Sunday 31 January 2010

CBR2 Book 25: "Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox" by Eoin Colfer

Publisher: Puffin
Page count: 430 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Date begun: January 29th, 2010
Date finished: January 31st, 2010


This is the sixth book in the series about Artemis Fowl, criminal mastermind and boy genius. I would not recommend anyone interested in reading these books to start with book 6, as while they are quite self-contained, they do reference things that have gone before, and it's nice to see the development of Artemis and the other characters.

Artemis Fowl's beloved mother is dying from a mysterious illness that seems magical in origin. Terrifyingly, it may have been Artemis himself that gave it to her, having tried to bespell his parents into forgetting to be curious about where he has been for the past three years, and why he is still clearly fourteen when he should be seventeen. In a particularly ironic twist, it also turns out that the only cure exists in the brain of a lemur Artemis himself made extinct nearly eight years ago. Now the only way to save his mother is for Artemis and his former enemy, now close friend, fairy police captain Holly Short, to go back in time and face off against Artemis' probably most challenging adversary yet - his younger, much more evil self.

The plan is for Holly and Artemis to pop back in time (they can stay a maximum of three days), grab the lemur before young Artemis has time to sell the poor animal to a group of Extinctionists and be back in no time. Of course, the mission does not go as smoothly as expected, and there are quite a few complications along the way, which further develop Artemis and Holly's by now complex relationship, and threaten to create various time paradoxes along the way.

While not the best of the Artemis Fowl books (which I realized as I was reading this that I really do need to get around to rereading), The Time Paradox was still entertaining and a good read. I always preferred the Artemis Fowl books to the Harry Potter books (at least after the first three in the latter series) as they are shorter, more fun, much more tightly paced, and Colfer clearly has the benefit of an editor that tells him when to edit out huge chunks of passages where NOTHING happens and doesn't just let him run riot because he's the publisher's biggest cash cow. By now, Colfer has a solid main and supporting cast in the book, and his world is well fleshed out. The Time Paradox also contains a short story at the end which reveals how Holly came to be the first female LEPrecon Captain, which was a fun extra. Apparently the seventh book is out in June, and as the series is still enjoyable, I'm looking forward to checking it out in future.

Thursday 28 January 2010

"Villette" on hold

Vaguely inspired by reading The Jane Austen Book Club I was going to try to read slightly more worthy literature than I normally aspire to when I'm working. So I decided to start Charlotte Brontë's Villette, as the general consensus seems to be that it's even better than Jane Eyre, which I love.

However, reading a 150+-year old book takes a lot more energy than reading the sort of fairly light-hearted fluff I normally choose to read during term time, as teaching just takes so much out of me intellectually at work. I just don't have the energy to slog through classical literature now, especially since by chapter 14 of the novel, nothing much of consequence appears to have happened. With so many other books out there to read and blog about, I think I will put Villette on hold for the time being, and see if I feel like picking it up again during the summer holidays, when I tend to have a lot more motivation for that sort of literature. I doubt I will try reading Mansfield Park before then, either.

In other news, my new handmade black leather cover for my Reader arrived. It has a Chinese dragon on it, and a pewter clasp, and it's gorgeous. I will post a picture of it later.

CBR2 Book 24: "Fallen" by Lauren Kate

Publisher: Delacorte Books
Page count: 464 pages
Rating: 2 stars
Date begun: January 26th, 2010
Date finished: January 28th, 2010

After her boyfriend dies in a mysterious and suspicious fire, 17-year-old Luce is sent to reform school. Since Luce isn't sure she isn't partially to blame for his death, she accepts that she may belong there. The school is rather dismal, but shortly after arriving, she falls head over heels for the broody and aloof Daniel, who seems to like her one minute and completely blow her off the next. The charming and personable Cam seems to be vying for her attention as well, but no matter how inviting he acts, Luce can't get her mind off the stand-offish Daniel.

Meanwhile, she is terrified of letting any of the other pupils at the school know why she got sent there, and is worried by the increasing frequency with which she sees the shadows. She befriends Penn, the only girl who voluntarily goes to the school because she's an orphan and has no other choice, and the two try to find out more about the mysterious Daniel and why he's at the school. After being involved in yet another seemingly shadow-caused fire, where one of Luce's classmates perish, Luce is starting to worry even more. She's also puzzled over why she feels that she's met Daniel before, and why he occasionally seems like he knows her a little too well.

Fallen is clearly partially written to appeal to the Twilight audience. It features an academically inclined young girl caught in a love triangle with two gorgeous guys. All three main players in the triangle are a lot more appealing than Bella, Edward and Jacob, however, and while the plot drags out a bit, and the reader frequently knows more about what is going on than Luce does (thanks to a prologue from Daniel's POV) and quite a lot of blatant hints about angels, I didn't actually mind the book. It's a decent enough young adult paranormal romance, and I especially want to find out more about the charismatic Cam, who generally appealed a lot more to me than Daniel, so I think I will definitely give the sequel a try, when it comes out in September.

Friday 22 January 2010

CBR2 Book 23: "The Jane Austen Book Club" by Karen Joy Fowler

Publisher: Penguin Books
Page count: 288 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Date begun: January 19th, 2010
Date finished: January 21st, 2010

This is the first book I bought as a direct result of the Cannonball Read, having read a review of it published on Pajiba (all thanks to Caroline's good review of it). The book is divided into six sections, preceded by a prologue introducing the characters, and followed by an epilogue. In each section one of Jane Austen's novels is read and discussed by the six members of the book club, but very little exploration of Austen's novels really take place. Instead, each section lets us get to know the various members of the little book club better. The book jumps back and forth between the present (where the characters are preparing for or participating in the book club) and the past (where we find out their various back stories). Sometimes this annoyed me a bit, but all in all, the book was sweet. This is probably also one of the few books where the suggested discussion questions have entertained and amused me more than annoy me.

I love Jane Austen, and feel a bit ashamed to say that I have yet to read all of her novels. I have yet to read Mansfield Park, because everyone says it's the one with the dullest hero and heroine, and while The Jane Austen Book Club was not the sort of book that completely sucks me in and makes me sorry I have to put it down to do some work or go to the gym or make my dinner, it did entertain me, and did make me resolved that before 2010 is out I will have read the final Austen novel.

I finished the book this afternoon, and also watched the movie adaptation. While a lot of it was very well done (although I get the impression they cast at least three of the characters much younger than they are in the book), I really hated the changes they made to Prudie's story and especially the idiot they turned her husband into. I did not think Prudie's character or story development in the book was such that it needed to be dramatically altered to create phony tension in the film. Yet another case where the book is in the end, better than the movie adaptation.

Thursday 21 January 2010

CBR2 Book 22: "Tempted All Night" by Liz Carlyle

Publisher: Pocket Books
Page count: 448 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Date begun: January 17th, 2010
Date finished: January 18th, 2010

Lady Phaedra Northampton is in a shop trying to find information about her maid's missing sister when a Russian staggers through the door and falls at her feet with a knife buried in his back. Her family do not want the event publicised, and since Phaedra's older stepbrother is a powerful man, they keep the news out of the papers.

Tristan Talbot, Viscount Avoncliffe, is a rakish and handsome layabout, pretty much only concerned with pleasuring as many married women as possible. He has always had a strained relationship with his father and his extended family, as his mother was of Spanish peasant stock and his father's relatives never approved of her, and frequently questioned whether he was the Earl's true heir. When his father, who seems to be indispensable to the governing of the country, needs his help in getting to the bottom of the death of the mysterious Russian, and what may be a large spy plot against the British government, he is very reluctant to help - but can't refuse, as his father is on his death bed.

Sparks fly as soon as Tristan and Phaedra are in the same room. Phaedra's friend Zoë is acquainted with Tristan, and delighted that the frivolous rake seems truly interested in a woman of substance for a change. There are secrets in Phaedra's past, however, and reasons why she so desperately wants and needs to find her maid's missing sister. She is greatly attracted to Tristan, but feels that they can have no long term future, and she is determined to live a quiet, secluded life and never marry, no matter how good she feels when she's with him.

This is the third novel by Liz Carlyle that I have read, and I was delighted to discover that Phaedra was the younger sister of the hero of Never Lie to a Lady, my favourite of Carlyle's novels so far. While characters that have appeared in previous of Carlyle's novels do appear, the book can be read without any previous knowledge of the author's books. The book had a more serious tone than the other Carlyle novels I've read so far, although neither of her books are as fluffy and light hearted as some of the Julia Quinn romances I so greatly enjoy. Phaedra has a dark past and issues that are unusual for a Regency romance heroine, but Tristan is such a great hero for her, with complexities of his own, and the book is a great read.

Monday 18 January 2010

CBR2 Book 21: "Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie" by Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Flux
Page count: 360 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: January 12th, 2010
Date finished: January 16th, 2010

James Morgan has accepted a place at the prestigious Thornking-Ash Academy for gifted musicians, mainly because he wanted to be close to his best friend Dee (whose story is told in Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception), who he has a big crush on. James is cynical, slightly arrogant, and can play the bagpipes so well the teachers at the school are uncertain what they can offer him. He attracts the attention of Nuala, one of the leanan sídhe, a fairy who acts as a muse to artists in return for some of their life-force. Nuala's former beneficiaries all lived brief, but brilliant lives. Unlike the men Nuala formerly inspired, however, James recognizes exactly what she is, and refuses to take the deal she offers him, no matter how tempting Nuala makes it seem.

After a while at the school, it is very obvious to James that something strange is going on, both with the faculty of the school, and beyond the school grounds. Every night he can hear the Horned King sing a mournful song, his friend Dee is getting more and more distant, and his relationship to Nuala changes as more and more faeries who have had contact with humans end up dead.

This is the third book I've read by Maggie Stiefvater, and it's probably my second favourite. Lament still holds the top spot, as a book that made me ache with joy when I read it. James is introduced in that book, but then as a supporting character. It was lovely to get to know him better, and see things from his point of view in this book. He is fiercely intelligent, very talented and deeply loyal to his friends. He worries about Dee, and about the new friends he makes at Thornking-Ash. He hides his deep emotion under a veneer of sarcasm and wit, which is not always appreciated by those around him.

On the basis of her two books about faeries and one about werewolves, I so far prefer her faeries. Her faeries are the dark and sinister kind, that play with the lives of mortals for sport and amusement, who use them for their own ends. To catch the attention of said faeries is not a happy thing. I suspect Ballad could be read independently from Lament, but as the events in this novel follow on from the former, it gives back story and added depth to the characters if one has read Lament first.

CBR2 Book 20: "Heat Wave" by Richard Castle

Publisher: Hyperion
Page count: 208 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Date begun: January 10th, 2010
Date finished: January 11th, 2010

The first novel in Richard Castle's new mystery series features NYPD homicide detective Nikki Heat, who is tough, sexy and determined to bring murderers to justice. Heat is none to pleased to be saddled magazine journalist Jameson Rook trailing her on cases, as research on his new in-depth article on the NYPD. A real-estate magnate has been murdered, and Nikki Heat has to weed through the numerous suspects while trying not to get to exasperated by (or attracted to) the smart-ass writer accompanying her on the job.

Heat Wave is the tie-in novel to ABC's mystery series Castle and apparently written by the main character of said show, Richard Castle. I have been unable to find out who ghostwrote the book, but as a piece of marketing it's wonderful. The book ended up at #6 on the New York Times best seller list, and feels exactly like the sort of book you'd imagine Castle actually writes. The plot plays out pretty much like an episode of the show, the only big difference of course being that the leads in the book actually hook up - something Castle and Beckett have yet to do on TV. Even the supporting characters are pretty recognisable from the TV show. If you go with the premise that this was actually written by Richard Castle, it's interesting how much wish-fulfilment he puts into his novel. A fun, if somewhat schlocky read, if you enjoy the show.

CBR2 Book19: "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger

Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd.
Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 1 star
Date begun: January 6th, 2010
Date finished: January 9th, 2010

When Elpeth Noblin dies, she leaves her London flat and most of her possessions to her twin nieces, daughters of her twin sister Edie. Julia and Valentina inherit on their 21st birthday, on the condition that they live in the flat for at least one year, and they never let their parents set foot in it. There is obviously some bad blood between the eldest pair of twins, an event in their past caused their long estrangement. Julia and Valentina are inseparable (somewhat to the annoyance of Valentina) and while puzzled by the bequest, they decide to move to London for a year.

Once they move into the flat, located on the edge of the historic Highgate cemetery, they eventually meet Elspeth's two neighbours. In the flat above theirs lives the reclusive yet charming Martin, a crossword compiler who suffers from OCD so bad his wife has left him and moved to Amsterdam. In the flat below theirs lives Robert, Elspeth's grieving lover, a PHD-candidate who also works as a guide at the cemetery. Elspeth herself is also a significant character in the novel, who we get to know partially through flashbacks, but mostly because after her death she haunts the flat where she lived, trying to make contact with the living by making light bulbs flash and the like.

Her Fearful Symmetry is Audrey Niffenegger's second novel, the follow-up to her hugely successful debut The Time-Traveler's Wife (which I absolutely adored and included in my best of the decade list). So I obviously had some expectations. Niffenegger creates fascinating characters, richly drawn and with many layers. She very deftly describes the bond between the two sets of twins, and makes the reader understand both why one twin seems to always want to stay close to her sister, yet the other longs for freedom and independence. However, in the final third or so of the book, the story takes a direction I distinctly disliked. It is to Niffenegger's credit as a writer that I still felt compelled to finish the book, even when it took a completely unexpected turn and became something entirely different from what I had expected. I did not think it worked, but will allow others to make up their minds for themselves as to whether they think the story came to a satisfying end.

Saturday 9 January 2010

CBR2 Book 18: "Succubus Heat" by Richelle Mead

Publisher: Kensington
Page count: 304 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Date begun: January 1st, 2010
Date finished: January 5th, 2010


Georgina Kincaid is a succubus. This means her main goal in her eternal life is to sleep with men and steal their life-force. This happens every time she gets intimate with a man whether she wants it or not. Georgina has been in a foul mood since her boyfriend, bestselling author Seth Mortensen, broke up with her a few months back. None of her friends like her current boyfriend (they all think she can do better), and her boss, Seattle's arch-demon (who looks just like John Cusack) is so sick of her cranky attitude that he sends her to Canada to work for (and spy on) the arch-demon there.

As Georgina keeps running into Seth at the bookstore where she works (even the eternally damned need a day job) she is a bit relieved to get away from Seattle. However, her mission in Canada is to break up an inept wannabe Satanist cult, and this proves more difficult than previously expected. Then her boss, Jerome, suddenly gets himself summoned, and Georgina, and all the other demonic creatures who worked under him, get put in a sort of paranormal stasis. Georgina no longer has her succubus powers - and than means she's no longer a danger to Seth, whom she still very much loves, and wants. The only obstacle is that he's now dating her friend and co-worker Maddie, who's crazy about him.

This is the fourth Georgina Kincaid novel by Richelle Mead, and over the course of the books, she's done a good job of building up the cast of characters and slowly revealing more of the paranormal world the stories take place in. I really enjoyed the first three books, and was actually very upset with Mead for breaking Georgina and Seth up. In this book, however, Georgina's friends keep telling her to stop being a whiny bitch, and I must admit I very much agreed with them. She keeps sulking and being generally annoying, all through the book, and while her current boyfriend may not be awesome, she treats him like dirt. I was not happy with the direction her suddenly non-powered status made her take, and think both she and Seth are massively less likable now. A character from a previous book who I like makes his return in this one, though, and the end of the book does offer hope that Georgina will be less of a pill in coming novels - so I have hopes for the sequel, which is out at the end of March

Monday 4 January 2010

End of year review 2009

In my first post on this blog, I wrote that by mid-October, I had read 100 books, reread 18 and read 13 trade paperbacks of the graphic novel 100 Bullets. At the end of 2009, I had read a total of 127 "new" books, reread 20, and never really got any more graphic novels under my belt. This year, as well as listing all the books I read (or reread) and the dates I finished them, I decided to record the page numbers, to work out at the end of each month, and then finally at the end of the year, just how many pages I'd read.

By the end of October, I had read a little over 50 000 pages. This made me set myself the short term goal of completing at least 60 000 pages by the end of December. I'm happy to say I made it. In 2007 I read a total of 155 different books and 60 777 pages. I also, because I was in a procrastinaty sort of mood, and a bit curious, sat down and worked out how much I'd read of each main genre.

Classifying each book as just ONE genre, even if said book may fit into two or more, this is the break-down:

Non-fiction: 2
General fiction: 6
Fantasy: 12
Comic trade paperbacks: 13
Mystery/crime/thriller: 13
Young Adult: 24
Paranormal fantasy: 35
Romance: 50

This amuses me, as in 2007, I did not read a single book that I would have classified as a romance first and foremost. But thanks to the discovery of sites like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Dear Author and All About Romance, I have rediscovered my love of good, decently written and well-plotted romance, and it really helps me keep sane from a job that is sometimes quite soul-crushing.

Since 2009 was also the end of a decade, I made my Best of the Decade-list as well. Here in alphabetical order, by author's name are the ten best books I read from 2000-2009:

The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
Kushiel's Dart - Jaqueline Carey
A Gathering Light - Jennifer Donnelly
Coraline - Neil Gaiman
Until I Find You - John Irving
Alphabet of Thorns - Patricia McKillip
Sunshine - Robin McKinley
The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
Shadow of the Wind - Louis Ruiz Zafon

My goal for 2010 is obviously to continue with The Cannonball Read. I have decided not to blog every single book I read, mostly because I tend to read a lot of series, and reading about each and every book would be boring to my readers (if I have any). It would also be a bit tedious to for me to blog about, I'm already having to treat the blogging a bit like homework. I'm going to try to read at least 100 "new" books, and I will probably blog about more of them than the required 35 I have left to complete the challenge. We shall see...

Friday 1 January 2010

CBR2 Book 17: "The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan

Publisher: Hyperion
Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: December 26th, 2009
Date finished: December 27th, 2009

Percy Jackson has been expelled from a number of schools. He is known as a troublemaker, dyslexic, diagnosed with ADHD, and hates his slob of a stepfather, but adores his mother. His father left his mother before he was born. On a school trip to the Met, his maths teacher suddenly turns into a clawed, winged monster and tries to attack him. He manages to vaporize her, and as they are going back to school, it appears that they have had a different pre-algebra teacher all year. Was it all a hallucination?

Percy and his mother go to Montauk when he returns for the summer, that was where his mother and father met. During a sudden, mysterious storm, his best friend from school shows up saying Percy is in danger, and his Mum pushes them into the car to get them to a safe place. When their car is attacked by a giant bullheaded man, who Percy correctly identifies as the Minotaur, Percy realizes that there is a good reason why he always felt different. He is.

When Percy arrives at a special summer camp, it turns out the wheelchairbound history teacher from his most recent school is a kentaur, the camp is run by Dionysus, and all the kids there have one mortal and one divine parent. Percy's father is Poseidon, one of the major Greek gods, and Percy is in great danger, as Zeus thinks Poseidon sent him to steal his lightning bolt. If the bolt is not returned before the summer solstice (in about two weeks' time), Zeus will declare war. Percy has to go on a quest to find the bolt, to prove his innocence and prevent the war.

The Lightning Thief is the first in the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which looks like it's one of the many fantasy/adventure series that Hollywood hopes will succeed Harry Potter as a lucrative adaptation project. The first book has already been turned into a film, and there are five books in the series (so far). It's a perfectly entertaining adventure book geared at teenagers, with clever twists on Greek mythology. I am looking forward to checking out the other books in the series.

CBR2 Book 16: "Chalice" by Robin McKinley

Publisher: Ace Books
Page count: 272 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars
Date begun: December 23rd, 2009
Date finished: December 26th, 2009

Mirasol is the new Chalice of Willowlands, a member of the Circle, the group that protects the land and the people. Willowlands is an area in unheaval and trouble, ever since the former Master and Chalice died nine months ago. The former Master's only heir, his younger brother, is a Priest of Fire, and no one knows if it is possible for him to properly live among humans, let alone govern the land and his people. Fissures are appearing in the ground, flash fires occur in the woods, and the Overlord would like nothing better than to place one of his own people to rule Willowlands. Mirasol's only experience is as a beekeeper, and because the former Chalice died suddenly, she has had no training whatsoever. Yet she needs to settle the demesne and bind it to its new and bind it to its new Master, whose mere touch can burn people terribly.

The former Master was not a good leader, and his years of misrule, followed by several months without a full Circle and a proper Master has affected the people of Willowlands. They are worried and troubled, and when the Master's younger brother, who used to be a studious and caring young man, returns as a black-clad, red-eyed Priest of Fire, most of them are fearful and things are not helped when he burns their new Chalice's hand badly during his official welcome back to Willowlands. Yet replacing a Master whose family comes from Willowlands with an outsider can have even worse effects, and no one is sure exactly what the future holds.

I have read most of McKinley's books, and love many of them. I must admit that I just couldn't really engage with Chalice, even though the world she presents in it is an intriguing one. Mirasol is a fascinating protagonist, and has an amazing affinity with her bees. She cares deeply for her land and the community she has grown up in, and struggles with the new, heavy duties she has had placed upon her. Yet I just couldn't seem to care that much what was going to happen. I mainly finished it as it was short. Definately one of the weakest McKinley's I've read.

CBR2 Book 15: "Unseen Academicals" by Terry Pratchett

Publisher: Doubleday
Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: December 24th, 2009
Date finished: December 26th, 2009

Unseen Academicals is the 37th Discworld-novel Terry Pratchett has written, and as with his other Discworld-books, summing up the many intertwining plot strands in a paragraph or two is not an easy feat. The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetenari, has decided that the popular excuse for rioting, gang rivalry and violence called foot-the-ball needs to be reformed into something more organized and sligthly less violent. He gives the task to the Wizards of the Unseen University, who have just discovered that the University stands to lose a very large bequest of money if they do not submit a football team and play a match (without using any magic at all!) shortly.

Pratchett has an absolutely staggering cast of characters, and the main ones returning in this novel are the eccentric, rather lazy and disorganized wizards, including the overworked Ponder Stibbons, the Archchancellor Ridcully, and the cowardly Rincewind (now a Professor). He also introduces new characters in the book, such as the dilligent and rather brilliant candle dribbler who works in the University cellars, Mr. Nutt. Mr. Nutt seems to possess a remarkable amount of knowledge about nearly everything, and he is extremely concerned with achieving worth. There is also Glenda the Night Kitchen Cook, who secretly reads romance novels and makes amazing pies (she invented the Ploughman's Pie herself). She is fiercely protective of her stunning but dim friend Juliet, who looks set to become the Disc's first supermodel, and less fond of Mr. Nutt's friend, Trevor Likely, who is vastly talented at kicking a tin can, but promised his dear departed Mum that he would never play football, the game that killed his father.

I was not very excited by the prospect of a book about football (or soccer, to the Americans). But like so many other of Pratchett's books, the book is about so much more than just football, and Unseen Academicals is probably one of his best Discworld-novels in a long time. I laughed out loud frequently (much to the annoyance of people around me), and was delighted with the book.

CBR2 Book 14: "Halfway to the Grave" by Jeaniene Frost

Publisher: Harper Collins
Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Date begun: December 19th, 2009
Date finished: December 20th, 2009

Catherine "Cat" Crawfield is half vampire, half human. She found out about her true parentage from her mother when she was 16. Her mother was raped by a newly turned vampire, and ever since she found out the truth about her conception, Cat has been hunting and killing vampires, hoping to one day find her father and avenge her mother's honour. She goes out late as often as she can, trawling bars for vampires, then lures them to secluded spots and kills them. One night things go wrong, and she is taken capitve by Bones, an English vampire bounty hunter who thinks she is working for his enemy.

Cat manages to convince Bones that she is half-vampire (once she is angry or upset, her eyes glow green, just like vampire eyes), and he is amazed that a mere slip of a girl like her has successfully hunted his kind without any proper training for more than five years. Bones is on a mission to discover who is kidnapping and killing young women in the area, and realizes that he and Cat can help each other. He proposes an alliance with Cat (and if she refuses, he'll kill her). After weeks of gruelling training, and a few dangerous missions, Cat realizes that she was lucky to have managed to well before. She is also coming to see that maybe not all vampires are the evil monsters her mother and her own experience have led her to believe they are.

Halfway to the Grave is the first in Jeaniene Hunter's Night Huntress-series. Like a lot of paranormal fantasy out there, it features first person narration by the heroine. Cat is a very angry and insecure young woman, who even before she found out about her father was harassed in the little town she grew up because of her mother's percieved promiscuity. She is truly shocked to meet a vampire who hunts his own, and to discover that vampires might not all be truly evil. Bones is clearly modelled on Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He has the platinum blonde hair, the British accent and the slightly condescending pet names for the heroine. He has no problem hunting and killing his own kind for money, especially when the vampires he hunts are vicious kidnappers and killers.

The gradual attraction between the two is very predictable, but also well done. Cat has huge self-esteem problems and trouble accepting that she herself may have any good qualities. Her realization that Bones may be a good person, even if he is undead, and that she is attracted to him, is incredibly hard for her to accept. The book is a good beginning to Frost's series, where the characters and their relationship continues to grow and develop, as well as Cat's unique powers.