Monday, November 30, 2009

Goodreads: No Choice But Seduction

No Choice But Seduction: A Mallory Novel #9 No Choice But Seduction: A Mallory Novel #9 by Johanna Lindsey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Mallory series ranks up there as one of my faves, but I have to admit that this one didn't really do it for me (furthermore, I barely remember the last one, which is a sure sign I need to go back and read the whole series again).

Boyd Anderson first meets Katey Tyler on his ship as he takes her to England where she's hoping to see more of the world and reconnect with the family who disowned her mother many years ago. Katey has a talent for telling tales, and so she tells him she's married to stave off any attentions. But the two meet later when Boyd assists in rescuing the daughter of Tony and Roslynn who's been kidnapped by Roslynn's cousin's wife for ransom. Katey, however, is the one who rescues the little girl, only to be repaid with suspicion from Boyd.

Eventually, Katey finds her way to the Mallory family where they welcome her with open arms but, upon seeing Boyd (and still being pissy with him) she takes off. When her "real" family turns her away at the door, she allows Boyd to make it up to her by letting her rent his ship to take her to see other parts of the world, and while he obliges her, he seems to have that problem that so many historical heroes have: he can barely keep control of the lust she incites in him.

Normally, I'm totally cool with all the historical cliches, and they weren't too bothersome in this book either. Lindsey always adds a nice helping of fun and humor to her writing. But this one seemed to be majorly lacking in relationship development between Boyd and Katey, focusing instead on Katey's past and her connection to the Mallorys. It read more like a coming of age book than a romance novel.

The scenes with James and Anthony were great, though, especially when they're trying to teach Boyd to be seductive. Definitely good stuff there. And while I didn't like this one as much as some of her other books, it still wasn't a bad way to get through a couple of lazy days.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Goodreads: Hot Pursuit

Hot Pursuit (Troubleshooters, #15) Hot Pursuit by Suzanne Brockmann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Finishing this book was kind of a milestone because it signifies the fact that I've caught up with the Troubleshooters series. The exception to this is I haven't yet read “Into the Night,” because the local library doesn't carry it and I don't normally buy books when I'm just going to read and pass on (though I should probably suck it up and buy this one since I could definitely read this series again). I'm currently waiting to receive the book on interlibrary loan, but it'll be more like a nostalgia trip.

“Hot Pursuit” brings us back to Sam and Alyssa and continues the story told in one of Brockmann' short stories. “The Dentist” is a psychopath whose target is Alyssa Locke. When Alyssa, Sam, and some of Seal Team 16 go to New York, they think it's going to be nothing more than a fluff job to help a political hopeful stay safe during her campaign. But The Dentist is lurking, setting up a chain of events to get Alyssa where he wants her, including murder and his own special MO of collecting the teeth of his victims.

Sam and Alyssa are a fun couple to re-visit, but I probably wouldn't have been as interested if I hadn't had faith that Brockmann would have introduced another new love story, this time between Danny Gillman and the political hopeful's friend and assistant, Jenn. I may have mentioned before that I didn't like Danny, but as expected, he sort of kind of redeems himself in this one, at least to reveal a human side (though Brockmann keeps true to many of his less savory tendencies to keep continuity). Other relationships are touched on, including the Izzy and Eden story from Izzy's point of view, and of course we get a little bit of Robin and Jules. A lot of “cameos” from other books, and not only is the Eden/Izzy line still open, but so too now is the Jenn/Danny one.

This next part may be kind of spoilerish, so stop know if you don't want to know about Brockmann's future plans gleaned from this book's author notes (mostly).

According to the AN, Brockmann is working on the next book in the series. I checked the website, and this will indeed be “Izzy's Story” (and more on Danny and Jenn but her note), but the website says it won't be out until February of 2011. That alone is tough, but she also said that after that one she'd be taking a break from the TS series. What??? No!!! Suzanne Brockmann, why??? This bums me out, though she said she wasn't done, just that she was taking time off. And I guess I can understand it, but ouch. This series is the first one I think I ever got THIS into, and I don't really want it to end. Even right now I'm looking at the next book on my shelf, a historical romance in part of another series I really like, but it feels a little strange to shift so dramatically.

Either way, I still have “Into the Night” to tide me over and several other series' that should get me through until the next TS book. Then I'll just play the waiting game.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Goodreads: Into the Fire

Into the Fire (Troubleshooters #13) Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is getting placed on the disturbing shelf this time around, not because anything changed in the style or the set up, but because the Freedom Network, Brockmann's white supremacist group, creeps me out.

After putting himself into an alcoholic induced fugue state for several months following the murder of his wife by the Freedom Network, Vinh Murphy returns to his best friend Hannah for comfort. But when the leader of the FN is murdered, Vinh is the main suspect and even he doesn't know if he did it or not.

The romance between Vinh and Hannah isn't as "torrid" as many of the other ones, but they've been friends for years, so there's more of a comfort aspect to it, which I liked. Nash and Tess have a small part with a storyline leading them to the next book in the series.

The other main subplot is between Izzy and Eden Gillman, Dan Gillman's sister who is abandoned by her boyfriend and impregnated by a "business associate" of his who drugged her. I hated Dan Gillman in this book, for the record, but I expect that maybe someday Brockmann will give us some insight into why he's such a jerk.

The Decker-Dave-Sophia triangle appears again. I'm rooting for Dave because I like Dave's character as being "less than" the rough and tough and built SEALS. I like that he's a little softer, a little more nerdy, and alot more insecure. Decker annoys me to no end. To be fair though, there are times when I really want Dave to get some nerve and just step up to the plate.

This was another great installment. Three books left (since I still need to read book 5) and I'll have read the entire series to date. Then I'll just have play the waiting game until the next one comes out.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Goodreads: Into the Storm

Into the Storm (Troubleshooters #10) Into the Storm by Suzanne Brockmann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another 5 star book in the Troubleshooters series, though this one varied in several different ways from the previous books (which is all I have to base my comparison on right now since I haven’t yet read the later ones).

The main players are Lindsey Fontaine, an ex LAPD cop working for TS, Inc. and Mark “Jenk” Jenkins who’s still with SEAL Team Sixteen. Mark is mooning over a Tracy Shapiro, a girl he knew from his younger days who is now working as a receptionist for TS, and Lindsay is crushing on Mark. Towards the end of a spontaneous evening together, Mark ends up running to Tracy’s rescue. Lindsay pulls away, trying to leave their relationship at friend status to help her deal with her own hurt and jealousy, not mention that, like all of the characters in this series, she has her own past baggage to deal with. Then the team is called to New Hampshire where the cold weather is to be used as part of a war game exercise between the teams. During the exercise, Tracy, acting the part of the hostage, goes missing, and the TS team, with the help of Jenk and Izzy, set out to find her.

Like always, Brockmann pulls the story into several different subplots. There’s the steamy interaction between Izzy and Tracy. There’s also the relationship between Sophia, Larry Decker, and Dave Malkoff. What makes that one so interesting is that for once, I’m not entirely sure where SB is going with these characters and where the actual romantic relationship is going to fall.

Unlike most of the books, the antagonist is not an international terrorist but a local psycho kidnapper who collects body parts. I found this turn to be extremely creepy, but I like the way it sets the book away from the other books while still trying it in through the use of familiar characters and themes.

This may be one of the snarkier books in the series, which gives it another point of favor. There’s a lot of interaction among the Seals, especially from Izzy Zanella, who tends to push the obnoxious envelope but still cracks me up. Lindsey is a fun character who carries a lot of baggage but hides it behind her own sarcastic and self deprecating sense of humor. Tracy Shapiro is bound to show up in this book (I hope). She develops to a great deal in this book and there still seems to be some unfinished business between her and Izzy.

I thought that this was definitely one of the best books in the series.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Movie Review: “Ink”

I’ve wanted to see the movie “Ink,” I first saw the trailer last year. At that time I was riding the coattails of my “Repo: The Genetic Opera” high and was all about finding new movies that didn’t fit the standard fare at the theater. “Ink” fit the bill. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be widely released due to its independent and lower budget nature. I kept watch to see if it would at least come to Kansas City, but it never did. It was (finally) released on DVD at the end of October and it hit Netflix on November 10th. We watched it on Instant View.

“Ink” is a fantasy/sci-fi independent film about a little girl who’s kidnapped by Ink, a deformed man/creature who wants to use her as a sacrifice to become and Incubus. Incubi have television screens for faces and are the ones responsible for nightmares (and possibly temptation during day hours, though I’d have to watch it again to see if that’s really the case).

It is the Storytellers that come to the girl’s rescue. These are the people who bring dreams. One becomes another captive of Ink as he visits the Drifters to get the codes needed for his transformation. The others, with the help of a Pathfinder (one who finds the beat of the world), work to help her by pulling her father from the emotional wall he’d built around him prior to and in the course of his wife’s death.

I really liked this movie. The effects aren’t at the same standard as, say, Transformers or anything by Dreamworks, but they weren’t bad either. A few of the images were a little creepy, which just adds to its appeal in my opinion. I suppose the originality of the film could be debated, but I thought it was creative, especially right now when it seems like everything coming out is a sequel or a remake. The movie is plot driven, but the characters are interesting in their own right, especially the blind pathfinder. One of the best scenes in the movie is what I refer to as the Chain Reaction scene in which he finds the beat of the world and works with it to set off a series of events to accomplish part of the mission.

The movie, especially the aforementioned scene, was visual eye candy for me, and now that I’ve seen it once, I want to watch it again to find what I missed the first time. Like any movie, it’s not for everyone. The cinematography jumps in a motion sickness inducing way at times, certain parts seemed to move a bit slow. It was also confusing at first, and it took awhile to find the thread of comprehension to figure out what was going on. By the end though, it all comes together.

Check it out here at If you watch it, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Goodreads: Stalking the Unicorn

Stalking The Unicorn Stalking The Unicorn by Mike Resnick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My fiancĂ© got a kick out of this book, and even though it meant tearing myself away from the series I’m in the middle of, I decided to give it a try. It was a nice change of pace and a quick read.

On New Year’s Eve, John Justin Mallory, a Manhattan detective, is approached by a distressed elf looking to hire his services. Because his attention was drawn to an amorous tryst, the elf has lost a valuable unicorn entrusted to his watch, and he needs Mallory to help him find it before his guild finds out and kills him for his irresponsibility.

In the “other” Manhattan, where Mallory goes for this case, Mallory meets a fun blend of characters, including a cat girl, a lame magician, an ex-unicorn hunter, a bar full if Irishmen, two men who have been playing the same game of chess for a year, and the demon of the other world, The Grundy, who holds a big stake in finding the same unicorn.

This was a really fun book written in a detective noir style. The characters are funny and Mallory is perfect has the stoic detective who has rare but effective bursts of emotion. As far as fantasy goes, it wasn’t anything heavy, all the fantastical characters are ones found commonly in literature. Dialogue played a key role in the story and I love dialogue, especially when the story can set the tone just through what the characters are saying.

Even though I wasn’t riveted the way I’ve been to some of the books I’ve read recently, I still enjoyed it. Be warned, it does read like a young adult novel but does have some adult themes and language.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Goodreads: Flashpoint

Flashpoint (Troubleshooters #7) Flashpoint by Suzanne Brockmann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"Flashpoint" kicks off the beginning of what I consider the "next stage" in the Troubleshooters books, the stage in which Paoletti begins his own business with Troubleshooters, Inc. So it was kind of jarring to suddenly have a bunch of new characters to get used to.

The main players here are Tess Bailey and Jimmy Nash. Tess is an intelligent comspesh who can't get into the field, and Jimmy is a former top secret government operative who's life up until this point is one big secret. They come together several months after a one night stand to be sent on a mission to Kazbekistan to retrive a laptop which is thought to contain valuable information on terrorist plans. On the mission with them is Lawrence Decker, an ex Seal who stands alone as Jimmy's closest friend and colleague. Deck has been given a secondary assignment to find a prospect for Troubleshooters, Inc. who was last seen in the area. Diguised as relief workers, the group, along with a few other players (Vinh Murphy to name one) set about finding the all important lap top.

The story adds another element with Sophia, the wife of the prospect who was taken by Padsha Bashir after he had her husband decapitated. During the aftermath of an earthquake, she attempts to kill him and runs from the palace. Unfortunately, she didn't kill him, and now has a bounty on her head. To her rescue comes Decker and the rest of the team, and though they don't trust her fully, they bring her in as part of the team to help them on their mission.

This book was much heavier on the action than on the romance. The interplay between Tess and Jimmy is okay when it happens, but overall, Jimmy's just kind of a jerk. He's actually a difficult character to like. The same can be said for most of these new characters, though I'm not sure if that's because I'm fighting against change or if they're just not developed at their own early stages.

There is some hints of a possible "to be continued" thread/love story between Decker and Sophia, and I hope it gets picked up later, because I wouldn't mind seeing what happens between them. Not my favorite, but not a bad read by any means.

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Goodreads: Over the Edge

Over the Edge (Troubleshooters #3) Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was by far my favorite of the early Troubleshooters books (though thanks to my library I haven't yet read #5). It was physically painful for me to put this town to do things like make dinner, go to work, and go to sleep.

The main story in this one is between Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok and pilot Teri Howe who find themselves in K-stan for a situation involving a hijacked plan and a young girl who terrorists believe to be a US Senator's daughter. It was this pairing that got me...I loved these characters. Even though most of Brockmann's heroes have the "soft and sensitive" side, I found Stan to be especially endearing in his "I'm not that good looking" mentality. Teri was also endearing in a "deer in the headlights" kind of way (for Glee fans, she sort of reminded me of Emma). I thought they were great characters and I was completely hooked into their story. Besides the romance factor, there was a good dose of humor. All of these books have a touch to them, which makes them enjoyable to read, but I found myself laughing out loud during this one.

Also in this book is the continuing story of Alyssa and Sam, and this one sets the stage for the Gina and Max storyline.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Goodreads: The Defiant Hero

The Defiant Hero (Troubleshooters #2) The Defiant Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

This series is amazing, so much in fact that I’m actually reading the books consecutively, though I’m skipping around the timeline they were written in. The series is fun, intriguing, romantic, and easy to lose yourself in. Having said that, I have to admit that so far, “The Defiant Hero” is my least favorite so far

Brockmann follows a basic formula: main storyline, side storyline, side storyline that takes place around the time of WWII. In “The Defiant Hero,” the main storyline is between John Nilsson, a linguistics specialist and member of Team 16 and Meg Moore, whose daughter and grandmother are kidnapped by terrorists. They’ve demanded that she bring them the leader of another terrorist group in exchange for the life of the other two. Desperate to save her family, she attempts to do as she’s directed, but John follows her, determined to help her and keep her safe from the very real possibility of death, especially because he’s been in love with her for several years.

This storyline took a backseat to the side one that actually winds through several novels, the story between Alyssa Lock and Sam Starrett. I’d already read their book, which take places two or three books later, but this back story was still great to read. Even though I like Alyssa’s character, she’s a complete witch in this one, so it was a relief to know what happens later so I didn’t completely hate her.

The WWII storyline was told by Meg’s grandmother Eve to the little girl and one of the terrorists. It was the story of her fifteen year old self having fallen in love with a British tutor several years her senior. This brings me to another point of Brockmann’s writing…she’s not afraid to “go there.” Besides this “underage” storyline, she has another one that also winds through a few of books, as well as an interracial storyline, a gay storyline, and a few other things I don’t often see in the fiction I read. Just a warning…she’s also not afraid to kill characters.

Because I didn’t connect with the characters as much as in the other books, I’m dragging the rating of this one down to a three star, but this in no way takes from the series as a whole.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

Halloween marked the beginning of the holiday season and now here we are, first day of November, with one down and three to go (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years). Though I'm planning to celebrate the others, I sort of wimped out on Halloween. Then again, I wimp out every Halloween. I'm not much for wearing costumes, nor am I one for parties. So for me, this year was really quiet.

The day before Halloween was windy and cold, but the day of was nice. I took pics the day before on my long weekend just for the heck of it and because I'd wanted some autumn pictures before the snow got here.

Jon got dressed up and went out on his own. I felt like a bum for not going, but he was okay with it. I helped him get ready, then I settled down and finished another book, which made it four that I finished on this long weekend. Not too shabby, and if I were to really try I could probably finish a fifth one. I stayed up late to work on NaNoWriMo which kicked off at midnight.

Today I finished up a scarf I've been working on. A co-worker gave me a coffee pot in exchange for it. She bought the yarn, I did the actual work. It was my first time using wool, so I'm in the process of blocking it right now, but I think I'm okay with how it came out and I think she will be too. Hopefully.

I'm ending my last weekend day with some mellowing out around the house. I've been working on my story periodically and am already up to over 4,000 words. I watched “Les Miserables.” It was good, but depressing. Going to write some more, read later, and get ready for the work week. After four days off, I'm strangely ready to go back and instead of dreading the pile of work I know I'll have waiting for me, I'm going to welcome it and hope it keeps me busy enough to make Monday go by fast.

Hope everyone had a good holiday!