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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, January 31, 2010

* 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.

* Chapter 1 of Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, Bk 2) Nalini Singh 2/2
* Excerpt of Flirt (Anita Blake novella) by Laurell K Hamilton 02/02
* Excerpt, excerpt, and excerpt of Laced with Desire (Anth) by Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, Joey W. Hill, etc. 02/02
* Snippet and first 20% of First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, Bk 1) Jeaniene Frost 2/9
* Excerpt of Branded Sanctuary (Nature of Desire series) by Joey W. Hill 2/12
* Excerpt of Black Magic Sanction (Hollows / Rachel Morgan, Bk 8) by Kim Harrison 2/23
* Chapter 1 of Werewolf Smackdown (Felix Gomez 5) Mario Acevedo 3/9
* Chapter 1 of Voices of Dragons (new YA series) by Carrie Vaughn 3/16
* Excerpt and excerpt of Warriors (Anthology) George RR Martin, Carrie Vaughn, etc. 3/16
* Prologue, Chapter 2, & trailers of Radiant Shadows (Wicked Lovely Bk 4) Melissa Marr 4/20
* Chapter 1 (pdf form) of Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse #10) by Charlaine Harris 5/4
* Excerpt of Vampire Mistress (Vampire Queen, Book 5) by Joey W. Hill 5/4
* Prologue of Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels Book 4) by Ilona Andrews 5/25
* Excerpt of Infinity (Chronicles of Nick Book 1) by Sherrilyn Kenyon 6/8
* Excerpt of Bonds of Justice (Psy/Changeling #8) (Max's Book) by Nalini Singh 7/6
* Snippet, Snippet, Snippet, Snippet, Cover, and Discussion of Bayou Moon (The Edge series Book 2), by Ilona Andrews

Rob Thurman's site says that she will post an excerpt to Roadkill (Cal Leandros book 5) on her Livejournal page on February 1st. Book release 3/2.

Lisa Lutz has a blurb up for The Spellmans Strike Again (Spellman Files, Book 4). Book release 3/6.

Patricia Briggs generally puts excerpts up before books are published, but she doesn't have the excerpt up yet for Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, Book 5) at her website. Based on what she's done in the past, there should be one any day now. Book release 3/30.

Jim Butcher has a page up for Changes, (Dresden Files book 12), no blurb or excerpt yet but you can see the cover. Book release 4/6.

Lori Handeland has a page up for Chaos Bites, hopefully she'll post an excerpt in the near future, until then, there is a blurb up at the MacMillan site. Book release 4/27.

Keri Arthur has a page up for Moon Sworn (Riley Jensen Bk 9), but so far there is only an image of the cover. Just knowing the title of this book kind of gives us an idea of what may happen, though. Book Release 5/25.

The Ilona Andrews writing team does not yet have a page up for Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels Book 4). However, they talk about what is in the book here and here, and they give us a teeny little snippet here. Book Release 5/25.

Janet Evanovich's website says they will begin posting excerpts to Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum 16) on March 1st. Book release 6/22.

Kelley Armstrong has a page up for Waking the Witch (Savannah story, Women/Otherworld Bk 11), so far there is just a blurb and cover art. Book Release 8/3.

In case you haven't read them yet, there are also some excerpts up for books released in 2009, and so far in 2010:
* Chapter 1 of At Grave's End (Night Huntress, 3) Jeaniene Frost, 12/30/08
* 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 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
* Chapter One 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
* 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 Bound to Shadows (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Book 8) Keri Arthur 10/27
* Excerpt of A Deep Kiss of Winter (Anthology) Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter, 10/13
* Excerpt of Blaze of Memory (Psy-Changelings, Dev's book), Nalini Singh 11/3
* Excerpt of Skin Game by Ava Gray, 11/03
* Excerpt of A Mermaid's Ransom (Daughters of Arianne Bk 3) Joey W Hill 12/1
* Chapter 1 (pdf) of Divine Misdemeanors (Meredith Gentry #8) Laurell K. Hamilton 12/8
* Excerpt of Kitty's House of Horrors (Kitty Norville Bk 7) by Carrie Vaughn 1/4/10

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Succubi Like It Hot (Succubus Diaries #2) by Jill Myles

Book two of the Succubus Diaries, Succubi Like it Hot, continues shortly after the ending of of the first book, Gentlemen Prefer Succubi. Jackie has had a few more weeks to get used to being a succubus, and she's switching out the days and nights with her two guys. Life seems to be going pretty good. But then:

With a hot new figure, her dream job as an archaeologist, and two gorgeous boyfriends to scratch her seductive Itch -- an angel and a vampire -- Jackie Brighton is totally getting the hang of life as a succubus. Then she accidentally knocks the pizza guy unconscious with her touch. Great -- she's cursed. After striking a deal to get the curse lifted by a crafty demon, Jackie and her best friend Remy take a road trip to deliver a cryptic message to the nation's oldest succubus. Unfortunately, neither of her jealous lovers is talking to Jackie right now, and due to the curse, she's desperate to get her Itch scratched very soon. Their journey gets weirder with every mile -- demonic possession, a charming stalker, a cryptic warning -- and when they get to New Orleans, Jackie discovers a dangerous catch to her supernatural bargain. Someone wants her dead -- again. Can a brainy vixen in a miniskirt outsmart the forces of evil?

The pacing in Succubi Like it Hot is again done really well, the dialogue is good, and the plot is good. Not as good as the first book, but this was still a very entertaining book. I can see that there are things we haven't learned yet, quite a few things about Noah, and some more things about Zane (though we learn a few things of interest about him in this book). We've been told in both books that they have a history with each other that they aren't telling Jackie, and I find it interesting that they've both taken to calling her Princess as a nickname.

We are given an excerpt from the third (apparently unnamed) book in the series at the end of Succubi Like it Hot. I think that some of this is going to go more into romance than action in the future, so we'll have to see how that plays out.

I will give Succubi Like it Hot a 9 of 10. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't quite as good as the first book.

Book Rating: Succubi Like it Hot: 9 of 10
Series Rating: Succubus Diaries: 9 of 19

I will be keeping an eye out for book three.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gentlemen Prefer Succubi (Succubus Diaries #1) by Jill Myles

Were it not for the offer of Gentlemen Prefer Succubi for a blog tour, I'm not sure I'd have read this book. The cover and the title combined make you think this is a lighthearted romance, and this book is not a lighthearted romance. It's an urban fantasy with worldbuilding that is really well done. The author has drawn from biblical and Egyptian histories and myths (oh, and a bit of apocrypha) to create a world that makes sense, so you can see that this is a (fantasy) reality that could be believable based on the mythologies that are out there.

The basics to this world include angels, fallen angels, vampires (fallen angels who have made a deal with the devil, sort of), and demons (though we haven't met any demons yet, that appears to come in book two). And amongst the immortal (well, sort of immortal) we have succubi. I say sort of immortal because a succubi is created, and if her creators die, then she dies. Or, if she refuses to "feed" (have sex on a very regular basis), then she can die. Other than that? Stuff can hurt her, but apparently can't kill her.

That feeding thing? What happens when a human who is a prude gets turned into a succubus who has to have a whole lot of sex? Well, that's pretty much what happens here. Which means our main character, Jackie, doesn't jump into bed with everyone right off the bat. It also means when she does jump into bed with someone, she feels bad about it. But, once she starts getting the hang of things, she stops beating herself up over it. Jackie is nothing like Anita Blake. Nothing at all. And I know that's what people will think when they hear "has to have sex or she dies", and I suppose there was that danger there, but the author has successfully sidestepped the danger, and this storyline and character steer a good ways away from the the other one.

Which brings me to a discussion of how the sex is handled... and that is, quite well. Some of the sex scenes are glossed over, but others give us a very descriptive play by play that is smokin'. But, the book is not mostly about sex. I didn't do a page count, but I'd guess the sex takes up maybe 10% or less of the book. The book is mainly about a woman who is turned into a succubus without knowing it, and then who is used as a pawn by the angels and vampires. She has a fallen angel and another succubus in her corner, but she's still mostly in a pretty tight spot while she's trying to figure out the "rules" to her new body and her new life.

So don't let the cover and the title fool you: This is not a lighthearted romance. There is some romance in the book, but the parts of the book that reeled me in were the worldbuilding and the plot.

Gentlemen Prefer Succubi has great dialogue, a nice plot with appropriate twists and turns, good sex, solid worldbuilding, and perfect pacing. I give it a 10 of 10.

Book Rating: Gentlemen Prefer Succubi: 10 of 10

The minute I finished Gentlemen Prefer Succubi I went onto Amazon's site and ordered Succubi like it Hot. I can't wait for it to arrive. The author's blog says she's still working on book three, which means it's going to be a while before we see the third book.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Scarpetta series Books 15-17 by Patricia Cornwell

I have gone from really enjoying this series, to being glad I've read the last book. When another is released I do not believe I will buy it. If someone else offers it to me to borrow, I'll read it, but I won't buy another one. The first books were incredibly well done. And the last two books in the series were getting close to the enjoyment level of those first books. But, not enough to make me anticipate the release of the next book.

I said in my last review of this series that I wasn't convinced that these books are being written by the same author who wrote the first four books of the series. The voice is different, the dialogue is different, the plots aren't anywhere near as well thought out, the procedures aren't being handled the same way within the text... they don't feel like the same series. Is that because the author has changed so much in the time since she wrote the first book? Probably.

Book Rating: Book of the Dead: 7 of 10
Book Rating: Scarpetta: 7 of 10
Book Rating: The Scarpetta Factor: 8 of 10

Series Rating: Kay Scarpetta Series: 6 of 10

As you can see, these latter books are getting higher ratings than some of the previous books in the series. But I didn't raise the series rating. Considering that the first six books in the series had five 9's and one 8 - that tells you that the series has gone through some drastic changes.

I do enjoy reading about how computers are being used to solve crimes. I've also enjoyed reading about various other crime fighting tools. And I love that Ms. Cornwell sometimes makes people's names fit their profession, and how Marino always points that out. There are parts of the books that I really enjoy. Unfortunately, the storytelling part has changed, and that's a pretty big part of why we buy books.. the author's voice, the character's dialogue, how many "threads" we are expected to keep up with at once. I suppose it's a given that as an author grows and changes that her work will as well. I've seen it with the Anita Blake series and with the Stephanie Plum series, too. Of course, I'm mostly okay with the changes in the Anita Blake series... but the Stephanie Plum series has gone from funny to silly, which hasn't worked for me. So, I guess it's just one of those things: Any series that spans 15 or 20 years of an author's life is going to go through changes, because the author is not the same person now that he or she was 15 or 20 years ago.

1 and 2. The Scarpetta Collection Volume I: Postmortem and Body of Evidence
3 and 4. Scarpetta Collection Volume II: All That Remains and Cruel & Unusual
5. The Body Farm
6. From Potter's Field
7. Cause of Death
8. Unnatural Exposure
9. Point of Origin
10.Black Notice
11.The Last Precinct
12.Blow Fly
15.Book of the Dead
17.The Scarpetta Factor

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vampire Sunset (Delilah Street Bk 3) by Carole Nelson Davis

Vampire Sunset is the third Delilah Street book by Carole Nelson Davis. The second book, Brimstone Kiss, left us with a huge cliffhanger that really bothered me. It felt like she didn't finish the book, and I don't like it when an author does that. So, I waited a while to read the third book, as I wanted to make sure we weren't going to be left with another cliff hanger like that.

Once I decided to read it, I enjoyed Vampire Sunset. There are still some pacing issues, and some places where the writing is a touch awkward, but all in all, it was an entertaining book.

Here's the blurb:


Werewolf mobsters and vampires run Vegas, but that's yesterday's news for Delilah Street, paranormal investigator. What's truly fearsome is her bloody discovery of an undead evil rooted in ancient Egypt. Now, with her lover Ric fighting for life after a grim battle, the chips are down.

But Delilah is a born winner who has never let a little danger throw off her game, and she's been learning fast since she came to Sin City. Her affinity for silver is making mirror-walking a real breeze, and being forced to accept the albino rock star sorcerer Snow's Brimstone Kiss has ramped up her powers to a startling new level. With the help of her trusty uber-wolfhound Quicksilver, not to mention the orange demon parking valet Manny, Delilah is determined to solve even more paranormal secrets, and hopefully save the few innocents left in town. But can Delilah win her high-stakes gamble for life and love against ancient gods and lethal supernatural odds?

I'm not sure the blurb actually tells us much of what happens in the book. I will say that some of it is far out there, even for something in the Urban Fantasy genre - but that's okay. It's a very different perspective on the genre, and I've enjoyed the concepts that the author explores.

Vampire Sunrise doesn't give us a whole lot of answers. We learn more about Ric's childhood, but we don't learn much more about Snow, and the breadcrumbs we pick up about Lilith don't really tell us anything, either. The plot is not a plot just for this book, it's a continuation of the same plot from previous books. In fact, these three books seem to me to be one book in three parts, more than three books. And it's possible that the next book will make it seem like one book in four parts.

I've given this series a 5 of 10 in the past. I'll give Vampire Sunset a 7 of 10, and I'll raise the series rating to a 6 of 10.

Book Rating: Vampire Sunset: 7 of 10
Series Rating: Delilah Street: 6 of 10

1. Dancing with Werewolves
2. Brimstone Kiss
3. Vampire Sunrise (Nov 24, '09)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Kitty's House of Horrors (Kitty Norville, Book 7) by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty's House of Horrors, the 7th book in the Kitty Norville series, is very aptly named. This book would make a nice horror movie. I hate horror movies, but I liked this book. Maybe it's because there was no suspenseful music?

I believe that Kitty's House of Horrors is setting us up for a longer plot arc that will likely span several books. The stage is being set for an eventual showdown, one that is probably many books away.

Kitty spends most of her time away from Ben in this book, which means there is almost no relationship stuff going on.

Before I get too much further, here's the blurb:

REALITY BITES Talk radio host and werewolf Kitty Norville has agreed to appear on TV's first all-supernatural reality show. She's expecting cheesy competitions and manufactured drama starring shapeshifters, vampires, and psychics. But what begins as a publicity stunt will turn into a fight for her life. The cast members, including Kitty, arrive at the remote mountain lodge where the show is set. As soon as filming starts, violence erupts and Kitty suspects that the show is a cover for a nefarious plot.

Nefarious plot, indeed. As is always the case with the Kitty books, this was an entertaining read. Pacing was mostly good, dialogue was good, funny moments were great, horrific moments were suitably horrific.

I'm giving Kitty's House of Horrors an 8 of 10, and the series will stay at a 9 of 10 for me. I have high hopes for the next book, as something happens at the end of House of Horrors that sets us up for some interesting stuff in future books.

Book Rating: Kitty's House of Horrors: 8 of 10
Series Rating: Kitty Norville Series: 9 of 10

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)