Definitely Dead

Definitely Dead 

I’ve long been a fan of Charlaine Harris‘s Southern Vampire series. Definitely Dead is the sixth installment (not including two novellas):

As a person with so few living relatives, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse really hated to lose one. But she never guessed that it would be her cousin Hadley–a consort of the vampire queen of New Orleans. After all, technically speaking, Hadley was already dead. And now, as unexpected heir to Hadley’s estate, Sookie discovers the inheritence definitely comes with a risk.

Someone doesn’t want Sookie looking too deeply into Hadley’s past–or for that matter, Hadley’s possessions. And they’re prepared to do anything in their power to stop her. But who? The range of suspects runs from the rogue weres who reject Sookie as a friend of the pack to the vampire queen herself, who could be working through a particularly vulnerable subject–Sookie’s first love, Bill.

Whoever it is, they’re definitely dangerous–and Sookie’s life is definitely on the line . . .

Although not perfect, I enjoyed Definitely Dead: 4 out of 5.

I usually try to avoid spoilers, but there’s so much I want to say here that I’m not going to try for obscurity. OK, actually, I’ll try for some obscurity, so scroll over the white space if you want to see all the text; however, there are still spoilers ahead. That’s your warning–if you don’t want to have the story spoiled, stop reading this review now.

Last chance . . .

Sookie’s on the road in this installment, and she’s got a new man in her life, shifter Quinn. I haven’t decided yet what I think about him, mainly because I don’t feel like we’ve really gotten to know him yet. I was amused by this part:

It was a little startling to see the tiger mark his new territory–this is not something you expect to see your boyfriend do–but I decided it would just be ridiculous to mind the display. Besides, I had enough to think about, keeping up with the tiger.

I still enjoy Sookie’s sense of humor, although it was sorely tried in this book (see developments below).

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Eric. He was in this story, but not nearly as much as I like. I wonder whether he’ll continue to pursue Sookie or not. It’s not like him to give up, but I have to wonder about his response when he learned Sookie has fairy in her blood. Since vampires are so attracted to fairies it’s almost an addiction, it made me wonder whether he’ll decide that’s why he cares for her. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him. I wouldn’t rule him out yet.

As for Bill? Well, I wouldn’t rule him out yet either, although I had in the previous book. It’s a bit contrary, actually, since in this installment we learn that Bill was ordered by the Queen to get close to Sookie in the first book. Did this upset me? A little, although I was prepared for it since I’d stumbled on a spoiler at another blog. But I didn’t see it as his choice–how could he tell the queen no? And I believe him when he said he fell in love with her. I felt bad for him by the end. Still, I think it’s going to take some doing for Sookie to go back to him.

The mystery was interesting, although I thought the Debbie Pelt plot was resolved a bit too simply. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it continue in the future, though it would probably be several books down the road.

Those are my initial thoughts. I may come back and add to them later. Also, I plan to go back to obscuring spoilers in future posts.

Bitten

Bitten 

I’ve had Kelley Armstrong‘s Bitten in my TBR pile for a while. After reading Armstrong’s story in the Dates from Hell anthology, I picked up Bitten.

Elena Michaels seems like the typically strong and sexy modern woman. She lives with her architect boyfriend, writes for a popular newspaper, and works out at the gym. She’s also a werewolf.

Elena has done all she can to assimilate to the human world, but the man whose bite changed her existence forever, and his legacy, continue to haunt her. Thrown into a desperate war for survival that tests her allegiance to a secret clan of werewolves, Elena must reckon with who, and what, she is in this passionate, page-turning novel.

The blurb is right. Bitten is both passionate and page-turning. It’s also one of the best books I’ve read this year: 5 out of 5.

This review will be filled with spoilers, so if you haven’t read it, think you might want to, and don’t want to have anything spoiled for you, stop reading this.

Now.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

OK, then. There’s so much to like about this book I don’t know where to start. Actually, I do–with Elena. Bitten is told in first person from her point of view. She’s a fascinating character, a strong woman who became a werewolf without being offered a choice. She is living with a man in Toronto, although she has mixed feelings about a man she left behind to live on her own, away from her pack. The problem is that she straddles two worlds and doesn’t feel completely comfortable in either one. Elena’s journey of self-discovery is a significant part of the book.

This is really a book with wide appeal. In addition to the story of Elena’s self-actualization (if that’s what you want to call it), there’s mystery and romance.

Elena’s got a wonderfully wry sense of humor. I like moments like this:

Naturally, Jeremy was impressed by how well I’d handled things on my own and vowed never to shurt me out of anything ever again. Yeah, right. His first words were nonrepeatable. Then he said that if I ever, ever did anything so stupid again, he’d–well, that part was unrepeatable, too, though Clay, Antonio, and Nick were quick to repeat it, each adding their own threats. So, the brave soul who saved the day was forced to slink from her victory site and ride home in the backseat of her own car. It could have been worse. They could have put me in the trunk. Actually, Nick suggested that, but he was kidding . . . I think.

Can I just say I loved, loved, loved Clay? He’s a man (OK, a werewolf) some would describe as a cold-blooded killer, yet he’s sentimental enough to wear a wedding ring for nearly a dozen years because he considers himself married to Elena. When I read about how Clay made Christmas festive for her in the past and that he had presents for her, hoping she would return the previous Christmas, it nearly broke my heart.

When I finished Bitten, I started reading it all over again, and I know it’s one I’ll reread many times in the future. I’ve already ordered the second book in the series, and it’s going to be tough to keep from jumping right into it. Perhaps it will be a reward for writing the three reviews that are waiting for me . . .

Schedule

Here’s my latest to-do list:

Writing

  • Finish story I’m working on now (I’m closing in on the end)
  • Revise story for anthology
  • Write Tony’s story (the man is impatient) (I gave in; I’ve started this)

Blogging

  • Blog about Learning Charity
  • Blog about Definitely Dead
  • Blog about Bitten
  • Blog about Tempt Me
  • Blog about Perfect Timing

Reviewing

  • Write review for Again
  • Finish review for Desire After Dark
  • Write review for Perfect Weapon

Othering

  • Come up with list of topics I can write about at RTB (preferably subjects that might generate more than five comments)
  • Create list for another project; then research lists
  • Straighten living room (I started this)
  • Clean kitchen
  • Savor the fact that I’m a law-abiding citizen again

Um. Kill me now.

Find Me at RTB

For some reason, I thought my next Romancing the Blog column wasn’t until June. Imagine my surprise when I checked the schedule yesterday and saw that I had a column due today. Oops. I’m just glad I decided to check, or there would have been no column. This column was a bit rushed. I need to do what I did last year and come up with a long list of topics to write about so I’m not caught unprepared again.

In any case, I’m there today.

I’m also working on blog entries about Charlaine HarrisDefinitely Dead and Kelley Armstrong‘s Bitten. Watch for them this weekend if not sooner.

Five Questions

When I saw this on Angie’s blog, I thought it would be fun to participate. The rules:

I answer five questions that she asked me, here on my blog. Then, if anyone out there is interested in answering five random questions of my choice, on their own blog, post here and I will ask you five questions in turn.

So, these are the questions from Angie, along with my answers.

1. What’s the best thing about being an author?

I might be reading too much into this question, but I’m going to share what I like about being a writer and being an author, because they are slightly different in my mind.

As a writer, I love moments when a character says or does something to surprise me–that’s when I know they’ve come to life for me. I also enjoy hearing about lines that make readers smile. There’s one line in Office Relations that everyone who offered feedback said made them laugh. It’s a nice feeling to write something and have readers respond the way I hoped.

As for being an author, that’s still a new feeling that at times doesn’t seem real. Right now I’d say that seeing a cover with my name (well, pen name) on it ranks up there pretty high. I also love finishing and submitting a story.

2. What has changed about your life since you started writing?

The biggest thing that has changed is the way I spend my time. I used to spend a lot more time on the internet. I still probably spend more time online than I should, and I’m working on that. But I don’t just hop online anymore. I have to decide how it will fit into my schedule.

Time for reading has also declined, as has writing on this blog. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because time is finite, and I’ve had to make choices.

I’ve also had to make room in my life for my characters. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but they become real people to me, people with stories to tell. I keep a notebook with me all the time because I want to be ready when an idea comes to me.

3. What’s one thing you’d like to change about your life?

I wish I were more brave socially. I’m such an introvert, and it’s much easier when I come home from work to collapse at home or maybe go out with family or friends. It’s like I have a certain amount of energy each week for social interaction, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. That energy is often used up at work, sometimes by Wednesday or Thursday. Once that happens, any desire to go out disappears completely.

Since I’m being honest, I’ll say that I’ve sometimes wished I could go back in time and tell the Alyssa in her 20s how much easier it was then to meet intelligent, single men with common values. I didn’t take advantage of college and church singles group activities, and I wish I had. I’ve never been a confident dater, but it’s much more challenging now that I’m in my mid-30s.

4. What one food could you eat every day and not get sick of it?

Ice cream. I don’t eat it every day, but I eat it more often than I should. Which might help explain my weight gain.

5. Where do you see yourself a year from now?

Doing many of the same things I’m doing today–writing, reading, blogging. Hopefully I’ll have made some progress on the weight-loss and dating scenes as well.

Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment here if you want me to ask you five questions. I’ll tailor the questions to you. Then it will be your turn to answer them on your blog.

Book Quote of the Week

This quote from Lori Handeland’s “Dead Man Dating” made me laugh.

“An incubus feeds on sex,” Chavez muttered. “If he goes too long without it, he dies.”

“So actually he’s just like a regular guy?”

:)

Let’s Pretend

Let’s Pretend 

I’m working on another story, but I’ve been trying to make more time for reading. I seem to get cranky when I don’t have reading time.

Last weekend, I bought some books during Samhain‘s 10%-off sale. Raine Weaver‘s Let’s Pretend was one of them, which I bought after reading a number of blogger recommendations.

Veronica Peale is playing a game.

Her best friend Kayla has decided to “loan” Ronnie her newest boy-toy, all in an effort to make her boss, Paul Lang, insanely jealous. Veronica reluctantly agrees to pretend that she’s having a torrid love affair with Brant Coleman in order to entice the man she really wants.

At least, she thinks he’s the man she really wants . . .

Brant Coleman is also playing a game. He is, in reality, an insurance investigator, trying to discover why Ronnie is in possession of a priceless pair of antique earrings, reported stolen by one of the wealthiest families in Cleveland, Ohio. It is his job to verify that they are the stolen earrings and, if possible, to recover them. And if he has to pretend to be Kayla’s tool and Veronica’s lover to get what he wants, so be it.

At least, he thinks he’s pretending to be in love with her . . .

When buying an unfamiliar author, there’s always a chance I won’t enjoy it. In this case, there was no need to worry. I liked it very much: 4.5 out of 5.

My favorite romances are character-driven, and the two main characters of Let’s Pretend shine. Brant, with his various ploys to get Ronnie’s boss to notice her, is hilarious. I ended up feeling the same way Veronica did–anxious to know what he would do next.

And Ronnie–she’s intelligent, dedicated to her job, and a little insecure. She is so vividly portrayed that I felt as if I got to know her. Theirs is a case of opposites attract, and it’s an opposition that works really well.

The sexual tension in this story is excellent. Ronnie and Brant have different reasons for fighting their attraction, but both of them initially fight it. I loved the scene where the inner battles stop. I’m a big fan of the-harder-they-fall romances, and Brant falls hard.

I did think Ronnie was a bit foolish to do a certain something (unspecified here to avoid spoilers) toward the end of the story, but otherwise I enjoyed the book. I only wish I’d known it was coming out in paperback this month, or I would have bought that version. I’d love to have it in paperback.

Giving In

A little blog-hopping has revealed that many readers did the same thing I did this weekend–ordered from Samhain. I don’t think their shopping cart process likes people on dial-up. I had forgotten how difficult it was to download last time; my computer keeps freezing. It did so again until I remembered the trick of saving immediately.

In any case, here’s what I got:

  • Learning Charity by Summer Devon
  • Kindred: The Shadows of Night by Ellen Fisher
  • Let’s Pretend by Raine Weaver (Is anyone else wondering how many she’s sold lately? Looks like a number of people bought it.)

I haven’t decided which one to read first. Oh, decisions . . .

I Want It Now

Coming in July.

Kitty Goes to Washington

I hope Cormack returns in this book. Sometimes I really hate waiting.

Review Marathon

Today I realized that my first book is coming out in less than a month, and therefore I need to finish the contemporary books in my latest batch from The Romance Reader. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I will not be reviewing contemporaries at TRR once my book comes out. Instead, I will read and review paranormal and historical romance.

I’ll still review contemporaries here if I feel so inclined.

What this means is that I have two contemporaries to read and review before June, which shouldn’t be a problem. I just wish I hadn’t read two paranormals first, because I need to write reviews while the book is still fresh (more or less) in my mind. I’m spreading myself a little thin these days. Time is precious.

P.S. I just found out the release date of my second book: July 28.

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