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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.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Must Love Hellhounds (Anthology) by Ilona Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, and Meljean Brook

The first story in this anthology, The Britlingens Go to Hell, is from Charlaine Harris and comes from Sookie's world. Sort of. Remember the Britlingens? The guards from another dimension that were so expensive? Well, this story has them being hired to go to hell for a client. It's not a great story, but it's good. I'll give it an 8 of 10.

The second story is part of Nalini Singh's new Guild Hunter's Series and is called Angels' Judgment. It took me a bit to figure out that this is a prequel to the first book and doesn't come after the books I've already read in the series. Once I figured that out, it was a good story. A 10 of 10, in fact.

The third story is Magic Mourns and it is part of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. I loved this story. It is told from Andrea's point of view and immediately follows the most recent book in the series, Magic Strikes. This story also gets a 10 of 10, but I wouldn't expect anything else from the couple that make up Ilona Andrews.

And the final story, Blind Spot, is by Meljean Brooks and is part of her Guardian series. I've not read anything by Meljean Brooks before, and I enjoyed this story. I enjoyed it enough to take a look at the other books in this series to see if perhaps it is a series I want to read. Unfortunately, it looks like a good percentage of the books in this series are part of anthologies. I've got those books on my list to keep an eye out for at the used book store, but I'm not intending to purchase this many anthologies as new books. But, back to the story in this anthology, it was really well done. I enjoyed the world building, the plot, and the characters. I'll give it a 9 of 10. I did feel lost a few times, like there were things I would understand if I'd read the series.

Here's the blurb:

In these hound-eat-hound worlds, anything goes... and everything bites.

Follow paranormal bodyguards Clovache and Batanya into Lucifer's realm, where they encounter his fearsome four-legged pets, in Charlaine Harris's The Britlingens Go to Hell. Seek out a traitor in the midst of a guild of non- lethal vampire trackers, one that intends to eradicate the entire species of bloodsuckers, in Nalini Singh's Angels' Judgment. Find out why the giant three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades has left the underworld for the real world—and whose scent he's following—in Ilona Andrews's Magic Mourns. Embark on a perilous search for the kidnapped niece of a powerful vampire alongside her blind— and damn sexy—companion and a hellhound in Meljean Brook's Blind Spot.

In the end, I'll give the total book a 9 of 10, and for an anthology, that's saying a lot coming from me.

Book Rating: Must Love Hellhounds: 9 of 10

For more information about the other books in the series discussed here, you can click on these links for my reviews of the series:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hypnotizing Maria by Richard Bach

I was first introduced to Richard Bach when I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull. That lead me to Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah and One. All of which really spoke to me at that point in my life.

Last week I read Dan Brown's latest book, The Lost Symbol. Reading Hypnotizing Maria after reading The Lost Symbol could almost be called... a coincidence. I learned long ago that my thoughts have power, and that I should be careful of what I create with my thoughts. I also learned long ago there are no coincidences - only co-incidences. All of which are touched upon in Hypnotizing Maria. I haven't exactly forgotten those lessons, I just don't think I've been using them as much as I once did. These two books have reminded me of things, concepts, that I once spent a lot of time grasping.

Richard Bach has a gift for teaching you by letting you watch someone else learn, and Hypnotizing Maria is no different from his earlier books in that respect. This book didn't speak to me as powerfully as his previous books did... but is that because I already know what he's saying now, and I was still learning then? It's quite possible, I don't honestly know.

I will say that Richard Back has once again come up with a good way to explain how the Law of Attraction works. Most of us need our logical brains to get out of the way in order to allow the whole self-suggestion slash positive-affirmation thing to work. That means we have to provide our logical brains with enough of an explanation to get it to stop bugging us about what is and is not possible. For me, that came when I read The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. But I have a very loud logical brain and it needed a scientific explanation. For others, I can see this book being a much simpler way to get that explanation through to their logical brains.

Here's the blurb from the publisher:
In this teaching fable, Bach explores flight and a profound interest in metaphysics. In the opening moments of the story, we meet Jamie Forbes, a pilot who guides a woman into landing a plane safely after her husband loses consciousness. The woman later claims that it was like being hypnotized. Richard Bach, in this his twentieth book, has written a compelling fable about reality and suggestion.

Bach explores deep spiritual and philosophical issues in this slim volume. Our true nature, it seems, it is not bound by space and time. We live in a world full of appearances. If we stop accepting these appearances as reality, the book suggests, they will cease to be our reality. We enter this world to explore, to have fun, and to have shared experiences with the people we care about, but most of all to learn how to love and love again.

Now for the question of how I rate the book. Previous books by Richard Bach would have likely received a 10 of 10 from me. Hypnotizing Maria is a 9 of 10. It's a good book, and had a lot of good reminders that I needed in my life right now.

Book Rating:
9 of 10

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Doom with a View (Psychic Eye Mysteries, Book 7) by Victoria Laurie

The seventh book in the Psychic Eye series is one of the best books of the series. The pacing is well done, the plot is a good one, and the characters all act like the adults they are. A very refreshing change from some of the previous books in this series.

As Doom with a View starts out, Dutch has desk duty until Internal Affairs sorts through the events of the previous book. Abby is called in to help on a case, and she's pretty much on her own without Dutch's help, since he can't get involved until IA is done with him.

Abby does manage to keep Candace with her, and these two make a great team: A purely logical PI, and an intuitive who is good at figuring out what her intuition is telling her. The bad guys don't stand a chance.

The main protagonist in most of Doom with a View is Dutch's new boss. The man detests psychics, and all they represent. He tries to get Abby taken off the case, repeatedly. He's pretty nasty to her through most of the book, too. Abby does a good job of rising above it, but Candace does not, as Candace wants to defend her friend.

Speaking of protagonists, I figured out the bad guy long before he was revealed. Somewhere around half way through the book, actually. So I was a bit frustrated that Abby and Candace and the FBI weren't seeing it, but not so frustrated that it spoiled the book for me.

Here's the blurb:

Business has been frustratingly slow for Abby. She reluctantly agrees to a job with the FBI, putting her at the center of an internal political struggle between two agents. Abby's skills and patience are tested, but when she helps them locate three college students who've mysteriously disappeared, they know she's the real deal.

Her intuition says these weren't random abductions. With her psychic eye wide open she sets out to find a kidnapper...

Doom with a View easily gets a 9 of 10. In the past I've given the series a 7 of 10, and I think I have to leave the series rating as is. Some of the previous books have had some pretty serious problems, and one good book doesn't change that.

Book Rating: 9 of 10
Series Rating: 7 of 10

I really enjoyed Doom with a View. I even enjoyed the way it ended this time, and I look forward to the next book, A Glimpse of Evil.

1. Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye
2. Better Read Than Dead
3. A Vision of Murder
4. Killer Insight
5. Crime Seen
6. Death Perception<>
7. Doom with a View (Sept 2009)
8. A Glimpse of Evil (July 2010)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I enjoyed The Lost Symbol. There were some irritations, but in spite of the irritations, it was an enjoyable book.

The characters are decent, the plot is very well done, the action is good, and the premise is interesting.

The irritations? Repeated phrases, for one. But the most irritating is the idea of "oh, this is important... and here are some teasers about how important... but I'm not going to tell you what it is just yet." Don't tease me, just tell me. If there isn't something you want me to know yet, then don't tell me about it at all. I don't like to be teased.

And at least one other pretty big thing that... I'm not sure it's quite at the level of an irritation, but it almost makes for an unreliable narrator, so you start not trusting what you've been told. Well, not so much an unreliable narrator (by definition) as a storyteller who can't be relied upon to tell what is actually happening when he tells what is happening. I don't want to spoil things, so I'll just say that there are times you think you know what is happening, then you are taken back in time and you see that the narration wasn't giving you enough of the picture to see what was actually happening. It made me not trust what I was being told a few times when I should have trusted.

There were also a few times that I broke a code or figured something out before the people in the books. On the one hand, it makes me feel smart, on the other hand, it annoys me that I can see it and they can't.

And finally - the biggest thing in the story? Kind of the main thing? I guessed the location a very short way into the meat of things. Oddly though, even though that thing was kind of the purpose of the whole story, it was kind of anticlimatic. The action was the good part, but I guess that's another point, isn't it? The mystics tell us it's the journey that counts - not the destination. And the best part of the book was the journey, so to speak.

That's not to say that I guessed everything, there were several things that literally hit me upside the head when they were revealed.

And some of the side things I learned, like the Kryptos at the CIA headquarters, or the fact that there is a statue of George Washington making him into a Zeus. These (and others) were things I didn't know, but that I will be exploring further.

If I were rating the book strictly on writing style, it would get a 6. The grammar and use of repeated phrases bugged me and some of the "I'm going to teach you now" parts also bugged me - not because they were teaching me, but because it was done in such a high handed way. These things aren't what you expect to see at this level of author. However; the story lines, the plot, the action... they bring the book rating up a great deal. I'm giving The Lost Symbol a 9 of 10. I think the series also gets a 9 of 10. It's not great literature, but it's an enjoyable read.

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

I've debated as to what genre to put this book into. In the end, I've decided on Crime Thriller. It has elements of an urban fantasy in that it pulls from mythologies for part of the story, but it's not really an urban fantasy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Turn Coat (The Dresden Files, Book 11) by Jim Butcher

Turn Coat
was actually released back in April, and I wanted to read it back in April. But I didn't want to read it bad enough for a hardback price. So, I've waited until a used version was available at a price I was willing to pay.

I have a few series that I follow that have now been relegated to this status. I do want to support the authors, and I'd be willing to support them at paperback prices, but not at hardback prices. I'm not sure what the solution is - perhaps the publishers should look at publishing the paperback six months later instead of a year later? But that is the subject for a different post, I think.

Harry Dresden is a wizard. He lives in Chicago and he advertises in the yellow pages. This is another series that takes place in a hypothetical real world where humans don't know supernatural beings exist. The Dresden Files series eventually pulls in pretty much every supernatural critter out there: wizards, vampires, incubi/succubi, trolls, fairies, werewolves, ghosts, demons, skinwalkers... and many more I'm sure that I'm missing.

Turn Coat could probably be read as a stand alone, but I would not recommend it. You really need to read this series in order, I think.

Here's the blurb:
The Warden Morgan has been accused of treason against the Wizards of the White Council--and there's only one, final punishment for that crime. He's on the run, wants his name cleared, and needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. Someone like Harry Dresden.

Now, Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less-than-agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake may cost someone his head--someone like Harry.

There is a lot going on in this book. Not only the mess with Morgan, but some stuff with Anastasia, with Harry's young apprentice, with Thomas (and Lara some, too), and of course more with whatever faction that has been causing so many problems within the Supernatural political world. Things are eventually going to come to a head, and I'm curious to see where the author takes things.

Turn Coat was good enough that I feel guilty for having bought it used. I've given the Dresden Files a 7 of 10 in the past, and Turn Coat was almost good enough for me to raise the series to an 8 of 10. Almost, but not quite. I lowered it to a 7 originally because the books were starting to just be more of the same. This book had enough different that it was not just more of the same. I'll wait for the next book, Changes, before I trust that this might continue.

Book Rating: 9 of 10
Series Rating: 7 of 10

The Sci-Fi channel did one season. They went away from the books in several different ways, but it was still a decent series. This is a DVD of the entire first (and only) season.

1 Storm Front (2000)
2 Fool Moon (2001)
3 Grave Peril (2001)
4 Summer Knight (2002)
5 Death Masks (2003)
6 Blood Rites (2004)
7 Dead Beat (2005)
8 Proven Guilty (2006)
9 White Night (2007)
10 Small Favor (April 2008)
11 Turn Coat (April 2009)
12 Changes (April 2010)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Where There's a Witch (Bewitching Mysteries, No. 5) by Madelyn Alt

Where There's a Witch
is book five of the Bewitching Mysteries series.

After book four, I thought I was done with this series, but I saw it used for a couple of dollars, so I decided to pick it up.

Once again, I knew who the killer was long before Maggie did, and yet she and I had the same information. I won't go so far as to say TSTL, but the annoyance factor is there.

The love triangle thing was (again) frustrating. Until the end of the book, and then there was (gasp) promise that things may be changing in the next book. Promising enough for me to buy the next book on release day? Nope, not that promising. But, promising enough for me to track the next book and then read some reviews and see if I want to buy it.

The books could be good, but they just don't quite do it for me. Maggie needs to learn more about herself, she needs to stop being clueless about life in general, and she needs to... I don't know.. stop floating through life and take the bull by the horns, I guess. The dialogue is good, there is comic relief placed appropriately, and there is some thought given to pacing (it's not great, but not terrible, either). But the love triangle is very badly done, and the plots are way too transparent. And the magical theory stuff, the metaphysics, is dragging, too. There was promise in the beginning of the series, I saw the whole "when the student is ready the teachers will appear" thing happening.. but the teachers aren't teaching. And Maggie isn't learning.

I'm giving Where There's a Witch a 6 of 10, and I'm leaving the series at a 6 of 10.

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, September 4, 2009

* Anxiously Awaiting

The books I am anxiously awaiting release are listed below. My biggest discovery when I researched this time was the title of the next Anita Blake book (Flirt), and when it is due (February).

09/15/09 The Lost Symbol (DaVinci Code series) by Dan Brown
09/22/09 The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2 (Anthology)
09/29/09 On the Edge (The Edge book 1) by Ilona Andrews
09/29/09 Frostbitten (Elena & Clay) (Women/Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong
10/06/09 A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse) by Charlaine Harris
10/13/09 A Deep Kiss of Winter (Anthology) Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter
10/27/09 Bound to Shadows (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Book 8) Keri Arthur
10/27/09 Never After (Anth.) Laurel K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, etc.
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 Skin Game by Ava Gray
11/24/09 Vampire Sunrise (Delilah Street: Paranormal Investigator) Carole Nelson Douglas
12/01/09 Angelic (Women/Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong
12/01/09 A Mermaid's Ransom (Daughters of Arianne Book 3)
Joey W Hill
12/08/09 Divine Misdemeanors (Meredith Gentry #8) Laurell K. Hamilton
01/01/10 Kitty's House of Horrors (Kitty Norville Bk 7) by Carrie Vaughn
01/05/10 Inked (Anth) by Karen Chance, Marjorie M. Liu, Yasmine Galenorn
01/19/10 Pleasure of a Dark Prince
(Immortals after Dark) Kresley Cole
02/02/10 Flirt (Anita Blake, Book 18) by Laurell K Hamilton
02/02/10 Laced with Desire (Anth) by Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, Joey W. Hill, etc.
02/09/10 First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, Bk 1) Jeaniene Frost
02/23/10 Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows Rachel Morgan, Book 8) by Kim Harrison
02/??/10 Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, Bk 2) Nalini Singh
02/??/10 Captured by Vengeance (Riley Jensen Bk9) Keri Arthur
03/02/10 Roadkill (Cal Leandros book 5) by Rob Thurman
03/09/10 Werewolf Smackdown (Felix Gomez 5) Mario Acevedo
03/16/10 The Spellmans Strike Again (Spellman Files, Book 4) Lisa Lutz
03/16/10 Voices of Dragons (new YA series) by Carrie Vaughn
03/30/10 Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, Book 5) Patricia Briggs
Spring/10 Chaos Bites, (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 4) Lori Handeland
04/06/10 A Witch In Time (Bewitching Mysteries Book 6) by Madelyn Alt
04/13/10 Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
Changes (Dresden Files 12) Jim Butcher
05?//?10 Vampire Mistress (Vampire Queen, Book 5) by Joey W. Hill
05/??/10 Magic Bleeds, (Kate Daniels Book 4) by Ilona Andrews
Sookie Stackhouse Book 10 by Charlaine Harris
Psy/Changeling #8 (Max's Book) by Nalini Singh
08/??/10 Alpha and Omega series, Book 3 Patricia Briggs
Death's Excellent Vacation (Anth) by Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost, Greg Herren, etc.
Skin Starved (Wicked Lovely Book 4) Melissa Marr
09/??/10 Unnamed, Mencheres' book (Night Huntress World, Bk 2) Jeaniene Frost
11/??/10 Psy/Changeling #9 (Indigo's Book) by Nalini Singh
??/??/10 Psy/Changeling Novella (Ria's story) by Nalini Singh
??/??/10 Undead and Unfinished (Queen Betsy book 9) by MaryJanice Davidson
??/??/?? Supernaturals on Vacation (Anthology)
??/??/11 Psy/Changeling #10(Hawke's book?) by Nalini Singh
??/??/?? Scars and Souvenirs (Dark Hunter Book 18) Sherrilyn Kenyon
??/??/?? Not That Innocent (Anthlgy) Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kresley Cole...

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.
* Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
* Caruthers Sisters series by Candace Havens
* Nightcreature / Moon series by Lori Handeland
* Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs

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
* Nadia Stafford series by Kelley Armstrong
* Psychic Eye Mysteries by Victoria Laurie

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 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.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

* Excerpts, First Chapters, and Sneak Peeks

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

* 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
* Excerpt of A Deep Kiss of Winter (Anthology) Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter
* Excerpt of Blaze of Memory (Psy-Changelings, Dev's book), Nalini Singh 11/3
* Excerpt of Skin Game by Ava Gray, 11/03
* Snippet of First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, Bk 1) Jeaniene Frost 1/26/10
* Prologue of Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4) by Ilona Andrews (May 2010)

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. For now there is just a blurb.

The excerpt for Apocalypse Happens (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 3) by Lori Handeland should go here, for now there is just a blurb.

When Kresley Cole puts up the excerpt for Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals after Dark) it should go here. For now there is just a blurb.

If Kelley Armstrong posts an excerpt for Angelic it will be here. This is to be a novella, and quite short, so I'm not sure if she'll post one or not, but she's got a blurb up for now.

In case you haven't read them yet, there are also some excerpts up for books released earlier 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
* 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 1 and Excerpt 2 of Branded by Fire (Psy-Changelings), Nalini Singh, 7/7
* 1st chapter of Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, Bk 4) Jeanine Frost 7/28
* Excerpt of Bad Moon Rising (Dark Hunter Series) Sherrilyn Kenyon, 8/4
* Excerpt of Beloved Vampire (Vampire Queen) Joey W. Hill, 8/4
* First two chapters of Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Bk 2) Patricia Briggs, 8/25
* Excerpt, excerpt, & excerpt - Must Love Hellhounds (Anth) Ilona Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh 9/1