Where's Your Book Today?

That's what people always say to me at work, if I don't have a book or my PDA or my eBookwise Reader with me at lunch. I love to read and I guess it's obvious. So many books, so little time...and so much dust in my apartment.

Monday, May 29, 2006

"And Able" by Lucy Monroe

I thought "And Able" was supposed to be the last book in a trilogy of books about three Army-Rangers-turned-mercenaries. Why did I think it was a trilogy? Well, the books are named "Ready", "Willing", "And Able." Duh! Turns out, the author's writing another book for the series about a secondary character from "And Able", which I learned on her blog to my frustration...because up until then, I still wasn't sure if he was a "good guy" or a "bad guy." So it kind of killed the suspense, you know?

Anyway, I didn't think this book was a strong as the second one in the series, I'm afraid, and I gave it a 3.5 rating. Like the first one, there were sections I loved and lost myself in, but I kept being pulled out of the story, which takes from my ability to enjoy it.

Our hero, Hamilton Brett Adams (aka "Hotwire"), has gone into the private security business with the hero from book one, "Wolf". However, he's been unexpectedly drawn to our heroine, Claire Sharp, who was the roommate of the heroine in book two, Josie. Claire is possibly in danger, because she's still living in the house that had been targeted by the bad guys in book two, so "Hotwire" wants to make sure she's going to be safe.

Problem is, "Hotwire's" troubled by all these feelings he has for Claire, because...well, because he promised to love someone else, and he keeps his promises. Doesn't matter that she's not around anymore. Our hero is a charming, well-mannered Southern boy, and he keeps his promises! Doesn't matter, though - he likes Claire, and he'd want to keep any friend safe, right?

Claire, on the other hand, doesn't trust his attentions. She's had to rely on herself for a long, long time and doesn't want to even begin to get used to his taking care of her. She's only months away from graduating from college and beginning her New, Stable Life, and she just wants to believe that "Hotwire" is just being paranoid.

Naturally, "Hotwire" is not being paranoid, and Claire soon finds her life in danger - although, not from the danger they first expected. And as they try to find the killer, they draw closer to one another.

So why such a "blah" grade? (3.5's not bad...it's just not great either). There was a conversation between these three tough alpha-guys about love that had me rolling on the floor laughing. No way most guys talk like that, let alone these characters! I'm sure that's not the reaction the author was looking for to that scene, though.

Then there's the little twist that our hero, "Hotwire", is an artist. While this serves to illuminate a sweet point in the story, it might help to mention that the hero from "Ready" was also an artist. The author couldn't come up with a unique way to "prove" that this hero has a tender side? For heaven's sake, "Hotwire" was probably the most easy of the heroes to like. He really is a charmer, and his regular references to his mother and how she raised him ("Mama would skin me alive if I came to the table without a shirt on") gave you a real clue to the heart of this man.

It's pretty much a staple in romance that there's some problem the couple has to overcome before they can have their happy ending. This had one of those "he-can't-love, she's-not-worthy" devices. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you start thinking "Sheesh! Get on with it already!" That's how I felt with this book. It just got old.

And I'm going to try to be careful how I say this to avoid a big spoiler...but at just the moment that the crew figures out who the bad guy is, he just pops up, and in a way that again strains belief. When all is said and done, the whole wrap-up of that storyline was just anticlimactic.

Because there are book's by Lucy Monroe that I've loved, I found this book disappointing. From an unknown author, I might have been kinder. Who knows? Will I read more by her? Yep. But I'll probably read them at the library, and only purchase the ones that "wow" me.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Blackhawk Legacy" by Barbara McCauley

Okay, it probably isn't fair that I read "Blackhawk Legacy" right after the last one, but once I realized I had another follow up to this series, I figured I might as well get them all out of the way at once.

Besides, I actually bought this book first. The cover caught my eye - I thought it was totally hot without being obscene!

"Blackhawk Legacy" is a full-length Silhouette novel, rather than a category, with a romantic suspense plot. If I had graded this on the romance alone, I probably would have scored it higher, but the villain was so cartoonishly evil, I could only give it a 3.5 rating.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I read this book last weekend and have already forgotten too much of it to give a good description. I'd graded it and set it aside. The only reason I remember how much the villain annoyed me is because I used him as a "discussion starter" over on the eBooklove Yahoo chat group.

I do remember that the hero, Dillon, wasn't as hard as he wanted people to believe. That's typical for most tortured romance heroes. It's that tender heart they've been protecting for years. And I liked the heroine, Rebecca's, tenacity in tracking Dillon down. But I'm afraid I can't remember enough of the details to give you much more than that.

"Secret Baby Santos" by Barbara McCauley

"Secret Baby Santos" is a follow-up book to "Blackhawk's Revenge," which I discussed a couple of weeks ago. It's category romance, and the title gives you a big clue as to the type of category (secret baby, get it?). It was enjoyable, yet forgettable. I gave it a 3.0 rating.

Nick Santos spent years on the motorcycle racing circuit, but finally returns to his small home town of Wolf River, Texas. He's gorgeous - and knows it. Women fall all over themselves for a chance to get his attention. Well, most women, but not Maggie Smith.

Maggie is a woman with a big secret - a secret-baby secret. But this is the mother of all secret babies...see, Nick doesn't even know he had sex with her! The room was dark, he thought she was an ex-girlfriend, and she was too mortified to set him straight once she realized he didn't recognize her. What Maggie doesn't know is that Nick found out the very next day it hadn't been the ex-girlfriend, and he'd built a huge fantasy around the "mystery woman" he'd somehow connected with.

Yeesh. This book was just too much. Too much angst about how she'd been shy and he'd been popular. Too much angst about whether or how to tell him about his now seven-year-old son. Too much angst about how Maggie just couldn't shouldn't wouldn't get involved with Nick with this Big Secret hanging over her head.

Having said that, once I choice to treat this as a campy exaggeration of the Secret Baby category romance, I could enjoy it. I cared about the hero and heroine and wanted to see them work out their problems. But the book won't go on my "keeper" bookcase.

"Willing" by Lucy Monroe

Now, this was what I expected when I picked up the first book in the series ("Ready"). "Willing" is a sexy story with a strong heroine and a brooding, tortured hero (one of my favorite hero-types). I gave it a 4.5 rating.

Josie McCall is the tough-as-nails daughter of Tyler, a paranoid Vietnam vet. She's been trained from an early age to be able to defend herself against any physical attack. In fact, up until recently in the story, she helped to train men who went to her father's military-style training camp, but she's decided to try her hand at a more "normal life."

Daniel Black Eagle (aka "Nitro") is one of the three mercenaries introduced in "Ready." When his fellow mercenaries decide to go into private security, he's not quite ready to trade a more military lifestyle for a more corporate one. So he decides to become a partner Tyler's training camp, to Josie's consternation. She's been attracted to him since the day they met, but his abrupt treatment of her has convinced her that he despises her.

They're thrown together when Tyler's injured by a bomb at his training camp - then disappears. As they try to find both the attackers and her father, they finally admit to each other how much they're attracted to each other.

Yes, this book has a few of the tried-and-true romantic novel stereotypes, and the fact that Josie is a 20-something virgin is the biggest one. But I thought the "backstory" for her virginity fit the character and didn't seem forced. She was raised by a big, tough, paranoid ex-soldier - and spent most of her life being home-schooled. Her only interactions with men were with soldier-wannabees who came into her life for six-week training sessions - and knew her father could kill them in a New York minute! I didn't find her inexperience unlikely in those circumstances.

I read a couple of other reviews that complained Josie relied too much on Daniel to solve the mystery, given her background. My take on that was that we finally had a kick-ass heroine who wasn't TSTL. She was involved in the investigation, but she was able to work with other's strengths as well.

And I just loved Daniel. Yes, yes, he beat himself up for The Big Tragedy in his past. Yet another romance stereotype. But as I said before, the tortured hero is one of my favorites. And he was wonderful with Josie's first time! Yum!

I am now cautiously optimistic about the next book in this series.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Oh, man, I've got to catch up! Part 3

This will get me caught up on the rest books I read this week but haven't posted about. Part 1 was for category romance. Part 2 was for ebooks. This part is for the two full-length novels I read.

"Master of Wolves" by Angela Knight * Rating 4.0
I wasn't going to read any more paranormals for little while, but I was in a situation where I knew I was going to be sitting in a waiting room without a book or my PDA, and this was the only book I could find fast at the grocery store that wasn't already on my TBR pile at home.

Faith Weston is a K-9 officer with a small-town police department. Her new dog, Rambo, was donated by a nearby dog trainer and has been a godsend to a department that could never have afforded to pay for him. What she doesn't know is he's a werewolf undercover, trying to solve the mystery of a friend's murder.

Jim London is the werewolf. He went undercover as a dog because his werewolf sense of smell told him that members of the police department were corrupted by evil magic. He didn't count on falling in love with his policewoman handler.

This book is part of a continuing series, and I'm afraid I might have liked it better if I'd read the other books first. Most of them are on my TBR pile, but I just haven't got to them yet. So there are lots of characters introduced that are either from previous books or there to set up the next one. The descriptions of how the werewolves came to be, how some of the major players came to know each other, and how the villains in the previous books lead to this ones - all these tended to bog down story and slow it down.

There were aspects of the story that seemed a bit too much...like the magical appearance of a Tara-like structure on the land of a burned out plantation, that no one else in the town happened to notice? But it is a paranormal romance, and you do tend to be more generous suspending disbelief with stories like these, since it's all in the realm of the unbelievable.

And from someone who likes the erotic nature of some romances, let me tell you the first time these two come together was scorching! It was a serious tension buster, and a scene I've re-read a few times already. I will be digging out those previous novellas and books. Maybe catching up on this series backstory will allow me to enjoy the next one even more.

"Baby, I'm Yours" by Susan Andersen * Rating 4.0
Catherine MacPherson finds herself kidnapped by bounty hunter, Sam McKade, who's mistaken the staid school-teacher for her flamboyant exotic dancer, Kaylee. Kaylee, who overheard her boss taking out a contract to kill his mistress, is on the run after being charged with stealing a car. Turns out the car had been "borrowed" by her boyfriend, Bobby, but he forgot to return it and loaned it to Kaylee. Confused? This is a screwball comedy that is silly, spunky, sexy, and sometimes sweet. Sam is a nice guy with a hero-complex. Catherine is a nice girl who'd repressed a lot of her personality to please a religious - and judgmental - mother. (I have to separate the two, because not all religious people are judgmental, and I'm getting a little tired of this particular stereotype). It was a fun, if not particularly realistic, read and I'm sure I'll enjoy more from this author.

Oh, man, I've got to catch up! Part 2

If you caught my previous post, you know I've gotten behind in my comments - or ahead in my reading, depending on how you look at it. This will catch up on a couple of ebooks I read this week.

"Pesky Paranormals" by Tawny Taylor Rating: 3.0
Stephanie Burbank is being haunted by her late ex-husband. Whenever she gets too friendly with a man she's dating, his shorts have a way of catching fire! Her neighbor, Rafe Hammond, is gorgeous and has been dropping hints, and she finally decides to take a chance on him. Turns out he's got his own ghost. This is an Ellora's Cave novella, so I mostly picked it up for the sex. (Yes, I'll admit it, I do sometimes like to read erotic romance just for the turn-on factor). This story definitely turns up the heat, so from that point of view it was effective. The plot was a bit weak, though, and I was disappointed by the "where-the-heck-did-that-come-from" ending. I probably shouldn't buy novella-length stories or anthologies, though, I almost always think the stories are unbelievable and too rushed.

"Shelter from the Storm" by Lara Williams Rating: 3.0
Jennifer Jones is a California party-planner looking for a roommate. She's not looking for love. In fact, she's afraid of love. Life hasn't been particularly kind to Jennifer, and she's trying to just get on with her life and stay in control. Maclain "Mac" Moore is a social worker, recently moved to town, looking for a place to stay. But he's quickly taken with his new roomie. Before they can begin to explore any kind of relationship, though, Jennifer becomes caretaker to her younger half-sister, who hasn't spoken since being found with her mother's dead body.

If I were rating this story based on emotional punch alone, I'd give it a 5.0. Jennifer and her sister are definitely among the walking wounded and Mac is absolutely wonderful with them. In some ways, it's almost too much. The author has a medical/psychiatric background, and her husband is a social worker. So I suspect they've seen worse than comes out in this story. But from a fictional story's point of view, it comes across as too much and a bit soap opera-ish.

I really think this story could have been wonderful with a bit of judicious editing. No, the story wasn't litter with grammatical errors or misspellings/typos, like some I've seen. But I thought it was choppy. The mood swung from serious to almost clownish from one moment to another. Mac was sweet, patient, understanding...then suddenly brash and outspoken. His expectations for Jennifer seemed way to high, way too fast. And I found his usage of British slang confusing - since he'd only transferred from LA to San Diego - until almost 3/4 of the way through the book when his parentage was explained. He's incredibly appealing as a character, and I think most women will fall in love with him. But there was an erratic quality to the story that unsettled me. And that's why I gave the book a 3.0 instead of a higher rating.

Oh, man, I've got to catch up! Part 1

I've been on vacation this week, so I've been flying through some category romance. I'm getting too far behind, and I'm afraid I've already forgotten details, so I'm going to do a set of quickie summaries here.

Also, remember, this is category romance. When I pick up a romance novel from Harlequin or Silhouette, I have built-in expectations for the book, based on previous experiences with the author or the category line. Stereotypes that drive me crazy in stand-alone full-length novels are okay, because I expect them.

"Forbidden Passion" by Emile Rose * Rating 4.0 * Category: Marriage of Convenience
Lynn Riggan is a widow, saddled with her late husband's debts, haunted by his negative opinions on her looks and her worth. Sawyer is her late-husband's brother, and the man who loved her first, although she didn't realize it. In a moment of grief, they turn to each other for comfort but it turns to passion. Lynn discovers later that she's pregnant, and realizes to her horror that she doesn't know which of the Riggan men is the father. Sawyer offers to marry her, either to be a father to his son, or to help raise his brother's son. But they have to decide if their relationship can ever be more. I liked Sawyer - I liked his protectiveness and his honor. Lynn was a little on the pathetic side, but I enjoyed the book nonetheless.

"Secrets of Paternity" by Susan Crosby * Rating 3.5 * Category: Secret Father
After Caryn Brenley's husband, Paul, died, she found out the "anonymous" sperm donor who'd fathered her son, Kevin, was not really anonymous - he was her husband's best friend, James Paladin. Her husband had promised the boy would be told of James' existence when he turned 18, which turns out to be convenient, because James is a private investigator. And the circumstances of Paul's death are suspicious. I liked the developing relationship between Caryn and James. The mystery was a bit contrived, though, which is why I didn't rate it higher.

"Her Convenient Millionaire" by Gail Dayton * Rating 4.5 * Category: Marriage of Convenience
Sherry Nyland is a poor-little-rich-girl, running from a loveless marriage arranged by a father more interested in the family fortunes that his daughters' happiness. Micah Scott is a self-made millionaire with a heart of gold who's been burned by a money-hungry woman in the past. Sherry asks Micah to marry her, but just until her trust fund kicks in and she can decide what to do with her future. Can they find love? I loved this book. The humor is great, the relationship between Micah and Sherry is sweet and full of sexual tension. Micah's mother is wonderfully outspoken and earthy. I wanted to give this a 5.0, but it was just too full of romance cliches and I felt guilty for liking it as much as I did.

"Blackhawk's Sweet Revenge" by Barbara McCauley * Rating 3.5 * Category: Marriage of Convenience/Revenge
Julianna Hadley is another poor-little-rich-girl, who's dreams come crashing down when she finds out her father has stolen the legacy left to her by her mother. Lucas Blackhawk is the half-breed son of the man whose father was killed as an indirect consequence of Julianna's fathers actions. Lucas comes back to Texas to get his revenge against Julianna's father, and takes the ultimate revenge when he blackmails her into marrying him to get her mother's legacy back. Whew! It was hard to get all those cliches in a few sentences. This book was from 1999, but it felt like it was from the Dynasty/Dallas era. It wasn't bad, but it felt very dated - full of the stereotypes from that time.

"Full Circle" by Shannon Hollis * Rating 3.5 * Category: Second Time Around
Cate Wells is a staid archaology professor, one of the youngest to seek tenure at a small private college. Eight years before, she'd had a college romance with Daniel Burke, but ran away when she became overwhelmed with the feeling that loving him might keep her from pursuing her life goals. Daniel has gone on to media fame as "the real Indiana Jones", not that Cate has followed his career. No, of course not. Really. Then she decides to seek him out at a professional conference to get his opinion about a carved wooden box that she's been asked to look at. And she decides that maybe she can have a little fun and get him out of her system at the same time. This is part of a "continuity series", but I don't think I lost anything by not having read any of the previous books in the series. Daniel is likeable hero, with a lot more depth than Cate wants to believe - even after having seen some of it firsthand. In fact, she comes off as pretty immature and judgemental with him. It's hard to understand why he continues to want to spend time with her...well, other than the sexual chemistry they have. And I found the story line with the villain trying to tear them apart to be contrived and forced. And when it came out who it was and why, I didn't even think it made sense.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Ready" by Lucy Monroe

I just had to read something that wasn't paranormal next. I've been sharing books with a co-worker lately, and she's actually been raving about this series of books by Lucy Monroe. Yes, they're my books, but I have lots of books I haven't read yet. And, if I know I like an author, and they begin a series, I often pick up the books and wait until the last book in the trilogy is out so I can read them all together. I read so much, I forgot details otherwise.

Anyway, I gladly picked up "Ready," which is the first in a trilogy about three mercenary men and the women they protect. Maybe the prior raving colored my opinion, but I'm afraid I wasn't overly impressed. It wasn't bad...it just wasn't great either. I gave it a 3.5 rating.

The heroine is Lisa Barton, small-town Texan author of...can you guess?..."kick-butt" romantic suspense "adventure novels." Lisa relocates to Seattle because she's being stalked and she's afraid the stalker will go after her brother and his wife. Lisa is the quintessential romance heroine - smart, plucky, and - oh, yeah - sexually inexperienced. Poor Lisa - she married her "best friend," which meant she had a friendly marriage, but blah sex. And he left her for a chance at passion with a sweet young thing.

I expect this kind of heroine in the Harlequin Presents line that the author writes for - I can even enjoy them there, because I pick up category romance with certain expectations. But for more contemporary publishers, like Brava, or even some of Harlequin/Silhouette's more contemporary lines, it seems stale and out-of-date.

Our hero, Joshua - aka "Wolf" - is a mercenary and ex Army Ranger. He's strong, protective and commanding. Yum. He shows up at Lisa's door to make her go home to Texas for the holidays, sure he's the reason she won't go. He'd made a play for Lisa at a family function, but when she backed away from it, he was sure he's scared her away.

Joshua brings in his mercenary partners, "Nitro" and "Hotwire", in to help find the stalker. The names alone made me hard to take these guys seriously, especially because the stalker went by "Nemesis," a ridiculous name that everyone used as easily as if they were in a Batman comic book, facing the latest archenemy of the caped crusader.

Overall, I really enjoyed about 2/3 of this book, despite the goofy names. The beginning was awkward. It seemed the author had a hard time getting started on this, and the scene where Lisa is forced to tell her brother about the stalker was just painful. The author told and over-told you how everyone was feeling, just to make sure you got it. Remember the old adage "Show me, don't tell me"? That was what I was yelling at the book while reading that scene.

Once it got going, though, I enjoyed the story. Lisa and Joshua had a lot of chemistry and the book was seriously hot. This is where the Brava line lived up to its name! Yes, yes, sex was all Joshua thought they could have, him being a mercenary and all. And yes, yes, poor unloved Lisa didn't get enough strokes from her husband or her daddy. But those are both staples of romantic fiction, and I didn't think it was overplayed.

Then came the ending...which was a serious "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am" ending! It's almost like the author realized she only had five pages left, so she had to wrap everything up in a hurry.

Now, I've read some other novels of Monroe's and really liked them. I'm still planning to read the next book in the series. I'm hoping that my feelings about this one were too influenced by my expectations (based on those ravings I'd heard) or maybe even by how well I'd enjoyed the last couple books I've read (I was spoiled).

"Definitely Dead" by Charlaine Harris

I was almost afraid to start this book. But my reserve at the library came in, and I had to read it now or get back in line! (I'll buy this book when it's available in paperback, but I read too much to buy anything at hardback or even tradepaperback prices!)

I've been reading so much in the paranormal genre lately that I was afraid my opinion would suffer because I'm getting burned out or would compare it to something else. Didn't happen though.

Really enjoyed it! "Definitely Dead" was definitely worth waiting for and I gave it a 4.5 rating.

This books starts out pretty much where "Dead as a Doornail" left off. Debbie Pelt's parents are still trying to find out what happened to their daughter. Sookie's still upset about how her relationships with Bill and Eric have ended. Sookie's boss, Sam, still seems to have a "thing" about her, but isn't willing to speak up.

In this book, Sookie is summoned to pre-Katrina New Orleans, presumably to claim her "definitely dead" cousin's estate. You just know there's more to it, but that's the main reason people keep giving her. Before she leaves, she begins a new relationship with Quinn, the tiger shapeshifter from "Dead as a Doornail." She's interested, but feeling a bit leery about the way the last couple relationships with paranormals have ended, she's trying to take it slow.

Once she gets to New Orleans, everything gets complicated and she gets drawn into trying to solve another murder. At the same time, she's definitely the target of some nasty bad guys, and can't quite figure out if the two are related.

Possible inside joke: When the series began, Sookie described herself as blonde, blue-eyed, busty, twenty-five...and a total bomb with men because she could read their thoughts. All the men in town just thought she was crazy. Since Sookie met Bill, men seem to be crawling out of the woodwork who want her...Bill, Eric, Sam, Alcide, Calvin, Quinn... While you want to cheer a little for Sookie, it does seem a bit unrealistic. So this book opens with a photo shoot with Sookie and Claude, the absolutely gorgeous but self-center and gay fairy (fairy as in magical guy, not as another word for gay). Neither Sookie or Claude have a lot of luck looking "hot" for each other for the photo shoot - and it's very obvious that there's at least one paranormal guy in Sookie's life that isn't interested in bedding her!

What I especially liked: the ectoplasmic recreation of her cousin's last day was way cool! And I thought her new relationship with Quinn has lots of promise. But when it comes to paranormal fiction, I prefer the shapeshifters to the vampires anyway. So that may have more to do with my inability to "get" the appeal of vampires as love interests.

What I didn't really care for: I thought the ending was a bit unrealistic and abrupt. I kept thinking, "all this tension lead up to this?" And the bit about the witch deciding to come live with Sookie for awhile - didn't seem to fit the plot at all, other than to expand the character-base in the story and lead into the next book.

I still gave it a 4.5 despite my thoughts about the ending, because overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sookie is fluff, but it's fun fluff, and I look forward to the next book in the series.

"Proven Guilty" by Jim Butcher

Once again, I've fallen behind in posting comments. Some of the reason is that I made the mistake of reading other people's opinions about this book before I read it, and I filtered my enjoyment of the book through their comments. So I wanted to wait a bit to be sure I knew how I felt about it.

I devoured "Proven Guilty" in two days, even sneaking quick bites at work while my computer was tied up running complicated queries in Access. The ending even left me with a case of warm-fuzzies, which isn't something I expect at the end of a Dresden Files book. These stories usually leave me more with a feeling of "well, do you want the good news, or the bad news?"

I gave it a 4.5 rating, overall.

This book is part of a series, so if you haven't read them all, there will be spoilers here...continue at your own discretion.

In the last book in the series, "Dead Beat," Harry Dresden was reluctantly made a Warden. The White Council has been taking a shellacking from the Red Court, and younger wizards are forced to take on roles they may be a bit unprepared for.

A lot of "Proven Guilty" deals with the ramifications of that ... Harry is exposed to more of the politics of White Council life, and he doesn't like what he sees. The question for Harry is, what can he do about it? He knows his limitations when it comes to going head-to-head with the leading wizards on the Council - they can trounce him in a magical fight.

As in the other Harry Dresden novels, there is a more "immediate" mystery taking place that later turns out to be a piece of the larger puzzle. In "Proven Guilty", that mystery turns out to be the real-life appearance of movie monsters during a horror movie convention. Harry has to battle the nasties, figure out who's sending them, and deal with a couple of curve balls that threaten to knock him for a loop.

This book has all the humor and pulse-pounding excitement of his previous works. So why didn't I give it another 5? Purely personal taste. The idea of setting this story in a horror-movie convention felt a bit too much like an inside joke for readers of sci-fi/fantasy. If you've spent any time on various forums and eLists or chat groups for science-fiction/fantasy writers, you know that these conventions (called "cons") are all the rage.

The other reason is that Harry and company spend some time in the Fairy realm again in this book. One of the things I love about Urban Fantasy is the juxtaposition of gritty urban reality and the mystery of those things that go bump in the night. I tend to prefer when the action takes place in this world. Whenever Harry goes into the Fairy realm, it starts to feel more like a "regular" fantasy novel, and I'm not as interested in those as I am the Urban Fantasy genre.

And that's why I say it's purely personal taste. The setting of a lot of this book just wasn't my cuppa tea. But the things Harry learns, his courage in facing his fears because of his love for this friends...these were very definitely why I love this series and actually remember it after I've moved on to the next book.

Monday, May 01, 2006

April stats!

This month, I read 17 stories - which might be books, novellas, or short-stories. And this is where I reveal a clue to what I do for a living - if there are numbers involved, I just have to crunch them!

April, 2006 = 17All of 2006 = 78
Rating# BooksPercentage# BooksPercentage

"Industrial Magic" by Kelley Armstrong

"Industrial Magic" is book 4 of Armstrong's "Women of the Otherworld" series. It's told from the point of view of Paige Winterbourne, the narrator from the last book.

This was an enjoyable mystery, and I gave it a 4 rating. This book will contain some spoilers for previous books in the series, so you might want to postpone reading it if you haven't caught up on the series yet.

Paige and Savannah are now living with Lucas in Washington state. Paige is trying to get a new Coven started, Lucas is still working court cases for those being targeted by the cabals, Savannah is still the "typical" mouthy 13-year-old.

Then Lucas' father - CEO of the Cortez cabal - shows up to ask for their help. Children of cabal employees are being murdered, and Lucas' father wants Paige and Lucas to help find them. At first they refuse, but they quickly change their mind. In offering to help, they face a series of decisions about how much they're willing to use Cortez cabal resources in their search.

There also seems to be a rather artificial side plot in which Paige and Lucas dance around the idea of a deeper commitment in their relationship.

But overall, this is mostly a mystery. And as they close in on the killer, they not only realize that Lucas and Savannah are in danger, but Lucas begins to understand the true nature of his father's feelings for him.

New paranormal characters join the series, and old friends, including Elena's Pack, also become involved. One of the characters returning from "Stolen" and "Dime Store Magic" is Cassandra, a rather self-centered and disconnected vampire. She provides some comic relief - although she doesn't realize it - with her blunt and pointed questions.

One of the comments she makes more than once is that Paige is finally growing up. And - thank God - it's actually true. Paige's personality had a lot to do with my lack of enjoyment over the last two books, but she actually seemed like a grown up this go-round. Oh, she still has a tendency to leap before she looks, but she stopped whining about everything while doing it.

Spoiler alert!

The main reason I didn't give this an even higher score was because of Paige's trip into the afterlife. It had a real "Deus ex machina" feeling to it, and it solved one big problem way too easy. It also sets up the next book, but I only know that because I read the "Haunted" bookcover.

I was slogging through these books to get to "Broken," which just came out in April, because it would be back in the werewolf Pack's world, but this book was a welcome surprise. I hope it continues into the next book, which is from yet another character's point of view.