Sunday, November 25, 2007

#64 Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel by Ronda Thompson

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

On the night of her senior prom, shy, awkward Shelly Billington discovers that she has the ability to shapeshift into a werewolf, particularly when she's feeling scared or threatened. Unfortunately, that was the first and only time she's fully transformed, and superjock Tom Dawson paid with his life that night. Granted he had attempted to rape her and her rage took over, but still...

Now 7 years later, having fled that small town in Texas where it all went down, she's changed her name, her identity, and—one of the fortunate side effects of the change—her looks. She's now Lou Kinipski, successful supermodel living in a swanky high-rise in New York City. For the past 6 months however, Lou's been having strange nightmares... and strange "hairy" outbreaks that coincide with the moon's cycle. And two women who look very much like Lou have been murdered. I think her past is about to catch up with her... now!!!

I had recently read the Midnight Pleasures anthology, which included a short story by Ronda Thompson. That was my first introduction to this author and I really liked her style. I expect to eventually read her Wild Wulfs of London historical romance series via bookrings from CandyDarling, but was quite happy to find this stand-alone novel by Ms. Thompson which was just published last month. I do hope she decides to continue these characters in a series of their own as I really liked this book a lot.

I'd say it leaned more towards paranormal chick-lit, in the style of MaryJanice Davidson's Betsy Taylor series, as opposed to paranormal romance. We didn't have any sappy happily-ever romance/relationship issues. Lou's got her own real-life problems, but prefers to let the world think she's just an airhead supermodel with no brains. Her best friend Cindy is a lesbian, a makeup artist, and knew her back when she was still Shelly Billington. The many situations they get themselves into are touching, humorous, and fun. I truly enjoyed this book!!

BookCrossing journal page for this book

#63 Unmasqued: An Erotic Novel of The Phantom of The Opera by Colette Gale

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

I'm a huge Phantom fan. I've seen it on stage several times, read the original book by Gaston Leroux, have the movie version on DVD in my collection, and have the original Broadway production soundtrack on CD. So I guess you can say I know my Phantom. ;) For the other Phantom fantatics out there, know that this book is based on the Broadway play and movie version, not the original Gaston Leroux book. However, this is probably the version most people are familiar with anyway.

I read through the reviews over at Amazon and was surprised at the number of negative reviews complaining about the sex. Sheesh, it's an Erotic novel people! That's why the word is part of the subtitle even! Though from that same vantage point, I actually found the sex scenes a little lukewarm and only mediocre for my taste. This wasn't the spicy hot erotica I usually find like in Ellora's Cave or Black Lace books. Granted they were explicit, but in my opinion, more along the lines of what you find in an erotic romance as opposed to full-out erotica. But I suppose that's how she got published with a major publisher instead of an Erotica-specific one such as Ellora's Cave or Black Lace. I'm not faulting her in any way for this, simply stating the facts.

I really did enjoy this take on Phantom though, taking it at face value. Sure, I think it could've been a little hotter on the sex as I already stated. ;) But I enjoyed the fleshing out of the various characters: Christine Daaé, Madame Giry, and especially Erik. I loved how the author really made you feel for Erik! She also managed to make the Comte de Chagny, Raoul's brother Philippe, look like a real asshole, while leaving you with a sort of indifferent attitude towards the Raoul himself. So her words and story did a good job of evoking plenty of emotion. :)

The pacing of the story was quite good as well. There was a good mix of action with the sex scenes placed appropriately throughout. Going in, I was afraid the sex would seem contrived, randomly inserted and disjointed from the rest of the story, but that wasn't the case at all. All the sex was woven in with the rest of the action, which in turn was woven into the standard Phantom story we all know and love.

Most excellent work, Ms. Gale! Bravo!

BookCrossing journal page for this book

Friday, November 16, 2007

#62 Don't Be Afraid by Rebecca Drake

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It reminded me of many a past mystery where clues were dropped throughout the story, and I found myself keeping track of the page numbers on which various characters were first introduced and comparing aspects of their looks or personality to that of the killer, whose mind we got to see into in various chapters.

Of course, I knew it would end up being one of the characters previously introduced, but the author did real well keeping me on my toes with the red herrings, and though it came down to two characters that I considered the most likely suspect, I was thrown off when it turned out to be over the other. :P (Okay, I hope that didn't give too much away.) Suffice to say, I thought the author did a good job on the mystery part... not making it too easy right from the start, and also allowing us to look into the killer's mind, despite the story being written in third person.

BookCrossing journal page for this book

Saturday, November 03, 2007

#61 The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III, minor baronet, ex-convict, and former millionaire philanthropist, is found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Preliminary investigations at the Reading Police Department suspect no ill intent, that Mr. Dumpty simply fell off the wall because he'd had too much to drink at the charity benefit earlier that evening. But Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary of the Nursery Crime Division (NCD) keep turning up clues to the contrary.

But they'll need to find enough solid evidence to get a conviction—particularly after the failure to convict the Three Pigs in the murder of Mr. Wolff which wasted so much time and resources—in order to receive continued funding for their division. And who knows... they may just get their story published in the most popular public crime magazine, Amazing Crime Stories, in the process!

This was my first introduction to Jasper Fforde. Though I have her Thursday Next series here, I hadn't yet found a chance to read them. And from what I've read here and elsewhere, those are even better than this. :-) That said, I did enjoy this little romp through Nursery rhyme time. I can't say it was laugh out loud funny, but it was certainly worth a chuckle or two, enough so that I'll be looking forward to reading The Fourth Bear. Apparently I'm endeared enough towards Jack Spratt and Mary Mary to find out what happens to them in the future. ;-)

BookCrossing journal page for this book