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Showing posts from May, 2010

The Authors who Charmed the Pants off a Virgin

It's official: no longer am I a book-signing virgin (and note that this achievement was free of any of the awkwardness or fumbling so typical with--ehem--that other type of virginity). Yes, it's true: having attended my very first signing, I'm now quite the experienced woman. (Note that I do NOT plan to start putting notches to commemorate future signings in my lipstick cases, however; they are far too expensive for me to risk ruining them.) 

Really, though, I was the proverbial "sure thing", here. (And yes, cue the '80s theme music if you must.) 1). The author I specifically went to see (technically, authors, since it was husband-and-wife team Ilona Andrews) is one of my absolute favorites. Really-truly. 2). The signing was held on the release day for Magic Bleeds (book #4 in the fabulous Kate Daniels series), which I'd already read. And ADORED. (What, you don't think it's possible to be in love with a book? Bah. If you think that, then you clearly

A Lion, a Tiger, & a Bear (& a Jaguar, & Hyenas & Wolves & Foxes & Snakes)... oh, my!

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Okay, let me pull out my handy-dandy Urban Fantasy checklist. Kick-butt heroine? Check. Kinda mouthy, with attitude to spare and a stubborn streak half-a-mile wide? Check. Complicated family, work, and/or relationship issues? Triple-check (and gosh, that’s like the holy trinity of kick-butt heroine problems right there, isn’t it?). Forever in serious peril, alwaysthisclose to cashing in her chips for the very last time? You betcha.  It sounds so simple, doesn’t it, and somewhat derivative of far too many other works in the crowded UF field? Well, yeah... and it likely would be, too, were it in hands other than those of the über-talented, wife-husband writing team better known as Ilona Andrews. Now with four books (plus a short story) in the “Magic” series under their collective belt, you could say that the Andrews duo are really hitting their stride with this story and these characters... although for me, that sort of implies that their earlier stories weren’t as good, which isn't t…

A Jetlagged, Prickly Pear of a Kitty

So. I'm back home safe and sound (as of last night, about 10:45 p.m.) from my most-recent Big Adventure (to the Pacific Northwest), only to find myself thrown most unceremoniously back into the fray, as it were. Did "life" have the basic decency to grant me a little reprieve, kinda letting me ease back into the groove? Um, no. [Cue crazed/maniacal laughter.] Not even close.

Paperwork is stacked up several inches high. A half-dozen orders were waiting for me to pack and ship. (As in today, chop-chop, whatdoyoumeanyouhave "jetlag"?!?) More taxes are due. (Taxes are always due.) Payroll is past due. I don't think I'm actually behind on any bills... but I better check; it's just tempting fate to say that I'm all caught up, you know?

To top it all off, my house is a wreck. One man and one cat, left to their own devices for a measly 5 days, can wreak utter and absolute havoc on what was previously a more-or-less clean abode. I am appalled, but this is…

Sex (and Sleeplessness) in Seattle

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Give me a great bunch of characters, and I’m willing to read about them doing nearly anything. Take, for example, the following characters... The pair of unexpectedly-harmless vampires--one, the metrosexual mentor (sort of a Nathan Lane-meets-Martha Stewart type); and the other, his innocent, boy-next-door protege who’s shy around girls. Then there’s the archdemon (a former angel who fell from grace, to you and I), who oversees all of the destined-for-the-Underworld residents in his area--just as cranky, imperious, and scary as you’d think (though ruining that image just a tad by dint of his quirky decision to go around looking like John Cusack’s identical twin). The still-in-divine-favor angel--who dresses in the very best Seattle grunge-wear, circa 1990, and (in a totally-unexpected twist) also happens to be the aforementioned archdemon’s BFF. A nephilim--the archdemon’s bastard child (the result of his fall-from-grace, as it happens), impossibly hunky but a touch, shall we say, pri…

The Return of Inspector Lynley

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Crack open an Elizabeth George book, and you can count on a few things. One, you might as well plan on devoting a couple of entire days to it--or spending at least a week leisurely wending your way through it--because the volume you’ve just sat down with will most assuredly be a hefty tome. Two, it will be such an intricately-plotted and intimately-personal tale that you’d swear you’re reading a combination of eyewitness and first-person accounts of actual events (rather than figments of a writer’s vivid and somewhat twisted imagination). And, third, you’ll get the pleasure of catching up with a sublimely-motley assortment of old friends (plus a handful of annoying acquaintances, the likes of which none of us seem able to escape) if you’re an old fan of her stories... or you’ll find the thrill of meeting them all for the very first time, if you’ve somehow never taken the plunge.  George is actually something of an anomaly in her field; she’s an American author--not an ex-pat, either; s…

Death and the Hot Librarian

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There’s just something about a small town. Leaving your windows open at night (even the ones on your car, if you’re of a mind to thumb your nose at the rain gods). Smiling and saying hello to whomever you pass by, and maybe stopping to chat for a spell with those who’ve known you--and all your family--forever. Quaint little mom-and-pop soft-serve joints on the roadside. Farmers (or their wives or their kids) selling sweet corn out of the back of a beat-up pickup truck in late summer. All told, just a slower way of life, because there’s really not much need to get anywhere in particular that fast (not that it would take all that long, anyway, mind you). Then again, there’s just something about a small town. The neighbors as aware of all your comings and goings as they are of their own, and plenty of folks with the ability to air every bit of your dirty laundry (if they happen to get a wild hare to do so). Certain expectations to be met, or maybe a dubious family history to be overcome. …

Tales of a Butt-Kickin' Hypochondriac

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We have a system for dealing with “bad” people: if you break the law--and get caught--you’ll face the prospect of heavy fines, restrictions on what you can and can’t do, or, worst-case, incarceration in a prison facility. Like pretty much every other system, though, it’s an imperfect one, because sometimes, guilty people get off scot-free. But what if there were another way--one outside of the law--to take care of those who, for whatever reason, go unpunished? And what if you, personally, had it in your power to make unrepentant criminals suffer and feel genuine remorse for their misdeeds? Enter Carolyn Crane’s fabulous new debut novel, Mind Games, which touches on those very questions. Justine Jones is a typical young woman living in a Midwestern city. She’s intelligent, attractive, and self-sufficient, with a good job (managing a high-end clothing boutique), a boyfriend (nothing too serious, yet, although she’s holding out hope for something a little more permanent), and a decent plac…

Ethics, Murder, & Journalism

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A journalist’s job is to seek out and report the truth about... well, about whatever it is he or she is covering, no matter if that something has wide-reaching political or social implications, or is merely a recap of last night’s potluck dinner down at the local Elks’ Lodge. As long as the news is at least “interesting”--with little chance of negatively affecting any of the reading/viewing/listening audiences, personally--then most folks are satisfied. And if the news is titillating, then so much the better. (“If it bleeds, it leads” isn’t just a catchy little rhyme, that’s for sure.)  To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, however, for every fascinating story or salacious tidbit, there are a proportionate number of instances in which the people’s attitudes are unfavorable toward the press... such as when they believe themselves to have been lied to by those reporting the news. Most people also tend to get a little miffed when they suspect they aren’t being told the whole truth, that the rep…

A Medieval Temperance Brennan or Kay Scarpetta

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It is late in the 12th century--1170, to be precise. Tensions between the Church and England’s King Henry II are running high, following on the heels of the recent assassination--committed by a group of Henry’s followers--of the (former) Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Becket, in a dispute over the rights of the Church. In the midst of this religious turmoil, Henry is also growing exceedingly concerned with an issue which has plagued rulers throughout the ages--that of money, how to collect enough income to effectively continue governing his lands (and the people living therein). For Henry, an important part of that equation centers around a group of people scorned and distrusted by the majority of his subjects--the Jewish population, whose menfolk have proven to have an aptitude for money-lending, and thus, have become quite valuable to the king in terms of producing revenue. The latest snag for Henry is that the Church, already furious with him, has just petitioned the Pope for th…

Shades of Nosferatu and the Independent Woman

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Can lightning strike--the same place, or the same person--more than once? Statistically, yes, although a high concentration of electrical wires and/or electronic equipment seems to play a major role in determining the likelihood of such an occurrence. Under most conditions, though, it’s pretty unlikely. But what if we’re talking about authors? (Metaphorically-speaking, of course; I’d really hate to see Zeus flinging lightning bolts at my favorite authors, all of a sudden...) What are the odds that an author with a very successful book or series already under her/his belt can create similar results, a second time?  With that question in mind, I had high hopes going into Deanna Raybourn’s latest book, The Dead Travel Fast. As the first standalone from her delightful Lady Julia Grey series, this new book would have a very pretty pair of slippers to fill. Still, the idea of a supernatural mystery set in the 19th-century was utterly compelling, especially coming from the mind of such a talen…