Friday, June 30, 2006

Come Closer - Sara Gran

Come Closer
Sara Gran

Paranormal - Horror

“We could devote our lives to making sense of the odd, the inexplicable, the coincidental. But most of us don’t, and I didn’t, either.”

Amanda is an architect with a good job, a nice husband, and a very normal, stable life. But, little by little, that stability is slipping away from her. It starts with a proposal she hands in to her boss. Instead of the proposal she wrote, the thing is laced with profanities and insults about him. While Amanda privately agrees with every word, the two shrug is off as a practical joke and life continues.

Then the tapping-scratching sounds begin at home. Neither Amanda nor her husband, Ed, can pinpoint the source of these sounds. According to Ed, the sounds only happen when she’s home. That’s when the bickering begins between the two. What were once little personality tics in Ed are now irritants, or worse. When her annoyance with Ed escalates into the physical, Amanda knows something is seriously wrong. She’s right about that. She has no idea.

Reading Amanda’s story, told calmly in the first person, will hit you where you live. This novel is a rare thing. It’s creepy without being overt. It’s incredibly disturbing without being gory. Watching her normal life erode, bit by tiny bit, from the mundane to the surreal is horrifying. The reader takes the trip into darkness with Amanda, not quite believing what you both know to be true; what is clear, if only you (and she) had read and interpreted the signs correctly. “But most of us don’t, and I didn’t, either.” Plan to sleep with the lights on, turn this over in your mind, and look at people a bit more closely for quite some time after you finish this one.

Rating: 9
May 2006
trade paperback isbn# 0-425-21031-6

Rating Scale = 1-10

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kitty Goes to Washington - Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Goes to Washington
Carrie Vaughn
Warner Books

Paranormal - Thriller

Kitty Norville is a werewolf. And don’t think that little bit of irony is lost on her. She’s become famous through her radio talk show, answering the questions and concerns of other supernatural beings, humans on the fringe, and the sadly deluded. Until recently, she was based in Colorado, but she was expelled from her pack and has spent the last couple of months moving from city to city. Not just a rogue wolf, a rogue DJ.

Her feelings of being directionless change in a big way when she’s summoned to Washington DC to testify in Senate hearings regarding paranatural biology. Kitty is stunned to learn that she’s considered some kind of expert. Think werewolves are scary? Meet the guy who’s chairing the hearings: Joseph Duke, a Senator with evangelist tendencies. He sincerely believes in witches, vampires, werewolves, et al. He also sincerely believes that these beings should be destroyed and sent to the fiery pits of Hell. And there’s Elijah Smith, self-proclaimed faith healer who declares that he can “cure” vampirism and lycanthropy. Only problem is, no one who gets that “cure” ever manages to leave his side.

While in DC, Kitty manages to have a bit of fun, too. She unself-consciously does the tourist thing. She buys her first-ever Little Black Dress. She meets a were-jaguar whose human form is a very attractive man attached to the Brazilian Embassy. It’s the juxtaposition of Kitty’s human and were natures that makes her so interesting and deep as a character. This second novel is darker and more complex than KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR, and that complexity makes this one the better of the two. That’s hardly a criticism, though, since the first installment was a standout, as well.

Readers looking for the latest in paranormal romance may be disappointed with this. The emphasis here is on action, intrigue, and the further development of Kitty’s character and the world she inhabits. And that is definitely not a criticism. By the way, if you haven’t read the first novel, it’s not absolutely necessary to enjoy this one. But I’d definitely recommend it. As a much-appreciated bonus, the author includes a great short story called “Kitty Meets the Band” and a little taste of the next Kitty novel. It can’t appear soon enough for me.

Rating: 9
Available: July 2006
isbn# 0-446-61642-7 (paperback)

Rating Scale = 1-10

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's a whole new blog

You know that feeling at the end of the last day of school? It's when you imagine the summer and the infinite possibilities of all that freedom stretching out ahead of you in an unbroken line. That's sort of how it feels to start my own review blog. All the possibilities, all the fun to be had, all the books waiting to be reviewed. It's all out there waiting for me. And you, too, of course, since you're reading this.

In keeping with my theme of freedom (which is already getting old, so I'll drop it now) I'll be reviewing all kinds of books. Mystery, scifi, fantasy, horror, fiction of all kinds. Maybe a little true crime here and there. Perhaps a romance or two, if the spirit moves me. All I know for sure at the moment is that there will be plenty of books reviewed here. So, if that's your thing, stop back often.

The real fun starts tomorrow.