Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Getting to know Kelley Armstrong – Bitten

How many times we are drawn to the water and refuse to drink until we are good and ready? Too many times to count. With books I have kind of given up the resistance and go with the flow. Most often I’m not disappointed. Thus the case of the series by Kelley Armstrong, Woman of the Otherworld. For the longest time I have read the reviews (the series is on it’s 10 installment) and heard the praise but I kept putting it off. That is until I found the first book in Audiobook. Then there is really no excuse not to read it because selection is slim for audiobooks and I have been listening to the books too quickly to be picky.

I want to just tell you that I loved the book and not really explain why because it’s just too difficult to put in worlds why I loved the book. It’s not chuck full of romance, it’s read in first person POV and many cool characters are killed – what’s there to like?

How about a heroine that feels real? A hero that is not really a hero but you still call him a hero? A book that is not about lovers but about people that love each other?

Elena is the only female werewolf in existence. She was betrayed by her lover when he bit her in his werewolf form without explaining to her what he was and what he was doing to her. She has since struggled to live two lives, struggled to stay within the human confines of society and suppress the wolf in her. She stayed with the pack early on in her change but realized that she could not forgive Clay for his betrayal and leaves to live as a human again. She has developed a relationship with a good man who knows nothing of who she really is and holds down a steady job... When the pack calls her back because they need help tracking down some killer ‘mutt’ (werewolves that are not part of a pack) she grudgingly returns. This is when she feels most threatened, when she can finally let the wolf out.

Elena can’t find her place in the world and Armstrong makes this clear to the reader. The story is strong and the darkness that Elena at times finds her self in is told so clearly that I found my skin crawling. If I could compare Armstrong’s voice I would say that the feeling of this book reminded me at times of Dean Koontz, which is quite a praise. The murders start to pile up and the pack is on the verge of destruction. The mutts want Elena, they want revenge on the pack and they want to take over the territory. No one seems to be able to stop them and Elena must decide what she wants before she loses it all.

Don’t wait to pick this one up.

Grade: A
Format: Audiobook

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Glitter Baby and More by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Recently Susan Elizabeth Phillips reissued a novel first published in 1983 called Glitter Baby. It was then followed by her newest release What I did for Love, that coincidently takes place in the same hollywood environment and in which the couple from Glitter Baby makes a cameo appearance.

Glitter Baby (B-)
The book started out very slow with a retelling of Fleur's life and it was a bit disturbing. I had read reviews on this portion of the book and was expecting a really bad taste in my mouth when reading about the pedophile that was Fleur’s father (and step father) but I was surprised to find Phillips wrote it edging on impropriety (edging REALLY closely in some places) but not crossing the line. I will also note at this point that the book although re-issued was not re-written so it is a bit dated in descriptions and the sorts.

After the first portion of the book the story picks up and in a way takes off. The battle between Fleur and her step father, her dysfunctional and, at times, demented mother, her feelings of being too little in her big body, leads to a great story of a woman who fought hard to rise above her past and conquer her future.

Fleur was always led by someone in one way or the other, first by her mother whom she would never want to disappoint and then her father who had never given her the time of day. When she finally sheds herself from her past she emerges as a strong, smart and beautiful woman who is willing to do what it takes to dig her own niche in the world. She becomes a success and in a way that is her own revenge. I didn’t really think of this book as a romance. It was more of a ‘growing’ book.

What I did for Love (B-)
This one takes place in the same ‘Hollywood’ world as Glitter Baby and even had a cameo appearance from Fleur and Jake but the story itself revolves around Georgie …

She was a child actress in a sitcom but lost herself as an adult in roles that mean very little to her. Her father has geared her career into corner where she has been typecast into the funny girl.

Bram was Georgie’s co-star and love interest on the sitcom but his destructive attitude earned him a bad rap that later destroyed his career. He is looking for a way back into respected society but a night in Vegas threatens to kill what has yet to be revived.

Georgie wakes up married to the same man that stomped on her tender young heart as a girl. She also cannot afford a scandal and convinces Bram to stay married for a while as to not add fuel to the paparazzi frenzy that has been hounding her since her husband left her for his most recent co-star.

I actually loved Bram. He was very secretive but I had him pegged from the get go. I had never read a character that entrenched on not falling in love as Bram. He just didn’t see it coming and although his ‘aha’ moment was a bit choppy I really loved seeing him get hit over the head with it. What I did find a bit weak was the final acceptance of Bram by Georgie. If she was so dead set against him the acceptance was just too easy. I also did not really feel much for Georgie throughout the book. I never really connected with her. I did like the secondary characters (like with most SEP books), they just really added juice to this one. Chaz, the homeless girl Bram picked up and employed as his cook, Ernie, Georgie’s overweight personal assistant, Peter, Georgie’s father who never knew how to be a father after his wife passed away and Laura, Georgie’s ineffective agent.

Although What I did for Love had the characters from Glitter Baby they are completely unrelated and can be read separately. Which did I like better? Honestly, both stood on thier own merit and I found them very different. Although Glitter Baby was dated it had a more darker undertone than the newest book but we are looking at 26 years of growth in writting style so I would expect it to be different. The newest book is more of what we expect of SEP now (multiple couples finding love, strong focus on each side of the main couple and thier dysfunctional lives, etc.) and yet we don't see much of the humor and wittiness in these characters as we have seen in Phillips more recent work .

I think both were well worth picking up.

Format: Audiobook
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