Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Books Read In One Year...

I have been on a reading jag for the last year. It started November 17, 2008 when I picked up the first Twilight book to find out what all the craziness was about. While it isn't the best book I've read over the last year, it rekindled a love for reading that had taken a back burner to raising my son, dealing with special ed school issues and managing life in general.

I've always loved urban fantasy, but most of my reading over the last 15 years has been short books with little depth. It's hard to concentrate on a book when you're worrying about whether your child will get thru their day without disaster. Disaster happened a lot.

He's 14 now and finally seems to be getting the hang of navigating a world that has been less than friendly to him. I find myself with time on my hands.

I made a list of Urban Fantasy books. It encompasses all urban fantasy in Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Romance, Science Fiction and Teen book sections. It's currently 31 pages long. I expanded to a second list of Urban Fantasy To Get, which is 21 pages at present. Both lists keep growing. On the original list of all books out there, I rated and reviewed the books I've read.

I have 3 bags of books (roughly 100) just waiting to be read. Borders loves me.

I have 6 more days until my year is up. So far, my grand total of books read is 304! Six of those are anthologies of short stories.

I believe I'll finish the current series I'm reading - Ilona Andrews - Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes - which I give 4 stars. I'm a sucker for bad-ass female protagonists with issues. I think the world she created where magic and tech are two sides of a coin is well thought out. Her vampires scare the crap out of me. Her weres are scary and still manage sexy. That's hard to do. The dialogue is smart. I'm forcing myself to read it slowly because books like this I tend to consume like chocolate.

Thank you to all the authors who pour their hearts and souls into writing. You are my escape and my solace on tough days, and my pleasure on good days.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why I Read....

So, why do I read 3-5 books a week? What could possibly be the reason for my need for escapism? I give you a typical day in the life of a mom dealing with a 14 yr. old with Aspergers...

me: (having listened to my son express his absolute need for a touchscreen laptop daily for months now) Hey, check out CNet. They have a list of netbook touchscreens.
J: Theres no such thing.
me: Yes there is, right here. These touchscreens are netbooks.
J: They don't make netbooks touchscreen mom. (Tone is 'you're so fucking stupid')
me: Look. Asus eee netbook touchscreen (I list two others)
J: Those aren't touchscreens
me: Yes, they are.
J: (looks) Those aren't netbooks.
me: Yes they are. Listen to the description.
J: You dont know anything. You're wrong.
me: I'm pretty sure I'm not wrong. Its all right there.
J: Mom, they don't make them.
me: I'm looking at them right now. Look. (Again, showing him the computers.)
J: You're wrong. Those aren't netbooks.
me: J, it says right there they are. Its reviewing them.
J: You know you're really annoying sometimes. You ought to learn how to explain yourself better. I know that eee is making a touchscreen.
me: What are you talking about? I explained myself perfectly.
J: No you didn't. You were trying to tell me that there are netbooks that are touchscreens.
me: This is a netbook and a touchscreen.
J: No its not.
(Need I continue??? I think not. This is my life!

Give me books any day.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Favorite Urban Fantasy Authors

Okay, here's a rundown on my favorite urban fantasy authors. They aren't in any particular order, although I've ** the authors whose books I could read repeatedly (and have). Some of their books are for young adults. Some are more mature. Some are very dark in their storyline. All are phenomenal and worth investing in the book so that you can read it again and again.

Kim Harrison **
Richelle Mead **
Rachel Caine **
Karen Marie Moning **
Adrian Phoenix **
Jocelynn Drake
Jennifer Rardin **
Rob Thurman **
Holly Black
Melissa Marr
Karen Chance
Lilith Saintcrow
Lori Handeland
Maggie Steifvater
Stephanie Meyer
Justine Musk
Devon Monk
Jim Butcher
P.C. & Kristin Cast
Molly Harper

Other enjoyable authors:
Mario Acevedo
Sarah Addison Allen
Dakota Cassidy
Kelley Armstrong
Cassandra Clare
Charles DeLint
Mark Del Franco
Angie Fox
Tate Hallaway
Mark Henry
John Levitt
Victoria Laurie
Vicki Pettersson
Kat Richardson
Michelle Rowan

As for newer or not as well known authors who are very promising:
M.L.N. Hanover
Carrie Jones
Amber Benson
Anna Katherine
Mark Teppo
Chloe Neill
Jaye Wells
Barbara Bretton

This list is obviously incomplete, since there are several well-known authors (Laurell K. Hamilton, Jeanne Stein, Patricia Briggs, P.N. Elrod, Laura Anne Gilman, Claudia Gray, Simon R. Green, Charlaine Harris, Tanya Huff, Stacia Kane to name a few) whose books I just haven't gotten to yet. I have a 20 page list of urban fantasy that I have read, a 10 page list of books I want to read that just keeps getting added to, at least 50 books sitting waiting for me to read, and many many more before I'm done.

There are a few authors as well whose books I HATED! And it takes a lot for me to hate a book. But they're there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dead Witch Walking series by Kim Harrison

Dead Witch Walking
The Good, The Bad and the Undead
Every Which Way But Dead
A Fistful of Charms
For a Few Demons More
The Outlaw Demon Wails
White Witch, Black Curse
by Kim Harrison

This is probably the best urban fantasy series I've read (and I've read a lot!). The story revolves around Rachel, a witch, her best friend, Ivy (a vampire), and Jenks (a pixie). The characters are rich and whether you love their relationships or hate them, you will be sucked into their world. Kim Harrison excels in creating a believable world where vampires, fey, weres & witches can all exist.

The stories are told 1st person thru Rachel's eyes.

I highly recommend this series to anyone interested in Urban Fantasy. I read the first book in a day & spent the next 2 days running to every bookstore in a 30 mile radius to scrounge up the rest. For an entire week, I did no housework, no laundry, no cooking. I stayed up late reading until I was bleary eyed until I'd finished the last book (TODW). And then it was complete torture waiting for the most recent addition (WWBC) to come out. Go out and buy these. You'll want to keep them.

My Scale:
Characters (1-5) = 5
Solid Story (1-5) = 5
Believable World (1-5) = 5
Angst (1-3) = 3
Humor (1-3) = 2
Relationships (1-3) = 3
Choices (1-3) = 3
Adventure (1-3) = 3
Grand Total (out of 30) = 29

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mark del Franco

Unshapely Things, Unquiet Dreams & Unfallen Dead
by Mark del franco

I'm currently half way through the second book in this series. They take place in Boston & the main character (Connor) is a druid who has lost his powers & now works part time with a Boston detective (a human named Murdock). The author has done a great job describing the Boston area (hey, I'm from here - I'd know), while giving it a nice twist with the fey neighborhoods. The characters are believeable & well developed. The story line in both the first & second books is well thought out and enjoyable. I enjoyed the first book well enough to pick up the 2nd & 3rd before I was finished, so that I could read them in succession.
The story is told in first person from Connor's perspective.
I normally like a little more humor in my books, but hey, if I was a druid without powers, I don't know how much I'd be chuckling either. To understand what makes a book enjoyable to me, read my first post.
So, here's my scale:
Characters (1-5) = 5
Angst (1-3) = 2
Solid Story (1-5) = 5
Humor (1-3) = 1
Love (1-3) = 1
Choices (1-3) = 2
Believable World (1-5) = 4
Adventure (1-3) = 2
Grand Total (out of 30) = 22

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Best Urban Fantasy Authors

I thought I'd post a list of the best of the best in Urban Fantasy. So, here it is:

Holly Black
Rachel Caine
Dakota Cassidy
Karen Chance
Kim Harrison
Richelle Mead
Stephanie Meyer
Karen Marie Moning
Justine Musk
Adrian Phoenix
Jennifer Rardin
Rob Thurman

What makes a good book or series?

First, the characters have to be believeable even if they're demons (or whatever supernatural creature you're into). They have to have flaws, not all good or all bad. The reader should be able to love them or hate them, but not feel apathetic toward them.

Second, there has to be angst. Life does not run smoothly, and it shouldn't for them.

Third, there absolutely has to be a solid story. Characters floundering around looking for love just don't do it. There has to be more to it than that. A starting point, a quandry, a series of choices and a satisfying conclusion. (Even if it ends with disaster.)

Fourth, humor. If you can't laugh when the shit hits the fan, you're not worth knowing. Sorry.

Fifth, love. It doesn't need to be hot, detailed sex. In fact, sometimes that just ruins it. Just give me attachments to friends, to family, to that special person and all the messy garbage that goes along with it.

Sixth, choices. Not good/bad choices necessarily - because those are easy. I'm talking the bad vs. equally-bad-but-in-a different-way choice. How a person chooses to move through life is important and when faced with two totally crap choices. Which one you choose shows your character.

Seventh, a rich, full, believeable world. If you have the best character in the world, but they're living in a one-dimensional universe that's not carefully and thoughtfully laid out, it just won't work.

Eighth, adventure. It doesn't have to be knock-down, drag-out violent chaos, but certainly there should be some excitement, some question as to whether things are going to work out in the end or end up totally f*cked up. It shouldn't be a given that everything will be peachy or you might as well just pick up the book and read the last page.