Archive for April, 2006


Lilith Saintcrow: Fire Watcher

Disclaimer: This is a reviewer copy from Lilith herself.

What an action-packed romance!

It’s the kind of book you absolutely have to read in one sitting. At least, that’s what you’ll want to do. I did. Both Elena and Remy are your classic tortured heroine and hero. One has a temper problem and the other seeks redemption.

Elena does start off sounding like a spoilt brat. But guess what? It rings true. Goodness knows I’d have been the same in her position. Nobody likes to feel abandoned. She gets out of it pretty soon though.

Remy is rather adorable. He’s such a guy, he needs to be told dozens of times before he accepts it–read to find out what it is. Truly, it’s the little things that make a book.

Where I think the book fails is that it doesn’t standalone all that well. Yes, I know it’s the third book in a series, but there are too many things left for the reader to assume.

I probably won’t be getting the first 2 books in the series–I’m eyeing The Society and Serafim though, they are more suited to my taste these days. Fire Watcher is a great paranormal romance, it's just not very Me these days.

I strongly suggest getting Working For The Devil though. Can’t recommend it enough.


Leslie Silbert: The Intelligencer

I picked this book up because I liked the blurb–plus it had found its way on to my Wish List. 

It's switches between 16th century London and now.

I thought this book was going to be dry and slow to read. It surprised me, though. It wasn't slow, though I'd not term it a page-turner either.

Silbert can write. Think Kate Mosse's Labyrinth, not DaVinci Code. 

I did figure out who the modern-day villain (well, the one who wasn't named anyway) was, about half-way through the book. That's a big Minus for me. 

I also felt she didn't quite get across the motivations of the various characters. She sure didn't cap off Kate's Big revelation at the end of the book. According to her site, it looks like it's going to be a series featuring Kate (the lead character), but it should have been done. 

The historical parts were better done than the modern-day sections. It's not the research, I simply felt that they were better written. Or rather, Silbert's voice and style is better suited to historical sections. 

Worth a read if you have the time or are a fan of Christopher Marlowe.  


Date With A Devil: An anthology

I won this book from Access Romance–there are two others, and I'll review them soon.

Anne Stuart: Blind Date From Hell

I liked this one, especially the setup–read the novella, I've decided not to do spoilers here. 

Short, sweet (I don't mean no sex), and all tied up in a neat little package. 

Cherry Adair: Dance With The Devil

What devil? I do not get the title at all! Maybe my brain was stressed–I was on the treadmill at the time. 

It's a sexy read–it is possible that the sex covered more than half the pages. Frankly, I'd have said the plot drove for the sex, and everything else was just icing. But it was pretty good icing anyway.
Muriel Jensen: Hal And Damnation

Don't read it.  


RA Nelson: Teach Me


Talk about impact, because this book has it in spades.

It’s written in first person, in Carolina “Nine” Livingston’s POV. Nine is every teenage girl out there, yet she is still Nine. 

She has an affair with a teacher–every parent’s nightmare.

She survives it, and its aftermath. Not unscathed, perhaps, but still whole.

Certainly, it’s a dark book. Of course, it’s a book about an adolescent living through adolescence, and for many, it was a dark time.

This book is pitch-perfect, and you absolutely have to read it.


Lynn S. Hightower: The Debt Collector

It took me ages to find a book I wanted to read for AngieW's TBR Challenge in my TBR pile. It has to be at least 6 months old, you see, and I don't want to touch any of the historical romances on my pile. Which made it very difficult, because the rest were literary fiction that I can't read a great deal of.

This is a hard book to review, simply because I don't have anything to say about it.

I know I picked it up because the backcover blurb interested me. Home invasion, a guy called the Angel, and 2 ex-cons murdered within 24 hours of landing in jail.  

Sonora Blair is one of those Strong Heroines. I'm not sure whether she's divorced or widowed, but she's a single mom with 2 kids. 

But there are better police procedurals–this isn't a romance–out there. It's that simple. 

Yes, this is a really bad review, so I'm sorry, blah de blah de blah. 


Romances, Reviews and Risk

Each time you buy a book, you take a risk. Evidently, you think the book is worth the risk.

Maybe you got it because the blurb sounded really good. Or maybe you got it because there have been really good reviews of the book. Including one from a certain reviewer whose words you take as gospel.

But maybe, just maybe, the reviewer didn’t mention that she/he is connected very closely to the author. Blood relation or just plain good friend.

That makes the review suspect. Especially if the fact wasn’t disclosed–this is called asymmetry of knowledge. It tilts the market in favor of the producer, because you’re not making your decision based on all available information.

Now, if you had known, would you have given that review as much weight? I don’t think so. You might not have considered it consciously, but your brain would have.

Reviews exist for a reason, and that is to disseminate information.

Imagine a world where all reviews go, “WOW It’s soooo sooo sooo good!”

‘Nuff said.

To read more, clicky here.


How To Write Paranormal Romance 101

Would you like your series to race to the top of the charts?

Would you like to be the next Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, or MaryJanice Davidson?

Well then, here's a list of what you absolutely must do. These are the RULES, and you must stick by them. Otherwise, you won't even sell, much less become an NYT bestseller. 

The species is the supernatural or paranormal creature you 'create.'

They may be completely new, to the point that you come up with your own name for them. The name must always be unpronounceable. Or you can use a creature with an established mythology, like the Vampire. If you do, I strongly suggest that you research some and use the old names for such creatures. Or just translate the name into another language. French is good, and so is Italian—the Romance languages, you know.

You may also choose to make them human, and give them special powers. But they tend to turn out a bit bland. They don't have that paranormal oomph, say, a shapeshifter has. 

As far as possible, give your characters names that are so far out, they aren't in baby books. This is very important, because it turns your characters from pedestrian to exotique!

The god is the mysterious, all-powerful (and preferably male and gorgeous or female and vicious) entity who is always on your hero and heroine's side, even if it does not always act like it. Not necessary, but very useful when you realize you don't know how to end the book–just the book, not the series. 

There must be good, and there must be evil. Therefore you have the eternal enemy. Humans are good for this. Mysterious creatures with bloodsucking, shape shifting and/or sorcerous powers are better. Mysterious all-powerful entity with human/earth inhabiting servants are best, because then you can use the David vs. Goliath nuance. Nuances are good. They make the book 'deeper' and helps you stop sounding like you're having hero and heroine boink their way to the end. 

The hero must be dark haired, ripped, have electrifying eyes, be at least six feet four tall with a predatory walk (whatever that means), and have special abilities (I do not mean what he can do with his tongue). May be able to know heroine is the love of his life just by smell. He is often a tortured good guy or enlightened/tortured baddie (makes great conflict) who's a loner. Once in a while, you may throw in an angelic-looking blond for variety (but they can't be too gay).

The hero usually has comrades, if not friends. These, together with the hero and heroine's eventual children, are your future characters.

The heroine is a very versatile character. Popular versions include the vampire and the vampire huntress (substitute your species), or the psychic who senses the hero is in deep shit and saves his ass. I personally like the ones where she's in the wrong place at the wrong time and the hero vows to protect her—ostensibly because he's a chivalrous sort but mostly because he can't resist her charms (read: can't resist boinking her, probably because of her smell).

The heroine's best friend can come in pretty handy, especially as a possible future heroine. She must either dislike hero intensely because she think he will break heroine's heart OR is terribly excited that the heroine is actually interested in someone.

Example plotlines:

  1. Heroine gets kidnapped so hero must trade holy artifact for her, but instead brings his brothers or friends (this is how you introduce your next hero) to beat up the baddies and save the day.
  2. Hero and heroine find holy artifact and save the world—for once.
  3. Hero kills the evil dragon/werewolf/vampire/name your creature.

Then they all live happily ever after, boinking lots and making many babies. This also helps you write on and on, because when they have babies, you can write about their babies too!

Which brings me to the Overarching Plotline. The battle of good vs. evil must continue on forever. It has to go on forever or you won't be able to keep on writing and earning money.

So Write On, to NYT Bestselling success!

PS This was the original idea for the RTB post–clearly I'm a pantzer, because it is very different from the one that finally went in. 😀 


Raven Hart: The Vampire Seduction

This is not a romance, despite the romance feel of the cover. 

It's an horror/urban fantasy-type vampire novel.

And what vamps they are!

William is what most of us think of when we think of vampires. Cold and cruel. Thinks of humans as food. You get the idea.

And then there's his sidekick, Jack. He's the one I like. William isn't my thing, for some reason.

It has beautiful writing, but not as much impact as I'd have liked. Maybe I should not have read it right after reading Working For The Devil. Now there's a thought–but true, given that I've been alternating vamp and non-vamp paras.

If you like vamps, or Savannah (where the book is set), this book is definitely worth a read. 


Lilith Saintcrow: Working For The Devil

First book in the Dante Valentine series.

I loved this book.  

It's what I've been looking in urban fantasy novels with a female lead character. I've read Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, Rachel Caine, and Laurell K. Hamilton. But Lilith Saintcrow is the real thing. 

Dante, or Danny, is a fighter. She fought her way from the bottom to the top. I like that. 

Her prose has the same kind of focus Danny has when she's on the hunt, and it complements the plot very well.  

And her world-building? WOWZERS! 

Get this book. You won't regret it.  


Marjorie M. Liu: A Taste Of Crimson

Second book in the Liz Maverick-created Crimson City series.

I got this book because this book was nominated for a RITA. Yes, I don't think the RITA's much of an award, but she's popped on my radar before, not least because she's part Chinese.

It was much better than Liz Maverick's Crimson City novel, IMHO, but I also don't think that this book showcased Marjorie's writing as well a novel all her own would have.

I don't really have much else to say about this book, because I prefer to judge a writer on the strength of her/his own original work–I don't discriminate against writers who Write For Hire or do Media Tie-In novels, I just usually prefer their original work.

I will be picking up her Dirk & Steele series, which sounds like my kinda book, though.


Lois McMaster Bujold: Paladin Of Souls

This is the second novel in her Curse Of Chalion series.

Didn't quite connect that well with the lead character of this one, Ista, as compared to the first one, The Curse of Chalion. 

Intense, IMHO, is the best way to describe this book. It sucks you in and doesn't let you go. 

I'm of two minds about reading the concluding book of the trilogy though. Thoughts?  


A System For Grading Books

A: Almost There

B: Best for Bragging

C: Creative

D: Damn Good

E: Excellent

F: Freaky

G: God-awful

Yes, I am very bored today.


Tracy Sharp: Repo Chick Blues

Disclaimer: Tracy Sharp was kind enough to send me this book herself. 🙂

How could I not review a book titled Repo Chick Blues? It’s just got that very hip feel to it, don’t you think? And it’s got a great cover, so check it out at Tracy’s website above. (Also, thank the cover gods that it wasn’t another man-titty one)

It’s an erotic romance written in first-person, and I think it’s the first one I’ve read.

Leah has a history, but she doesn’t do everything because of it. Yeah, she decided to do what she does in the book because of her history, but if she had not stumbled into it, she’d not have done it. See, didn’t I do a wonderful job of not spoiling? She’s not one of the heroines who decide to become an FBI agent or a cop because of her history. Thank goodness. That is soooo old.

The one thing about her characterization that got to me was that she thinks about sex a lot. Yes, I know she’s liberated. But it’s not necessary to give every erotic romance heroine a masturbation scene.

Callahan–the hero–is a good match for her, but because it’s a first-person novel, he’s not very well-rounded. You only ever see him when they are together, and there are lots of little details that were not ‘concluded.’

Repo Chick Blues is really all about Leah. When people talk about strong heroines, they are talking about heroines like Leah.

All in all, it’s a good book. Taking a leaf out of the lovely ladies at Paperback Reader, recommended with reservations.


Alesia Holliday: Blondes Have More Felons

Full Disclosure: I won this from Alesia. 🙂

Alesia is a Literary Chick (they have the coolest guest bloggers and great contests every month) and a Mystery Chick, which tells you what her new series is about rather well. And it comes through on both points.
First of all, I liked this book. It’s not my usual kind of book (Berkley Prime Crime isn’t an imprint that I pick up), but it is certainly good enough to consider getting the next book in the series.

December is a bit too emotional for my regular reading, but I liked her. She did what she had to do to get what she wants in her new life, such as time to do pro bono work etc. I’m terribly curious about one specific thing: Why was she named December?
Plot-wise, it all came together. I do think that the one about December’s furniture getting lost was over-the-top, and frankly, pointless, but it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book. Just left me scratching my head.

I’m going to assume that we will learn more about Max and Mr. Ellison and Aunt Celia and Uncle Nathan in future books. I am especially curious about Max–December’s office manager–and that little subplot that has to do with her and a guy named Wrench. 😉

Oh and Jake Brody? *drool* Alesia, I want to see more of him!


MJ Rose: The Halo Effect

This is the first book in the Dr. Morgan Snow series.

I liked this book, which centers around Morgan, a serial killer targeting prostitutes and a patient of hers who is a prostitute.

Morgan is a sex therapist, and Rose (who is the blogger who does the excellent Buzz, Balls and Hype as well as Backstory) has clearly done her research. 

Then there's her writing. Rose is a writer at heart, but without that love of words that makes certain writers prose on, and on, and on. She has a lovely voice, with darkly sensual tones that many writers would like to have but don't.

She's not a writer who grabs you by a throat. She's a writer whose style draws you in, then her vision will wash over you, and you'll be a fan of hers.  

The Halo Effect isn't a Must-Read for me, but it might be for you. Something was missing for me, though I hope to find it in her other books. 

I certainly plan to get her other books, including the next Morgan Snow book, The Delilah Complex which will be out later this year, as well as her Spice (Harlequin's erotica imprint to be launched next month) novel.