Megan Hart’s latest release, Passion Model, is a delicious sensory sci-fi feast that manages to one-up its standing as erotica. Passion Model’s slick
Megan Hart’s latest release, Passion Model, is a delicious sensory sci-fi feast that manages to one-up its standing as erotica. Passion Model’s slick foundation and world-building is solid, believable from its pedtreads to gritty Oldcity, to the Lovehuts that house the vast swathe of pleasure bots that serve the general public.
But behind the pristine order and blanched hues of Newcity, hides a stringent system of checks and balances as citizens are rigorously ranked, their economy and access to goods dependent on a blind obedience of the rules. And within the strict confines of their society, anything that is not purely human is ostracized. As the Ruling Council moves towards legislation to completely segregate and strip human status from those with even minimal upgrades, Hart’s heroine struggles with her humanity.
For Gemma 4121609, a partially mechanized human after a deadly accident…her life was given back to her, but drastically changed. Leaving behind a marriage in tatters and a career flaming in ruins, Gemma’s only course was to be a Recreational Intercourse Operative where the partially mechanized can still earn decent credits and an exclusive ranking in Newcity. Patrolling the district Lovehuts, Gemma and her team track down defective Passion Model bots and pull them out of the general population.
But one neon-tinted night, Gemma mistakes Declan Adar for a Passion Model and within their entwined arms they find something they hadn’t known was missing: each other. With incorrectly identifying Declan as a bot, Gemma and he have committed a felony-one that threatens to alter the course of their lives. And when Gemma digs deeper in Declan’s past she unearths a monumental secret that brings the leader of Newcity and his sec bots down on her head.
The vein running through Passion Model’s heart is its conflict over humans and mechos. The age-old dilemma of what comprises human sentience and its potential reversibility by mechanized implantation. Do we cease to be human with inorganic complements? Hart directly address this conflict in both Gemma and Declan as they outrun the fist that slowly threatens to crush them in its grip.
For Hart, Passion Model provides a sci-fi vehicle that highlights her exceptional story telling skills. In many ways it competes with its original vision as an erotic piece. It simply excels as a piece of Blade Runner-esque inspired vision, and the torrid sexual passages are just frosting on already a stuffed cake. I found myself intrigued by Hart’s vision, and I want MORE.
Thankfully I am guessing there will be…Hart’s website states that Passion Model is Book 1, so with any luck I am going to assume that there will be a Book 2. In the meantime, I am checking out her upcoming releases, particularly Seeing Stars (out May 2011), and Virtue & Vice (out Oct 2011).
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)! ...more
Never before has foreshadowing played such an integral role in the Dark Swan series. At the beginning of Storm Born, the first in the Dark S
Never before has foreshadowing played such an integral role in the Dark Swan series. At the beginning of Storm Born, the first in the Dark Swan series, Mead alluded that shaman Eugenie Markham’s destiny would be turbulent, on rocky footing, and perhaps a solitary journey. With a prophecy to contend with that could end the reign of humans in their realm and put the gentry in their place, Storm Born cultivated a tall order for the series. Would the destiny of Eugenie’s offspring ever fulfill the prophecy? Would she be able to channel fair play into her hereditary powers? Or would she be seduced by them?
Even Eugenie’s quirky penchant for goddesses who have walked solitary paths was another insight into her potential entanglements. And Queen Maiwenn’s ominous warning to Eugenie to tread cautiously with King Dorian was not made in vain. Enemies and alliances are being formed into an all too familiar pattern reminiscent of the Storm King’s reign. For now Storm Born, Thorn Queen and Iron Crowned appear to be mere set-ups to the conflicts that will prevail in Mead’ next book, as yet untitled #4. Maybe then, we might see Eugenie’s prophetic dream emerge into a reality…Otherworld armies amassed and marching…towards the boundary of the Otherworld and ultimately to the realm of humankind.
All of these vital clues and warnings come into play with Mead’s third installment into the series with Iron Crowned. Eugenie further cements her position in the Otherworld, and her skirmishes against Queen Katrice. Finally realizing her responsibilities as a monarch, and seeking a way to end the rift to bring peace to the Otherworld, Eugenie is lured by Dorian into seeking out the fabled Iron Crown. The crown also sought after by her father, is reputed to dissolve the primal connection between noble and the land. With this dark instrument, Eugenie could wrest away the sovereignty of individual lands and make them her own. In a word, she could get Katrice to back down.
Relationships also take center stage in Iron Crowned, especially that of Eugenie, Kiyo, Dorian and Maiwenn. Mead couldn’t have wielded a hammer better than she did regarding the tangled love triangle that has lingered over the course of two books. What Mead does in Iron Crowned is distill such an acute case of uncertainty with all the players that even I have trouble guessing what the eventual outcome will be. When Thorn Queen ended, romantic aftershocks shook the pages and with the events that occur in IC, they continue still, including a jaw dropping scene with Dorian where his wrath is fully felt and deserved…it’s anything goes…a total free-for-all. Words that come to mind...thwarted. Discomfited. Can Eugenie fix it and survive?
Mead has really whetted my appetite for resolution with Dorian and Eugenie. But the overarching question throughout this series is will she ever find happiness? Will it be with him, or some other? As a character Dorian is incredibly fascinating, has an inordinate amount of patience and discipline over his sexual desires, his dominance, his kingdom and yes…Eugenie. Can Mead craft a solution now that Eugenie has thrown herself at his mercy and begged for “hospitality”? We shall see.
Two master vamps and only one city make for a very nasty battleground and a hell of a headache for Shiarra Waynest. In Jess Haine’s sequel to her newTwo master vamps and only one city make for a very nasty battleground and a hell of a headache for Shiarra Waynest. In Jess Haine’s sequel to her new debut Others series, Taken by the Others, Shiarra finds herself kidnapped by Max Carlyle, a rival master vamp hellbent on revenge. And that is only part of his agenda. He plans to wrest control of Alec Royce’s territory, his coterie and his holdings. All will come at a bloody cost thrusting Shiarra in the middle.
Haines has dialed it up big time with her thrilling sequel. In Taken, Shiarra ends up blood bound to both Max and Alec…and there is one scene where we come very close to losing our heroine. The kidnapping, the brutality of the vampires, and the sheer body count remind one of the early days of Anita Blake tempered with some Armintrout. Max Carlyle seriously channels some traits of Cyrus’s (from the Blood Ties series)-which means he is pretty despicable and dangerous. We still don’t have a lot of clues as to why Shiarra is always at the centre of the tempest. What is her history, her background? Is she an Other? Haines might be leaning in that direction. There is a possible clue that Shiarra might be of fae ancestry.
The relationship conflicts also take precedence in Taken by the Others. Chaz and Shiarra have still not consummated their relationship due to the contractual binding that is required in advance, and because of her blood bond to Max and Alec, Chaz is put through the wringer as he watches his potential love interest irrevocably drawn closer to Alec. He must stand by and suffer through the connection. Haines hints that their relationship could be permanently damaged by the blood bond. Shiarra’s fight to dissolve both bonds at great emotional cost forces her to face some feelings about Alec, and herself even though they are steeped in ambivalence. I expect more will be revealed in book #3 Deceived by the Others out in July.
I was thrilled, excited by the action, the schism between the White Hats and Shiarra, and the interesting backstory of Alec and Max. I especially want to see Athena unveiled in Deceived by the Others. The conflicts, the relationship triumvirate, and the introduction of a few new characters (Mouse, Tiny and Dawn) really proves that Haines pulled a fantastic smash and grab for this installment, particularly the Other fracas which was teeming with all the subtlety of a mob war. Highly recommended, this series just keeps getting better and better.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat) ...more
Like a would-be maestro with an orchestra at the ready or an artist with a palette in hand, Allison Pang takes the saturated genre of faery lore and c
Like a would-be maestro with an orchestra at the ready or an artist with a palette in hand, Allison Pang takes the saturated genre of faery lore and constructs her world in A Brush of Darkness into a uniquely surreal thing of beauty, blurring the edges of the existing template by dabbling in the abstract and softening the focus a bit. Borrowing a piece of history from the ancient medieval tale of Thomas the Rhymer, Pang injects a bit of his tale as part of the construct of her debut
Faery, the Dark Path, Dreamland and even the Shadow Realm as they exist, are traversed through the CrossRoads or Doorways by all manner of magical beings. The one caveat to the OtherFolk is that they can only travel at certain times of the day and in order to do so, must be anchored by a TouchStone, a being who dwells in the human sphere. This symbiotic relationship enables both sides to get something from the other…in many cases a human can trade seven years of contractual servitude for eternal beauty, or life…a wish… whatever it may be.
Therein lies the focus of Pangs’ story about Abby Sinclair a former company principal ballet dancer whose life has been irrevocably changed by a deadly car accident. What is left of her, is subject to seizures, a plate in her head and a leg that effectively ended her dancing career. Contracting with the Faery Protectorate, Moira, Abby is to serve her for the full seven years and not leave Portsmyth. But when Moira disappears mysteriously, as do a few succubi, Abby is left with a huge responsibility-the order of the realms and its beings rely on the Protectorate to keep order. And when Brystion a Dark Path being and incubus waltzes into her bookstore, chaos is the least of her worries.
A Brush of Darkness might have a newbie feel to it at times with the investigation into the disappearances slow to evolve, but overall Pang’s storytelling is competent and a rich treat to read. She manages to deliver a complex world populated by vivid characters, insert some great pop culture references that had me laughing, and still weave a touching romance throughout its pages.
In fact, the hot and cold romance between Ion and Abby is at the forefront of A Brush of Darkness. Their relationship plays a large part in Abby identifying who she is by accepting her Dreamwalker legacy and facing her fears. Without Brystion to finally cop to his feelings, and begin her training, Abby would not have the meager tools at her disposal to fight against Maurice and Topher.
Pang also excels at tongue in cheek humor…The World of Warcraft scene between Abby and TartBarbie had me rolling on the floor, as did the on-going commentary from Phin…what else can you expect from a horny unicorn? And by far my favorites were the scenes where Maurice has imprisoned Abby and the others in the Shadow Realm, particularly within the enchanted paintings was a creative feat full of surreal imagery with Abby as a mermaid.
Pang ends her debut on an ambivalent note with a few unresolved issues. Thankfully a teaser at the end of the book has been inserted do we don’t go crazy wondering what will happen: Moira has been summoned to Court, and has left an important responsibility in Abby’s care, and Brystion…well they are at a stalemate so-to-speak. Sonja has taken over Abby’s Dreamwalker training, with Brystion somewhat out of the picture. And I’m betting that Pang has some key plot points in sight regarding Abby’s KeyStone status. Pang definitely hints at adventures ahead.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat) ...more
4.5 Stars There is definitely a surfeit of magick and adventure present in Kersten Hamilton’s whimsical new YA debut that will have readers clamoring f4.5 Stars There is definitely a surfeit of magick and adventure present in Kersten Hamilton’s whimsical new YA debut that will have readers clamoring for more. Tyger Tyger is the first in Hamilton’s Goblin Wars series, and centers around Teagan Wylltson, a Chicago teen, who is going to find out that her world just got a lot weirder.
Teagan doesn’t know much about her family’s history other than the limited info she’s gotten from her mom and dad. Despite having Irish Travelers in their family and her mom speaking with a pronounced lilt from time to time, things are pretty much normal in the Wylltson household. Until her “cousin” Finn Mac Cumhaill comes to live with them. Then all bets are off.
Finn brings with him the rich mythology of their family’s past. Tales about all manner of fairy folk, such as Fear Doirich, the bean-sidhe, and cat sidhe slip easily off his tongue. Teagan finds him amusing, if a bit superstitious. But there is a cautionary wariness in Finn’s eyes that says that he has seen more than his share of strange. And the instant draw, the intensity between Finn and Teagan is just another excuse to keep him at arms length.
But what Teagan doesn’t realize is that she will end up cleaving to Finn in due time…because he is not the only one that has come to roost in the Wylltson house. With Finn, come the dark folk that have been plaguing the Travelers for generations. And they’re not nice. In fact, they’re rather nasty.
After Tea’s dad disappears, she, her little brother Aiden and Finn must venture into Mag Mell, the kingdom of Fear Doirich, to rescue him. It won’t be an easy journey. And it won’t be a fairy tale. And Tea will find out some very troubling information about herself and her family’s lineage that could alienate Finn-despite the feelings that they have for one another.
Tyger Tyger was a fun, exciting, adventure that for some strange reason reminded me of City of Bones. Perhaps it was the similar situation between Teagan Wylltson and Clarissa Fray, both of them of a magickal lineage, both of them having mothers who were painters (with magickal clues in their works) both put in jeopardy by dark forces. In this case, Clary finds out she is a Shadowhunter, and Teagan finds out she is ____(not telling cos it would be a spoiler). Both have their love interest…Jacccccee for Clary and Finn for Teagan. Strangely enough, there is quite a bit of pull, rich allure between Tea and Finn that will have readers sighing over and over again. But Hamilton has just teased us, more will most likely come in Book 2.
Other than that similarity, Tyger Tyger is a visual treat as Finn, Aiden, and Tea fight off the beasties of Mag Mell, and go head-to-head against Fear Doirich. Readers who loved The Iron King, and the Iron Daughter, as well as The Mortal Instruments series will adore this brilliant and enervating new series. P.S. Loved Lucy!
Lila Amanda Black is no more. In her place is a half-human half cyborg hybrid body. Meshed with her own psyche and an onboard Ai, Lila is no ordinaryLila Amanda Black is no more. In her place is a half-human half cyborg hybrid body. Meshed with her own psyche and an onboard Ai, Lila is no ordinary girl anymore, but she still bleeds, and still feels within that drop dead exterior-even if she can bench-press a small auto.
Now working for Incon, Lila is test-driving her new body on a routine bodyguard assignment for one of the most popular bands to hit the realms. An unorthodox mix of faery and elven witchery, The No Shows have recently seen some press action since their lead, mysterious Zal Ahriman and Rolling Stone darling has been seriously threatened-with death. Lila has to get to the bottom of the conspiracy before she loses control of the situation and before she loses control of Zal. Little does she know that the death threats are of a political nature, that not only threaten her realm but others, and that Zal is not who he seems. Everything eventually comes full circle-including her life.
Magic and science collide in Robson’s worlds, the casualty of a super collider incident that split realities and opened the ‘verse up to multiple realms: Demonia, Alfheim, Zoomenon, Thanatopia and Faery, the aetheric magic wielding realms versus the non-aetheric technology driven Otopia (formerly Earth). Not everybody in the realms are happy about their worlds being revealed, and xenophobia as well as burgeoning terrorism is running rampant. There are also threads of real world scenarios that add a certain depth to Robson’s writing: racism, technology saturation, and ethnocentrism to name a few. It’s fairly coherent with the exception of some terminology and theorizing about interstitial space between the realms. I’d recommend a legend to accompany the reading.
Aside from that criticism Keeping it Real was like nothing I had ever read before and I loved every minute of it especially the intense attraction between Zal and Lila which only grows as she traverses the realms to rescue him. From the wilds of Zathanor to the clutches of the Jayon Daga and Arie, to the gig circuit where Zal and his band rock on, Robson doesn’t relent until she is sure that she has taken us for an incredibly lavish ride. Readers will detect a slight Isaac Adamson-Jamie Hewlett-Lester Bangs feel to the story. It’s a rock n’ roll tale merged with slick technology, magic, and futuristic popular culture. I’ve heard others remark that it reminds them of the Bionic Woman, but come on…the Bionic Woman only wishes she were as cool as Lila! I’ve already finished Selling Out, Book #2 and have started on Book #3 Going Under, that’s how much I have been sold on this series. ...more
When the origins of the fey are forged from the dreams of mankind what will happen to Nevernever when all magic disappears? When it is supplanted by tWhen the origins of the fey are forged from the dreams of mankind what will happen to Nevernever when all magic disappears? When it is supplanted by technology? Kagawa successfully and brilliantly poses this idea throughout The Iron King as she skillfully portrays the realms of the Light (Seelie) and the Dark (Unseelie) colliding with a third.
Under this threat Meghan Chase, once an ordinary girl finds she must cross the chasm between the worlds and dive deep into the world of faery to save her brother Ethan. With the aid of some extraordinary characters along the way, Meghan’s quest is not without its sacrifices as the deeper she delves into who and what she is…all along the way casting remnants of her humanity behind her.
Kagawa’s world is visually stunning. From the blighted land of Machina’s domain to the twisted wyldwood of the Summer king’s realm to the streets of New Orleans, and the wintery landscape of Mab’s Unseelie kingdom, readers will be enchanted, transported, and riveted. Will the old bloods be vanquished by iron once and for all?
In all the books I’ve read of faery, Kagawa is the first (in my experience) to illuminate how mankind’s technological bent has had a physical affect in faery by manifesting itself into a mechanical kingdom all its own, replete with steam, acid rain, machines and cogs. Bravo for this insightful twisting of faery lore. Readers of Holly Black’s Tithe series will find some similarities but Kagawa has surely cut a path for herself. And readers will smile (as I did) as our heroine is trapped between the wiles of Puck and Ash as they vie relentlessly for her attention. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place!
Kagawa’s next installment in the series is set for August 2010 entitled “The Iron Daughter”.
In Shadowfae, Hayes brings to life a sensory feast of glittering and dangerous creatures, an urban fantasy realm existing side by side with humans inIn Shadowfae, Hayes brings to life a sensory feast of glittering and dangerous creatures, an urban fantasy realm existing side by side with humans in the magnificent shadow of Melbourne. In the luminous underbelly of that cosmopolitan city breathes a current of life filled with incubi, demon lords, banshees, vampire syndicates, spriggans, fairies..the Shadowfae.
The lives of two entities take center stage in Hayes’ dark treat: Jade a succubus, and Rajah, and incubus form an unlikely partnership to free themselves of the mystical bonds enslaving them to a demon lord. According to legend, if the enslaved capture and devour four souls, four particular souls, then the bonds that hold them prisoner will disintegrate. Jade, who has been enslaved for over 140 years, and Rajah just over 300 years, the possibility of freedom is too much to ignore. Even if it means that one will have to brutally betray the other.
As Jade and Rajah hunt down the four souls at great personal cost, and fight those who would keep them apart, each has to examine what immortality means. Greater yet, to learn the sacrifice of love, happiness, and its boundless capacity when sorrow shadows it’s every move.
In Thorn Queen, Eugenie Markham finds she must straddle the two worlds of her new life with even greater difficulty than before. And what awaits at thIn Thorn Queen, Eugenie Markham finds she must straddle the two worlds of her new life with even greater difficulty than before. And what awaits at the end is the ultimate question, the decision: will she embrace or abandon the prophesied destiny that is to be her future? Who will be at her side?
Mead punctuates this ever-present conflict by weaving back and forth from the Otherworld to Eugenie's human life back in Tucson. Her not-so-humble beginnings that had begat the legacy of Odile Dark Swan may have taken a backseat to her newest duties. Fans will relish in this departure delving into the otherworldly realm, and the next stage of evolvement of this character.
And that is the focus of Mead's second installment. Eugenie's duties in Tucson, her old job seems to have faded in importance, a mere afterthought, with comparison to her new burden as Queen. Her lands, and her subjects need her. There is commerce, brigands and famine in which to deal with. There is a potential alliance with she and her sister. And the decision to make about two very real men in her life: Kiyo and Dorian. A decision that comes on the heels of a crucial event and changes her life forever.
There is also the portent, a foreshadowing, that Mead touches on. Is Eugenie more like her father or herself? Will she be the Storm Queen or the Thorn Queen? It is anyone's guess. Either way devoted readers (like myself) will be avidly rooting for the next book to come out and eagerly devouring it. Especially now that she's got the right guy at her side (not giving it away, though I so want to!) Hey I bet the next one will be called Storm Queen? Ya think? ...more
From the very first paragraphs of any Anya Bast novel you instantly know that this is a writer who definitely enjoys what she does and excels at it. OFrom the very first paragraphs of any Anya Bast novel you instantly know that this is a writer who definitely enjoys what she does and excels at it. On all levels Bast delivers and Wicked Enchantment is no exception. From the first two pages I was chuckling knowing this book was going to be amazing. All the elements we have seen exhibited before in Karen Marie Moning, Laurell K. Hamilton, Richelle Mead and others who have penned novels about the Seelie Courts are evident, but like a master puzzle-maker Bast recasts the tale and its lore and fashioned something fresh, modern, and indelibly hers. The concept of the Fey, even both courts being held contained in Piefferburg is singular.
Even the language, descriptions, characters, the history, the Fey religion, and that of the Phaendir are balanced just enough that they do not overpower the reader. Bast’s rich textural world is easy to digest but no less riveting and original. The thread of romance is held the tautest and is never forgotten. That is what we have to come to expect of Bast. Exceptional imagination with a steamy set of characters.
The tale of Aislinn and Gabriel is white-hot and drawn out, but Bast takes her time to tell the story and build a connection between these two. The unlikely relationship between an Unseelie incubi and a Seelie is the first hurdle to overcome but when Aislinn’s lineage is called into question things get even more interesting. By the time you reach the end of the book you are craving more, and more will definitely come. With the fate of the Book of Bindings, and the two lost pieces of the puzzle still unfound, the future of Piefferburg is up in the air. Bast has a never-ending well in which to draw from for future sequels and ones that her fans will clamor for more. Cruel Enchantment, the sequel to Wicked looks to be released in September of this year. I cannot wait. ...more