Monday, June 30, 2008

A worthy read

Undead and Unworthy
Mary Janice Davidson
ISBN 0425221628

Whoever said "it is good to be queen" was obviously not queen of the Undead. Betsy finds the office to be one filled with constant challenges, such as having her dead evil step mother pop up to make acerbic comments while she and new husband, Sinclair, are in the middle of intimate somethings, having to raise her orphaned baby half brother, put up with the fact that her best friend's guy hates her guts simply because she's a vampire and might have used her powers on him when needed, and having the devil's goody two shoes daughter for a half sister. Then, there are the fiends, the mindless vampire zombies that she inherited after killing Nostro. Suddenly, they've regained their wits, thanks in part to her, but are they happy? No, they are out for blood, specifically, Betsy's, though they will not hesitate to go after anyone else in their way. Trying to keep her friends that are subject to death alive and help on murder cases in an effort to maintain peace with Jessica's cop boyfriend will make Bety's afterlife a little too interesting for comfort, but just right for readers.

As always, this is fun to read, though there is an added seriousness that gives the story a bit more depth and in my opinion, improves it, though there was nothing at all wrong with the unimproved plotline. Betsy's unique voice is witty and very easy to relate to. I also love it that she's in a steady, committed relationship that remains consistent throughout the series. I am not sure what the unworthy portion of the title refers to, for this is well worth your time.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sherlock's smarter sister

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan
Nancy Springer
ISBN 0399247807
YA Mystery

For several months now, Enola Holmes, youger sister to the brilliant detective Sherlock and the equally clever Mycroft, has been on the lam from her siblings, trying to find her mother and also, doing what she can to help the poor and solve mysteries. Her latest case results from the covert plea of a young woman seeking her aid in preventing a forced marriage. Though she is not sure where her client is being held, Enola is determined to help her avoid a fate worse than death. However, she has to avoid a fate that, while not as unpleasant, would chafe her. In other words, keep her brothers, whose help she will need, from catching her and ending her freedom.

Reading this made me want to find the other books in the series and read Sherlock himself for the first time. This is an intelligent, fast paced, well written series that will charm and intrigue you. Though the mystery is not a brain teaser, really, it is attention grabbing and well paced. Especially worth mentioning is the excellent characterizaation that makes you care about what happens to the people involved. I reccomend this to not only young readers, but to any Holmes fan.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Lori Handeland series, coming in November

Give yourself an early Christmas gift and put this on your list to buy.
Any Given Doomsday
Lori Handeland
St Martin's
ISBN 0312949197
Urban Fantasy

Lizzie Phoenix wanted to be a cop, but thanks to her psychic "gifts", or curses, depending on your point of view, that proved to be a nightmare, so she settled for being a P.I. It's not a client, though that gets her into her present mess. Finding the body of a friend sets off a chain of events that will test her mettle and reveal her destiny, which might be a very short lived one, as the end of the world is looming. Lizzie, though, is supposed to stop it, and has been groomed for this time so that she can. Both helped and in some ways hindered by two extraordinary in every sense of the word men who care for her, Lizzie is granted new powers and abilities as a result of her love for them. But, will being a psychic empathy wth shapeshifting and dhampiric abilities be enough to stand between the world's life and the Nephilim?

I must admit, that the new Lori Handeland book was not another Night Creatures one was initially a disappointment. However, it only took a page or two for that to be completely alleviated. Lizzie is as much of a kick butt heroine as Edward was a "hero," but with a better sense of humor. Laughs are not the only assets in this story. She has written a story that is partly based on the Bible without being preachy, but is true to the spirit of that book and is exciting at every turn. Moreover, great respect is evident for the Bible and the two religions that honor it. This new world that the author has envisioned is one that should be fascinating, complex, and almost familiar, though not quite. Discovering it will be a joy.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Tempered Joy
Pamela S Thibodeaux
ISBN 193386144

Tamara and Craig's children are all grown up now; Amber with her own children and husband is making a new life and Ace is now a champion bull rider. Life seems ideal, but then tragedy strikes and tests not only the members of this tightly knit family, but also the young woman who, despite teasing and her own troubled past, loves Ace. Yet, Lexie will soon find that her love is what is needed when the Harris family stands on the brink of compounded tragedy.

Of all the books in this series, Tempered Joy is the most difficult to summarize. It is far more than an inspirational romance, for one thing, and for another, I do not want to risk giving away any of the pivotal surprises. Suffice it to say, it lives up to the title, as joy shines through despite heartaches that will make more than one fan weep, I dare say. Through it all, faith and love shine in the words, but not in a bland, falsely optimistic fashion. So often in novels, Christians face the sad moments and tough times with stoic piety that makes real Christians want to be ill because we do react badly to our hurts in this world, and not always in ways that honor our Father. Ms. Thibodeaux lets her characters be true to life without falling away from their faith. Her words are a ministry, showing any Christian who reads these books that you can come through your negative emotions even if you aren't rejoicing over the circumstances that invoked them. You will eventually be able to, with His help. She also depicts us in a way that can show non-believers we're people too.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blood Ties

All Souls' Night
Jennifer Armintrout
ISBN 0778325377

With the Soul Eater on the verge of performing a ritual that will give him so much power as to be unstoppable, it is time for Carrie, Nate, Ziggy, Max, and Bella to do whatever it takes to end the creature's over-extended life. Yet, there are new challenges to face; Carrie has discovered an aspect of herself that makes her as much a danger, or potential one, as their foe, Nathan has been injured to the point of near permanent death, and that's just the highlights. The coming battle will demand sacrifices and choices that are nigh to impossible to imagine, but are nonetheless essential.

In a way, I hate this because it is clearly the end of the series and I love the books so much I don't want them to stop. Yet, I must admire an author who has the courage to not milk something for all it's worth and keep at it beyond that. This is a heartwrenching saga, and never more so than in this final volume. It will put you through an emotional ringer and have you on the edge of your seat. Ms. Armintrout is right up there with J.K. Rowling and Stephen R Donaldson for being able to make you feel the intense pain in her words and live in the characters' souls to share it with them. Yet, you love the story for the emotional battering it gives you. You must buy her books if you like quality, that's all there is to it.

Amanda Ashley Madeline Baker Interview

You write under two names, each with a distinct voice. Is it difficult to manage separate personas?
It sounds strange, but I never realized my "voice" changed when I changed genres until someone else pointed it out to me. I don't think it's something I do on a conscious level, it just happens.

What inspired you to shift from historical to incorporate paranormal?
My agent. Years ago, he asked if I'd like to write a story for a paranormal anthology. I'd been reading vampire romances and decided to try writing about a vampire. That story, "Masquerade" (available in the anthology "After Twilight") was such fun to write that I wrote a full-length novel ("Embrace the Night") and I've been writing vampires, and loving it, ever since.
A strong, redemptive theme runs through your writing. Is this influenced by religious beliefs?
I never thought about it. When I sit down to write, I'm never sure what's coming next. I simply write what comes to me as I'm in a particular character's point of view. I've never made a conscious effort to write a particular theme. Having said that, I do have strong religious beliefs, so I'm sure there's a connection.

Your books stand alone well, but they all each fit into an established universe, something many writers fail to do; if they are part of a world, most books don't stand alone well. Is this a hard trick?
You ask really hard questions, and I feel kind of foolish because these are questions I've never considered. I just write. Whatever I do, it just happens naturally, or maybe subconsciously. When I write, it's sort of like recording what I see happening inside my mind. I don't worry about voice or technique, I just write. The only thing I am conscious of as I write are my readers. I know that I have readers as young as 11 or 12, and I'm mindful of that as I write.

I know many authors are "pushing the envelope", getting more and more graphic in their language and their love scenes, something which turns me off. I've stopped buying several of my favorite authors for this reason. I've read things lately that would never have been acceptable a few years ago. I fully agree with whoever said, "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should."

How do your vampire books all relate to each other?

I have two series:

Shades of Gray

After Sundown

Desire After Dark

Night’s Kiss

Night’s Touch

Night’s Master

Night’s Pleasure

Night’s Mistress (tentative title)

Have you considered other para beings?
Some of my books have other paranormal beings in them - mostly witches and werewolves, but for now, I think my heroes will continue to be vampires. I'm fascinated by them. I do have one book (Deeper Than the Night) where the hero behaves like a vampire, but is actually an alien. And also a short story (Sunlight, Moonlight) where the hero, who looks like Fabio, is from another planet. That one was really fun to write!

What's next under any name?
Amanda Ashley has Night's Master coming out in October. It's the 3rd book in my Night series. The 4th book, Night's Pleasure, will be out in February of '09. I love both of these books, which are about twin brothers. In August of this year, I have a short story in an anthology titled "The Mammoth Book of Vampires Romances".

Cerridwen is publishing 4 of my out-of-print Madeline Baker historical romances: Hawk's Woman, Wolf Shadow, Lakota Love Song, and Apache Flame. They'll be released first as ebooks, and then in print. The first one, Hawk's Woman, will be out in July as an ebook and then in print at the end of September, with the other books to follow every few months.

Leisure Books is reissuing Midnight Fire, Reckless Desire, Renegade Heart and Reckless Embrace in September or October of this year.

Is there anything you'd just like to say? Free reign.

Mainly, I'd like to thank those who take the time to write or email me to tell me that they enjoy my books. I get a lot of negative reviews on Amazon. Receiving letters from readers saying they like my work takes some of the sting out of those nasty Amazon reviews. And thank you, Amanda, for the wonderful review you gave Night's Master, and for this interview. Mandy

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A different Camelot

The Excalibur Murders
J.M.C. Blair
ISBN 0425222535

The "peace" of Camelot is shattered when first one squire, then his twin brother is murdered and both the legendary sword and the stone vanish. With jealousy, greed, and ambition running high, it will be a dangerous challenge for any sleuth to investigate the matter and there is no shortage of suspects. Fortunately, though Merlin has no magical powers, he is as brilliant as Sherlock and ably assisted by Nimue as he delves into the motives and clues presented to him and tries to keep Arthur from being the ultimate victim.

This is not your standard version of Camelot, though it is likely truer to the facts than the traditional. No love is lost between the King and his queen, but Lancelot is not nearly as noble either. Politics and sheer conflicting personalities make this a much more complicated land than the fairy tale images we usually see, but it's also a fascinating vision. I frankly loved this book and want to read more of the author and the series.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Something to Look forward too for Vampire lovers

Night's Master
Amanda Ashley
ISBN 0821780638
Vampire Romance

Almost immediately, Kathy McKenna and Rafe Cordova are drawn together, and not just because the lovely bookstore owner can sense paranormal beings, such as vampires, which is what Rafe is. Despite all the good common sense arguments against getting involved, the two fall in love at the worst possible time, in the midst of a war between vampires and shape shifters and just as after a lull of a quarter century, hunters are on the rise again and more sinister than ever. This time, not only are were creatures and vampires in danger from them, but so are ordinary humans whose deaths could be useful. Love is a battle when your heart belongs to the undead.

How can a book be charmingly sweet yet edgy at the same time? I don't know how, but Amanda Ashley invariable makes it happen and in a unique way that keeps me impatient for her next book. The family ties she forms that provide the foundations of her worlds make you care about them, whether it's the Cordova family, or Edward the hunter turned vampire, or any other set. Night's Master is almost impossible to put down, but is also gentle enough to be relaxing. I love how she conveys the sensual without being graphic and how Rafe respects his lady's morals. We need more of that in this world, in both reality and fiction. My hat is off to my fellow Amanda.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Rene Gutteridge
ISBN 1400071593

Posing as an annoying, needy, yet pleasant passenger, Hank Hazard is about to embark on the ride of his life as he proves to be the salt that keeps a quirk filled flight from falling to pieces. Between a pet pig, a passenger who dies, a New Age secular humanist, turbulence, and an inept hijacker, Hank will need all the faith he can mustesr and every bit of God's grace to see his fellow passengers and crew through the obstacle course of crises that assail them.

Though engaging and making a definite point about the need for faith in stressful times especially, it could convince you to never ever fly. Humor and serious matters are well blended, and the message is not preachy. Hank simply evangelizes by being himself, something most of us need lessons in doing.