Wednesday, November 30, 2005

#81 Powers of Detection: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy edited by Dana Stabenow

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
Some of the stories in this book were really good, while others I didn’t really like at all.

Cold Spell by Donna Andrews
A cute and interesting story involving wizards, mages, and magic. And the quest to discover a strange murder. Like Donna Andrews other books, I enjoyed this story a lot.

The Nightside, Needless to Say by Simon R. Green
Green has penned an entire series involving the Nightside, and I’m anxious to read it after reading this short story. This story involves a P.I. named Larry Oblivion whose been murdered, but due to a magic wand obtained from the Unseelie Court, is able to stop time, and thus, take a time out before passing on to try to find out who murdered him.

Lovely by John Straley
A strange story about a raven named Gunk looking for a “dead thing” to eat. A strange story, but amusing nonetheless.

The Price by Anne Bishop
A great story by Anne Bishop set in the same stage as her Blood Trilogy, where women represent power and men are meant to serve them. Unfortunately, an angry witch full of hatred has her own ideas…

Fairy Dust by Charlaine Harris
A little bit weaker than the previous stories but a good read nonetheless. Sookie Stackhouse, of Harris’ Southern Vampire fame, uses her telepathic gift to discern the true killer of Claudine’s twin sister, part of a fairy triplet.

The Judgement by Anne Perry
A strange story… I didn’t really get it. It was still interesting, but I’m sure I would’ve gotten a lot more out of it if I understood the deeper meaning which escaped me. I also didn’t care for the bible-thumping piousness of some of the characters who tried to accuse of Witchcraft.

The Sorcerer’s Assassin by Sharon Shinn
Another story that takes place in a school with mages and wizards. Someone is killing off the 6 most powerful, one-by-one, and the remaining are fighting time to discover who’s the guilty party before they’re next.

The Boy Who Chased Seagulls by Michael Armstrong
Stupid story… I didn’t like this one at all. It was about an old man who had a story about… you guessed it, a boy who chased seagulls, and he used this story to scare a little boy. So what?

Palimpsest by Laura Anne Gilman
I hadn’t yet read anything by this author at the time I read this story, though I do have two of her books, Staying Dead and Curse the Dark, on my TBR pile. I had mixed feelings about this story. I felt it had a lot of potential, but it fell flat in some areas and left me wanting more. So now I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do with a full-length book, where the characters and story can be a bit more fleshed out.

The Death of Clickclickwhistle by Mike Doogan
Stupid story… I didn’t like it at all. It was more of a sci-fi story than a mystery, although there supposedly was a murder they were trying to solve. But I thought all the characters were idiots and the story bored me to tears.

Cairene Dawn by Jay Caselberg
Another story that I believe had a deeper meaning than I could grasp. Sure, I got the whole reference to the Egyptian pantheon, Isis, Osiris, his brother Set, and son Horus, but I believe there was something else going on here, eluded to by the last paragraph of the story which is “Do you know what a jackal sounds like in the fog of a Cairo dawn?” I was like… huh??

Justice is a Two-Edged Sword by Dana Stabenow
This story started off kind of slow and I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d like it. But things picked up and got interesting about half way through and I found I enjoyed this story as much as some of my other favorites from this book.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more links and information. See more progress on: In 2005 read 100 books.

#80 Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner

Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer MomMy Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
I liked this book. The style reminded me a little bit of MaryJanice Davidson’s, but without all the shallowness of Betsy from the Undead series. I think Mothers will relate to it even more than I did since I’ve never been either a mom or a “soccer mom” myself. The story itself was fun, not too heavy, with a good mystery to boot. It was hard to put down and the surprise ending snuck up on me.

Though this is the first book I’ve read by Julie Kenner, NeedSun had sent me some others from her Protector (Aphrodite) series, so now I’m looking forward to reading those while waiting for the 2nd book in the Demon series, California Demon: The Secret Life of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom, due to be published June 2006.

This will be on it’s way to NeedSun shortly as I’ve been collecting together a box of stuff to send her way. :)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more links and information. See more progress on: In 2005 read 100 books.

Monday, November 28, 2005

#79 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars
This was a great book. There were a few more relatively minor differences from the movie in this book than in the first two. Mostly it had to do with the additional detail in the book that wasn’t in the movie or was only hinted to in the movie.

For instance, in the book, we find out that Professor Lupin, in conjunction with James Potter (Harry’s father), Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew, are the ones who originally designed and produced the Marauder’s Map. In addition, Harry used the map to discover the hidden passages from Hogwarts to the Wizarding village of Hogsmeade and took a few furtive trips there to join the rest of his class when he was supposed to have remained behind at Hogwarts. Neither of these facts appeared in the movie, most likely in the interest of keeping the movie time down to 2 hours. For that reason, I’m curious to see how much may have to be removed from the book for books 4 through 6 since they’re all much longer than the first three books. The movie for book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was just released last week and I’m still debating whether to read the book or see the movie first…

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more links and information. See more progress on: In 2005 read 100 books.

Friday, November 25, 2005

#78 Dark Prince/Dark Descent by Christine Feehan

Dark Prince by Christine FeehanMy Rating: 5 out of 10 stars
Dark Prince
I had a hard time getting through this one and I found myself continually wondering why such the big hooplah over this series. Perhaps it's because this is Feehan's first book, but I swear if I had to read once more about Mikhail's coffee-colored hair, or Raven's blue-violet eyes, I was going to gag. The love scenes were too long and drawn out—how many times did I have to read the same thing over and over?

The writing also got to me. Usually when authors write in the third person but want you to be able to get inside a character's head, they break from one character's point-of-view to another's via logical divisions, whether that be chapters or simply sections within the chapter itself. However, after only a few pages into this book, I found the author jumping from Mikhail's point-of-view to Raven's from one paragraph to the next. This was very disconcerting, and I found myself having to reread many paragraphs a few times just to figure out who was saying or thinking what.

I've heard that this wasn't the best book in the series and that it gets much better going forward so I'm willing to give this series the benefit of the doubt and continue with it nonetheless.

Dark Descent
short story previously available in The Only One anthology.
Hmmmm... I liked this a little better than Dark Prince. Could be that Feehan has grown into her writing a bit and is no longer all over the place as much. Or possibly I just got used to it. Unfortunately, the love scenes are still entirely too flowery for me: "her velvet sheath enclosed his strong manhood..." And after a paragraph or two of that, my eyes are crossing or I'm nodding off (if reading in bed). No, it didn't come off as erotic to me, too flowery perhaps, I don't know.

The premise of the story was very simliar to Dark Prince though: good-guy Carpathian male meets human lifemate female, all the while battling off rogue undead vampires in between bouts of "white-hot lightning" sex. I hope Feehan can mix it up a bit in some of the other books in this series or I don't think I'll continue reading them.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more information. Also see the journal page for taniazed's bookring of this book for lots more reviews.
See more progress on: In 2005 read 100 books.

Friday, November 18, 2005

#77 Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars
I found this collection of short stories about the author’s life somewhat amusing, though I don’t think I got quite the shock value Burroughs intended. Some of the stories had me chuckling, but others I found myself simply saying so what. I found him to be extremely vain and shallow, and fortunately he sees himself with these qualities too so he wasn’t deluding himself which made me feel better about him. (I really dislike shallow people but I suppose I can stand them a bit more when at least they realize how shallow they are.)

His story about magical thinking really rang true though. There are no coincidences, and if you put enough energy into your thoughts and desires, you can affect change in the world around you. It’s one of the premises of many earth-based religions. Though he approached the subject as if everyone thought he was crazy because he believed it. His exact beliefs about baby Jesus and a cow though, that was pretty cute. But again, each of us is entitled to envision divinity in our own manner, like different facets of a diamond, all paths to the same thing, and all that…

I remember also thinking, while I was reading this, that though he had a fucked-up life, and did some wacky things, my own life would probably be just as comedic and shocking were I to put all my past experiences into a book. I had my own strange oral surgery experience, a somewhat similar rodent/rat incident, and my own way of dealing with door-to-door Jehovah Witnesses that seems to come up at every party I attend. But this journal entry isn’t about my own experiences; I bring it up only to make the point that a lot of these stories didn’t strike me as strange as they may have others possibly because I’ve had just as strange experiences in my own life.

That said, though I found the book interesting enough to continue reading all the way through, I think it was about half way that I began to find them getting a bit more dull. Again, most likely just the way they affected me personally.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on: In 2005 read 100 books.

Monday, November 14, 2005

#76 Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Chocolat by Joanne HarrisMy Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
A great read, I really enjoyed it. Character-wise, Reynaud stands for everything I dislike about the Catholic religion and I really hated his character in this story: a true villian, bigot, and zealot. I could never wrap my mind around some of the Catholic ideals and concepts—Lent and abstinence, original sin, and the like. Reynaud likes to take the words of the Bible and warp them to his own twisted means.

Vianne is exactly the opposite of Reynaud and stands for everything I believe in and all that is right with the world; her outlook on life closely mirroring my own—except for the parts about fleeing from place to place to escape The Black Man. She was a good mother and a wonderful woman, and I was happy to see the impact she had on many of the people of Lansquenet, giving them strength and courage, and a new love for life.

The premise of the story, a chocolate boutique opened by Vianne in a strictly Catholic village, allows the characters, both major and minor, to examine their beliefs as the priest Reynaud speaks out against the debauchery of the chocolatier. Joanne Harris, the author, is very good at describing things in the best frame of reference, the chocolates, the flowers of springtime, the images brought to mind while reading this book were both beautiful and mouth-watering. And seeing as how it’s just past Halloween, and a recent vacation to Key West from which I just returned last week, I happened to find all kinds of chocolate in the house which we usually don’t have. I think this book may have caused me to gain a few pounds because with all the reading about chocolate, goodness knows I had to indulge. Heh, at least all the Halloween chocolate is almost gone now… though I miss the Key West fudge and Lindt chocolates. LOL

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on: In 2005 read 100 books.

Friday, November 11, 2005

#75 Quit Your Job And Move To Key West by Christopher Shultz & David Sloan

Quit Your Job And Move To Key WestMy Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

A quirky and fun guide to living in Key West, and how to decide if Key West is right for you. Each page is filled with humor-filled facts, and the authors writing style, which brings to mind that of Christopher Moore, makes this 115 page guide a really fast read.

Mike and I have actually been considering this very thing. With the approach of another hard New England winter (how depressing!), and a recent vacation to the Keys (we've been there 3 times now), we're seriously thinking of doing it! This is a fun, but fact-filled book that'll keep you laughing from cover to cover. :)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for full book description and links to more information. See more progress on In 2005 read 100 books.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

#74 The Virago Book of Ghost Stories: The Twentieth Century: Vol 2 edited by Richard Dalby

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars
I enjoyed some of these stories more than others. After reviewing past journal entries for this book, I made sure to read the ones that others mentioned or particularly liked, and they were probably my favorites too. I had read a few that weren’t mentioned by others and found some of them harder to get into so I decided to stick to the recommended ones. Overall a fairly decent read in the style of Lovecraft.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on In 2005 read 100 books.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

#73 Hunting Midnight by Emma Holly

Hunting MidnightMy Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

This was a pretty good book, not a bad read for my first Emma Holly book. I can't claim the genre is among my usual favorite since it appeared to be more of a romance than anything else, though paranormal, and didn't have as much danger and intrigue as my favorites usually do. However after an initial slow start, I began to develop an affinity for the characters and will look forward to future books in this series to see where things lead with Ulric and Juliana. Mucho thanks to bookrabbit for sharing this with me.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.
See more progress on: In 2005 read 100 books