July 4th 2011

July’s Reads

Continuing my obsession with re-watching science fiction shows, I finished Stargate: Atlantis and started in on Stargate: Universe.  I’m up to season four in Star Trek: Deep Space 9.  I’d be farther along if I didn’t have to wait for the Netflix discs… DS9 probably won’t be out for streaming until October, at which point I will be done, done, done with that particular series.  Also, I reconnected with a whole bunch of my roleplaying buddies from CompuServe so… yeah, I spent more time writing than reading this month.

Fatal Circle by Linda Robertson: This is the third book in the Persephone Alcmedi series, wherein she makes great strides in taking up the mantle of the Lustrata. The Fairies are still out to get her… and the vampire Menessos. It’s up to Persephone, as Lustrata, to bring balance back to the world. The book left plenty of loose ends to address in another book, but not so many that I’d feel extraordinarily angry with Robertson if she didn’t write another one (though I hope she does). If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, read this series! (I’ll bet I said that before, didn’t I?)

Unseen by Rachel Caine: I have been remiss in not mentioning the Outcast Season series by Caine.  This is the third book in the series (the first two being Undone and Unknown).  This series is a tangent or companion series to the Weather Warden series.  The star of this series is Cassiel, a former Djinn, who’s been confined to human form by Ashan, leader of the Old Djinn.  Her mission — destroy all of humanity.  It’s too bad Ashan didn’t take into account the fact that turning Cassiel into a human would slowly infuse her with human compassion.  While Joanne Baldwin and others in her series are sometimes mentioned in passing, this series is all about Cassiel’s struggle to accept being human, and to find some other way than total annihilation of the human race to eliminate the evil that threatens to destroy humans, Djinn and the Mother herself.  An excellent series, and you don’t even have to have read any of the Weather Warden books to understand who the players are… another, interestingly, this book ends at a point that’s right about at the middle of the latest Weather Warden book.  Sadly, based on what appears to be her publishing schedule for this series, I’m going to have to wait another six months to read the next one.  Bummer.

Hammered: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne: The third (and, I hope, not last) book in the Iron Druid Chronicles has our Druidic hero traveling with a group of unlikely companions all bent on revenge, and killing the Norse thunder god, Thor. Given the stories they tell, Thor clearing deserves whatever he gets. The Morrigan is again predicting doom, but when isn’t she? Other recent events and their consequences are starting to catch up to Atticus, and he’s going to have to relocate once the adventure to thrash Thor has been completed.

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February 1st 2011

January’s Reads

Back to work in the new year, and that means most of my reading time is at the office while eating lunch… and on the weekends when I don’t schedule every minute away on other things.  Also, I spent more time than I normally do in front of the TV… I blame Star Trek: The Next Generation, of course.

Raven’s Shadow by Patricia Briggs: The first in a new (to me) fantasy series.  Without Briggs’ skill with creating characters, it could have turned into a fairly ordinary sword and sorcery story, but she manages to create interesting characters who aren’t really like anyone else you’ve ever met.  I’m looking forward to the next book!

Total Eclipse by Rachel Caine: This is the ninth book in the Weather Warden series, and probably the first one with a fairly calm ending.  If Caine wanted to end the series here, it would make a very satisfying conclusion.  However, if she wanted to keep going, that would be a-ok with me!  I do enjoy the adventures of the Wardens and Djinn, especially when they’re working together.

Creative Composition & Design by Pat Dews:  I watched one of Dews’ videos on creating underpaintings (or “starts”), and was completely fascinated by the process.  This book appears to be out of print, but I’m happy that the local library system has a copy for me to borrow.  It’s an interesting book, and I’ve tried out some of her techniques.  If I could find a copy at a reasonable price, I’d probably buy it just to refer back to it on a regular basis.

Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine: Here we have the eighth book in the Morganville Vampire series, wherein our heroes do something new and different… they take a trip to Dallas!  Of course the actual Dallas part of the trip is really just the epilogue of the book.  On the way to Dallas, they get to fight (and — gasp! — save) a bunch of crazy, infected vamps in another town.  Here’s the craziest part of the book… I think I’m actually starting to like Oliver.

Encaustic Workshop by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch:  Holy moly!  I had this book in my Amazon wishlist and got it for Christmas.  I love, love, LOVE this book!  There are dozens of great ideas to add variety to my artwork… not just the encaustics, but mixed media stuff, too.  Woohoo!  Gotta go run to the studio!

The Likeness by Tana French: In this somewhat-sequel to In the Woods, Cassie goes undercover to find a murderer.  But it really isn’t as simple as all that.  French writes incredibly detailed books, and the plot lines are woven together so artfully and tightly that you can’t help but applaud.  The story is fantastic… the writing is some of the best I’ve come across in years.  Also… she makes me want to visit Ireland SO badly.  It’s not often that I’m this impressed with a book (or author) outside the science fiction / fantasy genre.  In other words… go read this book!

The Vegan Scoop by Wheeler Del Torro:  There are times (granted, not often) when I crave a bowl (or half gallon) of really good ice cream.  But since I’m vegan, that’s not easy to find.  Del Torro has been good enough to share some of his experiences and recipes for making gourmet vegan ice cream.  There are a handful that I want right now.  I guess it’s time to replace that old ice cream maker that broke about 15 years ago, huh?  Even if you’re not vegan, these healthier versions of ice cream will get your mouth watering!  If I ate more ice cream than once or twice a year, I’d pick up a copy of this book to have on hand.  As it is, I’ll jot down a few of the ones I know I’d actually make and take the book back to the library.

Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann:  This book contains dozens of recipes that are geared to finicky eaters (i.e., kids) and pack easily in a lunch box for meals on the go.  Don’t let that fool you (as it almost did me)… there are also great breakfast and dinner recipes in here, too.  Though I picked up this book at the library, there are enough recipes in here that are relatively hassle-free that I may pick up a copy for my kitchen.

Vegan Recipes for All Occasions by Tony Weston and Yvonne Bishop: This book was more disappointing than the previous two.  I found only one recipe that I’d probably make more than once… a recipe for baba ganoush (mmmm, I love me some baba ganoush!).  While several of the food items looked really delicious, the recipes were far more complicated than I have patience for.  (I don’t enjoy cooking, so if something takes more than 30 minutes, or makes more than two bowls or pans dirty, it’s too much trouble for me.)  People who actually enjoy cooking would probably be more interested in this book than I was.

TrueBlood and Philosophy by George A. Dunn and Rebecca Housel (editors):  The individual authors in the collection take up the task of explaining various philosophical (classical, ethical, feminist, existential), psychological, sociological and psychological theories in terms of The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlene Harris and the HBO series True Blood.  The book is both entertaining and thought-provoking.  If you’re interested in thinking about the human condition, you’ll enjoy how these authors have tossed vampires, faeries, werewolves and shapeshifters into the mix.

Storm Cycle by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen: This was a fast-paced action-adventure novel, with a bit of Egyptian history tossed in to make it really interesting.  Oh, and there’s some medical mysteries, betrayals and saving-the-world stuff, too.  It’s hard to say much about it without giving away key points.  I certainly enjoyed it!

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January 1st 2011

December’s Reads

December brought 11 extra days off work… not bad.  Of course, it also brought a funeral and visits with out-of-town family, Christmas Eve dinner with in-town family, and the yearly “pig out on a TV show over Christmas break” festival (this year it was Star Trek: The Next Generation).  So not a whole lot of reading got done.

Fade Out by Rachel Caine: This is book eight in the Morganville Vampire series.  Claire and her pals get into — and out of — another scary situation involving vampires.  You can say that about every one of these books, but each one is just as interesting as the last.

Blood of the Demon by Diana Rowland: Here’s what I love about this series… I can get my police procedural fix (I am a Law & Order junkie, after all) and my otherworldly weird things fix all in the same book.  This time, we meet the creepiest vampire ever and some new fae.  Ah, and the walking stick is still following Merry around.

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs: This is book four in the Mercedes Thompson series; each one just gets better and better.

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs:  This is a wee little novella that introduces the concept of the Omega werewolf, and the character of Anna.  Oh yes… I’ve got the library looking for the next book.  I never fail to get thrown by Briggs’ description of the Marrok (the alpha of the all the Alphas) as a kid in his early 20s.

A Lick of Frost by Laurell K. Hamilton: This is the sixth book in the Merry Gentry series, and she’s finally pregnant.  And there were only two sex scenes in this book, which meant there was a lot of action.  I like that.  We also got to see just how bat-shit crazy her uncle — the King of the Seelie Court — is.

Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton:  And the seventh book in the Merry Gentry series… again, with less sex and more action, which is the way I prefer them.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the sex… but if that’s all the story is about, then it isn’t terribly interesting.  So many things happen in this book, it’s like Hamilton was making up for the books that were nothing but sex.  There’s even an fairly happy ending.  Of course, since there’s at least one more book after this, there’s bound to be more unrest ahead of Merry.  Her aunt lost the crown of the Unseelie (it seems Fairie thought Merry should have it, but she gave it back to save Frost… aww, isn’t that sweet?), her psychopathic cousin is dead, but her bat-shit crazy uncle is still around.  Stay tuned for book eight.

Divine Misdemeanors by Laurell K. Hamilton:  In the eighth book of the series, Hamilton is back to throwing in a little more sex than is strictly necessary to forward the plot.  However, there was a fairly good plot tracking down a fae serial killer.

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs: The fifth (and latest) book in the Mercy Thompson series in which Mercy attempts to return that book she borrowed from the old bookshop owner several books back.  The problem is that there are some really nasty fae type trying to find it, and Mercy has to keep it from them.  Also, the unrest in the pack over Mercy’s inclusion comes to a head.  Hell of a fun ride!

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs: The first full novel in the Alpha and Omega series has Charles and Anna off to find a rogue werewolf in the mountains of Montana.  They find something even worse.

Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton: This is the 17th (and latest) book in the Anita Blake series.  In this one, Anita is off to Las Vegas to hunt down a vampire serial killer and teams up with fellow US Marshalls Ted (Edward), Otto (Olaf) and Bernardo.  She also gets into more trouble with men.  What else is new?  Also?  Marmee Noir has a starring role, as well.

The Urban Vegan by Dynise Balcavage:  Despite the fact that I don’t cook much, sometimes a cookbook catches my eye and I just have to have it.  There are a lot of recipes in here that I plan to try out on my chorus mates at our potluck dinners, and even a few I can try on the family.  There are others that I’d like to try, too… but they make a whole lot more food than one person can reasonably eat.

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December 1st 2010

November’s Reads

The obsession with crosswords seems to have abated slightly, and with the long Thanksgiving weekend I had a little more time to read.  Of course, this month I also caught up on Seasons 2 and 3 of Eureka, watched a whole lot of Law & Order, and performed in two choral concerts, which took time away from reading.  Oooh, look… in December, I have a whole WEEK off!

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: I had heard from a few people that this was a good book to read, so I thought I’d give it a go.  The first few chapters were slow, but by chapter 4, I was hooked and could barely put it down.  Yes, yes… read it if you like mysteries!

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs: My new friend, Dee, told me about Briggs and said I should start with this book.  Whoa, Nellie!  Why had I not ever heard of Briggs before?  If you like urban fantasy and werewolves, you gotta read this one!

A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton:  I’ve read Hamilton’s entire Anita Blake series and have no idea why I haven’t picked up her Mercedes Gentry series before this.  But, again thanks to Dee, I read the whole book in a single day.  Yes.  It was that good.

Kindred in Spirit by J.D. Robb:  Another fine murder mystery featuring NYSP homicide detective Eve Dallas.  I have enjoyed every one of Robb’s (aka Nora Roberts) Eve Dallas mysteries.  Robb just released another one last week, but then I’ll be all caught up.  That makes me sad, because Eve Dallas has got to be one of my favorite cops in fiction.

Cape Storm by Rachel Caine:  This is the eighth book in Caine’s Weather Warden series.  Again, we find Joanne on the wrong end of the stick, getting beaten and battered while trying to save the world.  She and David do get to finish their wedding vows though… eventually.  If you’ve read the other books in the series, you should read this one, too!  And if you haven’t read the others… what are you waiting for?

In the Woods by Tana French:  Ok, you had me at “Dublin.”  I’m a sucker for anything set in Ireland, and I’m especially pleased when the story turns out to be as good as this one.  You’ve got a psychopath and a murder and and old case of missing (and presumed dead) children all crashing together in Knocknaree, outside Dublin.  It’s a book with precise writing, full of details… so it’s not one to just skim through.  It’s well worth the read, and I’ve got the other two books in the series on my TBR list!

A Caress of Twilight by Laurell K. Hamilton:  The is the second in the Mercedes Gentry series, in which Merry and her band of merry men (heh heh heh) find and do away with some Really Bad Nasty Things.  Also, even more impressive, Merry is learning how to stand up against both the Queen of the Unseelie Court and the King of the Seelie Court.  The next one is waiting for me at the library!

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs: This is the second in the Mercy Thompson series, and every bit as good as the first one.  I’ve already started the next one and the one after that has been requested from the library.  Gads, how I love my library system!

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs:  Book three in the Mercy Thompson series, and they just keep getting better.  I hope book four arrives at the library soon!

Seduced by Moonlight by Laurell K. Hamilton: The third book in the Merry Gentry series (the theme this month is obviously urban fantasy).  Paralleling the Anita Blake series, Merry seems to grow more powerful in each book.  This time around, she survives two (or was it three?) assassination attempts and wins a duel with another fae.  What kind of trouble will you get into in the next book?

A Stroke of Midnight by Laurell K. Hamilton:  The fourth book in the Merry Gentry series… and Merry is doing some serious work channeling the Goddess.  There was actually a mystery to solve, but they only got halfway done with the solving of it.  It’s interesting how an author can write 366 pages and only cover a couple of days.

Mistral’s Kiss by Laurell K. Hamilton: The fifth book in the Merry Gentry series…  Merry brings magic back to the sithen.  I picked this book up at 4pm from the library and finished it around 9pm.  Yes, it’s that good.

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November 1st 2010

October’s Reads

October brought two out-of-town trips… a chorus retreat over a long weekend where fewer than usual books were read, and a week-long work-related training excursion where there was little to do besides read when I wasn’t in class.  But I seem to have been obsessed with doing crossword puzzles this month, so I didn’t wind up reading as many books as I otherwise might have.

Big Jack by J. D. Robb:  Another of the early ones that I missed… this one was right after Peabody made detective.  The bantering between Dallas and Peabody is completely mag, as Peabody or McNabb might say.  And I think this catches me up… I’ve now read all of the Eve Dallas books that have been published.

The Angel by Carla Neggers:  In search of some new authors on PaperbackSwap, I ran across Carla Neggers and requested this book.  It’s well-written and has lots of Irish and Ireland connections.  I liked it enough to request the other books in the series.

Compelling Evidence by Steve Martini: The first in the Paul Madriani series.  It’s not as well put together as some of the later ones, but certainly a good first effort!

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood:  Her latest dystopian novel is easily as good as her previous ones.  There is some overlap of characters between this book and Oryx and Crake, but it’s not necessary to have read the earlier book to enjoy this one.  I am a fan of Atwood, so this one is highly recommended!

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde:  His best so far!  Fforde has created a world where no one can see the full spectrum of color, and some people don’t see color at all.  The social constructs of such a world are fascinating to see laid out before us.  Add to it all a bit of a mystery, young lady who doesn’t exactly follow the rules and a young man who asks too many questions, and you have another book I’ll highly recommend!

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer:  A YA novel whose premise intrigued me.  It’s very well written, and I can see the pre-teen crowd thoroughly enjoying it.

The Widow by Carla Neggers:  This book precedes The Angel and gives the whole story of Detective Abigail Browning.  It’s a good mystery, despite the mushy romantic stuff.  ;)  I’d recommend reading them in the proper order.

Carpe Corpus by Rachel Caine:  This is the sixth book in the Morganville Vampires series, and I must say that each one gets better than the previous.  Unlike vampires that sparkle, Rachel Caine’s vampires are downright vicious.  While that doesn’t bode well for the residents of Morganville, Texas, as least it’s doing a good job of washing the bad taste I still have in my mind from those Twilight books that I read last year.

Holly and Homicide by Leslie Caine:  The seventh book in the Domestic Bliss mystery series is just as fun and silly as the previous six books.  People die, crazy stuff happens and the mystery is finally solved.  This sort of thing seems to follow Erin Gilbert around like a plague for the past seven books; no doubt the “curse” will continue.  It’s a fun and quick read, and I recommend the series.

Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman: The subtitle of the book is Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them).  Many of the contradictions were not news to me.  The most fascinating part of the book was Ehrman’s discussion of the early days of Christianity, trying to answer the question of how Christianity developed in the first four centuries after Jesus’ death.  As a comparative religion student, I found that discussion even more interesting than the list of contradiction.  This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in looking at the Bible in an historical context.

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September 12th 2010

Update

Bad, bad, bad.  Look how long it’s been since I’ve updated.  Eleven friggin’ months.  And the books I’ve read since then!  Holy moly!  Here they are (at least the ones I remembered to record), pretty much in the order in which I read them.  I’d say read them all (except for the ones noted as not worth the time)!  Most are mystery or science fiction or urban fantasy, with a few other categories thrown in for variety.  Like spice.

Wolf Hunting by Jane Lindskold
Wolf’s Blood by Jan Lindskold
A Grave Talent by Laurie R. King
125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson (highly recommended)
To Play the Fool by Laurie R. King
Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn
The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu
Night Work by Laurie R. King
The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King
Darkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu
Mermaid’s Madness by Jim C. Hines
Promises in Death by J. D. Robb
Queen of Dragons by Shana Abé
The Dream Thief by Shana Abé
The Godmother by Carrie Adams
But I Trusted You by Ann Rule
Death by Inferior Design by Leslie Caine
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Saint City Sinners by Lilith Saintcrow
Power Play by Joseph Finder
Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Hand of Evil by J. A. Vance
The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen
The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine
Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine
False Premises by Leslie Caine
Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton (highly recommended)
Death by Inferior Design by Leslie Caine
Manor of Death by Leslie Caine
Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
Killed by Clutter by Leslie Caine
Fatal Feng Shui by Leslie Caine
Creative Paint Workshop by Ann Baldwin
The Last Pope by Luis Miguel Rocha
B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton (as you will see, I’m rereading this series)
Learning to Stand by Claudia Hall Christian (highly recommended, as are her other books)
C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton
D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton
Justice Denied by J. A. Vance
Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn
Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn
Poisoned by Gilt by Leslie Caine
To Hell and Back by Lilith Saintcrow
Blood Sins by Kay Hooper
Guilty as Sin by Tami Hoag
Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
The Creative Edge by Mary Todd Beam
E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton
F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton
G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton
H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton
I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton
J is for Judgment by Sue Grafton
K is for Killer by Sue Grafton
L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton
M is for Malice by Sue Grafton
N is for Noose by Sue Grafton
O is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton
Mark of the Demon Diana Rowland
Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine
First Family by David Baldacci
Blood Ties by Kay Hooper
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
P is for Peril by Sue Grafton
Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
S is for Silence by Sue Grafton
T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
Partnership by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball
Poison Sleep by T. A. Pratt
The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (if you like True Blood, you should read her books!)
You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
The First 48 by Tim Green
Fire Me Up by Katie MacAlister
Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (American history + vampires = WIN)
Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow
Almost Dead by Lisa Jackson
The Camel Club by David Baldacci
Holy Smokes by Katie MacAlister
Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts (excellent!)
Fatal Cure by Robin Cook (don’t bother)
U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton
Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
18 Seconds by George D. Shuman
Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills (good,  but not as good as his previous books)
The Final Planet by Andrew M. Greeley
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
Fantasy in Death by J. D. Robb
Intervention by Robin Cook (his worse ever – DO NOT READ)
The Arraignment by Steve Martini

I have this plan to update more regularly.  If I commit to once a month, I might just be able to do it.  I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?

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December 22nd 2008

Gale Force

This is the latest book in the adventures of Joanne Baldwin, Weather Warden.  As usual, Joanne gets herself into more trouble that the average person.  Of course, since she’s once of the top Wardens around, she’s not exactly the average person.

This time around, Joanne gets to save the world from some very bad people who are trying to destroy the Djinn, the Wardens and, oh what the heck, how about the entire planet?  It turns out that one of her friends is one of the very bad people.  I didn’t see that one coming.

Ah… and despite some major opposition from Ashan, Joanne and David actually get married.

Ok, so now I just need to know when the next one is being published.

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February 16th 2008

Thin Air

Thin AirYou know, I’d hate to be an awesome car in Joanne Baldwin’s world. She kills cars. Well… no. She doesn’t kill cars. She loves her cars. But cars tend to get killed around her. Poor things.

Joanne lost her memories to a Demon (bad, bad Ashan!), and this is the story of how she kicks butt to get her life back.

And damn it, now I have to wait til August 2008 until the next book in the series, Gale Force, is published. Arrrrrgggghhhhh!
 
 
 
 

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February 15th 2008

Chill Factor

Chill FactorOk! Got caught up on all the excitement in Las Vegas that is alluded to in Books 4 and 5. And in usual Caine fashion, we had a wide ride along the way!

I’ve got one more in the series to read… and it makes me wonder how many of these Ms. Caine is planning to write. Because I could keep reading them until she gets tired of writing them.
 
 
 
 

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January 30th 2008

Firestorm

FirestormYee ha! This latest book from Rachel Caine is one hell of a wild ride! The end of the world is coming and it’s up to Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin to save the day… with the help of a few friends, and the hinderance of some bad guys.

The next book in the series had better be available, because she just leaves poor Joanne… ok, no spoilers. But the next book better be available.

Amazon Associate link:
Firestorm
 

 

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