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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, May 31, 2009

Revenge of the Spellmans: A Novel by Lisa Lutz

I'm starting to get used to the "report" style of the books in this series, and this one was much easier for me to read than the first two books.

Revenge of the Spellmans gives us the same cast of characters from previous books, but I'm happy to say that some personal growth is happening with several characters. If there was no growth then I don't think I could stomach it, but several characters in the book seem to be getting a bit of a clue, so it's good. Very good. Surprisingly Good.

There were a few laugh out loud moments in this book, but I will never compare the series to the Stephanie Plum series, as other people tend to do. For one thing, Izzy is good at what she does and Stephanie is not. For another, this series just isn't as funny as the Plum series. I'm good with that though because this series is gaining more substance than the Plum series has ever had.

There is a rather lengthy blurb for this book at Lisa Lutz's site and I won't bother to do a cut and paste here since it is so long. Suffice it to say that this book is a logical extension from the previous books and the plot, okay make that multiple plots, are good. Good enough that if the next book was available I'd have already ordered it and would be watching for the brown truck.

I'll give Revenge of the Spellmans a 9 of 10 and will raise the series rating to an 8 of 10.

Book Rating: 9 of 10
Series Rating: 8 of 10

I've got this series in Crime Thriller, but that's mainly because it fits best with what I've already got to choose from. I don't really know what genre to put it in.

1. The Spellman Files: A Novel (2007)
2. Curse of the Spellmans: A Novel (2008)
3. Revenge of the Spellmans: A Novel (2009)
4. The Spellmans Strike Again (March 2010)

Dancing With Werewolves (Delilah Street; Paranormal Investigator) by Carole Nelson Douglas

I wanted to like Dancing with Werewolves. I really did. I did enjoy the first third or so of it, so much that I went ahead and ordered the second book, Brimstone Kiss, before finishing the first book.

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the second two thirds of the book as I enjoyed the first third.

The worldbuilding in this book is most definitely different. An interesting premise, to be sure. Or rather, several interesting things. Before I go much further I'll give you the blurb:

It was the revelation of the millennium: witches, werewolves, vampires and other supernaturals are real. Fast-forward 13 years: TV reporter Delilah Street used to cover the small-town bogeyman beat back in Kansas, but now, in high-octane Las Vegas - which is run by a werewolf mob - she finds herself holding back the gates of Hell itself. But at least she has a hot new guy and one big bad wolfhound to help her out...

Delilah is an interesting character, as is the film director and the sexy Latino boyfriend. I'm having a bit of trouble putting a finger on what the problem was, but I think it might be the fact that it just seems to ramble and wonder and meander around all over the place.

I like the characters (mostly), I'm unsure about the plot, and I like the worldbuilding. There were too many things unresolved, though. I know it's the beginning of a series and things are supposed to be unresolved for the next book, but in my opinion there were just too many things left hanging.

I will be reading the second book in the series, Brimstone Kiss, since I've already purchased it.

I give Dancing with Werewolves a 5 of 10.

Book Rating: 5 of 10

1. Dancing with Werewolves
2. Brimstone Kiss
3. Vampire Sunrise

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

* Anxiously Awaiting late-May 2009

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 send me a digital version at chained lightning at g mail dot com, or to send a hard copy you may contact me at that email address to ask for a shipping address. If you have an ARC you would like to send that is not on my Anxiously Awaiting list I will attempt to read and review it in a timely manner but it probably won't be placed topmost in my TBR pile.

The books I am anxiously awaiting release are:

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
07/07/09 Strange Brew
(Anthology) Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris
07/07/09 Where There's a Witch (
Bewitching Mysteries, No 5) by Madelyn Alt
07/07/09 Dragons Prefer Blondes (
Caruthers Sisters Bk 2) by Candace Havens
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
08/15/09 By Blood We Live (Anthology)
08/25/09 Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Book 2) by Patricia Briggs
08/25/09 Unbound
(Anthology) Kim Harrison, Vicki Pettersson, Jeaniene Frost
09/01/09 Must Love Hellhounds
(Anth.) Ilona Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh
09/01/09 Doom With a View (Psychic Eye Mystery) Victoria Laurie
09/29/09 On the Edge (The Edge book 1) by Ilona Andrews
10/06/09 A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse) by Charlaine Harris
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
11/03/09 Apocalypse Happens (
Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 3) Lori Handeland
11/03/09 Never After
(Anth.) Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, etc.
12/01/09 Angelic (Women/Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong
01/??/10 Kitty’s House of Horrors (
Kitty Norville Bk 7) by Carrie Vaughn
01/??/10 Pleasure of a Dark Prince
(Immortals after Dark) Kresley Cole
01/26/10 First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, Bk 1) Jeaniene Frost
02/??/10 Silver Borne, (Mercy Thompson, Book 5) Patricia Briggs
Spring/10 Chaos Bites, (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 4) Lori Handeland
05/??/10 Magic Bleeds, (Kate Daniels Book 4) by Ilona Andrews
08/??/10 Alpha and Omega series, Book 3 Patricia Briggs
??/??/?? Not That Innocent
(Anthlgy) Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kresley Cole...
??/??/?? Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, Bk 2) Nalini Singh
??/?/?/?? Captured by Vengeance (Riley Jensen Bk9) Keri Arthur

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
* Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
* Rachel Morgan/Hollows series by Kim Harrison
* Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No Rest for the Wiccan (Bewitching Mysteries, No. 4) by Madelyn Alt

No Rest for the Wiccan
is book four of the Bewitching Mysteries series. This book was a little better than the first three, but not by much.

The characters aren't fully dimensional to me, and Maggie doesn't seem to really be growing. Sure, she's learned a few things, but actual growth? Not so much.

The love triangle thing isn't going anywhere either, and by now Maggie really should have come to a few conclusions that just seem to be beyond her. She's 30 here, not 16... can she not figure things out on her own?

Here's the blurb:
Maggie O’Neill loves her job at Enchantments as much as she loves being Indiana’s newest witch. But when her family needs her, she's still willing to lend a hand—even if she has to reach beyond the grave…

It's a long, hot summer in Stony Mill, and Maggie is busy watching TV reruns, minding the store, and figuring out her love life. Then she reluctantly volunteers to care for her bedridden, oh-so-perfect sister, Mel, and her beautiful nieces. But Mel isn't the only focus of Maggie's attention. There are some strange spirits hanging about the area—and it looks like a job for Maggie and the N.I.G.H.T.S. ghost hunting team.

And even as she tries to deal with the long-dead, Maggie must cope with the recently-deceased. A friend of Mel's loses her husband to a dreadful fall, and the police are calling it accidental death. Maggie's not so sure, and sets her second sights on finding a first-degree murderer…

I knew who the killer was almost as soon as we knew about the death. And didn't I have all of the same information Maggie had?

As for future books... I'd kind of like to know where the love triangle goes, but not really bad enough to read the next book. I'll probably look for some reviews of the next book, but at this point I'm not planning to read the next book.

The first three books were a 6 of 10 for me. I'm giving No Rest for the Wiccan a 7 of 10, but I'm leaving the series at a 6 of 10.

Book Rating: 7 of 10
Series Rating: 6 of 10

1. The Trouble with Magic
2. A Charmed Death
3. Hex Marks the Spot
4. No Rest for the Wiccan
5. Where There's a Witch (July 7, 2009)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hex Marks the Spot (Bewitching Mysteries, No. 3) by Madelyn Alt

Hex Marks the Spot
is book three of the Bewitching Mysteries series. As were the first two books in the series, this one is also your basic paranormal chik-lit book. There is (again) a mystery to solve while a 30-ish woman is beginning to learn about the world of energy and spirits and a bit of wicca. The author tried to insert some romance in this book, but it fell kind of flat for me.

Here's the blurb:
Maggie O'Neill loves her job at Enchantments, Indiana's finest mystical antique shop. But something dark is brewing in Stony Mill -- and it's not just the fabulous coffee Maggie serves to browsing customers. Looking for charming stock for the store, Maggie accompanies her boss--and favorite witch--Felicity Dow to the countywide craft bazaar. Felicity falls hard for a beautiful armoire, intricately carved by an Amish craftsman. Maggie can't help noticing that though his clothes may be plain, he himself is more handsome than a man sporting a jawline-only beard has any right to be. And he seems pretty aware that the ladies love his . . . furniture. But when the hunky craftsman turns up dead, with a strange hex symbol etched near his corpse, Maggie can't help but wonder if the craft involved might be the witchy kind. Because Maggie knows that the dead man could well have been oversexed . . . but she worries that he was also overhexed.

I'll be reading book four next, and I'm really hoping to see something better in the next book. If not, I won't be buying any more of this series.

The first three books have been a 6 of 10 for me, and that's what I'm giving the series as well.

Book Rating: 6 of 10
Series Rating: 6 of 10

1. The Trouble with Magic
2. A Charmed Death
3. Hex Marks the Spot
4. No Rest for the Wiccan
5. Where There's a Witch (July 7, 2009)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Charmed Death (Bewitching Mysteries, No. 2) by Madelyn Alt

A Charmed Death
book two of the Bewitching Mysteries series, is once again your basic paranormal chik-lit book. As with the first book, there is a mystery to solve while a 30-ish woman is beginning to learn about the world of energy and spirits and a bit of wicca.

We still have the friend upstairs, and the controlling mother. Maggie's new friends play a bigger part in this book, and I'm happy to see it.

Here's the blurb:
Maggie O'Neill was just your average small-town girl, stuck in a dead-end job until she started working at Enchantments, Stony Mill's finest antique shop with a unique mystical secret. Now Maggie is Indiana's newest witch. Learning to cope with her newfound powers is tough enough, but add to that keeping the stock at Enchantments organized, keeping the peace with her somewhat controlling mom, and remembering to tape reruns of her favorite show, Magnum, P.I., and Maggie's got a full plate.

But when a second questionable death occurs a scant two months into her store tenure, she can't turn her thoughts away from all the town gossip about the teenage princess and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the girl's charmed life and death. While the police get caught up in procedure and logic, Maggie uses every trick, charm, and intuition she can summon, with the assistance of her favorite witchy boss Felicity Dow, to get to the heart of this spellbinding murder.

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. In this case? Get witchy!

I'm not really sure what's going on with Tom and Marcus. My choice would be Marcus, but Maggie thinks he's spoken for. I don't really think I like Tom that much, but we don't really know him that well yet, so perhaps there is more to him than I think.

I am hoping to see Maggie grow, the reviews of later books talk about that, and since I'm tired of the series out there where the main protagonist does not grow (like Stephanie Plum) I'm really hoping this series gives me what I'm looking for: someone who learns and grows and doesn't just stagnate as she is.

But so far, the first two books have been a 6 of 10 for me, and that's what I'm giving the series after two books, also.

Book Rating: 6 of 10
Series Rating: 6 of 10

1. The Trouble with Magic
2. A Charmed Death
3. Hex Marks the Spot
4. No Rest for the Wiccan
5. Where There's a Witch (July 7, 2009)

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Harlequin and Blood Noir (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Books 15 and 16) by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Harlequin
8 of 10
In some ways The Harlequin was just more of the same things from previous books. But thankfully, the ending promised changes that (for me) will be very welcome.

We get a little bit of Edward, and we again get to deal with his own personal dramas. Edward stepping into a father role - a very scary thought. I'm not sure I completely agree with his choices, but I can see that it's probably the best he can do.

And there is, again, a lot of Richard drama. Richard just needs to grow the hell up or he needs to be written out in some way. I have no hopes that he is ever going to be emotionally stable enough to fit into Anita's life. Her men all have to be able to get along with each other or it just won't work. And Richard isn't going to grow up enough to do that. That means he just needs to go away. Please.

I'm also not very happy with Dolph. I think it is time for him to either lose his badge or be transferred somewhere so his prejudices won't cause harm to the department. His superiors are aware of his problems, he's been suspended and he's been sent to anger management classes. I know Anita is trying to take it easy on him because she once considered him a friend but if she isn't careful that is going to get one of her friends (or maybe even herself) killed or falsely imprisoned.

The plot in this book is once again a good plot. LKH keeps creating plots that are thought provoking and that often have a myth or legend to back up the idea of the plot.

My biggest complaint about this book isn't the sex, it's all of the "therapy talk" that happens. It takes up entirely too much of the book, and some of it happens when the bad guys are around. Listening.

Blood Noir
7 of 10
So many questions were raised in The Harlequin that did not get resolved in Blood Noir. A lot of that is because Anita was out of town, but some of it feels like they just weren't answered. I am hoping to see more answers in Skin Trade.

Blood Noir isn't terrible, not like Micah was, but it was not one of the better books of the series, either. I could have completely done without Richard, though I guess we needed to see what happened as that is likely going to build on whatever happens next.

I'm conflicted about this book. The plot in this book is terrible, but the metaphysics part was (mostly) good. I had wanted to see some of the "lessons" Asher gave Anita about topping Nathaniel, so I was a bit disappointed to discover that happened in between books and we weren't going to see it.

But the main crime plot was.... well, Jason just happened to look like someone who is dating someone who just happens to be a vampire who is married to someone who just happens to be a Master of the City somewhere else. Right. That's just too big of a stretch for me. One of those eye rolling things. LKH is usually much better at coming up with plots. (Select the spoiler text to view it.)

But, some of the metaphysical things that happened once again point to growth and change that would be very welcome, I think.

I am looking forward to Skin Trade. I am expecting a few things to be dealt with, wrapped up, in Skin Trade. Not everything, but there are a few plot points that have spanned 7 or 8 books now, and it's a bit overdue for those things to be tied up.

The series rating remains a 9 of 10 for me.

1. Guilty Pleasures
2. The Laughing Corpse
3. Circus of the Damned
4. The Lunatic Cafe
5. Bloody Bones
6. The Killing Dance
7. Burnt Offerings
8. Blue Moon
9. Obsidian Butterfly
10. Narcissus in Chains
11. Cerulean Sins
12. Incubus Dreams
13. Micah
14. Danse Macabre
15. The Harlequin
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Excerpts and Sneak Peeks

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

* 1st chapter of Skin Trade (Anita Blake) Laurel K Hamilton, 6/2
* Excerpt of Undead and Unwelcome (Queen Betsy, Bk 8) MaryJanice Davidson 6/2
* Excerpt of Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum) Janet Evanovich 6/23
* Excerpt of Branded by Fire (Psy-Changelings), Nalini Singh, 07/07
* 1st chapter of Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, Bk 4) Jeanine Frost 7/28
* Excerpt of Beloved Vampire (Vampire Queen) Joey W. Hill, August 8/4
* First chapter of On the Edge (The Edge bk 1) Ilona Andrews, 9/29
* Prologue, Chapters One & Two of Frostbitten (Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong, 10/27
* Prologue and First chapter of Kate Daniels #4 by Ilona Andrews

Sherrilyn Kenyon's site says that the excerpt for Bad Moon Rising (Dark Hunter Series) will be up soon. When it is posted it will be here.

Laurel K. Hamilton's site says that an excerpt for Divine Misdemeanors (Meredith Gentry #8) will be up soon. When it's up, it should be here.

When an excerpt goes up for Bound to Shadows (Riley Jensen, Book 8) by Keri Arthur, it should be here.

Nalini Singh
should put the excerpt up for Blaze of Memory (Psy-Changelings, Dev's book) here.

The excerpt for Apocalypse Happens (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 3) by Lori Handeland should go here.

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

* 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
* 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