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Month: June 2009

Review: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, edited by Trisha Telep

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance by Trisha Telep


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m extremely surprised by how much I enjoyed this anthology! I picked it up intending to just read the stories by authors I know I like—Kelley Armstrong, Ilona Andrews, Carrie Vaughn, Holly Lisle, Jeaniene Frost, Maria V. Snyder. I had never heard of some of the other authors. A few names I remembered seeing in other anthologies and not enjoying their work.

I did, however, deliberately put myself in a tolerant mindset: this is a book of romance stories. It wouldn’t be fair to judge them as anything else.

That worked rather better than it has in the past. I still got a little annoyed at having so much of each story dedicated to couples (and all het/mono couples, at that!) rather than some intriguing world ideas, but managed to stay on track.

In the end, I only skipped one story—I just don’t like the Weather Wardens stuff at all. I found a couple of others substandard, but all in all, Telep chose very well. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance (maybe even those who usually stick to just romance), and most urban fantasy fans.

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Review: At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost

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At Grave's End (Night Huntress, #3) At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cat is definitely coming into her own now, and her relationship with Bones is portrayed far more healthily than most in the paranormal romance category. I love the fact that she demands that he permit her to stand as his equal, rather than treat her like a delicate thing to be protected.

The plot is more interesting than I recall in previous excursions, while building on the earlier books. I know there’s another volume either planned or on the shelves, and I plan to read it. I wasn’t so sure after the last book, but I’m glad I gave this one a chance.

I still contend that the cover art, no matter how lovely, shows a woman in a position that cannot be obtained by any human who wants to walk again. Cat is supposed to be half-vampire, but that hasn’t been said to give her more flexibility—increased strength, speed, and healing power, yes, but not this sort of oddity. Yes, it’s a minor nit to pick, but it has bugged me since the first time I saw the cover.

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Review: Unusual Suspects, edited by Dana Stabenow

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Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy (Sookie Stackhouse, #8.1) Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy by Dana Stabenow


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
Another uneven anthology. I still have it in my hands, so I’ll try to hit each story briefly.

“Lucky” by Charlaine Harris – Sookie is much easier to take in short form. I can’t help it, the woman grates on me (in the TV show even worse than in the books). The other characters keep me reading.

“Bogieman” by Carole Nelson Douglas – Delilah Street does more than grate on my nerves in long form. She’s more palatable in short form, too, but there are reminders of why I don’t intend to read more in that series.

“Looks are Deceiving” by Michael A. Stackpole – If I’ve read any of Stackpole’s work before, it’s been in anthologies, and I don’t remember it. I did wonder if this short story is set in a universe he uses in longer works, though. It wasn’t bad at all.

“The House of Seven Spirits” by Sharon Shinn – I loved this story! And how often do you say that about a haunted house tale? I must track down and read some of Shinn’s novels. Any suggestions?

“Glamour” by Mike Doogan – The Peasantry Anti-Defamation League might be after Doogan if he isn’t careful at least, representatives of the male peasantry). The story was cute, and it did make me laugh.

“Spellbound” by Donna Andrews – This is another author whose books are going on my (groaning) to-read shelf. The story hit a few clich&eaute;s, but was fun enough to get away with them.

“The Duh Vice” by Michael Armstrong – Ugh. A little too preachy, and way too much anti-fat prejudice.

“Weight of the World” by John Straley – Where does Santa Claus go in the off-season? That’s the biggest question answered in this piece. The “mystery” was “solved” nearly as soon as it was discovered.

“Illumination” by Laura Anne Gilman – Bonnie’s back story! I think a bit of this story is used in the first chapter of Gilman’s first PUPI novel, but I’ll know more when I get my hands on it. It’s a must-read for fans of the Cosa Nostradamus universe, though.

“The House” by Laurie R. King – could we maybe call a hiatus on the abused-kid stories? Maybe I’m hypersensitive, but I’m tired of them.

“Appetite for Murder” by Simon R. Green – another dark Nightside story. I don’t think I’ll ever need to read more in that universe.

“A Woman’s Work” by Dana Stabenow – I’m an unabashed Stabenow fangirl. Despite that, I wasn’t sure how she’d do in a fantasy setting. She proved herself, certainly. I can only hope that we’ll see longer fantasy works from her in print at some juncture.

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Review: Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre

Blue Diablo (Corine Solomon, Book 1) Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
I can’t think of a thing that wasn’t right in Blue Diablo. I can think of one thing that made it stand head and shoulders above much of what I’ve read lately: Aguirre knows that sexual tension can be much sexier than explicit sex scenes! That is such a relief!

I’m looking forward to reading more about Corine and Chance. I’ve been waiting for more of her Grimspace series, so now I’m torn. Just give us more, Ann!

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‘Partners in Necessity’ by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

ETA: This otherwise cryptic post was a response to a Plinky prompt that asked what book I’d take if I were called to jury duty today. I can’t imagine why their “share with blog” function doesn’t include the prompt!

I wouldn’t worry too much, as I can be fairly sure that I’ll never be PICKED for jury duty. Last time, they asked, "Does anybody here have any problem with upholding ANY law?" I said yes (there are some really stupid laws on the books!) and was immediately dismissed.


Partners in Necessity is long, and it’s good "comfort reading" for me (one of the few books I ever re-read).

If I were ever actually put on a jury, though, I don’t think I could possibly carry enough books with me unless I had a Kindle.

Review: Skin Trade

Skin Trade (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #17) Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton

My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
I kept saying I was giving up on Hamilton’s books, then giving her just one more chance as each novel came out, hoping that at some point she’d give up the porn and write real novels again. With this volume, the effort is finally vindicated.

Don’t get me wrong–there’s definitely sex in Skin Trade. Sex with yet more new men, even! But it doesn’t start happening ’til well into the book, and when it does occur there’s a lot more justification for it than at some times in the past. It’s still explicit, and there are still likely to be more than two people in any given bed at a time, but if any of that squicked you, you wouldn’t be reading any of her work.

The book nearly earned four stars, but there were a few plot holes that bothered me too much to forget them.

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Review: Mean Streets

Mean Streets (Roc) Mean Streets by Jim Butcher


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mean Streets is one of the best anthologies I’ve read in a while. It only has four different pieces in it, but they’re all novellas, and all by strong, experienced writers. I don’t think any of them are here riding on someone else’s name on the book cover.

Jim Butcher’s “Warrior,” the first piece, is very good. It follows Harry and the Carpenter family after they experienced some major changes in the last Dresden novel. I could have stood a little more Molly, but Harry and Michael were the focus characters and they worked out some things that really needed to be dealt with. I’m glad I read this before the next Dresden novel, because I feel there’s important character development. I seriously recommend this book to all Dresden fans.

I haven’t read any of Simon R. Green’s novels, though I’ve heard of the Nightside series and thought about picking one up. If “The Difference a Day Makes” is typical, though, I may not bother. He is a good writer, so I’m not sure what it is that bothered me so much. I know that something framed as one of the nastiest things people could choose to do in this piece isn’t even in my top 10, but I feel there’s something else that I just can’t quite articulate yet.

I’ve read all three of Kat Richardson’s Greywalker novels and enjoyed them enough that I plan to keep reading. “The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog” is my favorite piece of her work, hands down. There’s more light, somehow, and that’s important to me.

“Noah’s Orphans” is my first exposure to Thomas E. Sniegoski, as far as I can recall. It was an interesting piece. I found myself wondering about Remy Chandler’s past, about how the character has developed. If there are novels featuring that character, I may give them a read. In any case, it brought up some interesting questions about faith and obedience. I think it would have been more personally relevant to me about 20 years ago, though.

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Review: Blood From Stone

Blood from Stone (Retrievers, No. 6) Blood from Stone by Laura Anne Gilman


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
It feels like a spoiler, but since Gilman says this at the front of the book, I suppose it isn’t: Blood From Stone is the last Retrievers novel, at least for a time. She’s moving on to focus on other characters in the Cosa Nostradamus universe. I wasn’t happy to read that, but after reading the book, I’m okay with it.

Blood From Stone definitely isn’t a book to start with if you’re new to Gilman’s work. The Retrievers series really does need to be read sequentially. If you have read the rest, you know that Gilman has developed a very interesting universe and some very well-developed characters in the series. Book 6 doesn’t disappoint at all, and brings the major plot threads to a very satisfactory close. I can’t be more specific without real spoilers, though!

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next novel in the universe, which will focus on Bonnie and the PUPIs (Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigators). I adore CSI, Bones, NCIS and the like, so I’m curious as to how forensics will work in urban fantasy settings. Jes Battis’ A Flash of Hex is supposed to be waiting for me at the library, so by the time I get to Hard Magic I’ll have something else to compare it to.

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