Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bloody Bones (AB:VH, Book 5)

Bloody Bones opens with Anita being offered a job that only she can do (Anita is SPECIAL! She is like Magic but with guns and a bad attitude!!). Because Anita is magic, she can probably do this job, is probably the only person who can do anything, ever, in the history of everything. Specifically, she has to raise an entire graveyard worth of zombies to settle a land dispute for some property developers.

Anita takes the job and flies out to Branson, MI (fun fact: Anita is terrified of flying. She’s just like everybody else! She is afraid of things that don’t have too many teeth or turn furry by moonlight!). Before she goes, she takes a side trip to see Richard the Werewolf (where is he is currently teaching a class) to reschedule their date because apparently, a phone call wouldn’t do the trick (note: Richard is olive skinned, not permanently tanned as Anita is fond of saying. Really, it’s okay to say he’s swarthy). She brings Larry, her assistant-zombie-raiser/vampire-hunter-in-training with her to Branson.

When she gets to Branson, she meets the property developer, Raymond Stirling, who is a douche-bag. He impresses upon her how important it is that she raise the corpses and say that they aren’t Bouviers. Anita demurs because she is honest in all things and won’t lie for him if they are Bouviers. While she is inspecting the graveyard, she gets a call from Dolph, who in his usual gruff manner, tells her that she needs to go investigate a crime scene sort-of nearby that may or may not be supernatural. Off she goes with Larry to inspect the 3 young victims, decides that they may or may not have been killed by a something with a very large sword, makes nice with the commanding officer (by nice I mean annoys the crap out of), and goes to dinner at Bloody Bones. Bloody Bones is a restaurant owned by Magnus and Dorcas Bouvier. The Bouviers are part fey (like fairies but with less glitter and more sex).

While Anita is questioning Magnus about whatever, she gets another call from Dolph about another victim, and off she goes again. The victim is/was an underage girl who is now going to be a vampire in 3 days, her parents say “no, stake her now, she is damned because JESUS”, Anita says “WAIT”, some cops show up, they go look for the vampire, get attacked by some other vampires, several people die, a kid gets kidnapped, Anita calls Jean-Luc for help, and then goes back to the original graveyard to help Stirling. Anita does some corpse magic with Larry, things get SPOOKY, Magnus shows up, tells her it is VERY IMPORTANT that she not raise the corpses, and flits away.

Anita and Larry go to their hotel where they find Jean-Claude and Jason (he’s a werewolf, also wants to bone Anita, who doesn’t? ME) waiting for them. Blah, blah, blah, Dorcas shows up looking for Magnus, explains why everyone is so hot in the pants for the land (big, bad fairy named Rawhead and Bloody Bones, kills people with a sword, is imprisoned at the graveyard). Turns out that Magnus has secretly been drinking BB’s blood to level-up his magic and as a result, BB can manifest and is responsible for killing the original 3 victims and probably some other people. And then Jean-Claude brokers a deal with vampire Serephina (MotC of Branson) to get the kidnapped kid back. But, treachery! Serephina has been colluding with EVERYBODY. She dealt with BB to level-up, her and BB dealt with Stirling to get the land available and let BB free, she’s been harboring a pedophile vampire who is responsible for the kidnapping AND some other pretty grody stuff.

Anyway, Jean-Claude gets his ass whipped by one of Serephina’s minions, Anita feeds Jean-Claude blood to make him all better, there is a whole lot of double-crossing, BB is killed, Anita trades herself as a hostage for everyone else (isn’t she just a peach?), Serephina mind-fucks Anita, Magnus dies, Anita call the cops, Serephina mind-fucks Anita AGAIN, the cops kill all the extra-bad vamps, and Anita decides that Jean-Claude isn’t such a bad guy after all, The End. THANK GOD.

All of this has happened over a 24-hour period, our Anita is very efficient. Also, Anita FINALLY succumbs to Jean-Claude’s wiles. They don’t actually fuck, but there is some heavy petting. Plus, she can now control vampires with necromancy. So yeah, Anita gets more and more magical because that’s what she does. Have a problem? Don’t worry, Anita can fix it because not only does she have an irresistible vagina, she will somehow manifest a new ability to overcome whatever ails you. Next book she reverses global warming (with her vagina), engineers a sustainable, renewable energy source (probably with her vagina), ends all wars (again, probably with her vagina) and makes pies from scratch (hopefully not with her vagina).

Sound terrible? It is, but just you wait. Laurell K. Hamilton manages to completely redefine the word terrible. It’s a working definition because we still have 16 books to go, but she does it. I tell you, it is IMPRESSIVE.

Bloody Bones, Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, Book 5 by Laurell K. Hamilton

Friday, March 25, 2011

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I really wanted to love this book. As a matter of fact, for the first 5 chapters or so, I did. It’s got dragons, an interesting spin on dragon folklore, and romance all in the same book. Awesome, right? Wrong. So very WRONG.

Jacinda is a young draki* girl who is the only fire-breather in her pride. Fire-breathers have been extinct for a long time, so the current alpha decides that she will marry/breed with his son (the next alpha). Jacinda is out flying one sunny day (whoops number one) and is nearly caught by a group of hunters (whoops number two). She escapes because a young hunter boy lets her go (for reasons unknown, but mostly because she’s pretty). When she makes it back to the pride, they want to punish her for nearly exposing them and her mom, not wanting her daughter to suffer, escapes with Jacinda and her twin sister. They move to a desert town, where the young hunter just happens to live. There is an awful lot of angst, true love, super-mysterious secrets, mortal danger, blah, blah, blah, OHMYGOD, please shut up.

It’s hard these days to find a paranormal-ish YA fantasy that doesn’t have people drawing parallels to a certain series that shall remain nameless (a clue: it sparkles). Sometimes, like now, the comparison is deserved. The story is told from 1st person (check). It’s about a young girl is made to move to a new town where she doesn’t really fit in (check). The young girl meets a young boy who is very, very bad for her (check). There isn’t a lot of interaction between them but they LOOOOVE each other (check). There is some stalking and obsessive behavior from the young boy (check). There is a romantic sort-of rival who borders on abusive (check). There are a lot more checks, but I don’t feel like enumerating them. Suffice it to say that once Jacinda got to the new town, I didn’t go a single chapter without thinking OOOH SPARKLES. Plus, the writing could have used a much more judicious editor. I cannot count how many times I read the words stark(ly) or dark(ly) or bleak(ly).

But now, despite all these numerous faults, I have to read the next book. Because holy forking shit, the ending? CLIFFHANGER, an entire fucking mountain range worth of zero resolution. And for no good reason because there were a million ways to tie up the storyline and still leave room for expansion in the next book. It was utterly UN-fucking-NECESSARY to leave the story unfinished.

Don’t read this. It will just make you angry because you’ve been manipulated into reading the series.

Firelight, A Firelight Story, Book 1 by Sophie Jordan

*Some background: The draki are not actually dragons but are descended/evolved from dragons. They have a bunch of rules, chief of which are 1) only fly at night when people can’t see you and 2) never betray the fact that the draki can take human form. The draki use magic to hide themselves from people, but are hunted by a select group for the healing properties of their blood, their ability to find jewels, water, arable land, etc. There, now you know way more than you need to.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Eyre Affair, Thursday Next Novels, Book 1

This has been on my TBR list for months and now that I’m reading it, I’m pretty mad at myself for putting it off so long. It’s funny, irreverent, and filled with sly inside jokes about classic books. If I had started reading this months ago, I could have been caught up with the series by now. Effective time management is not one of my skills.

The Eyre Affair is set in an (sort-of) alternate history England, year 1985, where authors are revered like rock stars. Books are sold on the black market almost like drugs. Selling a forged book is a crime that can get you some serious jail time. Scientific invention is more like magic. Richard III is performed like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, complete with audience participation. Time travel is common-place and thanks to cloning, you too can have a pet dodo. (Does all of this sound awesome? Because it is totally awesome.) Thursday Next is a SpecOps LiteraTec, which is like a special agent for book-related crime. Someone is stealing the original manuscripts of beloved classics and kidnapping characters from the stories. Changing the original of a book changes ALL of the books in print because …magic. Thursday is assigned to help with the case. She’s already at the top of her division, and she hopes this is the case that will let her continue to move up the ranks.

This book is as close to being perfect as something can be. I love every single thing about this story, with two exceptions. The first is that the villain is more of a caricature than a character. I rolled my eyes at him more than once. The second is there are almost no physical descriptions of anyone. I have no idea what Thursday looks like. I have no idea what ANYONE looks like. I find this to be very troubling. Other than that, I say this book is eminently readable. I’m buying a copy so I can read it again.

The Eyre Affair, Thursday Next Novels, Book 1 by Jasper Fforde

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I read this (February)

Apparently, I read a lot of romances in February. I swear this had nothing to do with Valentine's Day. REALLY, I hate Valentine's Day.

Scoundrel, Book 2 of The Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer : Meh, it was entertaining but it took 3 weeks to finish. The writing is good and the story is interesting but I didn't care about any of the characters. So what's going on here? I have no idea. I probably won't get to the next 2 books for a long time. (Paranormal Romance? Magical Wangs?)

Lion's Blood by Steven Barnes: Crazy like whoa. Alternate American history with white slaves and black masters. Definitely readable. There's a follow-up to this, but I'm not sure if I'll read it, the first book ended well. (Speculative Fiction)

Here Comes the Groom by Karina Bliss, Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare, Beyond Eden by Catherine Coulter, The Accidental Wedding by Anne Gracie, Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn, Castles in the Air by Christina Dodd, and The Spy by Celeste Bradley: I barely remember any of these, except for the Coulter. Stay far away from that one. (Romance)

In the Country of the Young by Lisa Carey: Yes, this was very nice. Weird and magical and sexy. (Paranormal Fiction? Help me)

Don't Tempt Me, Lord of Scoundrels, and The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase: No, yes, and yes. The first is unbelievable, the second is awesome, and the third is also awesome (not many people agree with me about that last one, but we aren't asking them). I would recommend all 3 just because Loretta Chase is made of win, but I couldn't get past the background situation in Don't Tempt Me. (Romance)

Anyone But You, Welcome to Temptation, and Trust Me on This by Jennifer Crusie: OHGODYES, yes and meh. The first is Crusie perfection, a little fluffy, funny, romantic, has a weird pet, and hot sex (not with the pet because, gross). The second has all the classic Crusie markers, but it's a little more serious than her work usually is. It's definitely good but it wasn't quite what I was expecting. The last is REALLY fluffy and just a little too slapstick for my tastes. (Romance, yay boners)

Crazy for Love and Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl and Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis: Yep. Entertaining, hot sexy-sex, and over before you know it. I may have finished the 2 Dahl's on the same day. No, I do not leave my house, ever. (Romance)

Roselynde by Roberta Gellis: Umm, yes but it's a serious slog. It's almost 600 pages long, based around some actual historical events but with a fictional love story thrown in. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I did enjoy it enough to be mostly interested in the six (yes, SIX) follow ups. I think. (Historical Fiction)

The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale, Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught, Wild Bells to the Wild Sky by Laurie McBain, Stranger in My Arms by Lisa Kleypas, and This Is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland: Oh yes. All these are good examples of romance done right. (Romance, I just said that)

Eyes Like Stars, Act I of Theatre Illuminata by Lisa Mantchev: Read this twice. And then go read the second one. And then pre-order the third one. That's what I did. (YA Fantasy)

Dreadnought, Book 2 of The Clockwork Century by Cherie Priest: First read Boneshaker. Then read this one. It's more steampunk, less zombie, all good. (Sci-fi)

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott: I have no idea if you should read this. I'm not sorry I did, but it was really tough. (YA Fiction)

The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw: Maybe. It is REALLY strange. There is a bunch of weird shit going on in this book and nothing is explained or resolved. I enjoyed reading it but I had no idea what was going on, at any point, ever. (Literary Fiction)

Burning Up by Meljean Brook, et al.: It's an anthology and I only picked it up because of the Meljean Brook story. "Here There Be Monsters" is actually the first story set in the Iron Seas, the universe that is the setting of The Iron Duke. There are 4 stories in this collection, I only finished 2 and the Brook story was the only one worth the effort. (Paranormal Romance)

Okay, that's it. Yes, I have friends.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lord of Scoundrels

Lord of Scoundrels is the book that turned me back onto romance. I hadn’t read a romance novel in like, 13 years or something and now, thanks to Loretta Chase (no really, thank you Loretta Chase, I love you lots), I am HOOKED. It doesn’t hurt that with my handy Kindle, I can read romance novels and not feel embarrassed by the cover.* And believe me, it takes a lot to embarrass someone who’s used to wandering around with books that have dragons, elves, dwarves, and/or mystical ponies on the covers. Anyway, onto the summary!

Lord Dain is a wicked Marquess living in Paris. Jessica Trent is a spinsterish blue-stocking trying to get her brother away from Dain’s bad influence. Naturally, when Dain and Jessica meet, there is a whole lot of tingling in their nether bits. Dain is, as Jessica refers to him later, “the biggest whoremonger in Christendom” so this is to be expected because Jessica is a very, very pretty lady. Jessica, being a 28 year old spinster and single by her own choice, is appalled at being all lusty about Dain. They spend the first third of the book trying to out-maneuver each other. Then there is some smooching, some dancing, a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING, a marriage, a semi-annoying sub-plot, true love, The End. Plus, hot sexy-sex. Mostly it’s sexual tension between Jess and Dain, but there are a few sex scenes that are fairly frank (not quite explicit, but “breeding instrument” is used as a hilarious euphemism for cock).

Loretta Chase is a master of funny, witty, sarcastic dialogue that is just fun to read. She is also really good at character building, descriptive imagery, pacing, and all that other stuff that makes a book good. Of all her books, Lord of Scoundrels is one of my top two favorites. However, as much as I love this story, I am NOT a fan of the “This woman is awesome but all other women are cum dumpsters” trope. I know why it was used, and it worked (as much as something like that can work) within the confines of the story and the hero was mostly redeemed, but of all the tropes used in romance, it is one of my LEAST favorites.

All in all, this book is infinitely readable, even considering the occasional misstep.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

*I understand why there are half-naked men and women (or M/M or W/W or M/W/M or W/M/W, whatever, to each their own) but sometimes, it really isn’t appropriate. For instance, there is tortured writhing on one of the covers for LoS and it really misrepresents the depth of the story. And I don’t mean the depth of its thrust. Zing!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Eyes Like Stars, Theatre Illuminata, Book 1

I've decided to use the book names as post titles, it's just easier to manage. So, hooray for internal inconsistencies.

The Theatre Illuminata is home to The Book, a magical collection of all the plays ever. The players who live there are the characters from these plays. The players are bound to the Theatre and the Theatre itself reacts to the commands of the Managers (and Bertie). Beatrice Shakespeare Smith (aka Bertie) is a young lady who lives in the Theatre. She isn’t an actor and she isn’t staff so she doesn’t really fit in anywhere. She was left at the Theatre as a young child and doesn’t know where she came from or who her parents are. Her closest friends are the 4 sprites from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Nate, a pirate from The Little Mermaid (Potential Romance Alert!). Also, Ariel from The Tempest used to be her friend and then shit got weird (oh look! another Potential Romance Alert!). To make a place for herself, Bertie decides to restage Hamlet. As she works on the play, she begins to discover some things about herself, the place she’s made her home, and the people she’s made her family.

So that synopsis made this sound a little boring, but it was the exact opposite. Lisa Mantchev’s writing is just a little dark and the dialogue is funny and the secondary characters are more than just cardboard props (whoops! Pun Alert!). Scenes from Bertie’s past are written in traditional play format and add to the play-within-a-play (within-another-play) feeling of the story. And the story-behind-the-story is both really clever and a little sad. A magical theater sounds awesome, but imagine playing Ophelia forever, drowning yourself endlessly and then imagine just how much that would suck (it would suck A LOT). The ending here was a little abrupt (goddamn cliffhangers) and didn’t end up quite where I wanted it, but there are at least 2 more books in the series and I’ve already nabbed the next one(I finished this last week). This book has all of the things that make YA Fantasy so awesome: a little magic, a little romance, a little mystery, and really good friends. All in all, you should read the hell out of this book.

Eyes Like Stars, Theatre Illuminata, Act I by Lisa Mantchev