Review for The Melody combined with my review of Ghost in the Closet (Immortal Symphony: Overture #3) at The Armchair Reader.
This excerpt about the ThReview for The Melody combined with my review of Ghost in the Closet (Immortal Symphony: Overture #3) at The Armchair Reader.
This excerpt about the The Melody taken from that review:
Readers who buy the Season Pass (all six Overture season episodes in one) will get an overall discount but also some freebies. The first of those freebies came out with this story in the form of a short story. “The Melody” goes far back in time to an innocent and young Dorian. We get to meet Basil, an artist that young Dorian loves with all the infatuation of a boy and who is also a character importantly referenced to in the first story. While the scene between the two isn’t completely instrumental to the main story (you don’t have to read it), I did really enjoy being able to get to see him and see who he really was to Dorian at that age. Plus, seeing Dorian as positive, hopeful and undamaged gives me a lot of hope that we’ll soon get to see a real change in Dorian in the main story as well....more
This third part of the Immortal Symphony serial is definitely the part of the story that I was waiting fReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This third part of the Immortal Symphony serial is definitely the part of the story that I was waiting for. The dynamic between Gabriel, Michael and Dorian changes quite drastically after the second story, where Gabriel partook in the casual drug use and orgiastic (very public) pleasures in celebration of Dorian's birthday. But what is a common evening of debauchery for Dorian is quite honestly uncomfortably hedonistic to Gabriel. Always the good boy in comparison to his twin brother Michael's more outlandish actions, this story shows more than ever before how the addition of Dorian to the brothers' lives has had an affect on them. Gabriel, who has always had trouble letting loose and giving up control to participate in the kinds of things like Dorian's sex party, finds that he quite likes forcing himself to explore new opportunities and experience life in a more hedonistic way. Michael's whole existence, however, is a testament to the partying lifestyle of excess drugs and sex, one which ultimately cost him his life. Seeing his brothers actions hits Michael the hardest. This drives a firm wedge between Michael and Dorian, and when Gabriel doesn't seem as upset at Dorian and Michael feels he should, Michael decides to take over his brothers body and show Dorian his displeasure. The resulting confrontation between the two pushes open the door to Dorian's secrets, until they start spilling out into the light.
While I liked this story even more than the first two -- specifically because we're starting to get some real answers -- I'm still very of two minds about this series and the characters. First, I really adore the writing of Dorian's character, but I don't actually like Dorian at all. I say that I really adore the writing of him because I've suspected all along that my emotions are purposefully being manipulated as far as how I feel about him. He's really not likable at all except in that pre-karma way, the "he's going to get what's coming to him" way, whether that be literal or the satisfaction of watching him start to have real feelings for someone. That's why I can't say I categorically hate Dorian, though he does make me uncomfortable. He's a much more complicated character than that. In fact, he's the character that really parallels the overall unfolding plot, because the reveal of his secrets drives the plot forward (which we see in this story as flashbacks). These two authors are really using this unusual medium to explore non-traditional romance characters. Dorian is such a big character that his presence often takes over parts of the story, and ultimately, I feel like he'll be the deciding factor as to where the story will go as it navigates the boundary between erotica and romance.
The second part of how I feel about this serial is that as far as the overall plot and the emotional growth of the characters, this serial is still in it's infancy, so those things like how I don't' like Dorian very much have very little impact about how I feel about the story overall. I suppose, I should just say that while I'm reviewing and having to give each little story in this serial a rating, I'm really reserving judgement for myself.
Readers who buy the Season Pass (all six Overture season episodes in one) will get an overall discount but also some freebies. The first of those freebies came out with this story in the form of a short story. "The Melody" goes far back in time to an innocent and young Dorian. We get to meet Basil, an artist that young Dorian loves with all the infatuation of a boy and who is also a character importantly referenced to in the first story. While the scene between the two isn't completely instrumental to the main story (you don't have to read it), I did really enjoy being able to get to see him and see who he really was to Dorian at that age. Plus, seeing Dorian as positive, hopeful and undamaged gives me a lot of hope that we'll soon get to see a real change in Dorian in the main story as well.
The fourth story in the Immortal Symphony serial is out now!...more
Owing to staying sick for about a month between March and April, it's taken me quite a while to get back into theReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Owing to staying sick for about a month between March and April, it's taken me quite a while to get back into the swing of reviews and get caught up on some of them, especially the two serials from Storm Moon Press, which before getting sick I was thoroughly enjoying. I suppose it isn't so bad being able to read more than one of them in a row, especially with the Cari Z's Cambion serial.
We ended the second story in the Cambion serial ("Black Magic Woman") with the pair gearing up to flee Las Vegas. The City of Sin turned out to have more of a bite than these two were expecting and gave both of them a reminder that though they have some pretty powerful weapons on their sides, they aren't infallible. In the process of seeking a witch to divine the location of their quarry, Porter Grey, Devon lost his sense of touch for three days. What seemed like one of the better sense to gamble (rather than say, his sight) turns out to be almost impossible to deal with and Devon is relegated to letting Rio take care of him.
The pair flee Vegas to find Porter Grey, who according to the information of the witch Lynlis is in Seattle. But Devon is not up for any kind of mission, so they instead decide to stop in Oregon to visit Devon's dads. Ren and Emile are an enigma with many of their own secrets to keep. They're foster parents to cambions, teaching them to control their powers. But going home only highlights the growing feelings between Rio and Devon and puts Rio and his secrets in even more of a precarious position.
I think that what I liked so much about this third installment into the Cambion world is that it takes what we saw in the second and continues to develop it. Of course, some pretty big secrets come out, including the one Rio's been trying to hide, but while it was nice to find out what he really is, I liked seeing the developing intimacy between him and Devon even more. Devon's vulnerability stemming from losing his sense of touch brings that connection to the forefront; for the first time, Devon has to overlook his pride and accept help and seeing Devon in such a state shows Rio just how much he cares for the cambion.
Cari mentioned after my review of the second story that soon after this third one we'd get back to more of the action. It makes sense if you're considering it by the story. Now that they've gone home and their relationship is on much firmer ground than the casual sexual and professional relationship they had in the first story, it makes sense that the last half of this season will return the focus to their hunt of the demon summoner, Porter Grey.
I'm looking forward to story #4 (not long of a wait!) and in particular hopefully finding out more about Ren and Emile or seeing if they play any further part in the story. I also can't wait to see when Devon finds out what Ren is and by proxy what his dads are :)
If you haven't started this serial then this is a good time to get in on the action, with half of it now over (at least, these first 6 installments). If you buy the season as a bundle you get some free goodies along with it, the first of which was just sent out -- free story "The South Beach Job", which takes us back several years to Rio and Devon's earlier professional relationship when their sexual one is just starting. It's a good story that shows them before they change by their association with the other. Plus, it's always fun watching Devon in slut mode ;)...more
What a pleasant surprise it was when this second installment of Cari Z's new serial Cambion showed up in my email. The first "episode", published one month ago, was reviewed here and was something that I really enjoyed. We met Devon and Rio in "Heaven's On Fire". Devon is a cambion, half human and half demon/incubus. He has the power of lust and uses it with deadly precision. On the other hand, Rio is an enigma. Secret even among the clandestine group in which they work, Rio is smart, capable and ruthless, yet with a solid and gentle core, something that only Devon really sees. The two have forged a working relationship over time that skirts the edge of friendship. Rio has no reason to lie about the fact that Devon is charming (though his powers don't work on him), that he likes him and finds their easy sexual relationship comforting. Devon feels the same. He has rather progressive and loose boundaries towards sex anyway, but if there were one man who he'd want something more from, it is Rio.
In "Heaven's On Fire", Rio came to Devon's rescue, extracting him from a deadly situation involving a pleasure house catered to the grotesque and sadistic taste. He was there to make contact and try to apprehend Porter Grey, a dangerous man known for summoning demons. Porter Grey, however, has proved rather difficult to apprehend, making it out of the club alive and setting off on his own. Now, in "Black Magic Woman", Rio and Devon must make the rounds among the paranormally powerful of Las Vegas to find a way to track the man.
Cari Z is continuing to draw me in with this serial. The first episode hooked me but this one did what it needed to keep my interest up. And more than doing that by leading us to more clues as to the overall and main plot, and about Porter Grey, it takes the time to lay down the bones of the characters (especially Rio in this one) and further develop the relationship between the two. There's a lull in the action with this story, to really lay the groundwork for what is to come later. I found that this story was just as much to my taste as the first one, even though it was without big explosions and the action that I enjoyed so much. That is because Devon and Rio can hold the story on their own. Devon is just as funny here as I first saw him, with an outrageous personality and Rio's secrets and air of mystery kept me intrigued, especially as we got to know him better with more of his point of view in this episode.
I'm really looking forward to getting more of the story! I definitely recommend this one, but only you know if you'd rather hold out for the whole story to be completed before you read it. I'm usually that way myself, but so far I'm really getting into reading this serial, which must mean that they're doing something right ;)...more
I was both excited and a little wary of reading "Life of the Party." This is the second "episode" in the serializReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I was both excited and a little wary of reading "Life of the Party." This is the second "episode" in the serialized story -- about a modern day Dorian Gray. He's a man whose mysterious powers and long life have given him an extreme confidence and at this point in the story, I might say arrogance. He's a sexual creature to the point of extreme debauchery, which Gabriel soon finds out when he attends Dorian's birthday party, which is pretty much a thinly veiled excuse for an orgy. Every gathering is an excuse for an orgy when Dorian is around! :)
This second story does a pretty good job of extending and strengthening those things which stood out in the first story. Gabriel is suspicious of Dorian and who he really is, but as his proximity to Dorian fluctuations so does his reaction to him, like a drug. When Dorian is near Gabriel forgets himself and is overcome with lust enough to distract from his conscience, or better named, his brother and ghost Michael. The two brothers have an interesting dynamic when we first meet them in the first story. Michael does indeed act as Gabriel's conscience for the most part, but with his own personality and also wary attentiveness that Gabriel not succumb to the same pitfalls in life that he did before his untimely death. While Gabriel loves his brother, you can see that he often resents him as well. Or, he is at least uncomfortable with his presence. This complicated dynamic becomes even further strained in this story. Michael is already naturally suspicious of Dorian, who he can't figure out on a spiritual level. But seeing Dorian's effect on Gabriel alarms Michael further in Life of the Party. Dorian's gift of spreading lust affects Gabriel so strongly in this story that he becomes a libidinous creature that shocks him afterward. It's a kind of dubious violation that worries Gabriel.
That realization and ultimate agreement with his brother about his suspicions causes a bit of a change in Gabriel that sets a new tone and a new direction going into the third story. I have a feeling that in the next story Gabriel is going to be a bit more cautious and a bit more insistent that he find out Dorian's secrets.
For the most part this story carried on the same as the story before it. Though we get to see a bit of a different setting and the characters are fleshed out a bit more, there's not a huge change yet in the character dynamics, though as I said, this story seems to be setting the stage for some kind of upcoming change. Of course, there are still orgies aplenty :)
I'm still really enjoying this serial and looking forward to the coming stories. I have to admit that this story started to edge closer to the line in my comfort zone, but that made this story all the more exciting for me. I never quite felt that it was in danger of going too far for me (it would have to be very, very far!), but there was a bit of a discordant mood in this story that felt as if it was perfectly set to make the reader feel Gabriel's warring excitement and unease with the sex party and his part in it.
Part 3 of Immortal Symphony: Overture, "Ghost in the Closet", is out now. Part 4, "Shadow from the Past", is to be released on May 10....more
I've long been a fan of Cari Z's work, but it wasn't until last year when I read "Opening Worlds" and Changing WoReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've long been a fan of Cari Z's work, but it wasn't until last year when I read "Opening Worlds" and Changing Worlds that I really fell in love with her work, so you won't even believe how excited I was when I saw that she was going to be writing the other serial started this month at Storm Moon Press. Kris Piet even had to write to tell me to be patient, I was asking about it so vehemently ;) Thankfully, it lived up to my hopes and really made me excited for this season. Writing a serial must be hard, especially a published serial, because the first episode really counts. There's so little room to make an impression and show a fully fleshed character (or two), because that's what really hooks the reader. And I rarely give out more than a Pretty Good rating for the first story in a long series of releases. Usually all we get is a small grasp of what is to come, and a Pretty Good rating is like saying that the author(s) did the best they could with a limited opportunity. But here, I felt like I would have been happy, in most respects, if this were a standalone story. The relationship arc will take a lot longer to develop, but this was sexy enough and the characters have enough chemistry that I felt like it went above and beyond what I was expecting.
Devon is a cambion, a quasi-demon birthed from a human and an incubus. His dual nature affords him special and unique abilities -- the best of both races -- and some detractions from them both as well. He has magical demonic powers, the most powerful of which is his natural ability to inspire lust. Devon is also a supernatural spy of sorts. Working for a private contract group whose secret mission is to police the underworld of demonic summoning, Devon executes his job like a demonic Mata Hari. He and his group have long been searching for a nasty demon summoner, known for his cruelty, intelligence and luck in escaping authorities and they have finally traced him to a … pleasure house of sorts, run by an old Chinese man named Shangdi who delights in rather perverse displays of cruelty to demons. But when Devon is made deep inside his mission, he'll need extraction before he's made an example of for the pleasure of the house. And extraction comes in the way of a rather tall, gun-happy and dog-loving Rio, a man who Devon really likes.
I'm really excited about what is to come this first season of the serial. Devon seems like he can easily get into all kinds of trouble and Rio can always get him out. And the chemistry they have together is explosive. What I really loved was how funny I found this to be, mostly in tone. The point of view comes from both Devon and Rio, so we get a different variation on the scene depending on who is narrating, but what their voices both have in common is a kind of nonchalance for the violence they cause. That detachment struck me as funny for some reason, in a bit of a Tarantino way. And combined with the fact that everything Devon does is tinged with sex, made for a unique and well-written story. I'm just glad that it's only the beginning!
**Just a note! You can buy each of these stories by themselves (and this one, as the first story, is only $.99), but if you buy a season pass at Storm Moon Press you also get lots of goodies over the course of the season, like a DVD box set -- freebies and extra goodies :)...more
2nd Update: on 5/8/13 -- Caught up to current chapters (now at ch. 343). Been keeping up weekly for the last 4 months or so. Now about 40 or so chapte2nd Update: on 5/8/13 -- Caught up to current chapters (now at ch. 343). Been keeping up weekly for the last 4 months or so. Now about 40 or so chapters into the Red Book (Talin & Mir's story). The first 30-35 chapters were really frustrating to me, much more than any of the other stories have been so far. Mir is a tough nut for Talin to crack and their story is so insular and removed from the rest of the world; the other relationships so far were very integrated into the world. It feels like we've lost the other brothers in the shuffle. We haven't seen most of them for a long time now and reading the same argument over and over is difficult, even though it shows just how messed up Mir is. Still, I'm liking it. I don't think that I could not like it at this point, now that I love the story so much and am so invested. Plus, the last 5-10 chapters have really turned around now that Mir is opening up more and it feels like their relationship is FINALLY on the right track. And I'm happy to see the rest of the brothers start to be integrated back into the story more. THANKFULLY. I missed them, all the fun is gone without them. So hopefully, the story won't go back to being stuck in a rut like it was for several months.
Just please, let us get to the Blue book! I wanna see some more Vade please! The Blue Book is going to be a riot, I know it!
1st (Original) Update: on 1/28/12 -- Finally finished and read up to the current chapter written, 277. Been reading for about 3 weeks now, and I'm really addicted to this... Like, maybe in a bad way :-/...more