Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Angels & Demons

Title: Angels & Demons
Author: Dan Brown
Genre: Thriller?
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

After reading The Da Vinci Code a few years back, I was intrigued by the character of Robert Langdon and decided to read his previous adventure, chronicled in Angels & Demons.

In this, Langdon's first race against time, someone is threatening the conclave of cardinals electing a new pope with a new technology, antimatter. This someone is also systematically murdering the four favorites for election, according to an ancient study of science. This someone claims to be a group long thought dead or mythical: The Illuminati. Langdon, a professor of symbology, is the only man who can figure out where the next murders are going to take place, tracing the assassin through Rome and Vatican City in a race against time before the Vatican City is blown sky high with a quarter gram of antimatter.

Reading Angels & Demons requires a massive suspension of disbelief. However, once that suspension is achieved, the story is gripping, the mystery twists and turns, and gets a huge "OMG no way!" reaction when all is finally revealed.

My one problem with the book, the reason it only got 4 stars instead of 5, was this: Brown is a lazy author. Yes, he researches certain things thoroughly: the art involved, the city his characters race through, etc. However, I found myself arguing with simple premeses - something rudimentary research could have solved. It's like Brown got so involved with his convoluted plot and impressive art and history name-dropping that he forgot the simple things. Forgot his basics, so to speak.

If you're looking for a good adventure story with history, art, and some pseudo-science thrown in, do read this book. If you're looking for realism? Stay away.

One final word: Angels and Demons, like The Da Vinci Code, is fiction. People tend to forget that. They are both works of fiction, poeple.. please, keep that in mind.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Title: Delicious
Author: Sherry Thomas
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Verity Durant is a good cook - the best, second only (possibly) to Escoffier - with a secret. Her employer (and former lover) Bertie Somerset recently passed away, leaving her in the employ of his half-brother Stuart. What Stuart doesn't know is that his new cook is the same Cinderella he had a one-night love affair with ten years ago and has yearned for ever since.

Delicious is put forward as a Cinderella story of sorts. It starts out framed as a Cinderella story, and the author as well as the characters themselves reference the famous fairy tale throughout the novel. This not only works, but adds tremendously to the romance building between Stuart and Verity.

I loved the entire thing. Not only was I intrigued by the Victorian setting, I wanted to know if Cinderella got her prince, and what happened to the prince's fiancee. And what of Cinderella's stepmother? The prince's family? Delicious answers all of these questions, all the while drawing you into not only the romance between the characters, but into a new love affair with food - for that is how much of Verity's passion is shown: through her food.

Anyone looking to read a romance novel: I highly recommend this! It's delightful, satisfying, and all-around lovely. I know I gush, but I think, in this case, the work deserves the praise.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Seducing a S.E.A.L.

Title: Seducing a S.E.A.L.
Author: Jamie Sobrato
Genre: Romance
Rating: 3.5 stars (almost 4)

So, before the review, a little personal blurb: I must admit, I had some snobbery going on. A year ago, I would not have touched a romance for anything. Obviously, I discovered I was wrong and really do like romances - but I still had a bit of snob left for Harlequins. I decided to do something about that, and it helped that
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books endorsed them - some, at least. Yes, my friends, I like them. Below I shall share with you why.

Following a workplace tragedy, Lieutenant Commander Kylie Thomas finds her rigid world collapsing. Suddenly she is incapable of controlling her thoughts, her emotions - both at and outside of work - and, most worryingly, her impulses and fantasies regarding her subordinate, Ensign Drew MacLeod. They find themselves in bed and then in Hawaii (and in bed) together, forcing Kylie to re-think her position in life - and the Navy.

Alright. So, I went and bought not only a Harlequin, but a Harlequin Blaze. Hey, I like to read steamy romance! I was not disappointed. I used to think Harlequins (especially the intentionally sexy ones) were all about the sex. Yeah, I was wrong. Contained in Seducing a S.E.A.L.'s 215 pages are a story, two fully developed characters, a romance, a tragedy, healing from said tragedy, and a decent amount of hot sex. I really really enjoyed it.

Even though Harlequin's short format leaves me wanting more story, more background, that's okay. I can get that with longer romances - the ones which are 400+ pages long. These are quickies - no pun intended. They're short, quick, fun books to which I can see myself quickly becoming addicted. Heck, I already have a second Blaze waiting for my reading *ahem* pleasure, and have a quickly growing wishlist of soon-to-be-released Harlequins (not to mention the backlist!). Thank God I have a local used bookstore which pretty much specializes in romance!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Okay, guys. Time for a non-book-review post.

I just happened to walk into my local library today during the monthly Friends of the Library sale. Various (ridiculously cheap) prices for books, OR $5 gets you a bag you can fill - and boy can I pack books into a bag!

22 books for $5. The vast majority were mass market paperbacks, but still. 22 books. $5. Ri. Dic. U. Lous.

So, moral of the post? Frequent your local library, folks. Not only will it keep those of us who can't afford to buy many books brand new reading, but you might just walk into an incredible deal in the process. Heck, the library is already an incredible deal: you pay nothing (well, taxes, but you're already paying those) for a vast selection of books you can take home and read any time you want!

In conclusion, to sum up, etc.: support your local library. Your community will thank you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wicked Lovely

Title: Wicked Lovely
Author: Melissa Marr
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Aislinn sees faeries. She has always been able to see them - and she's always kept this fact a secret, especially from the faeries. But now two of them are stalking her - and one is the Summer King! Suddenly Aislinn's rules for keeping safe from the faeries are failing her, and she wants out. Keenan, the Summer King, is not about to let that happen.

I loved this book! It had me reading until I was too tired to keep my eyes open, then as soon as I woke up again I was back reading the book. It is phenomenal. Goodness. I'm trying to write an actual review here, and not just gush, but it is very hard to do.

Part of what kept me reading was the conflict not only over Aislinn's life - mortal? Summer girl? Winter girl? Summer Queen? - but over her love life as well. I loved Seth, as we as readers are supposed to (after all, we see him through Aislinn's eyes) and wanted to see Aislinn end up with him, but I felt for Keenan as well. The boy (can you really call him a boy if he is hundreds of years old? Yes.) deserved someone to love him and be with him, too. And poor Donia!

I will agree with many of the reviews which peg the Winter Queen as a little too campy. She was over the top, yes. BUT. Faeries are not exactly creatures of half-measures. So, yes, the Winter Queen was your typical "evil" villain, but for a reason. She had a desire - to stay Winter Queen - and her own nature would not let her slide even the slightest bit in pursuit of that goal, even though it meant (figuratively) sacrificing her child, her lover, etc.

One of the things I definitely appreciate is the ending ringing true - no "happily ever after" extreme, but no "things went to hell after that and nothing could bring it back" extreme, either.

Wicked Lovely is a beautiful book, perfect for lovers of YA fantasy, of urban fantasy, or even simply YA lit. It has inspired me not only to write again (not waiting for NaNoWriMo), but to explore the realm of urban fantasy. Can you imagine a shopping mall-sized faerie-owned nightclub? Yeah, me too.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Royal Treatement

Title: The Royal Treatment
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Genre: Chick lit/Romance
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

In this slightly-alternate world of MaryJanice Davidson's, everything is exactly the same as our own - except that Alaska, instead of being sold to the US in the 1800s, broke away from Russia and became its own country with its own erm.. unique monarchy.

Enter American Christina Krabbe ("It's pronounced 'Crab', no 'e.'"), a no-nonsense ex-cruise ship cook. She jumped ship upon quitting (due to an incident involving flooring her boss for sexual harassment) and found herself stranded in Alaska, only to be taken in by none other than the king himself - and set up with the crown prince as the future crown princess!

This book is fun, lighthearted, and funny. Unlike Davidson's Queen Betsy series, the heroine of The Royal Treatment is smart, a fact which I greatly appreciated. Christina is smart, has a don't-mess-with-me attitude, knows what she wants and won't back down from anyone - not even the king himself, nor any of his five equally strong-willed children.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gilding Lily

Title: Gilding Lily
Author: Tatiana Boncompagni
Genre: Chick lit
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Let me say right now that I've had this book finished for about two weeks now, and have had to force myself to write the review. It's not that the book is bad; it's just that it did nothing for me. That said, let me move on to the actual review.

Gilding Lily is the story of Lily, a woman from upper-middle class roots who is catapulted into the luxe (and back-stabbing) world of the New York elite when she marries a man of that class. Somewhere around the birth of her son, she loses her sense of self and self-worth, forgetting what it is to be a strong, independent woman instead of one of the sheep clamoring for attention and photos in all the trendy magazines.

I had to fight to pick Gilding Lily up each time I put it down. When I had the book in my hand, I didn't necessarily want to put it down - that is, I didn't have to fight to read it - but honestly, if I hadn't had an obligation to read & review it (I received the book as an ARC - Advanced Reader's Copy - with the understanding it was in exchange for a review of the book), I would have put it down after the first 50-100 pages and never picked it back up.

Gilding Lily is (mostly) well-written. There were a few instances where at the end of a chapter the author hinted at something which was going to happen, and I expected that hint to be expanded upon in the next chapter only to be disappointed, finding that the chapter in question had moved on to an entirely different scene or issue in Lily's life.

So, in all, I'm giving the book 2.5 stars. I personally did not enjoy the book, but that was because of the subject matter rather than the quality of the book. I'm sure someone else, who is more into "chick lit" and the lives of the rich, shallow, and famous would enjoy it immensely.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Knight Like No Other

Title: A Knight Like No Other
Author: Jocelyn Kelley
Genre: Historical romance
Rating: 2 stars out of 5

The basis of the story: During the reign of Henry II, his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, founded the Abbey of St. Jude, where young women can, in addition to living a life of prayer and contemplation, learn the knightly skills of weaponry.

From this Abbey, expert swordswoman Avisa de Vere has been sent by the Queen to protect her godson, Christian Lovell, from the intrigue between the King and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett.

I thought the concept of women trained in the martial arts during the Middle Ages was interesting. Sadly, it was poorly executed in this book. The book plodded at times, and there was a fifty-page tangent which served little narratorial purpose other than to show that Avisa is a skilled fighter and a good leader.

I'm intrigued by the concept of the book, and am sticking with the series - for a while - in the hopes that the writing will improve. However, for this volume itself: don't bother. It's too poorly written to stand on its own.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dragonfly in Amber

Title: Dragonfly in Amber
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Historical, Historical romance, Time-travel
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Dragonfly in Amber is the second book in Diana Gabaldon's phenomenal "Outlander" series. At the end of Outlander, we left Claire and Jamie Fraser in an abbey in France, exiled from Scotland. At the opening of Dragonfly in Amber, we find Claire back in the highlands in 1968, investigating the fates of Jamie's men at the battle of Culloden - with her red-haired daughter Brianna: Jamie's daughter.

As the search for Jamie's men, and then Jamie himself, unfolds, Claire finds herself revealing to Brianna and their friend Roger her history with Jamie in the past - and we learn the other half of her and Jamie's adventure as they attempt to prevent the carnage they know is coming in the Jacobite rising and its culmination at Culloden.

As with Outlander, I have nothing but praise for Dragonfly. Although I did not race through Dragonfly as quickly as I did Outlander (this time it took me roughly a month to read Dragonfly's 950 pages as opposed to the week it took me to fly through Outlander's 860 pages), I still loved it. Every time I picked the book up, I could not put it down without having read at least 100 pages, if not more.

Dragonfly in Amber had me in turns gasping, laughing, and (at the end) crying. Sometimes I did all three at once. Even though I knew the battle was an inevitability - and we, as readers know this from Claire's search in Inverness from the beginning of the novel - I found myself hoping ad praying that Claire and Jamie could somehow prevent the disaster. Having been to Culloden battlefield myself, I cried at Gabaldon's description of battles and the uselessness I knew Jamie and Claire's self-appointed mission to be.

In fact, I immediately picked up the third book, Voyager, and am already 450 pages into it. Gabaldon delivers a powerful narrative, drawing the reader fully into her world: you cry with Claire, scream with rage for Jamie, and end on a hopeful note with Claire and Brianna, searching for the man whose love for them endures through the ages.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Derik's Bane

Title: Derik's Bane
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Genre: Paranormal, paranormal romance(ish?)
Rating:3.5 stars out of 5

Derik, a werewolf from MaryJanice Davidson's east-coast Pack of Wyndham werewolves, is on a mission: he has been told to "take care of" Dr. Sarah Gunn, the reincarnation of Morgan Le Fay - lest she destroy the world. The only problem? Sarah isn't evil. In fact, she's downright cute, and too lucky for words. When Derik literally cannot kill her, he and Sarah decide to team up to take a cross-country road trip to track down and eliminate the real threat.

The story was cute. I finished it quickly, but I think if I had had to put the book down, I would have been hard-pressed to pick it back up. I didn't care overmuch what happened - I knew that Sarah and Derik would end up together and that the world would be saved. I knew the "twist" almost from the beginning.

The best way for me to describe Davidson's writing is "brain candy." I know it's empty calories, so to speak, but it's addictive in the same way cotton candy is: fluffy, full of air, saccharine-sweet, and you just can't get enough.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander

Title: Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander
Author: Ann Herendeen
Genre: Historical Romance (kind of?)
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander is the story of Phyllida, an author of trashy gothic romances, and her bisexual husband, Andrew Carrington. Andrew married Phyllida in order to do his duty by his family and secure an heir. Phyllida married Andrew in order to be able to continue her career as an authoress. Both went into the marriage with open eyes, knowing Andrew would continue his dalliances with his male friends (in the titular Brotherhood of Philander). Neither expected to fall in love with the other.

Reading Phyllida reminded me greatly of quite a few fanfics I enjoy. There's a three-sided relationship: Andrew and Phyllida, Andrew and his lover(s), and his lover(s)'s friendship with Phyllida. Add in some spying and there you go. Oh, and did I mention it's a Regency novel?

The book is...okay. It is not stunning, nor is it horrible. Like I said, it reminds me very much of many fanfics I have read. The author weaves the lives of the characters - not only Phyllida and Andrew, but those of the entire Brotherhood - in and out of each other throughout the novel, and throws in a spy subplot to (it seems) draw the entire story out another two hundred pages. I would have been happy without the spy subplot, just reading the story of Andrew, Phyllida, Harry, Matthew, and the rest of the Brotherhood.

I stayed up all night to read the last two hundred pages, because I was engrossed with the characters' stories. However, I don't think I'll be borrowing this from the library again, nor will I be purchasing it any time soon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Magic Burns

Title: Magic Burns
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5

In Magic Burns, the sequel to Andrews' Magic Bites, the magic in Kate Daniels' world is going crazy. More specifically, it is leading up to a flare, a period of time where the magic overtakes tech and holds steady and strong. During a flare all kinds of things can happen - including the manifestation of deities into the mortal world, bringing all their squabbles and wars with them.

I'm really liking this series, and cannot wait for the next installment! There are still a few issues in this book which I mentioned in my review of the previous book: namely, twists of storytelling which go too fast for me to follow (I could have used a turning signal, or at least a few more paragraphs) and a few editing and proofreading errors. Nonetheless, this is definitely an entertaining world which Ilona Andrews has crafted, and I enjoy reading Kate's viewpoint of her world.

I am glad that more of Kate's background is coming to light in this book. I have my guesses as to some of her secrets, and am sure that in the next book (or two or three) they will be confirmed. I am also loving the subtle, slowly growing romance between Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord.

I definitely recommend Magic Bites and Magic Burns to lovers of urban fantasy - especially dark urban fantasy, as this series is certainly not light, happy-go-lucky fare. It is real and gritty, with death and blood as much a part of Kate's world as (if not more than) love and happy endings.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Magic Bites

Title: Magic Bites
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

In this, Ilona Andrews' first novel, there is magic in the world, and it does not like technology. Set in Atlanta in the not-too-distant future, Magic Bites tells of a world where magic comes in waves, alternating with "tech" (times when technology works). Because of this influx of magic, there are certain agencies which have been created to deal with new magical problems such as harpies, dragons, and the occasional salamander-wielding arsonist. One such agency is the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, a highly-structured system which "helps" citizens who cannot afford any other aid. Another magical clean-up agency is the Mercenary Guild, to which Kate Daniels belongs.

When Kate's oldest friend and sometime-protector Greg is murdered, Kate takes on a mission to figure out why and how he died, and to avenge his murder. Kate's investigations bring her to the Order - which she left several years beforehand due to "authority issues". They put her in league with the Pack (shapeshifters who have conquered their beasts and retain their humanity), and have her facing off against the city's Masters of the Dead (necromancers and their vampire drones) in a battle for the city - and her life.

The story contained within Magic Bites is interesting, and I love Andrews' conceptualization of magic colliding with our technology-laden world. However, it all could have used slightly more editing, or more writing, or...well, something. There were a few parts where I was unclear as to how the characters got to a certain conclusion, and the narrator is constantly hinting at things which we are never told. Perhaps these hints will be further explained in forthcoming books, and I hope they are. This is an interesting series: I have already started on the next book, and hope that Andrews publishes more volumes of Kate's story.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blue Moon

Title: Blue Moon
Author: Lori Handeland
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Jessie McQuade has seen her fair share of things in her years on the Miniwa, Wisconsin police force - but nothing so strange as the wolf attacks plaguing the small town recently. When a wolf hunter shows up and she is assigned to help him, she starts wondering who to trust, and if she can trust the hunky professor Will Cadotte who has been giving her information about local Indian beliefs about the strange werewolf-like creatures that seem to be gathering around Miniwa.

Blue Moon is an interesting read. I never figured out who was good and who was bad until told and yet I know that if I went back and re-read it I would see all the clues, which is something I appreciate in a novel. Just for that I would give it at least 4 stars. But I'm forced to bring my rating down a notch when I consider the multiple times I saw words misused in the novel. Words where, if the author didn't know the correct word to use, the editor surely should have. For example, at one point a character should have said "descendant" but instead says "ancestor." Big difference there. It happens several times throughout the novel.

I'm interested to see more of the series, but I won't expect it to be anything more than preternatural fluff with good sex.

A Hunger Like No Other

Title: A Hunger Like No Other
Author: Kresley Cole
Genre: Horror/Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Emmaline Troy is half vampire, half valkyrie: something that should not exist. Sheltered by her valkyrie aunts her entire life, Emma decides to step out of her comfort zone and leave home, looking for answers about her life halfway around the globe in Paris. Lachlain MacRieve, king of the Lykae (werewolf) clan, has been trapped literally in a living hell for a century and a half in the catacombs under Paris by his hated enemies, the vampires. When he scents his mate - for whom he has been waiting for nearly twelve centuries - nothing will stop him from getting to her and claiming her as his. Forever.

I have several thoughts on this book. First, let me start with the cover image: it seems to be a little misleading, implying that he is the vampire about to bite her neck. Now that I have read the book, I realize that it is probably trying to be a portrayal of a pivotal scene in the book, but it was a slight shock to realize that the female was the bloodsucker in this novel. Now, on to my thoughts on the book itself.

I like the author's unique take on the paranormal world - she names it the Lore - and each species' take on the idea of mates. Vampires have Brides, Lykae have mates, and even the Valkyrie believe in the idea of a one true love. I was not pleased with how the male MC dealt with claiming the female MC, but I understood it as fitted the character and his own history and prejudices - even if it did bother me while I read it. I'll be reading the next book in the series, No Rest for the Wicked, and will see if the series is worth reading through. I hope it is.

So, fans of romance involving vampires, werewolves, and creatures of myth: this book is for you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Free books!

Since so far this blog has been only book reviews, that's kind of boring. I figure I ought to post some non-review posts here and there, no?

Well... time for free book opportunities!

HarperCollins has a first look program where you can ask for books they have on offer each month.
And hey, so does their teen division, HarperTeen!

Next up, LibraryThing, my favorite literary place on the internet. They have an Early Reviewers program, where publishers give LT a bunch of books each month, and they, in turn, give them to readers in exchange for a review posted (preferably before the release of the book). This month's batch is open for requests through today, but a new list goes up around the 5th of each month, and sometimes there are bonus batches in the middle of each month.

Around the blog-o-sphere, we have several giveaways. Smart Bitches Trashy Books is giving away six books - comment on their latest post to enter the contest. By the by, their latest post is on ways to acquire reading material on the cheap. Libraries, giveaways, and free ebooks are just a few suggestions in the post and its comments.

Lucinda Betts is giving away a copy of each of her new books, She and Eros Island, to random commenters on her blog.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is giving away a copy of her book Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel in a contest at She Is Too Fond of Books, which reviewed the book in this post.

Over at Maw Books Blog, there is a Stephanie Meyer giveaway: five copies of The Host, a set of all of Stephanie Meyer's books, and more. The post is here - go to!

Anyone else know of places to get free books? I'll add any more into the post as I find out about them!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Highland Knight

Title: Highland Knight
Author: Cindy Miles
Genre: Paranormal romance
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Amelia Landry is a mystery writer in a funk. To get her out of said funk, her best friend/publicist arranges for Amelia to spend the summer in a tower house in the highlands of Scotland.

Ethan Munro and his five kinsmen are not-quite-dead not-quite-ghosts. Seven hundred years ago they were enchanted into a state of perpetual in-between: they can interact with each other, be seen by and interact with those who are particularly receptive, but only physically materialize during the gloaming (twilight) hour each day. They do not know why they are in this state - except that it has something to do with the unsolved murder of Ethan's wife, Devina.

Highland Knight was a funny, enchanting (please excuse the pun) book - not surprising, given Miles' first two books, Spirited Away and Into Thin Air. I read it in roughly 24 hours, racing through the first two thirds in the first night, and savoring the last third throughout the following day. I cannot wait for Miles' next book, due (I believe) early in 2009.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

Title: Guilty Pleasures
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Horror
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

For those of you who haven't heard of Anita Blake, let me give you the rundown: Anita Blake is an animator. She has an affinity with the dead - all dead. She raises zombies for a living, but also carries the title of The Executioner. She kills vampires for the court. And she is very good at what she does.

In this, the first Anita Blake novel, the thousand-year-old master of St. Louis is gunning for Anita. Someone or something has been killing vampires, and has already managed to take out two of the most powerful vampires in the city. Nikolaos, the master, wants Anita to make these killings stop - and she will go to great lengths to ensure Anita does what she wants.

Having read most of the series in the past, and knowing what the series' reputation is, let me say that it starts off very good. The first half of the series is a horror series, with some mystery. Anita goes against different baddies, figuring out who is behind the recent slayings she investigates with the police. There is increasingly more sexual tension as the series progresses, and yes, the second half of the series is little more than porn interspersed with a little plot and bigger and badder bad guys.

BUT. The first few books are, without a doubt, very well written. I enjoy them immensely, and reread them every year for a reason.

And, I have to say that Edward is my favorite character in this series, by far.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Title: Cross Stitch (UK Title) / Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Historical fiction/Historical romance
Rating: Can I give this 6 stars out of 5? No? Well then a very high 5 stars!

When wartime nurse Claire Randall goes on vacation in 1945 with her husband Frank to the Scottish highlands, she never dreams that she might walk through a stone circle and end up in the middle of a skirmish between English Redcoats and Scottish highlanders in 1743. Now, stranded and friendless, Claire must find her way amongst these people, fighting suspicion from both the Scotsmen who give her sanctuary and the English they hate, with but one true ally - a passionate and sincere young Scots outlaw named James Fraser.

What I can say about Outlander? I finished this last night and immediately made a post in my livejournal with lots of fangirlish squeeing going on. I'm trying very hard not to repeat that here, so I can make an intelligent review. To summarize it, though: Diana Gabaldon is amazing at her character building. I completely fell in love with Jamie, who is a very three-dimensional character, not just some generic Scottish highland romance hero. I was with Claire every step of her journey through time and the Highlands - including being PO'd at Jamie when she was. I hated the antagonist with every ounce of feeling I could muster, and loved Jamie's sister Jenny entirely.

Not only is Gabaldon a master at building characters, she presents Claire's fantastical story in such a way as to be entirely believable. I almost believe that if I were to go back to Inverness and Culloden, I would be able to find a circle of stones which could take me back to the Jacobite uprising - not that I would really want to find myself in that mess. I completely believed Claire's encounter with Nessie, and loved all the little historical details Gabaldon added to the book.

I cannot wait to race through the next 5 books in this series, and then on to the Lord John series (which is a companion series to Outlander - it takes place during the same time period, but with entirely different characters). Then I'll probably go back and re-read them again to catch all the details I missed the first time around. The book is some 850 pages long, and having gone through it in a week I know I missed a good deal of detail. I keep having to ask my mother (who introduced me to the series) about some bit or another, and have to refrain from begging her to tell me what happens later in the series!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Noble Destiny

Title: Noble Destiny
Author: Katie MacAlister
Genre: Regency Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars

Returning widowed to England five years after an infamous elopement, Charlotte Collins finds herself in a quandary: where once she was the darling of the ton, now she is cut by them. Where once she had no shortage of suitors, now she finds herself in desperate need of a husband - and a rich one at that.

Imagine Charlotte's frustration then, when, after trapping Alasdair McGregor, Lord Carlisle, into marriage, she finds that he has no wealth, few connections, and absolutely no desire to bed her without both parties being in love. And to top it all off, Dare's cousin - long thought drowned at sea - shows up (or at least someone claiming to be this cousin), stripping Dare and Charlotte of the one thing Charlotte thought they had left: their titles.

This was a charming book. It doesn't quite live up to the first in the series, Noble Intentions, however: Charlotte is flighty and sometimes hard to keep up with, and makes the most astounding leaps of "logic". Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable story with a satisfying ending.

I look forward to reading the third in this trilogy, The Trouble with Harry. Having read pretty much all of MacAlister's other work, I have no doubts that it will be just as enjoyable as Noble Intentions and Noble Destiny.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tess and the Highlander

Title: Tess and the Highlander
Author: May McGoldrick
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tess is alone. For eleven years, an elderly couple raised her after finding her at six, alone and frightened, amongst the rocks on the shoreline of the island they keep. Now, though, Tess' guardians have died, leaving Tess to tend to the island and, as per their orders, hide whenever someone new comes there. When she finds a handsome young Highlander washed up on the shores of her island, she knows she must help him or he will die.

As Tess and the handsome Highlander, Colin, spend time together waiting for a ship to come take him home, they form a friendship and discover that Tess is not so alone in the world as she thinks.

This was a cute story, and definitely better than the last Avon True Romance (for teens) I picked up. It's the type of thing I would have swooned over as a teenager, had I deigned to read romances at that age (I admit, I had a bit of book snobbery going on, though I secretly loved any romance I could find in books I read). As an adult, now, I read the book and think it's cute. I would have loved to have seen how Tess and Colin's relationship matures as they do, but that is beyond the scope of this book and the age range it is intended for. I will probably be searching out McGoldrick's adult romance novels, though, given the promise this one held.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Border Wedding

Title: Border Wedding
Author: Amanda Scott
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Sir Walter Scott is caught in the act of stealing back his own cattle, he is given a choice by his captor: marry his captor's eldest daughter, Margaret, or hang - and his men hang with him. Wat chooses to marry Meg. The story that follows is that of their falling in love, persevering through their forced marriage, prejudices against each other, and violent politics of the Scottish borders on the 14th century.

I had mixed feelings about this book. It's an interesting story, and I kept reading it to find out what was going to happen, but I had a hard time for several reasons. First, Scott (the author, not the character) embroils her story in the politics of the period - who is loyal to whom, who is spying on whom, and who is intermarried to which family and regards themselves as English or Scottish. It got very confusing. Aside from that, the other thing that was off-putting in this story was, quite frankly, the hero's attitude toward having sex with the heroine, his wife. True to attitudes of the time period, Wat is only concerned with his own pleasure and with getting off. Unfortunately, this realism is not necessarily desirable in a romance novel. I want to be able to empathize with the heroine, and that means she can't be left hanging at the end of each sexual encounter with her husband! She may not know what she's missing, but I as the reader do, and it is very frustrating. Granted, Wat concedes that he's been a prig and resolves to make sure she comes every time he does - before he does, even - but that concession comes 50 pages from the end of the novel, and the reader never sees him do anything about it.

Come to think of it, the last two chapters seem almost like Scott was trying to finish her story and keep it under 400 pages, thereby condensing at least 100 pages' worth of story into 20.

If I hadn't been so confused about the politics (which, granted, may have been easier to follow if I hadn't taken a week-long break in the middle of the novel), frustrated over the lack of sexual resolution for the heroine, and disappointed by the rushed ending, I would be more than happy to give the novel 5 stars. As it is, I'm not willing to drop to 3.5, but will give it 4 stars. I may or may not be reading the sequel, Border Lass, when it comes out in September.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Into Thin Air

Title: Into Thin Air
Author: Cindy Miles
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Gawan of Conwyck is an honest-to-goodness Guardian Angel. As an Earthbound Angel, he lives basically as a mortal, but with some perks: he can read minds, see ghosts, and influence people's actions (kind of like a Jedi). His responsibility: make sure any and all of his Charges are safe. The catch: neither he nor his charges remember each other when the saving is accomplished.

Ellie appear one day, in need of Gawan's help. She's mostly dead - nigh unto becoming a ghost herself, with her body lost and dying - and needs Gawan to find her body and keep her alive - all before his retirement in less than a month, upon which he becomes mortal and is no longer a Guardian Angel. In the course of Gawan helping Ellie, they fall hopelessly and deeply in love - which of course stands to reason, given that they are each others' Beloved Intended: they are Soul Mates.

This book was insanely cute! I was laughing the entire time, and completely rooting for Gawan and Ellie. I didn't know whether I wanted Gawan to save Ellie or not - should he keep his vow as an Angel and a knight, or selfishly stay with his Intended for eternity? In the end though, if all turns out right, as you know it will in a romance novel - that's why we read them, no?

Miles references characters and events from her first book, Spirited Away, in this story, so it helps to have read it first - but it's by no means necessary! On a personal note, one thing I have noticed: although I'm irrationally terrified of ghosts, I seem to love paranormal romances involving them. Interesting, no?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Heroes Adrift

Title: Heroes Adrift
Author: Moira J. Moore
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Lee and Taro are out to save the world - kind of - again. This time they have been sent by the Empress on a super-sekkrit mission to the southern island (where, incidentally, her law is not recognized and Pairs are neither utilized nor believed in). They must find their way on the island, learning to earn a living for the first time in their lives, as well as learning that their mutual attraction is not necessarily a bad thing.

This was probably my favorite book of the trilogy. FINALLY the UST turns into RST - resolved sexual tension! And, AND, Lee finally got the glory in this one, not Taro! I love the image in my head of Lee as Leavy the Flame Dancer. Guh. Hello, new literary crush!

The only reason this book is getting 4.5 stars instead of 5 is because, as with the other two books, I figured out the "solution" LONG before Lee and Taro did - in this case, nearly 100 pages before them. For 100 pages I was shouting (in my head) "it's her! it's her!" Ah, well. Also, I really wish Lee would get over her self-esteem issues and realize that Taro's been in love with her since about halfway through book 1. I hope Moore writes a 4th book where this happens.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Hero Strikes Back

Title: The Hero Strikes Back
Author: Moira J. Moore
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Source and Shield Pair Taro and Lee are back in a second book, this time dealing with mothers and murderers and wacky weather (which they can't control).

This book was just as amusing as the first. I can totally see the UST building up between the main characters: Lee completely has the hots for Taro (understandable) but refuses to admit it, except to herself. She will certainly NOT admit to herself that she is in love with him. Taro, on the other hand, is head over heels in love with Lee, and all but tells her - and she's too dense to pick up on it! God, I hope that gets resolved soon.

I loved the author's tongue-in-cheek humor which shows itself at points. As I pointed out in the review for the first book, she has fun in naming some of the cities. Also, she references "The Walrus and the Carpenter" quite a bit - and I loved picking the references out! "'Shoes and ships and ceiling wax'" indeed

The only disappointment I had was with the characters not picking up on what was happening for so long. At the climax of the story I had an inkling 30 pages before Lee realized what was going on, and I had it solidly confirmed for me 15 pages before then. I was screaming at her "hey stupid it's a trap!" for nearly a whole chapter.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dead and Loving It

Title: Dead and Loving It
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Genre: Horror/Chick lit/Romance
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This collection of 4 short stories brings together Davidson's Wyndham Werewolves with Queen Betsy's vampires. And sex. Lots of hot, steamy sex.

There were parts I was uncomfortable with - namely the non-con which turned into dub-con in the second story, and seeing George, the feral vampire called a Fiend, fall in love was kind of strange, but cute. So, 4 stars. If I hadn't been squicked by the non/dub-con, I would have given it 5 stars.

Resenting the Hero

Title: Resenting the Hero
Author: Moira J. Moore
Genre: fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Somewhere out there, there is a planet where the forces of nature are so extreme the natural disasters so frequent and devastating, that human habitation of the realm is made possible only by gifted individuals able to redirect and dissipate the forces threatening human existence. Unfortunately, though, channeling these forces kills a Source - unless he or she is protected by a Shield. Now, in this world, Sources and Shields are almost always bonded pairs, as they work better this way. This bonding is instantaneous, involuntary, and lifelong - regardless of the feelings of the individual Source or Shield.

Lord Shintaro Karish and Dunleavey Mallorough are one such Bonded pair. Source Karish (or Taro, as he likes to be called), has a reputation of being a party boy - so much so that he is nicknamed the Stallion of the Triple S. Lee, his shield, just wanted a quiet, sedate life Shielding a Source who was not likely to get her into scrapes or adventures. Unfortunately, she got Karish. On their first posting, they have been assigned to High Scape, a city so prone to natural disasters it needs six - now seven - Pairs to protect it round-the-clock. Soon they find themselves in the midst of intrigue involving the deaths of five other Pairs, a league of disgruntled Shields, and a madman with a grudge against the system.

I really like this new world I get to explore in this book and its two sequels. I like the tongue-in-cheek attitude of naming the world's places: Erstwhile (the capital city), or High Scape (presumably in the mountains). Lee is wry in her narration of events, though slightly too stoic and practical for my liking - no one could be that detached, surely! Still, she's not detached enough to see pitfalls I could see coming miles away, so that makes up for it.

I enjoyed this book, and am very much looking forward to reading the next two in the series. This new world intrigues me, and I hope that Moore writes further adventures in this land, with these characters. I would definitely recommend it to lovers of fantasy, and those looking for quirky new characters with a sense of humor.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Undead and Unreturnable

Title: Undead and Unreturnable
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Genre: Horror/Chick lit
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

It's Christmastime for Queen Betsy and the gang, and she's in for yet another rough week. She's trying to plan a wedding (which her fiance may or may not want to go through with), figure out how to tell her beloved she can hear his thoughts during sex, get to know her half-sister (who happens to be the daughter of the devil), and baby-sit her half-brother (while not killing his mother). Oh, and figure out another streak of murders plaguing the St. Paul area.

The series is still a fun piece of fluff, but this book didn't quite have the pizazz of the previous installments. Maybe it was Sinclair being all mopey (when he wasn't screwing Betsy's brains out), or maybe it was the ever-annoying Jon. I don't know. I'll still keep reading the series (heck, I've blown through the first four books in 48 hours), and have my eye on one of Davidson's other series, The Alaskan Royal Family.

Undead and Unappreciated

Title: Undead and Unappreciated
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Genre: Horror/Chick lit
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Queen Betsy and the gang are here for a third round - and what a round! This time, Betsy finds out that her bitchy stepmother is pregnant with Betsy's half-sibling - and not for the first time! Betsy sets out to find her half-sister who just happens to be the child of the Devil. No, really. Oh, and did I mention that Betsy finally admits she loves Sinclair?

This series has definitely grown on me. Betsy is annoying me less. It's not because she's getting any smarter or any less vapid, but because I'm getting used to her, and growing to love her as a character. And Sinclair! Hoo boy, he just gets hotter with each book!

I know this is a short review - I'm hurrying off to read book 4!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Undead and Unemployed

Title: Undead and Unemployed
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Genre: Horror/Chick lit
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Betsy Taylor, the new queen of the vampires (and a most unwilling queen too, might I add) is back - and in need of a job. (Hey, designer shoes don't grow on trees, you know.) On top of needing to find - and then keep - employment, she also has the small problem of figuring out all the recent vampire murders.

Even though many people call this series a romance series, I just can't see the romance. Yes, Sinclair is head over heels in love with Betsy (though he has an odd way of showing it), and yes Betsy does love Sinclair (though she'd rather die - again - than admit it, even to herself), but really this series just doesn't have enough elements of a romance to truly be a romance series. Heck the main character ends up determined to stay away from the romantic lead by the end of the book! (As Betsy says, "Nothing good can come of having sex with Eric Sinclair.")

After reading the first book I was annoyed with Betsy but intrigued by the story. Now, after having read the second book, Betsy is growing on me. She's like Buffy, only slightly more vapid, much vainer, and not quite as kick-ass. But still charming.

Undead and Unwed

Title: Undead and Unwed
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Genre: Horror/Chick Lit
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Betsy is having a crappy day: she lost her job, had to cancel her birthday party, and on top of all that, she gets hit - thanks to her cat - and dies. And as if that isn't bad enough, when she wakes in the morgue, she's in her bitch of a stepmother's ugly pink suit and cheap knockoff shoes.

And now she has two groups of vampires - one led by a raging madman, the other led by an incredibly good-looking, but pushy, hunk of man (nay, vampire) - fighting over her, trying to teach her the ways of vampires (half of which don't seem to apply to her), and all she wants to do is figure out how to live without relying on the charity of her superrich best friend.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, Betsy (who happens to be the narrator) annoys the crap out of me: she's shallow, vain, and lives for nothing but designer shoes (although I love her don't-fuck-with-me attitude; it reminds me of my best friend in so many good ways). On the other, the story intrigued me (and so did the male MC, Sinclair - what a hottie!). So I'll read the book, and I'll read the next one, and possibly the third.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Noble Intentions

Title: Noble Intentions
Author: Katie MacAlister
Genre: Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Noble Britton (yes, that's his name) has been deeply scarred by his first wife's betrayal, and locks all emotion behind high walls. Gillian Leigh is honest, forthright, and incredibly loving. When these two acknowledge their instant attraction and marry, Gillian, now Lady Wessex, vows to bring down her new husband's emotional barriers, love her new stepson, and have lots of hot sex. Okay, so she doesn't vow the last bit, but it happens anyway.

I loved Katie MacAlister's contemporary romances, but the first time I gave this book a try I had a hard time with it. This time, however, I loved it. I got caught up in the story (a mystery regarding Noble's first wife, Elizabeth, and the circumstances surrounding her death). I laughed out loud throughout the book (which made reading half of it in the library rather difficult). Though the sex scenes aren't as graphic as in her contemporary romances, I understand the difference now - the difference in the attitude of the characters - and I like the book all the better for it.

To anyone who has read any of Katie MacAlister's other novels (either under that name, or under her YA pseudonym Katie Maxwell), I say: you will not be disappointed. Heck, I say that to anyone looking at this book! It's got romance, interesting characters, a (murder) mystery, and plenty of humor.

The Wednesday Sisters

Title: The Wednesday Sisters
Author: Meg Waite Clayton
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Five women - Frankie, Kath, Linda, Brett, and Ally - meet in their neighborhood park starting in the late 1960s. Together they write, read each others' writing, and weather all that life has in store for them.

Author Meg Waite Clayton hit the nail on the head with this one! I know I'm not saying much, but that's because I'm trying not to squee, which I know is not conducive to reviews. What can I say about The Wednesday Sisters without squeeing? The Wednesday Sisters really touched something in me - both their experiences writing and their experiences outside of writing. I had never really thought about what life was like for women just older than my mother, who was in junior high at the time of this novel. I knew that women have made strides forward in the last forty years, but I had no idea just how large those strides have been - imagine not being allowed in the New York Marathon simply because of your plumbing!

As an aspiring writer myself, this book is a treasure. It reminds me that writing is not just making one draft, and that even if you get sixty-two rejections, send it out again; number sixty-three could be an acceptance. That I don't have to write a great first draft, or even second draft - that's what revision and editing is for. That even though I'm just me, I can and should write and aspire to be published.

The Wednesday Sisters is a gem. I highly recommend it to all women, to aspiring writers, and to friends, or anyone with friends. So, everyone, basically. In fact, I've already asked my mother to read it, and believe that her book club will love this book.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Journal of Curious Letters

Title: The Journal of Curious Letters
Author: James Dashner
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi
Source: Library Thing's Early Reviewers
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Tick is a nearly normal 13-year old. He's a bit nerdy and loves solving puzzles, and never takes off the scarf which covers his birthmark (even in the summer).

Then one day he receives a mysterious letter in the mail which changes his life forever.

"The Journal of Curious Letter" is amusing, and I think I will be reading the rest of the series as it is released in paperback, but I did have some issues with it.

I know that my copy was an unproofed ARC, but there were several typos and/or omitted words. The author also tries too hard in places to be funny, and has an unnatural obsession (it seems) with the number 3.

The Shop on Blossom Street

Title: The Shop on Blossom Street
Author: Debbie Macomber
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Two-time cancer survivor Lydia decides that she is going to live life to the fullest (well, we'll see about that) and open up a yarn & knitting shop in Seattle. Through her shop & the beginning knitting class she offers she makes friends & we see the lives of four very different women - who aren't really all that different in the end.

My initial thoughts while reading it were as follows:

(around page 114) - This book as quite a few thoroughly unlikeable characters, but I feel myself drawn to read on. Maybe I'm hoping they will realize the error of their ways and repent by the end of the novel?

(around page 247) - I don't really like the way the narratorial voice switches from first-person POV for Lydia's chapters to third-person POV for the other three main characters. Also, Lydia doesn't quite like to stay speaking in the past tense. It bothers me, and makes me think Ms. Macomber's editor could have done a better job.

My thoughts now that I've finished it:

Yes, it has some trite moments, and the writing style bothers me at points, but I'll be reading the next book in the series, and I think I'll give her Cedar Cove series a try, as well. Perhaps even her romances. Knowing that Debbie Macomber is a romance writer, I knew that there were going to be happy endings pretty much all 'round - and I wasn't disappointed. Everyone (except one character) ends up happy. The one thing that bothered me was Alix's transformation from semi-punk girl to "pretty" girl in order to be happy. Yes, the young man she ends up with liked her before the transformation, but it bothered me that Macomber felt the need to physically transform Alix before giving her the happy ending. What's wrong with a punk/goth girl being happy?

Overall, this book is a feel-good read for knitters and non-knitters alike. Knitters will understand the friendship that knitting provides, and non-knitters will still like the story following the four women. If you don't mind semi-predictable happy endings, go for this book - I mean it!

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Title: Specials
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tally is now a Cutter, a special Special - designed to hunt down and take out the New Smoke, wherever it may be. However, she still has some troubles. She needs Zane, her old boyfriend, to be Special like the Cutters (so named because they cut themselves to retain "icy" clarity from the overwhelming input their new bodies and senses give them). In order to convince Special Circumstances to turn Zane Special, she and Shay devise a plan, a tricky plan, one that will change not only their lives but the entire world.

I loved this book! It went along at the same fast-paced speed as Uglies: as fast as Tally's new hoverboard or as her reflexes as a Special. I couldn't put it down except when I was too tired to keep my eyes open. I wanted to know what was going to happen - was Zane going to be alright? Were Shay and Tally ever going to be reconciled? Were David and Tally ever going to be reconciled? What was going to happen to the New Smoke, to Tally's city, and to Diego (the city Tally eventually tracks old friends to)?

I highly recommend this series! It has so much going on - sci-fi, dystopian fiction, a social commentary, an environmental commentary, and the list goes on. And it does it all flawlessly, in a fast-paced, high-adrenaline story you can't stop until the last page is done. I've got the next book, Extras, on hold at the library and am eagerly waiting my turn with it.


Title: Pretties
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tally Youngblood, now pretty, is having the time of her life - or so she thinks. She's beautiful, healthy, and completely spoiled. Encouraged to party and "surge" (surgically alter herself) and be generally vapid, Tally gets twinges that she's not happy like she's supposed to be. Then she gets a message from her old, ugly self. She knows what's wrong. She and her clique, the "Crims," attempt to keep their heads clear - to keep "bubbly" instead of "pretty-headed" and to escape from the clutches of the city authorities known as Special Circumstances.

Pretties was a good follow-up to Uglies, though not quite as gripping. True, it was still fast-paced and when I picked it up I didn't want to put it down, but I didn't have the driving urge to pick it back up once I'd put it down that I had when I read Uglies. That could have been because Tally was already pretty and was constantly fighting the pretty-headed fog surgically altered into her brain, and that fog certainly comes across in the prose of the book.

In all, I liked the book, and want to know what happens in Specials and then in Extras.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Miranda and the Warrior

Title: Miranda and the Warrior
Author: Elaine Barbieri
Source: San Jose Public Library
Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Miranda, a painfully proud young woman (who happens to be the daughter of the commanding officer of the local fort) finds herself in a sticky situation: she has been captured by the local Cheyenne, and given as a gift to Rattling Blanket, an old woman who has trouble caring for herself. Her pride refuses to let Miranda do anything except sit and pout, and demand to be taken back to the fort. However, the girl has eyes and slowly falls for Shadow Walker, the young warrior who captured her in the first place and who takes it on himself to show her the Cheyenne way.

Honestly, this book was not that great. It was fun, but not at all believable. Apparently all it takes for Miranda and her captor to fall in love is a week-long trip in which Shadow Walker swings between trying to show tough love (for which Miranda resents him), and showing outright compassion (which just plain confuses the girl). Stockholm syndrome much?

Teens - especially young teens - may like this book; anyone with a little more sense than hormones will find it to be, again, unbelievable. It had potential if it were a full-length romance novel, but as it is, it falls far short of the mark. I can only hope the rest of the line makes up for what this offering lacks.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Missing Matchmaker

Title: The Missing Matchmaker
Author: Cindy Holbrook
Source: Santa Clara County Library
Rating: 1 star out of 5

When I first picked up this book from the library, I expected a typical Zebra Regency Romance, with a little bit of mystery thrown in. What I got was a jumble of plots and way too many side characters to understand the story - I couldn't even finish the book! I tried to force myself through it, and ended up giving up (having given up trying to understand the convoluted assassination/abduction/matchmaking plot(s) long before that) about fifty pages from the end.

Add to that the fact that the heroine is.. well, not too great (incredibly naive, and determined to be a "wild woman" by saying "jumping Jehosephat," "Sweet Mary's night rail" and devoting her life to reading anything except the religious sermons her late father restricted her to), and the hero can't make up his mind as to whether he likes the heroine or is still in love with the chit who played him last Season, and I will NOT be picking this one back up ever again. Thank goodness I only got it from the library, and didn't waste money buying it.

Hard Day's Knight

Title: Hard Day's Knight
Author: Katie MacAlister
Source: Border's
Rating: (no rating)

This was my first "descent" into romance. Last year a few months after my local Renaissance Faire ended I was going through withdrawal (hey, I'm a Rennie, so what?) and went searching for books involving Faires. I found Hard Day's Knight, and rolled my eyes, thinking "Oh, god, romance. What have I come to, to be reading romance?", and bought it anyway. To my surprise, I enjoyed it. Hard Day's Knightactually has a plotline, and though it has sex, the sex is not the point of the book itself (a fact which relieved me greatly: if I want pr0n there's lots of fanfic on the internet). While I couldn't imagine a Faire being anything like the one depicted in the book, it sated my withdrawal at least a little bit, and got me hooked on the author.

Pure fluff, but loads better than a lot of romances I've seen (mostly my roommate's books, which, I'm sorry Steph, make me cringe). Definitely a nice escape from the Literature I'm supposed to be studying (which makes my brain hurt).

Oh, btw: I'm loving Romance now. *grin*

Sharpe's Rifles

Title: Sharpe's Rifles
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Source: Border's
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Although I don't usually like military history, I did enjoy this book. That could have been because I completely love the "Sharpe" DVD series - though the book was nothing like the movie, so maybe not. The style drew me in - dry enough to fit the genre, but not so dry that I did not care about the characters or the events. Those coming to this book expecting it to be what the movie was will be disappointed; those who come to it expecting a good story will not be disappointed in the least.

Looking for God in Harry Potter

Title: Looking for God in Harry Potter
Author: John Granger
Source: Border's
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This book is one of my favorite pieces of meta. I'm a Christian attending/working at a Christian college, and a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. This book is interesting to read there - it's certainly a conversation starter.

Granger (no relation to the character by the same name) goes in depth looking at the Christian imagery and heritage of the Harry Potter books. The topics he writes on range from the imagery of alchemy to the choices one makes affecting one's life and one's walk with God. Granger's theology is sound, based directly on the Bible, and not necessarily on any one denomination or theologian.

Wuthering Heights

Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte
Source: Bethany University bookstore
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I have very mixed feelings about this book. While it's a beautiful book, and I will probably read it again, I could not stand the story! All of the characters are horrible people, in my opinion, and the only thing that kept me from throwing the book across the room was the last two chapters. If I had not had to read this for class, I would not have finished it at all - though I am certainly glad I did finish it.

If you're looking to read the Classics, definitely do read this. Same goes for if you're looking to read a classic romance, or one of the Gothic classics. However, if you're looking for a "good" book, one that will leave you happy or going "aww," you're at the wrong book.

Beka Cooper: Terrier

Title: Beka Cooper: Terrier
Author: Tamora Pierce
Source: Border's
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Beka Cooper: Terrier marks Tamora Pierce's venture into the history of Tortall, and her first book written from a first-person point of view. Terrier is written as Cooper's diary (though there are entries from the journals of several other characters, Cooper's journal makes up the vast majority of the book).

Cooper is a puppy - a trainee ofthe Provost's guard - in the Lower City at a time when people are disappearing without a trace, the King of the Thieves is lazy and has stopped really doing his duties, and children are disappearing - including the grandchild of the most powerful (and corrupt) landlord ofthe Lower City. Beka, through her ability to hear the ghosts that pigeons carry, becomes involved in the disappearances, and through her friends reports to us the intrigues in the Court of the Rogue.

This is a great start to a new series of Tortall, and I cannot wait to read the next book, to see what happens to this ancestor of the Rogue cum Spymaster, George Cooper.