Monday, March 29, 2010

The Read-a-Thon's A-comin'!

April 10! My favorite semi-annual blogging event! Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon! I just signed up and I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Angels by Marian Keyes

FTC Disclaimer: I Mooched this book.

Maggie Garvan has been married for nine years to the man she thought was perfect for her. Until the man who was perfect for her found he was also perfect for someone else. She then proceeds to get fired from her job as a paralegal. Not knowing what to do, how to cope, Maggie packs her bags and heads from Dublin to LA, to "take some downtime" with her best friend Emily, an aspiring scriptwriter. While in LA, Maggie sees the sites, meets new and interesting people, has an affair or two, and tries to recover from the devastation of her marriage. As Maggie learns how to be single again, we learn more and more about her past. Will she find new love in the City of Angels? Or will she simply be disappointed by human nature once again?

This book was a fun piece of fluff. It was most definitely "chick lit," whatever that means. Much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said of porn, I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. It's the first of Marian Keyes' books that I've read (and I understand that she is quite prolific). It was good, but not great. I think I was put off by the shallowness of most of the Angelenos portrayed in the story. However, it was quite funny in parts. I enjoyed the story and even cried at the end when...whatever happens at the end happened (no spoilers here!). But it didn't blow me away. I'd give it three out of five Whatevers. Nice to while away the time with, and I'll definitely check out more of Keyes' work, but nothing to write home about. I don't even have that much to say about it in this review. So, for those of you who love you some Marian Keyes (and I know there are some real fans out there), where do I go next?

Oh, and P.S.? The 24-Hour Read-a-Thon is coming. April 10th!!!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: Apocalypse Happens by Lori Handeland

The final book read during the Great Blogging Break of 2010, this book is also the third in the Phoenix Chronicles, Handeland's urban fantasy series set during the end of days. In the third published book in the series (Book Four is due out next month!), Liz is done taking on her sometimes lovers' parents (Jimmy Sanducci's vampiric father in the first book and Sawyer's woman-of-smoke mother in the last one) and is now set to take on her OWN mother, a mother she didn't even know she had. But whose side is Sawyer really on? And if she has to choose between her two lovers, will Liz choose Jimmy or Sawyer?

I think I like these books because, while they deal quite a bit with Biblical mythology (Nephilim, fallen angels, demons, good vs. evil) they aren't really religious. I am not religious myself and have never really done well with organized religion, although I like to think of myself as spiritual, whatever that means. Anyway, I'm not into religious or Christian fiction, and I think Handeland does a really good job of striking a balance between the ready-made mythology which supports her fictional world and the atheistic leanings of her heroine. Mind you, the book never SAYS that Liz Phoenix is an atheist, but she certainly doesn't have a religion that is identified, either.

This book was better than the second, closer to the first for me. I thoroughly enjoyed all three, though. I think they're great fun! I'd give this one four and a half out of five Whatevers. Couldn't put it down.

AAAAAAAnd I'm all caught up on reviews. I'm currently reading Angels by Marian Keyes, but since the computer's working again, I'm not getting much reading done. As usual. I'm slowly but surely catching up on blog reading. Missed that while I was away. Once I clear out my Google Reader, I'm sure the book-reading pace will pick up a bit!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Review: Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry

Wow. Another winner from McMurtry! I could NOT put this book down! It opens about 15 or so years after the end of Lonesome Dove. Pea Eye and Lorena are married and have several children. Woodrow Call has given up on the ranch in Montana. The railroad has grown and expanded and is now experiencing trouble from a Mexican bandit known as Joey Garza. They hire Call to find Garza and bring him in. Call starts West with the railroad's accountant, Brookshire, and they pick up a "witless deputy," as the back of the book says, along the way. Eventually, they are joined by Pea Eye and the party tracks not only Garza, but Mox Mox, the manburner, a threat from Lorena's past. Will they stop the train robberies and murders? Can they stop Joey Garza's mother from warning him that they are coming? Will Mox Mox burn again?

I cannot stress how much I loved this book. There are still two more in the series, and for that I am glad. What really makes these books unforgettable are the characters. The bad guys in this book were just evil: Garza was a psychopath, with no love for anyone, not even his devoted mother; Mox Mox was hellacious, a man who would burn people just for fun. Truly scary characters. Of course, Call was himself, a hard-worker, self-sufficient, interested only in those who could be of some assistance to him, although he changed a bit in the course of the novel, beginning to wonder, at the end of his life, if he maybe should have let more people in. It was great to see the relationship between Pea Eye and Lorena, non-existent in the previous book, now grown into a truly loving marriage. Lorena is still full of grit, fearless, determined to keep her family together, no matter what. Even peripheral characters, like Joey Garza's mother, Maria, and her friend Billy Williams, Famous Shoes, the Indian tracker, and Call's side-men, Brookshire and Plunkert, are thoroughly drawn, so we get to know them almost as well as we knew Gus and Call in Lonesome Dove. In fact, the only thing missing in this book was Gus McCrae. :(

I give this book five out of five Whatevers. If you are hesitant to pick up this series, PLEASE do. It is simply wonderful. These were two of the best books I've read in years. I cannot wait to read the last two, Comanche Moon and Dead Man's Walk. I believe they go back in time to before Lonesome Dove and follow Gus and Call and the boys in their days as Texas Rangers. I miss Gus and can't wait to see him in action again.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review: Heat Wave by "Richard Castle"

My husband gave me this book as a Christmas gift, since he knows I'm a big fan of ABC's show "Castle." It's based on the premise that a crime writer, Richard Castle, who has killed off his very popular character Derrick Storm and needs to create a new series, manages to finagle a favor out of the mayor and tag along with NYPD detectives to get fodder for his new books. He decides to base the female protagonist on the detective he shadows. The book Heat Wave is Castle's first novel featuring Nikki Heat, the character he created after working with the NYPD. The show took it one step further and actually wrote a novel based on the fictional character's fictional character. Talk about a story within a story!

I read the book over Valentine's Day weekend and, honestly, two weeks later? Can't remember what the storyline was. Some rich dude dies and they are trying to figure out who killed him. I think. Everyone's under suspicion, but only one of them could have done it. Dun dun DUN! Blah. Boring and already been done.

I do enjoy crime writing and mystery series, but I didn't LOVE this book. I feel bad saying that, because I wanted to. It was a gift from hubby, and I wanted to love it because he gave it to me. Also, I love the show. But the book was only so-so. It didn't pull me in as much as I would like. I kept feeling like a lot of the story and/or dialogue was stuff that was recycled from the show (whether it was or not). And I found that I wanted to be reading a story ABOUT Castle and Beckett, not a story BASED ON them. The dialogue was pretty cheesy and, without Nathan Fillion's tongue-in-beautiful-cheek delivery, it just doesn't work. Overall, it was okay, and I finished it, but I can't say it was earth-shattering. I'd give it two and a half out of five Whatevers. Good for people who LOOOOOVE the show and for those who can't pass up a police procedural, but I'd stick to a better-known writer than "Richard Castle" when reading in this genre.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Review: Doomsday Can Wait by Lori Handeland

This book is the second in Handeland's Phoenix Chronicles series. I read the first a couple of months ago. It was provided to me through LibraryThing, and I liked it enough to give it a four and a half Whatever rating AND enough to look for the next two books in the series. This particular book was purchased from Barnes and Noble by me, with my own money and/or a gift card.

In the second novel in the series, Liz Phoenix is beginning to understand her supernatural powers and to master them. In the previous book, she was battling her on-again, off-again boyfriend's father, who was a full-fledged vampire, out to destroy the good in the universe and take over the world. In this book, she's battling a DIFFERENT on-again, off-again boyfriend's MOTHER, who is a woman made of smoke, out to destroy the good in the universe and take over the world. Okay, so Sawyer isn't really her boyfriend, but he's close. The Woman of Smoke is gathering the forces of darkness and evil and it seems they will prevail. When Liz realizes what she has to do to combat them, it raises ethical and moral issues for her. Will she do what she has to in order to save the world? Or are there some things that shouldn't be contemplated, even for the greater good?

Despite the similarity in plotlines, I did enjoy this book, almost as much as I enjoyed the last one. It was a little harder to get into than the previous book, but once I was involved in it, I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed being back with Liz, Jimmy, Sawyer, and Summer. I enjoyed learning more about the dark forces, new demons, and learning, along with Liz, how to fight them. I think Handeland does a good job in building her world. Liz's voice is realistic and she has just enough sassiness to satisfy me without sounding whiny.

I'd give this book four out of five Whatevers. It took a little longer to get into it, but I enjoyed it immensely once I got hooked. Again, this series is good for fans of paranormal romance. This book didn't have as much sex and swearing as I recall in the last one, but there still was some, if you're squeamish.