Monday, February 28, 2011

Waking the Witch, Kelley Armstrong

Title: Waking the Witch
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Published: 2010, Dutton
Category: Fantasy
Rating: 7/10

I can't believe this is the 11th book in the Women of the Otherworld series! It doesn't seem like that many, but I think I've read them all...

This installment of the series focuses on Savannah Levine, the powerful young witch first introduced in Stolen (right?). She's 21 now, and she's been working for years with Paige and Lucas in the supernatural detective agency that they set up. She's been doing mostly grunt work and background research, but now Paige and Lucas are on vacation when a multiple-murder case comes in. Savannah sees it as her chance to take the primary investigator's role and prove to everyone that she can handle it. She travels to the little town where three women have been murdered in what appears to have been some sort of supernatural ritual. She has lots of suspects, as well as handsome men who all seems to want to help her investigate: Adam, from the previous novels; Jesse Aanes, another supernatural detective; and Michael Kennedy, a human police detective.

I enjoyed this one, but it's not my favorite of the series. The mystery was well done and interesting, though I felt that the magical elements were slightly under-used until the very end. Savannah is a great character -- definitely the best part of the book -- and her budding relationship with Adam is sweet. I only have one major complaint: CLIFF HANGER. Argh! I flipped the last page thinking there just had to be more to read. But nope. Just have to wait until the next book, I guess. ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What the Librarian Did, Karina Bliss

Title: What the Librarian Did
Author: Karina Bliss
Published: Harlequin, 2010
Category: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 8/10

I hardly ever read Harlequins -- it's really not because I'm a snob! I have tried several in the past and been disappointed by them. But this one got such a lot of good buzz in the blogosphere I had to give it a shot. Plus it's about a librarian! Score.

Rachel is a librarian working in a university in Auckland, New Zealand. When Devin Freedman comes in for help she treats him like any other student -- she doesn't know that he's a world-famous musician whose wild lifestyle and alcoholism has ruined his music career. He's now getting a business degree and trying to find a new life for himself. Devin finds Rachel's reaction to him refreshing, and they strike up a little flirtation. Rachel also meets another student named Mark, who she soon realizes is the son she gave up for adoption 17 years previously. She's not ready to tell Mark who she is, but she really wants to get to know him. Luckily Mark has befriended Devin, and Devin keeps asking her out on dates. So she decides to get to know Devin, so that she can get to know Mark through him.

Okay, so the plot may be a little ridiculous, but I really enjoyed this book! The New Zealand setting was quite interesting and different. I found the dialogue between Rachel and Devin really funny.
"It figures you'd be an advocate of prohibition," he commented as he opened the passenger door.
"I've noticed before that you typecast librarians," she said kindly. "But as your experience of learning institutions is obviously quite new I'll make allowances."
And when Rachel comes down dressed for their date in a black dress and cardigan:
Cardigan? He might not be a hell-raiser anymore but Devin valued his reputation. "Haven't you got anything sexy?"
"Yes," said Rachel. "My mind."

The love story is very nice, as is the way Rachel's relationship with her son develops. I may find it a little hard to believe that a rich, spoiled rock star would act the way Devin does (i.e. so normal), but it was very entertaining.

Does anyone know how to find the copyright date in a Kindle book??! It doesn't display on the copyright page. The librarian in me just died a little bit.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Published: 2009, Knopf
Category: Mystery
Rating: 6/10

I finally read this because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It turned out to be one of those books that I could appreciate, but not really enjoy.

Mikael Blomkvist is a Swedish journalist who has been convicted of libel for trying to take down a corrupt businessman. While he's down on his luck, he's convinced by Henrik Vanger (another businessman) to investigate the disappearance (and assumed murder) of Vanger's niece Harriet, which took place 40 years earlier. Mikael travels to the small town where Harriet lived -- the murder mystery becomes a closed-room story, as it soon becomes obvious that Harriet's murderer must have been one of the people in the extended family. Mikael is helped by Lisbeth Salander, a troubled young woman who is incredibly intelligent and an excellent hacker.

As I said earlier, I can appreciate this book as a story that intrigues and stays with you long after you finish it. The characters are complex and interesting, and the mystery is well done. But it's simply not my cup of tea. The Swedish title is Men Who Hate Women, and in my opinion is much more appropriate for the book. The main theme of the novel is how women are mistreated (quite horribly and graphically) by men. Each chapter starts with awful statistics that prove how many women are mistreated by men. It quite depressed me.

Also, the first hundred pages are sooo slow. And full of confusing Swedish names, places, political and economic history, and currency. So, if you try this book, keep trucking through the beginning -- it does get better.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Upstairs, Downstairs Stories

I almost didn't hear about Downton Abbey, the new 4-part series that aired on Masterpiece! Luckily PBS has put the full episodes online, so I was able to watch them. LOVE! Unlike most Masterpiece movies, it's not based on a classic novel. But it was written and produced by Julian Fellowes, who also wrote Gosford Park (another favorite). I love this period (just before WWI), and I've always liked upstairs, downstairs stories. Maggie Smith is so very funny, and the ladies' costumes are wonderful. And there's going to be a second season of it! Hooray.

Of course, the movie put me in the mood for The Countess Below Stairs -- one of my absolute favorite books -- so I'm rereading that now. Anyone else have recommendations for upstairs, downstairs books?