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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My TBR Pile

I'm quickly nearing the end of the Sue Grafton Alphabet series. I just finished O is for Outlaw, and other than reading new releases as they arrive, I'll keep up with that series until I finish it.

Speaking of new releases, Magic Strikes is due out this week. I'll dive into it as soon as my UPS guy delivers it. According to the tracking information I should have it by late Tuesday evening. UPS sometimes doesn't deliver to my house until 7:30 at night. I am so excited about the release of this book, if the weather is nice I may just sit on my porch and read while waiting for him if it's another late delivery.

Once I'm through with the Alphabet series I'm going to start on the Dante Valentine books. I have the first two, if I like them then I'll get the rest.

I also have the first book of a couple of series that I can read during those times there are no new releases for me to read: Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta), Indemnity Only (V.I. Warshawski), Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab), and Dancing With Werewolves (Delilah Street). If any of those catch my attention enough then I'll get the other books in the respective series.

Plus, at some point before May 5 (when Dead and Gone will be released) I want to read the entire Sookie Stackhouse series again.

In other words, I have plenty to read. However, if I receive an ARC of anything on my Anxiously Awaiting list I will immediately read it and review it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Excerpts and Sneak Peeks of books I'm waiting for

Some of the book on my Anxiously Awaiting list have excerpts available at the author's or publisher's websites.

* Excerpt of Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, 3) Ilona Andrews, 03/31
* Five chapters of Turn Coat (Dresden Files, 11) Jim Butcher 04/07
* 2 chapters of Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, 4) Karen Chance, 4/7
* Excerpt of Doomsday Can Wait (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 2) Lori Handeland 4/28
* 1st chapter of Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, 9) Charlaine Harris, 5/5
* 1st chapter of Skin Trade (Anita Blake) Laurel K Hamilton, 6/2
* Excerpt of Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum) Janet Evanovich 6/23
* Excerpt of Branded by Fire (Psy-Changelings), Nalini Singh, 07/07
* Excerpt of Beloved Vampire (Vampire Queen) Joey W. Hill, August

In case you haven't read them yet, there are also some excerpts up for books recently released:

* Chapter 1 of At Grave's End (Night Huntress, 3) Jeaniene Frost, 12/30/08
* Excerpt of A Witch's Beauty (Mermaid Series) Joey W. Hill, 1/06
* Excerpt of Kiss of a Demon King (Immortals after Dark, 6) Kresley Cole 1/20
* Excerpt of Kitty & the Dead Man's Hand (Kitty Norville, 5) Carrie Vaughn, 1/27
* Excerpt of Men of the Otherworld Kelley Armstrong, 1/27
* 1st chapter of Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, Bk 4) Patricia Briggs, 2/3
* 3 chapters of Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford) Kelley Armstrong, 2/24
* Excerpt of White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison, 02/24
* Excerpt of Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville, 6) Carrie Vaughn, 2/24
* Excerpt of Jailbait Zombie (Felix Gomez) Mario Acevedo, 2/24
* Excerpt of Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter, Bk 1) Nalini Singh, 03/03
* Excerpt of A Vampire's Claim (Vampire Queen) Joey W. Hill, 3/3
* Excerpt of Deadly Desire (Riley Jensen, 7) Keri Arthur 03/24

An excerpt of An Early Grave (Night Huntress, Cat and Bones) is supposed to be up at the end of April.

Destined for an Early Grave cover


The Night Huntress series is one of my top three favorite series. So, I am excited to see the cover release of the fourth book, Destined for an Early Grave. Note the silver heels on the boots?

Unfortunately, it looks like we'll have to wait until the end of April for the first chapter.

This is one of my 10 of 10 rated series. The books in this series are:

Night Huntress Novels
1. Halfway to the Grave (2007)
2. One Foot in the the Grave (April 2008)
3. At Grave's End (December 2008)
4. Destined for an Early Grave (July 2009)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Deadly Desire (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Book 7) by Keri Arthur

This review has no major spoilers for the book being reviewed, but if you haven't read books one through six in this series then there are spoilers in this review for those earlier books.

Kerry Arthur has once again written an incredible book. This book gets a 1o of 10. Excellent plot, excellent camaraderie with friends and coworkers, and excellent, uh, well, I guess I can't say that last part since I don't want to give spoilers.

When I made it to the end of Deadly Desire I immediately went to the computer to see when the next book will be out: October 27th of this year. Seven months. There was good closure on this book, so I can live with that. I mean, sure, I want to know what happens next. But, there were no cliffhangers, and I am very happy. 10 out of 10, happy.

Where do I start with the actual review? How about I start with the blurb:

Guardian Riley Jenson always seems to face the worst villains. And this time’s no different. For it’s no ordinary sorceress who can raise the dead to do her killing. But that’s exactly what Riley expects to find at the end of a trail of female corpses used—and discarded—in a bizarre ritual of evil. With pressure mounting to catch one fiend, another series of brutal slayings shocks the vampire world of her lover, Quinn. So the last thing Riley needs is the heat of the upcoming full moon bringing her werewolf hormones to a boil—or the reappearance of a sexy bounty hunter, the rogue wolf Kye Murphy.

Riley has threatened Murphy with arrest if he doesn’t back off the investigation, but it’s Riley who feels handcuffed by Kye’s lupine charm. Torn between her vamp and wolf natures, between her love for Quinn and her hots for Kye, Riley knows she’s courting danger and indulging the deadliest desires. For her hunt through the supernatural underworld will bring her face-to-face with what lurks in a darkness where even monsters fear to tread.

I figured some of the plot points out before Riley did, but that's okay. It wasn't the annoying "how dumb can you be?" kind of thing where I figured it out and she was clueless. It was just me putting two and two together a step or two before she did.

Riley is in her moon heat during a portion of the book, but there isn't as much sex in this book as there has been in the previous books that took place during the week leading up to the full moon. This book is mostly about 1) the two serial murder cases, 2) Riley and Quinn working towards making a relationship work (both of them working at it this time, which was a nice thing to see) and 3) Riley having to deal with Kye showing up when she's tracking down leads.

Deadly Desires picks up a few weeks after the end of the previous book, so Riley and Quinn haven't gotten too much farther along the relationship path than they were at the end of The Darkest Kiss.

As for Kye... do you remember Kye? The bodyguard working for the packleader and his son back in Embraced by Darkness? Well, this time around Riley finds herself trying to get Kye off of the serial murder case without having to arrest him. It looks like this is going to be yet another series with a killer-for-hire type in it. There is Edward in the Anita Blake series, Cormac in the Kitty Norville series, and now Riley Jenson has Kye. The whole will-kill-for-money thing makes for an interesting character, that's for sure. Maybe that's why Kelley Armstrong decided to create a series based around contract killers.

As usual for the Riley Jenson Guardian series, Deadly Desire has a fair amount of blood and gore and body parts not attached to a body, though not as bad (or as disgusting) as in some of the previous books in this series. In the "mythical creatures" rundown we see the hellhounds again, and there are sorcerers again, and zombies.

We again see a decent amount of Cole and his crew, and the light banter that I love so much between Riley and Cole is still there. I actually hope those two can eventually become friends.

There are even a few friendly words between Sal (Jack's assistant) and Riley. Which was nice, because their constant bickering in past books was beginning to get on my nerves.

Kade the stallion is around a little, though not much. Mostly office chit chat. Same with Iktar the spirit lizard, but less chit chat. Come to think of it, there isn't a whole lot of Rhoan and Liander, either, just a few conversations here and there.

I've talked before about how the great thing about a series (for me) is being able to watch the characters grow and change and learn. I've truly enjoyed watching Riley change from the liaison we met in Full Moon Rising to the full fledged Guardian we see in Deadly Desire. It's not just the transition from liaison to Guardian, though. Much of her growth has happened on a personal level, and I really don't want to have to wait another 7 months to find out what happens next. At this point I'm really just happy I don't have to wait a whole year, though.

I'm giving Deadly Desire a 10 of 10 and I'm elevating the series to a 10 of 10 as well.

Book Rating: 10 of 10
Series Rating: 10 of 10

1. Full Moon Rising (2006)
2. Kissing Sin (2007)
3. Tempting Evil (2007)
4. Dangerous Games (2007)
5. Embraced by Darkness (2007)
6. The Darkest Kiss (2008)
7. Deadly Desire (March 2009)
8. Bound to Shadows (October 2009)

Review: Kitty Norville Series by Carrie Vaughn

There are currently six books in this series, with the seventh book due out in January of 2010.

A number of people recommended this series to me before I finally tried he first book. I don't like some of the sillier books out there, where you hear more about fashionable shoes than you hear about the plot. I can't stand shallow protagonists who worry about hair and clothes and shoes when they should be worried that their life might be in danger. And, unfortunately, that's the idea the titles of the first few books gave me. I mean, really. A werewolf named Kitty?

I couldn't have been any more wrong. Kitty is not shallow, not at all. When she needs to dress up she is capable of doing so, but her normal work attire is jeans and a t-shirt. Her name is really Katherine, but everyone (including her parents) call her Kitty. Her name was Kitty long before she was turned into a werewolf.

This series focuses on the werewolves (since that is what Kitty is), though there are other shapeshifters as well, and there are vampires. We run into a few other mythological creatures in the course of the books, but I won't talk about them so I won't spoil any plots. The next book, Kitty's House of Horrors, is supposed to be a Big Brother type reality show, except everyone in the house will be some sort of supernatural, or have some sort of supernatural ability. There is no telling what mythologies the author is going to have fun with in that book.

One of the things I really enjoy about this series is the growth we see. The Kitty we see in books five and six are so far removed from the Kitty we first met in book one, that if you didn't read what had happened to her in the interim to help her grow up, you wouldn't think it was the same person.

Another thing I enjoy is that the author doesn't use constant conflict with friends and family in order to fill space. Kitty has a pretty normal relationship with her parents. She wasn't raised by someone other than her biological parents, she wasn't abused by anyone, there are no childhood traumas that she must try to overcome. She had a normal childhood and now she has a decent relationship with her parents and sister. And when she dates someone she acts like a responsible grown up. When she finally gets serious about someone, they both act like responsible grownups. Yes, there are arguments in the relationship, but they both work towards resolving the argument. It's a nice breath of fresh air.

This series gets a 9 of 10. The plots are good, the characters are likable and are well fleshed out, and the flow of the series works well.

1. Kitty and the Midnight Hour (2005)
2. Kitty Goes to Washington (2006)
3. Kitty Takes a Holiday (2007)
4. Kitty and the Silver Bullet (2008)
5. Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (January 2009)
6. Kitty Raises Hell (February 2009)
7. Kitty's House of Horrors (2010)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Anxiously Awaiting late March 2009

Deadly Desire, the eighth Riley Jensen book is due out today and I can't wait to get home and start reading it. Next week we get Magic Strikes, the new Kate Daniels book, and I am very excited about that one. I'm not so sure about Curse the Dawn. I know I need to reread the series if the new book is to make any sense, but I don't really feel like rereading the series.

I will probably just re-read the 10th Dresden book, Small Favor, instead of the re-reading the whole series before reading Turn Coat. And I look forward to my second reading of Any Given Doomsday, the first Phoenix Chronicles book, before reading the second book in that series, Doomsday Can Wait.

I think I'm going to start from scratch on the Sookie Stackhouse series and read through the whole series again before Dead and Gone is released. I need to get the HBO series out of my head, and no better way to do that than to re-read the series so the author's words are fresh.

03/31/09 Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3) Ilona Andrews
03/31/09 A Fantasy Medley (Anthology) Kelley Armstrong, Kate Elliott, C.E. Murphy
04/07/09 Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, Bk 4) Karen Chance
04/07/09 Turn Coat (Dresden Files, Bk 11) Jim Butcher
04/28/09 Doomsday Can Wait (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 2) Lori Handeland
05/05/09 Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 9) by Charlaine Harris
06/02/09 Skin Trade, Anita Blake Series, Laurel K Hamilton
06/02/09 Undead and Unwelcome (Queen Betsy, Bk 8) MaryJanice Davidson
06/23/09 Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum), Janet Evanovich
07/07/09 Branded by Fire (Psy-Changelings), Nalini Singh
07/21/09 Mercy Thompson Homecoming (Comic) Patricia Briggs, Francis Tsai
07/28/09 Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, Bk 4) Jeaniene Frost
08/04/09 Bad Moon Rising (Dark Hunter Series) Sherrilyn Kenyon
08/04/09 Beloved Vampire (Vampire Queen Series) Joey W. Hill
08/25/09 Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Book 2) by Patricia Briggs
09/01/09 Doom With a View (Psychic Eye Mystery) Victoria Laurie
09/29/09 Bound to Shadows (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Bk 8) Keri Arthur
09/03/09 Apocalypse Happens (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 3) Lori Handeland
10/20/09 Divine Misdemeanors (Meredith Gentry #8) Laurel K. Hamilton
10/27/09 Bound to Shadows (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Book 8) Keri Arthur
10/27/09 Frostbitten (Elena & Clay) (Women/Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong
10/27/09 A Deep Kiss of Winter (Anthology) Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter
11/03/09 Blaze of Memory (Psy-Changelings, Dev's book), Nalini Singh
01/??/10 Kitty’s House of Horrors (Kitty Norville Bk 7) by Carrie Vaughn
02/??/10 Silver Borne, (Mercy Thompson, Book 5) Patricia Briggs
Spring/10 Chaos Bites, (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 4) Lori Handeland
08/??/10 Alpha and Omega series, Book 3 Patricia Briggs
??/??/?? Not That Innocent (Anthlgy) Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kresley Cole...
??/??/?? Angel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, Bk 2) Nalini Singh

Not all of the series I keep up with have another book listed as coming out. The authors have stated there will be more, but to my knowledge they haven't said when, or given a title name. I've listed those series below.

* Felix Gomez series by Mario Acevedo
* Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman
* Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
* Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Below are series I follow, but it is unclear whether there will be more books in the series:

* Bronwyn the Witch series by Candace Havens
* Nightcreature / Moon series by Lori Handeland
* Nadia Stafford series by Kelley Armstrong
* Izzy Spellman series by Lisa Lutz

You can read an excerpt of many of these books, to see my list of excerpts please go here.

If someone wants to send me an ARC of one of the books on my Anxiously Awaiting list, I will read it within a day or two of it arriving (assuming I'm home and I'm not sick or anything), and will get a blog post up of it as soon as I've finished reading it. You may contact me for a shipping address at chained lightning at g mail dot com (remove all of the spaces, of course).