Alien Diplomacy

Alien in the Family (Alien Series #5), by Gini Koch

It’s easy to find vampires, werewolves, and immortals fighting bad guys and winning the hearts of women but aliens have so far been underrepresented in Urban Fantasy. I love Urban Fantasy and aliens would be a hard sell to me. Luckily, some amazing covers got me to pick up the first Katherine “Kitty” Katt book Touched by an Alien and I quickly had a new favorite supernatural.

 Kitty was a regular—albeit geeky—marketing manager finishing up jury duty when she walked right into what she thought was a domestic dispute. Rather quickly things start getting weird and she ends up killing an alien with her pen. She’s swept away by gorgeous men in Armani suits and finds herself in a world her conspiracy-loving best friend has been insisting exists for years. Kitty finds out there are aliens, they are on Earth, and while some of them are good guys, some of them are horrible monsters.

 This is a really fun series. Kitty speaks her mind and has a great sense of humor. She adapts to the weirdness she finds herself in really well thanks to years spent reading superhero comics and realizing her best guy friend was right on the money with his conspiracy theories. Despite being surrounded by aliens with super speed, strength, and powers she holds her own in a fight and her quick-thinking often saves the day.

 If you’re in the mood for something fun with romance (it gets steamy) and a good dose of geekiness (and Aerosmith), try Touched by an Alien. This is one of those rare series where character relationships develop and there aren’t any love triangle hang-ups.  Through the five books a large blended family starts and gets stronger. The series reminds me a lot of J. D. Robb’s In Death books because of the strength of the relationships and the stable couple at the center. I’m hoping the Alien series is around for just as long as Robb’s.

 Alien Diplomacy puts the main characters in a new setting with new challenges. This time they don’t have to save the world and instead of being relieved, everyone is having trouble fitting in and dealing with feeling useless. But they’re ready for it when the action starts up. Kitty prefers getting kidnapped and fighting to sitting through classes on diplomacy but she makes some new friends and allies that help ease her transition. You’d think action hero main characters being taken off active duty would make a book boring and you’d be totally wrong. This crew doesn’t do boring. The changes in setting and career work out in the end because of the adaptability of Kitty and her family. By now, everyone knows that Kitty will never be far from trouble. But unlike other heroines she can handle it and learn from it. The enemies may be ruthless and the aliens and company don’t know how large the influence the not-so-lovable aliens have but they’re prepared to stop them and save the day and the world.

 Denise

The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

The sheer variety of topics covered in this books is astounding. We learn about how riots can be avoided, how Starbucks gives its employees the tools to succeed, how the Montgomery bus boycott was sustained, why Alcoholics Anonymous works for many people, and how market researchers can predict our future shopping and buying habits. I listened to the audiobook, narrated skillfully by Mike Chamberlain, and really enjoyed most of the book. There are two sections toward the end that were very disturbing to listen to: how a woman became a compulsive gambler and the steps the casino took to entice her, and how a man committed a terrible crime while asleep. The story about how a brain-damaged man gets through his day by habit was very interesting.

Charles Duhigg gives readers the tools to create new habits, and to attempt the more difficult task of changing an existing habit. If you have a habit you want to break, it’s best to substitute a new habit. Identify what cues trigger your habit, such as location, time of day, or mood, and try to figure out what your true reward is. For the author a mid-afternoon craving for a cookie actually turned out to be a desire to chat with his coworkers. Then substitute a new routine for the current one, which will result in a similar reward. Find out more at charlesduhigg.com

Brenda