Sweet Trouble

Rants, raves, book reviews and one girl's thoughts on life, the universe and everything.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

I often joke about the sudden influx of Urban Fantasy novels on the market right now, especially in the romance department. It seems everyone is trying to cash in on the phenomena. My hubby and I call them "things that go boink in the night" since the worst of them always have a supernatural and a human falling in the sack to have wild monkey lovins'.

The few authors that originated the trend are fantastic to read, but most of the imitators are really crappy; clearly derivative, bad writing, predictable plots and the sort of ridiculous sex scenes that make me gag. You want a good sex scene? Read Linda Howard. Or Diana Gabaldon. They write good romance and great sex without being silly. There's no laving mounds of anything, no throbbing man-flesh or breaking waves of pleasure. If you want any of that other stuff, well, pick up some of those LKH wannabes.

All of that to say I picked up Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn at the library yesterday. I really thought it was going to be one of those novels. In fact, I almost didn't pick it up, but the description sounded interesting and it had been popping up on my Amazon recommendations lately. I decided that I could check it out and if it was terrible, well, I didn't have to finish it...a new concept for me by the way.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour is a great book! I was delighted to be wrong, and read the novel in one afternoon. Within the confines of Urban Fantasy the author managed to come up with an unusual and intriguing premise. She gives us a fairly accurate portrayal of the radio profession and sound studios. In addition to that, Carrie Vaughn has clearly done her homework on the wolf behavioral front, and if her vampires seen derivative, well, it's excusable since the rest of the book is so good. The main character doesn't hook up with anything or anyone. She has some sparks with one guy, but they lead more to change and empowerment for our girl, not true wuv . In fact, there's growth and acceptance and all sorts of good character development for Kitty! Maybe I enjoyed it so much because all I was expecting was another supernatural sexorama. Dunno. Still, I thought it was great and I recommend it highly. There's already a sequel, "Kitty goes to Washington," which I hope has parallels to the famous movie it sounds like.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Door Number Two

It seems there's been nothing good out for a while (I complained of this earlier in the summer) and now, all of a sudden, many of my favorite authors have new books hitting the stands! I can't afford to buy them all either! How shall I choose?

Already out: Magic Study by Maria Snyder, River Secrets by Shannon Hale, a new Artemis Foul book by Eoin Colfer and The Dream Thief by Shana Abe.

Coming October 3: Nora Robert's Dance of the Gods, Mercedes Lackey's Aerie, Diana Wynne Jones The Pinhoe Egg, Sharon Shinn's Dark Moon Defender, LA Meyer's latest Bloody Jack offering and My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding by Sherrilyn Kenyon and others.

October 24 sees Tamora Pierce's Terrier, and Justice League season 3 on DVD. I thought LKH's latest was set for this date, too, but it's listed as December now. After that, through the end of the year we'll see such varied offerings as books from Elizabeth Lowell, two more Nora Roberts, the afore mentioned Laurell K Hamilton, Meg Cabot, and more.

I've just realized the answer! I shall cut and paste this page....voila! My Christmas list. Except for Terrier. I make it a point to pick up Tammy's books the day the come out. This will be no exception to that rule.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Gentle Jungle by Toni Ringo Helfer

I've posted lately about new books and authors I have discovered. Some of my favorite books of all time have gone unmentioned here, something I would like to rectify:

The Gentle Jungle by Toni Ringo Helfer has been a favorite book of mine since I first discovered it back around 1986. An abridged version was published by Scholastic in 1981, and the copy which fell into my possession had already seen much love in the school system. Many years later, with the help of the internet, I became the proud owner of the unabridged original.
Long out of print, it doesn't matter which copy you read; Each version tells the poignant, touching true story of an every day woman's walk into an extraordinary world.

Toni Ringo met, and married Hollywood's premier animal trainer. She learned how to lead elephants, train big cats, make friends with monkeys and be a tree for a snake. Toni found herself on the cover of TV Guide one time, and changing chimpanzee diapers another. These are the stories she tells in a humorous fashion, similar to James Herriot's tales of veterinary life. Tragedy strikes, as well, when animals age or nature comes into play, giving her tale the full circle of life.

This book has made me laugh, and cry many times over the years. I read it and always feel as if Toni is my close personal friend. Her story is one that I give to my friends to read, and turn to myself again and again. While the book ends well, I've often wondered what happened to the author. Ralph Helfer, her husband, can be found online. He lives in Africa now, and gives tours of the region he now calls home. One of the pictures shows him with a woman who is not Toni Ringo Helfer. This makes me sad, as does the fact that I have found no other mention of her online outside of links like the one to Alibris above. If indeed, such a remarkable person has passed on, then she can look down from above and be proud of her Gentle legacy.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Philippa Gregory: History Lesson's Though Fiction

Philippa Gregory clearly has a love for Elizabethan England. Her lush historical novels weave in and around the end of the Tudor dynasty. If you're in the mood for a little polictical intrigue, star-crossed love and fascinating historical detail and fancy then look no further!

The Constant Princess details the life of Katharine of Aragon, mother of Queen Mary - who's own story is told in more detail in The Queen's Fool. The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance show King Henry plowing through wives and mistresses in search of a son, while The Virgin's Lover tell's one version of Queen Elizabeth's tale. These novels are rich, and dense; packed with historical characters and detail, as well as a good bit of creative license and speculation. I wouldn't reccomend trying to read them all at once, either. Though set in the same period and dealing with many of the same people, Gregory's mythology changes slightly from book to book depending on which historical theories best serve the tale being told. It can be a little confusing to move from one to another without a little break in between them.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Marley and Me by John Grogan

This book has been on the non-fiction list for months for a reason: it's lovely. I was loaned a copy by my step-mother who has a healthy disdain for indoor pets. It was a surprise to me that she loved the book so much. I read it over the course of two evenings and found myself both laughing out loud and crying by the end.

In Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog John Grogan recounts how he and his newlywedded wife decided to get a puppy. This one decision had tremendous impact over the next thirteen or so years of their life.

If you've ever:
  • killed a houseplant
  • had a dog afraid of storms
  • been a pet sitter
  • wanted a baby
  • had a miscarriage
  • changed jobs
  • out grown your house
  • had a dog who drools
  • or eats your furnishings

This book is for you.