Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good Ghouls

Good Ghouls Do
Julie Kenner
Sept 07
ISBN 0425217035
YA Urban Fantasy

Since being turned into a vampire, Beth has found that life sucks, in more ways than one. The main one is, her boyfriend, Clayton, was also turned, by her, but to save his life, not for any nefarious reason. As a result, he has to kill her, unless she can kill her maker first, at which point, both should be turned back to human. She just has no idea WHO her maker is, and she can't spend a lot of time trying to find out. She has to perfect a daywalker formula or risk being killed by one faction, avoid the hunters that either belong to an opposing group of vampires or are being sent by Clayton, keep what she is a secret, work on beefing up her transcript, cheerlead, and cope with the fact that she's attracted to to boys, one who wants to kill her apparently and one who should want to. She'll have to live forever to get it all done, the question is, can she?

Reading a Julie Kenner book is a sheer treat for the mind, there's no two ways about it. Beth is a sympathetic heroine who keeps you laughing even though you're on the edge of your seat. At the end of each book this talented author writes, I find myself mentally screaming, what's next, I can hardly wait.

Wizard's daughter

Wizard's Daughter
Victoria Graydale
Stargazer Press

May 2007
ISBN 0973494077
Historical fantasy


After Adrian kidnaps two young women to fulfill a commission, he finds himself turned into a bodyguard for one of them. Lady Millie needs to avoid an unwanted marriage, and Phaedra is simply there to protect her lifelong mistress/companion. Soon, Adrian finds himself falling for Phaedra, but she is a nobody, and not someone he can marry. Meanwhile, Millie remains at the center of contention as rivals vie for her hand, though it is the somewhat awkward Egbert that she has given her heart to. Whether or not they can manage to be together is anyone's guess, especially when you consider how backward Millie is socially, and how she insults almost anyone without meaning to. Moreover, Phaedra might not be the nobody people believe her to be.

This is a charming, light and simple tale that can be easily enjoyed by all ages. True love and overcoming barriers to it are at its core, with no false padding of sensuality to distract from the honest emotions. Love, loyalty, and the quality of friendship are what matter here, not shallow sensations.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Teen mystery

Bitter Tastes
Victoria Rosendahl
ISBN 0973494093
YA Mystery

Moving to a new town and trying to fit into a different school is frightening and something Kathy does not want, but she has little choice. For one thing, she has an oddly formed hand that makes life difficult for her on a practical and emotional level each and marks her has different or weird to others. Yet, one girl, Martha, looks past it to befriend her. Such considerations take a backseat to murder when a woman who was kind to Kathy is murdered and the two girls begin trying to find out what really happened, no matter what the danger, for as they uncover secrets, the peril the young sleuths face increases.

While the story retains an innocence that is appealing, it still addresses very mature subjects and does not talk down to its target audience. If your pre-teen has read every Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, and so on and is looking for something new, they will not go wrong in picking this up. Even if they have not, they need to read this.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Politics with a positive result

The Governor's Wife
Kate Rizor
Stargazer Press
ISBN 0973494085

Ten years ago, Tanner's wife, Andra, vanished. In the years since, there have been no leads and Tanner has become the governor, then from nowhere, she is found. A homeless woman is arrested and one sharp eyed cop, upon catching a glimpse of a picture of the missing first lady of the state, realizes "Andie" is Andra, though she cannot recall ever being anything other than a wandering vagrant, struggling to survive. Yet, all tests prove that she truly is Tanner's wife. Making the adjustment from homeless to great lady is difficult, nothing is familiar, trust is hard, and Andie knows her past could ruin the man she is falling in love with against all better judgment.

This is a sweet, compelling novel reminiscent of Diana Palmer in many ways. Straightforward narration makes for a fast read as the well developed characters build a new relationship from the ashes of the past. Though there are few surprises, sometimes you just need a comfortable book, and this is sure to please when you are in that mood.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


After layoffs end her job at a bank, Sara finds herself looking for work futilely until a friend posts a girl Friday ad for her on a bulletin board. Instantly, she is a celebrity and has offers, some rather shady, flooding in. The job she finally takes is a good, albeit unusual one. Then,she begins a sideline, sleuthing, and that bit of moonlighting could prove to be the last career move she makes.

**** Though the story would have been stronger if the mystery angle had begun a little sooner, the plotline prior to its introduction provides valuable background information and good character development for a potential series. Breezy and fun, this is an easy to read novel, one that will have you asking for more of Sara's adventures. Though initially, I must admit to qualms from the fact that its from a very small press, which usually bodes ill for the reader, all my fears proved baseless. If a larger publisher wants to catch something good, they'll snag this. In the meantime, readers can enjoy.

Nicki Styx 2

A Match Made in Hell
Teri Garey
ISBN 0061136166
Paranormal romance

Ever since she died and came back, Nicki Styx's life has been one replete with the weird. For one thing, she sees dead people, well, dead women. She can't see dead guys, like her long lost twin sister can. If seeing ghosts is strange, then the whole sister thing is doubly so. It turns out that Nicki's current lover was married to the long lost twin sister, Kelly. Nicki first meets Kelly when Kelly is in a car wreck during which their equally long lost birth mother who was on her way to reunite their "family", was killed. Now, Mama Peaches is haunting Nicki with enigmatic warnings meant to keep "Miss Perfect" (Kelly) from danger. Some would see the final strange point as a plus; a truly hot guy seems dedicated to stealing Nicki from her man; the only problem is, the reason he's "hot" is he lives in Hell. It would seem the devil wants a new bride, and Nicki has been chosen, but he'll take her twin if he can't have her. So, whether she likes Kelly or not, Nicki faces either a fight she can only barely hope to win or making an ultimate sacrifice to save a woman she barely knows or likes much.

This is a fun, compelling, page turner. Laughs and suspense are perfectly melded so that you just cannot put this book down. Granted, some of the situations seem a bit over the top, but that only adds to the humor. Moreover, Ms. Garey conveys a level of heat without getting graphic, an art that is being lost and is appreciated greatly. I truly look forward to reading more of her work.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Guest Blog - Kelley Armstrong

Searching for the Fountain of Youth
Earlier this month, my first young adult book (The Summoning) came out, released after nine “adult” novels. My regular series, Women of the Otherworld, features a changing cast of narrators with ages varying from 22 to 44. So you’d think that writing about a teenage heroine shouldn’t be that big a stretch. But it was…at least psychologically.
The idea for this young adult trilogy came about while writing my second novel, Stolen. Out of that story, I got an idea for another, carrying on a plot thread. But I realized that this new story would need a teenage narrator, and that wouldn’t fly with readers expecting adults. So I put it on the back burner.
Still the idea kept cropping up. I considered ways to do it with an adult narrator, but there was no getting around the fact that it needed to be a teen—the story is about a special group of supernaturals coming into their powers, and in my universe that takes place with puberty. The solution seemed simple: make it a separate young adult story, rather than part of my current series.
At that point, the biggest stumbling block should have been whether publishers would want a new series from me. But that wasn’t what held me back. When I seriously thought about writing from a teenage point of view, I balked. I’m too far past that point in my life (I have a daughter that age) and no one is faster at spotting falseness than a teenager. They’d read one page of my attempts to sound fifteen, roll their eyes and send the book flying across the room.
Still the story wouldn’t go away.
I finally decided to write it as a NaNoWriMo project. During National Novel Writing Month, writers try to complete 50,000. I’d been wanting to encourage members of my discussion board writing group to give NaNoWriMo a try, and what better way than to do it myself? I could try this young adult idea, free of pressure. If it didn’t work, I’d just call it a month-long writing exercise.
So I wrote a 75,000 word young adult novel for NaNoWriMo 2006. The book had problems. As much as I loved the characters and the basic idea, the plot needed work, and eventually went through a total rewrite. But as for taking on the personae of a teenage narrator? It was easier than I ever imagined.
I’ve become accustomed to changing narrators (and voices) in my adult series, and I love that part of it. Once I worked into the character of Chloe Saunders, imagining her life, her surroundings, her thoughts and dreams, it was no different than with any of my adult characters. I had the trappings of a fifteen-year-old’s life in mind, so that was what came out—the voice of a fifteen-year-old character. Which is not to say that no teen will ever roll their eyes at the lady trying to pass herself off as a teenage character, but the voice felt right to me.
Once in Chloe’s mind-space, I remembered what it was like to be fifteen. I remembered the good and the bad, the memories flooding back. And when I pick up the pen to revisit her world, it’s wonderful…in the way that a trip back home is wonderful. It’s comfortable and it’s fun and I love to visit…though I wouldn’t want to live there again. I’m well past that time in my life, and the more I remember it, the more I’m glad of that! But it is a fascinating place to return to, and I hope to continue visiting for a while.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Nora Roberts
ISBN 0399154914
Romantic Suspense

Since leaving behind her acting career, Cilla has spent time "flipping houses". Her latest project is not to flip one, but to restore her late grandmother's home and make it her own. Janet Hardy died in the early seventies under odd circumstances billed as suicide, ala Marilyn Monroe, but could it have been murder? Cilla's return to the family hometown stirs up memories for someone who is not happy to have the past reawoken. She becomes the target of harrassment that edges towards deadly with precision and fear. Yet, it is not all bad news. Her handsome neighbor, Ford, instantly adores her, to the point of considering Cilla a "warrior goddess". That might be the most frightening thing of all for Miss Independent.

I read Nora Roberts as much for her people as for the plot, maybe more so. Cilla and Ford make this an easy to read charmer, even without the suspense. How can something be sexy, a bit scary, and heartwarming all at once? If I knew how, I'd be writing the books Ms. Roberts does. As it is, I'm delighted to be able to enter her worlds through their pages. This is another winner.

Monday, July 7, 2008

If Wishing made it so Lucy Finn

If Wishing Made it So
Lucy Finn
ISBN 0451224590

While attending a high school reunion, Hildy Caldwell half hopes to get a second shot at a Mike, her once upon a time sweetheart, but has little true belief it will take place. Then, not only does she win big at the casino, but finds a genie bottle. Tony G, the one time centurion, cursed now to be a genie, is more than willing to help her make her dream come true. However, Hildy has some competition in the form of a fiancé, and besides, she does not want a wish born love, but the real thing. In any case, Tony is fun to have around, but when his former gangster master wants him back, Hildy and everyone she cares for are in danger.

If you are wishing for a fun read that's not pure fluff, then - all I can say is granted. Though I was not expecting the way it ended, I was not disappointed. I'd love to see more of Tony, in fact. There are lots of laughs, danger, and a truly deep message contained in this delightful package of words. Ms. Finn is a rising star, don't miss out.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kelley Armstrong's newest

The Summoning
Kelley Armstrong
Harper Teen
ISBN 0061662690
YA Paranormal

When Chloe's ability to see ghosts draws unwelcome attention, she is deemed to be an at risk adolescent and sent to a group home where she can "be helped." Among the troubled youths there, she makes some instant enemies, but also, some very close friends, some of whom will prove to be vitaly important in the days to come. Despite the purported high success rate of Lyle House, not every patient makes it out alive. Moreover, Chloe is not the only teen there who is not really troubled, just has powers. Two boys, Simon and Derek, introduce her to the idea of Supernaturals, beings like her who have something extra, whether it is spellcraft, necromancy, or other powers. Because of this, Lyle House is a very dangerous place for them, for something has been going on there for decades, something that threatens to destroy any Supernatural who walks through its doors. Chloe's admission there might not be a coincidence after all.

If you thought Kelley Armstrong to be an awesome writer going on her Women of the Otherworld series, then double your estimation by at least two when you read this. I still love her adult writing, but this really blows you away. Chloe's story is a compelling read that will keep you riveted right from the start, and grow more addictive as you turn the pages. I can hardly wait to see more.