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Review: This Case Is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 28-08-2012

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This Case Is Gonna Kill MeThis Case Is Gonna Kill Me by Philli­pa Borniko­va
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

This book was an unex­pect­ed delight. Lawyers? Meh. Even lawyers with para­nor­mal spice.

But Lin­net Ellery is no ordi­nary lawyer, even for a young lawyer in a White Fang law firm. She has no end of back­bone and smarts, not to men­tion luck — or should I say Luck? Because for­tune swirls around her like nobody else, mak­ing her a nexus of events and a lit­tle too con­spic­u­ous for her very dis­creet employ­ers.

That’s not to say that she doesn’t make her share of mis­takes — that wouldn’t be any fun, now would it? She sur­vives and learns from them, then helps oth­ers avoid the same.

Liv­ing in a world of vam­pires, were­wolves, and Alfar (elves) might be intim­i­dat­ing to most humans, espe­cial­ly when those beings (Pow­ers) are essen­tial­ly in charge. Lin­net doesn’t let them intim­i­date her. She uses her con­tacts and plays to her strengths, win­ning more and more sig­nif­i­cant bat­tles every time she goes to bat.

Borniko­va sets things up very nice­ly for a sequel, and I am per­son­al­ly hun­gry to read more. I strong­ly sug­gest this book to any­one who enjoys para­nor­mals, urban fan­ta­sy, or sim­ply good, humor­ous fic­tion with a dol­lop of sus­pense and a strong hero­ine.

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Review: Face Off by Mark del Franco

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 25-08-2012

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Face Off (Laura Blackstone, #2)Face Off by Mark Del Fran­co
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I went back and forth on the rat­ing for this book, but final­ly set­tled on a four. I hon­est­ly found all the con­flict to be exhaust­ing and unpleas­ant, but it was very real­is­ti­cal­ly writ­ten and I cer­tain­ly felt con­nect­ed to Black­stone. I decid­ed that if del Fran­co weren’t such a good writer, I wouldn’t be feel­ing every­thing so much.

I read Face Off right after fin­ish­ing Skin Deep, which is how I rec­om­mend that you read them. That is, after all, how the plot works. There’s a lot more of Jono Sin­clair in this vol­ume than the first, which will be pop­u­lar with romance fans.

Dur­ing the events of Skin Deep, Lau­ra retired the Jan­ice Craw­ford per­sona. Her life should be sim­pler now that she’s just her­self and Mariel Tate, right?

Wrong, because she and Mariel Tate are being pulled in oppos­ing direc­tions by pow­er­ful forces, and she has two more-than-full-time-jobs. Toss in an order to imper­son­ate an unco­op­er­a­tive pris­on­er in order to infil­trate a ter­ror­ist group, and her life is at risk every day too.
In the midst of all this, there’s a vis­it from roy­al­ty, and her boss assigns Mariel yet anoth­er top pri­or­i­ty.

The only respite is her grow­ing rela­tion­ship with Jono Sin­clair, who is also under­cov­er with the ter­ror­ist group. He’s the only per­son in the world who always knows who she is, no mat­ter what glam­our she’s wear­ing.

Lau­ra start­ed won­der­ing how much of her­self was left behind all the per­sonas in Skin Deep, real­iz­ing that “Lau­ra Black­stone” was in dan­ger of becom­ing just anoth­er per­sona. She’s even more con­cerned about that issue in Face Off, but thanks to Jono she’s get­ting back in touch with who she is behind the masks. Will she be able to hold on to her progress? Will she be able to sim­ply sur­vive the under­cov­er assign­ment with almost no prepa­ra­tion? Or will it be the inter­nal Guild­house pol­i­tics that do her in? These ques­tions kept me read­ing and inter­est­ed. I was thrilled with how del Fran­co answered them, and I’m intense­ly curi­ous as to whether those answers leave any room for fur­ther adven­tures with Lau­ra and Jono.

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Review: Skin Deep by Mark del Franco

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 24-08-2012

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Skin Deep (Laura Blackstone, #1)Skin Deep by Mark Del Fran­co
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

This is an intrigu­ing begin­ning to a series. I’ve played a char­ac­ter with sim­i­lar abil­i­ties in a long-run­ning role­play­ing game, so I was par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in this book. I think the author did an excel­lent job of explor­ing just how much could be done with “essence” (glam­our), while set­ting believ­able lim­its to the character’s abil­i­ties. She has an excep­tion­al­ly well-trained mem­o­ry, but even she slips on a few details here and there when jug­gling too many per­sonas or with some­one very close to her for a long time.

The plot was less inter­est­ing to me, frankly, than the char­ac­ter. In fact, the details are a lit­tle fuzzy and I just fin­ished the book ear­li­er today. (Of course, I’ve read most of the next book since then, too). Even while read­ing it, though, some details strained believ­abil­i­ty. That detail took the rat­ing down a point.

Still, I was inter­est­ed enough to go right on to the next book in the series, and I intend to read more of del Franco’s work. I would rec­om­mend this book for those who enjoy urban fan­ta­sy.

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Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 30-07-2011

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Ghost Story: A Novel of the Dresden FilesGhost Sto­ry: A Nov­el of the Dres­den Files by Jim Butch­er
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Of course I (along with all Jim Butch­er’s oth­er fans) have been absolute­ly dying to read this book ever since fin­ish­ing Changes. Sam Chupp and I have been talk­ing about how there could pos­si­bly be anoth­er book that occurs after Dresden’s death. Of course, the novel­la includ­ed in Side Jobs: Sto­ries From the Dres­den Files was very good and got along quite well with­out Dres­den, but that prob­a­bly wasn’t going to work for an entire nov­el.

Sam hasn’t even start­ed Ghost Sto­ry yet, so I can’t gloat at home. I was actu­al­ly right in some of my spec­u­la­tion! I’m being non-spe­cif­ic so as to not give too much away, even though I am hid­ing this review behind spoil­er warn­ings on GoodReads in case he does read it and remem­ber what I had said (which is high­ly doubt­ful). But I feel like brag­ging some­where, so you, dear read­ers, have to put up with it.

Jim Butch­er deserves major praise. Ghost Sto­ry is amaz­ing. Dres­den has become such a pow­er­ful wiz­ard that few ene­mies are tru­ly a chal­lenge, and wip­ing out the entire Red Court with one spell was an amaz­ing feat. What do you do for an encore to that? Hav­ing Dres­den imma­te­r­i­al and oper­at­ing with­out mag­ic does seri­ous­ly push him, and that makes for a fas­ci­nat­ing tale. Being able to keep a series fresh in its thir­teenth vol­ume says a lot for Butcher’s tal­ent. I think Ghost Sto­ry is the best Dres­den Files book yet, and I’m look­ing for­ward to book four­teen even more!

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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.

Review: A Rush of Wings by Adrian Phoenix

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 02-06-2008

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A Rush of WingsA Rush of Wings was a ran­dom “that looks inter­est­ing” choice from the library’s new books shelves. I was some­what sur­prised to find that the book was just pub­lished this Jan­u­ary, because the copy I checked out has obvi­ous­ly been read many, many times. It seems as if Adri­an Phoenix’s first nov­el is a hit.

It wasn’t bad, espe­cial­ly for a first nov­el. It’s yet anoth­er urban fantasy/​horror vam­pire sto­ry, but it didn’t feel too deriv­a­tive. I did won­der if Phoenix has read much of Nan­cy Collins’ work, but she still has a rea­son­ably dif­fer­ent spin on the genre.

I liked the main char­ac­ter, FBI Spe­cial Agent Heather Wal­lace. Her love inter­est, Dante, didn’t do much for me, but then I’m not into bad boys or goth kid­dies. I didn’t quite buy the attrac­tion between them, but hap­py Wal­lace did (most­ly) con­tin­ue to live by her val­ues.

I think I would have been slight­ly hap­pi­er if I didn’t feel like the book was being set up for sequels if it sold well. What­ev­er hap­pened to stand­alone nov­els? Phoenix’s web­site says that her next book, In the Blood, will be released next year. I didn’t find any­thing that says it’s about Dante and friends, but I have a feel­ing that it is.

Review: Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Health, Humor, Needlework, Reading | Posted on 09-12-2007

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Cover of Carpe DemonI’m way behind on book reviews, so I’ll try to do one each day for a bit. Empha­sis on the try. I’ve read some great stuff late­ly that deserves the atten­tion!

I’ll start with the most recent book, Carpe Demon by Julie Ken­ner. It’s the first book of the Demon-Hunt­ing Soc­cer Mom series. I don’t actu­al­ly remem­ber any soc­cer games, but yep, Kate Con­nor is def­i­nite­ly a soc­cer mom in the sense that Clin­ton used the phrase.

I can’t remem­ber if it was Michelle Sagara West or Tanya Huff who said it, but either way, I agree with her that the best way to sum up this series is to imag­ine that Buffy the Vam­pire Slay­er grew up, got mar­ried, and had kids, but didn’t tell her fam­i­ly any­thing about her past. Kate works for the Vat­i­can instead of the Watcher’s Coun­cil, has an Ali­men­ta­tore rather than a Watch­er, and isn’t the Cho­sen One — there are sup­posed to be many demon hunters. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the youth of today aren’t as easy to recruit, accord­ing to the Church, and an old demon hunter is usu­al­ly a dead demon hunter.

Kate and her part­ner, Eric, had retired and moved to a place they iden­ti­fied as hav­ing very lit­tle demon activ­i­ty. They had a child, and after Eric died (we don’t learn how in this vol­ume), Kate remar­ried. Stu­art Con­nor is an attor­ney with polit­i­cal ambi­tion. Remem­ber how Sab­ri­na had so much trou­ble pre­tend­ing to be a nor­mal executive’s wife in Bewitched? Take it up sev­er­al notch­es, and you know where some of the book’s humor comes from. The nov­el is def­i­nite­ly a nice depar­ture from the para­nor­mal romances that have a lot more romance than action, although I have yet to fig­ure out why Kate would ever have set­tled for Stu­art. And yes, I’d have to say she set­tled.1

I’ve put the next two books, Cal­i­for­nia Demon and Demons are For­ev­er, on my wish list. I’m look­ing for­ward to find­ing out how Ken­ner devel­ops the char­ac­ters, and whether Kate starts fill­ing her kids’ water bot­tles with holy water (I would). I’m not a big enough fan to put the rest of her books on the pile, but I haven’t ruled it out yet.


1 Of course, so did Sab­ri­na.

I have For A Few Demons More!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 11-11-2007

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Yes yes yes, I do! Sam bought it as part of my birth­day present. Squee! Thank you, love!

I can’t start read­ing it yet, because if I do, I won’t stop. I have to be a good girl and do home­work, then it’ll be time for bed. But it’ll be there for me tomor­row morn­ing! Squee!

I made the mis­take of read­ing the first chap­ter, which is on Ms. Harrison’s site, right after she post­ed it. I’m not link­ing there because I tell you, you do not want to start until you can go on with this book!

Expect a review soon 🙂