to put you off the audio if you are inclined in that direction. But, it did bother me enough that I had to mention it.

View all my reviews.

Review: JLA: Exterminators

Justice League of America - JLA: Exterminators (Justice League of America) Justice League of America - JLA: Exterminators by Christopher Golden

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I wasn't sure how this would translate to audio format but I shouldn't have been worried. It was absolutely amazing. The voices were right on and some, like whoever did Batman, were flawless. GA's tagline is "like a movie in your mind" and this really did flow more like a movie than a dramatization of a story, even though there was narration and not all dialogue.

The story was good, although you really have to pay attention in the beginning to understand what is going on. With an ensemble cast of characters, someone is bound to get shorted in the development area. If there was anyone here who got shorted, it might have been Wonder Woman. There was a little bit of characterization there, but certainly not as much as the boys. I enjoyed her parts, though. Aquaman came off as kind of a jerk. Batman too, although my love affair with him goes way back. I was always more Marvel than DC, so I'm less familiar with characters that didn't make their way past the pages of comics into other media. Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Steel, etc. I liked getting to know more about them but I couldn't tell you if they were done well or not because my experience with them is so limited to begin with.

Sometimes, as much as I have come to like audiobooks, listening to one person read to me is just not that interesting. This is a nice change of pace, and I really didn't see a downside to it at all. If you like action, this is probably something you're going to enjoy.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What a difference a year makes!

This is what I wrote in my June monthly report last year:

Disturbing discovery

The Romance Writers of America hands out the RITA awards every year at their convention. This is the “official” award of the romance industry, although there are several others given by different groups. While I was searching Horizon to see if we had all the nominees, I found that there were a few categories we had few, sometimes none, of the books that were nominated. The titles were from 2007, and they were all “category” romances. Category romances are defined as the ones that come out monthly in a category (like Harlequin Blaze for instance). I didn’t start buying those until mid year 2007 because it had always been that we didn’t buy those. Now that I think about it, I find it kind of appalling that we would single out a category of book we didn’t buy just because we didn’t think it had any merit. We’re a library for crying out loud. I think we’re the absolute last people who should be judging what books have merit and which do not. I understand that we can’t, and don’t, buy everything but we really shouldn’t be making the decision on what to buy based on something as general as “it’s a category romance.” And I really hope that we don’t ever go back to that way of thinking. It is embarrassing, as an institution, to be so closed minded about a collection that aims to serve the WHOLE city, not just the ones with high literary taste.

So, today the RITA nominations were announced and I can report SIGNIFICANT improvement in what is in our collection. I wish I could say that it was 100% but, I can't. Sadly. BUT, there were only 3 categories where we didn't have them all: Best First Book, Contemporary Series Romance and Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure. Out of all the books nominated, there were six we didn't have. I'm encouraged by that, although I'm also curious as to WHY we didn't have those six. How did I miss them? Why didn't I pick them? Was it bad reviews or what? I'll have to check into that.

In the meantime, here is the list

Review: Kill Zone

Kill Zone: A Sniper Novel Kill Zone: A Sniper Novel by Jack Coughlin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This gets four stars because even though I thought there were problems with it, I couldn't stop reading it. And, by the end, I realized I'd liked it a lot.

Part of the problem, I think, was reader interference. Whenever you have a book that deals with politics, even tangentially like this one does, I can't help but try and decipher the unwritten (and probably unintentioned) messages. Does this author have a political bias? Do they lean in one direction or the other? What does it mean if they DO have a bias? The fact that I had to ask meant that it was pretty well hidden.

The other criticism I have is that there were some missing descriptions in the book. What did these people look like? Some of them were described pretty well. Others, I'm still not sure. I actually went back to where one character was first introduced because I thought I had missed the description. Turns out, it wasn't there (other than he was bald.) WTF does he look like, though? Maybe the authors don't feel it is important, but, trust me, it is.

Some of the conversation seemed stilted in a few places, but that can happen to even the best writers. It certainly wasn't an issue throughout the book. It just seemed like the authors weren't together and the gap showed in the conversation between two characters at that point. It always got back on track.

The action sequences were EXTREMELY good in this book. If I were writing a book and I needed to know how to handle things of an action nature (using contemporary weapons and techniques) I would use this book as a reference. Not a call to plagiarize, of course, but to see how things are done. Obviously, authors involved know what they're talking about and it shows. But, it is done in a way that is less "education" and more entertainment. Main characters are likeable, secondary characters are decent. Villains are.....villainous? And there are even some characters that are in between. It almost reads like an action movie, which can be good or bad. Your choice.

View all my reviews.