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Reviews Written by
Mayfayre "mayfayre" (New Jersey USA)

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Shamara
Shamara
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars What A Tiresome Twosome!, May 2 2004
This review is from: Shamara (Mass Market Paperback)
If you've been reading the author's other Shielder stories, then you can safely give this one a pass-by. The only good thing about it is the small subplot where we find out how Lani and Gunnar of Leor met. For the rest, it's just a tiresome recital of Eirene running away from this person or that planet and/or running away from her past/present, and Jarek tracking her down for the greater good of the Shielder people. Eirene has all of the emotional range of a 13 year old (my apologies to any 13 year olds who are reading this), and Jarek is just so heroic that it's tiresome. Although there's a lot of "action", nothing really ever happens - just a lot of people traipsing back and forth around the same portion galaxy. And please, every humanoid species worships the same god (given that oh-so-original name, "Spirit")? Characters from other stories have bit-part roles, but the main characters are so stereotypically semi-tragic that they become annoying. As to their romance, it's another one of those stories where they go at each other like rabbits in heat but lack the ability to say "I love you" until the last page. By the end of the book, I didn't really care if Eirene lived or died. Don't waste your money on this one.

Cherished Invader
Cherished Invader
by Samantha Gail
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 0.94

2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Money, March 4 2004
This review is from: Cherished Invader (Paperback)
I can't believe that I read the same books that the other reviewers did! No way on earth does this book deserve more than two stars, and that's only for effort and good intent.
Where do I start? First of all, the setting and background of the characters is very poorly established. We are told that the women are called "Forestals", but never are we told why they are called that or what exactly "Forestals" do. They *seem* to be some sort of interplanetary Charlie's Angels, but who really knows? They are supposedly telepathic, yet they can't seem to recognize that ability in others, so their silent communications are easily intercepted. They seem to be superhuman in their strength, but we don't know why. Their handler is some sort of omnipotent mystical man, whose presence and powers seem to negate the need for the Forestals to begin with. The scifi elements used show a basic lack of understanding of the genre and of science in general. The characters' behaviors were inconsistent with basic Psych 101 - one of the characters was totally adverse to having any intimate contact with males, yet she undressed completely before one in her bedroom without a second thought. The pacing of the story was off; the separate story lines weren't interwoven well. Dramatic tension in the book was negligible.
But the worst thing about this book is that the author apparently never met an adjective or an adverb that she didn't want to use. It became almost laughable as the book progressed, since she apparently tried not to repeat herself, and the descriptive phrases became stranger and sometimes seemed to even work against the scene. I mean, "puissant" and "labile" are fine words, but they just didn't flow with the story. In her quest to use new and unique descriptive terms, she made the characters' actions and statements excessively dramatic. Some of the descriptive terms used in connection with one of the heroes made his pursuit seem more like stalking and rape, rather than anything romantic. The sex scenes were neither romantic nor interesting ("shrill shrieks"? Give me a break!).
This book is definitely not worth the trade paperback price.

Blood and Mind
Blood and Mind
by Melanie Bonnefoux
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 27.38
9 used & new from CDN$ 4.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Yo, Anita Blake Fans!, Jan. 19 2004
This review is from: Blood and Mind (Paperback)
If imitation is supposedly the sincerest form of flattery, then Laurell K. Hamilton has got to be flattered by Melanie Lee Bonnefoux's "Blood and Mind". I just finished reading it, and did enjoy it. For those of you craving an Anita Blake fix while waiting for the next book, this book would probably fill the bill, especially if you're into the vampire-human/human-human romance aspects of the Anitaverse.
Best way to describe the story would be to say "throw the Anitaverse into a blender and add a little Buffy". A lot of the scenarios are going to be *very* familiar to LKH's fans. In this world, laws have been recently passed making vampires legal - surprise! The main character is a female college student (with dark hair) who is an Empath with extraordinarily high PSI abilities. Naturally this makes her extremely attractive to the vampire Holder (read "Master") of the city, who is, of course, gorgeous, but who has a faint British (not French) accent. Sound vaguely familiar? She becomes his human "Companion" basically against her will and tries to resist her sexual attraction to him. Now, where have I read that before? Because of her abilities, she gets involved with a series of murders that are happening in the human and vampire communities, and surprise, surprise, winds up assisting a very tall detective on the case. She is self-assured, intelligent, easily aggravated, and emotionally locked-down. She differs from Anita Blake in that she hates her dead mother, because her mother always hated her because she was "different". Still, the "mother issue" is very familiar...
As I said, I liked the story, and would like to see a sequel to it. The story was fast-moving and interesting, and I really did like the characters. They were all different enough that they became their own persons as the story progressed. Be warned, though, that this is a first novel, issued through a non-mainline publishing house, so the copy editing is almost non-existent. The run-on sentences and punctuation errors alone almost drove me crazy (anyone ever hear of ending a question with a question mark?), and there were quite a few spelling errors (e.g. "cow tow" instead of "kowtow") which should have been caught.

Take a Chance on Me
Take a Chance on Me
by Susan Donovan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.99
48 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read Even If You're Not A Pet Person, Oct. 28 2003
I tend to stay away from books where a pet is featured as a main character (or even worse, a co-detective!) but I had read Susan Donovan's earlier book on a whim and loved it, so I decided to "take a chance" on this one. A wise decision on my part. This was just such a fun and romantic book, it has definitely made Susan Donovan one of my favorite authors. A previous reviewer made a comparison to Jennifer Crusie, and I would say that if you like Crusie's work (which I do) you'll enjoy this book.
Once again, Ms. Donovan has managed to create well-rounded primary and secondary characters who are really interesting and who have real-life concerns and problems. The push-pull of the relationship between the hero and heroine seemed both realistic and romantic, the subplot concerning her "daughter" was well done, and she has a deft hand with comedy. The murder mystery, while no suprise to the reader, was a neat way of tying various plot threads together. And I even wound up liking the dog in the story, since the author gave us insights to his thoughts and made him a character in his own right (how can you not like a tiny dog who refers to his owner as "Big Alpha"?).

A Girl's Guide to Vampires
A Girl's Guide to Vampires
by Katie Macalister
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Just A Fun Book, Oct. 27 2003
If you're a fan of vampire romantic fiction, you'll enjoy this one. The basic premise is that our heroine, Joy, is accompanying her friend Roxy on a trip to the Czech Republic to try to visit a reclusive author of romantic vampire fiction and to explore whether or not vampires do exist. Joy is a disbeliever but she doesn't want Roxy to do this on her own, so she agrees to go along. Naturally, Joy is the one the vampire takes an interest in. In her acknowledgements Ms. MacAlister thanks Christine Feehan, so it's not surprising that the reclusive author's vampires have a marked tongue-in-cheek resemblance to Feehan's Carpathians, including the inclusion of a series of steps to soulmate-hood. If you like Feehan's books, you'll enjoy Roxy's obsession with the Rules of the Dark Ones.
This book was just so funny in sections that I laughed out loud. The heroine wasn't a petite little thing (a wonderful change of pace); the hero was mysterious and sexy; the setting was a nice change of pace - a GothFest in the Czech Republic; and the secondary characters were fleshed out enough to make them interesting and relevant. All and all, it was just a fun book and I enjoyed it.

Goddess Of The Sea
Goddess Of The Sea
by P Cast
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Missing A Sense Of Fun, Oct. 25 2003
If you liked the author's "Goddess By Mistake" for its sense of humor, I think that you'll be a bit disappointed by this one, like I was. The (excuse the pun) "fish out of water" scenario was done much better in that one, the dialogue was sharper and the pace was faster, and the mythology didn't overwhelm the story.
Right off the bat we're introduced to the heroine who is a sargeant in the Air Force who is afraid of flying. To me, that little quirk wasn't cute, it was annoying. Everything that happened after that was very predictable. The book seemed to be sort of an unsuccessful blending of the films "The Little Mermaid" and "Sister Act".
I think the problem with this book was that there was just too much emphasis on the whole Earth Mother relationship and not enough on the characters themselves - they were too one-dimensional, the good guys were all good, the bad guys were all bad. At times I just felt that I was being lectured to - as if the author had attended one of those "Goddess Within The Feminine"-type seminars and was determined to tell us everything she had learned. It just didn't work well because it was too heavy-handed. I kept thinking to myself as I read the book "I know that stuff already, get on with the story!".
Here's hoping that her next book is better than this one, because I like the basic premise of her stories and I think she can do a lot more with them.

Flamingo Diner
Flamingo Diner
by Sherryl Woods
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A Dissenting Voice, Oct. 18 2003
I'm going to be the odd one out here, and say that I didn't really like this book. The book played up all the emotional heartstrings, but it left me rather cold.
I found the main character, Emma, to be extremely annoying and selfish. Perhaps it's just that I have a differing viewpoint of death and suicide, but I just couldn't understand the survivor guilt. Emma's dogged pursuit for the reason behind her father's suicide, knowing full well that any verification of it would jeopardize the insurance money that her family desperately needs, just made no sense to me. I disliked the fact that she began the investigation and involved a public official in it unilaterally, never bothering to discuss her action with her mother or her siblings until after the fact. Also, coming from a family where my mother was widowed young, I had absolutely no sympathy with the mother locking herself away for weeks in her room nursing her own hurt and anger when her children needed her. My mother never behaved that way, no matter how much she was hurting. Perhaps this reflects a real-life experience, I don't know, but I could not respect the mother after that.
Regarding the romance between Emma and Matt, this was one of those situations where you have this gorgeous bad-boy who's made good type in love with a woman forever, she loves him, but she's afraid to commit to him because she has an independent life elsewhere. Nevermind that in that other life she's basically a glorified shop clerk who's never going to be able to do the job she actually wants to do, nevermind that she apparently has no social life and only a limited amount of friends. THAT life is better in her eyes than being with a man whose love she reciprocates, having her beloved family nearby, and the possiblity of owning her own antiques business. Just made me want to give her a smack upside her head.

Shadow Game
Shadow Game
by Christine Feehan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
103 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Just Say No, Oct. 13 2003
Do not waste your money on this one! There's only enough story here for a novella, but it seems as though it has been padded out in order to publish it as a novel.
Now, Feehan's Carpathian series is a guilty pleasure for me - not great literature but usually a fun read. In this book she tries to take her usual format and impose it on a real world setting involving the testing/training of an elite group of soldiers/volunteers in the paranormal arts. It doesn't work. The whole soulmates-who-are-driven-to-conjoin scenario played to the extent that Feehan does just doesn't work without the fantasy element. It becomes rather ridiculous instead of romantic.
The problem is, there's just not enough story to support the cast of characters she's created. So we get pages and pages of duplicated information (first the hero and heroine have the discussion telepathically, then they have it verbally), pages and pages of gratuitous sex (and vanilla sex at that), and glaring plot holes (we're warned several times that it's not good when the heroine has nothing to occupy the great brain of hers but there's no scene where she's put in that position; she's managed to get her doctorate yet she's so totally clueless about sex (and still "untried") that she has to order sex manuals off the internet to figure out what to do and yet she and the hero irresponsibly and consistently have unprotected sex; she's supposed to be this brilliant researcher yet we're never told what actually she's working on; the research corporation she works for, and in which her family is the majority stockholder, is practicing inhumane testing methods on the soldiers yet she doesn't do anything to pull the plug on the corporation and in fact goes to a fund-raiser to raise more money for them!)
The only bright spot in the book were the scenes with the soldiers and the dialogue between them. That's the only spot of humor in the book. The heroine almost falls into the too-stupid-to-live category, and the hero is so alpha male and possessive that you wonder how he manages to get anything done and why his team just doesn't turn on him.

Full Speed
Full Speed
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
142 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Very Pedestrian, Sept. 12 2003
This review is from: Full Speed (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is almost a waste of time. There is very little plot, very little character development, and the romantic scenes between Jamie and Max lack any kind of believable sexual tension or romance, for that matter.
I definitely disagree that this book was better than the first two. In no way, shape or form does the humor in this book match that in Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. In those books, the humor flows from one scene to the other. In this book there are only brief snippets and most of them concern Fleas, the bloodhound Jamie "buys". Any reader of Evanovich could probably pick out the few scenes she worked on. The plot is almost abysmally simple and cliched - Max and Jamie are trying to get the goods on a shady preacher, Max doesn't want Jamie to come along so that she doesn't get hurt, Jamie plays intrepid girl reporter trying to get her "big story", a mobster is blackmailing/controlling the preacher, a murder occurs, yadda yadda yadda. We've been there, done that in too many books, and there's no new twist on it in this one.
By the end of this book, I just found Jamie to be annoying and the scenes of "sexus interruptus" way too predictable and frequent. In this book, Jamie and Max are totally one-note characters lacking any kind of personal depth - if you didn't read the earlier books I don't think that you would care at all what happens to the characters. The secondary characters - the mobster, the preacher, and the sidekick - are all very stereotypical. You know it's bad when you're reading a story and you're rewriting the characters in your mind to make them more interesting.
I've always bought Evanovich's and Hughes' separate books and have enjoyed them. I'll probably continue to do so. I doubt, though, that I'll buy anymore of their Jamie Swift/Max Holt collaborations - I'm just not interested anymore.

Knock Me Off My Feet
Knock Me Off My Feet
by Susan Donovan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.99
58 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Surprise, Dec 25 2002
This was a book that I picked up on a whim while in the bookstore because I had a few extra dollars and I thought that it might be mildly entertaining. It has one of those pink cartoony covers that seems to denote a certain style of romance that is usually rather light. As a result of that impulse, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself reading a very entertaining book and discovered a new favorite author.
Autumn Adams is an unloved daughter who makes a death-bed promise to her journalist mother to carry on her helpful hints column. Audie, as she's known to her friends, has no homemaking skills whatsoever, but she is photogenic and becomes a star in her own right. Unfortunately for her, someone is planning to kill her. Into the story enters Detective Stacey Quinn, and the story traces their mutual attraction, his family, the threats on her, and the family history that has stunted her emotions.
The main characters are engaging, the dialogue is fast-paced and realistic, the secondary characters are sufficiently developed to make them interesting, and the mystery works well to drive the plot (even though I guessed early on who the bad guy was). I wound up liking the characters in the book, liking the way the relationship developed, liking their quirks and foibles. It's one of those books that once you start it, you have to finish it. And, based on the included teaser for Ms. Donovan's next book, I'll be buying that one also.

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