Sunday, August 29, 2010


Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls (#2)
Genre: Romance
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Linger does exactly what a good sequel is supposed to. It picks up where Shiver left off, refining that book's strengths and minimizing it's flaws. It doesn't cheat readers of the original, nor does it regurgitate the same plot. Instead it takes the story in a new direction, which progresses from the previous book in a very organic way. Most of all, it provides an engaging tale with an interesting cast.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Claire de Lune

Series: Claire de Lune (#1)
Genre: Drama
Author: Christine Johnson
PublisherSimon Pulse

Reviewing debut novels can be very difficult. On the one hand, there is an impulse to encourage promising talent and praise fresh perspectives. On the other hand, in all areas of life, newbies make mistakes. A lot of first books struggle with the author's inexperience and stylistic flaws, and the reviewer has a responsibility to be honest both to his reader and the author. So I must regretfully report that Claire de Lune is not a good read. In fact- although it pains me to say this- this is a book that does nearly nothing right.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Raised by Wolves

Series: Raised by Wolves (#1)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Egmont

Jennifer Lynn Barnes is new to werewolf fiction, but not to writing as a whole. Her website lists six previous YA books to her credit. Her experience shows in Raised by Wolves, because the book is clearly the work of a master storyteller.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kitty Goes to Washington

Series: Kitty Norville (#2)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Hachette

At one point in Kitty Goes to Washington, the author- through the mouth of the eponymous protagonist- gives a shout out to Call of the Wild author Jack London. That is telling, I think. London's favored medium was the short story. He wasn't really cut out for novels, so his novels tend to operate on the Voltron model. He puts several different stories together along a continuous narrative, ideally producing a whole greater than the sum of his parts. If these first two books are any indication, Carrie Vaughn operates in a similar way- weaving together four or five different plotlines into a single tapestry. In Kitty and the Midnight Hour, this worked very well. In Kitty Goes to Washington? Not so much.


Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls (#1)
Genre: Romance
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Sam, the male lead of Shiver, is an amateur musician. At certain points in the book he tries to get a handle on what he's feeling at the time by composing song lyrics in his head. Perhaps appropriately, when the back cover of this book finally closed, I had a few bars of Tom Petty running through my own head: "The waiting is the hardest part...". Shiver is a book of heartwarming, tear-jerking highs, and tedious, contrived lows, with most of the highs clustered near the end. While the highs are worth it, this is not a book for the easily annoyed.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Series: Dark Guardian (#1)
Genre: Romance/Adventure
Author: Rachel Hawthorne
Publisher: HarperTeen

The story Moonlight sets out to tell is not a bad one, though it is somewhat lacking in originality. However, right at the point where the plot starts to get good, it drops the ball completely, leaving the end result a massive letdown.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour

Series: Kitty Norville (#1)
Genre: Advenutre
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Hachette

Katherine "Kitty" Norville, radio personality, lives in a world where all the things that go bump in the night are real- vampires, werewolves, Christian fundamentalists, the works. Really, it's not that big of a deal. They keep to themselves, enjoy their peculiar entertainments, and try to keep the muggles from finding out. Kitty might not even know about it if she hadn't contracted lycanthropy three years ago. But she did, and now she has to deal with the personal implications, wolfpack politics, and the occasional territorial scuffle with the local vampire family.

Then she accidentally creates a hit talk-radio show about the supernatural. All of a sudden her star is rising as she offers pop-psyche solutions and flippant snark to callers dealing with boyfriends more interested in biting thighs then necks, or wanting to talk about unsightly rashes with someone outside the pack. Not everyone is happy, though- both her alpha Carl and the vampire master Arturo want her to shut down the show. Plus, she gets dragged into investigating both a faith healer who claims to cure lycanthropy and vampirism, and a serial killing werewolf. And oh yeah, someone's trying to kill her. And the hitman's pretty cute.

One thing about this book, it's certainly not under-plotted.