Friday, February 29, 2008

Fire Me Up by Katie MacAlister

First sentence:

"'You'd think that Hungary would see the light as far as secondhand smoke is concerned, wouldn't you?'"


"I'm Aisling Grey, and apparently I'm irresistible....

Being quite the novice Guardian/Keeper of the Gates to Hell, I've decided to get in touch with my otherworldly self by attending a convention of supernatural beings in Budapest. For my other career as a courier (with a somewhat tarnished reputation), I have to deliver a priceless amulet to a hermit, much to the amusement of Jim, my wisecracking furry Newfoundland demon. He should be happy that I was able to squeak through customs with a talking dog....

And guess who just happens to be staying at the same hotel as I am? Drake. You remember him. The wyvern of the green dragons? My so-called 'mate'? The man who literally fires me up and makes me act like a lovesick schoolgirl? That Drake.

Meanwhile, mortal men are falling at my feet. I don't know if it's the Hungarian air or what, but it's downright embarrassing. All I want to do is find a Guardian mentor to help me control my powers. Should be easy -- except that every Guardian I meet with winds up dead. I'm starting to get a complex...."

My thoughts:

This book had a good mix of paranormal romance and mystery with demons, ghosts, and dragons thrown in. I liked the interaction between characters Aisling, Jim, Drake, Tiffany and Nora. I also liked how Aisling figured out the Guardian murders while trying to keep her dignity intact.

Date read: 2/25/2008
Book #: 12
Series: Aisling Grey, Guardian #2
Challenge: Series Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genres: Paranormal Romance/Mystery

ISBN-10: 0451214943
ISBN-13: 9780451214942
Publisher: Signet
Year: 2005
# of Pages: 352
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Powers of Detection: Stories of Mystery and Fantasy edited by Dana Stabenow

First sentence:

"'Murder by Magic?' Master Radolphus exclaimed."


"Investigations of a different kind...

Conjured from the minds of today's most innovative authors, Powers of Detection features a dozen tales of mystery and fantasy, set in worlds where sleuths may wield wands instead of firearms - and criminals may be as inhuman as the crimes they commit.

From a magical boarding school murder to a courtroom where a witch stands trial, from ancient legends of Alaska and Egypt to stories featuring such familiar faces as Sookie Stackhouse and such familiar places as the Nightside, these paranormal procedurals reveal the mysterious behind the mystery..." -- from the back cover

  • Cold Spell by Donna Andrews
  • The Nightside, Needless to Say by Simon R. Green
  • Lovely by John Straley
  • The Price by Anne Bishop
  • Fairy Dust by Charlaine Harris
  • The Judgement by Anne Perry
  • The Sorcerer's Assassin by Sharon Shinn
  • The Boy Who Chased Seagulls by Michael Armstrong
  • Palimspet by Laura Anne Gilman
  • The Death of Clickclickwhistle by Mike Doogan
  • Cairene Dawn by Jay Caselberg
  • Justice is a Two-Edged Sword by Dana Stabenow
My thoughts:

These stories are a great mix of fantasy and mystery, with one having a science fiction motif. I liked Simon R. Green's story of a detective who solves his own murder in the Nightside (The Nightside, Needless to Say), Sookie Stackhouse's interaction with local fairies in Charlaine Harris's Fairy Dust and the sometime humorous account of an alien murder investigation in Mike Doogan's The Death of Clickclickwhistle.

Date read: 2/21/2008
Book #: 11
Challenge: Short Story Reading Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy/Mystery/SF

ISBN-10: 044101464X
ISBN-13: 9780441014644
Publisher: Ace
Year: 2004
# of Pages: 286
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hell West and Crooked by Tom Cole

First sentence:

"I first saw the light of day in London, in 1906."


"Hell West and Crooked is the autobiographical account of a young Englishman's life in the Outback during the 1920s and 1930s, from his days as a drover and stationhand in the toughest country in Australia to his experiences as a buffalo shooter and crocodile hunter in the Northern Territory before the war."

My thoughts:

With a matter of fact style touched with humor, Cole writes about his life in northern Australia working with cows, horses, buffalo, and the many interesting people he meets. While I'm not usually interested in books about horses and cattle, I found that Cole's narration held my interest.

Date read: 2/16/2008
Book #: 10
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Autobiography

ISBN-10: 0732224039
ISBN-13: 9780732224035
Publisher: Collins
Year: 1988
# of Pages: 356
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

First sentence:

"A child wants to see."


"In the vast expanse of late-Victorian Britain, two boys come to life: George, the son of a Midlands vicar, and Arthur, in shabby genteel Edinburgh, both of them feeling at once near to and impossibly distant from the beating heart of Empire. One falls prey to a series of pranks en route to a legal vocation, while the other studies medicine before discovering a different calling entirely, and it is years before their destinies are entwined in a mesmerizing alliance. We follow each through outrageous accusation and unrivaled success, through faith and perseverance and dogged self-recrimination, whether in the dock awaiting complete disgrace or at the height of fame while desperately in love with a woman not his wife, and gradually realize that George is half-Indian and that Arthur becomes the creator of the world’s most famous detective. Ranging from London clubs to teeming prisons, from a lost century to the modern age, this novel is a panoramic revelation of things we thought we knew or else had no clue of, as well as a gripping exploration of what goals drive us toward whatever lies in wait–an experience resounding with issues, no less relevant today, of crime and spirituality; of identity and nationality; of what we think, what we believe and what we can prove."

My thoughts:

An interesting book about late 19th century English life as seen through the eyes of two men who seem very different but who also share some similarities. At times I felt the story lagged as the author focused on George and then a long section on Arthur, but when the two men meet and Arthur agrees to help George, the book regained my interest. I also liked learning about how Arthur created his fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Date read: 2/16/2008
Book #: 9
Challenge: Man Booker Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

ISBN-10: 030726310X
ISBN-13: 9780307263100
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 386
LibraryThing Page

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

First sentence:

"On this day of days there was an unfamiliar stirring deep inside the dozing heart of the Hayholt, in the castle's bewildering warren of quiet passages and overgrown, ivy-choked chambers."


"A war fueled by the dark powers of sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard -- for Prester John, the High King, slayer of the dread dragon Shurakai, lies dying. And with his death, an ancient evil will at last be unleashed, as the Storm King, undead ruller of the elvishlike Sithi, seeks to regain his lost realms through a pact with one of human royal blood. Then, driven by spell-inspired jealousy, prince will fight prince, while around them, the very land begins to die.

Only a small, scattered group, the League of the Scroll, recognizes the true danger awaiting Osten Ard. And to Simon -- a castle scullion unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League -- will got the task of spearheading the quest for a solution to a riddle that offers the only hope of salvation, a riddle of long-lost swords of power...and a quest that will see him fleeing and facing enemies straight out of a legend-maker's worst nightmares!" -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

Like other epic fantasies, this book was slow to start as the world and characters were introduced in detail. Once things started going wrong with the land, and Simon had to flee his comfortable home to face the unknown, the story started picking up. I liked meeting all the characters, though sometimes I had trouble keeping them straight as the names are often similar to each other. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Stone of Farewell

Date read: 2/9/2008
Book #: 8
Series: Memory, Sorrow and Thorn #1
Challenges: Chunkster Challenge, Winter Reading Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0886773849
ISBN-13: 9780886773847
Publisher: DAW
Year: 1989
# of Pages: 766
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page