Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sherrilyn Kenyon "Born of Ice"

Um, well the world building in this sci fi is decent. Captain Kell is a smuggler, running medical supplies and food stuffs to planets that need them. He's surrounded by testosterone laden important friends and testosterone laden evil enemies. Alix is the slave daughter of a small time smuggler and abusive father who gets himself executed by some of Kell's evil enemies. When the enemy notices that she looks almost exactly like Kell's former fiancee, she is put into service to spy on Kell as his new ship's engineer, or her sister and mother will be brutally killed.

So, these two fall into bed with each other and Alix feels really bad about having to betray him, and he defends her to his friends because he can tell she's a good person, until he finally finds out she's a spy. After confronting her, and hearing about her mom and sister, she calls herself worthless property and , well, I'll give you the quote:

He saw the humiliation in her eyes as she said that, and while he might be mad at her for what she had done, he didn't want her to hear those haunting voices. "You're not worthless, Alix. But right now, I have to say that I don't like you as much as I did before I found all of this out. I don't appreciate being toyed with or betrayed."

Wow. What a bad-ass.

I actually enjoyed the repartee between the male characters, call me shallow if you want. But when the secondary characters are more enjoyable and interesting than the protagonists, something ain't right. If most of the main character's soul searching were completely removed from the book, it might actually be fun.

Science Fiction Futuristic Romance 2009: 1 out of 5 "balls to the wall."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ilona Andrews "Magic Bites"

The first book in the Kate Daniels series, this book is a nice ride. The pacing of the plot is pretty much perfect, just enough action balanced with sleuthing and clues and a little emotional exploration thrown in for good measure. I fall in love with most of Patricia Briggs strong heroines, but Kate I didn't love, I more liked her a lot. Mostly because she's a bit more, well, standoffish. But with a series of books ahead of us, I'm okay with figuring her out over the longer haul.

Just a note: true to Urban Fiction/Fantasy the hero/heroine arch isn't all tied up in a frilly bow at the end. As a matter of fact there isn't much sex in the book at all.

Fantasy Paranormal Magic novel 2007: 4 out of 5 bottles of Boone's Farm Sangria.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meredith Duran "Written On Your Skin"

This book is overdue at the library and I'm a rule follower so I'm going to stay up late and write the review so I can send it on to the next lucky person on the hold list.

Phineas Granville is an English spy pretending to be an American businessman to bring down a gun smuggling ring in Hong Kong. Mina is the collateral damage, the step daughter of the ring leader. Her step father is abusive and is about to marry her off to someone that makes her skin crawl so she is looking for a way out. She throws herself at Phin and he's astounded by her idiocy but the tables turn when he's poisoned and she's in a position to save his life.

Four or five years later, she has extracted herself and her mother from her stepfather's ruin, and built an amazingly successful cosmetics business in New York. She travels to London with her mother, where her mother is kidnapped by her stepfather who had escaped from prison some time in between.

She turns to Phin for help but he wasn't much of a willing spy, and he has no intention of being dragged back through the mud again.

Nitpick #1: Nice gratitude! Until he decides that she is not an idiot, and she's telling the truth and she's actually really quite frickin' amazing, he doesn't feel very guilty about not wanting to get involved even if she did save his life.

I really, really, liked this book, but I do think overall I liked the heroine better than I liked the hero. And it's nice that the book is good enough in other respects that I get to think about the characters as if they were real people and nitpick their decisions, not because they don't make any sense whatsoever, but because they reveal selfish character flaws that I'm not excited about. In other words, this is a terrific book and if you want to know my other nit-picky issues you have to read it and then we can talk. :)

Historical Romance 2009: 5 of 5 intemperate misses.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Robin McKinley "Sunshine"

Did I say to myself while reading this book, "It's just a classic fantasy quest tale: and really, the angst sections go on a bit too long and her worries about demon blood seem silly." Yes, my logical mind registered these judgments.

And did I think, the vampire thing is sooooo overdone at this point, I'm surprised Robin McKinley would go there (not knowing that this was written in 2003 but still...). Yes, I thought that. So why did this book seem to squirm back toward my hand every time I put it down, like one of Rae's charms in her glove compartment. Why did I carry it with me everywhere just in case I had an extra second? Why did I finish it and sit staring at the cover for ten minutes just luxuriating. Then when I felt the cover was inadequate to the beauty of the book (and this cover is awesome) why did I have to go back over all of their conversations, just to see what I had missed, forgotten, not entirely understood?

Because that's how Robin McKinley gets me every time. Were there problems, yes. But in this book she takes the simple fantasy quest framework and adds something very very important. First she walks us through what it might cost someone to accept their 'special' status as the world saver. Then she lingers after the successful destruction of evil to recognize what it might have cost the warriors. What does it cost someone to even face and recognize that kind of evil, what does it cost someone to learn that they are capable of destroying that evil, not because they are so above it, but because they have some affinity for it. I can leap from this fantasy to Darfur much too easily. That is the mark of an exceptional author.

Fantasy Vampire Novel 2003: 5 out of 5 black silk shirts.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tessa Dare "The Goddess of the Hunt"

It's hard to be a good book that's read after an amazing book. Hmmm. Lucy is the perpetual little sister to a group of her older brother's friends. She's been madly in love with one of them forever and decides that to finally change her status with the group and gain Toby's attention she must dally with one of them. She picks Jeremy.

This is a cute plot device but to work it has to be a sweet, honest and funny book, like a Julia Quinn.

Then we have Jeremy whose brother died when he was eight, his father was distant even before the tragedy and afterwords his mother falls apart who was the only source of love he had. This is another good basis for character development, emotionally stunted hero, but to work it has to be gut wrenching, which is hard when you've started out on the lighter Julia Quinn path.

Not that the book doesn't work at all, the first half focuses on the lighter sillier self delusions, the second half the more angsty problems of the hero. A lot of the book is very good, well written, likable characters, plot moves along at a good pace. There are just moments when it feels like the dough is stretched too thin. Why does Lucy not explain to Jeremy her tears? What in the hell is up with the Sophia character?

And to be fair, if you've read Meredith Duran, you'll understand my nitpicking when I say, I just finished Duke of Shadows before I read The Goddess of the Hunt. That is a very hard act to follow.

Historical Romance 2009: 4 out of 5 small filthy tenant boys.