Monday, February 28, 2011


Oh Lord, too many good books!!

Coming out tomorrow...

Demon Song by Cat Adams (SF - 2nd in series)
Daybreak Zero by John Barnes (SF - 2nd in series)
Blood and Flowers by Penny Blubaugh (YA)
Living on the Edge by Shannon K. Butcher (SF)
Accidentally Catty by Dakota Cassidy (Ro - 4th in series)
Under Wraps by Hannah Jayne (SF)
Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire (SF - 4th in series)
Dead on Delivery by Eileen Rendahl (SF - 2nd in series)
A Hundred Words for Hate by Thomas E. Sniegoski (SF - 4th in series)
Blackout by Rob Thurman (SF - 6th in series)

Those titles in bold - well, hell I have to read them IMMEDIATELY. (singing in a stupidly ridiculous voice) Blackout is out! Blackout is out! Tomorrow Tomorrow Blackout is out! WOOOOO!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Books Read in February 2011

The following is my list of books read in February. Can I say it was a really good month for books? Some of my favorite authors had releases. And I've had plenty of reading time as I've become the shuttle bus for my kid to his college classes. (Sitting in a car in 20 degree temps is not fun but reading makes it bearable). So without further ado...(9 books, 2 short stories)

Unseen by Rachel Caine *****
A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang ****
Enchanted No More by Robin D. Owens **
The Last of the Demon Slayers by Angie Fox *****
Blood, Smoke and Mirrors by Robin Bachar ****
Remedial Magic (short story) by Jenna Black ***
The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver *****
Retro Demonology (short story) by Jana Oliver ****
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney ****
Demon Marked by Anna J. Evans ****
Etched in Bone by Adrian Phoenix ******
Pale Demon by Kim Harrison *****

Etched in Bone by Adrian Phoenix - 4th book in the Maker's Song series - This is by far my favorite series. The story is fantastic, the characters amazing. Its dark, emotional, and beautiful in its tragic main character, Dante. He is, I think, the best urban fantasy character of all time. Vampire/fallen angel, creator, the endless road, maybe the Great Destroyer (God I hope not), tortured, abused, everyone wants a piece of him or they want him dead. Will he heal the world or burn it down? I don't know, but I know I want to be along on the ride. Awesome.

Unseen by Rachel Caine - 3rd in the Outcast series - Cassie used to be djinn. Now she's working with Luis Rocha to stop another djinn (Pearl) who she thought she destroyed from destroying the world. Cassie is a brilliant character - not human at all, tho she's now in a human body and learning how to be - she wants to do the right thing, but is hampered by her djinn nature. Luis is sexy and flawed in his own right. They're attracted to each other - maybe they even love each other - but Luis doesn't trust her. And in order to do the right thing, her actions won't have him trusting her anytime soon.

The Last of the Demon Slayers by Angie Fox - I posted on this one, so you can check out my review. I love this series - biker witches with crazy spells, a Greek shape-shifting griffin and a pre-school teacher turned demon slayer who has no idea what she's doing half the time, but she does it with heart. Its funny. Its silly. Its romantic. And it has just the right amount of angst to pull it all together into a wonderful story.

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver - This book takes place in a vastly changed world where things have gone to shit. Riley is a demon trapper's daughter, studying to be a demon trapper herself - tho the society would like to see her fail. She hates her father's trapping partner, Denver, who is a few years older than her (or does she?). When her father is killed fighting a demon, its up to Den to keep her from doing something stupid. This is a very unique story in that its just as much about a teenage girl trying to find her place in a harsh world as it is about them hunting demons and figuring out why demons are getting away. I loved it.

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison - The latest in the Rachel Morgan series. Rachel, Ivy, Jenks and Trent are on a road trip to the annual witches conference, where Rachel is going to be going before the council to answer for using black demon magic. I usually hate road trip books - they're frustrating. But this one gets it right. At times hysterically funny, tense, scary and sweet, the long trip builds on the characters' relationships as they're thrown from one situation to the next. Loved it.

A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang - This book is a great first in a series. Abby, the main character is a Touchstone. Demons, fae and angels can use her to travel from their realm to ours. She's working for the faery, Moira, who maintains the crossroads - only Moira is missing. She's trying to keep it a secret. Enter Brystion, an incubus who is searching for his sister who has also gone missing. Ally suffers a seizure and touchstones to him. Then she touchstones to a small unicorn. Then all hell breaks loose. This book had some major plot twists at the end. The action sequences at times were confusing (I had to reread a couple), but it was a great story. I'm dying to know more about the characters.

Blood, Smoke and Mirrors by Robin Bachar -Cat is a witch who's been kicked out of the witches society after killing someone who attacked her. Who turned her in? Her boyfriend at the time, Lex. (He's her ex now.) Titania (a title for the faery liason) is killed and several key people come to Cat wanting her to become the new Titania, something she really doesn't want. She's assigned a bodyguard after her competition attempts to kill her. Lex. Then she discovers her competition is her evil father. I know, it sounds crazy and not in a good way, but this was a surprisingly good story. The plot was there. The characters were well developed. There was plenty of angst. Cat has to go thru a series of trials to become Titania, all the while dealing with assassins and sorting out her relationship with Lex. I liked it.

Retro Demonology by Jana Oliver - a prequel short story to The Demon Trapper's Daughter, this is a nice little lead in to the main story.

Demon Marked by Anna J. Evans - This is the 2nd in a series (I haven't read the first, but I'm going to have to hunt it down.) Emma is a girl with a problem. When she was a toddler, her parents sacrificed her two siblings and her to demons. They all survived, but she now has a demon mark and needs to feed on humans to survive. She works at a bar where she can have her pick of losers to feed on, but makes a mistake and chooses the wrong guy. She ends up passed out in an alley and when she comes to, he's dead. His gang is not going to be happy. She's forced to call her brother-in-law's cousin, a lawyer, to help her get rid of the body. Andre has issues of his own - his family is mob and he has an addiction to sex. It turns out somebody is trying to take down the family business and the gang has something to do with it. All hell breaks loose, Emma and Andre fight a growing attraction and have to learn to trust each other. Again, its hard to describe without it sounding ridiculous, but I thought it was a well thought out story, I liked the characters and like I said, it made me I want to read the first book (which I'd looked at and passed on when it came out).

Remedial Magic by Jenna Black - This is a short story that goes alone with the Faeriewalker series (Glimmerglass & Shadowspell). I like this series & this short story is entertaining. Might make you look at teddy bears in a different light, tho. lol

Enchanted No More by Robin D. Owens - Jenni is half elf, half djinn and the only fae still alive who can balance all the elements. Her entire family (other than one gravely injured brother) died during an event that she showed up late to because she was having sex with her then-boyfriend Aric. Her brother, Rothly, disowned her and she's lived alone for the last fifteen years. Only there's another event coming and the fae world needs her help. I thought this book would have been better written first person. I thought the idea for the story was good, but it got bogged down in trying to explain the world. And I couldn't figure out whether humans knew fae existed or not. The fae seemed to walk among them looking anything but human, but then the humans were freaked out by seeing the fae in Yellowstone. It was confusing. I also didn't really like Aric - I thought he was idealistic to the point of being childish (I do like my men tragic and angsty, so...). And I have to say I'm very critical when it comes to world building, so it might just be me, but I just didn't get into this one.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What Makes a Truly Good Book....

I just finished The Last of the Demon Slayers by Angie Fox. As expected it was an exceptionally good read. It made me start thinking about what I consider makes a good read. So here's my list. I'm going to use Angie's book as an example of someone who gets it right.

1. Storyline - Obviously there has to be a storyline. Good book or bad, without an actual story that needs to be told you have nothing. (I've read some books that had no story that I could find other than the filler from one sex scene to another.)

Lizzie used to be a preschool teacher. Prim & proper, in an effort to make her adoptive parents proud. Until she discovered she's a demon slayer. And met Dimitri, a shape shifting griffin. And hooked up with her grandmother & the Biker Witches. And all hell broke loose. Now she's just trying to keep her head above water as she saves the world.

2. Pace - A good book needs to move along. It shouldn't have the same pace beginning to end because then it feels stagnant and can be frustrating. Too jerky from fast to slow and it's like being yanked on a chain. A good book flows from one extreme to the other and never leaves the reader behind.

In this, Angie gets it right, too. Her books are fast paced. There is a sense of urgency to them, and this latest was no exception. Lizzie's birth father needs her help. She, Dimitri and the Biker Witches need to save him from a demon. The race to figure out how to save him and the actual saving is action-packed. But within that, there are these moments where Lizzie gets a chance to catch her breath, to connect with Dimitri, to worry about whether she's doing the right thing. Those moments make the book.

3. Character Motives - Whether you like them or not, characters have to have motives for their actions. A bad guy has to have a reason why he's a bad guy. A hero/heroine needs to make sense. They can't just run around willy-nilly making decisions with no merit. But, if you have to take too much time to analyze those reasons, if it requires huge chunks of back-story, then that's not good either.

Again, The Last of Demon Slayers does a phenomenal job. Lizzie is insecure. She has abandonment issues. She doesn't ask for help. She doesn't expect it. But it all makes sense. She's an adopted child who never fit in. She always felt lacking. And when her mother finally showed, it was not a good experience. It's not analyzed to death. The explanations are neatly and succinctly explained in brief glimpses of her past. You understand her and her decision making from the very beginning.

4. Solid Backup Characters - There has to be relationships with other strong characters. And those relationships need to make sense. The support cast is just as important as the main characters. They have to have a role in moving the plot forward. Extraneous, unnecessary characters drag a story down. So do flat, depth-less characters.

From the Biker Witches, some of whom have bigger parts than others, to Dimitri, to Sid the Danny Devito look-alike fairy, to Pirate a talking Jack Russell - each and every one of these characters are integral to the story. There isn't an extraneous character to be found. And each of them is beautifully described.

5. World - A believable world is important. It has to make sense. What kinds of supernatural creatures exist? Do humans know about supernatural characters? Are they afraid of them? Do they intermingle? What laws of supernatural creatures apply? Can they transport? Can they fly? Can they use magic? How does the magic work? It has to be thought out. A world that's poorly explained will kill a story.

The Demon Slayer world is crazy. And hilarious. Spells made from horse poo and mint that you have to throw? Euw - and yet, from the Biker Witches it makes sense. A necklace that turns into armor - clever. A dragon pet for a dog - an absolute riot. Fairy paths that sound like something out of Candy Land - perfection. It's all just brilliant.

6. Emotion - If the book doesn't make you feel anything, it isn't good. If there isn't emotion woven into it, it's just not worth reading.

You feel Lizzie's love for Dimitri and his love for her. You feel her worry that he's going to leave her. Her affection for the witches even as she's frustrated by the craziness of them - it's there. Her worry about being less than capable - absolutely. I laughed, I worried, I might have even panicked over her relationship with Dimitri. My heart broke with hers (and I'm not saying why) over certain things that happened. Lizzie's emotions spill on the pages in beautiful detail.

In other words, I LOVED The Last of the Demon Slayers. I started it yesterday. And even though it has plenty of break stops in the story where I could have put it down, I didn't. That's what a good book does. It makes you want to keep reading even when your eyes are blurring and the clock is creeping up on 1 a.m. I finished this morning with a huge, satisfied sigh. Every last one of the Demon Slayers books has been that kind of read for me.

I followed Angie Fox's woes in getting this book published.It was heartbreaking. And I'm so happy she found a press to publish it. I know that its more expensive than her other books because its a trade paperback. I hope that doesn't hurt its sales. Because its a great book - no, its a fantastic book. A wonderful book. Go out and buy it. You'll see what I mean. (But buy the rest of the books first - it is the 4th book in a series...)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Dilemma of Multiple Releases in a Day...

February 22 is fast approaching and I'm a little panicked. Why? Because of the sheer number of books that are being released that day! I'm already mentally trying to lay out what order to read the books in - I know I'll be at the store on the 22nd to purchase each and every one of them. So what books have me in such a dither?

Serpent's Storm by Amber Benson
This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
How To Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Pale Demon by Kim Harrison (#2)
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Gay Keaton
Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr (#3)
Etched in Bone by Adrian Phoenix (#1)
Dead Waters by Anton Strout (I have this series - bought it in Jan., but haven't even started it)
The Green Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells (#4)
Rogue Oracle by Alayna Williams

That's ten books people! At best, I can read 16 books in a month. Maybe I should just abandon sleep?!? The problem is Lilith Saintcrow's Defiance gets added to that list on the 28th. And then, March 1st is Richelle Mead, Seanan McGuire, Thomas Sniegowski, Rob Thurman, Eileen Rendahl....well, you get the idea. Good God.

(If you read my last post, you know how many TBR books I have already...)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Looking Over My Books.....With Love

When I started this blog in March of 2009, I had only just started on my urban fantasy reading journey. I didn't blog much that year - there are only six posts - because my life was crazy. (When is it not?) I had a handful of authors I'd discovered, and a new-found love for worlds where my I could immerse myself and my problems could be abandoned.

Fast forward two years. I'm a reading machine.

In order to keep track of my growing library of books, I created an Urban Fantasy List. Yes, I know - that points to a serious book addiction. My list is highly organized: Author (last name first), Is It Released (date if No, Y = yes), Do I Own It (H = hardcover, T = trade paperback, P = paperback, E = eReader, left blank if No), Have I Read It (Y/N), Title (listings are organized by series in sequence), Genre (SF = science fiction, Ro = romance, YA = young adult, My = mystery, Li = literature, Ho = horror), Specifics (vampire, shifter, werewolf, paranormal, magic, fae, ghost, demon, angel, nephilim, steampunk, alt world, historical, etc.), Rating (1-6 stars). Books that I have read are followed by a brief synopsis and sometimes a review.

This list is now 108 pages long!

In addition, I now have other lists - Books Missing from Series List (only 2 pages), Release Date List (by month/day - 5 pages), TBR List (8 - gulp - pages) and Books Read By Month (so I can keep track for this blog).

I've read somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 books since I started with (yes, you can cringe) Twilight on Thanksgiving in 2008. (If you've read what I said about Twilight, you will know that I liked it because it reminded me of Jane Eyre and Rebecca - very old world in its style. And I think Bella was the only monster in the series.) The second series I read was Jennifer Rardin's and that is what set me on this journey. I loved Jaz, she is such a kick-ass heroine. As a 46 year old mom, slightly overweight and more than a little stressed out, I am not ashamed to say I wanted to be her.

My husband finally broke down last year and let me redo the living room when my stacks of books started overtaking the house. We went to IKEA and picked out some very nice bookshelves (Billy bookshelves - they're freaking awesome because you can buy extra shelves for them & create shelves for paperbacks). Out went the entertainment center (it was a piece of shit anyway), up went 9 feet of bookshelves. (They're 6 1/2 feet tall!) The books are arranged alphabetically by author (OCD? Me? Nah.)

I'm running out of room on them.

What's next? The family room. There's a wall there where I can put another 7 ft. of 6 1/2 ft. tall shelves and another wall that can hold 9 ft. of shelves as long as they're only 3 ft. tall. Does my husband know this is coming? I suspect he does. lol

Over the last two years,I started following authors and urban fantasy blogs. I've won a number of contests. I have signed books from Jennifer Rardin, Kelly Meding, Lilith Saintcrow, Mario Acevedo/Jeanne Stein (came with a signed devil duck & magnets). I've won a contest by Jaye Wells (not a book but a Halloween contest - fake blood!), and a few others. My favorite contest was a writing contest from the Deadline Dames. I wrote a short story & they chose it as their favorite.

I'll tell you a secret - I've wanted to be a writer most of my life. I've been writing for as long as I can remember. My teachers loved my stories and poems. Every teacher from first grade on has told me I need to be a writer. Some told me to never stop writing. But my parents were practical people. We were poor. They wanted me to go to college for something that would make money. Those same stories that teachers loved? My mother laughed at them - and not in a good way. She made fun of my characters. She picked at my worlds. She insulted my ideas. She went so far as to tell me they were garbage, tore them up and threw them away. Who did I believe? The teachers who gave me A's? No. I believed my mother. To this day, I still write. I don't let anyone read my stories. Except that one I submitted to their contest.

And yes, I have a BS in Journalism. I flunked out of my first major (one my parents encouraged) and fell back on my writing. I never wanted to be a journalist, though I did work at a newspaper for ten years.

I hope that some day I grow big enough kahunas to submit one of my stories to a publisher. My promise to myself for this year was to submit some of my short stories to SF/Fantasy magazines, and risk the humiliation of being rejected. It's a tiny step.

In the meantime, my TBR pile (including the eReader books, many of which are short stories) is 200 books (yes, you read that right). And I'm going to go dive into one of them...

The Last of the Demon Slayers by Angie Fox

I've been waiting for this book to come out since December, and following Ms. Fox's woes in trying to get it published. I was ecstatic when it finally came out! I entered a contest to win it (I lost), but Angie Fox liked my comment so much she sent me a "Kiss My Asphault" tee shirt (giggling wildly - it's wicked cool). I came home from shuttling my son to his classes today (he's loving college) and found my Amazon box (containing the book) and Angie's package (containing the shirt) waiting for me. Its a VERY good day. A book that I know is going to be excellent & a tee shirt to help promote it.

Are you feeling the love?
I am.