The difference between a 9 and a 10 is not always definable. I can finish a book, love it, think about the score—and just not be able to give it the top. There’s an element that’s ephemeral, and very personal, but somehow, a 10 transcends even excellence and touches me somehow. I’m sorry the book is over.
That was the case with all of these:
The Comeback Kiss
Lani Diane Rich
I got several of her books at signings at RWA National in July. Two were okay. Her book previous to this one, Maybe Baby, got a 9. This one went over the top because of the hero. I love good men who try to convince everyone else they’re not. I have to wait until next FALL for the next one, according to the excerpt at the back. Luckily, she has another from another publisher sooner. But you’d never know it from her web site, which hasn’t been updated since April. Very annoying. She didn’t e-mail me back when I e-mailed her to “complain” (i.e. gush all over her about how wonderful this book is). Maybe because I’d also seen some things on her group author blog that made me gush about “how much we’re alike, like, ohmigod!” I probably scared her.
This was a near-flawless book. The hero revealed his secret too soon, I thought, and some backstory got dumped in the beginning, but the action and tension were so taught, from page one, I never wanted to put it down. I guess sometimes a book can totally transcend its flaws.
This one kept me guessing with questions about the murderer, the hirer of the assassin, where the son went, and who the hero would be. I would love to read more by this author, but more like THIS. She has cozy mysteries (too tame for me most of the time) and Five Star books (wayyyy too expensive for me) so I’ll be on the lookout for her future stuff.
Born in Death
What I love about these books is that the author is so true to the characters’ voices and personalities, and that she incrementally grows them so they are never stagnant, never stale. I don’t read her Nora Roberts books anymore, but I can’t get enough of these.
Haunted in Death
A lead novella in the anthology “Bump in the Night,” this is the weakest of JD Robb’s offerings only because it’s very difficult to accept Eve Dallas going along with the whole haunting thing. If you love paranormal (and I do), it’s easy to get over. (Okay, it's also "weakest" because it's short.)
I don’t know why I liked this one best of the first four. I don’t know why I like these books at all, actually. I find that urban fantasy really appeals to me, and I love Harry Dresden, but I don’t generally like “dark” worlds, and this is the darkest of the ones I've read. Somehow, though, it gripped me and wouldn’t let me go. It will be interesting to see how he ups the stakes from “end of the world” in the next books.
This book and the next one are why authors MUST keep their web sites up to date. I couldn’t put this down. The subtitle (the secret life of a demon-hunting soccer mom) says it all. This is what they mean by “chick lit.” It’s funny, exciting, adventurous, and we can identify with the heroine despite the paranormal world she lives in. I wasn’t entirely happy with the choice she made at the end, but it was the only one she COULD make and it made me ravenous for the next book. Of which there was no mention on JK’s web site. Drove me insane. Luckily, she e-mailed me back when I wrote to her. I only have to wait until July. :)
Don't Look Down
First book of a collaboration. I always loved Jennie Crusie’s writing, if not her writing philosophies (I scoff at “never ever ever ever on pain of being labeled A Bad Writer change point of view in a scene!” for example.) I started reading their joint blog about how they came to collaborate on this book because they are both very funny. And so is this book. More than that, it is a PERFECT example of my ideal genre: romantic adventure, as their publisher labels it.
The above two books are going to be difficult to get. These are stellar examples of what Bombshell was supposed to be, and usually was. Strong women, strong men, exciting stories, compelling worlds. It kills me that the line is gone, especially when I remember books like these, and all the ones that won’t get published.
Firefly Official Companion
This is all about the first half of the series, with scripts and behind-the-scenes stuff. Awesome and necessary for any Browncoat.
I have enjoyed Evanovich’s new NASCAR series, but not nearly as much as her Plum books. No one tops Grandma Mazur, and Ranger is to die for. Yes, I said it. TO. DIE. FOR.
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
This book is the first of a series about a high school student in a private school that raises girls to be spies. They are exactly what I wish I could have been.
City of Cries
I don’t have a link for this one. It turns out it was a Science Fiction Book Club original. It takes place in her Skolian Empire world, I think. I haven’t read her other books that weren’t Lunas.
The Gate to Eden
I don’t usually read historicals, and because they’re not my first choice, it took me a little while to pick this up and read it. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit (not like you don’t already know) she’s one of my fellow authors in The Gab Wagon. I’ve known her for many years, at least since we were both newly published by Avid Press in 2000. But I have not always rated her other books a 10. :) This book had the kind of spunky-yet-not-anachronistic heroine I love, and a hero worthy of her.
This is second in a series that also has a novella in an anthology. The worldbuilding in this is awesome, urban fantasy with talented heroine and intriguing potential hero. I would like more romance, but it’s the rare story that (to me)didn’t need it.
The Phoenix Law
Cate Dermody is CE Murphy. I e-mailed her to complain. if I’m about to read a CE Murphy book I know that I’m not going to do much else, and I plan accordingly. The first two books of this trilogy were good, but not as good as the CE Murphy books. This one sucked me in from the first page. I say get the whole series, but this does stand alone, and has a very satisfying resolution. Totally spy.