Monthly Archives: November 2012

Mine Till Midnight (Lisa Kleypas, Hathaways #1)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Mine Till Midnight has all of the great things you would expect from a Kleypas novel – well developed characters who go through a believable internal struggle on their way towards finding everlasting love, flashes of humor, believable quasi-villains, enough details to really root you in the time period, and a delightful supporting cast.  More than that, it’s a wonderful introduction to the Hathaway family, a great opening novel featuring a strong, more mature female who’s used to being the head of the household, and, in a very creative well-done way, a male protagonist who’s not an earl, viscount or even strictly English.  With Cam Rohan, we have an untraditional gypsy hero, who really breathes life and vitality back into the more traditional regency romance.
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Posted in Romance

Blood Groove (Alex Bledsoe)

3 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Blood Groove is either trying to be a campy 70’s-themed sexy vampire parody or a serious sexy vampire thriller that just happens to be set in the 70s.  Honestly, I’m not really sure of the author’s intent, so at the point that one of the sexy vampires was shown to have an infestation of silverfish living inside of her, I decided to treat it as parody and this review will reflect that.  If you are looking for a non-farcical treatment of sexy vampires I would look elsewhere.  This isn’t really a genre in which I have a great deal of expertise, but I would be amazed if you can’t find something less ridiculous with more genuine characters.  As a parody of the genre, I thought it was funny (if unnecessarily dark) and I would recommend it for that reason.
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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The Trouble with Dragons (Debi Gliori)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is a wonderfully illustrated book with catchy rhymes and a hidden agenda: teaching kids about environmental responsibility (which definitely means it’s not for everyone).  Probably most suitable for parents who are environmentally conscientious and kids who are at least 3 or 4 and older, this is the “save the environment” version of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.  It’s all about how these wasteful dragons (yes, yes, humans to the parents) are making more and more dragons, polluting, taking up space so that no other creatures have space to live, and basically being completely selfish and destructive.  If you believe that humans are polluting and that events like Earth Day are valuable, then this is a wonderful book to help illustrate some of what we, as humans, are causing, to your young children.  If not, you’ll find this to be too political a book for your kid — there’s probably no middle ground here in a book that is clearly aimed at teaching a lesson (though nicely illustrated regardless of your beliefs).

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult

Day By Day Armageddon (JL Bourne)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a day by day chronicle of a zombie apocalypse from the perspective of a naval pilot writing in his journal.  Overall, the effect is quite good, although much of the suspense is removed due to knowing that the protagonist will survive due to the existence of later journal entries.  If the lack of suspense doesn’t ruin a zombie apocalypse story for you, though, this is quite good.  The protagonist gets into a series of genre-consistent, believable, interesting situations and has fairly ingenious methods to escape from them.  It also abandons the tired cliche of devoting most of the novel to banal human-on-human interpersonal squabbles and has most of the emphasis on human vs zombie interactions, so if you are hoping for a discourse on the human psychology when faced with insurmountable odds you will be disappointed.  Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, even though I realize its treatment of the zombie apocalypse might turn off fans of the genre who are most attracted to the elements of horror and the fragility of human psyche.
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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Julia Quinn, Bridgertons #4)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is another solid example of Quinn’s work — the dialogue is witty, the characters seem to have an infectious bubbly energy, and the journey is believable. However, while Colin and Penelope are, like all Quinn characters, engaging and entertaining, this book seems to rely a little too much on the assumptions we start with.  Despite the internal growth and development Quinn would like us to witness, too often we’re left feeling as though Penelope is still the shy, stuttering wallflower we were introduced to a decade ago, and Colin, despite trying desperately to get out of her elder brothers’ shadows, doesn’t seem to mature much beyond the charming, fun-loving caricature of himself he starts as.  Still, even a weaker entry from Quinn is very readable; this one just isn’t quite as entertaining and repeatable as you’d like it to be…
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Posted in Romance

How to Be Good (Nick Hornby)

0.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
It’s tough to think that maybe a writer just has a niche, but Hornby, who’s done an excellent job perfecting the immature, flawed, yet redeemable adult male prototype, somehow completely fails when he tries to capture a similarly multilayered female protagonist.  Our heroine is a GP who thinks she is good (because she cares about things like causes, and is a GP, and tries to be a decent mother and a loyal wife until the start of our novel), but who is ultimately not only very flawed and imperfect, but downright annoying. There’s nothing to grasp onto and keep you reading in this book — Katie (our GP) and her husband David are clearly miserable and self-absorbed, with their kids being more there as staging and background rather than any real presence.  The dialogue is quick and light, and there are moments of levity, but overall, I found it very hard to relate, or even want to relate, to any of the characters or situations.
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Posted in Literary Fiction

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t (Jim Collins)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
A well-written synopsis of 11 “great” companies and some of their similar characteristics, this is a fun, quick read that is great in terms of party trivia and information… but it’s tougher to judge if you’re looking for more of a business how-to.  Partially, it has aged poorly — many of the companies selected have since had meltdowns of epic proportions (for example: Fannie Mae, Circuit City), and the “how to” part of the book feels generalized and far more subjective than the methodology/selection criteria would have you believe. Still, you’ll learn quite a few fun facts about how some of these business started and/or converted to become the giants they are today.
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Posted in Nonfiction

Somewhere I’ll Find You (Lisa Kleypas, Capital Theatre #2)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
I’m oddly ambivalent about this book – it was a quick and easy read with interesting characters, but, on the other hand, neither Julia nor Damon were compelling or engaging in the way I’d hoped.  There are a lot of intriguing, distracting plot lines that remain either half-developed or half-heartedly resolved, and ultimately it feels like everything comes too easily, which you never want to see in a romance, which is all about the journey rather than the foregone conclusion.  It’s not one I’d want to keep in my collection, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon.
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Posted in Romance

Candle (John Barnes)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a hard sci-fi exploration of identity in a world dominated by technology that intrudes both into the human environment and also the human psyche.  The hard sci-fi treatment of an interesting issue is very intriguing, and you can’t help but appreciate the fact that there is real imagination here and the author is venturing way out of familiar sci-fi environments.  Unfortunately, the characters feel a bit empty; they just acquiesce to the environments and situations they are placed in without any significant internal struggle or motivations or impetus of their own.  Overall, I would definately recommend this book, but with the notable caveat that it will appeal almost solely to people interested in big-idea hard sci-fi books and not people interested in rich characters or intriguing social interactions.
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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Magic Time: Angelfire (Marc Scott Zicree)

1 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
In this miserable wreck of a fantasy novel, a band of companions wander a post-magical-apocalypse United States searching for the cause of the disaster and hoping to return things to how they were before.  This is the second in a series, and,  I assume entirely filler for a larger storyline.  The book is overall uninteresting in every detail, ranging from the characters to the setting.  This felt like a chore to read all the way through, and I would not recommend it to anyone.
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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy