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Review: Reese by Lori Handeland

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 30-08-2012

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ReeseReese by Lori Han­de­land
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

And now for some­thing COMPLETELY dif­fer­ent. Yes, this book is out of char­ac­ter for me, but I like Lori Han­de­land, and since I received a free copy I felt oblig­at­ed to read it and write a review. I’m keep­ing the fact that it is a west­ern romance in mind, and judg­ing it accord­ing­ly.

I don’t know from west­ern tropes, but I do know the stan­dard romance tropes, and Han­de­land hits them all. Mary is a spin­ster school­marm who is con­sid­ered too plain and too out­spo­ken to ever be attrac­tive to any man — in fact, anoth­er char­ac­ter (a real jerk) says so. It’s her char­ac­ter, more than her looks, that is the prob­lem, accord­ing to the jerk.

But the hero, Reese, finds her beau­ti­ful in her inno­cence, her igno­rance of her effect on him, and espe­cial­ly in the fact that she’s as stub­born as he is. The fact that they have to butt heads is an impor­tant romance trope, as I under­stand these things.

Mary believes she isn’t the kind of woman any man would want, and Reese believes he isn’t good enough for Mary, so they hold back from reveal­ing their feel­ings to each oth­er, pro­vid­ing the main con­flict in their rela­tion­ship.

There’s a plot that goes beyond Mary and Reese, obvi­ous­ly, explain­ing why the town of Rock Creek need­ed to hire Reese and his lit­tle troop of gun­men in the first place. That larg­er plot sets up the entire Rock Creek Gang series. I found noth­ing to laud or com­plain about in the main plot. It’s prob­a­bly a stan­dard accept­able west­ern, to be hon­est, and it doesn’t read so dif­fer­ent­ly than any oth­er sort of adven­ture sto­ry. It worked to set things up, but obvi­ous­ly wasn’t the main focus of the book. The ener­gy is in the romance.

I think per­haps romance fans read books like this because they’re com­fort­ably pre­dictable, like an old friend wear­ing new clothes. In any case, Han­de­land has writ­ten a sweet lit­tle love sto­ry that I didn’t mind read­ing. I could see her hand in the details, and while I would have pre­ferred read­ing more of one of her para­nor­mal series, she did a nice job with this book. Fans of west­ern romances will prob­a­bly enjoy it.

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Review: Moon Fever (anthology)

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 27-05-2011

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Moon Fever (Includes: Primes, #6.5)Moon Fever by Susan Size­more
My rat­ing: 1 of 5 stars

This was one of those “I fin­ished the last thing I was read­ing and I’m bored, what’s already loaded on the iTouch?” reads. It was on there because the anthol­o­gy includes Lori Han­de­land’s “Cob­webs Over the Moon” (Night­crea­tures, #10) and I read all of that series a while back. I didn’t care to read the rest of the anthol­o­gy at the time, but I hadn’t got­ten around to delet­ing the book. Ah, hap­py dig­i­tal pack­rat am I!

If I’ve read any­thing by Susan Size­more oth­er than “Tempt­ing Fate” (Primes #6.5), it was emi­nent­ly for­get­table. I’m absolute­ly sure that I haven’t read any­thing else in her Primes series, because I prob­a­bly would have thrown said mate­r­i­al firm­ly into the near­est hard sur­face (or what­ev­er the equiv­a­lent is with bytes) because of the insane­ly annoy­ing num­ber of times Size­more feels it nec­es­sary to remind us that her vam­pires are Primes! Alpha Primes! They are! Real­ly! And that means they fight a lot! Espe­cial­ly over women! Oth­er­wise, it’s a Mary Jane sto­ry set in New Orleans. I have a strong feel­ing that most of the Primes series is Mary Jane-ish, but I may at some point be trapped and forced with the prospect of star­ing at the inside of my eye­balls or read­ing more of Sizemore’s stuff. I’m not sure which would be worse right now. I’ll get back to you on that.

“The Dark­ness With­in” by Mag­gie Shayne feels ter­ri­bly famil­iar, although I’m sure I haven’t read it before. I have, how­ev­er, read oth­er Shayne novel­las in oth­er antholo­gies, and this sto­ry fol­lows a famil­iar pat­tern. Sexy gal who doesn’t think she’s attrac­tive has had a run of hard luck and may lose the house she has bought rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly and loves. Said house has a spooky past that she didn’t know about when she bought it. Stal­wart too-sexy-for-her man gets involved some­how, prefer­ably in a way that allows her to ques­tion his motives. They are inex­plic­a­bly drawn to each oth­er and screw like bun­nies (or near as makes no dif­fer­ence), then blame their lapse in judge­ment on what­ev­er weird­ness is going on in the house. (Yep, that’s what they all say — and no safer sex any­where! Does para­nor­mal activ­i­ty pre­clude dis­cus­sion of sex­u­al his­to­ry and pre­vent STD trans­mis­sion?)

“Cob­webs Over the Moon” by Lori Han­de­land (Night­crea­tures, #10) isn’t the most log­i­cal entry in that series. Nei­ther is it the most illog­i­cal — but by the tenth entry, the series’ mythol­o­gy has got­ten a bit ridicu­lous, so I don’t know why I even both­er bring­ing up some­thing as irrel­e­vant as log­ic. Sil­ly me! In every book, we’re intro­duced to a woman who is in some way tan­gled up with were­wolves, then to a man who is tan­gled up with her and/​or the crea­tures and, of course, whose loy­al­ties are uncer­tain. There is always an ele­ment of dan­ger to add spice to the romance that has to grow between the two. The for­mu­la nev­er changes at all. There are always evil were­wolves, but some­times there are also good ones. If you like pre­dictabil­i­ty in your para­nor­mal romance, Night­crea­tures is a great series for you.

I sup­pose Cari­dad Piñeiro’s “Crazy for the Cat” isn’t tech­ni­cal­ly any bet­ter or worse than any of the oth­er three sto­ries. There’s more vari­ety in the shapeshift­ing and the main set­ting is the Ama­zon jun­gle. I couldn’t get past the big­otry and colo­nial­ism, though. Dark is bad, light is good, of course! Those poor benight­ed natives couldn’t pos­si­bly han­dle a few rogues with­out that white woman, could they? Spare me.

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Book Reviews: Magic Burns and No Rest for the Witches

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 06-06-2008

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Magic BurnsI read two short books Wednes­day and Thurs­day. The first, Mag­ic Burns by Ilona Andrews, was great fun and very well writ­ten. It’s book two of her Kate Daniel series, and it cer­tain­ly left me eager to read book three (which has just been turned in to the pub­lish­er, as I under­stand it).

I think I’m miss­ing some­thing, though. There are ref­er­ences to an ex-almost-boyfriend, Max­imil­lian Crest, in Mag­ic Burns. I just read Mag­ic Bites at the end of March, and I don’t remem­ber Crest at all. I don’t remem­ber Kate hav­ing a love inter­est at all, in fact. Only a fool could miss the sex­u­al ten­sion between Kate and Cur­ran, but that’s unre­solved. I don’t remem­ber any pri­or encoun­ters with a teenaged urban shaman, either. So did I just miss some things, or are there sto­ries set between the books that I don’t know about?

I do rec­om­mend these books to any­one who enjoys the urban fan­ta­sy genre. This one played around with Celtic mythol­o­gy, which I also enjoy.

No Rest for the WitchesNo Rest for the Witch­es con­tains four novel­las. Mary­Jan­ice David­son is the head­lin­er, since she’s appar­ent­ly the best-known of the four authors. I don’t remem­ber how this book end­ed up in my hold queue at the library, but there it was with the oth­ers, so I checked it out.

Davidson’s con­tri­bu­tion is “The Majic­ka,” which might or might not be set in the same world as her Bet­sy Tay­lor and Wyn­d­ham Were­wolves sto­ries (maybe even the mer­maid series, although I haven’t read those so I can’t be sure). You real­ly need a good rea­son to toss a fairy, a vam­pire, a were­wolf, a woman enchant­ed into a vehi­cle by her arch­mage ex-SO, and a dryad into one novel­la. I didn’t real­ly buy the expla­na­tion, hon­est­ly. I didn’t find the main char­ac­ter inter­est­ing or attrac­tive, nor did I see any rea­son for the oblig­a­tory love inter­est to find her irre­sistible. But it’s a romance novel­la, and one of the absolute neces­si­ties seems to be peo­ple falling into love at first sight.

The set­up of “Voodoo Moon” by Lori Han­de­land was a bit bet­ter, although that main char­ac­ter should turn in her FBI badge and for­get hav­ing any career in law enforce­ment. The first guy she meets should have been wear­ing a red shirt, because it was way too obvi­ous that he wouldn’t last long.

Cheyenne McCray’s “Breath of Mag­ic” needs to be rela­beled “erot­i­ca” instead of “para­nor­mal romance.” Even if the hot guy does whis­per sweet noth­ings to the main char­ac­ter, this novel­la is about the two peo­ple bump­ing fuzzies. There’s an intri­cate plot set­up for absolute­ly no rea­son, as it cer­tain­ly wasn’t nec­es­sary for them to get naked togeth­er, and there isn’t any res­o­lu­tion to any of the plot threads. The only way the sex scenes could have been more explic­it would have involved wiring the two up to mea­sur­ing devices, as inch­es and degrees are the only details not giv­en. From the teas­er of one of McCray’s books, it seems that the intri­cate plot is explored more thor­ough­ly in at least one book. I got the feel­ing that the sex would be sim­i­lar, as well.

“Any Witch Way She Can” by Chris­tine War­ren opens with much grous­ing by the main char­ac­ter about her spin­ster­hood. She then pro­ceeds to try a love spell, but does a lot of ingre­di­ent sub­sti­tu­tion and doesn’t fol­low the instruc­tions prop­er­ly. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, it doesn’t work as expect­ed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, she doesn’t expe­ri­ence any dread­ful con­se­quences as a result of toy­ing with things she doesn’t under­stand, either. And of course she, like the char­ac­ters in two of the oth­er novel­las, will end up in bed with a guy she meets right after meet­ing him.

I need to go through my hold queues at both libraries to be sure there aren’t any more romances hid­ing there, because I obvi­ous­ly have a very bad atti­tude about them. I know that there’s a for­mu­la, and it seems that all of these novel­las do fol­low it. But I don’t like for­mu­la­ic fic­tion, and I don’t know that it could be writ­ten well enough to real­ly please me.

On to Blind­fold Game by Dana Stabenow. That should pro­vide a nice change of pace.

Happy Wednesday!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in College, Education, Family, Homeschooling, Reading | Posted on 23-01-2008

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Sam and I had a very nice date night while Katie was out with her beau. He had start­ed mak­ing chili last night, fin­ished it tonight, and added corn muffins. I’m not a big fan of chili (I won’t eat it if Sam didn’t make it), but it was a very sat­is­fy­ing meal.

The girl is doing very well in the online course she’s tak­ing, and I’m hap­py to say that my semes­ter is going well, too. It’s hard to believe that my baby will like­ly start col­lege cours­es this sum­mer or fall!