Books to the Sky

Archive for July 2008

Dear Author has a new “If you like ____, you’ll like ____” series, and they’re featuring Suzanne Brockmann. The timing is interesting for two reasons: 1) Brockmann has a new book out, 13 in her Troubleshooters series about Navy SEAL Team 16/the FBI counterterrorism unit/the Troubleshooters security firm, and 2) I’ve been devouring the Troubleshooters series.

Here’s the funny thing about the Dear Author post: It describes quite well all the things I love about the series, which I started reading out of order. (I picked up Book 5 on a whim, not realizing it was part of a series, and have been working my way through the rest. Publishers should really mark the books.) Anyway, the series is good. Brockmann may be responsible for the Navy SEAL cliche in romantic suspense, but I love the recurring characters, and Brockmann is good with both characters and intricate suspense.

So, yeah, every book has a romance plot that gets neatly resolved by the end of the book, and the characters are occasionally prone to speechifying about their great loves (which was particularly weird in Book #8, which I just finished, in which the normally taciturn Cosmo Richter goes on for half a page towards the end of the novel about how much he loves the heroine, Jane… unlikely and pretty cheesy). The funny thing is that I didn’t get into the series immediately. I thought Book 5 (Into the Night featuring hunky Navy SEAL Mike Muldoon, who I love despite not loving his book) was not actually that suspenseful, but I’ve really loved the other books in the series, particularly Over the Edge (Book 6). I’m currently glomming my way through Breaking Point, which is really good, the resolution of the story arc between FBI agent in chief Max Bhagat and hostage/rape victim Gina. There’s so much to love in this book, and now that I’ve gotten to know the characters, I can appreciate it that much more.

I was a little disappointed to learn that all of gay FBI agent Jules Cassidy’s love scenes happen behind closed doors (I haven’t gotten that far in the series yet, it’s mentioned in the Dear Author post). Jules gets all the best one-liners and is a great character, it’s a shame he doesn’t get to have sex on screen, but putting a gay romance in a series full of macho alpha males is a daring and pretty awesome choice, so I look forward to getting through the rest of the Jules/Robin plot arc.

So, yeah, I’m squeeing a bit. Nice to see Brockmann get some attention, since I’m enjoying her books so much. I’ve got a couple of her category romance reissues, too, I’ll get to those soon enough. Glom glom.

What series fiction have you devoured quickly?

Some of the behind-the-scenes folks and I have been talking about doing something with the Stephanie Plum series on this blog, so I figured I’d review the new book.

I will state up front that on the whole Ranger vs. Morelli question, I come down very strongly in favor of Morelli, and this may bias my review somewhat.

I was disappointed by Lean Mean Thirteen because it doesn’t seem to advance the series plot much at all. No one learns anything new, no relationships advance, the whole book is kind of expendable and inessential. Fearless Fourteen at least has a lot of Morelli and in particular a lot of Morelli and Stephanie playing at domesticity. Not sure how that will play out with the rest of the series; I’m optimistic, because Evanovich is only contracted through book 16 (although who knows) and I’m sure Stephanie won’t make a choice between the two men in her life until the end.

But this is typical Plum. New Jersey antics, this time involving a distant cousin of Morelli’s and some missing money that may or may not be buried in Morelli’s basement. One thing I did like: it comes to light early in the novel that the son of one of Stephanie’s skips might be Morelli’s kid, and Stephanie doesn’t sit on and fret about this information. She confronts Morelli right away. So there’s no stupid Big Misunderstanding, the characters actually talk to each other when stuff like this comes up. Another thing I like is the World of Warcraft parody, where the game players are completely obsessed with the game.

I love the series despite its flaws, and this one feels a little less meaty than some of the earlier books in the series. I don’t know why. Maybe because Morelli and Stephanie are settled into coupledom and, yeah, Ranger’s around, but his presence seems kind of inconsequential. Maybe there weren’t enough exploding cars.

Bonus: I got free audiobooks of the two “between the numbers” novels, Plum Lovin’ and Plum Lucky. I kind of wish Evanovich would stick to the main series, as these books exist outside of the series arc. They’re cute little stories with most of the main Plum characters, but again, kind of expendable.

It’s almost a cliche now: woman in a bad marriage has an affair or three and discovers she’s an interesting, sexual being after all before going back to her husband to confront him with everything that was wrong between them. I think Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying was the first, but Judy Blume’s novel Wifey is in the same vein. There’s a post up at Jezebel explicating the novel. I read the book in college and don’t remember it very well, but reading this recap makes me think it was a little deeper than I thought at the time — there’s some interesting stuff about class and race layered on top of the dissatisfied wife stuff. Or, you know, click the link to read more about five-course orgasms. There’s some discussion of same in the comments.

After a very funny conversation about romance novels involving vikings, alexabex lent me this book, a category romance originally published by Harlequin Silhouette that, based on the book description, sounds kind of like Encino Man, only with a viking and less Pauly Shore. The back-of-the-book copy says it’s about a scientist who finds a frozen viking, only he’s still alive! And he’s all man, baby.

not a viking

not a viking

We open with Rolf. No, not that one. This one speaks random Norse words and has a beard. This Rolf, you see, is a viking. He’s on a ship during a storm and things are not going well; men are dying, sails are getting destroyed, and Rolf is mightily pissed at a woman named Adrianna, who predictably has flaming red hair and unusual gray eyes and is beautiful but kind of evil. Also, the booty he plundered keeps falling out of the boat. Rolf struggles and feels the storm defeating him. He vows not to die, and then he plunges into the cold water.

And that’s just the prologue! In chapter 1, we meet Miranda O’Shea and her father Russell, both scientists. Russell’s life’s work has been trying to find a mythical man frozen in ice, a man the Inuit thought was a god. If I’ve learned anything from movies involving archaeologists and similar scientists, it’s that no good can come from a life of such singular purpose. It’s likely Russell’s last expedition, too, since he’s old. In my head, he resembles Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, pursuing Frozen Man as if it were the Holy Grail, so I imagine his dialogue spoken in a swarthy Scottish accent. It’s amusing.

Anyway, we cut right to the chase, and Miranda cracks through a block of ice with a few well-placed strikes with a pick axe. She’s hit an air vacuum, and Russell knows this is it, what he’s worked his whole life to find. They lower themselves into the cave, and lo: there is a man laid out, long blond hair and bushy red beard and all of his clothes perfectly preserved. Now, okay. I’m not a scientist, but even with the air vacuum, he’s not a mummy. Would the clothes really survive? Or would they disintegrate now that they’ve been exposed to oxygen? Should I bother questioning this?

We all know where this is going, right? Oh, yeah. Viking popsicle. Read the rest of this entry »

I giggled a lot at this review of a novel containing an unlikely sex act. The post is worth the read if only for the bottom half in which a bunch of romance bloggers discuss the mechanics of said sex act. Methinks it might be wishful thinking on the author’s part. Or else she’s never actually ridden a horse.

Confession: I did not read this one as a tween. I found it in an airport bookstore, of all places, when I was 18 or 19. There’s even a Post-It stuck to the last page with the name of my high school on it (class of ’98!) that I must have used as a bookmark.

But let’s get right to it, shall we. We open with Jean Rodrigues, who does not want to be her mother. Mom is a miserable single mom who works too much, and Jean suspects a similar fate awaits her. Dad died when Jean was a child. They live in a shitty neighborhood. From all this we can glean that Jean is a Latina Stereotype.

Baby-Sitters Club Exposition: Jean is 18, two weeks away from graduating high school. She is half Mexican, half who knows, but of course she knows she is hot because she is a Christopher Pike heroine and not a normal teenage girl. Her long, dark hair is “her glory,” we’re told, and she washes it nightly with herbal shampoo, one of her few luxuries. “Her looks were one thing Jean felt good about. There were so few things.” Right.

The narrator exposits that if Jean had been paying attention to the papers, she’d know that the novel opens exactly a year since the death of one Shari Cooper. Jean is not aware of this fact, though. She’s on her way to a party for her boyfriend Lenny, and she’s got news for him: she’s six weeks pregnant with his kid. Read the rest of this entry »

I am Recapper ChocolateTort, and I have signed on to recap the Anita Blake series. I’ve only actually read four of them, so at some point they’ll just be caps, I guess. I was too excited to wait for the library to get the first Anita Blake novel back, so I started with Number Three. But you don’t need much backstory to recall the relevant points:

*Anita Blake is smokin hot but doesn’t like to talk about it.

*Jean-Claude is Large and In Charge, has nipples of steel, and wishes to have loads of hot but meaningful vampire sex with Anita. For now, she is having no part of this.

*Anita is a zombie raiser and vampire executioner and COULD be a necromancer, but she’s too good for that.

*Anita has a Painful Past.

*Did I mention smokin hot but too good to rub it in our faces TOO often?

Excellent. One more thing: I’ve received some staggeringly good advice to break these up into two parts, so I can focus more on mocking some of the very silly bits of prose that won’t fit into one big recap. Future recaps shall be in this format.

Nipples ho! Read the rest of this entry »


Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
--Arnold Lobel

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
--Groucho Marx

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