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Caleb (The Shadow Wranglers)
Caleb (The Shadow Wranglers)
by Sarah McCarty
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.00
118 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feisty, Sensual, and Feral in Some Action Scenes-the Hallmarks of a Sarah McCarty novel, October 16, 2009
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The lure of Sarah McCarty's novels is that they are deliciously sensual, descriptive, and heavy on relationship. By comparison to other urban fantasy/paranormal novels, Caleb might a bit light on plot, but the overwhelming feeling is that McCarty is taking her time to get the story right, unwinding it slowly and making sure that the connection between her two main characters is solid, grounded. In fact it is McCarty's cornerstone. Caleb presents well: feisty, sensual, and feral in some action scenes-everything a paranormal romance should be.

The relationship and obstacles between Caleb Johnson and Allie Sanders is fraught with frenzy, passion and McCarty draws that thread tautly. What was surprising was the presence of subtle nuances of pure urban fantasy writing. Is McCarty at a crossroads perchance?

I was deeply curious and hungered for more of the D'Nally wolves (especially clothing-challenged Ian D'Nally), Derek the werewolf, and the McClaren wolves. Caleb was largely missing a backstory of the Johnson brothers. With Calebs' turning aside, how were the Johnson's lives in the Wild West as vampire wranglers? McCarty only provides hints. What tales McCarty could have spun, further lynch pinning her story to her readers. I eagerly look forward to the next in the series and hope that McCarty doesn't play it too close to the vest next time. Readers are dying for Slade and Jared's secrets.

The Magicians: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy)
The Magicians: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy)
by Lev Grossman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.81
105 used & new from $1.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probing the Ultimate Question Concerning the Roots of True Magic, October 15, 2009
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Grossman's characters key quest probes the ultimate eternal question, philosophical depths / roots of what is magic, where does it originate, how does it interact with physics? Does God create it? Or does it exist on its own? This lies at the root of Grossman's characters interactions throughout The Magicians as they stumble through their lives, their interactions with one another, and grappling with their innate gifts.

Grossman challenges the reader to assert and examine all the magically themed literature that they have read in the past and question its authenticity. But it raises the bigger question of are we as the reader, willing to embrace magic in story at face value, or do we need to probe the depths into its origin?

Magic does not happen in Grossman's world well...magically, but through sheer force of will. In The Magicians you will not see pictures come to life, stairways fluidly moving to and fro, or swords appearing out of dusty hats. Magical conjuring just like any trade is earned, through sweat, blood, and tears and intensely difficult.

This deeper, saturnine, theme pervades Grossman's realm.

This is not a Harry Potter story by any means and Quentin Coldwater is not Harry personified. Rather he is the everyman's magician who is stumbling through life with an extraordinary potential. What he makes of it is the crux of The Magicians, and it does not make it any less than worthy to experience. It is magical in its own distinctively bittersweet way much like...well...the real world.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley
Edition: Hardcover
122 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Flavia de Luce's maiden voyage into sleuthdom has been certifiably launched by Alan Bradley..., October 15, 2009
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Alan Bradley has taken us on a convivial armchair adventure, a delicious romp into yesterday..into the lives of a quirky English village called Bishop's Lacey and the genteel poverty stricken residents of Buckshaw: the de Luce family where pies are as easily served up as murder (okay with the exception of Mrs. Mullet's custard pie). It is up to Flavia and her trusty BSA bike, Gladys to prove her father's innocence, and net a murderer; all the while her intellect running circles around the local constabulary.

And who wouldn't find Flavia de Luce enchanting? This enterprising young sleuth has a penchant for poison, can sing out the atomic number of arsenic and selenium by rote as easily as she can trill out the Mikado or hum along to the Tocatta by Pietro Domenico Paradis. She can extract a synthetic curare at the drop of the hat, distill the itchy humours of poison ivy, and yes..get pig-tailed deep into a postage stamp murder mystery of epic proportions.

Bradley's tale of the fabled Ulster Avengers and the hands that have made off with them reads like a chronicle of the Hope Diamond, replete with quaint British history and a surfeit of historical idioms that will be bound to amuse and engage. He has created the most singular character in Flavia de Luce and it is a delight to read about her maiden voyage into Holmes' territory. Obviously we will be seeing more of Flavia in novels to come!

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate Series Book 1)
Soulless (Parasol Protectorate Series Book 1)
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Steampunk-lite Romance Smorgasborg that will have you giggling page after page. Awesome novel!, October 11, 2009
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Dirigibles, steam-driven mechanical contraptions, automatons, vampires and the like abound in Carriger's "steampunk-lite" romance smorgasborg, chronicling the tale of a "soulless" preternatural, Alexia Tarabotti, and an alpha wolf, Conall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey in Victorian London as they try to unravel a sinister mystery.

Throw in the help of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (BUR), the queen's Shadow Council, a truculent beta wolf, and one lavender-clad popinjay (entourage in tow)and shenanigans roar out of control, threatening the Crown, and the fragile human/supernatural social structure.

Carriger's realm smacks of fresh originality, her characters drawn with precision: the harridan mother Mrs. Loontwill, Lord Akeldama (well-dressed fop), Professor Lyall, Floote (the butler), and hunky Conall are all memorable and quirky. It was veritable feast to dig into Carriger's novel!

Soulless distinctly reminds one of Kim Newman's original Victorian vampire series, (Anno Dracula, The Bloody Red Baron & Judgement of Tears) and his stalwart character Kate Reed meshed with Emile Gaboriau's creation of French detective, Monsieur Lecoq. But Carriger has a softer, fresher take in her Victorian vision. Her spinsterish brolly-wielding protagonist will have you falling on the floor laughing page after page and curling your toes as she and Conall reluctantly fight off their magnetic attraction to one another(and of course fail miserably!)

March 2010 cannot come soon enough when "Changeless" the second book in the series is out!

Lord of Pleasure (School of Gallantry Book 2)
Lord of Pleasure (School of Gallantry Book 2)

4.0 out of 5 stars Looking Forward to Seeing More of Marvelle's Marvelously Quirky Characters!, October 7, 2009
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Marvelle's tale of Alexander Baxendale, third Earl of Hawksford and Charlotte, Lady Chartwell is indeed sweet, delightful and endearing to readers. What originally sold the purchase of The Lord of Pleasure were reviewers' consistent comments that Marvelle's novels were hilarious and fun. Nothing is better when you have laughs along with romance. And nothing is harder to write. So special respect should be set-aside for those authors who are able to successfully concoct hilarity for us.

It had been a while since I'd picked up a historical romance. Favorites include Christina Dodd, Gaelen Foley, Judith McNaught and Julia Quinn. Lord of Pleasure largely reminds of early Julia Quinn with some Jude Deveraux naiveté thrown in. Marvelle's second novel is green, but with great promise and careful attention. The characters each have their own voice; personality, and connects with readers.

Just like Quinn capitalizing on the Bridgertons, Lady Whistledown, and the Featherington's (dear, sweet, befuddled Penelope always enveloped in yellow!), so too has Marvelle carved out some unique characterizations: Madame de Maitenon, Harold, the bull-faced butler-stevedore, Alexander's saucy mother and sisters, and of course, Lord Caldwell.

But by far the most interesting (and funny) of Marvelle's characters is Alexander's deeply quirky, gothic-bound, funereal sister Mary whose desire for caskets and mourning gowns are driving Alexander to distraction. Marvelle has enough material about Mary to develop a great story. Just imagine Mary looking for her dark highwayman to sweep her away in pure Byronic style! Throw in a few capers of the Baxendale sisters and that indeed would be hilarious!

Covet: A Novel of the Fallen Angels
Covet: A Novel of the Fallen Angels
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $7.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ward's Fallen Angels is Rife with Great Characters and a Good Start to the Series!, October 4, 2009
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For fans (like myself) of Ward's wildly popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series, "Covet" is a departure from the "pure" romantic/fantasy/suspense that has blazed a path for this very talented author. Instead, Ward has branched out into new territory sans the hottie-bad ass-black-clad-biker bros wielding a plotline whose focal point is not primarily that of romance. So fans who are expecting a hot and heavy paranormal romance read of the like of Wrath or Zsadist, should instead brace themselves for a carefully balanced good and evil tale as angels and demons duke it out for the fate of humanity.

Ward's Fallen Angels world hangs in the balance, and what's at stake is exactly seven souls. Seven human souls whose fate could go either way depending on the players involved. Both teams, heaven and hell have placed their MVP's on the field to manipulate, coaxe, and duel for these souls using whatever dirty means necessary.

On heaven's side is covert assassin, Jim Heron aided by two rusty-haloed angels Adrian and Eddie. On hell's side is Devina, a nasty she-devil who is pretty much a formidable army of one. Both teams are battling over the soul of Vin diPietro, a jaded millionaire real estate developer and closet "medium". At stake is his soul, the love of his life, Marie-Terese, and the acknowledgement of his psychic powers. The romance between diPietro and his lady love is steamy and heartwarming, but my interests lay in the peripheral characters of this great story: Adrian, the jaded fallen angel, the loyalties of Trez and most of all, Jim Heron-how would he end up?

Ward has created a great peripheral romance between two characters from vastly different backgrounds, but greater yet is the overall story of "Covet" and its great sub-plots as we dig into the layers of these intensely intriguing characters. I look forward to reading the next in the series!

by Justine Larbalestier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.59
110 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leading Readers on a Merry Chase into the Mind of a Pathological Liar..., September 24, 2009
This review is from: Liar (Hardcover)
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Micah Wilkins has a secret and Justine Larbalestier leads you on a merry chase to find it.

Under the layers of lies Micah has shared with others; reveals a truth of such paranormal proportions that in this case, ends up being stranger than fiction. Some incredible fabrications like the ones she'd told her schoolmates, we the reader, her parents, and other adults, number in the hundreds: that she was really a boy, or that her father was an arms dealer pales in comparison. Even her promise to start telling the truth-to us, the readers is a lie.

When Micah's best friend and paramour, Zachary Rubin is found chewed and spit out in Central Park, and with the police hot on the Wilkin's family heels, Micah eventually has to come clean about her lying. Eventually. Her reticence of such omissions ends up having disastrous consequences. Why does the Wilkin's family shun modernity and live in exclusion in upstate New York? How is it possible that Micah can run so fast and pick up scents like a bloodhound? Why are Micah's parents fearful that if she doesn't take her pill, that something terrifying will happen? What "family illness" is Micah, and the entire Wilkin's family hiding?

I am not sure that Larbalestier intended the book to unfold this way because I definitely would have led with the truth rather than lead the reader on a goose-hunt to find it out. But with Larbalestier, telling the story in this way, peppered with its clever red herrings and all, I cannot help but feel as if I have been played by a master. Larbalestier manages to concoct a tale, a lie within a lie, which ends up being the truth and the reader finds out (a little too late) that they have been masterfully manipulated across the chessboard without even knowing it. Checkmate. I chuckled at the very end because for all intents and purposes I was literally "schooled" in the craft.

The subject matter and characterizations of "Liar" reads like a teen YA paranormal novel, but the craft is masterful and clearly on a higher playing field- if you dare to delve that deeply you will see what I mean. A conniving and intriguing read that you won't soon forget.

Leader of the Pack (Tales of an Urban Werewolf, Book 3)
Leader of the Pack (Tales of an Urban Werewolf, Book 3)
by Karen MacInerney
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
57 used & new from $0.01

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could The Most Unlikely Leader of the Pack be Sophie Garou? Maybe!, August 4, 2009
One of the reasons why MacInerney's series is not "just another werewolf tale" is that it really has its own flavor. The main character, Sophie Garou hasn't grown up in a Pack. So the reader is not withered down immediately with all the hierarchical rule weaving that most authors strain to include at the very beginning of a series. And it's refreshing because the reader goes on the journey of discovery with the character.

So in addition to not growing up in a pack, Sophie's natural talent of shielding herself has enabled her live right under the noses of the Houston pack of werewolves for most of her natural life. This has come with its advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage being that when she is finally discovered by a rogue packette, and a werewolf enforcer, she is thrust into a series of events that she won't be able to wiggle out of.

Leader of the Pack is the third in this urban werewolf series and usually in the third book there is a big payoff. In On the Prowl, readers were left off with wondering exactly who and what Mark was. Was he some type of demon or spirit? Perhaps both. Wondering if Tom Fenris and Sophie were ever going to make a love connection. Wondering if the mission she completed would get her out of owing any allegiance to the Houston pack. But while there were some resolutions, I expected just a tad more.

We see more development in Mark, Tom, Lindsey's and Heath's character and overall that makes them more interesting in relation to Sophie. And the introduction of Sophie's absent father who is now on trial by the Houston pack plunges her and her friends into new territory of pack politics and a battle for succession, which has a surprisingly satisfying ending.

Readers might be reminded by the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn with regard to pace and plot development. I'm a fan of MacInerney's and I'd say, let's up the ante just a bit. But Leader of the Pack doesn't disappoint and it was an incredibly good bubble bath read that I enjoyed.

Girl in the Arena
Girl in the Arena
by Lise Haines
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.99
86 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Twist on Modern Day Gladiators and Girl Fighting for her Family's Freedom, August 4, 2009
This review is from: Girl in the Arena (Hardcover)
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Finding Girl in the Arena is akin to uncovering a vintage Chanel in a rummage bin at Les Puces. Fresh new ideas have been mined by Haines and twisted just so to give us a compulsive read about Lyn, the teenaged daughter of seven gladiator fathers who have fallen in the arena.

In Haines' world gladiatorial games rule the lives of populace. Everywhere. All over the globe. The rules of the game, like Roman law are set into stone. Colleges and training universities teach it. Gladiatorial families breathe it. It is its own religion for the masses: blood sport. In every technological medium, in the very near future, plebeians and citizens alike are glued to the epic and bloody battles.

Haines takes that twist and shanks the knife in deeper. She dwells on the power of the GSA (Gladiator Sports Association), the many-headed hydra who controls the sport world-wide, and its direct influence on Lyn and her family. And the only way that her family will be free of the GSA is for Lyn to take measures to free herself of their control.

What is so distinctive about Girl in the Arena is that Haine's manages to converge modernity with an edgy alternate reality quite well and in terms we understand. It's engaging, and absorbing and readers will like a strong heroine who will take charge of her life and fight for her family. The plot is definitely interesting, and the back-story was well-done.

But what I had expected when initially reading this book was that with such a buildup and the obvious title alludes that Lyn is an actual competing gladiator, and that is simply not the case. We do finally get to see Lyn in the grand finale going head to head with Uber in the arena but we have to wait for it. Overall, Girl in the Arena was a distinctive read for me, a nice change from the saturated plot lines out there (vampires and more vampires).

Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, Book 4)
Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, Book 4)
by Jeaniene Frost
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
189 used & new from $0.01

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Finale to End All Finales between Cat and Bones. Bravo!, August 2, 2009
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It's hard not to gush when reviewing anything by Jeaniene Frost, especially the Night Huntress series. This is simply because she has an inordinate balance, a grasp on the critical elements that make readers clamor for more. The creation of Bones is right up there with Tom Fenris, Jamie Frasier, Jean-Claude, Erik Northman, and Kisten. In fact, I think the series is more Bones' rather than Cats. The dialogue is flawless, illuminating both the mind-set, and emotional framework of the interactions between our two dynamic main characters. One feverishly keeps flipping pages because It's.Just.That.Good.

In Destined For An Early Grave Bones and Cat hit yet again another road bump, but this one surpasses all the other obstacles they have encountered. Another vamp, has laid a prior blood claim to Cat and a fight is on that could flow into a full-scaled war among the factions, particularly that of Menchere's line and Gregor's. Bones' is not ready in this life, or next, to give up Cat to this usurper-but the rocky road their path has been paved upon has been done so with as much love, as distrust, and fear.

Those components play a major part in the evolution of these characters. There is a huge break, (ladies blink back the tears) `tween Cat and Bones and it's so seriously wrought that I was truly, truly, taken in.(Bravo Jeaniene!)And the final hurdle to cross over permanently becomes blazingly obvious for the two. Will Cat take the final step and have Bones turn her fully?

Without a doubt, Destined is the finale to end all finales for this series but Frost wouldn't put us out in the cold. She's created a spin-off series with Spade (slurp) that I am eagerly looking forward to.

I'd say whomever Frost modeled Bones after, please point me in his direction stat!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2009 4:09 PM PDT

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