Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Well the chaos and work of the holidays has passed and it's back to work time now. I loved having the boys over and we took them and one of their friends sledding and to several parties and in general had a great time.

The aftermath consists of looking at houses, wondering if we can sell our current house, cleaning up, shoveling out (a LOT of shoveling out), and enjoying the presents from Christmas.

The "to be read" pile at the side of my bed is much larger thanks to Christmas gifts from my kids and sweetie. I have plenty to read for the next few weeks. I was uncertain about one set of books but they have turned out to be fairly fun. It is Dog Days, and New Tricks by John Levitt.

I've never heard of this author before and wasn't sure what they would be like. I have found that in the urban fantasy genre it is really hard to pick out good new authors. But it did have a cute puppy on the cover so I started in with the first book.

For most of the first book I liked the story well enough and I do like the (mystical) puppy Lou, but I thought it was fairly predictable and uninspired. It had a Mr. brooding semi-bad boy hero and a collection of characters around him and most of the usual tropes of an UF style story in it. It was pleasant and comfortable to read.

Until the end when it surprised me. I don't often get surprised much by stories and maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention but the plot twist near the conclusion of Dog Days got me and that made all the difference in the world in my opinion of the book. The twist was of a personal enough nature to the protagonist that I started to actually care about him and his responses to the event.

When I was done with that one I started in on the second book, New Tricks. I've enjoyed it as well to. I was very glad to see that the emotional burdens shouldered in the first book remained and I could see the protagonist changing in believable ways. I liked that. He's still Mr brooding semi-bad boy (which may be a requirement in UF and probably appeals to certain segments of the reading population (read: girls)) but he's a much more likable character now.

I haven't been surprised (yet) by anything in New Tricks but I can recommend the stories. They aren't for young readers since there are adult themes in the books, but I was glad to see the situations handled with tact and discretion. That makes a delightful and welcome change to many of the urban fantasy books of late. Besides, they co-star a cute little (mystical) puppy dog. What isn't to like?

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