Thursday, October 16, 2008

Unbound by Lori Devoti

Unbound is a book in Harlequin's Nocturne (paranormal) line. I've read several of these now and they vary a lot in quality. Some have been quite good, some average and a couple were really awful (those were early ones, though, maybe they were still learning what would work.)

I'm glad to say Unbound is one of the good ones. It features a Hellhound named Risk as the hero, which is interesting and original. Not to mention sexy as hell. The heroine, Kara, is a witch, but she doesn't realize that at the beginning of the book. There's a lot going on in this book and it moves quickly, perhaps too quickly particularly at the end which felt a bit rushed to me though it was happy. The hero and heroine were really the focus, the secondary characters were fairly standard (well, not the giant snake guy, he was cool.) The originality of the paranormal elements and the way Risk and Kara grew and changed during the story were the high points for me.

I'd rate this book 7 out of 10 and would love to read about more Hellhounds.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Takes a Holiday is the 3rd book in Vaughn's series about a werewolf named Kitty (ha ha) who has a radio talk show called The Midnight Hour. I enjoyed the first two books in the series a lot. This one, not so much.

I felt this book was too dark and depressing. I usually don't mind dark as long as there is a happy ending. Yep, you guessed it--no happy ending. Not a horrible ending, but certainly not happy. I had to push myself to finish this book, I kept getting bogged down. There wasn't a lot of action and there was too much angst (and I like angst--up to a point.) Kitty is taking a break from her radio show in this book, and I really missed it. The radio show callers and guests provided some much needed humor and insight in the previous two books.

Some important things happen to Kitty in this book so unfortunately I can't recommend skipping it if you want to keep up with the series. In the next book in the series, which I already have, she returns to her radio show, so I have hopes that this book was just an aberration and Vaughn will be back in fine form for Kitty and the Silver Bullet. I'd rate this book a 5.5 out of 10.

Nature of the Beast (Anthology)

Nature of the Beast is an anthology with historical vampire stories by Hannah Howell, Adrienne Basso and Eve Silver. They take place in Scotland, Wales and London and all are about 100 pages long.

Howell's story, "Dark Hero," which takes place in 1512, was fascinating. It featured a hero and heroine who both have their secrets, and their mysterious nature is slowly and masterfully revealed. There is action, emotion and interesting secondary characters, all very well done especially considering the short length of the story. Sometimes novellas feel rushed or like they are missing something, but this feels just right. I'd rate this story 8 out of 10.

Basso's story, "Bride of the Beast," is the weakest of the three, but that doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable. It takes place in Wales in 1220. The heroine is amazingly brave and the hero appropriately tortured, but the characters didn't entirely come alive for me. There is a lot of action and the pace of the story moves right along, but the prose seems stilted at times. I'd rate this story 6.5 out of 10.

Eve Silver's story, "Kiss of the Vampire," takes place in 1839 London, much of it in a hospital for the poor. Silver creates such a dark and dreary atmosphere you can almost hear the moans of the patients in the wards and smell the blood. The story has a somewhat spooky feeling--you know something is going to happen, and you're sure it won't be good! The vampire hero is wonderfully mysterious and honorable and so lonely you will want to comfort him. The heroine is brave and smart and easy to sympathize with. An excellent story and one that will leave you wanting to read more of Silver's work. I'd rate it 8 out of 10.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dead of Night (Anthology)

Dead of Night includes stories by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan and Mary Kay McComas. Each story is about 100 pages long. The quality varied a lot, so I'm going to rate each story separately rather than give one rating for the book.

"Eternity in Death" by J.D. Robb features her futuristic Lt. Eve Dallas. Although I found this novella to be well written, I also thought it was very boring. I really had to force myself to finish it. There was little suspense, little humor and the characters didn't come alive for me. If you are a fan of Robb's series, though, you might enjoy this. I'd rate it a 4 out of 10.

The gem of the book for me was Blayney's "Amy and the Earl's Amazing Adventure." It's an English time travel that uses an unusual approach. My attention was riveted from the beginning and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. It was fresh and original, with great characters and a nice touch of humor. I'd rate it an 8 out of 10 and would probably have rated it higher if it was longer. I'm going to see what else Blayney has written.

The third story, by Langan, is "Timeless." As you can guess from the title, it's another time travel. This one was quite different than Blayney's story, though. It takes place in Scotland in the 15th century and although it is interesting, there is a major problem with the ending. [SPOILER ALERT] I absolutely HATE books where the hero dies and the heroine returns to the present time to find someone very like him (descendant? reincarnation?) Either way it doesn't matter because he is NOT the hero and it ruins the book for me. Therefore, the story rates a 2 out of 10 solely because of the ending. If it had ended differently, I probably would have rated it a 6.5.

The last story is "On the Fringe" by Mary Kay McComas. I was turned off at first because it felt like chicklit, not a genre I enjoy. I really hate whiny women dealing with boring everyday problems. The story did pick up once the magic carpet appeared. I don't remember reading a romance before with a magic carpet and I found this intriguing. It then took on a "It's a Wonderful Life" feel and I did get quite interested. I thought it was original, although I didn't like the characters that much, and I'll rate it a 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair

I am a huge Linnea Sinclair fan. She wrote one of my favorite books, Games of Command, which is possibly the best science fiction romance novel available today. Her other books such as Gabriel's Ghost and Finders Keepers are all terrific.

The Down Home Zombie Blues is my least favorite of her books. This doesn't mean that it's bad, it just didn't thrill me the way all her other books have. I think part of the problem is that it mainly takes place on Earth which is not nearly as exciting as a spaceship or other planet. Also, the hero was nice but he was a little too perfect and well, just a bit boring. I did like the strong heroine, though. The secondary characters, as in all Sinclair books, were wonderful. The plot was okay, just not as interesting as in her other books. Zombies don't make for very complex villains and we don't find out enough about the other villains, the Tresh.

I'd rate this 7 out of 10, and recommend you start with one of Sinclair's other books if you've never read her.

Be Mine Tonight by Kathryn Smith

Be Mine Tonight is the first book by Kathryn Smith I've read. It is a historical vampire novel, a genre that is not very common and one I enjoy. It is set in Cornwall in 1899.

This book is perfectly adequate. I know that sounds like "damned by faint praise" but I actually liked this book and would read more by this author. But there is not much about it that is outstanding. I did really like the heroine, who was interesting and strong (mentally, not physically) even while she was dying. The vampire hero was properly heroic, but I got a little annoyed with how he persisted in thinking he was cursed. I thought the plot was a bit thin and it could have used more action, but it never got bogged down. A couple of the secondary characters had promise, but could have been developed more.

This is a good choice if you are in the mood for a quick, uncomplicated historical vampire read. I'd rate it 6.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Books Bought

Ordered some books from Amazon. I'm looking forward to reading New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, The Magical Christmas Cat anthology, Up in Smoke by Katie MacAlister, One Knight Only by Julia Latham and Slave by Cheryl Brooks.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Moonstruck by Susan Grant

I've read several Susan Grant books and this is my favorite. When I first started to read it, I groaned because I thought it was going to have the same plot as one of the best SF romances ever, Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair. There are certain similarities, but once I got a few chapters in I realized the books were quite different.

I love books with strong heroines, and Brit Bandar is a tough starship admiral. The hero, Finn, is a former pirate and Brit's long-time adversary, but they are thrown together when peace is declared and they must serve on the same ship. Finn is a witty, sexy rogue and it's easy to see how Brit falls for him despite her best intentions. They both have issues from their pasts that they need to overcome.

I loved the relationship between the two main characters, but I also thought the secondary characters were very well done. The plot moved quickly and had some interesting twists. The world building was a bit generic, but I didn't care because I was so caught up in the love story.

I'd rate Moonstruck an 8 out of 10 and look forward to Grant's next book.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

The Lost Duke of Wyndham is an excellent British historical. The companion book, Mr. Cavendish I Presume, was just released yesterday and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

The Lost Duke is Jack Audley, a charming rogue who we first see holding up the heroine's coach. The title of the book gives away the fact that he is actually the Duke, so there is not much suspense there, but I found the book to be a real page-turner anyway. The characters really shine in this book and their banter is both amusing and emotional. It was not only the hero and heroine who were fascinating, but also the secondary characters like Thomas (who after years of holding the title turned out not to be the Duke, but only Mr. Cavendish) and the nasty old grandmother.

This is a fast, fun read with a hero you will fall in love with. I'd rate it 8 out of 10.