Saturday, December 30, 2006

#78 Cirque Du Freak #4: Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Another good quick read in the Darren Shan stories. Yes, the plot is somewhat simple in comparison to some of the other recent books I've read, but that's what makes this a young adult book, and a quick read too. But they're no less enjoyable for it.

In this installment, Darren and Mr. Crepsley make their way to Vampire Mountain, accompanied by two of the Little People at Mr. Tiny's insistence, for a meeting of the Vampire Council, an event which takes place only once every 12 years. The journey is long and hard, and along the way, they run into a few dangers, including a mad bear who's recently snacked on an even madder Vampaneze.

After the bear kills one of the Little People, the other, whom Darren previously referred to as Lefty but is really named Harkat, reveals that he can actually speak, and tells the others that Mr. Tiny has accorded him the task of delivering a very important message to the Vampire Princes: The night of the Vampaneze Lord is at hand.... (The Vampaneze are a race of Vampires who broke off from the Council hundreds of years ago, and don't follow any of the Vampire's rules of conduct, in particular, they have no qualms about the killing of humans.) Since Mr. Tiny is known for his predictions coming true, this message is of much interest to all the Vampires.

The book ends with Darren being presented to the Vampire Council and Mr. Crepsley being questioned about his decision to blood a Darren at such a young age, something that is hardly ever done. The Council decides that rather than punish Mr. Crepsley, they are going to put Darren to the ultimate test: The Trials of Initiation... To be continued in book 5, Trials of Death.

I'm also looking forward to find out what happens with the Vampaneze....

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Friday, December 29, 2006

#77 Loverboy by Michele Jaffe

My Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Wow, loved it! Definitely adding this one to my favorite books of 2006. Were it not already promised to cestmoi from an earlier mystery swap, this'd definitely be the book I'd choose to use in our Best of 2006 swap coming up in January.

This is a standalone novel, not part of a series, in which FBI agent Imogen Page is trying to catch the serial killer known as the Hide-and-Seek Killer, who later revels his real identity as 'Loverboy'. His latest victim, though not yet dead, is famous nuclear physicist, Rosalind Carnow, who was taken from Las Vegas. Rosalind is Loverboy's 6th victim, and Imogen has 2 weeks to put together the pieces of the puzzle and find Rosalind before Loverboy takes her life.

I really enjoyed the author's writing and remembered how much I'd liked her other book Bad Girl too. She continually threw a lot of red herrings into the story to throw you off the trail, or to try to lead you in a certain direction. But like many mysteries, the various clues can be interpreted in various ways. I had a hard time putting this one down, leading to many long nights with very little sleep. Now that I'm finished, maybe I'll finally manage to get more than 5 hours sleep per night!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

#76 A Bone To Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery by Charlaine Harris

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I didn't like this second book in the series as much as Real Murders, if only because there wasn't as much murder going on. :p

In this installment, Roe inherits the estate of her friend Jane Engle, a seventy year old "sweet old lady" who was formerly in the Real Murders club with her. Roe's got no idea why Jane would leave the house to her, but Jane's lawyer, Bubba Sewell, tells her that Jane has only a single brother left still living, who's pretty old himself, and she left him her car, her cat, and a few thousand dollars. But Roe is inheriting Jane's house, along with all it's contents and $550,000! Which is apparently a pretty good windfall down South! (Up here it'd barely buy a nice house. LOL)

Anyhow, it's the skull that Roe discovers inside Jane's house that's got her curious... just whose skull is it? And do the recent mysterious break-ins in the neighborhood—where nothing was taken, just houses ransacked—have anything to do with it? This mystery gets wrapped up at the end, but I won't give any spoilers here to ruin it.

We also learn a little more about Roe's personal life, and her longing to find a good man and get married. She's no longer with either of the two men she dated in Real Murders. The police detective Arthur has married his partner Lynn. And Robin Crusoe left the townhouse to go live in the city, and then went off to Europe for a little while, stepping back as Roe had gotten more serious (or so she thought) with Arthur. It's a little uncomfortable for Roe when she finds out that Arthur and Lynn have just bought the house across the street from the one she inherited from Jane, and to top it off, Lynn's already pregnant. (Can we say shotgun wedding! LOL) So Roe's now dating the town's Episcopal minister, Aubrey Scott, who performed her mother's recent wedding to John Queensland.

I think if Ms. Harris didn't make the rest of the story fairly entertaining, it would've flopped because the wondering of this skull is the only mystery part to this story... Roe does a little sleuthing, but since she doesn't mention the skull to anyone else, it's not a subject for dinner-time conversation or anything among her friends, acquaintances, and new neighbors, at least not until the rest of the skeleton is discovered. *grin*

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

#75 The Fixer by Jon F. Merz

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

I really liked this book, and I'm quite surprised this series never garnered more interest. Probably bad promotion on the part of the publishers or something. The first two books in the series, The Fixer (this one) and The Invoker, both only published in 2002, are already out of print. I managed to procure this copy through my library's participation in the Merrimack Valley Consortium system, and it was only at one library of the 35 in the system.

It was only when Michele (caseyw) added a copy of The Invoker to the Paranormal Virtual Bookbox on BookRelay that I was first alerted to this author, and then a few of us got to discussing the Lawson Vampire Novels. She mentioned how she still hasn't been able to find a copy of this first book in the series, and the prices for the first two books on eBay are outrageous since they're out of print. I guess I was just lucky to find this one at the Lowell library via the Consortium website, but they don't have books 2, 3, or 4 unfortunately. So Mr. Merz, if you come across this review on the web, know that there are quite a few of us out here that'd like to see these first books in the series back in print, so push your publisher for us, will ya? ;-) I really think these books could make a bigger splash now, particularly since paranormals have become so hot, but also because, like Jim Butcher's Dresden series, these are more action-oriented than so many of the paranormal romances available now which are just like romance authors trying to throw in a vampire to make it a paranormal and it truly reminds me why I *don't* like romances!!

The author, Jon Merz, lives in Boston, somewhat near me, and is active on his Lawson Vampire MySpace account. He's written a sort of short story about Lawson that he published in his blog out there, but I've been leery to read it in case it would give away stuff I haven't yet read in books 2-4. As I was reading this book, I liked coming across the many Boston landmarks and I recognized most of the locations and nightclubs, particularly Manray, the Goth club in Cambridge, which was a favorite of mine. (Many good memories of that place, which shut down sometime last year.)

So anyway, back to the book itself...
Lawson is a Fixer, a Vampire whose job it is to help maintain the delicate balance between Vampire and Human. In his duties, he's often called upon by the Vampire Council to bring down one of his own, often a rogue vampire who has become a threat to the race, either by blatant human killings, or threatening to expose the race in other bad or illegal ways. In the world drawn by Mr. Merz, vampires live among us, just as they do in most fantasy and paranormal novels, and most of them live a normal life, passing for human. He debunks some of the myths, saying that although vampires aren't particularly fond of the sun, they don't have to avoid it, and they won't go up in flames by being exposed to it. Though the fact remains that most vamps are more comfortable in the darkness and at night. Also, like in other novels, these vamps are able to get by without killing and often with the assistance of bottled blood to help sustain them.

Lawson is now charged with the destroying his arch-nemesis, Cosgrove, who has been a thorn in his side his entire life. And yes, these Vampires grew up as Vampires, in a Vampire community, to Vampire parents, etc. So both Lawson and Cosgrove were Vamps when they were younger and actually grew up together, though they were enemies back then too.

The writing style is quick and snappy—no long drawn-out descriptions here—and it all adds to action-oriented feeling of the book. I had a tough time putting it down! I loved Lawson's character; though a vampire, the author adds just enough human characteristics and feeling to him to endear him to the reader. And it left me anxiously looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of The Invoker. Thanks to my BR pals for introducing me to this author in the first place!

Monday, December 18, 2006

#74 Moon's Web by C. T. Adams & Cathy Clamp

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

This book was a little slower to start than the first one so at first I thought it might not be as good, but it only took about 20 pages in before the action picked up and then rolled full-stream to the end.

Tony and Sue are now living in Chicago, under new identities following the events of Hunter's Moon, the first book in the Sazi series. Tony learns of a few new skills he possesses, specifically hindsight, gifts of the seer, and now he's having flashbacks every time he touches someone. While learning to use his new gifts, he's also been assigned the task of helping to locate a Sazi that's abducting and murdering some of the Sazi women. Which means his Sue could be the next victim!

I enjoyed the action, and as usual, any romance in the story didn't overshadow the action, but served only to endear the characters to the reader.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

#73 Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery by Charlaine Harris

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

This was a very satisfying start to this cozy mystery series. It originally came out in the early 90s, and surprisingly many of the earlier titles are already out of print. Hopefully, with Ms. Harris becoming more popular, some of these older titles will be re-released. I actually had to pay over $10 apiece for mass market paperback copies of books 4 and 5, and I've seen them go for a lot more.

Aurora "Roe" Teagarden is a librarian in a Lawrenceton, Georgia, a small town outside a big city. (I assume Atlanta, but Harris doesn't specify precisely.) Once a month, a few crime buffs from town get together to discuss some of the most famous murderers of the past. They call their group Real Murders and on the night Roe is scheduled to discuss the Wallace case—which took place back in 1931 England—one of the members of Real Murders, Mamie Wright, is found murdered in exactly the same way Julia Wallace was so many years ago! And that's not the end of it either... apparently, there's a murderer on the loose, whose game is to pattern his crimes after some of the very murders they've been discussing. So obviously, they all figure it's got to be someone in their little group!

Harris does character development quite nicely and as you're introduced to all the characters, you can clearly see them in your mind, and often think of someone you know who fits a similar description. Who is behind all the murders happening in the small town is a surprise right up until the very end. And in typical cozy fashion, the members of the community most affected by all this are just as important as the police—one of whom is actually a member of Real Murders anyway—in solving the case.

I look forward to reading the rest of the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

#72 Staying Dead by Laura Anne Gilman

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I really liked the premise of this book, but I wasn't too crazy about the author's writing style, she kinda had a lot of run-on sentences so I found myself rereading some things. And at another point, when she started off a chapter with one of Wren's dream sequences, which went on for like 3 pages, you didn't know the whole time whose dream it was. So I flipped to the end of the dream sequence to find out... I mean, if it's a character who hasn't been introduced yet, or someone we're not supposed to know, I can see that strategy, but for the main character, it was just unnecessary and kind of a pain in the ass because I like to be able to envision the story in my head while I'm reading.

However, since this was Gilman's first novel, I'm expecting better things in this regard in later books. As a matter of fact, I recall reading a short story from her as part of the Powers of Detection anthology and the writing didn't bug me then, so my point stands.

I liked the characters, Wren and Sergi, and imagined P.B. as a little Gizmo... you know from that Gremlins movie. :D And I'm looking forward to reading more about them in Curse the Dark.

Visit the BookCrossing journal page for this book for a more detailed synopsis...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

#71 Winter Moon by Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, C.E. Murphy

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

"Moontide" by Mercedes Lackey
This is my first Lackey story even though I've got her Diana Tregarde mysteries waiting here on Mt. TBR that I haven't read yet. In this novella, Lackey takes us to the land of her Five Hundred Kingdoms and tells the story of a sea keep's daughter who's been sent off to fostering for most of her young adult life. While there, she was trained as an assassin and one of the "Gray Ladies". Her skills come in handy when she returns home to find her father entertaining a pirate from a rival land, to whom he wants to use Moira as a bargaining chip. But Moira's got other plans...

"The Heart of the Moon" by Tanith Lee
I really enjoyed this story. It portrays a tough heroine, a warrior, who is sent off to by the priestesses of Amnos to the magickal island of Moon Isle, where she must work through some of the things from her past. While on her "journey", she meets a strange man whom she feels an instant attraction to. But can she trust him, or is he just another man like Thestus, who would only betray her? And what else will she learn about herself in the process?

"Banshee Cries" by C. E. Murphy
"Banshee Cries" is set in the same place as Murphy's The Walker Papers series and takes place between Urban Shaman (book 1) and Thunderbird Falls (book 2).

This was the best of the bunch. I read the first book of the Walker Papers, Urban Shaman, back at the end of 2005, so I'd forgotten much about the characters. Fortunately, this story provides a lot of reminders that jump started my memory. Also, whereas the Urban Shaman kind of dwindled action-wise after awhile as Joanne struggled with her new powers, there wasn't much time for dilly-dallying in this short story format. Joanne still wishes she didn't possess her Shamanic skills, but she's beginning to get a handle on them nonetheless. This story gives us a lot more information about Joanne's mother, who passed away in the last book, and it's with the help of her dead mom that she's able to defeat the Banshee, the Harbinger of Death, that has returned to try to complete something it couldn't 30 years ago!

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Monday, December 04, 2006

#70 Desire After Dark by Amanda Ashley

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

I had trouble getting into this initially and thought I might not be able to finish it as I don't like too much romance in my books. It was really kind of sappy and I get sick of hearing about how gorgeous Antonio was, and how blue his eyes were, and how black his hair was, and so on... But I plodded on, wanting to make it at least halfway through as I haven't yet read anything else by this author, and sometime after the 100th page or so, it got a little more interesting. At this point, the vampire Falco, who was killing various redheads in the town of Pear Blossom Creek, revealed himself to Vicki, which added an element of danger. Sure, there was still a lot of sappy romance, but it was lessened somewhat by the rest of the action finally starting to happen.

So as Falco stalks Vicki, intending her to be his next victim, Antonio has sworn his life to protect her. At first, she doesn't know he's a vampire, but once she finally finds out, partially through the Vampire Hunter Duncan who's sweeped into town, and partially through Antonio's own admission and actions, she's not sure how she feels about the idea. But the fact that his kisses have stirred something in her that she's never felt before keeps her from running in the other direction. Besides, he seems to be the only one who can protect her from Draco.

Overall, a fairly decent read, and once the action started happening, it was harder to put down. The strong romance aspect makes it not my usual cup of tea though, so I'm not sure whether or not I'll seek out additional books by this author since I've got so much other reading on my plate.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

#69 Eve: The Sorority by Tamara Thorne

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This was a fairly quick read, but it could also be because I didn't want to put it down! As expected, there were some things left unresolved so you're left really looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.

The book opens with a frightful scene that takes place at a cheerleading camp on Applehead Lake when Eve is 8 years old. Eve and two other girls, Merrilyn and Samantha, "borrow" a boat while the rest of the camp is on a field trip and row out to Applehead Island to do a little "investigating" with regards to Holly Gayle, who supposedly haunts the lake. What they discover isn't a simple apparition, but something that haunts Eve for the rest of her days.

When Eve attends Greenbriar University eight years later, and pledges the Gamma Eta Pi sorority, she never expected to run into Merrilyn and Samantha again. But the sorority has a secret of their own, and some of the sisters may just know a thing or two about Holly Gayle and the mysterious Greenbriar Ghost!

A few Amazon reviewers didn't care for this book for one reason or another, but a constant theme I saw was because you don't feel a sense of empathy towards Eve. I must agree that the author doesn't portray her in such a way that makes you feel any strong emotion towards her, but I believe this was done for a purpose, which becomes clear as the book draws to a close. It would've been a lot harder to take what happens to Eve at the end, possibly leaving the reader quite angry, were the reader more sympathetic towards Eve's character.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

#68 Naughty Fairy Tales from A to Z edited by Alison Tyler

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

There were some really great and titillating stories in this book! I'm definitely going to seek out additional works by some of these authors. Fortunately, the editors included a section at the back with further detail on each author including what else they've written, where they've been published, including some website URLs, etc.

Because I don't generally like to read a bunch of short stories all at once, I read this book over the course of 2 months, tucking in anywhere from 3-5 stories in between other full-length books I was reading. But you know what? I always looked forward to finishing a novel because that meant I'd get to read a few more of these juicy tales before starting something new. I especially liked to "go to bed" with this book. ;)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more information.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

#67 Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

I totally enjoyed this foray into the Faerie Realm with Henry, Mr. Fogarty, Pyrgus, and Blue, and look forward to reading the 2nd book in the series, The Purple Emperor. This is billed as a young adult book, assumingly because of the age of the characters. But the plot was intriguing with multiple things going on, and can just as easily draw in any adult.

Henry didn't believe in faeries until he caught one in Mr. Fogarty's backyard, saving it from Hodge the cat. But once Pyrgus fills them in on the attempts on his life, and explains how he must get back to the Faerie Realm to warn his father, the Purple Emperor, against an imminent attack. Behind the scenes, the Nightside Faeries have allied with the Demon Realm to insure the success of their attacks. But can Henry and Mr. Fogarty do their part to help the Lightside Fairies from falling into oblivion at the hands of these dark forces?

Monday, November 20, 2006

#66 Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights by Kyra Davis

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

This was a fun read, and I enjoyed all the characters. I'd forgotten the specifics and other character details since I'd read Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte, but it was fairly easy to get back up to speed. And though there were references to incidents which happened in the previous book, not knowing the specifics wasn't detrimental to the story, it simply gave you a little more insight into some of the characters.

Someone has shot Sophie's brother-in-law, Bob, and the prime suspect is none other than her sister Leah. Sophie will do whatever it takes to prove her sister's innocence, so she hires Anatoly, a hottie PI whom she thought was trying to kill her in the last novel, to work with them.

Sophie's friends are a hoot... Dena owns a sex shop and is very open and vocal about all things sexual, Marcus is a gay hairdresser, Mary Ann is fairly down-to-earth and probably one of the pegs that holds the group together.... Dropping Leah, an ethnic Martha Stewart, and her "devil-in-disguise" 18-month old son Jack into this mix keeps the banter lively and flowing.

The mystery to try to figure out who killed Bob and why is deep and difficult to figure out. But with Sophie and Anatoly on the job, with no help from the police thank-you-very-much, they're sure to get their man (or woman)! I was kept in suspense right up until the very end.... I like when a mystery is able to keep me guessing and on my toes the whole way through.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

#65 Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

This is the first second book (after the renumbering) in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to finish this book. During the first 150 pages, I kept thinking that if I have to read the descriptions of Kyrian's "luscious body" one more time, I was going to barf! It was just waaaay to heavy on the romance for my taste! But since this book is the first of a very popular paranormal series, I wanted to at least be able to reserve my judgment until after I've read the first book in its entirety.

With that commitment made, I plodded on, often putting the book down for a longer length of time than usual and not wanting to pick it back up, seriously considering starting on something else instead. I guess it was finally around halfway through that it started to get a little more interesting. I don't know if the author got sick of going on for 2 pages describing Kyrian's 6 pack, or if I just got used to it, but any of that overly-descriptive gushing seemed to become slightly less at any rate, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the story somewhat.

Other reviewers talked about the sex scenes, and though there were plenty, they were kind of blah, not graphic enough for my liking. I think the author is afraid to use words like penis or pussy, which I much prefer in sex scenes, and instead used all kinds of flowery terms instead. Wouldn't you rather read about his rock hard cock sliding in and out of her wet, juicy pussy than his hard, stiff manhood sliding into her warm sheath? I don't mean to offend anyone by saying this, but if you're trying to write like erotica, then just do it, don't pussy-foot around! (Pun intended *grin*)

BooksnBeer wrote that she liked the next two books better than this one, and since I liked the ending more than the beginning, in contrast to CandyDarling, I'll probably tackle at least the next one or two to see if I like them better. But if I don't, then heh, I'm still thankful to NeedSun for giving me the opportunity to experience this series. And for all the other readers who kept replacing all the copies that got lost along the way. :)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Friday, November 10, 2006

#64 Got Fangs? by Katie Maxwell

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

This was an okay teen read. Comparing it to the other YA books I've been reading recently, which you can see in my book blog, I found it better than the Cate Tiernan Sweeps series, but not quite as good as the Darren Shan Cirque Du Freak ones.

Like Candy, a lot of Fran's quirks and insecurities got to me after awhile. But I think a lot of that's simply in the author's writing style because A Girl's Guide to Vampires hit me the same way, with the immature squabbling those characters did. And I didn't care for all the cutesy words either—I thought I'd scream if she said nummy one more time!

Beyond all that, the book had a somewhat interesting story line. Fran and her mother, who's a witch, are traveling around Europe with the GothFaire. Fran has been pulled out of school for a year and she's not that happy about it, struggling to fit in and all. As it stands, with her gift of psychometry (being able to sense things by touch) she should actually be more at home among the people of the Faire: witches, demonologists, palm readers, vampires, and the like; yet still she hides her gift and feels like a freak.

Fran's mom asks Fran to use her gift to help determine who's been stealing the money from the Faire's safe, and though she's reluctant to do so, she eventually agrees. Though Fran claims she's a mystery buff, her detective skills were laughable; she'd write people off as suspects for stupid reasons. I had a feeling I knew who was behind everything from the beginning and I ended up being right, despite Fran's inability to see the truth. I would've also thought that with all the psychics and such hanging around, that getting away with such a crime would've been near to impossible. But then the author wouldn't have had much to build the story on.

Like in her adult Dark Ones series, written under the name of Katie MacAlister, we have Dark Ones in this book. The Faire's palm reader, Imogen, is a Dark One, or a Moravian more correctly since supposedly only the men can be called Dark Ones. A Dark One is basically a vampire, with a few minor differences from vampires as we encounter them in other books. Imogen's younger brother, Benedikt, has come to the Faire to visit his sister, and takes an immediate liking to Fran, and tells her she's his Beloved. A Beloved is a Dark One's other half, and is the only one who can redeem his soul. I can imagine this would be a lot for 16-year-old Fran to handle. But then again, Benedikt is 300 something! So the budding romance, if you can call it that, between Fran and Ben is cute and adds to the rest of the story.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

#63 Hunter's Moon by C. T. Adams & Cathy Clamp

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

What a great start to what looks to be a wonderful series. Going in, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the amount of romance in this book; it seemed as if it'd be a major part of the story line, which it is, however NOT at the expense of the rest of the story. I was really drawn into Tony's world. He was made into a werewolf a year ago and not having a pack or mentor to tutor him in the ways, has just been learning as he goes.

Tony is a hit man for the Family, another name for the Mafia in his world. And then he meets his new client Sue and the attraction between them just sizzles, literally. Sue wants to hire Tony to kill her, and Sue's family is making her life a living hell. In the meantime, Tony has vowed decided to become Sue's protector and bodyguard, to keep her safe in addition to the danger he always finds him in.

The only minor complaint I might have is that there were often a lot of new names introduced, like others in the Family for instance, whom I promptly forgot any details about. And then when they were brought up again later in the story, I'd already forgotten who they were or any significant details about them. This was one of those books where maybe I could've used a post-it on the inside back cover to keep track of the page numbers on which new characters are introduced and/or described. (I've done this frequently in other books, especially series ones from my PC.)

The story is definitely not short on action and it's only towards the end that Tony actually discovers he's part of a much larger race known as the Sazi, which includes shapeshifters of all kinds! This sets things up for what promises to be an interesting series, one I'm quite looking forward to.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

#62 Cirque Du Freak #3: Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

I'm enjoying this series. Unlike another young adult series I'm currently reading, the plot isn't super simple, though it does move along fairly swiftly.

In this installment, Darren and Mr. Crepsley have left the Cirque for what is initially an unknown reason to Darren after a mysterious visit from one of the Vampire Generals. Mr. Crepsley allows Darren to take his friend Evra, the snake boy from the Cirque, along with them. Once they reach the city, they discover there's been a series of murders occurring in the area. Because the blood was drained from the victims, Evra and Darren immediately suspect Mr. Crepsley of the crimes... especially since he's been going out every night and keeping secrets from them. As they attempt to track down a killer, Darren also meets his first girlfriend and has his first kiss. Evra's life is put in danger and Darren is asked to make some difficult choices.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

#61 Courting Midnight by Emma Holly

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I went into this book thinking it took place before the events of Catching Midnight and Hunting Midnight, but that is not the case. I guess I got that impression from something I read at Amazon, plus the fact that the events of this book take place in 1813. But referring back to the journal page for Catching Midnight, I see that one actually took place in 1349. But in any case, this book could very easily have stood alone. Some of the characters from the others were mentioned briefly and towards the end an appearance is made by Aimery and Gillian, but there's nothing in this book that requires that you've read the others first.

That said, I did like finding out more about Lucius after seeing him as sort of a stand-alone kind of upyr throughout the other books. He doesn't seem to have much feeling or emotion left to him, being the oldest living upyr, and so it's nice to finally see him happy and embracing life.

I appreciate that Holly doesn't censor her sex scenes. Granted, this isn't one of her Black Lace books, but she doesn't really hold back and use flowery terms when talking about sex, and in these Upyr books, particularly this one, she's not afraid to let her passion for erotic writing come through. :)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Friday, October 27, 2006

#60 The Coven (Sweep #2) by Cate Tiernan

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Like the first book (Book of Shadows), this was fairly predictable with a simple plot. I had already figured out much of what was going to happen, with regards to Morgan's parentage and discovering her true powers. But like in book 1, the author introduced a couple of new dilemmas, one at the very end, which are left open for the sequel.

I can't say that I don't like these books, only that in some respects they seem even more simple than some of the other Young Adult books I've read, i.e. Harry Potter, Cirque du Freak. Perhaps it's just the characters attitudes towards one another... I'm not sure, but they seem so childish. Like in the previous book, I had a bit of a problem with the attitudes of certain characters, though it wasn't as extreme. Morgan's parents eventually came up with a fairly satisfactory explanation as to why they kept Morgan's adoption secret from her all this time. (I almost wanted to mark the previous comment as a spoiler, but it actually implies this right on the back cover blurb so I didn't think it's supposed to be a secret going in... I figured it was pretty obvious anyway by the end of book 1 if not earlier.)

That said, since these books can be read in a single day, two max, I don't feel they were a waste of time because they did entertain, and the ending did leave me interested as to what'll happen next.
***** SPOILER ALERT (highlight below to read) *****
Such as what kind of revenge do Bree and Raven have planned for Morgan? And why does Cal's mom have the Morgan's mom's Book of Shadows?
***** SPOILER ALERT (highlight above to read) *****

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

#59 Ill Wind by Rachel Caine

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I was glad I finally found time to read the first book of this series. The concept of wardens who control the four elements—earth, air (wind), fire, water (rain)—and thus impact everything from the weather to tree and plant growth was an interesting concept. And the addition of the Djinn, sort of like a genie, adds an additional element of magic to the story.

Though the story is primarily action-based and fantasy, there's a bit of romance in the side story going on too, though it's definitely secondary to the main story, which I appreciate since I can only take my romance with a "bite" or a "murder" or some other danger. :) I thought it started off slow, but the action quickly picked up and drew me in. I'm now looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

#58 Book of Shadows (Sweep #1) by Cate Tiernan

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

I'm not quite sure how I felt about this book. On the one hand, there wasn't much to the story itself: just a couple of teens, their interest in Wicca, and the dynamics of best friends, boyfriends, etc. which kinda made me yawn. I can see how the specifics of being in circle might be fascinating to teenagers just beginning to explore the subject, or others who aren't familiar with the religion, but having been there many times myself, it's nothing new to me and thus I was waiting for something extra to happen there.

The way the author described the feelings and sensations involved in raising energy were fairly accurate though, and she describes the sensations quite well... I don't know that I could really ever put into words what it feels like, but she did a good job with it. And then, as Candy already pointed out, there was the way the author kept referring to Wicca as "the ancient religion" which predates Christianity and Judaism, and this is inaccurate. It's actually just a reincarnation of the original, ancient pagan religion; Wicca itself didn't come into existence until the 1950s or so, and yes it's based on the ancient Pagan religion, but Wicca itself is not ancient. I hate when authors spew this kind of misinformation!

But in today's world, the term Wicca seems to be more widely known. So when people ask me about my own religion, they often know Wicca, but not Pagan, so I'm just like, yeah whatever... for all intents and purposes, you can consider it the same thing since you're not dealing in specifics. Hospitals and other forms you fill out now have an option for Wiccan, while not one for Pagan, so I usually just choose that because like I said, it's sort of become a more well-known way of referring to many forms of Paganism and nature worship as they're practiced today.

Moving on, I was aggravated with many of the characters. For starters, I can't stand people who are so meek and afraid that they can't even tell their supposed best friend their true feelings, and friends who are so superficial and shallow that they have no concept of the true value of friendship. I'm glad Morgan finally developed a backbone and stood up to Bree in the end though.

And Morgan's mother hit on one of my biggest pet peeves of all: narrow-minded people! Morgan's mom is so closed-minded as to not even allow her child to explore alternate religions, and immediately jumps to the conclusion that all Pagan religions are a form of devil worship! Christian brainwashing at it's finest! I mean, I've come to realize that there are still a few people in the world like this, maybe in the bible belt areas and such, but I can't help that it pisses me off to no end. It almost made me want to throw the book aside and not finish it because I was getting so angry!

Fortunately it's a short book, and I'm often determined to finish what I start. Plus I wanted to see if Morgan finally developed a backbone and stood up to the people holding her back, both her parents and Bree, as well as her own fears and going after what she wants. I'd hate to walk away thinking she's a wishy washy wimp, and then have her make a 360 and come into her own.

I'm also betting she's adopted or something and maybe her family's background makes her a true blood witch, which I'm relating to what we actually call a hereditary witch. But since that wasn't revealed in book one, and Candy says this is like a cliffhanger ending, I'm hoping that subject is resolved in the second book. So I will read the second book, hoping that with the establishment of the coven, and Morgan's standing up to Bree, some additional action will happen, and the focus won't be on so much of the stuff that pisses me off.

In summation, though this book made me quite angry in many respects, it redeemed itself somewhat in the beautiful descriptions of the sensations involved in raising energy in circle, and thus I'll give it a 5, the half way mark. :)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

#57 Past Redemption: The Darkwing Chronicles, Book Two by Savannah Russe

My Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

This was another great read which I liked just as much, if not more than, Beyond the Pale, the first in the series.

Team Darkwing is starting to become a tightly-knit and efficient group that works well together. And their latest assignment is to track down the individuals responsible for the emergence of the latest party drug called susto, which is causing deaths up and down the club scene. This is not the only thing going on though. There's also Darius, Daphne's ex whom she converted at the end of the last book in order to save his life. But he's quite resentful about it, previously being a vampire hunter and all, and now she's put through the ringer on the relationship front as well. The dynamics between Daphne and Darius only add to the rest of the story, and the mission Team Darkwing is sent out to solve.

I'm anxiously looking forward to book 3 of The Darkwing Chronicles. Too bad it's not coming out until February 2007.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Monday, October 16, 2006

#56 Velocity by Dean Koontz

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

This was another one of Koontz's fast-paced, roller coaster rides. I loved how the chapters were short, some only 3 pages in length, which somehow that added to the whole speed/action thing. And based on the title, this is what he'd set out to accomplish and he did so with applomb.

Throughout the story, you're left wondering right up until the very end, who's responsible for all the murders going on around Billy, and the notes they're leaving him that bring him into the fold. (I won't go into a synopsis here as I included it in this book's journal entry.) And just when you think you've got it figured out, like Billy, you're thrown a curve ball, just like on a roller coaster. hehe

Saturday, October 07, 2006

#55 The Hunted: A Vampire Huntress Legend by L. A. Banks

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I have to say I definitely liked this better than the first two in this series. And after reading the teaser for The Bitten at the end, I'm anxiously looking forward to that one now too.

Granted like the first two, the writing style got to me at times. Were it not for the fact that the characters tend to say a lot of useless and unimportant stuff, I might've gotten lost in the dialogue sometimes, partially because of the dialect they use... is it called hip hop or black, I'm not sure... and also because Damali sometimes seems to go on and on in her head about nothing at all. Fortunately, any time this happened, it wasn't detrimental to understanding what was going on.

In this book, Carlos is able to fight his ever-strengthening vampire nature because of his love for Damali, and has become a valuable resource to the Guardian team. I'm glad to see his place is secured in future books.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

#54 Night Fires by Karen Harbaugh

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

I went into this book not sure how I'd feel about it, thinking it might have too much romance for my liking, but I was pleasantly surprised. The story takes place during the French revolution, and tells the story of Simone, secretly a vampire outlaw known as LaFlamme, and Michael Corday, an English spy sent to France to track down and eliminate the man funding the Revolution and threatening to bring it to other countries. Simone and Michael's relationship begins as one of convenience, for they are each to help the other in their mission. But soon, Simone feels compelled to reveal her true nature to Michael, and his own feelings of despair about his life begin to dissipate. This book held my interest right up until the very end! :)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

#53 Menage by Emma Holly

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

I'm glad I finally found a chance to squeeze this book into my reading queue. It was a wonderful read... I could barely keep my hands off myself. The story starts out with what would be any woman's fantasy: Kate has two hot male housemates, Sean and Joe, living with her, and not only are they hot for each other, but they're hot for her too! After Kate discovers Sean and Joe together in her bedroom, Sean dares her to join them. What follows is a hot and steamy sexual relationship between the three of them, a ménage à trois, with all partners being faithful to one another, meaning they don't date or sleep with anyone else outside the threesome. Throughout this, Kate and Joe develop more serious feelings towards one another that go beyond sex and lust, and how these dynamics work within the current relationship is the subject of much of the book.

This is my 4th Emma Holly book and I definitely look forward to reading a lot more!

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Monday, September 18, 2006

#52 Bitten & Smitten by Michelle Rowen

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Sarah Dearly was just turned into a vampire, and she isn't happy about it. The past week has been hell, she's just lost her job, and the one vampire she cares for wants to kill himself. Welcome to the life of Sarah Dearly, and her hilarious romp through new vampire territory.

This debut novel by Michelle Rowen was a terrific read, and I look forward to the sequel, Fanged & Fabulous, due around Spring 2007. She also wrote one of the chapters of Bewitched, Bothered & BeVampyred, which I have waiting on my TBR and am even more anxious to read now. The story reminded me somewhat of Betsy in MJD's Undead series; Sarah's just as quirky and funny, if not more so.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

#51 Dark Desire by Christine Feehan

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

I liked this second book a little better than Dark Prince. I think it had a bit more of a story to it instead of just the romance, though I still got sick of all the flowery romance scenes and descriptions. I prefer my sex scenes to be a bit more graphic. I mean, I'd rather have Feehan talk about his "hard, thick penis" instead of "the hot, thick evidence of his desire". It's amazing how many flowery words and descriptions she can come up with to describe this part of the male anatomy!

In this book, we re-encounter some of the characters from the first book, as well as meet a few new ones as well. I believe that in these first few books there's a lot of establishing of the characters and the Carpathian race in general going on, so I'm still hoping these get better as I go along (woosang said so LOL) so I'm going to continue reading. I'm looking for more story, more danger and intrigue, and if more explicit sex if it's going to be there anyway. I've got the next 2 of the series here on my TBR and book 5 is supposedly coming to me via bookring anyway. I figure by book 5, I'll have a good handle on this series, and know if it's going to simply be too romance-y for me or what.

Friday, September 08, 2006

#50 Cirque Du Freak 2: The Vampire's Assistant by Darren Shan

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Loved it... just as much if not more so than the first one. I love how these books are quick and can be read in a single day, allowing me to squeeze them easily into my TBR queue. :)

In this book, Darren is fighting his urge to take human blood, which he needs to keep him alive, instead sustaining himself only off the blood of animals. He feels that by taking blood from humans, even a sip or two without killing or draining them, would truly make him evil. He's also dishearted because he can no longer have friends his own age... his attempt to play street hockey with some kids in one town cripples one of the boys when things get rough. So he and Mr. Crepsley rejoin the freak show, so that Darren can be with others of his kind without fear of keeping his true nature hidden. But can he resist his body's need for human blood? Or must he instead conquer his feelings that doing so is evil, in order to sustain his life....

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book or for more reviews and information. This book is also available for mooching from me through BookMooch or PaperBackSwap.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

#49 The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book going in, as this is the first I’ve read by this author. Rankin’s satirical style reminded me a bit of Christopher Moore or Terry Pratchett. The story, started off a bit slow for the first few chapters, but then immediately drew me in beyond that.

Jack and Eddie Bear set out to solve the mystery of who’s killing off the famous nursery rhyme characters one by one. Humpty Dumpty, made famous by his fall from the wall (which many in Toy City actually thought was an attempted suicide), was the first victim, followed by Little Boy Blue, and others.

The writing is very stylized, the humour of a British nature, and though I found it quite hilarious, having to read certain parts out loud to DH, I can see how it would put some people off for the silliness of it all. Not me though! I immediately went and added The Toyminator, which is more of Eddie Bear’s story, to my wishlist. :)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book, or it’s Amazon page, for more reviews and information. I also have another copy of this book available, which you can mooch from me through bookmooch. :)

#48 Secrets Volume 6 by MaryJanice Davidson, Sandy Fraser, Alice Gaines, Angela Knight, Sandy Tetzlaff

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Wow, these were some great reads. I hadn't realized when I started this that it was actually erotica, so I was pleasantly surprised by that too.

Flint's Fuse by Sandy Fraser
I enjoyed the character of Dana, who was a tough as nails rich bitch who always got her way (and her man). And Flint too, who though he had feelings for her, didn't let it get in the way of doing the job he was assigned to do. I'm glad they wound up together in the end.

Love's Prisoner by MaryJanice Davidson
My first intro the MJD's Wyndham Werewolves, who appear in later books starting with Derik's Bane. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more about them now. Jeannie's character reminded me a little bit of Betsy from the Undead series, and I understand that in the final story in Dead and Loving It, which actually takes place before Undead and Unpopular, the werewolves meet the vampires. So I'll be curious to see if Jeannie and Michael are still around then. I hope so as I really enjoyed their story here.

The Education of Miss Felicity Wells by Alice Gaines
This one was only alright for me. The innocence and virginity of Felicity was a bit annoying. That she'd go to a known casanova to teach her to please her husband, and expect to retain her virginity throughout the process, was a little silly in my mind. But then again, maybe she's just stupid!

A Candidate for the Kiss by Angela Knight
The sex in this one was hot! I didn't care for the author's habit of inserting a chapter break in the middle of a conversation. You usually expect a chapter ending to allow you a good place to put down the book and get back to it later, but in the case of this story, I'd often have to go back and reread the last few paragraphs of the previous chapter to pick up where the new chapter started. Since I've got some of Ms. Knight's books on my TBR shelf, I can only hope she's become better in this regard because I found it quite annoying! At least the story (and the sex) was good.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book or it's Amazon page for more reviews and information.

Friday, August 25, 2006

#47 The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Though not my usual genre, this was a good read nonetheless. The story is told from the first-person viewpoint of Susie Salmon, a murdered 14 year old girl who died at the hands of a neighbor whom nobody suspects. Nobody that is, except her father who's got a nagging feeling that George Harvey is behind Susy's disappearance.

So Susie's looking down at her family and friends from heaven, watching her death split her family apart, remembering events that happened in the past, and trying as hard as she can (even though she can't affect things on earth) to point her family and the police in the right direction of her murderer. An old classmate Ruth, and former boyfriend Ray, become close, and Ruth is somewhat of a medium, able to communicate with spirits, a skill she doesn't realize she possesses until Susie brushes past her and actually touches her as her soul transcends to heaven. Ruth becomes important later in the story too with some of the things she can do.

Though I don't believe in the Christian concept of heaven, I do believe in a similar place where our souls go to await reincarnation. So I could still relate to this story just as easily as anyone else, especially since they didn't use Christian divinity concepts. As a matter of fact, Susy's heaven seemed much more like the Pagan Summerlands than what I've seen heaven portrayed as.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

#46 His Immortal Embrace by Hannah Howell, Lynsay Sands, Sara Blayne, Kate Huntington

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

“The Yearning” by Hannah Howell
I found this story super predictable and in my mind, kept swearing at the characters that they were so slow witted. I mean, I figured out how to end the curse the first time Rona had recited it so many years ago. And yet it took 364 years for these people to figure it out. Granted the actual words were hidden for many generations, but still… the rest of the story, though predictable, was fairly interesting, which is what kept me reading. Overall, I’d give it a 6 out of 10 because of the predictability and the actual story line was secondary to the romance. And I don’t care for stories too strong in romance.

“Bitten” by Lynsay Sands
Keeran and Emily… eh, somewhat better than the first story, but it certainly didn’t endear the author to me in any way. Though I’ve already got some of Sands’ books on my bookshelf to read soon so I hope they’re not as sappy as this story.

“Stranger in the Night” by Sara Blayne
My Goddess, this author knows how to ramble! She could talk for an entire page on something as simple as an amulet, while throwing a bunch of historical information, people’s names and relationships at the reader all in a single paragraph. The antiquated writing style, and the dialogue she used, not just with the speech of her characters, which I could understand based on the story’s time period, but she also used all manner of antiquated words which I’d never heard of. Beyond that, her constant use of terms like “Faith” and “The Devil” smacked of Christian evangelism. It got tiring real fast and after only two chapters I felt I couldn’t take any more and moved onto the next story.

“The Awakening” by Kate Huntington
I thought this was the best of the four stories. It wasn’t all that predictable like the others and it kept me reading, not wanting to put it down. Yes, like the others this took place back in olden times, 1814 to be precise, but the author didn’t try to write as if she were from that generation as well. A very good read indeed. :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

#45 Beyond the Pale: The Darkwing Chronicles Book One by Savannah Russe

My Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Wow! This was an awesome book, and a debut from this author no less. No wonder NeedSun had to immediately buy/locate book two. If she hadn’t, I might’ve had to. ;)

This book is classified as a romance, and though I can see the romance aspect, it definitely wasn’t the primary focus of the book which made me enjoy it even more. I like books where romance, if included at all, is more of an afterthought than part of the main story line.

Daphne is a strong, tough character, the kind I like, and a vampire to boot. Plus she’s a Monkey in Chinese Astrology like me. :) In Beyond the Pale, Daphne, a nearly 500 year old vampire, is approached to join a team of vamps working for the US government to help catch terrorists. Vampires aren’t widely recognized and accepted here like they are in the Anita Blake books, instead only certain government officials, and the Vamps themselves, really know of their existence. And with their superhuman strength, Team Darkwing makes a great set of heroes!

Though I just finished saying I don’t care for the romance aspect, I’m curious to find out what happens between Daphne and Darius in the next book. Joanne, hurry up and read book 2 so I can be next! ;) LOL

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

#44 Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a retelling of the Cinderella story which takes place in 17th Century Holland. While it retains a lot of similarity to the original story, at least more so than some of the other Cinderella stories we’ve read so far, most of the “magical” and otherworldly events have been given more real-world characteristics.

The cast opens with two sisters, Ruth and Iris, and their shrewd mother Margarethe, who are fleeing England by boat to Holland. Margarethe, originally from Holland herself, had moved to England when she married, and upon the death of her husband, assumed she’d be able to find family in Holland to live with until she could get her family back on their feet. Ruth, the eldest sister, is described as a simpleton: she’s rather large, learning-impaired, and somewhat mute. Iris, a few years younger, is very astute and smart, though rather plain looking. It is around these three characters that the story primarily revolves.

Since any remaining family Margarethe once had in Holland has all since passed on, the three are left to travel from house to house, seeking shelter in exchange for work. After a short stay with the Master, where Iris develops an eye for art, they’re taken into the van den Meer household, where we meet Clara, our Cinderella, a cloistered and coddled youngster whose forbidden to leave the house, and has since become too afraid to do so anyway. This initial portrayal of Clara, at least with regards to physical attributes, is not unlike the traditional Cinderella: she is a shy, beautiful girl with delicate features and golden blonde hair.

Shortly after Margarethe and her daughters have moved in to the van den Meer household, helping in the kitchen and with other household duties, Henrika van den Meer, Clara’s mother, falls ill and eventually dies. Margarethe, ever the shrewd plotter, instantly sees a way for her to elevate her position in the household and announces her upcoming betrothal to Cornelius van den Meer, Clara’s father. She then decides that housework is beneath her and assigns the majority of the household duties to her daughters. Clara, ever the spoiled little rich girl, initially refuses to help out, but once she realizes she can escape Margarethe for most of the day by working in the kitchen, she eventually resigns herself, discarding her beautiful dresses in favor of the rags of a house maid. She sleeps on the hearth and calls herself Cinderella, or Cindergirl or Ashgirl.

Of course, we eventually have the infamous ball. And like in the traditional story, Margarethe wishes to promote one of her daughters, Iris in this case, to the attentions of the Prince. Besides, the family has fallen on hard times due to market crashes, and Margarethe sees dollar signs with the possibility of Iris’s marriage to the Prince. But Iris is convinced of her dour looks, and would instead prefer to see Clara attend the ball, if only to cheer her up a bit. She also figures that Clara has a much better chance of snaring the Prince than she herself. All this can only help the family, as both Iris and Margarethe realize, and we see how Iris is very much like her mother, but in a much less ruthless way.

Clara finally agrees to attend the ball if she can go with her face veiled, as if in mourning or penance. And as expected, she catches the attention of the Prince on her arrival. The two eventually retire to a back room with a bottle of champagne while the party goes on out in the main room. When a fire in one of the rooms of the Pruyns estate breaks out, all the guests flee, including Clara, Iris, Ruth, and Margarethe. The Prince, knowing Clara not by her true name but by Clarissa of Aragon, is unable to locate her again and sets out on his quest the following day to find who fits the slipper Clara has left behind in her haste. The slipper is made of soft white kid leather (not glass), originally Margarethe’s who hasn’t been able to wear them since her eyes have started to go. But once at the van den Meer household, the Prince also accuses someone in the house of starting the fire at the Pruyns mansion the night before. It is here he finds his Clarissa, who begs the Prince to shield her family from harm, no matter their faults or wrongful actions.

And they live happily ever after… ;)

Of course, there’s a whole back-story to this tale too, with the Master and his paintings, and an attraction between Iris and the Master’s apprentice, that adds a lot to the traditional story. And I really thought it went a long way towards enhancing the story too, making everyone and everything seem more “real” and less like a fairy tale. On reading this story, one could easily imagine that everything could very well have happened as was told here. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t yet read it, whether they’re Cinderella fans or not.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

#43 Hot Blooded by Christine Feehan, Maggie Shayne, Emma Holly, Angela Knight

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

For an anthology, all of these stories were surpisingly good and well-written.

“Dark Hunger” by Christine Feehan
This story takes place within Christine Feehan’s Dark series and tells the story of Riordan de la Cruz and his lifemate Juliette. But Juliette has a secret identity of her own, as well as her own agenda protecting her sister and cousin. Definitely a romance but enough other action going on to hold my interest throughout.

“Awaiting Moonrise” by Maggie Shayne
Jenny Rose is a university professor who travels to the bayou of Louisiana to research tales of a possible unknown, and as yet undiscovered, species of mammal. But she meets up with the town’s sexy (and single) doctor, whose interest in her is more than just academic. I enjoyed this one even more than the Feehan story.

“The Night Owl” by Emma Holly
This story takes place within Emma Holly’s Midnight series (Catching Midnight, Hunting Midnight, Courting Midnight) and if you like to read series in order, is best read after Hunting Midnight since it tells the continuing tale of Bastien and Emile who first appear in that book. It was a good story, though I probably didn’t like it quite as much as Shayne’s contribution.

“Seduction’s Gift” by Angela Knight
Grace Morgan is a Latent, she has the Gift of the Mageverse but would rather live in the real world serving and protecting fellow humankind in the role of a deputy police officer. But her grandmother, Morgana le Fay, sends Lord Lancelot du Luc to seduce her and bring her over, activating her Gift with the act of lovemaking, at least 3 times.

This is the second short story I’ve read by Angela Knight that takes place in the Mageverse series, the first one being “Galahad” which appeared in the Bite anthology, though that one actually takes place later in the series. I didn’t really care for “Galahad” all that much as I couldn’t get into the whole Knights of the Round Table as Vampires thing… but for some reason, I liked this one a little better. Perhaps because it’s actually the first story in the tale. But because so many others thought it was great, I didn’t want to judge the series by a short story and I’ve since acquired the other books of the Mageverse series. If anything, this story has forced me to move Master of the Night closer to the top of my TBR pile.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on: read 100 books in 2006.

#42 The Penis Book by Joseph Cohen

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Apolonia handed this off to me during one of the meetings at the 2006 Toronto BC Convention. It was passed around the table and a good time was had by all! :) At one point, I held up one of the centerfold pics with tongue pretending to lick one of the sexy guys and SandDanz snapped a pic with her non-digital camera, so I've yet to see if that came out or not since everyone at our and surrounding tables had me cracking up laughing by that point!

Though I looked through many of the pics in this book there, and read a bit of the text, I definitely want to share it with some of my other non-BC friends, and since this coming weekend is a Pagan holiday (Beltane, which actually falls on Monday the 1st), I'll have a fun group around to laugh over it some more with. :)

And then later... since I still had it into July...
I'm sorry I've had this so long... I've been reading the articles, I swear! ;)

Actually I have... plus I wanted to have it here during the few get togethers we've had at my house over the summer. I was planning to buy my own copy to keep in the RV and bring to Starwood with me. Since I haven't sent it out yet, and I'm heading off to Starwood next week, I'm going to bring this with me. (I promise if a bunch of wacky Pagans get too excited over it and make a mess, I'll keep this one and replace it with the new copy I was going to buy anyway. LOL)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

#41 Dragonswan by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This was a pretty good read. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it at first because the beginning started out kind of sappy: Channon kept insisting, “I never do this kind of thing”, when she brought Sebastian home that night after just meeting him. Then she went on and on about how gorgeous he was for like 3 pages… alright, I get it already, the dude’s a hunk! Fortunately, the whole story didn’t continue in this vein and after they returned to Sebastian’s “home”, the action picked up. For a short 86 page story, there was a good amount of intrigue, history, and action. Though I’d classify it primarily as a romance of course, there was enough other stuff to it that it gets a thumbs up from me! :)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Friday, July 28, 2006

#40 How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

This was a good book which held my interest throughout. I look forward to the follow-up, Vamps in the City. I’m interested to see how things turn out with Shanna and Roman, and where Shanna’s dad and the rest of the Stake-Out crew from the CIA fall into play.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on: read 100 books in 2006.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

#39 Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This was a pretty decent start to a new series, and I’m looking forward to reading it’s followup, Kitty Goes to Washington, which I have here in my TBR as well.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour definitely sets up the situation for the sequel, where paranormals are finally recognized by the masses, and the Government releases scientific reports proving their existence. But in this book, most of the population doesn’t yet believe, and both vamps and werewolves remain in the closet, hiding their true identity, and if they cannot do that, hiding from humanity completely.

Kitty’s radio show, The Midnight Hour, which starts off as a fluke phone call taken over the air, becomes tremendously popular and is syndicated around the US. Other paranormals, as well as humans, appreciate Kitty’s show since it allows them to call in with questions, or simply to talk about certain subjects, particularly if it’s something they cannot discuss with their alpha or master. But The Midnight Hour also makes Kitty a target in other ways…

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

#38 Spirit Warriors by Devin O' Branagan

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

This was a really great book! I caught a few grammatical errors, but seeing as this was the first published edition of the paperback, I assume they’ve since been fixed in more recent releases. That said (cuz I’m such a nit pick LOL), I was really surprised with how good this book was, and I enjoyed it immensely. Even though I don’t see how the Native Americans can associate the color yellow with Earth. hehe (My tradition usually associates yellow with Air, which they used Blue for, and though I can see that because of the sky, you then have to make Water green instead of blue, and nice Caribbean water is blue anyway, and then once you’ve used green, you don’t have it available for Earth and are stuck with using yellow.) Okay so maybe that’s the 2nd thing I could pick on, and why I only gave it a 9 instead of a 10.

But none of that detracted from the story for me. I really enjoyed the characters. Fay really annoyed me with how gullible she was as soon as a man showed her the least little bit of attention, but I realize that’s exactly how human nature is, that people see what they want to see when they’re getting their needs met, or their egos stroked as in Fay’s case since Ahriman made her feel loved and needed again. Neva was great, she was my favorite! :)

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

#37 Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I enjoyed this book, not one of the best I’ve ever read like the previous reviewers already stated, but I see it as a good start to a new series, and by the end, I was curious to see what would happen between Mercy and Adam, or Mercy and Samuel.

The book strays a bit from what I’ve come to expect with regards to werewolves and vampires, and even introduces a new type of paranormal called a “walker” which Mercy is, she can shapeshift into a coyote, a gift from her Native American ancestry. Though she’s often shunned by the werewolves, Mercy discovers that in many ways she’s just as capable and able as the fuller-bodied wolves, and is even immune to many forms of witch and vampire magic and thralls that the werewolves don’t have. She’s tough and doesn’t let people push her around so I really liked her character for that reason alone, particularly since I’ve previously read some books where the main character is more of a wishy washy female who can’t seem to think for herself. She’s no Anita Blake, and I’d be hard pressed to put anyone in the same category as Anita, but I found her a strong and interesting character nonetheless.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on: read 100 books in 2006.

#36 Otherworld Tales 2005 by Kelley Armstrong

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This is a free eBook which can be downloaded from Kelley’s site or read online. It contains 12 short stories, each pertaining to a different character from Kelley’s Otherworld series. These stories are intended to give the reader further insight into a specific character from the series, maybe fill in a few blanks here and there, or simply provide more info on a background story that may have been eluded to, but not expanded upon, in the books.

Of all the stories, I think I enjoyed the ones having to do with Adam (the half-demon) and the other about Talia (his mother) the best, if only because I really enjoy Adam’s character in the books, even though he usually has a relatively minor role.

See this page on Kelley’s site for more information on this free eBook. See more progress on: read 100 books in 2006.

Monday, June 26, 2006

#35 You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

A good read, different from her vampire series though. I’m still not sure whether or not I like Aisling’s character all that much though, she’s a bit of a dunce at times, and the stupid-ness of her actions aggravated me sometimes. I tend to prefer a strong female like Anita Blake, to these ditzy ones, but that’s just my preference. Most likely it doesn’t bug others as much as it does me. And Katie’s characters always seem to be somewhat ditzy in most of her books anyway, yet I still read them so there’s obviously something I like that makes me overlook the annoying-ness of her character. I do have the 2nd in this series, Fire Me Up, which I plan to read shortly… hopefully Aisling has gotten a hold on some of her powers then and can learn to listen with her full mind instead of just what she can see right in front of her.

#34 Shadowland (The Mediator, Book 1) by Meg Cabot

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I enjoyed this book. Enough so that I’m going to add the rest of the series to my wishlist too. :) It was a quick, cute read… Meg obviously writing in the teen and young adult genre since she writes the Princess Diary books too. (I’ve never read the books though I like the 2 movies I saw.)

I was glad to see Meg’s self esteem pick up a bit later in the book, since in the beginning she always seemed to think herself not worthy of having many friends. However, I believe a person’s worth to others is only as strong as that which they see in themselves, so a negative self impression is more hurtful to a girl’s popularity than anything else.

This book also made me realize that the books I like best always have a strong female (or male) lead; I found myself not liking Suze that much at the beginning of the book, but began to admire her more as she became more sure of herself.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

#33 Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This was another good read. Though not quite as witty as Donna Andrews cozy mysteries (her bird series in particular since those are the only ones I’ve read so far), these have a good story and mystery to them nonetheless, which always keeps me on my toes. In this book, I was able to deduce some of who might be involved early on, but the whole thing didn’t fall into place until the end, thus keeping me in suspense.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

#32 Cooking up a Storm by Emma Holly

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

This is my first Black Lace book and I loved it! I wish I could teleport myself into Abby and Storm's world. I'm going to Cape Cod this weekend myself so maybe I'll look for their little village (though I think it might be fictional). LOL

When playboy Storm Dupré blows into town, he turns Abby's world upside down, and opens her up to all kinds of new sexual explorations; things she couldn't imagine herself doing a few short weeks before. But what are his true intentions... and what can Abby do to keep herself from falling hard for the confirmed playboy?

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

#31 Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

I really liked this book. It’s considered a teen book so it was a really quick read, but in the same sense, also hard to put down, so I whipped through it in just a day. I’d love to read the rest of this series.

Darren and his friend Tommy go to a secret freak show that’s come to town… and that’s only the very beginning of everything that’s to follow…

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more links and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

#30 Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I don’t think I liked this one as much as American Gods... there seemed to be so much more going on under the surface in that one. Still, it was an interesting story nonetheless, even though it couldn’t live up to it’s predecessor. I found I didn’t really endear myself to any of the characters: Spider was annoying and stuck on himself, Fat Charlie was a pathetic loser (until the end when he found his true self). I know I’ve felt the same way about characters in some of Gaiman’s other books though, so that doesn’t necessarily make them not a good book, just perhaps not as touching if it doesn’t speak to a certain part of me….

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

#29 Bridget Jones's Diary: The First Columns by Helen Fielding

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This was an interesting look at how Bridget Jones first started out. I think it kind of worked out to be like a first draft for the book, as she used a lot of the same events that happened to Bridget, though there were a few additional characters I didn’t recognize from the book. I think there were some mistakes too. Like on page 12, she talks about Tina’s relationship with Richard, who turns out to be Vile Richard, whom in the books is Jude’s on-again, off-again guy. And in this scene, Jude, who’s acting more like Shazzer, is going on about what emotional fuckwits men are. Later in the book, though I forget what page, it’s Jude who’s with vile Richard, more like in the books, but Jude also dated Bridget’s dad or something… something that didn’t happen in the books. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this discrepancy with the Richard thing.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on: read 100 books in 2006.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

#28 Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I enjoyed this cute little cozy mystery, and am looking forward to reading the rest in the series. I’m curious to try out some of the the cookie recipies, which I’m going to copy and save from the book. A few times while I was reading I had to go and grab some Milano’s because the way she was describing some of them had my mouth watering. :p

I offered this and Strawberry Shortcake Murder, the second in this series, on the Cozy Mystery Swap so they’re heading to sunlightbub after I’ve finished the second one. I can’t wait to see what recipes are waiting for me in that one! See more progress on: read 100 books in 2006.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

#27 Blow Me Down by Katie MacAlister

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

This was an okay read. The author often went a little too heavy on the quips and trite phrases, which she openly admitted to in the afterword, but it had me gagging at times. I remember her doing this in her vampire books too. I liked the idea of the virtual reality game based on pirates, but wish there was a little less love and romance in the book overall. This book reminded me why I don’t like romances that much. I think were it not for the pirate VR aspect of it, I’d have put it aside without finishing it… I’ve got a huge stack of other stuff to read and almost felt this wasn’t worth my time, but like I said, the pirate VR aspect made it more interesting and kept me reading.

BTW, the quiz on the web site said I was most like Joy from the Vampire series. Hmmmm… I always thought she was super annoying. I guess I’ll have to watch myself to make sure I really don’t become like her!

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

#26 I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

I found this story a bit of a disappointment after the previous two, because Kinsey was back to her previous detached and impersonal demeanor.

Kinsey has been assigned a case previously started by longtime friend and mentor, Morley Shrine, who dropped dead on Sunday after dinner. She’s asked to collect the required evidence, and serve subpoenas, for a wrongful death civil trial attempting to prove the guilt of David Barney, a man previously aquitted of the 6 year old murder of his ex-wife. But was Morley’s death really the result of his sloppy lifestyle and bad heart? Or was he getting a little too close to the truth?

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

#25 H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

I really enjoyed this one too. I think it’s because Kinsey is showing us even more of her personal side.

In order to solve a case of insurance fraud, Kinsey befriends Bibianna Diaz, under the guise of “just another gal in the neighborhood”. After following her to a local night club, a showdown ensues between two other people also on Bibianna’s tail, who attempt to abduct her and bring her back to LA to her former fiance, Raymond Maldonado. Kinsey, now known to Bibianna as Hannah Moore, and Jimmy Tate, Bibianna’s new husband, an old friend of Kinsey’s, and former cop gone bad, are there when all this goes down, and Tate ends up shooting out the driver as they try to get away, who turns out to be Raymond’s brother Chago.

To help cement their friendship and hopefully get closer to the information she needs, Kinsey maintains her fake identity when the police show up, and sides with Bibianna while they end up spending the night in jail together. While there, Kinsey is approached by Lt. Dolan from the Santa Teresa P.D., who asks her to go undercover for them to help them get to Raymond Maldonado. As it turns out, Bibianna’s attempt to defraud is small potatoes in comparison to the huge fraud ring that Raymond is running.

The story progresses as Raymond is there to meet Bibianna when her and Kinsey are released from jail. But Bibianna is scared shitless of Raymond and insists that Kinsey not leave her. So now Kinsey is “in”, and the story that ensues is full of grinding action and hard to put down.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Monday, May 08, 2006

#24 Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: The Book of Scary Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

Finished this a couple days ago. Some of the stories were pretty good and others were just plain dumb… but that’s just like urban legends in general, right? Many of these I’ve heard of before, in similar variations, and I liked seeing the slight changes from one version to the next, or how different parts of the story were changed or emphasized more than others depending on the time or location.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

#23 Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

This is the 2nd book I’ve read by Crusie and though not my usual genre, I think I liked it better than Fast Women. It started off slow and the first chapter had a hard time holding my interest. I had just finished a cozy mystery, Owls Well Ends Well by Donna Andrews, and the slower pace of Temptation kept putting me to sleep. I almost thought I’d have to put it down before finishing the first chapter. Since I was traveling at the time, and at the 2006 BookCrossing Convention, I had my share of other books to choose from instead of starting this one. Fortunately, I kept at it though, and the pace picked up as additional characters were introduced.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.