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Book 20. saw me going on another Nora Roberts kick. Roberts loves writing about the Irish (her own admittance) and those novels are always charming. Jewels of the Sun is the first in a trilogy about siblings who own and run the town pub. It's also the best of the three--or maybe that's just because it's about an American writer who shows up in a rented cottage for the summer and changes her whole life. 21. Tears of the Moon and 22. Heart of the Sea follow a similar, predictable pattern: sibling shows interest in romantic relationship, refuses it, gets magical nudging from the local, puckish fair folk, and generally they start some sort of new business venture by the end of it.
23. Savor the Moment, Nora Roberts is the third book in the Bridal Quartet. More wedding cuteness and this time a deep seated class struggle that comes between the couple. The first two books were better, but this one was okay.
24. Bitten, Kelly Armstrong. I was told that if I was going to write werewolf stories I needed to read this book, if for no reason other than her wolfy descriptions are well done. And her descriptions of them running the woods in wolf form are very good. And the novel's been around long enough that it serves as a marker of when the sub-genre of urban fantasy was codifying itself. But the novel is plagued by giant passages of exposition. Each time a character is introduced, several pages are spent describing the narrator's relationship with that character and the narrator's understanding of that character's past. Then, eventually, we come back to the action. Very frustrating.
25. Hunted by the Others, Jess Haines. New in 2010, another human private eye in a world of vamps, wolves and witches.
26. Heart of Stone, C. E. Murphy. There's a homicidal gargoyle hanging out in Central Park. Gargoyles, dragons, djinns, selkies, and vampries--oh my! Oh, and I forgot the NYC legal aid attorney and the homicide detective. The lawyer's hard nosed dealings are interesting to read and Murphy teases out the introduction of the world which was enough to keep me reading (I got about 50 pages through it in the bookstore before I gave up sampling and finally bought the book). Although it's interesting to note that this is an Irish author writing a novel about a black woman in NYC.
27. Enchantment Emporium, Tanya Huff. I bought this book while in New Hampshire. I remember this because I was greatly amused when it rang up at $7.99, the price printed on the book--no sales tax. New Hampshire, how amusingly libertarian you are. The novel was a fun and quirky look at the magical underbelly of Calgary. In the same vein as Huff's Summon the Keeper but not quite as amusing as Summon the Keeper.
28. Grimspace, Ann Aguirre. I'm trying to remember the last space opera type book I read before this one. It was probably Ender's Game, if you can call Ender's Game a space opera. Aguirre paints an interesting world that unfolds quickly but understandably. The whole thing reads incredibly fast. Maybe too fast at the end. There's a whole series of these books out now. I'm currently 60 pages into the second one--where I've been for over a month.
29. I was told that I had to read Gena Showalter's Darkest Night. This was after I'd returned from the Odyssey workshop with all my fresh new writing knowledge and honed critiquing skills, and reading through Darkest Night was just ... painful. The writing is often bad and the craft is just abysmal. The plot sort of kept my interest, but I never really felt attached to any of the characters--which is how I feel about all of Showalter's books that I've picked up.
30. I tried to read the second book in the Lords of the Underworld series but couldn't stand it. So I skipped ahead to Darkest Pleasure. That I could read through though I'm still not a fan. I have myLiz screening these novels for me. She says which ones are interesting to her and I skip all the others and go check that book out of the library. I may not like these, but Showalter is laughing all the way to the bank: people love this series. It sells far better than there is any reason for.
31. Moon Called, Patricia Briggs. The first in the Mercedes Thompson series, I highly recommend this series if you're at all interested in urban fantasy. Mercy is a mechanic and skinwalker--she can turn into a coyote at will. But that's not where the weirdness stops. Not only is Mercy a coyote, she's a coyote raised by werewolves; she's friends with a vampire ever since she started regularly repairing his VW; and her boss is a few-thousand year-old fey. This series is also very well written craft-wise. Although I admit that I started reading these because I had a notion that I should read the most popular urban fantasy if I was gonna write in the genre. A good notion. But the reason I'd avoided this series previously? Because all the bare mid-riff covers annoyed me. The good news? Mercy is usually clothed in something grungy and comfy throughout the interior of the novel
32. Blood Bound, Patricia Briggs. I had checked a copy of Moon Called out of the library. When I finished it, it was a Sunday and the library was closed. So after debating it, I went out and bought the next book in the series. I couldn't wait.
33. Iron Kissed, Patricia Briggs. Another Mercy Thompson novel, these first three are perhaps the most interesting and intense in the series.
34. Bone Crossed and 35. Silver Borne round out the in-print novels in the Mercy story line. There's another coming this spring, River Marked. Although, after reading all these novels in quick succession, I got really depressed because she wrote so well and the plot was so interesting--could I compete with that?
36. Kitty and the Midnight Hour and 37. Kitty Goes to Washington, Carrie Vaughn. I picked up the Kitty books because Vaughn is an Odyssey graduate. They're witty, and the college radio DJ in me appreciates Kitty's career choice.
38. Halfway to the Grave, Jeaniene Frost. Yet another vampire series? Nah. One of the better vampire series out there. Cat is a heroine you can relate to and cheer for. So of course the next two books quickly fell into my hands. 39. One Foot in the Grave and 40. At Grave's End, but after that, I didn't run out and get the fourth in the series. The momentum was lost.
41. Cry Wolf, Patricia Briggs. A spin off of the Mercy Thompson series, the Alpha-Omega series is ... not as good. Perhaps because it's written in third person instead of first and that isn't Briggs' strong suit (I'm making a guess here). Or perhaps it's because what's his face, the dude--Charles--isn't very well developed as a character over the first couple of books. Or in the short story that starts the series. BTW find the short story first if you want to understand this novel. The first three chapters are essentially set off into a "short story" you can find in On the Prowl.
42. Untamed Desire, Pamela Palmer. I finally got up the nerve to buy a romance novel with a crazy cover and the novel wasn't even all that good. Bummer.
43. Hunting Grounds, Patricia Briggs. Second in the Alpha-Omega series, equally not as good. This makes me happy in a perverse way because Briggs' ability to write amazing Mercy Thompson novels made me feel like I'd never measure up. But her less-than-stellar novels make me feel like I have a chance.