Thursday, December 31, 2009
To end the year on a high note, I'm going to try and do a not Bible length post about the Worth It and Not Worth It picks of 2009. I can't say that this covers everything, apparently my Google Calendar didn't start until March 2009, but I think all in all this covers most of the year so it should still be helpful.
Worth It: This was the year for sequels. Throughout 2009 I saw a lot of authors come forward with incredible additions to well loved series. Whether it was Magic Strikes by Illona Andrews, the 3rd in her series, or Turn Coat by Jim Butcher, the 11th in his, sequels just roared to the forefront with power and substance. They stood on their own with story lines and characters twists, making the whole series that much more powerful. Whether the author was old or new, sequels totally grabbed my heart this year, with ones like The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston and Burning Wild by Christine Feehan being read over and over again. Here's the final list of what really caught my attention in 2009:
Magic Strikes – Andrews
Turn Coat – Jim Butcher
Lover Avenged – JR Ward
Burning Wild – Christine Feehan
Dead and Gone – Charlaine Harris
Skin Trade – Laurell K. Hamilton
Mastered by Love- Stephanie Laurens
What a Dragon Should Know – G.A. Aiken
The Mane Squeeze – Shelly Laurenston
Not Worth It: There weren't many books this year that were completely and totally not worth my time. Even the 3 that made this list weren't complete losses, just ones that I wish I'd gotten from the library because they weren't that good and now I'm going to feel compelled to complete the series. Nora Roberts' Vision in White was just not that good. It was typical and mediocre and not an example of the type of eye catching romance that she usually writes. That's what really puts it in this category - I know she can do better and I refuse to accept that this is how she chose to start a new series (especially a trade paper series). Anthologies are always tricky, so Never After's appearance on this side wasn't a surprise, and Covet by JR Ward was just strange. I understand that it was series opener, and thus had a lot of world building and character explanations to do, but I still feel like it could have done better. So the short but sweet Not Worth It list looks like this:
Vision in White – Roberts
Covet – JR Ward
Never After - Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, Sharon Shinn
Biggest Fake Out: Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.
I did this final part not to blame Patrick Rothfuss, but to mourn the book that could have been. I was SO READY for his next book to come out, and to find that it wasn't even through being edited was a bit of a shock. I'm still excited, I'm still waiting with bated breath for the book to be released, but in 2009 there was no bigger fake out than Wise Man's Fear.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Many stories tell of damsels in distress, who are rescued from the clutches of fire-breathing dragons by knights in shining armor, and swept off to live happily ever after.
This is not one of those stories.
True, when Creel’s aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon, it is with the hope that the knight will marry Creel and that everyone (aunt and family included) will benefit handsomely. Yet it’s Creel who talks her way out of the dragon’s clutches. And it’s Creel who walks for days on end to seek her fortune in the king’s city with only a bit of embroidery thread and a strange pair of slippers in her possession.
But even Creel could not have guessed the outcome of this tale. For in a country on the verge of war, Creel unknowingly possesses not just any pair of shoes, but a tool that could be used to save her kingdom…or destroy it.
Go buy Dragon Slippers! Immediately! Do you feel like you've lost touch with your childhood? Do you feel like you just can't remember why reading used to be fun and now it's a chore? GO BUY DRAGON SLIPPERS AND YOU'LL REMEMBER! This books is an incredible example of why juvenile literature should be embraced by all ages but especially encouraged in the young. It balances so well between being a childrens book and being a young adult novel. Creel shows the type of go-getter attitude that will endear her on the hearts and minds of everyone. And the adventure is definitely heart pounding, with dragons doing battle and good against evil at the center.
I would definitely recommend that anyone take the time to read this book for themselves or with someone younger. I'm most exited about reading the rest of this series and hopefully starting in on her other set of books.
Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. A lot of fun and one that's good for everyone at any age.
Series - 1) Dragon Slippers 2) Dragon Flight 3) Dragon Spear
There is a monster feeding off of human blood, flesh, and souls and Gaby must stop him. But her passion for Luther distracts her from the terrible connection she has with her quarry-and the creature's desire to devour her.
It shows you how busy life can be, when you go through your old posts and find a draft of review from FIVE MONTHS AGO that you barely remember. Oy. I need to always finish what I start - this is the lesson that I've learned from this. Now, back to the review.
I think I might have said this before, but what I find the most intriguing about this series by Foster is that it's never quite clear how much is real, how much is fantasy. You're never really certain when what Gaby sees is what's there and when it might be a hallucination. It's pretty much always implied that what she sees is what's actually happening, in all its gruesome, bloody glory, but the cops and other supportive characters in the books don't always see it. It's more that they're willing to trust Gaby's instincts than anything else. In this particular book I like the continuation of Gaby and Luther's relationship, with both of them trying to figure out how to fit in each other's lives with all these new monsters and responsibilities around them. All of the reluctantly gotten, but now treasured friends that Gaby has accumulated throughout the other books make an appearance, and Foster does a great job of making the reader excited for the next book, while also secretly dreading the monster that's going to be revealed the next time around.
Overall Feeling -Thumbs up. Of course darker than her romance, Foster shows a real aptitude for making what goes bump in the night real in our world.
Series - 1) Servant: The Awakening 2) Servant: The Acceptance 3) Servant: The Kindred
They will clean out the demons and the suicides, and move on. As long as they stay within the rules, Jill Kismet can't deny them entry. But she can watch--and if they step out of line, she'll send them packing.
When Cirque performers start dying grotesquely, Kismet has to find out why, or the fragile truce won't hold and her entire city will become a carnival of horror. She also has to play the resident hellbreed power against the Cirque to keep them in line, and find out why ordinary people are needing exorcisms. And then there's the murdered voodoo practitioners, and the zombies.
An ancient vengeance is about to be enacted. The Cirque is about to explode. And Jill Kismet is about to find out some games are played for keeps...
Yay I'm not dead! Sorry for the absence readers - I've been dealing with house guests galore! (House guests, if you're reading this, it's not that I don't love you, it's just that you make me slightly too busy to be reading enough to write good reviews!) Anyway, what matters is that instead of rereading old stuff I finally finished something new! I think I've reviewed her books before, but it doesn't really matter for this one does it? Flesh Circus picks up where Redemption Alley left of, with Jill Kismet still fighting the good fight, trying to keep the monsters of the nightside from taking over entirely. I tried to be as committed to Saintcrow's Valentine series, but I think that Jill is just a much more compelling character, with enough twists, turns, and almost psychopathic tendencies to keep a reader interested for a good long while. And of course the types of bad guys that take center stage in these books are also what keep me coming for more. Hellbreed and Traders might be the usual, but Saintcrow manipulates what goes on them in such a way that you're never bored or feel like you know what's going to happen - in fact, it's quite the opposite. Often you feel like you're in the middle of an intricate mystery that has so many hidden components that you're never going to get out unless she shows you the way. But you never feel like you're not connected, so it's always fun to get to the end.
Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. It might have taken me a few days to get enough free time to read the book, but it was definitely worth the wait. A great paranormal series to have on your shelf!
Series - 1) Night Shift 2) Hunter's Prayer 3) Redemption Alley 4) Flesh Circus
Thursday, December 24, 2009
In the spirit of the season and of the joy of the day - Merry Christmas! Try to take some time for yourself, not just your family, to reminisce on the good things you have in your life! It might not be Thanksgiving, but thanks and thoughts can still be given for everything and every person that is important.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
It was walking into work today that made me think of this one - along with the conversations I had with my house guest last night: how do you buy a gift for someone that loves to read? It's an unexpectedly hard question once you start thinking about it. What books do they want? What books do they already have? If they follow a particular series, are they waiting for that one book to complete their set or is the whole thing a hodgepodge they're still trying to fill? Once all the questions start coming to mind it almost seems easier to scrap the whole thing and just get your friend a hat. But don't fret! I am here to tell you that it's a lot easier to buy for a book lover than it seems at first glance. All you have to remember are two simple things:
1) Don't be ashamed of buying a gift card! This is a VERY important lesson to remember! I don't care what people say about 'surprises' or proving that you really 'know' them - a book lover will love a gift card! Who doesn't love the option of buying everything they want, from now until some point in the future when they finally use up the card? Unless of course they're people like me, who have their book list planned out 6 months in advance and can use up a gift card in one trip. But even then, don't think I don't enjoy it! I have a tendency to buy a lot of the books I want, I budget for them in fact, and I think I would be making a pretty good guess to say that other book lovers do the same thing. So unless you live with them, and can search through their bookshelves to find out what they're missing (or if you have ESP, which if you do, A+ for the win! Want to give my mind a try?), it's really just better to go with the gift card. Yes it's not big and spiffy and wrapped with a bow (unless you do that box within a box trick, which unless you're experienced I wouldn't recommend), but they'll love it just as if it was.
2) Forgo the element of surprise and just ask what he/she wants. I have to say that nobody likes to hear this option but it's been the one to give me the most personal satisfaction. Say that someone is waiting to start a series of books, one that's been going on for a while now so it has a lot of backlisted titles - it's hard to just jump into that. BUT if you were to ask them if there was a particular book or books they really wanted, this gives them the chance to step forward and say 'I would love if you could get me this..." If surprises are a really big thing for you, then ask for a list of books that they want. This allows you to pick and choose as you go, thus avoiding a situation where they'll know exactly what they're opening Christmas day.
Ok guys, those are my two big tips for the holidays. Sounds simple, right? It would probably surprise you how many people stress themselves out worrying what to get for that special someone in their life. Well these two seemingly simple things will make your life easier! But what about you? What do you do when you're not sure what to get someone for Christmas or their birthday?
Saturday, December 19, 2009
For some reason I'm always reluctant to pick up the latest book in this series. Maybe I'm afraid that Tamora will have a sudden fit of ennui and ruin a perfectly good story so far or that all of sudden some important character will die and it'll be too much for me. Who knows? Though I have decided at this point that I blame some of my hesitance on the jacket descriptions. For some reason they give me this feeling of doom for the series - I should probably just stop reading those entirely, huh? Well either way I was happily surprised and this was a great book for the Beka Cooper series. Beka has a grown up a bit and she's a full-fledged Dog, one who gets drawn into big to-dos at home and in Port Caynn. I highly recommend that you take some time and grab this book to ad to your shelves - because whether it's for you, your children, or any neighboring relative that crosses your path, it's a fun book. And a fun book with the appropriate amount of action and romance for all ages is almost impossible to come by.
Overall Feeling - Thumbs up! I great Young Adult book, but it's adult enough for all of us!
Series - 1) Terrier 2) Bloodhound 3)Mastiff (2010)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Created solely for pleasure, Eland is a level-three Shareem. Rough, edgy, commanding. Oh, the things he could teach Jeanne…if he can stay alive long enough.
I haven't stopped by Ellora's Cave in awhile, mostly because the authors I like haven't been publishing a lot through there lately. BUT Allyson James just released this new, quick, little read for free! All of the 'Naughty Nooners' are free from Ellora's Cave, but definitely check this one out and catch up on the world of Bor Narga and the Shareem!
Overall Feeling - Thumbs up! Kind of a tease at 24pgs, but still fun!
Series - 1) Rees 2) Maia and Rylan 3) Rio 4) Aiden and Ky 5) Calder 6) Eland
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Here’s the problem: Lucy doesn’t have the knack for matchmaking. According to family legend, every Valentine has been blessed by Cupid with the ability to read “auras” and pair up perfect couples. But not Lucy. Her skills were zapped away years ago in an electrical surge, and now all she can do is find lost objects. What good is that in the matchmaking world? You’d be surprised. In a city like Boston, everyone’s looking for something. So when Lucy locates a missing engagement ring—on a dead body—she asks the sexy private eye who works upstairs to help her solve the perfect crime. And who knows? Maybe she’ll find the perfect love while she’s at it…
This was another free read gotten through the nice folks at LibraryThing.com! I was really happy to get it, mostly because the book sounded right up my alley as a nice uncomplicated read and it was definitely that! A lot of people would probably classify this as a romance, and it is, but I think that it's even more of a fantasy fiction novel - almost Chic-lit, but not. I think it's Lucy herself that makes Truly, Madly a fun read, with her spunkyness and need to be doing something with her life. Plus, it's just a very unique twist to have a magical matchmaking family end up with a daughter that who, after getting struck by lightning, finds lost things but can't match up people. It's a quick read that does a great job of leading audiences into the next book. And just so you don't think I liked everything about this book, haha, rest assured that I was very annoyed at the very last page. Mostly because I hate when a character whose sole existence is to cause strife is deliberately brought back to wreck havoc - especially when another less annoying character could have been introduced instead.
Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Read in less than 2 hours, it's a great way to spend an afternoon break.
Series - 1) Truly, Madly (Feb 2010) 2) Deeply, Desperately (Aug 2010)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
While I may have rejected the monarchy, I cannot abandon my people. Someone is killing the fey, which has left the LAPD baffled and my guardsmen and me deeply disturbed. My kind are not easily captured or killed. At least not by mortals. I must get to the bottom of these horrendous murders, even if that means going up against Gilda, the Fairy Godmother, my rival for fey loyalties in Los Angeles.
But even stranger things are happening. Mortals I once healed with magic are suddenly performing miracles, a shocking phenomenon wreaking havoc on human/faerie relations. Though I am innocent, dark suspicions of banned magical activities swirl around me.
I thought I’d left the blood and politics behind in my own turbulent realm. I had dreamed of an idyllic life in sunny L.A. with my beloved ones beside me. But it becomes time to wake up and realize that evil knows no borders, and that nobody lives forever—even if they’re magical.
So anyone who talked to me after LKH's last Merry Gentry book was released knows that I thought that should have been her last. I felt like it ended really well, the story had seen a complete arc and completion, and the characters had pretty much received the happy ending that LKH says these books will have. Well alas, it was not to be, more books are coming and this one is just the latest. I finished this book in just a few hours, which tells you my first opinion - it is a fun, and engaging, read. The action is cut throat and the plot is slightly winding, both elements combining in a story you don't want to put down. Now on the negatives - first, this book didn't really do much. No particular character's story was furthered in a really meaningful way and while one bad guy/faerie/whatever got their comeuppance, I just didn't quite feel fulfilled by the whole thing. Also - I love LKH's characters, but I feel like I've hit character overload. I'm starting to forget who all the supporting people are, their stories: everything that makes them unique. I'm hoping that later on in the series more of the people who are supporting characters at this point will take on more front man roles. We'll just have to see. And......and wow do I hesitate to say this....I almost feel like the sex was completely extraneous in this book. There wasn't a total abundance of it everywhere, but I did feel like a good half of the partnerships that happen were unnecessary and maybe took away from pages that could have been used for something else. But who knows, this series has been intricately entwined with sexual and emotional relationships from the beginning, and I never had a problem up until this point. Maybe I was just in a mood. Eh - who knows.
Overall Feeling - Thumbs up, definitely. A fast paced, exciting, and just plain fun read. It doesn't detract from the rest of the series.
Series - 1) A Kiss of Shadows 2) A Caress of Twilight 3) Seduced by Moonlight 4) A Stroke of Midnight 5) Mistral's Kiss 6) A Lick of Frost 7) Swallowing Darkness 8) Divine Misdemeanors
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Rylee Monroe walks dogs in old-money Charleston, a part of the city recently targeted by a daring thief. Logan Woods works the crime beat for the local paper but dreams of a life as a nonfiction writer. When the string of robberies takes a strange twist, Logan sees the making of a once-in-a-lifetime book that seems to circle around this charming, eye-catching dogwalker. But pursuing the truth means ignoring that he seems to be falling for her. And what is she hiding in her past that could crack the story wide open?
I won this book as a give away from LibraryThing.com so I'm very happy to do a review here on RAtC! The book is marketed as a romance/crime/mystery novel and it definitely lives up to its name. There are elements of all those genres though I feel that sometimes the length of the book detracted from the authors' ability to make everything pop. Rylee was a fun character to learn about, her antics as a rollerskating dogwalker make her a heroine to root for - especially when she uses those rollerblades as a weapon. Logan is a good guy, but I feel like more of his personality and the work that he does as an investigative reporter could have been illuminated a bit more. There are enough unique suspects and enough intricacy to the events that a bit more room, pages wise, to expand on everything would have been welcome. The only thing that was really unexpected about the novel were the religious elements. I don't know the authors, so I can't say that I should have expected it, but Rylee and Logan definitely connected on a religious level. You could even say that Rylee has a spiritual epiphany during her journey to prove her innocence. It doesn't detract from the book, but I think some readers would be turned off and others would be inspired by that inclusion. Either way it's an enjoyable novel and a unique one in that these authors came to together to make a romantic crime novel. I've never read about anything like that being published before and just for that it's worth your time to try.
Overall Feeling - Thumbs up, but since it's being released in February as a trade paper it might be better to request a copy at your local library.
Series - None
Sunday, December 6, 2009
So May is shocked when Gabriel encourages her to give in to the demon prince. But her fire-breathing boyfriend has an ulterior motive. Since May was created in the mortal world, her surrender would give her master access to that world, where he would lose most of his powers.
It looks as though May will have to barter to gain her freedom and fulfill her destiny by Gabriel's side. But will a deal with the devil make life heaven or hell?
May Northcott is a woman at the end of her rope. She’d almost gotten used to her employer, the ex-demon lord Magoth, spending his days hanging around her home and interrupting her private moments with her dragon lover Gabriel. Then trouble appears in the form of a nearly dead man on her doorstep.
With May fighting to control the dragon shard, Magoth wrangling to regain his position and powers, and a mysterious and deadly dragon bent on their destruction, Gabriel has his work cut out for him. Now, he’ll have to claw his way through all the distractions and convince May that their love is strong enough to conquer all of their enemies.
I decided to write out of the box and do a two-fer review for these books. Me and My Shadow is the latest release in Katie MacAlister's Silver Dragon series, but I realized after buying that I didn't quite remember what had happened before! That led to a merry little 'track down the book chase', but it was all for my own good because it let me remember why I like MacAlister so much! Her characters are firmly in the 'lots of fun' pile. I mean, who can resist 6th level demons from Abbadon (hell) who appear as dogs that persistently go around talking about how its missing out by not having its camera when the really crazy shifting happens? Plus I think it's quite unique that May is a doppleganger, a type of paranormal creature that is not normally featured in fantasy books. Then as a reader you get a character bonus when MacAlister brings in pretty much everyone from the Aisling Grey series. It's a huge cosmic mishmash of paranormal ridiculousness!
Overall Feeling - Thumbs up, both these books are a lot of fun to read and get me excited for the new Light Dragons series!
Series - 1) Playing with Fire 2) Up in Smoke 3) Me and My Shadow
This is an old school Krentz romance. Amy might be an independent woman, she lives alone and writes books, but her turmoil over what happened at Pacific Island is still something she can't solve with Jed's help. Doesn't really matter though, because their chemistry jumps off the page and the elements of suspense in the book make it a page turner. I've often described reading a book as being similar to watching a movie, one where I get to pick what everyone looks like, and this was one fun movie. Jed's good and mysterious, with just enough danger to make him enticing without being frightening. Amy and Jed need each in different in ways and support each other in making hard decisions - things necessary to a long lasting happily ever after.
Overall Feeling - Thumbs up, A great throwback romance.
Series - None