Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Book Reports Part I

Back in February you all were kind enough to make recs on how I could spend my money at the book store, from which I built an instant TBR and proceeded to demolish it.

Work kept me from sitting down and writing up a post on the books, and then I hesitated as I wasn't sure how to write about the ones I didn't care for. There are some personal and professional considerations involved. Also, it's impossible to like every book friends recommend because of our individual preferences and buttons, but it's always good to try something new even if it's not your cup of tea. Although I didn't care for every book, I was glad I read all of them.

The other thing is that authors and editors are still actively hitting me up for quotes. I retired from quoting a couple years ago after the situation got entirely out of hand. Industry pros, please note that nothing I write on PBW can be used as a quote for a published novel by any author or author's agent, editor, publicist and so forth. This has nothing to do with the books or the authors; it's to save my sanity. Also, thank you in advance for not harassing me about it.

Here's the first half of my book reports:

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews -- This is the only book I don't want to comment on extensively for reasons best left unspecified. It's a good debut book; if you liked the Anita Blake books before all the ardeur descended you'll probably enjoy this one. The authors should do very well on the market. [Note: if you recommended this one to me and you want to talk about it privately via e-mail, shoot me a note and I'll elaborate.]

The Woods by Harlan Coben -- The author is a gifted writer, and that hasn't changed. I love what he does with brevity. The magic of his dialogue alone is worth the read. This is a twisty page-turner, and you probably shouldn't start it at midnight unless you're an insomniac. The only problem I had with this book is that I felt his gender depictions were out of balance; in his work he often comes across to me as very unforgiving of his female characters and it was very noticeable this time around. I know the character perspective of a male writer can be completely opposite that of a female writer, but when the majority of your female characters are villainized in some form or another, and the majority of your male characters basically serve as their unsuspecting Mary Sueish victims, you're not characterizing as much as you're ax-grinding at the gender wheel. Aside from this, and one story element that was left unresolved at the end, it's an excellent read and suspenseful with a capital S.

Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione -- liked it so much I gave away a bunch of copies back in February. I can't wait to see what Larissa comes up with next.

My Wicked Enemy by Carolyn Jewel -- excellent world-building, great characters, skillful pacing. Very hot. Not your usual paranormal romance fare here, either. There were some segues and characterization elements I would have liked to have seen handled differently, but I think that's a style difference between us as writers versus actual story flaws. Grand Central is really building a nice list of talented authors in this genre.

Scandal by Carolyn Jewel -- I didn't like this one as much as her paranormal (and I'm probably still burned out on historical romances, so put that on me) but it's a fine read, well-written and also shows that the author has range.

DarkFever by Karen Marie Moning -- An interesting book. I didn't like the protagonist at all at first, and then she grew on me. Same thing with the plot; I thought it might be another dull derivative cloner, and then it perked up. If you like the Meredith Gentry books but you're tired of how that series is going, this would be a good one to check out. I bought the next two books on faith that they'd be just as well-written, although I was a little ticked to see the third already got bumped up to hardcover. I'd like to see series that start off in paperback stay in paperback for the sake of the readers who can't afford hardcovers, but this is yet another reason why they'll never let me run Publishing. [Note: everyone who accuses me of not writing romance should read this one, then come talk to me about how I don't put enough romance in my books.]

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark -- beautiful book, both to look at and read (I love the gorgeous end papers.) Adored the setting, the story, and the characters. A bit like Umberto Eco meets Dan Brown, but much friendlier and more approachable. I needed this, frankly; I've hit a run of bad straight historical fiction lately and I was beginning to despair. It's a book that will appeal to the lit-heads and genre readers, which is a tough thing to pull off. Don't read if you're struggling with a diet. Very well done. Headed for my keeper shelf.

Delicious by Sherry Thomas -- Pretty writing, and an ambitious tone, but decidedly unlikeable characters (and I usually like unlikeable characters, so to put me off takes some doing.) My dad is a chef, so I know a bit about fine cuisine as well as the reality of creating it, and I think that's why the whole food-sex fantasy aspect of the story didn't work for me. I also kept getting mired down in the story timeline juggling as well as some structure problems, but I probably noticed them more because I stopped reading the book for pleasure after about page twenty. It's not a bad book, though, and will likely appeal to the Laura Kinsale/Judith Ivory/Amy Tan lovers. I'd also like to come back to this author after she's written a few more books and I'm not so burned out on historical romances.

Thanks to everyone who recommended these books to me. The second half of my book reports will be up later this week, as soon as I have time to compose them, so stay tuned.

22 comments:

  1. Hi Lynn,

    Thanks for the review. I've read a couple of these and glanced at others. It's nice you offered a little comparison for similar books. I used to really like Laurell Hamilton, but she's taken a different turn with her books. Her other series featuring Meredith is so similar that I think I'm seeing the same story line redone in fantasy. It's okay, but I no longer look forward to her releases. I can wait until the library gets them and even then, I'm willing to wait a couple of months before reading it.
    Love Karen Moning. Didn't like her heroine at first, either, but she grew on me. I'm waiting for her next one. I believe it's out in June or July?
    Anyway, you've put a couple new titles on my list.

    Laurel

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  2. I resisted the Moning "Fever" series even though I'm a huge fan of her previous books. Then I read the first in the series and was totally hooked. Although I also wish it hadn't bumped to hardcover quite so fast I also know I do not have the willpower to resist buying the next book as soon as it comes out. I HAVE to know what happens next!

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  3. Thanks Lynn! I've reserved a copy of
    The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark at the library to try this author.

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  4. I know where you're coming from re. reviews for books that didn't suit your tastes. I get round not wanting to give a negative review by only reviewing those books I can be positive about. That way I don't mislead or offend anybody.

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  5. everyone who accuses me of not writing romance should read this one, then come talk to me about how I don't put enough romance in my books*HOWLING* S'truth! There's little if any romance in Monning's series, but hey, it's Urban Fantasy (IMO). I loved it too, but you already know that.

    Laurel...I think it's August. Saw a note on Facebook from KMM that the next book got bumped up a week to something like 8/16

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  6. Laurel wrote: It's nice you offered a little comparison for similar books.I've found with all the reader/genre confusion lately that it helps to give a comparitive reference when you talk about a book from a new or new-to-you author. Amie's rec, DarkFever, impressed me as one of the better UFs I've read this year, but it's labeled as a romance on the spine and in my local bookstores it's only shelved in romance (usually you find UF on the SF/F and mainstream lit shelves.) I find that really confusing because there is like zero romance in the book (okay, two lines when the guy kisses her when she's semi-conscious, but that's it.)

    Glad the reports helped. :)

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  7. Mary wrote: Although I also wish it hadn't bumped to hardcover quite so fast I also know I do not have the willpower to resist buying the next book as soon as it comes out. I HAVE to know what happens next!
    I like continuing a good series, too, but I wouldn't have bought the hardcover on faith if I hadn't had a 40% off store coupon from Borders. I think I'd have waited for it to come out in paperback, or more likely forgotten about it. That's the danger when you bump a series from pb to hadrcover too fast for new readers.

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  8. Lainey wrote": I've reserved a copy of
    The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark at the library to try this author.


    I think you'll enjoy it, Lainey. It's also gorgeous, and reminds me of the good old days in book production, when they didn't spare any expense crafting the physical book.

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  9. Joanne wrote: I get round not wanting to give a negative review by only reviewing those books I can be positive about. That way I don't mislead or offend anybody.

    I usually do the same, Joanne; authors get bashed enough elsewhere and I don't think they need to hear it from me. These books were all recommended by my visitors, though, and out of respect for them I wanted to pass along my honest take. Hopefully I won't get into hot water for it.

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  10. Amie wrote: There's little if any romance in Monning's series, but hey, it's Urban Fantasy (IMO). I loved it too, but you already know that.

    Ms. Moning can thank you for three sales here. :) So what's with this highlander series of hers? Anything like these fever books, or is it more historical romance?

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  12. Karen W.8:44 PM

    Thanks for your take on the books you read, Lynn. I enjoyed hearing your opinions on them. Very interesting.

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  13. Sorry about the deletion up there, folks -- a SPAMmer got through before Tom or I realized it.

    Karen wrote: I enjoyed hearing your opinions on them.

    I wish I could get over this historical romance burnout; it's really starting to bug me. Maybe if Lisa Valdez would publish that second book in her series, she'd save me . . . :)

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  14. The nurse in me very often shudders when I read a sex scene that involves food.

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  16. My first reply came out a little risque, so I've deleted that and will try again. :)

    Shiloh wrote: The nurse in me very often shudders when I read a sex scene that involves food.

    I always think of the interesting extractions I've observed in the ER. Just because you can fit an object into a point of entry doesn't mean that you should, guys.

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  17. I like Carolyn Jewel's books and her voice. Moning's new series was my first time trying her. I too was quite sure how much I liked the first, though was left wanting more and after the next two was drawn in and love the series. Cant'wait for the new release.

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  18. I can see I'm going to have to add Monning to my reading list! I had no idea the books were urban fantasy or I'd have tried 'em already.

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  19. So what's with this highlander series of hers? Anything like these fever books, or is it more historical romance?The highlander books are historical fantasy (or hist. paranormal), and I read and loved them all many years ago (damn can she do dark angsty men or what?!). They're sitting on my keeper shelf.

    My friend Jen picked up a couple of them AFTER I got her hooked on the Fever books--she says the heroines have annoyed her(LOL). I have to say, reading the Fever series has made me want to re-read the historicals.

    Fangirl Ramble: One of the things I love and appreciate is the fact this series is set Somewhere Else. It could have worked anywhere but honestly, Ireland, which I view as the home of anything and everything fae, is just utter perfection :D

    /end fangirl ramble

    LOL Sorry for the blog hijack.

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  20. I'm like 99% sure the Fever series started as Hardcover...so it's not bumping to Hardcover with Faefever (the 3rd in the 5 book series). Faefever will be released in paperback this summer about a month prior to the Hardcover release of Dreamfever (4th of the 5) on August 18th. (Shadowfever is due out sometime next year if Moning's health doesn't interfere.)

    As for the romance in the Fever series...it is spread over the arc of the 5 books. So they aren't stand alone romances. It is awfully misleading that most stores shelve them in the romance section based on her previous novels.

    (damn can she do dark angsty men or what?!) LOL yep she can!

    If you like Moning's Highlander series you'll enjoy Melissa Mayhue's Daughters of the Glen series.

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  21. Sherri - you're right. The Fever series DID start in hardcover. Darkfever was originally released in October 2006 in hardcover - I distinctly remember being at the store buying it, so it's definitely not a jump to hardcover mid-series.

    Also, wondering if you've read the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. I just started it, and love it.

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  22. This is a shout out to those who like to listen to their reads:

    Darkfever is available as a free download via PodioBooks.com as well as iTunes.

    I loved listening to it--the reader (Joyce Bean) is amazing. It's worth the listen to experience her voices.

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