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The Eye of the Beholder - Anne Wentworth, Elizabeth Darcy,  Nicole Ciacchella I'm torn between 3 and 4 for this one. I liked this book and the writing was very good and it kept me reading, but something felt off. I think it was that I wasn't drawn into the story by the characters, feeling a bit like an outsider throughout the story.
Sweet Madness - Heather Snow This is a lovely book. It's not all sweet: it deals with things that are harsh and heartbreaking. But that is all balanced, actually overtaken, by warmth, decency, generosity, and, of course, love.

The story has depth. This is about two people who, while still young, each had hard, tragic experiences, and then worked to move on with their lives. They followed their instincts and found ways to cope. They've done much good helping others but in doing so have neglected their own healing. It's together, as a couple, helping and caring for each other, that they will now begin to fully heal.

And the romance is well done. Penelope and Gabriel are both strong, intelligent, and admirable people. Their romance never feels forced or false; the author shows us its natural progression from the very start of her story.

This is the third book of a series but the first book I've read by the Heather Snow (definitely not the last). I t never seemed like I was missing anything at all in the story jumping into the series at this point. The story grabbed me from the start and held me til the end.
Chill Run - Russell Brooks Chill Run centers around an aspiring author, Eddie Barrow, Jr. He's been sending out manuscripts but getting only rejections back so far. He hasn't given up on his dream, though, and when his friends suggest trying a risque publicity stunt with the idea of getting publishers to take notice of his manuscript, he decides to give it a go. Then the stunt backfires and Eddie and his friends end up on the run, trying to solve a murder that's been falsely pinned on them. We learn about Eddie's family and friendships, and follow his group along as they investigate the murders in order to exonerate themselves.

Overall, this is good read. As with Brooks' first novel there are twists in the plot, a lot of details to give the book some depth, and good dialogue. The book moves right along, and you want to know what happens next. I liked Eddie and his friends but I also was very annoyed at Eddie and his family at times. And then I felt Eddie had matured by the end of the book. This all means he's realistic, someone you might meet sometime; his world is the everyday one we live in, despite his getting caught up in a fantastic episode. That is a testament to the writing.

A brief aside: the novel features a fictional governor of New Hampshire and his wife. Just to be clear, our governor is not that sensational here in the Granite State. And I'm not sure we want one that is :-).

Note: I was sent an advance copy to review but I wasn't compensated or pressured about what to write.
Gods Behaving Badly: A Novel - Marie Phillips This book was a lot of fun. I love reading about Greek and Roman mythology in modern settings, and in ancient times, but this book is about modern times.

It's the August #1b140 Twitter book club selection, under the theme of "beach read". I'm so glad I participate in that, so that I found this. :-)
Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel I really don't know what I think of this book. From a bit I read, that might be fine with the author, so maybe I'll leave it at that :-)
Unsavory Delicacies - Russell Brooks Russell Brooks sent me an advance copy of his latest book, Unsavory Delicacies, a set of three short stories, to read and review. I read his action/suspense spy novel, Pandora's Succession, a while back and posted a review here.

Unsavory Delicacies contains three short stories with the common thread of fine food and fine dining. The stories are very well crafted; I enjoy Russell's writing style and I think it's even better here than in his first book.

The first and third stories involve the hero of Pandora's Succession, Ridley Fox, and it was fun to see him again. He is such a great character in Pandora's Succession and these stories just add to my good opinion of him. I think these stories will also serve as an introduction to the man for new readers. They include a bit of Fox's background, just enough to catch up a new reader and still not drag down the stories.

The middle story is standalone. It's a tale with a twist. I was primed for that by a quip Russell made in sending me the review copy, but that didn't hurt it for me. I'll just say it isn't all sugar and spice, so be warned.

Note: as I said, I was sent an advance copy to review but I wasn't compensated or pressured about what to write.
Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One - Sharon Lathan Just not my cuppa Austen.

The constant concentration on Darcy and Elizabeth's rapturous sex life was overdone and quickly became tedious.

I thought the author's writing style was fine. That and the interesting passages outside of the bedroom are what kept me reading. But I probably should have read a few reviews before plunging in.
Pandora's Succession - Russell Brooks My rating is really more a 3.5, but that's not a criticism.

This is an spy/action/suspenseful thriller with some science (or maybe SF) thrown in. It's not a genre I generally read; not sure it's one I've ever read before, in fact. Don't think it's going to get me to start reading a ton of action thrillers now but I enjoyed this ride.

The story moves along quickly and is an easy read (I took a while to read it because of other pulls on my time, not due to the book). Our hero is a super(b) spy type and very likable. He goes from one tense situation to another, sometimes getting out of a jam on his own, sometimes with help. There are dastardly villain types, and they come from multiple opposing camps, which helps keep the action going and makes for a more complex and interesting storyline. A lot of research went into the development here: there are a technical details included, often helping keep the fantastic story plausible, though I found they made things drag a bit a few times, too.

I did notice a few glitches in the text; seemed like a word was missing a few times and in one spot seemed like a few words might be missing. This could be due to errors in the Nook version (conversion errors?), and it didn't bother me too much. There also seemed a few times when the flow of the writing bogged down, but mostly it just moved along.
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen Wonderful, as always.
Dexter by Design - Jeff Lindsay Glad to say the book series is back on its excellent track. Can't ignore the element from last book that I didn't like totally, but it's been downplayed enough for me. And I noticed that this book has a lot of passages that gave me mental chuckles. It had a good tone overall. Still it's not for the very squeamish, none of the books are.
Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman Very satisfying book. It has a lighter tone than American Gods and reminds me of summer breezes. It really does.
American Gods - Neil Gaiman I think it's really more a 4.5 but it's a great read. Now I need to go brush up on some of the pantheons.

Reading it a second time now as part of the #1b1t thing on twitter. Also learning more about the pantheons :-). And reading Anansi Boys alongside this time.

Added June 14, 2010:
Finished it this weekend; enjoyed it even more this time. The #1b1t discussions helped me find a lot more depth in the story.
Alvin Journeyman - Orson Scott Card Another good book in a fine series. So far, I've enjoyed them all. On to the next one: Heartfire.
Monkey See - Walt Maguire First off, this book is worth reading. The style reminds me of Dave Barry and Richard Armor. It's a funny book. I've seen reviews calling it a novel, but I'm not sure about that. It's more of a long humorous essay, some of it satire on mores and sensibilities, modern society, science, and relationships, with a SF B movie plot underlying it all. I enjoyed the humor and the unconventional construction (it's part story, part manual, with illustrations and tables, too!). It certainly is different from most of the books I've been reading :-).
Callahan's Con (The Place, #2) - Spider Robinson I've seen a few reviews that note this is more of the same of the Callahan books, but I've only read one before now, a collection of very early short stories, maybe the first of the Cross-Time Saloon stories, and that was several years ago. So this was all new to me. I was able to follow it all, even though I've obviously missed a lot of the history of the characters. It was a fun read for me, though sometimes I felt like an outsider looking in, wondering about the books I've missed. This isn't a deep book, just a fun read about a tight group of interesting characters.
Dexter in the Dark - Jeff Lindsay So far, book 2 is my favorite Dexter book. This one added some elements to Dexter's universe that I'm not thrilled with (but won't list as they are spoilery). Weird because they are generally my cuppa tea, but here I would rather they were absent. Still, the writing remains top notch, the elements don't ruin things totally, and the book was a fun read. But I truly hope Lindsay drops this new direction and gets back to basic Dexter. I'm also very glad the TV series hasn't adopted this element.