A Killer Workout by Kathryn Lilley

Kate Gallagher’s new life in Durham, NC is going pretty well.  She has a lovely boyfriend, a great job and she’s making friends.  The problem? Well, viewers are making comments about her weight – which has led her boss to “suggest” she do something about it.  Kate has a great idea: she’ll get the station to pay for her to go to Body Blast, a boot camp style weekend program that is owned by a high school friend. She gets to lose weight, get healthier AND get a story out of it.  Perfect.

Kate’s roommate, Marnie, is killed their first night at Boot Camp and Kate decides to check into it, being an investigative journalist and all.  Kate finds plenty to wonder about: was Marnie’s death related to a similar death that happened previously at Body Blast? Was it related to a series of arsons? Was her friend involved?

Along the way, Kate has romantic entanglements, personal dramas and the usual daily life stuff of a TV journalist: stomach-turning rides on a DEA helicopter, run-ins with a local loan shark and getting scooped by print journalists.

Book Two of this series is every bit as fun as the first and Book Three, Makeovers Can Be Murder, is next up on my reading list.

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Dying To Be Thin by Kathryn Lilley

Being a woman who is on the other side of thin, I have two reactions to heroines who are “plus size”: I either love them or hate them. I can’t stand a whiny woman who carries on about her weight as if it alone is responsible for whatever is going on in her life. Don’t get me wrong, if a woman wants to lose weight, I say “go for it.” But please, could you stop bitching about it along the way?

Kate Gallagher is firmly in the “love her” category.

Kate lost her job as a news producer in Boston and gets dumped by her boyfriend, both in the same week. She has saved some money, so she has some time to decide what to do next.  Actually, it isn’t so much what she wants to do as how she is going to get there. She has been told that she “has the face for TV” but it’s evident that her weight is keeping her off camera.  She wants to be on-camera, so that means she has to lose weight.

Her solution is to go to a weight loss clinic to lose weight.  Being enterprising, she pitches a diet story to the local network and they take her up on it.  So, she is going to go on camera and weigh in – so the entire Durham, NC market will know how much she weighs.  Only slightly nerve-wracking, right?

Kate is barely at the clinic when its director is murdered.  Of course, Kate can’t stay out of it, so she investigates. Investigating gets her into a lot of trouble, naturally, but it also gets her a whole new life in Durham, NC.

Series? What Series?

I read A. Lot. of series books, most of which I will write about here at some point.  Which series might they be?  These:

  • Signs of the Zodiac by Vicki Pettersson
  • Anita Blake  by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Kitty Norville by Carrie Vaughn
  • Anna Strong by Jeanne Stein
  • Dark Hunters and Dream Hunters by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • House of Night by PC Cast & Kristin Cast
  • Mercy Thompson  and Alpha Omega by Patricia Briggs
  • Night Huntress by Jeaniene Frost
  • Rachel Morgan by Kim Harrison
  • Southern Vampires by Charlaine Harris
  • Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
  • Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle
  • Fat City Mysteries by Kathryn Lilley
  • Crimes of Fashion Mysteries by Ellen Byerrum
  • Domestic Diva Mysteries by Krista Davis
  • Della Cooks Mysteries by Melinda Wells
  • Home Repair is Homicide by Sarah Graves

That’s a lot of series, isn’t it?  I also read a few things, every so often, that aren’t part of a series.  You’ll hear about those, too.  I will not write about these series in order, for the most part.  I’ve been reading the Anita Blake ones, for example, for several years and I don’t want to wait to write about her new one until I’ve written about the old ones.  I will very likely eventually get around to writing about those, too.

What are your favorite series?

The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson

The second book of this series is every bit as good as the first.  In fact, it’s better.

Joanna has now taken on her new identity and is living as a superhero, though she is still in training.  The thing is: Joanna isn’t like all the other superheroes or the Shadows.  Because one of her parents was an Agent of the Light and the other was a Shadow, Joanna is both.  The other Lights are afraid of her Shadow side and are counseling her – and training her – to contain it, at all costs.

Joanna has never been one to take directions, though, and now is no exception.  She does things she isn’t supposed to do with consequences she couldn’t have expected.

Like any good series author does, Pettersson foreshadows things to come.  I think Joanna’s mother and daughter are both going to show up in future books.  I wonder if Ashlyn, Joanna’s daughter (the product of rape and given for adoption at birth) will end up being a Shadow.

Warren, the leader of the Agents of Light, thinks that Shadows and Light are both necessary for the world to exist.  Joanna struggles with that within herself and I think she is recognizable to many women.  Don’t we all try to be “good girls” when we aren’t always? And who defines what “good” is anyway? Joanna has to do that for herself, to have the courage of her convictions and to do what she believes is right.  All that while recognizing that she doesn’t know everything and that sometimes she will need help.  Recognize that? I do.

This book was good enough that it made me wish I didn’t have so many books at home waiting for me to read them.  I feel guilty about buying new books when I have nearly 100 of them at home, waiting to be read.  I wonder how long I will be able to hold out?  Okay, probably not that long since there will be a new Zodiac book out on May 25 and it’s the 5th in the series, so I have to read two more before then!

The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson

The author, Vicki Pettersson, is a former Las Vegas showgirl turned writer.  Let this quell any idea you have that showgirls can’t be smart, too.  Pettersson is an excellent writer and this is a fabulous debut.

Joanna Archer, our heroine, was 16 when she was brutally assaulted and left for dead.  Not long after that, her mother disappeared.  She got through it all as best as she could – with the help of her sister, Olivia.  Their father, Xavier, made no secret of the fact that he didn’t care for Joanna.  Or at the very least, he favored Olivia.

Joanna created a life for herself as a photographer.  She studied krav maga and was something of a one-woman crime fighting phenomenon.

Then, Joanna’s world, such as it was, was dramatically altered.  She found out that she was not the biological child of Xavier and was disinherited.  She also found out that her mother, presumed dead, was very likely alive.  Joanna also found out that she wasn’t ordinary – she, Joanna Archer, was a superhero.

Those comic book superheroes that teenage boys loved to read about were actually real and protecting Las Vegas.  Sadly, there were not only Agents of the Light, there were also Agents of the Shadow, the bad guys, so to speak.  Joanna is an Agent of the Light but she has to go through training to become one and she has to leave her entire previous life.  Including the sister she is close to and the man she loves.

One of the things I like about this book is that Joanna is *real.* She is flawed. She screws up.  She fixes things.  She screws up again.  Just like real women.  She isn’t only the tough-as-nails crime-fighting superhero who never has an error in judgment or who never makes a mistake.  The other characters are also multidimensional.  Quite a task, I think, in a book with so many minor characters and only about 455 pages.

There is a lot to take in, so read this book slowly.  Some of the details will be important in the next book and probably the entire series, though I’ve only read two so far.  Look for the info on the second book tomorrow!

Pardon Our Dust!

I’ve decided to reorganize my blog. I began it because I was reading a series of books with so many characters I couldn’t keep track of them all. Then, people started reading and I found myself writing for all y’all. THAT is great but it means I have to think about how I want the site to look and what I want to write about. I read A LOT and I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the writing. That’s nuts, you know? Reading is fun for me, so I don’t want it to become stressful.

In the next few days you’ll see some new posts. I won’t even TRY to write about every book I read. At the moment, I think I’ll write about the things I like a lot and the newest of the myriad series I read. I am going to have to simplify the categories and the tags and all that.

So … be on the lookout for some new stuff and tell me … what do YOU want to read? Either leave me a comment or send an email to me at barbara.sharpe at yahoo dot com.