Friday, June 11, 2010

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

Basically, The Secret says to focus on what you want, not what you don't want. You have to feel it, your feelings have to match your thoughts, and you should feel joy and gratitude, too.

Some of it seems silly. Like the part about telling the universe you want more money, than believing you have it. You are supposed to act like you already have it, say that I can afford that, I can afford that, I can buy that, I can buy that, and it seems to me that is a good way to get into debt.

There are three steps: say you want something, believe you can have it, and than receive. She says stuff about quantum mechanics and I will be the first to admit that I don't understand quantum mechanics. I took a class in modern physics; all I got from that is that modern physics and I do not match (in my defense no one else in the class understood either and we only passed because he made the last two tests as easy he could and because he gave everybody like 40 points, which put most of the class in C range.) But it still comparing this to quantum mechanics seems odd to me.

But, still, it is true the placebo pill sometimes works as well as real thing and that works just because you believe it is working. So maybe there is something to this. I just don't know. A little experimentation is in my future, I think.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Infinity (Chronicles of Nick 01) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.

Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.

But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu.

As if starting high school isn't hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that?
Warning: Spoilers

Infinity is Sherrilyn Kenyon’s first YA novel. It takes place in the familiar Dark Hunter universe. I’d forgotten it was coming out until I saw in the store. That doesn’t say a lot for how much I was looking forward to it. Despite that, I finished it in short order, with only a very few unavoidable pauses in between reading sessions.

From the other Dark Hunter books, I knew Nick as a young man, in his early 20’s or thereabouts. In this, like the book summery says, he is 14 and going to a private high school on a scholarship. He worries about bullies, about homework and constantly checks out girls. I wouldn’t say it is necessary to be familiar with the Dark Hunter universe before reading this, but it would be helpful. Nick discovers that world as he goes on and sometimes it is even explained. Not all that often though and someone unfamiliar with the Dark Hunter world might find it confusing. Also, sometimes the transitions between adult Nick and 14 year old Nick were a little jarring.

All in all, Infinity is a pretty good read. I am tempted to say it is too short because of how quickly I finished it, but it feels complete and not really lacking in anyway. The part I liked best was a scene with the adult Nick reflecting on what had gone wrong in his life. Not too much action, but good in other ways. Action-wise, the fight at the end was pretty damn good.

Grade: B

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Kate Daniels cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to deal with-especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community.

And now there's a new player in town-a foe that may be too much for even Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family.

Warning: Spoilers. Lots and lots of spoilers

Magic Bleeds is the fourth Kate Daniels novel. It is pretty good, fast moving, with lots of action. It is also the most romantic book to date.

Magic Bleeds book is a game changer. She moves in with Curran, and tells him and her best friend both who her family is. Considering her issues with him at the beginning of the book and her considerable issues with trust, these are both biggies. And not to be overlooked, she also quits the Order. So, yeah, major changes.

Despite all that drama, there are funny moments. For example, Curran glued her ass to her office chair (mostly in retaliation). This was the best moment in the whole book.

Her aunt shows up and tries to kill her. Her aunt looks just like her, and really, it is just as well her Order boss never got a good look at the aunt. The aunt tries to kill her. She said something about waking up a few years ago, and I have to wonder, what woke her up? Why was she asleep? Maybe these questions will be answered later.

But even if they are not, there is little doubt in my mind that her father will shortly become aware of her presence (if he isn’t already!) and then the shit will hit the fan.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Out of Mind by Stella Cameron

Willow Millet longs to deny her family's exceptional gifts—paranormal talents known to few, shared by even fewer. Benedict Fortune is one such—a connection that should have strengthened the undeniable bond between him and Willow. But her self-doubt has driven them apart.

Married instead to her business, Willow's concierge we-can-do-anything service is thriving until it is hit by a string of bizarre and fatal accidents—every victim a client. Now her livelihood depends on two enigmatic socialites and their notoriously decadent parties. In this anything-goes atmosphere, Willow and Ben are thrown together again and their need for each other is as strong as ever, but they are challenged at every turn….

For dark forces are stalking Willow—coveting her gift as a means of cheating death…and ruling New Orleans forever.

When I first got Out of Mind, I thought it was a mystery but it is really a paranormal romance, the second in the Court of Angels series. I have not the read the first or anything else by this author, and I don’t think I am going to.

Out of Mind’s premise is good and should have been interesting. I had a hard time getting into it at first; the beginning was a little chaotic and disjointed. Towards the middle it smoothed out and I wanted to know what would happen next. But then in the last part, Out of Mind became a little scattered again. Also, the character was in denial for a large part of the book and after a while that was just annoying. Overall it was mixed and so at times I was skimming rather than reading.

I did like was the idea of bats. I mean, you hear bats in paranormal romance, you think vampires. At least I do. So when demons appeared instead, that was interesting to me. The prologue was a good hook. Someone gets killed and later when you hear talk of pinpricks and beaks, you just think back to that, even if the characters themselves are clueless. 

I think if you don’t care how the book is sometimes a little scattered, Out of Mind might be a good read. As for me, I wasn’t terribly impressed and I am not going to follow this series. I have not read the first in the series and that might color my view a bit.

Grade: D+

Friday, April 23, 2010

Changeless by Gail Carriger

Blurb: Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

Warning: Spoilers

 Changeless is the second in the Parasol Protectorate series. The first one was good, but this one is even better. We finally learn something more of werewolves in this world and why he left Scotland. Mostly Changless is better because of the ending. I never imagined this particular ending.

Changeless was as funny as the last one. Alexia decides to beat an impertinent soldier with her parasol; she gets hit on by a hat maker who, oddly, wears men’s clothing. Also funny was the image of her husband ending up human, stark naked, in the middle of London and meeting one of the gay vampire’s minions in that state.

The ending is without doubt my favorite part of the story. Oh, the other parts were good. Especially the part where she was pushed off the dirigible and nearly poisoned. But the best part was when he threw her out for cheating on him. Not that she really did, but he discovered she is pregnant and could not believe the child was his. He shouts and rants and throws her out. It was deliciously dramatic. Truly, he should have realized that she turns him human, with full human fertility. Idiot. I hope she beats him with her parasol in the next one.

Grade: B

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip

The Riddle-Master of Hed is an oldie but a goodie. According to wiki, it was first published in 1976. I first encountered it decades later in high school. I read the combined trilogy, because that’s what the library had. It was good than, and when I reread it, I found it was still good. Not a common occurrence with works I loved when I was 14.

When I first read it I was fascinated with the idea of a prince who lived in a normal house and promised to fix the roof of his pig herder. It didn’t seem especially prince-like. I also liked the idea of magic that bound the rulers to their land and a sort of higher education that taught riddles. On rereading, I still found these ideas interesting.

The first book ends on a cliffhanger. This did not trouble me, because I had the omnibus and could read the next immediately. If I hadn’t, I imagine that ending would have driven me crazy wanting the second book. Even with it, for a little while, I didn’t know if he was dead or alive. I couldn’t believe he was dead (when does the hero ever die?) but for a while it seemed as if he had. The second is also told from the point of view of her heroine, which I had forgotten, and which was also a jarring change. The third is good, with a really fantastic finish.

The Riddle-Master of Hed has its flaws, of course. At times, the dialogue seems forced and stilted. I would have liked to see heroine could use her powers more.  If you are familiar with other fantasy, I don’t think there any twists and turns. Even if you aren’t, I don’t think there are many surprised. I don’t mind any of these flaws.

Grade: A-

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton

When Anita Blake meets with prospective client Tony Bennington, who is desperate to have her reanimate his recently deceased wife, she is full of sympathy for his loss. Anita knows something about love, and she knows everything there is to know about loss. But what she also knows, though Tony Bennington seems unwilling to be convinced, is that the thing she can do as a necromancer isn't the miracle he thinks he needs. The creature that Anita could coerce to step out of the late Mrs. Bennington's grave would not be the lovely Mrs. Bennington. Not really. And not for long.
Warning: Spoilers

Flirt is a short, quick read. Its title comes not for a business named Flirt, but because the dead woman was a serial flirt and because throughout the book, Anita Blake herself does a fair amount of flirting.

There is just one sex scene. In a lot of ways, considering the past few novels, this is a relief. In some ways not, because most of the interaction between Anita Blake and her captors revolves around sex. Naturally, they are insanely attracted to her and just as naturally, she rolls the mind of at least one. I am not surprised by this turn of events. She also acquired another man and that does surprise me. I thought she had enough. What is she going to do with him?

There are some interesting things. In the beginning of the books, a memory from her time with her grandmother surfaces, one that explains her hang-ups a little more. I suppose that is good, because the trauma from when her mother died, how she isn’t as blond as her family, how her college finance dropped her because she wasn’t white enough for his family, all that is getting a little old.

The most interesting thing is at the end, when something interferes with the zombies she raised. She raised a whole cemetery’s worth of zombies and some other power was there, something that interfered with her ability to control them. I suspect this something will figure prominently in the next novel. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Ms. Hamilton needed Anita to raise the whole cemetery in order to introduce this something, Anita being too powerful for this something to interfere if she had raised just one zombie. That may be why the client insisted on a human sacrifice and why Anita didn’t work all that hard to persuade him that she didn’t one to raise the zombie.

Grade: C+