Thursday, October 23, 2008

Paranormal Fiction Feast

Over the last 2 weeks I have read 3 paranormal novels, Christine Feehan’s ” Dark Curse, Julie Kramer’s “Deja Demon and Jayne Castle’s “Dark Light.”
All three of these novels are romance adventures, utilize a formulaic plot plan and while they are all paranormal each has a different magical ingredient.
Christine Feehan is the Queen of the Carpathians. Carpathians are the hottest Vampire hunting, bloodsucking MALE creatures on the planet. Ms. Feehan has created an entire society of magical people that are dying out and can only mate with their one true loves, aka, life mates. Vampires are what happen when Carpathian males don’t find their life mates and lose all hope. In my next life I hope I come back to be bitten and mated by a big hulking Carpathian.
Julie Kramer’s series focuses on her main character who is a demon killing soccer mom. She is what Buffy would be if she was still around. Running between PTA meetings, helping her husband get elected as county prosecutor and raising a tween and a toddler Kate Connor finds time to kill demons, and zombies, save the world and have flirty moments with her back from the dead demon hunting first husband.
Jayne Castle created an entire planet called Harmony where psychic abilities are the norm. Humans discovered the planet as part of the space program and found it compatible with earth. There were obvious previous inhabitants on the planet but they seem to have abandoned the place. Psychic energy can be focused through amber to power everything from a toaster to a vehicle. The aliens left an amazing secret underworld of caverns and traps. Mysterious psychic energy comes from these caverns and it takes a special Guild of energy explorers called “Ghost Hunters to unlock the traps and unearth the secrets.

There are other obvious differences in these novels.
“Dark Curse” is all about passion. The Carpathian Men long for their mates and the return of their emotions. When Nicolas De La Cruz finds his life mate in Lara Calladine he takes what he believes is his without care of her feelings. Lara who has her own magic abilities because of her Dragonseeker heritage is overwhelmed by Nicolas and when she realizes her feelings for him have trapped her again as surely as her grandfather imprisoned her as a child she attempts to kill herself rather than be a victim again. Nicolas rescues her from her suicide attempt and in doing so comes to understand her need for independence. He realizes for love to flourish genuine understanding and compromise must be there as well. As the two lovers come together the battle for the survival of the Carpathian society continues to fume. Lara makes an amazing discovery about herself as she helps 2 of the Carpathian women save their babies and possibly save the future of the culture. She also discovers Nicolas is not just her anchor but her love as well. The passion builds to a fever pitch and when these 2 come together it is HOT! HOT! HOT! If any Carpathians are out there I am available! Ok, no I’m not but I could be if one of you knocked on my door!

“Deja Demon” is about the humor in adversity. Julie Kenner does for the Vampire Slayer series what my fave Janet Evonavitch does for the bounty hunter. Kate Connor is still coming to terms with the fact that her first husband is back from the dead and she was the one who returned him in the last installment, “Demons are Forever.” Eric is back from the dead and living in the science teacher, David Long’s body. Kate loves her 1st husband with all her heart but when he died she moved on and met Stuart fell in love again and loves her new life. She is caught in between secrets, regrets and her responsibilities as well as the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt. The story investigates the complexities of mixed families, teen angst, and living with the choices one makes in the name of love with fun, action and laughter. The ending leaves me rooting for Stuart and sad for Eric/David. Most of all, it left me wanting more.

“Dark Light” is centered around the new head of the Crystal City Hunter Guild and an intrepid, do-gooding reporter. The reporter, Sierra McIntyre, has landed a major coup as a reporter for the tabloid ‘The Curtain” by getting an interview with the new Boss, John Fontana. From the moment they meet the sparks fly both physically and psychically. John proposes an outrageous arrangement to Sierra. She can get all the inside scoop on the Guild and the disappearance of retired hunters. I must say she was way too quick to agree to the arrangement but hey some girls are quicker than others. The adventure begins when they are attacked by mysterious bikers wielding new dark energy ghosts and it takes all of John’s psychic talent to defeat them. As the adventure grows so does the love and in short work they are making googly eyes at each other. This is the fluffiest of the three novels. It is kind of like the Harlequin novel of paranormals. I think what my favorite part of the story is Sierra’s sidekick Elvis. Elvis is a dust bunny, a strange little creature native to Harmony. They are extremely fluffy, neat and tricky creatures. Elvis got his name because he loves dressing in capes and sunglasses. Elvis isn’t a pet and don’t get him mad then he gets scary. While “Dark Light was my least favorite of the 3 books it was still a fun read.
All three books can be found in the usual places including my budget conscious favorites the Library and second hand bookstore.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

Well, I have gone and done it this time. I have put my writing where my mouth is. Some of you may know about NANOWRIMO, aka, National Novel Writing Month. For those who don’t NANOWRIMO is an annual “friendly” writing competition. To win, simply sign up on their website and commit to writing a 50,000 word novel within the 30 days of November. The prize is to get an official acknowledgment as an author of a novel, that’s it. What, no $100,000, no publishing contract or trip to exotic Paraguay? Nope, the actual prize is the satisfaction of starting and finishing a challenging project and the public validation of successfully meeting the goal. Oh, and let’s not forget having a novel at the end of November to edit and submit for publishing or self publish. How freaking cool is that!!!
I signed up for this year’s competition. Yes I did! I am trembling with excitement and trepidation. There are no rules about topic or format. This is about unbridled creativity and word count. There is no time to go back and obsess over getting anything perfect. For 30 days my inner critic has to shut up while I put up my very first novel. Woo hoo!
With the craziness going on recently in the world I have obsessed over every little thing from what to wear to work to who I am going to pick on “Dancing With the Stars.” I figure next month the only thing I will have time to obsess over is the 2500 word per day commitment to get to 50,000. I won’t have time to be sad over my youngest going into the Marines or my oldest going to Germany with the Army. I won’t have the energy to think about the mortgage still 15 days late or what I am not going to purchase this year for Christmas. I am going to write. I am going to put all of the crap in my head on the page and I am going to win!
Starting November 1st, you will notice on the side bar a word count widget to keep anyone interested up to date on my progress. I think this will also keep me going since I would hate for anyone see me give up. I am also including this link to NANOWRIMO for anyone interested in signing themselves up. My username is mamejane so feel free to add me as a buddy and we will cheer each other on.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Odd is Good (Odd Thomas by Dean R. Koontz)

I am not a fan of dying. It seems so final to me. I want to know what happens when I die. I have gone so far to find out about the final trip that I ask those who have passed away before me to come visit and fill me in. No one has ever taken me upon my offer. In Dean R. Koontz’s suspense series featuring a character aptly named Odd Thomas the dead do visit.

Odd Thomas, (yes, this is his legal name), is a 20 year old fry cook who lives in the dessert town of Pico Mundo. At the age of 7 he discovered he has an unusual gift. He sees dead people, ala “The Sixth Sense”. In Odd’s world the dead communicate with him but not through speech. It is a psychic connection with them that tells him what they need from him whether it is forgiveness or revenge. He feels it is his birthright to help them move on.

This is another book that came to me by way of a friend. Actually, Melinda gave me “Brother Odd” and when I realized it was part of a series I set it aside. I don’t like to read serial novels out of order. I hate having to backtrack to get a joke or recurring plot piece. Anyway, some weeks went by when I saw another friend reading “Forever Odd” and we got to talking about the series. He actually told me very little about the story but insisted I start at the beginning of the series. I did exactly that and I can’t wait to start the second book “Forever Odd”.

In the first book I met Odd and his girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn. According to a fortune telling robotic gypsy mummy “They are destined to be together forever”.
The other friends and fellow characters are:
· Terri Stambaug, his boss who is obsessed with Elvis.
· Little Ozzie, the celebrity author who is his friend and mentor. He is the one who convinced Odd to write down is experiences.
· Mean Chester, Little Ozzie’s cat.
· Rosalia Sanchez is Odd’s landlady. She has suffered such losses in death she is afraid she will just become invisible. Odd visits her every morning to assure her she can still be seen.
· Chief Porter is the head of the police dept. and knows of Odd’s unusual gift and has closed some tough cases with the help of Odd.
· Elvis, yes the king.

Beyond the list of characters and the basic concept of this series I can say no more because it gives too much away and I would hate to ruin it for anyone. I will tell you the end was worth the whole story and the whole story made the end happen. You will see what I mean once you read it.
Recently I answered a MEME question “What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?” I answered the question that the best book combines both. “Odd Thomas” does that.
Written in first person with spare language Dean Koontz colors a very clear picture of Odd and the life he leads. Suspense builds not with a lot of violence but with a tension in uncertainty. The ending is satisfying and shocking.

Please check this series out at soon as you get a chance!
The series includes:
Odd Thomas
Forever Odd
Brother Odd
Odd Hours
In Odd We Trust

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Death Angel by Linda Howard is not a heavenly read

SPOILER ALERT: I did not like this book and I give away plot details as I explain why.

This is a story about a woman called Drea, who spends 2 years being a ditsy bimbo girlfriend of a drug dealing thug all the while hiding an impressive intelligence. The only guy to see through her façade is Simon, an assassin hired by the boyfriend. He asks for 5 hours alone with her as payment for a contract he’s hired to do. After neither very little persuasion nor asking Drea what she thought of the idea the thug agrees. After her initial fear she succumbs to Simon’s gentle touch and they have sex for 4 hours. (They stop early because Simon doesn’t trust Rafael not to walk in on them). This doesn’t seem like such an impressive feat except Simon never loses his erection for the entire 4 hours. (This is beyond fantasy and is now a sign of a bad Viagra side effect). She is so overcome by the multiple orgasms she impulsively asks him to take her away. He says “No, Once was enough.” She realizes after an afternoon of mind blowing sex she has been selling herself short as the thug’s bimbo girlfriend. Obviously, Rafael, the thug wasn’t as good in the sack. She decides to leave said thug and teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget. She pulls off stealing $2 million from him. Surprise! Then Rafael hires Simon to catch her and take her out. He offers the $2 million she stole as the contract price. Simon tracks her down in Kansas. He debates taking the contract since he admires her guts and the smarts she displayed in stealing and running. (Yeah, right. I think it was that 4 hours). She realizes she has been found and during an escape over some curvy roads she runs her car into a tree and is pierced in the chest by a branch. He stays with her as she gasps her last breath and calls 911 so she won’t be left to the elements of Kansas.
Here is where a so-so story took a turn for the worse. Drea dies from her injuries. I think that is totally reasonable given the branch in her chest. She goes to the here-after and meets several people who mean nothing to her but are very kind and in the midst of the group a young man appears and she knows this is the baby she lost when she was 16. The miscarriage was mentioned in a sentence 5 pages in and now this one sentence character declares she should return to life for a second chance because even though she was an opportunist and not a very nice person she loved him and that makes her good at heart and worthy to try again at life. 911 shows up and after an hour on scene and packing her into a body bag one of the EMT’s hears her gasp back to life. Not only does she come back but she is now gifted with psychic powers. WHAT! Come on Linda! You are a much better author than this.
Wait it gets better. Simon decides to follow up on the accident with the intention to make sure she is buried properly with headstone and all. He realizes she meant something to him after all and he wants to take care of her in death unlike in life. As he is looking for her obituary he discovers, miracles of miracles she is not dead. She is recovering in a hospital and called Jane Doe since she won’t or can’t speak. He pays her hospital bills and begins watching over, (stalking), her while she gets a job waitressing and building a new life. (She has recovered her speech).
Meanwhile she is filled with the experience of meeting her son and longs to do right so she can return to where-ever he is and feel that joy again. She uses her new psychic abilities to warn her doctor, co-workers and select diner customers to take better care of themselves and decides to give the $2million to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. She also decides that Rafael is too bad a guy to let stay on the streets and plans to return to New York and offer herself as a witness to help “bring” him down. Simon shows up and she flips out thinking he is still out to kill her. He breaks into her house and convinces her he is on her side.
I think you all know how this is going to end and you would be right. It was as if Ms. Howard, who is a great author, couldn’t decide what this story should be; paranormal, suspense or just a romance novel. I won’t stop reading her work but I will be expecting more of her in the future.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New Look

So what do you think of the new look? I like the colors much better than the original hunter greens and navy blues of the old template. And Look Mom 3 columns! Woo Hoo!
All visitors, please take a moment and let me know how the new layout works for you!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fiction Fix Part II

Fiction Fix Part II

Well today’s news has kept me in the fiction realm. Bailout or rescue plan the real world seems like it is on shaky ground. I have to admit I have become a bit obsessed by the economic woes of our country and my household. I shared in Part I of the “Fiction Fix” the Library is a great place to get away from the insanity of the everyday. Today I have another suggestion for getting what I need. I have to be honest, even though the Library tries to provide the most mainstream titles of today they have limited options due to budget constraints. Many of my paranormal, science fiction and romantic faves are still not regularly available. The next best value is my local second-hand bookstore. This is a great place to find titles or authors that I can’t often find at the library like Christine Feehan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Johnson and Rebecca York. A lot of second-hand bookstores are great resources for old magazines and even text books. Some used bookstores have special focuses like comic books, romance novels, and other collectable books. Another reason I really love second-hand bookstores are they are owned by besotted bookworms like me. I don’t think anyone gets really rich running a used bookstore but they are surrounded everyday by the things they love most. All the booksellers I have met in these stores are friendly, informed and excited to share their treasures with me.

I am especially fortunate to have a bookstore with in walking distance of my house. “The Bookworm has a great staff. They are always up on the next J.D. Robb novel that is dropping or have comments on the last James Patterson mystery they just read. I get excited every time I walk in, as I am surrounded by a grand variety of paperbacks, hardbacks, and magazines. I can trade in books I have purchased or gotten from friends and use them as credit toward books from their inventory. All the books are half off of the new price. This does make the paperbacks a better value than the hardbacks. I have actually picked up a month’s worth of reading for less than $20.00. (That comes to about 6 books for me). Just the other day I strolled out with the newest Jayne Castle book, “Dark Light” and a Jennifer Cruise novel I haven’t read before. It is great knowing I am being frugal while indulging in my favorite past time. I feel like I am doing something good for me and for my budget and then I can face the news again.

Just a reminder: Don’t forget to vote on November 4th! I am an Obama supporter but no matter who you support change won’t happen without our voices being heard. Just think, this election makes us all a part of history and someday someone will walk into a library or bookstore and read about the decisions we make that day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fearless Fourteen wasn't very Fearless

Dear Ms. Evanovich,

I fear that your newest installment in the Stephanie Plum series, “Fearless Fourteen” fell a bit flat. I love Stephanie and the Burg. One of my first posts on this blog was in praise of you and your zany cast of characters. I patiently waited at my library until it came available. I didn’t get out of the parking lot before I had cracked open the cover to see what Stephanie was up to. Would she and Joe make it permanent or would she and Ranger finally become a couple. What trouble would Grandma Mazur get into? Had Lula managed to hang on to Tank? None of these questions were answered to my satisfaction.
The book started off well enough with Stephanie and Lula collecting a bail jumper named Loretta Rizzi. As always the apprehension is not without its complications, this time it is Loretta’s son Mario, a.k.a. Zook and her parolee brother Dom. I hesitate to give much more detail beyond this or I risk giving away key plot points and I hate being a spoiler. Suffice it to say the complication of Loretta grows until it becomes a potentially life threatening situation for someone. In the meantime Stephanie helps out Ranger with a crazy celebrity named Brenda and Lula is putting together a wedding that Tank, the groom, doesn’t remember proposing. Grandma Mazur doesn’t fail to get in the picture as she takes out Griefers with Moondog, Zook and Garth. This sounds like a typically hysterical Stephanie Plum adventure doesn’t it? Well….the usual sharp humor that made me laugh out loud in some embarrassing public places was missing. In previous installments I am laughing less than 10 pages in. With “Fearless Fourteen I didn’t crack a smile until Grandma Mazur and the ladies got online and nary a laugh until Moon invented his potato canon. I know Brenda was meant to be funny but I feel like you thought Stephanie’s arch nemesis, Joyce Barnhardt, was out of town getting botoxed so Brenda was a last minute stand in. I would have left her out.
The other disappointment was leaving me hanging over Lula. That just wasn’t right. I was so looking forward to how she was going to actually get Tank down the aisle in a Pink Tux. Oh! And the brides maid dress she would have put Steph in would have been worth at least a chapter. Maybe she would have had to do an apprehension in the dress outside the church! OR Lula in a leopard print bridal gown. Now that has me laughing out loud!
What happened to Steph’s sister and her new husband, Albert Kloughn? I miss them. I miss the buick. Mom Plum made only a cameo appearance and I just want to say that having mom tipple wine in the kitchen is funny, having her put back a stiff whiskey at the table seems said and depressing. I miss the laughs. I miss the burg.
The Besotted Bookworm