Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lupines and Lunatics is on hiatus

I'm taking a break from reading and reviewing. I don't know how long, but definitely until January. If March rolls around and I still haven't gotten back, I'll post to let you know what's going on. Recently, I haven't been pleased with the quality of my reviews. The last few have not been up to standards. After doing this for more than a year, I'm burned out and need a break.

Additionally, there are a lot more restrictions on my time these days. The day job takes a lot out of me, and when I get home I have to work on this blog, Shooting for the Moon, keeping up with friends' blogs, my own novel, and just generally keeping my shit together. It's too much. Somethings got to give, and right now what's giving is the novel, which is supossed to be my ticket to a better future.

I love this blog, but you have to have priorities. I'm putting Lupines and Lunatics into hibernation so I can work on getting Bonds of Fenris published. I'll be back when I have more time. In the meantime, I'll stay in touch via the personal blog.

Keep on howlin', you sons-of-bitches.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Series: Broken (#1/1.5)
Genre: Romance
Author: Dean Murray
Publisher: Self-Published (via Smashwords)

(Review copy provided by the author.)

I was not too enamored of Torn to begin with, but at the end it did something that outright infuriated me. By now regular readers know that I'm not a fan of books that tell half a story and leave the rest for the sequels. Well, Torn is like that, but worse. It's one side of a story that is intended to be seen from two sides. In other words, there's a complete story here, you're just not getting it. For that, you have to pay for another book. And if Torn by itself is any indication, both together get you a story barely worth the price of one book.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Series: Shifters (#3)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: MIRA

Rachel Vincent is an excellent writer, but it's kind of difficult to enjoy her werecat books. On the one hand, she crafts interesting characters, and has an especial talent for snappy dialog. On the other, the world in which her books take place is grim. Sympathetic individuals are few and far between, with most of the cast holding up a fundamentally corrupt social order. Each new book is a struggle between cheering for the good guys and wanting them all to die in a fire. Thankfully, with Pride she finally seems to have found a direction for the series that the reader can get solidly behind, and the result is worth the wait.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wolf Mark

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Adventure
Author: Joseph Bruchac
Publisher: Lee & Low Books

The last book I recall snatching off the library shelves on total, blind impulse was Red Moon Rising, which turned out to be an underrated gem. I picked up Wolfbreed and Raised by Wolves in the same fashion. So when I saw Wolf Mark sitting on the new books cart, having heard nothing of it beforehand, I trusted my instincts and grabbed it. I was not disappointed. Joseph Bruchac has crafted a tale that, while not quite as original as he seems to think, delivers a solid reading experience.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Series: Tantalize (#2)
Genre: Romance
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Publisher: Candlewick

I've been advised that criticizing other authors on this blog could hurt my chances of getting agented. Unfortunately, I also have an obligation to my readers to be honest. And I'm terribly sorry, but there's just no easy way to say this: Cynthia Leitich Smith can't write. She got her start in children's literature, and maybe she's good at that, but YA is a different beast. While Eternal is generally an improvement on its predecessor, Tantalize, it's still light-years away from where it needs to be to stand out in the crowded YA Paranormal field.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Brush of Darkness (Off-Topic Review)

Series: Abby Sinclair (#1)
Genre: Romance/Adventure
Author: Allison Pang
Publisher: Pocket Books

There are two things that convinced me to go off-topic to read this book: Cyna's uncharacteristically gushy review, and a quote from the author's website: "I had a naked incubus in my bedroom. With a frying pan of half-cooked bacon and a hard-on. And a unicorn bite on his ass. Christ, this was turning out to be a weird morning." So when I sat down with A Brush of Darkness, I was expecting some kind of urban-fantasy version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Well... no. Not that the book I got is bad, but if you've seen this book hyped as a comedy, the hype man has it wrong. It's a far more complex book than that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Series: Intertwined (#3)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

By this point in the Intertwined series, you either love it or you hate it. Put this reviewer in the former camp, but I am well aware that it's not for everybody. In reviewing the previous two books, I noted the randomness of the plot, the way it picks up and drops plotlines at random, and the occasional out-of-character moments. I also noted that, on the whole, the books rise above that by being unique, unpredictable, and plain old fun. Book three more or less stays the course in that respect, serving up a fun little read, albeit not exactly thought-provoking.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lunatic Fringe

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Erotica (Lesbian)
Author: Allison Moon
Publisher: Self-published (via author's website)

(Review copy provided by the author.)

Lunatic Fringe was significantly better than the last self-pub book I read, and better than a lot of books from big publishers, too. But it ran hot and cold. Author Allison Moon's craftsmanship is alternately talented and slapdash, so that at the end of the day, I felt that the book wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been. Possibly it's a matter of perspective. This book is aiming at a rather specific niche, and I may not be in tune enough with the target audience to "get" it. But Moon has potential. She may not be able to make the most of it in this debut outing, but the raw talent is there.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Series: Claire de Lune (#2)
Genre: Drama
Author: Christine Johnson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

I had some harsh words for Claire de Lune when I first read it. After a year, however, I look on it a little more highly. Yes, the author made some bad mistakes, and her general inexperience was obvious, but at least it was creative. It wasn't just trying to be another Twilight knockoff, and it wasn't just another batch of standard-issue lycanthropes, either.  Johnson had some good ideas, and blended the werewolves with elements of a witch's coven and a predominantly-female cast to give the story a feminist bent. Nocturne is a substantial improvement from it's predecessor, with a deeper storyline and much-improved characterization and pacing. But unfortunately, it hasn't improved enough. Try as I might, I just couldn't get into it, and it leaves me with the sour, undercooked taste of wasted potential.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New layout and other stuff

Just a quick note to anyone reading Lupines and Lunatics in a reader. The blog's layout has changed. Not significantly, I just prettied it up a bit and removed some clutter. The major thing to note is the new links on the sidebar, particularly the one that goes to my new side-blog, Shooting for the Moon. There's not much there currently, but I plan on filling it with insightful posts soon, so follow now and beat the rush! ^_^ SFTM will be home to personal musings dealing with various subjects, most importantly the quest to get my own book, Bonds of Fenris, published. Lupines and Lunatics will remain up as a pure review blog.

Also: as you might notice, I'm having a little trouble centering the banner up top. Any more experienced bloggers willing to give me a hand?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bargains and Betrayals

Genre: Adventure/ Romance
Series: 13 to Life (#3)
Author: Shannon Delany
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

The 13 to Life series has never been the best YA paranormal out there, but it's always been a notch above the crowd thanks to likeable characters and a winking sense of its own absurdity. Bargains and Betrayals is therefore a disappointment of the highest caliber. It's a pity, too, because the problem with the first two books -- namely, that not much happened during them -- has finally been overcome. It its place, however, we have a new, more serious problem, one that destroys any potential in the story.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kitty's Greatest Hits

Series: Kitty Norvile (Side-story)
Genre: Anthology
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Tor

A while back, I shared with a friend my opinion that Carrie Vaughn was a short story writer applying herself to novels. Hence, she produced novels that are really collections of 2-5 shorts woven together into an intricate tapestry. "Well," my friend opined, "maybe the short story collection she has coming will be the best Kitty Norville book ever."

I wouldn't go that far. But still, Kitty's Greatest Hits is an excellent addition to the world Vaughn has created, steeped in the uncommon layer of realism that keeps her fans coming back. Where other authors of urban fantasy are satisfied making pulpy escapism, Carrie Vaughn reaches higher, giving us characters who are human beings instead of cliches, conflicted instead of angsty, and ultimately just trying to get by the same as everyone else.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Teen Wolf (Season 1)

Medium: TV Series
Airs: Mondays, 10/9c (currently in reruns); previous week's episodes streamed on
Official Webpage

I was initially a little leery of MTV's attempt at a werewolf TV show, largely because it was on MTV. They're not exactly what you'd call a bastion of quality cable programming. They've had successes, yes. In the field of animation, they've given us Beavis and Butthead, Daria, Aeon Flux, and Celebrity Deathmatch. They arguably invented reality TV with The Real World, and their unscripted shows are still above average for the genre. But for every success, there are at least three failures, and they have never produced a successful scripted drama. Still in all, with the internet having more or less annihilated the market for music videos on television, they're faced with an "evolve or die" situation. So Teen Wolf emerges as part of the first wave of a series of scripted drama and comedy programs. And as it turns out, it's not too shabby.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Series: Nightshade (#2)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel

I object to the cover art on general principles.

The original Nightshade cover was fantastic. It was colorful and eye-catching. It jumped off the bookshelves to hit you between the eyes and make your brain say "Huh, interesting." The original Wolfsbane cover was done in the same style, and while not quite as eye-catching it was well-designed and nice-looking. But now, by publisher fiat, those covers are out and we have three new ones with generic composition over dull black covers, the same as half the other covers in the YA paranormal section. What was wrong? My assumption is that the public couldn't tell that these were werewolf books. Hence the not-very-subtle Nightshade cover, the wolf on Bloodrose, and the full moon hanging over a bored-looking model for Wolfsbane. While I can understand wanting to put a selling point front and center, I think someone at the publishing house doesn't get this series. While the Nightshade books have werewolves, that's pretty much all they have to do with the current vogue for paranormal YA. They're more accurately defined as fantasy novels placed in a modern environment -- evil wizards, noble orders of mage knights, swords and bows as the weapons of choice, and a strong focus on the personal evolution and development of it's main character.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Mother, The Lycanthrope

Series: Lykoi Chronicles (#1)
Genre: Horror
Author: W.W. Lengeman
Publisher: Self-published (via Smashwords)

(Review copy provided by the author)

When dealing with a self-published novel, there's always a 500-pound question lurking in the room: "Why couldn't this novel find a publisher?" There are a number of possible valid answers. Maybe the genre is in a slump, or the industry expects it to go into a slump soon. Maybe it's too edgy or controversial for the big boys. (Not as common as you'd think; controversy sells.) Maybe the author's new, and doesn't have the right combination of writing skill, networking skill, marketing skill, and luck to get it through the system. Maybe he does, but the recession has hit him hard and he needs money now, rather than the year or two it will take to get a book to shelf in the old model. Or, maybe the author prefers the self-publishing model. Maybe he thinks it'll give him a better profit margin, or he wants full creative freedom, or he's got an impulse to stick it to the man. All too often, however, it's something far simpler -- and more depressing -- then any of these: the book just isn't good enough.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beyond Words pitch contest

Well, I whiffed on the YAtopia contest, but another day brings another opportunity. Victoria Marini is looking for a good two-sentence pitch over at Beyond Words. Let's see if I can do better this time. Check it out here.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls (#3)
Genre: Romance
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic

Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series is an odd beast, one that's a lot better to read than to have read. Looking at it in retrospect, it's full of plot holes, writing fumbles, and pacing pacing problems. And, to be frank, Forever has a few more problems than usual. But in the moment of actually reading it, you're so enthralled by Stiefvater's detailed world-building and the realism of her characters, that none of that matters. I guess that in the end it's not love, but style, that conquers all. And whatever else you might say for or against it, Forever has the style. It's held on to the same strength of voice and expression that made the last two books hits, and thereby transcends it's limitations to provide a fitting finale to one of the best YA paranormals of recent memory.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kitty's Big Trouble

Series: Kitty Norville (#9)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Tor

Whenever I sit down to read a new book, I tear off a sheet from a small notepad to use as a bookmark. As I read, I write down notes as they occur to me, to help keep my thoughts straight for the eventual review. When I got through with Kitty's Big Trouble, the notepad sheet wound up being completely blank. I hadn't jotted down a single thing. This is good and bad. Good, because nothing sufficiently annoying to jar me out of the story happened. Bad, because nothing sufficiently good to require noting happened either. Don't get me wrong: Kitty's Big Trouble is a very enjoyable book, at least the best of the series since Kitty Raises Hell. But it's hampered by a recurrent problem with the Kitty Norville series: it lacks a certain intellectual depth. It's a popcorn read: tasty, but somewhat bland and, at the end of the day, unremarkable.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pitch contest over at YAtopia

I try to keep this blog reviews only -- no memes, no chatty posts, no fanboyish ranting. All killer, no filler. But, opportunity knocks, and the starving artist answers: YAtopia is having a pitch contest. Three lines to sell your MS to Vickie Motter, book-blogger and agent with Andrea Hurst. Entry requirements include a blog post with a link to the contest. So, here you are.

In all seriousness, you really should check out both Vickie's blog and YAtopia. Both are solid bloggers who keep consistent schedules and have informative and interesting things to say. I follow both, and YAtopia is on my blogroll over by the sidebar.

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 11, 2011


Series: The Otherworld (#1, "Elena" sub-series #1)
Genre: Romance (allegedly)/Adventure
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Penguin

I had meant to do Wolfsangel this week, but when I tracked it down at a local library, it was on the new books shelf and thus not for circulation. I wound up with Bitten instead because I happened to pass by the shelf where it was sitting en route to the restroom and thought "Well... why not?" These circumstances were interesting enough that I remarked half-jokingly to some friends that it must have been "destiny". And you know, there might be something to that. Bitten has wound up sandwiched on my reading schedule between the awesome Trial by Fire and my personal favorite series. Adding to that, midway through reading Bitten I was kidnapped by the muse and, lacking any dudes bad enough to save me, had to table my reading in favor of a week-long 30,000 word writing rampage. (Other writers will probably know what I mean.)  So perhaps it was by some divine providence that this unenviable place on my TBR list was taken by a book that never had a chance in hell of getting a good write-up from me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Trial by Fire

Series: Raised by Wolves (#2)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Egmont

Raised by Wolves was my favorite book of 2010, and I've plugged it perhaps a bit more than an impartial reviewer should. But there was a reason for my fanboyish behavior: Jennifer Lynn Barnes is good. Her writing is engaging, her plotting is tight, and her characters are believable. Most books take a while to get into, but Raised by Wolves grabbed me right at the start and didn't let go until the end. It sets the bar pretty high for a sequel, but I'm happy to report that Trial by Fire meets this standard, perhaps even exceeds it.

Teen Wolf (TV)

Medium: TV Series
Airs: New episodes 10/9c Monday on MTV; Reruns on MTV and MTV2 throughout the week; Most recent new episode streamed at
Official Webpage

This is not a review. Call it more of a first impression. Teen Wolf has thus far aired 4 episodes, out of a projected 12 for the first season. Given the nature of television, I don't expect to have a complete story. A TV show is only complete after the series finale, at which point it's too late to talk about it with more than historical relevance. More importantly, however, my experience with anime has taught me that quality is transient. A lot of really good series get off to a slow start, and a lot of shows that start strong don't stay that way through to the end. In other words, don't think of what you're about to read as a set-in-stone opinion. Teen Wolf has a ways to go yet, and it could get better or worse along the way, but right now it has potential, and I hope it gets a chance to realize it rather than vanishing without a trace like too many potentially-awesome TV series.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bloodthirsty (Off-Topic Review)

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Comedy
Author: Flynn Meaney
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company

Bloodthirsty is a zeroth novel that has seen print. To elaborate: there's the first novel, which is released and -- with luck -- sets the stage for a prosperous writing career to follow. And then there is the zeroth novel, which is written before the first novel, but fails to find an agent or a publisher. For good reason. Most authors have a zeroth novel, which embodies everything they don't yet know how to do right. I do, and most of my writing friends do as well. If it's not a novel, it's a collection of unfinished stories and juvenalia, which likewise demonstrates severe deficiencies in craftsmanship. Ask my parents, who had three kids, of which I am the oldest: the first one is where you make all your mistakes.

This isn't a bad thing. Writing, like any creative endeavor, is one that has to be developed. Early on, you make mistakes. And you have to make those mistakes to realize your weaknesses and improve or compensate for them in the future. But in can be embarrassing to have them in print, because for all the care and enthusiasm you put into it, the zeroth novel is inevitably you at your clumsiest and most ignorant.

You think I'm going to bash Bloodthirsty now, don't you? Think again.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wolf's Cross

Series: Wolfbreed (#2)
Genre: Romance
Author: S.A. Swann
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Wolfbreed was an underrated gem, a blend of historical fantasy and paranormal romance that gave a stark and authentic portrayal of life in the middle ages and the dark side of human nature. It's a tough act to follow, so author S.A. Swann doesn't try. Instead, he takes the setting and crafts a different story, with new characters and a completely different tone. Results are good. While Wolf's Cross does not pack the brutal impact of its predecessor, it is just as good as a story, and in its own way quite a bit deeper.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Full Moon City

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Anthology
Author: Various (edited by Darrell Schweitzer and Martin H. Greenberg)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

The theme of this anthology is "Werewolves in the big city", which is a bit of a problem. Besides a somewhat liberal interpretation of the term "big city", I get the feeling that someone at Simon and Schuster thinks this is a more clever concept than it actually is. Yes, in general, werewolves are associated with nature and wildness, and so you commonly find them in suburban and rural environments, where they can wolf out in peace. But a quick glance through the titles in my archive will reveal that there's no reason you can't put a werewolf in the city. Depending on the rules the author applies, ignores, or subverts, it might not be difficult at all. Hell, there are entire series of urban fantasy books featuring urban lycanthropes. But we're getting off on the wrong foot here. Like any American college student will tell you, a party doesn't need a reason. It just needs an excuse. So let's see what this party has to offer...

Monday, May 23, 2011


Series: Shifters (#2)
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: MIRA

My experience with series books is that sophomore jinx is very much a reality. There are several possible causes: a planned trilogy that tends to sag in the middle, a swiftly-produced add-on to book that was never intended to have a sequel, or an author who just hit the big time and isn't terribly sure on his feet. Whatever the cause, book #2 tends to feel like a step down from book #1. But there are always exceptions, and with the followup to Stray Rachel Vincent has done things right. Not only does she tell a much better story, she's improved markedly on her setting and world-building. Stray was a book with potential, but Rogue has started to realize it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

By These Ten Bones

Series: Stand-alone
Genre: Horror
Author: Clare B. Dunkle
Publisher: Square Fish
(Review copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media)

By These Ten Bones is one of those most annoying of books: the kind that can't live up to it's ideas. It's a decent plot, but there's a difference between a good plot and a good story. Turning the former into the latter requires skill, time, and effort. In the case of By These Ten Bones, one or more of the three was sorely lacking. The result is a book that left me completely and totally cold.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Series: Intertwined (#2)
Genre: Adventure/Romance
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

I noted that Intertwined didn't seem to know what it wanted to be, and consequently wound up reading kind of like a series of X-Men comics. Unraveled, however, seems to have decided that a series of X-Men comics is exactly what it wants to be. And so we get a lot of different plot threads coming at us one after another, to the point where you wonder if any of them are going to be tied up. There are indeed some closure problems, and by the end of the book some stuff seems to have been awkwardly pushed aside in favor of more interesting stories to come. But enough is explained, and the ride is exciting enough just in the present, that all in all it's still a worthwhile read.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Secrets and Shadows

Series: 13 to Life (#2)
Genre: Romance
Author: Shannon Delany
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

I diagnosed the first 13 to Life book as having Trilogy Syndrome, and the sequel is as good an opportunity as any to raise awareness of this crippling narrative disorder. Trilogy Syndrome occurs, appropriately enough, in three phases: Phase one is ADD: throwing out a lot of ideas and plot hooks and not following up on a lot of them, leaving the development and resolution for further books. Phase two is ennui: Having set up everything, and needing to put off the resolution until the big finale, the patient winds up meandering around and getting nothing much accomplished. Phase three is mania: running around half-crazed trying to tie up all these plot threads before you hit the wordcount limit. 13 to Life had a bad case of phase 1. Secrets and Shadows has moved on to phase 2, but the series' condition is being treated with an injection of wit and character, and I'm pleased to say that the patient is responding to treatment rather well.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dust City

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Mystery
Author: Robert Paul Weston
Publisher: Razorbill

Secrets and Shadows was supposed to be this week's review, but some rival fan got to the library's new books shelf before me, so you have to wait another week. A fellow blogger recommended Dust City as a substitute, and I'm very glad for that. The book had been on my radar, but low on the priority list, because I wasn't in the mood for Yet Another Reinterpretation Of Red Riding Hood. Well, that's not what we've got here. What we've got is a story that picks up where that old folktale ends off, and casts the fairy tales of our youth into a dark, noirish setting which is grimy, dirty, and -- yes, you saw it coming -- grim.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kitty Goes to War

Series: Kitty Norville (#8)
Genre: Drama/Adventure
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Tor

There comes a time when you just can't take another helping of the same old thing. I'm not at that point yet with Kitty Norville, but I'm getting there. Maybe it's my fault for going through the whole shebang in less than a year, but Kitty Goes to War went down like that meatloaf in a cliche 50's sitcom: Tasty, well-made, but, geeze, meatloaf again?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Red Moon Rising

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Drama
Author: Peter Moore
Publisher: Hyperion

Peter Moore is an obscure author. He doesn't have a website, at least not one that I could find, and his Goodreads page seems to conflate his work with that of several other people with the same name. This is probably why his book Red Moon Rising hasn't gotten a whole lot of press. It's a real shame, too, because this is excellent writing. It reaches above the usual love stories found in YA paranormal to give us a much deeper tale of bigotry and personal identity.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Frenzy

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Horror
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Publisher: HarperTeen

I try to avoid ranting in my reviews. Yes, I'm not always full of praise and kudos. If I see a mistake, I point it out. If an author breaks rules they should know not to, I wag the finger reprovingly. If I find the characters or themes of the story offensive, I will say so. But I don't treat a bad book as a slap in the face. I don't come at an author with both barrels demanding the time I spent reading refunded. I don't take this stuff personally.

The Frenzy is bad in a way that I do take personally. It doesn't fail due to a lack of interesting ideas. In fact, it has some great ones. It doesn't fail due to a lack of skill on the authors part. Francesca Lia Block has over 30 published books and several prestigious awards to her credit, so she obviously knows what she's doing. No, the great failing of The Frenzy is laziness. It's a first draft. The author hasn't put in the work to make it the best it can be. It never should have found it's way to the bookshelves in it's current form. Someone somewhere along the way should have kicked it back to the author and said "We all know you can do better." Yes, yes, I know -- authors have to eat, deadlines have to be met, publishers have to turn in good quarterly reports. But there is still a very clear and distinct line between a book that has been polished to at least meet a certain standard of quality and a book that has been throw together by someone who doesn't give a damn. Don't ship the latter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Adventure
Author: Lish McBride
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

How can you not love that title? Seriously, how can you? It gives you tone (tongue-in-cheek humor) and content (necromancers, or more broadly, wizardry in a modern setting), plus it rolls right off the tongue. Who cares if it's paraphrased from an old Elton John song? It's awesome. So I had some expectations of quality when I cracked this book open. And they were mostly met. Mostly. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a good read start to finish, but it's a somewhat better read at the start than it is at the finish. Somewhere along the way, it runs out of steam.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Series: The Parasol Protectorate (#1)
Genre: Romance/Adventure
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit

By all standards, I should have loved Soulless. The plot, while nothing new, is well-paced and executed. The setting is interesting, and certainly unique. The writing is witty and vibrant. The central couple has chemistry and they're entertainingly belligerent to each other. But somehow, the book didn't draw me in. I enjoyed myself, but it was a very tepid kind of enjoyment. In many ways Soulless is the opposite of last week's forray. That book made some mistakes, but drew me in nevertheless. Soulless does everything right, but failed to grab me.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Series: Intertwined (#1)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Sometimes, I run into books that put me in a quandary. Sometimes I'll read a book and like it, but have much more to say about what it does wrong than what it does right. I've got a lot of complaints about Intertwined. But for all that I'm about to heap on it, the one thing I can't say is that I disliked it. In fact, it was a lot of fun. Admittedly it was sometimes a RiffTrax kind of fun, but I kept reading, and even finished ahead of schedule, so Showalter must be doing something right.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Series: Shifters (#1)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: MIRA

I try my best to keep Lupines and Lunatics on-topic, but when your topic is as niche as mine is, you find yourself straining to find a good read on occasion. So for the next few weeks, you might see us drifting a little off-topic. Stray is not the first step. It's billed as a werecat novel, but makes no mistake, these kitties are just werewolves by another name. All the cliches of a UF werewolf book are here: the rigid, chauvinistic social structures, the anger-management problems, the superstrength and metabolism, etc. etc.. The only real difference is that when the heroine gets called a bitch, it's not clever and meta. Not that there's anything wrong with this. A story is a story, after all, and whether you're a cat person or a dog person, this one turns out pretty good.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kitty's House of Horrors

Series: Kitty Norville (#7)
Genre: Adventure/Horror
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Hachette

By now I'm very familiar with the fact that Kitty Norville is a sequence of ups and downs. None of the books thus far has been a bad read, but the generally episodic nature of Carrie Vaughn's storytelling means that different books -- or even parts of the same book -- will fall somewhere in a range between awesome and mediocre. I'd have to say that Kitty's House of Horrors falls in the mediocre category. There's enough good stuff here to make it worthwhile, but a lot of it also has a phoned-in quality to it, and it comes off as an idea that seemed a lot better than it turned out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Series: Frostbite (#1)
Genre: Horror/Romance
Author: David Wellington
Publisher: Three Rivers Press

I try to go into each book I read with a kind of presumption of innocence.  I flip the front cover for the first time with the idea that the book will be good, and as I read the evidence is presented for or against that point. With Frostbite, it wound up going in the other direction -- I started to hate the book in short order, but slowly warmed up to it as the story progressed. The result was a read that was kinda lumpy -- the bad stuff is piled at the beginning, and the good stuff at the end.  I found it rewarding overall, but having to slog through the first half may be too much for some readers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Series: Wolfbreed (#1)
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Author: S. A. Swann
Publisher: Ballantine Books

I picked up Wolfbreed more or less on impulse. I chanced upon it while I was browsing the local public library in search of the copy of Frostbite that I knew was there. From the cover, I figured Wolfbreed for a fantasy novel, which is not I genre I read extensively, but that was part of what drew me to it. After a long string of Urban Fantasies punctured by the occasional YA paranormal, I was interested in something a little different. Well, I kinda got that, and I kinda didn't. Wolfbreed has a very by-the-numbers plotline, but it's also a testament to the power of a writer's skill to make even predictable stories interesting. In fact, the quality of the storytelling in on such a high level that I'm annoyed that the book languishes in relative obscurity while lesser books are better-known.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Series: Tantalize (#1)
Genre: Romance
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Publisher: Candlewick

Sometimes in literature, the hero will have a poorly-written love interest. You know the type: not a really defined character, little personality, even less agency in the story. She hangs around the hero a lot, just kinda being there, not really contributing anything except maybe a sex scene or two (If it's an adult book, instead of YA). Then, in the last act, she finally serves some purpose in the book by being kidnapped by the bad guy, prompting the hero to get really steamed and race to the rescue. Tantalize is this girl's story: the story of the shallow, uninteresting, totally-irrelevant-to-anything love interest. Who thought this was a good idea?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Kitty Raises Hell

Series: Kitty Norville (#6)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Hachette

I seem to be in a love triangle with the Kitty Norville books. I love them, and I also love this blog. If the blog just loved Kitty too, we'd have a nice little menage going, but she must be a jealous creature. Every time Kitty comes over to have some fun, the blog is only a reluctant participant, sulking about while I try to... to...

Okay, not the best metaphor. But the point is: I liked Kitty Raises Hell. In fact, it reminded me why I run this blog, and after a few weeks of generally-mediocre material, that's a reminder that I sorely needed. But now, facing the need to do a write-up, I'm not sure that I have anything meaningful to say about it.