Dusted Off: Kitty’s Big Trouble by Carrie Vaughn

While starting the post for Kitty Saves the World, I noticed I’d reviewed only two other books in this series here. Unthinkable. It was one of the first UF series I ever tried and it’s one of my favorites to this day. Turns out, that somehow I’ve only written one other post on the series. I’m still having trouble coming to grips with that. So, I figured I’d better throw this up before I forgot.

Kitty's Big TroubleKitty’s Big Trouble

by Carrie Vaughn
Series: Kitty Norville, #9

Mass Market Paperback, 307 pg.

Tor Books, 2011

Read: July 3 – 4, 2011
It’s been far too long since we’ve had a new Kitty Norville adventure, and Carrie Vaughn didn’t disappoint with this one.

We begin with Kitty’s most recent hobby–trying to out historical figures as weres or vampires or whatever. Which is a lot of fun, and is a well Vaughn hopefully returns to.

But the main action focuses on the Long Game between various vampire factions that we’ve seen a few peaks into lately. Kitty’s ally Anastasia is racing against Roman for possession of a magical artifact that could turn the tide in this competition forever.

Honestly, I don’t think this was the strongest entry in the series plotwise–this seems more about setting the stage for bigger things down the road. But while setting the stage, we get to spend some good quality time with some great characters, learn more about Cormac’s situation, and meet a few new characters (a couple of which I hope to see again, soon).

Should add that it took me far too long to get the title, and when I finally did I wondered where my head had been for a couple hundred pages.

Can’t wait to see what trouble Kitty gets into next.

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4 Stars

Dusted Off: Mad Mouse by Chris Grabenstein

Mad Mouse (John Ceepak Mystery, #2)Mad Mouse

by Chris Grabenstein

Hardcover, 320 pg.
Carroll & Graf, 2006
Read: November 27 – 28, 2012

Man, this is just such a fun series. Ceepak’s a great superhero cop (though I hope he becomes a bit more rounded in the books to come), and Danny’s one of the best sidekicks around. Watching him grow up is a blast.

I thought it was great that this book didn’t focus on a murder (my wife took a different stance), a serious crime, yes, but not a murder. The sense of urgency was still real, it was a serious crime, but a crime more likely that a small town would face–rather than a Jessica Fletcher-like situation where 3 centuries worth of murders happen to a tiny city in a matter of months.

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4 Stars

Dusted Off: Loser’s Town by Daniel Depp

Loser's Town: A David Spandau NovelLoser’s Town: A David Spandau Novel

by Daniel Depp

Hardcover, 290 pg.
Simon AND Schuster, 2009
Read: November 8 – 12, 2012

Um, ugh. This is a really well-written, occasionally clever, disappointment.

See here’s the thing…in a detective novel, the protagonist, or if you will, the detective, should detect things. Spandau did nada. His violent associate (not really a Hawk, Joe Pike or Bubba Rogowski, but close enough) investigated; his boss did; his boss’ secretary did. Spandau? He sat around and mooned over his ex-wife, bullied his client, bullied his associate, bullied the bad guy, was a jerk to just about everyone. And then sorta cleaned up the mess at the end. But even in that, he was pretty passive.

Blech.

A passive hero — no matter how nice of a guy, how thoughtful, whatever — is not something you want to read.

—–

2 Stars

From the Archives: Year Zero by Rob Reid

Year ZeroYear Zero

by Rob Reid

Hardcover, 364 pg.
Del Rey, 2012
Read: October 27 – 29, 2012

Aren’t we at the point yet where just because something involves aliens, spaceships and more than a few laughs, we don’t have to invoke Douglas Adams? (not that I have anything against the man or his work) But this book owes more to Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars than to anything about Arthur, Ford or Zaphod (or even Dirk). Yet that doesn’t stop 70% or so of the reviews from mentioning Adams. Time to move on folks — or at least realize there are others out there doing funny SF.

I’d give this 4.75 stars, really. Rounded up. But whatever, the important thing is that this book is a hoot. There’s nothing about this that isn’t funny–the plot, the characters, the commentary on the music industry, congressional shenanigans, trendy restaurants, Microsoft…whatever Reid touched on, he hit squarely and hilariously. I laughed out loud a whole lot. And then some more.

I think towards the end, plot lines and plot points got a bit out of control. But honestly, he just reminded me of most of Christopher Buckley‘s work in that regard (and several other ways now that I think of it)–though I think Reid did a better job of pulling it all together at the end than Buckley usually does.

And the coda? Perfect. And more than made up for any flaws.

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5 Stars

Dusted Off: Government Bullies: Americans Arrested, Abused, and Terrorized by Rand Paul

Government Bullies: Americans Arrested, Abused, and TerrorizedGovernment Bullies: Americans Arrested, Abused, and Terrorized

by Rand Paul

Hardcover, 272 pg.
Center Street, 2012
Read: October 16 – 29, 2012

Great read. This book angered me, made me want to change the world, and filled me with despair–certain that things’ll only get worse. Frequently within the same paragraph (if not the same sentence). These tales of bureaucracy run amok should (and likely will) cause any freedom-loving patriot’s blood run cold.

I can see where a lot of people would get tired of Paul bringing himself into the book as often as he does–as a candidate or Senator. But honestly, it’s only as Senator/candidate that Paul gets this information, gets this perspective. Besides, he’s got to look toward re-election and this is part of his work earning that.

—–

4 Stars

Dusted Off: Dirty Martini by J. A. Konrath

Dirty Martini (Jack Daniels Mystery, #4)Dirty Martini

by J.A. Konrath

Hardcover, 292 pg.
Hyperion, 2007
Read: October 15, 2012

Not that I had a lot of complaints (or any, really) with Jack Daniels #2 & #3, but this one seems fresher, tougher, more clever. Jack gets herself into some really hairy territory here. I’ll be honest, I thought I had it figured out right up to the point where the bad guy’s identity was revealed–and couldn’t have been more wrong.

There were a couple of new characters introduced here, one of which was so over the top and annoying I was dreading reading on. But Konrath knew what he was doing after all, shame on me.

A taught, nail-biter of a read. Good stuff.

—–

4 Stars

Dusted Off: Savages by Don Winslow

Savages (Savages, #1)Savages

by Don Winslow

Hardcover, 302 pg.
Simon & Schuster, 2010
Read: September 2, 2012
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At this point, I just need to be honest with myself and just buy everything this guy has written/will write. I was nervous about starting this, as it wasn’t in The Dawn Patrol-verse. Would it be as good? Would it be better, making me like Boone, et al. less? Stupid, yeah.

Winslow’s books are the kind of cool I thought Tarantino was after Pulp Fiction (not saying QT isn’t great, I just don’t think he’s the kind of great I did then)–an insane mix of hip, crime, violence, honor, love and fun.

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5 Stars