Monday, October 31, 2011

Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay

I bought this because the Kindle version was being offered on promo (still is, as of today) and the story is  set in a world with murderous mutant fairies. I figure this was an excellent use of four bucks.

Encapsulate This

When fairies turned out to be real and  and also hungry for human blood, Annabelle Lee turned to alcohol to smooth her way through the horrors. She lives in rural Louisiana collecting specimens for the FCC (Fairy Containment and Control) because she's one of the few who are immune to fairy venom (it turns you bonkers, sick or dead, or all three, in that order). She also assists the local police department when they need to recover evidence in fairy infested areas. When Annabelle helps the cops find the body of a young girl with no marks of fairy contamination, all signs point to murder. And then the rest of her life explodes: her sexy-cop boyfriend wants to get serious, her ex-boyfriend-turned-FBI-agent comes to town to investigate the murder, and her closest friends are suspects. All Annabelle wants is a drink. Or five.

Ruminate on That

Annabelle is pretty much a fuck-up. She's a (barely) functioning alcoholic, she's a bit of a coward, she's terrible at personal relationships, and she's practically a professional procrastinator (hello alliteration, how are you?).  She's unlikable. REALLY unlikable. But, perhaps perversely, I like that. I was definitely annoyed by her perpetual ignore-it-till-it-goes-away attitude and she made a number of really ridiculous choices, but by the end of the book, I could see that she was growing up. And that's a gratifying journey to watch/read. 

The story-universe is pretty much our universe but with bloodsucking fairies and magic. There isn't really a need for a lot of world-building, but some would have been nice. How did the fairies mutate? That is a major question that was left hanging. Maybe it'll be picked up as the series progresses.  Otherwise, the writing is pretty solid and Annabelle has a distinctive headvoice that is fun/funny. The wrap-up was a bit rushed and tied things up a little too neatly but I am definitely looking forward to the next book. 

Final Reckoning

Read This?  Yes, especially if you are looking for a departure from the usual vampire/shifter urban fantasies. 

Buy It . Borrow It . Skip It

Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay
Series: Annabelle Lee, Book 1
Next Book in Series: Blood on the Bayou, forthcoming 2012
P.O.V.: First person, present; single narrator
Language: Salty

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Metamorphosis

Screw actual reviews. These are fun.

(wakes up, is a giant bug) Oh dear. I appear to be a giant bug. I am surprisingly OK with this. Damn, I’m late for work.




Um, guys, it’s still Gregor, so chill. I’ll feed him and clean his room.


Cool. Hey I like crawling on the wall. Move the furniture.

(moves furniture)


(throws apples, debilitates Gregor, like, somehow?)

Ow, Dad. Seriously. What the fuck.


Hey, we don’t have any money anymore because our breadwinner is now a giant bug. Let’s get jobs.

(gets jobs)

And bring in gross boarders, too.

(brings in gross boarders)

We are gross! We leave shit everywhere! Hey, crazy sister girl! Play the violin so we can heckle!

(plays violon)


You guys are assholes. Here, look at me, I’m a giant bug.


Dude, Gregor, why don’t you just fucking die already? Christ.




Monday, October 24, 2011

I read this (Sept 16-30, 2011)


The Raven Queen by Jules Watson:  It should have been super interesting but the story was so bogged down by little details that it was kind of a chore to read. The pacing was off too. Every time I started getting involved, the storyline would jump. I'll try another by this author, hopefully it'll be better. 

Clementine by Cherie Priest (The Clockwork Century, short story): I think I am done with this series. I liked Boneshaker but each successive book I've read has gotten more and more boring. And there were ZERO zombies in this one. Zombies would have made this more fun.

Emergence by David Palmer: I more-than-liked this but less-than-loved it. Go read it.

Urban Fantasy

Under Her Skin by Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook: Actually, I enjoyed all of these stories, which is pretty rare for an anthology. Of the three, Brook's "A Sheep's Clothing" was the best. Andrews' "Grace of Small Magics" was also good, and I would like to read more in this setting. I've only read one other (short) story by Frost and "Pack" was fun but not quite engrossing (even for a short story). None of these take place in any of the authors' previously established universes. 

Hexed by Ilona Andrews, Yasmine Galenorn, Allyson James and Jeanne Stein: I only borrowed this for the Andrews story "Magic Dreams" set in the Kate Daniels universe. It's a side-story for Dali and Jim. Good fun. Reading "Ice Shards" by Galenorn was a real chore and I don't plan on trying anything else by her. I started "Double Hexed" by James, but I quit when one character called another character (I'm paraphrasing here) a "tranny mess" and no one said jack about it. I don't give a shit if it's an enchanted mirror or a dragon or what-the-fuck-ever, that's a fucked up thing to say. I was so pissed that I didn't even bother trying "Blood Debt" by Stein.

Young Adult

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville: Kind of a cross between Neverwhere by Gaiman and the Fern Gully movie. I happen to like those two things, so a good time was had by all (namely, me).

Stargirl and Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli: A sweet coming-of-age story told in the first book by the dude-protagonist and continued by the lady-protagonist in the second. Both were really wonderful, but I felt kind of disappointed by the endings because even though they ended well, they didn't end where I wanted them to. 

Graphic Novel

Back on the Street by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1): Uh, yeahno. I don't get the appeal. Also, Mr. Ellis, I am changing your name so I don't keep confusing you with Garth Ennis. Because I do this ALL THE TIME. 


Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean (The Ralstons, Book 1): Seriously, that is like THE WORST TITLE EVAR. It is trying way too hard. Anyway, this was a cute story, nothing extra-special. I had to look at the synopsis to remember what it was about but that's fine. I like fluff.

Turn It Up by Inez Kelley: Pretty sexy, friends-to-lovahs story. In this one, it's the dude-pro holding off on the sex to establish the relationship with the lady-pro, which is a nice change of pace, but I thought that the insistence on marriage (by the dude) was pretty harsh. He just told his lady-friend that he LOVE-loves her, as opposed to loves her and is pissed that she isn't on board 1-2-3? And the lady-pro's about-face on the baby-making was weird and unconvincing. I liked the book despite the issues. 

Deceived by Bertrice Small: Um, this was terrible, even for an old-skool romance. I haven't read anything by Bertrice Small before and this is probably going to be my only foray into her books.

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley (Highland Pleasures, Book 3): Yes, yes, yes.

When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith: A interesting story with a prickly-but-likable lady-pro. The romance doesn't really start until late in the book, but it was a very nice read over-all. 

A View to a Kiss by Caroline Linden (Bow Street Agents, Book 1): Good intrigue and nice tension between the lady/dude. The dude leads the lady on (not in the usual way) and that isn't so nice, but I really enjoyed reading this.

Ransom by Julie Garwood (Highland Lairds, Book 2): The writing was occasionally a bit flat, but the story itself and the romance was nice enough to overlook it.

Captive of Sin by Anna Campbell: A really dark, emotional romance. The lady-pro is escaping from an abusive family and the dude-pro has PTSD and they both have to deal with the effects of that. Unfortunately, I think that the ending really undermined the strength of the story. It felt rushed and unrealistic. 

Unlocked by Courtney Milan (The Turners, short story): A really lovely story with the dude-pro redeeming himself of previous asshole behavior and the lady-pro learning to stand up for herself. 

An Unwilling Bride b Jo Beverly (Company of Rogues, Book 2): I don't really know how I feel about this. It starts off well, but the (serious*) issues between the lady-pro and dude-pro are resolved too quickly and without any real consideration. The last quarter of the book took an unexpected and unbelievable turn that made me sort-of sorry I read any of it. (*There is a violent encounter between the dude and lady that was not cool, not at all.)

Moonspun Magic by Catherine Coulter (The Magic Trilogy, Book 3): Nope, terrible, stay away. Gross dude-pro, silly lady-pro, EVIL TWIN. The evil twin thing is why I picked this up, but blech, both twins were assholes. The whole point of evil-twin stories is that one is a GOOD GUY and one is a BAD GUY. Not "one is a super-asshole" and "one is a moderate-asshole".

Ceremony in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death, Book 5): Meh is about as much excitement as I can drum up. It wasn't awful, it wasn't great. It's easy to read, sort-of entertaining and over quickly. 

Erotic Romance

Switch by Megan Hart: Normally, I quite like Megan Hart's books but Switch isn't one of them. It rubbed me the wrong way (har, pun) on pretty much all counts. The lady-narrator is NOT A NICE PERSON. Which, whatever, I don't need to be best friends, but she was terrible to pretty much every other character in the book. And a mega-douche-bag liar. And the sex was boring. BORING. I didn't think Megan Hart was capable a writing a boring sex scene, but there it was. Go read Broken instead, it's both one of the hottest erotic romances I've ever read and one of the saddest books (period) I've ever read.

Paranormal Romance

Maiden Flight by Bianca D'Arc (Dragon Knights, Book 1): God, this was awful on pretty much every level it's possible to be awful on. Terrible writing, flat characterization, boring plot, unbelievable romance, rote sex scenes. I finished it but only because it was short. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I read this (Sept 1-15, 2011)

I've decided to split my monthly reading list in twain since August's post was absurdly long and September's post was proving to be just the same. 


Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling: It took me a month and a half to finish this anthology. The quality of stories was so uneven that I couldn't concentrate.  Even (especially?) the stories by authors I love were disappointing. 

Wolf Who Rules by Wen Spencer (Elfhome, Book 2): Tinker, the first book in the series, is written entirely from Tinker's third-person POV. This book includes Who Who Rules' POV, which added some dimension to the current story and the back-story. I enjoyed this book because it illuminated some of WWR's choices but Tinker's wishy-washiness only got MORE annoying.  Plus, the story turned unexpectedly metaphysical. 

Contemporary Fiction

Mesopotamia by Arthur Nersesian: Elvis impersonators, murder and mayhem make an entertaining story but the writing itself was kind of bland and the characterization was practically nonexistent. I don't regret reading this one but I definitely won't be reading anything else by this author.


Fairest of Them All by Teresa Medeiros: Like I said last month, Medeiros' writing is competent and her stories are fun, but the romance is sometimes less than believable. This particular story was occasionally over the top and the mystical aspect was irritating.  

Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey: The setup was ten kinds of fucked up. The lady-protagonist has to rape the dude-protagonist (believe me, I WISH I was making this up) in order to keep her step-brother from killing her mother. When the dude-protagonist escapes, he finds the lady, kidnaps her and revenge-rapes her. Then they fall in love. WTF Johanna Lindsey, seriously WTF?

Bride of a Stranger by Jennifer Blake: Major snooze-fest with no sexy bits to make up for the boring plot. At least it was short. 

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl: A romance novel about an erotica author? Yes, please. I don't always like contemporaries, but I think Dahl is really great at them. The stories can seem a little superficial sometimes, but I like her characters a lot and I get the romance, you know? And the sexy business is hot.

Marrying the Marquis by Patricia Grasso (The Flambeau Sisters, Book 3): I was not expecting a romance with paranormal elements and I had to keep checking the synopsis to see if I had missed something. The story and writing were okay, I guess, but I was so thrown by the ESP junk that I just couldn't settle down to the book. 

Fire Dance by Delle Jacobs: This was a well written, absorbing story with only a few blips, but it just dragged on and on and on. I enjoyed reading it but it could have been 15% shorter (I have no idea how many pages it is, it's only available digitally). But you should try it, it's only .99 cents.

The Goodbye Summer by Patricia Gaffney: The main character was a bit floppy to start and was occasionally outshone by the secondary characters. The tone of the whole thing was a little melancholy and a little hopeful and very sweet. It was nice while it lasted but I kept waiting for something to happen and then... it was over. It isn't quite a romance novel but it isn't quite chick lit either. 

Lessons From a Scarlet Lady by Emma Wildes : Good writing, steamy love scenes, fun premise. I was sometimes more interested in the secondary love story, but overall, it was pretty much exactly what I want from a historical romance.

My Lord Scandal by Emma Wildes (Notorious Bachelors, Book 1): The intrigue keeping the main characters apart was a little oooh mysterious, but I enjoyed this as much as I did Scarlet Lady. 

The Texan's Touch by Jodi Thomas (Texas Brothers, Book 1): Um, what? The whole thing was way too coincidental. AND the writing was flat. This is the second Thomas book I've read and I just don't get the appeal. 

Urban Fantasy

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels, Book 5): Fuck yes. I need say no more.

The Neon Graveyard by Vicki Pettersson (Signs of the Zodiac, Book 6): A lot of this book was spent whining about/rescuing the love interest and not quite enough time was devoted to the battle with the nemesis, but overall, I think this wrapped the series up well.  The series as a whole was fun, but Joanna was often unlikable and she never really seemed to learn to look before leaping. If you want UF with no vampires, this one is for you.

YA Fiction

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr: I really don't know how I feel about this one. It's a coming-of-age story and it's a little uncomfortable and there is no concrete ending. But it's compelling and well written. I felt this way about Sweethearts too. 

Sent: Tue 10/11/2011 9:28AM
Subject: har

Have you seen the search terms page for the blog?
One of them is "vampire magical vagina books". Seriously, I don't even know what to say.

!!!! HOLY FUCK YOU GUYS. We love all of you.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley (Check out those abs!)

So I mentioned in my August reading list that Jennifer Ashley writes really hot, emotional, beautiful romances. This is very, very true. A lot of what I like about the Mackensie series is that none of the ladies are virginal ingĂ©nues (at least at the point that we are introduced to them). Beth, Isabella, and Ainsley all have real sexual agency and that is both refreshing and rare in a historical romance. In many of the romance novels I’ve read, the sexually experienced women tend to be portrayed as man-eaters or evil bitchez who would sell their mamas for a dollar.  Also, the dudes, while very typical romance-dudes on the surface (unrepentant rake, profligate wastrel, general douche-canoe), have very real personalities and motivations.

Encapsulate This

When Ainsley Douglas, a lady-in-waiting for Queen Victoria, is caught sneaking around Lord Cameron Mackensie’s bedchamber (again) by none other than Lord Cameron himself, he decides to use the situation to seduce her (sort-of again). While Ainsley was only looking to recover some potentially embarrassing letters that have been stolen from the Queen, she knows that after their first meeting six years ago (wherein she was first caught sneaking around his room) she is dangerously susceptible to his wiles. And no matter how much she wants to succumb, she can’t afford to risk a scandal. Cameron is willing to lure her but he may end up caught in his own trap… (I don’t know how cover copy writers do this, it is so annoying)

Ruminate on That

So, the writing is lovely, the characters are sympathetic, the romance itself is (mostly) believable, and the sexy bits are steamy (Lord Cameron and his lady like the dirty talk). But what is best about this novel is the characterization of the main protagonists. Both Cameron and Ainsley have had some traumatic events in their lives that give them real emotional depth. Even though I thought Cameron was being weird with his “You are the only good thing ever, in the history of everything” attitude towards Ainsley (before they really came to know each other), the story just felt emotionally authentic.

What made TMSoLC intellectually interesting is a common theme turned sideways. While many authors have made use of the distressed damsel, this time it’s the dude who was the victim of domestic abuse and the wife who was the tormentor. I’m not fond of violence as a catalyst in a story, but I think that Jennifer Ashley managed to cover DV and what is essentially PTSD with real sensitivity. (The three Mackensie books to date feature Asperger’s, alcoholism, and domestic violence and the subjects are treated seriously and not sensationally.) 

The story isn’t perfect, there are a few sub-plots that distract from the romance and emotional connection, and the story wrapped a little too neatly. I also think that the portrayal of the first lady Cameron was heavy-handed. She was described as promiscuous, psychotic, violent, and then seemed to be suffering from post-partum depression. I would have liked a more nuanced view of her character because, but since it was the Cameron/Ainsley show I guess it made sense not to spend a lot of page space on tertiary characters.

Final Reckoning

Read this, yes, but even the happy bits are a little heavy. If you prefer light and fluffy romances, go read a Julia Quinn book.

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, Highland Pleasures, Book 3