November 02, 2004
Magician by Raymond E. Feist

Magician by Raymond E. Feist: this is a Viking Classic compiliation of two novels, Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master, both with slight changes, presented as an “Author’s Preferred Edition.”

At the beginning of this saga (this compiliation was almost seven hundred pages), we meet Pug, a thirteen-year-old orphan who lives at the castle Crydee in the peaceful Kingdom of the Isles. He is best friends with Tomas and the two enjoy their boyhood not knowing the destinies that await them.

Soon, Pug is apprenticed to Kulgan, the castle’s magician, and Tomas is choosen to be a soldier. However, strange happenings are soon to occur that plunges not only their world, but also another, into an epic fight spanning decades with repercussions that they never could have dreamed of.

This is another one of my purposely vague reviews because I want this book to be as much a surprise for you as it was for me. I was about half way through when I happened upon a reivew that contained a spolier that would have ruined much of the novel for me if I hadn’t almost reached that part already.

This was definitely one of the better books I’ve read all year and I read most of it in one sitting despite its length. I was constantly amazed at how well he was able to create what amounted to dozens of main characters, all of whom I felt connected to and very interested in seeing how their lives would play out.

If you are a fan of adventures, swords and sorcery, or just love a good yarn, then you cannot go wrong with these books. I have ordered the next book in the Riftwar Saga, Silverthorn, and am anxiously awaiting the time I can return to the world of Pug, Tomas, and so many others.

October 18, 2004
The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose

The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose: the story of a sex therapist and her desperate attempt to find one of her patients when she goes missing.

Morgan Snow is one of New York’s top sex therapists. One of her clients, Cleo Thane, is an extremely well-paid, very discreet, prostitute dealing with some of the most influential men in the world. Cleo, however, has decided to write a tell-all memoir and even though she disguises the men in her book, it’s still pretty easy to figure out who they are.

Then one week, Cleo misses her regular appointment, something she’s never done. Morgan is concerned and eventually reaches both Cleo’s boyfriend and her business partner. Her concern escalates since a serial killer, dubbed the Magdalene Murderer, has begun to kill prostitutes in a highly ritualized manner and Morgan fears that Cleo has fallen victim to this madman.

She meets Detective Noah Jordan, the policeman assigned to the case, and despite his warnings, attempts to solve this mystery herself. A spark between the two also develops, complicating matters.

For the most part, I liked this book but never found it to be a mesmerizing read or get too involved with the characters. I’m not sure what it is that I felt it lacked, but it really never ranked above a slightly better than average read. This is the first in a new series, however, so the subsequent books may be worth checking out to see if they improve.

October 11, 2004
The Dark Tower by Stephen King

The Dark Tower by Stephen King: the final chapter in King’s magnus opus, The Dark Tower series. Warning: This will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book, you may want to stop now.

I honestly don’t know what to say here. I’ve been reading the Dark Tower series since I read The Gunslinger for the first time in the late 80s. There was something about the book that hooked me and I was desperate for the next novels in the series. The Drawing of the Three drew me even further into Roland’s universe and with the additions of Eddie and Susannah, made me wonder what was going to happen and fear for these characters that I was beginning to love. The Waste Lands, with Jake coming back into Roland’s life, and the new band of gunslingers left in Blaine the Mono’s insane grasp only underlined this fear. And then the waiting began.

For almost six years Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy sat in Blaine and I waited to see how their dreadful rhyming contest would end. When Wizard & Glass was finally published, putting an end to Blaine and giving us all the information we needed to see why Roland became the man that he became, I was estactic. Surely, this would be the greatest series ever written. Surely, a series with four incredible novels like these could only be destined to be the best epic ever told.

Alas, it was not to be. While Wolves of the Calla was still pretty much classic Dark Tower, you could tell by Song of Susannah that the path to the Tower had been lost. This is not to say that they aren’t fine books - they are; I particularly enjoyed Wolves of the Calla. But looking at the Dark Tower series as a whole, they don’t hold up to the previous books. I believe the difference in the change of tone of the series is King’s insertion of himself into the story line as a character, and one that is more important than even Roland himself.

Which brings us to final book in the series, The Dark Tower. For the first four hundred pages or so, despite my misgivings over King becoming a character in his own novels, I still felt that the book was fairly true to the Path of the Beam, if you will. However, after the battle at Algul Siento, where Eddie is shot and killed, breaking the band of gunslingers ka-tet irrevocably, that was no longer true for me.

This is not to say that I didn’t expect any of the gunslingers to die; I did, though honestly I thought it would be Roland that did not make it to the Tower’s top. What I disliked and thought was untrue to the series was the way that the group disintegrated with that death. At that, the novel quit being about the people that I have loved and worried about became characters in a story.

To me, ever since The Drawing of the Three, this series has been about the people - Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy. By destroying the bonds between them so that I barely recognized who they were anymore. The scene between Susannah and Roland where she elects to leave him and try her luck in the alternate New York is an example. In that scene Oy barely remembers Jake, his best friend, and I just don’t buy it. Despite the emotion between Susannah and Roland and the despair that was felt, it all just fell flat for me. Never should their ka-tet have been broken so easily. Logically, I understand that this breaking apart had to happen so that the ending could play out as it did. In my heart, however, I just can’t accept it. Thoughout these novels, one of the underlying themes was the way that Roland was able to feel again and learn redemption, especially with Jake. The changes in him have been profound and I don’t believe he would let his ka-tet fall apart like that, even if he had to fight Gan himself.

Circling back to King’s own role in the story, I did not like it. When the idea of King as a part of the story was introduced at the end of Wolves I remember being apprehensive and thinking that this would either be a brilliant or a horrible move for the book. It’s hard for me to really put it into words, but the whole thing came off as a cheat, a way to get out of having to come up with any real story. I’m sure that lots of you will disagree, but that was all that was going through my head the more that I read of The Dark Tower.

In a way, I can relate it to the deus ex machina that was used at Dandelo’s house. The first time I came across the term (literally meaning machine of the gods, it’s an “unexpected, artificial, or improbable character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot” - definition from Dictionary.com) was in one of King’s books, perhaps Misery, though I’m not entirely sure. In Misery Paul Sheldon was faced with the difficult task of bringing back to life a dead character, but in a way that was fair; in other words, her death just couldn’t have been a dream or some other nonsense. Paul Sheldon was able to pull it off without a deus ex machina; Stephen King was not. I think that right there is telling enough of how the series degenerated.

However, the biggest give away that the novel is not up to par, is King’s imploration not to read the coda - where the ending is - and the author’s note. In the coda we find out that Roland has been completing his quest for the Dark Tower countless times over. Every time he reaches the top of the Tower, only to begin again in the desert where The Gunslinger began. This revelation made me feel cheated.

I’ve been reading these books for about half of my life. To have no true ending (though one may argue that since Roland picked up the horn of Arthur Eld that maybe the next iteration will be the final one) is disappointing beyond words. The only redeeming quality is that maybe in the future a final Dark Tower book may be written or that at least I can create an ending that I find more fitting in my own imagination.

I’ve always looked forward to reading the Author’s Note that are usually included at the end of King’s novels. In these notes I’ve always felt that King is, while maybe not my friend, friendly and both respects and appreciates me. In the final paragraph, though, when King says that he doesn’t want anyone to drop in on him to discuss the ending and that, “(m)y books are my way of knowing you. Let them be your way of knowing me, as well,” I almost feel insulted. Never before has he had to warn readers away from him and a note like this isn’t going to change some crazy, determined reader from visiting him and the rest of us already know not to. It’s almost an admission that he knows he did not end the series rightly, fairly, and this is his way of avoiding taking responsibility.

I’m afraid that this long-winded post has not been able to truly express how I feel and there are other parts that I didn’t even get to (For example, why was the battle at Jericho Hill never explained? We found out nothing more about Cuthbert, Alain, and the others past Wizard & Glass. I also believe that Randall Flagg - a truly evil, sly figure - wouldn’t have died as easily as he did at Mordred hands). This series has been such a big part of my life (there were years where not a day went by that I did not think of Roland and his ka-tet and what the future held for them) that maybe no ending would have been able to satisfy me, but deep in my heart, I know that to be untrue. I needed this last novel to give me more closure than it has. Maybe in my dreams Roland will reach the Tower and be able to halt his quest and hopefully, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy will be there as well.

October 02, 2004
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde: the second novel in the Thursday Next series, picking up where The Eyre Affair left off.

Again, it’s 1985, England is the world’s biggest superpower and a virtual police state seemingly controlled by the mega-corporation Goliath. Thursday Next, Special Operations Literary Detective, has managed to infuriate Mr. Schitt-Hawse, a Goliath executive, by imprisioning his half-brother Jack Schitt in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” Schitt-Hawse proceeds to blackmail Thursday into getting his half-brother back by eradicating any trace of her new husband so that she’s the only one who even remembers him.

To make matters worse, a bunch of bizarre coincidences have resulted in accidents that almost take her life and she still has to figure out if the newly discovered Shakespearean play was really penned by the bard and save the world from turing into a ball of pink sludge.

As with The Eyre Affair, one has to have a certain suspension of disbelief, but I completely loved the book. The literary references and jokes were wonderful and trying to figure out how Thursday’s going to deal with everything that’s going on is both interesting and fun. I really look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Well of Lost Plots

July 13, 2004
Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears by Ellen Datlow (Editor) and Terri Windling (Editor)

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears by Ellen Datlow (Editor) and Terri Windling (Editor): a collection of fairy tales written especially for adults.

Datlow and Windling are some of the best editors, especially in the horror and fantasy fields, that almost any book they put together is wonderful and this one is no exception. As Ellen Datlow herself says, there’s nothing new in this collection in regards to the themes of the stories since in literary fairy tales, uniqueness and novelty are besides the point. However, even with nothing new, these stories are still amazing.

The stories themselves range from light fantasy to darkly horrific and are retellings of such well-known tales as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Little Match Girl,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and more. Even though we may be familiar with these tales, the authors invariably give each one a bit of their own style or idea and it becomes something entirely different in most cases.

Personal favorites in this anthology included “The Beast,” “Masterpiece,” “Roach in Loafers,” “Brother Bear,” “The Real Princess,” “The Huntsman’s Story,” “Match Girl,” “Waking the Prince,” “The Fox Wife,” “The White Road,” and “The Printer’s Daughter.”

November 14, 2003
The 6 Messiahs by Mark Frost

The Six Messiahs by Mark Frost: the sequel to Frost’s adventurous The List of 7.

Ten years after the events of The List of 7 we find Arthur Conan Doyle a celebrated writer. He has been made famous by the creation of Sherlock Holmes, loosely modeled on Jack Sparks, his old friend who died pursuing his evil brother, Alexander.

Doyle is getting ready to embark to America for a book tour and taking his younger brother Innes with him to serve as his secretary. While on board their American-bound ship, Doyle becomes embroiled in a plot to steal a priceless religious book. This leads him to once again put his life on the line to help stop a terrible event from occurring.

The 6 Messiahs follows the same kind of formula as The List of 7, but I don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed it for the same reasons I enjoyed the other book - lots of adventure and wonderful characters. I found this one easier to get into and also thought that it resolved some of the abruptness of the ending of The List of 7.

If you’re looking for rollicking good fun and an entertaining read, look no further.

November 11, 2003
The List of 7 by Mark Frost

The List of 7 by Mark Frost: a mix of adventure and occultism with a tiny bit of romance thrown in for good measure in Victorian England makes for quite an interesting book.

Arthur Conan Doyle is a physician of modest stature in the late 1880s in England. He has a few patients and submit manuscripts to local publishing houses. He also has a keen interest in the occult and spends a fair amount of time investigating spiritualists and mediums trying to find the real thing.

All this is abruptly thrown into disarray when he finds himself the target of a group of seven people that wish him dead before he can disrupt their plot - one he has unwittingly stumbled into.

At first, while I liked the book, I found it really hard to get into. It wasn’t until page 60 or so that I really started to enjoy the book and the direction it was taking. I was eager to see what would happen next and what the fates of various players in the book would be.

My only real complaint with the book is that at times it the prose was a bit windy. Also, while the book was set in Victorian England, I myself don’t know all their terms and slang. It would have been nice to have had some translations. The only reason that I knew that an alienist is, basically, a psychiatrist, is because of the excellent book by Caleb Carr The Alienist.

All in all, the novel contained quite the adventure and I look forward to reading the next book in the series The 6 Messiahs.

November 05, 2003
Stolen (Women of the Otherworld, Book 2) by Kelley Armstrong

Stolen (Women of the Otherworld, Book 2) by Kelley Armstrong: an absolutely stunning book that grabs you and never lets you go.

Elena, the world’s only female werewolf, is looking into the possibility that a human knows that werewolves exist and aren’t merely myth. She then discovers that it’s not only werewolves that aren’t myths but also vampires, demons, witches, and more. While trying to deal with this, she’s captured by an egomaniacal billionaire and ends up in his own supernatural menagerie.

I had enjoyed the first book in this series, Bitten, so I was prepared to like this one. However, I was surprised by how exciting it was and how much I loved it. I literally could not put this book down and stayed up reading way later than I should have.

From page one this book starts out with a deadly hunt and never lets up on the tension and excitement until the book is over, especially once Elena is kidnapped. Her fury and fear are so real that I could only begin to imagine how it would feel to be in somone’s personal zoo.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Bitten was good, but Stolen is one of the most exhilarating novels I’ve read all year. It really sinks its teeth into you, if you’ll pardon the pun.

November 03, 2003
Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds by Nancy Martin

Dead Girls Don’t Wear Diamonds by Nancy Martin: the second book in the Blackbird Sisters mystery series, picking up where How to Murder a Millionaire left off.

Nora Blackbird is dealing with her pregnant sister Libby and her on-then-off boyfriend Michael “The Mick” Abruzzo when one of her acquaintances, the wife of her old college boyfriend, ends up dead. At first it looks like suicide, but soon both her and the husband, Flan, end up as suspects. To clear their names, Nora begins an investigation into the murder which leads to jewel theft, intriuge, and the lies covered by high society.

When I read the first book in the series, How to Murder a Millionaire, I thought that while the book wasn’t all that great, it could definitely work itself into a pretty decent series. This book, however, was almost a carbon copy of the first and I found it almost a little too frothy for a murder mystery. I keep wanting more from both the characters and the story and I’m not sure if that’s going to happen.

While the book makes for quick, easy reading, it’s still not as good as one of Janet Evanovichs or Carolyn Hainess female mystery series. I guess the best I can say about this book is that it’s okay and I’m not sure if that’s enough to continue through the series.

August 18, 2003
Splintered Bones by Carolyn Haines

Splintered Bones by Carolyn Haines: the third book in the Mystery from the Mississippi Delta series and the best one yet.

We find ourselves again in Zinnia, Mississippi at Dahlia House, home of Sarah Booth Delaney, falled Daddy’s Girl. Sarah Booth doesn’t have a husband (the horror!). However, she does have a thriving private investigator business and a red tic hound called Sweetie Pie and a ghost from her great-great-grandmother’s time to keep her company along with quite a cast of friends.

In this book, Sarah Booth needs to find out who really killed the husband of one of her old friends, Lee McBride. Was it Lee’s daughter, Kip? Was it Lee herself (after all, she did confess)? Was it the handsome trainer Bud? The suspects are many since Kemper, the husband, was a real bastard and deserved to die.

I just love these books and devour them as soon as I get them. The people are so wonderful (how could you not love Jitty, Tinkie, Cece, and Harold?) and the book just so Southern. It makes me wish that I liked Jack Daniels and had a porch to sit on while sipping it. I really do highly recommend these books to lovers of both mysteries and the South. I just can’t wait for the next one to come out in paperback.

August 15, 2003
To the Nines by Janet Evanovich

To the Nines by Janet Evanovich: the tenth in the Stephanie Plum series (you have to count Visions of Sugar Plums as part of the series).

If you’re not familiar with who Stephanie Plum is, the answer is that she’s probably New Jersey’s least inept bounty hunter. She regularly blows up cars, her captures always include some element of mayhem, and she has some serious man issues in her life. She’s also endearing, funny, tough, and a delight to read every time.

To the Nines finds Stephanie on the trail of Samuel Singh who’s skipped out on a work visa. The clues to where he might be are few and far between and usually end up with someone getting killed. Stephanie’s manged to pick up another psycho stalker as well. She’s got to try and figure out how all these strange clues add up before this becomes her last job.

After I finished this book, I thought how “typically Plum” it was. I also thought how typical is not a bad thing when it comes to a Plum book. There was lots of love and sex with Joe. Ranger made quite a few appearances, so the sexual tension was pretty heavy throughout the book. Lula, a ho in a former life, was there in spandex and sequins, loud and lovable as always. Stephanie’s family even managed to get more unbalanced.

These books are always good fun and the characters are wonderful. If you haven’t read this series, I would recommend them as a great way to pass some time.

August 04, 2003
How to Murder a Millionaire by Nancy Martin

How to Murder a Millionaire by Nancy Martin: the first book in a new detective series featuring the BlackBird sisters.

When this novel starts out, we find that the Blackbird sisters - Nora (our heroine), Emma, and Libby - have been left the family estate, art, and furniture collections, respectively, by their parents who have skipped off to a nice sunny land to avoid paying back money they’ve borrowed.

This has left Nora with a $2 million estate tax (though why her parents didn’t just let her live there while they were on “vacation” bothered me from the get-go), so the solicialite is forced to take a job at the local paper as a society column writer. Unfortunately, the family friend who owns the paper and got her the job, ends up dead pretty quickly. Nora decides to do some investigating of her own along with the handsome reputed mobster who bought some of her land.

For the most part I found the book a little far-fetched, but I still enjoyed it. I never really got into the characters as much as I would have like to, but I could see how over another book or two I could probably get into them more.

The book’s definitely not as good as one of Janet Evanovich’s or Carolyn Haines’s female mystery series, but it was a pretty fun read. If you’re looking for a breezy beach book that has the potential to work itself into a good series, this is perfect for you.

July 09, 2003
Buried Bones by Carolyn Haines

Buried Bones by Carolyn Haines: another Delta mystery that’s just as good as the first.

Once again we’re back into Sarah Boothe’s Souther world, but this time she’s trying to solve the murder of one of Zinnia’s most wonderful men - Lawrence Ambrose, an author who’s secrets lead directly to his demise.

Once again, we have Jitty the ghost haunting both Sarah Boothe and Dahlia House, but it a good motherly way. We also have the convoluted relationship between Harold and Sarah Boothe that seems to never be able to decide which way to go. Tinkie and Chablis are even back and more fiesty than ever.

As I said about Them Bones, the characters are just so real and wonderful that you can’t help but get sucked into the book. This one may be a bit more darker than the first, but it’s still a great read and I can’t wait to get the next book, Splintered Bones.

July 02, 2003
Them Bones by Carolyn Haines

Them Bones by Carolyn Haines: another fabulous female detective series. You just can never have enough books like these.

I completely loved everything about this book from the hot, steamy men to the dead, but very much alive and kicking, ghosts. The characters were great and while I suspected at first that they were going to be very generalized Southern belles and tough but sensitive Southern men I was pleasently disappointed. The people in this book are just that - people. They seem real and like individuals that I could know.

Another wonderful thing about this book is its Southerness, perfectly expressed by how much Sarah Boothe cares for Dahlia House and for the traditions that her life encompasses.

Let’s not ignore the fact that this is a mystery - and a pretty darn good one at that. I had no idea who was going to show up at the end of the book and was pretty surprised at what happened.

All in all, highly recommended period no matter what background you hail from.

May 20, 2003
This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine

This Pen for Hire: A Jaine Austen Mystery by Laura Levine: first in a new female detective series that falls flat.

Honestly, it’s been a while since I read this book, but from what I remember, I had no desire to read any more in the series. The writing wasn’t all that well done and the characters had no depth to them. The reviews at Amazon were all very high ratings, which completely mystifies me.

May 02, 2003
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris: third book in the Southern Vampire series.

This one was a little bit more involved than the last two books have been and you can see Sookie, Bill, and Eric develop. It’s still a lighter read than the Anita Blake series, but lots of fun and lots of potential to become an awesome series.

April 15, 2003
Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton

Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton: eleventh novel in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series.

As far as the series goes, this one wasn’t necessarily up to par, but I still enjoyed it. Plus, after being so invested in the characters and the plots, there’s no way that I wasn’t going to read it.

All in all, a good read, but not the best of Laurell K. Hamilton’s work.

March 31, 2003
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde: one of the most entertaining, original books that I’ve had the pleasure to read in quite awhile.

The place is England. The time is 1985, but it’s not an England or a 1985 that you or I would recognize. England, the biggest superpower, is a virtual police state, the Crimean War is still going on after 130 years, Wales is now self-governed, and Goliath, a mega-corporation, seems to run everything from the shadows.

The novel centers around Thursday Next, a Special Operative, who works in the Literary Division. The nefarious Acheron Hades is out to change manuscripts of important novels by kidnapping characters from their pages. While it sounds outlandish, believe me, it really works.

I found this novel to be hugely entertaining and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. I expected it to be light-hearted and funny (very much like a Stephanie Plum novel), but was surprised to find out that it wasn’t that way at all. The book does require some suspension of disbelief, but I found myself slipping into Thursday’s world with no problem. I could really see it appealing to mystery, fantasy, and sci-fi lovers very easily, but it’s definitely a novel I would suggest that anyone try.

February 24, 2003
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Fourteenth Annual Collection by Ellen Datlow (Editor) and Terri Windling (Editor)

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Fourteenth Annual Collection by Ellen Datlow (Editor) and Terri Windling (Editor): I’ve never reviewed one of these books before, but if you’re a horror or fantasy lover, all fifteen volumes of this collection is a must for you. One of my happiest days as a bibliophile is when I found the last volume I needed to complete the collection online at Alibris. I even sent the found of the company an e-mail because these books are so important to me as a reader.

These books are very large - around seven hundred pages. Not only do you get over 500 pages of the best stories of the year, you also get a summation of fantasy for the year (reviews of books, poetry, and music offerings, mostly. A great place to find books that you might have missed otherwise. I have found some excellent works that had slipped below my radar through these reviews), a summation of horror, Fantasy and Horror in the Media (an excellent way to find a good movie), comics for the year, and an obituary section.

You will never find anthologies as fine as these and this volume was no exception. They simply sparkle with magic, contain horror to chill you to the bone, and every other emotion in between. Most of the stories that I carry around with me in my heart always, have been read in these volumes.

My favorite stories included Incognit, Inc. (Harlan Ellison), Le Mooz (Louise Erdrich), Granny Weather (Charles de Lint), Greedy Choke Puppy (Nalo Hopkinson), Achilles' Grave (Ben Pastor), Down Here in the Garden (Tia V. Travis), Riding the Black Horse (Elizabeth Engstrom), Mr. Dark’s Carnival (Glen Hirschberg), The Cavemen in the Hedges (Stacey Richter), The Penny Drops (Ian Rodwell and Steve Duffy), Buttons (Claudia Adrizola), The Artificial Cloud (Justin Tussing), The Pottawatomie Ghost (Andy Duncan), George is All Right (Howard Wandrei), The Abortionist’s Horse (A Nightmare) (Tanith Lee), The Heidelberg Cylinder (Jonathan Carroll), Gone (Jack Ketchum), The Flaying Season (Jeffrey Thomas), Bone Orchards (Paul J. McAuley), and Hallowmass (Esther M. Friesner).

I simply cannot recommend these books enough to all readers, not just those of horror and fantasy.

January 31, 2003
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris: second book in the Southern Vampire series. Another fun, quick read involving Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid from northern Louisiana, and Bill Compton her vampire boyfriend. This time they have to go to Dallas to uphold a bargain that Sookie made with another head vampire and things really ignite. The relationship between the dead and the living is explored, giving the book a bit more depth.

While these books aren’t as deep or probably as perilous as the Anita Blake series, there still a lot of fun and I highly recommend them.

January 30, 2003
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris: first book in the Southern Vampire series. Immediately upon starting this novel, I found Harris’s voice irresistible. You can tell she’s from the south and there’s just something so comfortable about her. I loved how easy it was to get into this book.

It’s your typical Louisiana telepath meets nice vampire and they fall in love story. The characters are great, especially if you’re from the south. I really love Sookie. She’s sweet, smart, and you can’t help but adore her and her plucky spirit. It’s a quick read and I was strongly recommend this book, particularly if you enjoy books in the mystery or horror genre.

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, Book 1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, Book 1) by Kelley Armstrong: excellent novel by first time author Kelly Armstrong. It deals with Elena, a woman turned werewolf, who has distanced herself from the only family she’s really ever had - The Pack. She has to return home after some alarming circumstances arrive, threatening the carefully crafted life she’s made for herself.

I really enjoyed this book and feel that it was a great book, especially considering it was penned by a first time novelist. The characters were real and very interesting, especially the conflict between Elena and Clay. Very good book, with a nice new twist on the werewolf concept.

January 25, 2003
Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich: a very quick read (started it at lunch and then finished it in bed on the same day), but still pretty good. This story is a little more weird than your classic Plum novel, but in Stephanie’s world, anything is possible, so it’s not that far a stretch to buy into it. Stephanie Plum novels are always fun, and this one was no exception, though it was not as good as a full-length novel in the series typically is. Still, at 50% off on the bargain table, it’s a great buy

Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton

Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton: tenth book in the Anita Blake series. This book had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t figure out where Hamilton was taking the series. As always, the writing was excellent, though it was strange to see Anita departing from her usual ways due to a big change in the book. Also, while the ending was good, I found it really sad and wished that things could have been different. I really enjoyed it, but now I’m annoyed that the next book doesn’t come out for another five months and I’ll have to wait about a year on top of that for the paperback version.

A Caress of Twilight by Laurell K. Hamilton

A Caress of Twilight by Laurell K. Hamilton: second book in the Merry Gentry series. While I liked this book, I just don’t enjoy this series as much as I like the Anita Blake books. There seems to be no real danger and I just can’t bring myself to care about the characters as much as I would like to. Lots of sex, but not a lot of heart.

A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton

A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton: first book in the Merry Gentry series. In the beginning I didn’t think I was going to like this book. Since I read it right on the heels of all the Anita Blake books it was so very different to have a heroine that wasn’t a bad ass like Anita and it took me a little while to adjust. I started off thinking that Merry was a bit of a wuss, but eventually I began to appreciate Merry for Merry. This book didn’t have as much substance as the Anita Blake books (I felt the characters weren’t as in depth), but I liked it for a bit of lighter reading. Be forewarned, though, this book has lots and lots of sex, a marked difference from her other books.

Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton

Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton: ninth book in the Anita Blake series. This book featured one of the most interesting, and mysterious, people in Anita’s life - her friend Edward. I loved how we got to learn more about his life and who he really is. Very exciting and very interesting.

Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton

Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton: eighth book in the Anita Blake series. Great book focusing on the unfinished business that Anita has with her ex. I was glad to see where this book went, but when it ended, it only increased my uncertainty on how things can end with the three major characters.

Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton

Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton: seventh book in the Anita Blake series. This is definitely the best book to date in the series. It starts off with massive amounts of trouble headed for Anita and doesn’t let up until the very end. This book was so good, it was all I could do to put it down. The most action (and sex) filled yet. Absolutely a must-read.

The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton: sixth book in the Anita Blake series. Another winner in the series, but this book was a little bit different that the ones before it. All the books’s sexual tensions come to a head and the ending of the book was no where near what I would have expected. I couldn’t put this one down either. Read these books now.

Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton

Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton: fifth book in the Anita Blake series. Really good book where the tension between the leads is getting even more intense. I literally could not put it down I wanted to find out what was going to happen so badly. I am getting more and more into these books with each one and can’t decide how they’re going to end up. Wonderful, wonderful books.

The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton: fourth book in the Anita Blake series. Yet another excellent book in the Anita Blake series. So far, each book I’ve read has been better than the last. This one threw some great tension between characters in, really letting you focus on the people in the story. I can’t recommend these books enough.

Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton

Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton: third book in the Anita Blake series. This book has, so far, been the best of the series. It deals mostly with Anita’s struggles with a very powerful vampire (I won’t say more and give it away.) I finished it in about a day. I guess you could say I devoured it.

The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton: second book in the Anita Blake series. This book starts off pretty much right after the second one and is even better, giving a hell of a climactic ending.

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton: first book in the Anita Blake, vampire hunter, series. My friend Jeanna gave it to me for my birthday knowing how I like both horror novels and mysteries. I enjoyed it immensely, reading it in two days. The series is about an animator, a woman who can raise the dead, and who also happens to kill rogue vampires. The only thing I wish these books would do is give me the background information on why and how vampires became accepted in society

The Best of Cemetery Dance: Volume I by Richard Chizmar (Editor)

The Best of Cemetery Dance: Volume I by Richard Chizmar (Editor): a great collection of short stories from the magazine Cemetery Dance. I had always wanted to subscibe to it, but before I started making real money, couldn’t afford to. This book made me go over to their website and sign right up. Excellent stories, especially “Chattery Teeth,” “The Box,” “Haceldama,” “The Pig Man,” “Weight,” “The Rabbit,” and “Savior.”

Casual Rex by Eric Garcia

Casual Rex by Eric Garcia: another great Vincent Rubio (a velociraptor private investigator). It’s actually a prequal to Anonymous Rex, so we get to meet Vincent’s partner Ernie who died at the beginning of the other book. If you like mysteries or stories that are clever and funny, these books are for you.

Necroscope IV: Deadspeak by Brian Lumley

Necroscope IV: Deadspeak by Brian Lumley: another installment in the Necroscope series. This book had some interesting twists in it. Plus, it was set in Greece (my boyfriend is half Greek), so I enjoyed the new location for the book. I liked this one better than the second book, but the third book, so far, has been the best of the sequels.

Necroscope III: The Source by Brian Lumley

Necroscope III: The Source by Brian Lumley: third book in the Necroscope series. It introduces some new characters and a very interesting therory as to where vampires come from. I liked it quite a bit.

Necroscope II: Vamphyri! by Brian Lumley

Necroscope II: Vamphyri! by Brian Lumley: second book in the Necroscope series. Not as good as the first one, but it was worth reading.

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich: the latest adventures in the Stephanie Plum series. The whole series is highly recommended.

Necroscope (Necroscope Series, Volume 1) by Brian Lumley

Necroscope (Necroscope Series, Volume 1) by Brian Lumley: first book in the Necroscope series. Very interesting book about Harry Keogh, a necroscope or one who can talk to the dead. This is a classic in the horror genre and I really liked it.

Anonymous Rex : A Detective Story by Eric Garcia

Anonymous Rex : A Detective Story by Eric Garcia: what can you say about a detective story where the main character is a velociraptor? In this series, dinosaurs really aren’t extinct, but rather disguise themselves as humans. Very funny and interesting.