Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nalini Singh "Archangel's Kiss"

I'm reviewing both Angel's Blood and Archangel's Kiss in this review, so inherent in my review is the recommendation to read Angel's Blood first. They are both terrific books, although I think they succeed more on the romance level than they excel at the paranormal/fantasy level.

Elena Deveraux is a hunter. Vampires are made by angels and governed by them, but when a vampire goes rogue the angels contract a hunter to either capture them or kill them. Elena gets recruited for a mysterious job and her contract is with the Archangel of New York, Raphael. Archangels are so powerful they are inherently feared and Elena knows she'll have all she can do to finish the job and stay alive.

The author does an excellent job of riding the fear/power issue with these two and the climax of the book is surprisingly enjoyable. I was fearful that with the relationship "resolved" the second book would fall into all plot, but again the author masterfully explores the characters struggle to find a balance in their relationship without resorting to simplistic "I won't be controlled" "I must protect you" struggles. On the scale of most awesome integration of sex into the story, these weren't amazing, but they were perfectly adequate in my opinion. The plot of the first book moved along better for me than the second but overall both books were really enjoyable. There are several disturbing evil/torture themes so be warned.

Well written, enjoyable characters, fun world building, really solid books all around.

Paranormal Romance 2010: 4 out of 5 deep deep Quiets.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alice Munro "Runaway"

It worked. I successfully guilted myself into finally finishing Runaway by leaving it in my "next review" spot for over six months! So obviously a review of the book has to start with the fact that it took me almost a year to finish it. But given my preference for romance and fantasy books aka happy endings, you could probably put most of the blame on me and not on the quality of the book.

Runaway is a collection of short stories. The one that stays with me most completely is the title story about a neighbor who helps a young girl run away. Then there is one near the end that includes some of the more bizarre/tragic plot twists that you typically find in today's novels by Anita Shreve etc. But the brilliance of Munro is that even when she uses a plot framework that would move the story along by itself, she still brilliantly crafts the characters.

Munro hardly ever writes happy stories. She excels at exploring the darker side of humanity. For me, there were a couple stories in the middle of this book that didn't speak to me which exacerbated my difficulty in finishing the book. But she's the kind of writer that makes it easy to blame yourself for not fully engaging with a story.

Short Story Collection 2005: Don't Believe Me?