Patricia Briggs was the best new find of the month. I'm still all tingly from the excitement of finding her. This is the first in an urban fantasy ser...morePatricia Briggs was the best new find of the month. I'm still all tingly from the excitement of finding her. This is the first in an urban fantasy series about a girl named Mercy Thompson. Mercy is a VW mechanic and a walker, meaning she can shift into a coyote at will. Though not part of a pack, she was raised by one and lives across a field from the local Alpha. Werewolves, vampires, and other miscellaneous fae abound in Mercy's world and they all seem to want a piece of her, literally and figuratively. What makes these books the best urban fantasy I've read all year is the combination of Briggs' tight writing, humor, and palpable tension (all the best kinds) woven into the narrative without ever delving down into the crass or gratuitous. They remind me of Robin McKinley's Sunshine meets Sookie Stackhouse.(less)
The second Mercy Thompson book was even better than the first. I love how Briggs' stories refuse to be self-indulgent in the way that so many other ur...moreThe second Mercy Thompson book was even better than the first. I love how Briggs' stories refuse to be self-indulgent in the way that so many other urban fantasies do. It's not a mystery, a werewolf tale, a horror novel, a romance. It's it's own thing and I love it. I couldn't get Mercy and Adam, Stefan and Bran out of my head for weeks. Can't wait for Iron Kissed.(less)
Aware of my current craving for good urban fantasy/paranormals, my husband recommended this one to me after listening to the audio version while he wa...moreAware of my current craving for good urban fantasy/paranormals, my husband recommended this one to me after listening to the audio version while he was out on the job. Vincent's first offering is at once hefty and highly accessible. Stray opens with Faythe, a werecat and the only daughter of an alpha, attempting to assert her independence and live a life of normalcy outside the Pride as a grad student at the University of North Texas. A series of attacks on other tabbies by a mysterious "stray," along with the unwanted protective stalking of her former intended Marc, drag her back to the family ranch and into the complicated politics of the Pride. I liked Faythe well enough. I liked Marc and Jace even better. The world is decidedly dark and these weres need each other more than they seem to know. Vincent has signed a contract for five future books in this series and I look forward to watching Faythe mature as a character.(less)
Marr's first novel is an absolute treat. A delicious dark urban fantasy--it felt like Holly Black meets Tamora Pierce. And yes, if the thought of th...moreMarr's first novel is an absolute treat. A delicious dark urban fantasy--it felt like Holly Black meets Tamora Pierce. And yes, if the thought of that combination leaves you tingling with delight, go out and buy it Right Now. At the same time it kept reminding me of Laura Wiess' Such a Pretty Girl, which I read not long back. I think because the two central characters, Meredith and Aislinn, are such tough, haunted girls. Granted, their demons don't inhabit the same world (literally). But they are demonish in the same disturbing, gut-wrenching way. Marr's blend of gritty, wrong-side-of-the-tracks realism with the decadent fantasy of the Faery courts was pitch perfect and her descriptions of the clashing Faery kingdoms and the humans caught between left me shivering for more.(less)
All the other books I read this month were surprise finds, but this one I'd been waiting for. I was so excited to see it on the shelves in my local B&N...moreAll the other books I read this month were surprise finds, but this one I'd been waiting for. I was so excited to see it on the shelves in my local B&N the night before it was to come out. I felt like someone was watching me as I surreptitiously snatched it off the shelf and scurried through the checkout line and out the door with it. I hope it was the benevolent bookseller who placed it out early, because I truly got my money's worth. What a fun read. I was very pleased with Kaye's storyline, quite moved by Corny's and Luis's, and extremely relieved that Roiben and Ravus were getting their dark-lord groove on.(less)
In preparation for the release of Ironside, I gave Tithe its first reread. It was superb. As is so often the case, I enjoyed it more the second time...moreIn preparation for the release of Ironside, I gave Tithe its first reread. It was superb. As is so often the case, I enjoyed it more the second time around. Far and away my favorite Tam Lin retelling, it really does a good job with the themes of sacrifice and love. Plus Roiben is perfect in that hopelessly doomed kind of way.(less)
There's nothing like a new Sookie to cheer you up. And this one (#7) is the best one since #5. Harris skillfully weaves in threads from each of the pr...moreThere's nothing like a new Sookie to cheer you up. And this one (#7) is the best one since #5. Harris skillfully weaves in threads from each of the previous books in complex ways. It becomes very clear that the events of the past six books have changed Sookie. Her life is not what it was when she met her first vampire (who shall remain nameless here) in a bar in Bon Temps. This theme dovetailed particularly well with the focus on how Louisiana itself was altered by Hurricane Katrina. I like the direction Harris is taking with Sookie and Eric's relationship. I like that she's given her a friend in Amelia. I like where this series is going.(less)
So this series just keeps getting more and more intense. And in such unexpected ways. I love it when an author has the ability (and the guts) to slip...moreSo this series just keeps getting more and more intense. And in such unexpected ways. I love it when an author has the ability (and the guts) to slip in a real shocker without compromising her characters or the story as a whole. In a series, that's particularly hard to do without making it seem like a gratuitous plot twist inserted merely to keep the series going. Patricia Briggs has a 7-book deal for her Mercy Thompson series and book three has shown that not only does she know exactly what she's doing, but that we can trust her. To keep her characters and her world consistent. To take them down the right paths and introduce them to the right people...or werewolves and vampires in this case.
Mercy lives in a world where werewolves, vampires, and the fae exist side by side with humans. The first book, Moon Called, focuses on the werewolves. The second, Blood Bound, centers on the vampires, including Mercy's quirky Scooby Doo loving friend Stefan. In this third installment, coyote shape shifter and VW mechanic Mercy Thompson is called in to help the fae solve a series of murders on the local fae reservation. Soon after, her friend Zee is arrested for the murder and, just like that, Mercy's in the thick of it, determined to clear Zee's name no matter what. Add to that the increasingly imperative choice she must make between the two werewolves in her life: Adam Hauptman (the Alpha of the local pack who's already claimed her as his mate) and Dr. Samuel Cornick (the wolf she fell in love with at 16). In what is becoming classic Briggs style, Iron Kissed combines an intriguing mystery with a streak of compelling romance, interspersed with glimpses of your worst nightmares. The combination is the height of entertainment. And what holds it all together is Mercy herself. The girl doesn't know the meaning of the words back down. I absolutely love these books. (less)
Elena Michaels is determined to go it alone. She doesn't need the pack. She doesn't need Clay, the werewolf who misled her, made her believe he loved...moreElena Michaels is determined to go it alone. She doesn't need the pack. She doesn't need Clay, the werewolf who misled her, made her believe he loved her, and then turned her into one of them without her permission, without even telling her what he was. To make matters worse, it turns out she's the only female werewolf in the world. That's right. Elena's the Only One and so not interested in dealing with the inevitable "attention" this brings her way. So she leaves the pack and moves to Toronto where she gets a job as a journalist and finds a nice, normal boyfriend to cuddle with. Problem is, she can't outrun her past and she can't escape the call of the wolf.
Her troubles intensify when the pack needs her help and Jeremy, the Alpha, calls her home to help them solve a string of grisly murders. They suspect some mutts (rogue wolves) of causing the mayhem and Elena's specialty just happens to be tracking mutts. Unable to refuse Jeremy's summons, Elena reluctantly returns to the compound in upstate New York. Gritting her teeth in anticipation of the welcome she'll receive. Turns out Clay's been waiting for her this whole time, insisting he's still in love with her and always has been. Elena's pretty sure she's still in love with him, too. But none of this stops them from bickering like teenagers and snarling at each other every chance they get.
The scenes where members of the pack interact as a motley, roughhousing family are extremely well done. As are Elena's painful transformations from human to wolf form. The undeniable sense of freedom and belonging she feels back with the pack is vivid and tangible and I found myself wrapped up in finding out the fate of these vulnerable, larger-than-life characters. Elena's external and internal conflicts were well-plotted and compelling and the book builds strongly toward an intense showdown between the pack and the mutts. Only in the last few pages is anything resolved and, unfortunately, I felt the internal conflict was wrapped up entirely too quickly. Elena and Clay's relationship was wonderfully messy and complicated, with layer upon layer of distrust and longing. The book itself was almost 400 pages and trying to clean the mess up in just the last six pages left me dissatisfied and upset. I liked the whole tangled web and felt it deserved a more careful treatment in the end. I am currently still wrestling over whether or not to pick up the sequel, Stolen.(less)
I tossed Magic Bites into the my last Amazon order, mostly because of the Patricia Briggs quotes on both front and back covers as well as several pos...moreI tossed Magic Bites into the my last Amazon order, mostly because of the Patricia Briggs quotes on both front and back covers as well as several positive blog reviews I'd read. The most fascinating thing about this book is that the author's name, Ilona Andrews, is actually a combination of Ilona and Andrew Gordon's first names. They are the husband and wife team who create the Kate Daniels books. That is to say, together they come up with the characters and plot, then Ilona writes the book, and finally the two of them wrangle over editing/general clean-up. Awesome, no?
I have to say what I liked best about this first book is the crazy, psychedelic Atlanta it takes place in. This alternate city is saturated in daily waves of magic that doggedly eat away at any signs of civilization and/or technology. The city's skyscrapers are no more than dwindling piles of granite and steel. Magic and technology are basically anathema in this world and the inhabitants of Atlanta live a sort of refugee-type half life. Having adapted to the dark surges when the electricity and cars stop working and people take to horse-drawn carriages and camp stoves. During these times the supernatural rules and mere humans get by. It reminded me vaguely of the gritty, post apocalyptic world Robin McKinley created in Sunshine. The vampires share a few common characteristics as well, their extremely gruesome appearance being at the top of the list. It's nice to see someone else bucking the current beautiful and seductive trend. Not that I have anything against your run-of-the-mill sparkly vampire. It's just fun to see the ubercreepy version as well.
The reader is dropped into Kate Daniels' life without a by-your-leave. Being the somewhat cantankerous reader that I am, I like it when a book challenges me to keep up, grabs me by the throat, shakes me once, and says, "Immerse yourself or be left in the dust!" In this world where humans exist side by side with creatures straight out of mythology and nightmare, it was a treat to attempt to navigate it without having everything spoon fed to me. I like Kate. She does share some characteristics with Briggs' Mercy Thompson. She has a sense of humor and she ruthlessly guards her independence. Kate's a bit rougher around the edges than Mercy. She's had a rough past, undoubtedly, but one of the strokes of genius in this series is that the reader doesn't know what Kate is. We know she's something. But we don't know what. And Kate is determined not to tell anyone. Not even the reader. Oh, we'll find out eventually. But I'm all tingly with the mystery of Kate and her powers.(less)
In this second installment, Kate reluctantly agrees to do a favor for the local Pack and investigate the disappearance of some valuable maps. While hu...moreIn this second installment, Kate reluctantly agrees to do a favor for the local Pack and investigate the disappearance of some valuable maps. While hunting down the culprit, Kate gets called in on another favor. This time she winds up shackled with a teenage street urchin whose mother recently joined an amateur witch coven and went missing shortly after. Kate promises to find the girl's mother and, in the process, is caught in the crossfire between two ancient deities vying for power. So pretty much an average day for Kate and the city of Atlanta.
The highlights of Magic Burns are definitely the increased personal interactions between Kate and the various people and creatures who've come into her life. The growing attachment between Kate and Julie (the young girl in her care) develops quickly and the protective stance Kate takes throughout the course of the book is quite touching . Equally compelling is the more slowly developing connection between Curran, the Pack alpha, and Kate. Despite their mutual attempts to avoid each other. The reader gains several insights into these two almost painfully private people and the ending promises more good things to come. In fact, these quiet character-driven scenes were so interesting that I wished there were just a few more. The plentiful action and fighting sequences seem to always take center stage and, though we do get a little more information on Kate's background, it is a very little and I am (of course) anxious for more. A solid second book, I'm looking forward to the third one, due out sometime next year. (less)
Faythe Sanders is back in Rogue, Rachel Vincent's sophomore offering and follow-up to her debut novel Stray. DH was the one who came across Stray a...moreFaythe Sanders is back in Rogue, Rachel Vincent's sophomore offering and follow-up to her debut novel Stray. DH was the one who came across Stray and recommended it to me. We both enjoyed it and were looking forward to reading the sequel. Vincent has a contract for six total Werecat books and so there is plenty of time for character and world development. Which is a good thing because, while Faythe doesn't bother me as much as she seems to bother other readers, she definitely has some hurdles to tackle in the way of maturity, particularly when it comes to relationships. I do find myself sympathizing rather more than is my norm with the various men in her life, be they father, brothers, or boyfriends. At the same time, I'm also willing to cut her a fair bit of slack given her status as one of only a handful of female werecats, the only daughter of a domineering alpha, and the recipient of about ten times her fair share of male ego. I guess I just understand her longing for independence. Especially after she worked so hard to get an education, only to be snatched back to the pride against her will.
In Rogue, Faythe and her on-again off-again boyfriend Marc are working to track down a rogue were who's been killing strays in their territory. Soon the murders grow to include a series of seemingly unconnected exotic dancers, the only common denominator being that they each look just like Faythe. Straight dark hair, green eyes. Cuh-reepy. In the meantime, Faythe and Marc have enough on their hands handling each other, let alone the increasing pile of dead bodies. But when the trail leads back to someone from Faythe's past she thought she'd left behind, all hell breaks loose and Faythe is left scrambling to keep her friends and prove her innocence.
I liked the pace of this one. It moved along at a good clip and the mystery was involving. I still like Faythe's scruffy brothers and her parents' relationship remains touching, if slightly eerie. I'm anxious (and a little bit afraid) to see where Vincent plans on taking Faythe next. She seems to be floundering quite spectacularly and I really sort of hope she (and Marc) will be able to pull their explosive emotions (and reactions) together long enough to be up front about their differences and find some middle ground. I think they both need to grow up, though Faythe's immaturity is more frequently on display than Marc's, and until something forces them to really see each other for who they are and accept what they see, things will continue to be rough for these two cats.(less)
Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr's first novel, was on my Best of 2007 list and I've been very excited about the sequel, Ink Exchange. The storyline foll...more Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr's first novel, was on my Best of 2007 list and I've been very excited about the sequel, Ink Exchange. The storyline follows Aislinn's friend Leslie. Leslie is surrounded by a fog of secrets and unable to break through the fog because of something that happened to her while Aislinn was caught up in her own set of the tumultuous events in Wicked Lovely. The gulf between the two girls only grows wider as they find themselves unable to talk about how they have each been irrevocably altered. While Aislinn negotiates a tricky truce between Keenan and Seth, Leslie is left to fend for herself, waitressing tables to pay the bills, and avoiding going home for any length of time. She is also storing away a little cash to get a tattoo as a symbol of taking her life back and escaping the terror that's dominated it for too long.
Turns out she's not completely alone, though. Aislinn has commissioned Niall, Keenan's friend and right hand man, to watch over Leslie, haunting her steps in order to protect her from the Dark Court faeries who seem to have developed a sudden, unhealthy interest in her. Chief among Aislinn's worries is Irial, the Dark King himself. But, unbeknownst to any of them, Leslie has chosen Irial's tattoo to ink on her back, a process which will link the girl and the Dark King, allowing him to feed off human emotion through her, and thereby keep his people from starving. Add to that the complication that Niall is falling in love with Leslie. Irial is falling in....something....with Leslie. And Niall and Irial have A History. A long, dark, twisted, and surprisingly moving one.
The thing about Ink Exchange is, just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. With a vengeance. A sort of hazy, starbursty kind of worse. Until you want to run screaming onto the page, snatch Leslie (and Niall, and, yes, Irial, too) in your arms and stash them away somewhere warm and safe and dry until they're able to heal. Short of being able to do that, you keep reading. I liked Leslie. I liked her a lot. And I hated that she had so few choices available and that, for the majority of the book, she was being manipulated left and right. By those who loved her, wanted her, and hated her alike. It made me mad. At all the characters, even as I loved them. Even my beloved Seth who seemed to see clearer than anyone, except perhaps Irial. And it made the ending a very satisfying one. But it wasn't an easy read. And it wasn't a pleasant one. And I still, epilogue be damned, have the aforementioned urge to run in and save them all. But I will wait. Somewhat impatiently. For book three.(less)
From Dead to Worse is the eighth Sookie Stackhouse book and, after reading it, definitely a comfort Sookie for me. Meaning, of the eight books so far,...moreFrom Dead to Worse is the eighth Sookie Stackhouse book and, after reading it, definitely a comfort Sookie for me. Meaning, of the eight books so far, this is one I'll go back and reread when I want to feel good about things again. Right up there with numbers four and five-- Dead to the World and Dead as a Doornail. And, yes, I realize that my favorite Sookie books are also the ones with a high Eric factor. That's just the way it is. Fortunately, Ms. Harris seems to be channeling the good Eric vibes as well, because I continue to like where his and Sookie's relationship is going. And I like that it's not speeding but taking its time. Although, I will put in a request for "that conversation" to happen in the next book, please thank you.
This installment sees Sookie and company recovering from the repercussions of the disastrous vampire summit in the last book. Post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana is also still recovering and several new people come into Sookie's life as a result of this necessary shifting around of their state and their lives. This story seemed very real to me. The trademark humor is still there and as charming as ever. But Sookie makes several weighty decisions throughout the course of this book. Forces herself to, in some cases. And where a few new characters come in, a few older ones make what I would term exits. Wisely chosen ones, I thought.
Sam maintains a quiet but firm presence in Sookie's life. Bill determinedly lingers around the edges. And, even though I will always despise him, he did remind me (and Sookie) of a few of the reasons they got together in the first book. And Eric and Sookie continue to navigate the deep waters between them (their increasingly powerful blood bond, that pesky long-term amnesia thing Eric's got going on, etc). I enjoyed this installment because it was low key, but carried simmering consequences and intriguing possible developments under its calm-ish surface. Sookie was superb. Extremely mature, unafraid, and determined. In all the best ways. Another hit for Charlaine Harris. Can't wait for book nine. (less)
So I finally got around to picking up my first Rachel Caine book. I have to say I really like the cover design and artwork on this series. Simple, cl...moreSo I finally got around to picking up my first Rachel Caine book. I have to say I really like the cover design and artwork on this series. Simple, classy lines accompany the smooth, witching weather artwork making the overall package quite pleasing. I'm looking forward to how they'll look all lined up nicely on my shelf.
Joanne is a weather warden, one of a few hundred people on Earth gifted with the ability to control the elements. Jo's gift is over water and air. She can summon up a storm and divert a disaster, but whenever a warden uses her power, the energy fallout has to go somewhere. And it's a daunting, thankless task managing where to expel it without creating another disaster along the way. Jo's job is made that much more difficult by the fact that she's recently become the unwanted owner of a Demon Mark, and the darkness inside will slowly consume her if she's unable to find a way to discharge it.
Caine's writing is highly accessible and I had trouble putting the book down in between sittings, mostly because I liked Jo and David (and Lewis). I liked the unusually deft incorporation of flashbacks to Joanne's college years and warden training days to show the reader how she came to be the girl she is. It's always fun sinking into a new world, particularly one like Caine's--that rare urban fantasy sans vampire, shape shifter, or other furry beastie. Although Jo's world isn't a completely Mythic Creature Free Zone. Most advanced wardens are given a Djinn--a magical being bound to serve them. (And, yes, they do usually come complete with a bottle to call home). The Djinn were a fun addition to the world and I can tell they're going to play a much larger role in the books to come.(less)
Wow. Rachel Caine wasn't kidding with the end of Ill Wind. And the second Weather Warden book, Heat Stroke, takes that unexpected ending and runs wi...moreWow. Rachel Caine wasn't kidding with the end of Ill Wind. And the second Weather Warden book, Heat Stroke, takes that unexpected ending and runs with it. Wild. And Jo doesn't get much more of a breather than the reader does as she's plunged headlong into life as a Djinn. Or one half of a Djinn. Or a Djinn in training. Who can tell for sure?
Good thing the lovely David is there to help her get a grip on her new reality. Unfortunately, it turns out David broke a few not-so-minor rules when he saved her life and the head Djinn Jonathan isn't happy with him. No, sir. Jonathan's not a bit happy. Before she can catch her breath, he turns Jo over to the rather dubious (but hilarious) Patrick to complete her training. In a week. Or die. And if Jo dies? Yep, you've got it. David'll be gone too. *sob* Of course, it's Jo we're talking about here. So the words "fighting chance" actually mean something. Plus, where Jo is, Lewis can never be very far. And with Lewis lurking about, waggling his fingers at the cosmos, channeling a grown up Charles Wallace Murry like nobody's business, chances of surviving an apocalypse are slightly better.
Even so, nothing is as it seems in this book and you can't necessarily trust who you thought you could. I've tried to avoid spoilers for the following books in the series, so I don't know where Caine is going with all this mayhem, but I kind of dig it. Gives the whole series an unsettling, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants feel while keeping the characters consistent and very, very interesting.(less)
This third installment in the Weather Warden series sees our girl Jo burning rubber to stop that little twit Kevin from taking over the wo...moreVegas, baby.
This third installment in the Weather Warden series sees our girl Jo burning rubber to stop that little twit Kevin from taking over the world. Now that he's nigh unto invincible (thanks to a heady cocktail of Jonathan and Lewis' powers), he's made his new home a penthouse suite at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Jo has a very unpleasant history with Sin City, and it comes back to haunt her in a Big Way as she desperately tries to locate Kevin and persuade him to see the light.
Chill Factor has a bit of the transitional novel feel to it as a new organization comparable (but sort of diametrically opposed) to the Wardens is introduced, exponentially complicating Joanne's life. Once again, every character except Jo seems to have layer upon layer of hidden motives. In some cases, (such as Marian Bearheart's) these motives made me want to cheer. In others, (such as Lewis') I felt a twist of pain in my gut and, even though he had a quasi-valid explanation, it still felt like betrayal and I didn't like it one bit. But I really did like the book and it certainly provided plenty of fodder for the coming books. Though this isn't the kind of book you'd want to, say, finish after all the bookstores have closed and not have the sequel waiting safely on your nightstand. You really wouldn't.(less)
I think this was my favorite Weather Warden book so far. Having washed her hands of the Wardens, Jo is back in Florida working a pay-the-bills job as...moreI think this was my favorite Weather Warden book so far. Having washed her hands of the Wardens, Jo is back in Florida working a pay-the-bills job as a "weather girl" with a local TV station. The hilarious part is she doesn't even get to predict the weather. She just stands around in nightmarish costumes (picture huge foam suns with face cut-outs and bulky clouds dripping glitter rain), forced to grit her teeth and smile as the schmaltzy-beyond-belief weather man struts his stuff. Fortunately she has a new friend in the feisty Cherise--the petite and beautiful weather girl who drives a Mustang, gets to wear flattering bikinis, and never gets buckets of water dumped on her.
Jo's carefully laid plan of flying under the supernatural radar while trying to figure out how to revive David gets blown to smithereens when her estranged sister shows up on her doorstep in need of a place to stay at the same time as the local Wardens come after her for supposedly tampering with the weather in a Big Bad sort of way. Meanwhile, nobody can find Jonathan, the free Djinn are starting to form into factions, and the whole conflict seems to be quickly ratcheting up the scale from debacle to outright civil war.
The great thing about Windfall is the new characters that are introduced. I loved Cherise and I really liked Jo's sister Sarah. Together they bring a human quality to the story that seemed to be lacking in the last two books and that, I think, Jo desperately needs if she's going to stay afloat. It's good to know there are people who care about her and who will be there when she needs a friend or someone to help ransack the dump for a missing bottle. Four books in and Rachel Caine continues to keep the tension taut, the stakes high, and Jo's wardrobe awesome. On to the next. I'm so glad I found this series after six books were already out...(less)
The no holds barred, pedal to the metal pace of these books is going to be the death of me. I didn't even feel like I read this one. More like it was...moreThe no holds barred, pedal to the metal pace of these books is going to be the death of me. I didn't even feel like I read this one. More like it was downloaded to my brain in a series of high-speed images and I was left to make sense of it all after the fact. In this installment, the Wardens organization is a complete shambles. Both David and Lewis have inherited unwanted leadership burdens, becoming the unwilling de facto leaders of what's left of the free Djinn and the Wardens respectively. Inextricably tied to both men and both groups, Jo finds herself stretched to the breaking point trying to maintain her loyalty and avoid dying. Again.
Firestorm also introduces the concept of the Oracles--supernatural, primal beings who serve as connections between the Djinn and Mother Earth herself. Something dark and nasty begins targeting the Oracles in an attempt to gain entrance to this world and Jo finds herself racing from one Oracle to the next trying to keep the dark and nasty at bay. I felt like Jo was left more alone than she's ever been in this book. Every side character seems to have multiple allegiances and not one of them can be trusted to Be There. Period. And honestly, I don't know if any of them deserve her. The possibility of any of these groups (Wardens, Djinn, Ma'at) co-existing peacefully is also seeming less and less likely. I have to say, though, I did like what happened at the end. Although if I'd had to wait a year for the follow-up book, I probably wouldn't be so enthusiastic about it. As it was, I simply set Firestorm down and calmly started in on the first page of Thin Air.(less)
I first discovered Jeri Smith-Ready through her highly unique urban fantasy Requiem for the Devil. A sort of sequel to Paradise Lost told from Luci...moreI first discovered Jeri Smith-Ready through her highly unique urban fantasy Requiem for the Devil. A sort of sequel to Paradise Lost told from Lucifer's point of view, I thought it was beautiful, disturbing and, in the end, unexpectedly hopeful. When I heard she was writing an urban fantasy about vampire DJs and a female lead who is a con artist, I was eager to get my hands on it. It took forever for my local store to get it in, but when if finally did I snatched it up immediately. And it didn't disappoint in the least. In fact, it had me laughing out loud several times.
In this delightfully original world, vampires are surprisingly vulnerable creatures. Psychologically stuck in the decade they "died" in, they dress and talk the same as they did when they were alive, unable to make sense of the cold, hard fact that the world has moved on without them. As a form of dealing, they develop extremely specific obsessive compulsive coping mechanisms such as meticulously organizing CDs alphabetically, by genre, decade, etc. When confronted with the task of saving WVMP, the failing radio station this group of vampires work at, former con artist turned part-time marketing intern Ciara Griffin finds herself unexpectedly protective of this group of oddball vampires who will begin to mentally deteriorate and slowly fade away completely without their jobs to link them to the contemporary world outside.
Fortunately, Ciara is more than up to the task and her daring marketing campaign triggers a series of hilarious and life threatening events. Ciara is a complicated girl. In many ways, she is tough as nails. Her rough past gives her the tools to step up and protect the few people she cares about. At the same time, her unsavory upbringing haunts her every step. Each time she tries to make the right decision or accept the hand of someone reaching out to her, the temptation to take the easy way out and avoid entanglement or responsibility threatens to overwhelm her desire to do good. These qualities make her a very sympathetic, very unpredictable character who I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with. Fortunately, I'll get to spend more time with Ciara, Shane, and the whole crew, as Ms. Smith-Ready is at work on the sequel, Bad to the Bone, due out next May.(less)
I can't believe this is the last Weather Warden book currently in print. For awhile there it started to feel like there was a limitless supply at my f...moreI can't believe this is the last Weather Warden book currently in print. For awhile there it started to feel like there was a limitless supply at my fingertips. But now I am forced to wait until August to continue the series and find out what happens next for Jo, David, and Lewis. I have decided Lewis needs someone. And I'm really not quite certain it should be Rahel. I think she could really put the hurt on good ole Triple-threat (all powerful, yet surprisingly fragile) Lewis. In any event, my hopes for the upcoming Gale Force include someone to help ground Lewis and some time and space for Jo and David to talk and decompress. I mean, when you're both so busy throwing yourselves in front of oncoming traffic to save each other's lives, you don't really get enough down time together, you know?
Thin Air was a refreshing change of pace from the rest of the series. Her memory (and complete identity) stolen by a demon who now looks just like her, Jo wakes up in the middle of the woods with no idea who she is or how she got there. Lewis and David quickly turn up and attempt to jog her memory. But nothing seems familiar to her and she quickly feels very ill equipped to deal with the pretty heavy emotions that start swirling around once she realizes her relationships with these two guys go way back and that it's particularly painful for them (especially David) to watch her not remember any of it.
I liked this hard reset we got on Joanne's character. In many ways it revealed what kind of person she really is when the layers of burden, grief, and guilt were removed and she was able to respond afresh to the chaos around her and the various people trying to save/love/manipulate her. She responded very well, IMO, and often very humorously. Such as when her internal dialogue runs to the, "Good grief, was I really that kind of girl?" variety. I was particularly taken with the direction her relationship with Kevin takes as that storyline has remained compelling. I hope it continues on in the next volume and that the repercussions of the events in Thin Air carry over and aren't neatly brushed aside in favor of more Utter Peril. This was a great installment and I look forward to the next.(less)
Once again, the cover struck me first. She looked interesting to me. Like she knew things. And I liked the slanted city she leaned up against, looking...moreOnce again, the cover struck me first. She looked interesting to me. Like she knew things. And I liked the slanted city she leaned up against, looking like a character in its own right. I love it when a particularly city or a particular building is a main character in a story. The whole thing is that much richer for it. The good news is I wasn't wrong. Harper Blaine does, in fact, know things. Things she'd rather not know, as it turns out, but know things she does. And the Seattle of Greywalker is a dark, wet, teeming character, and you can tell Kat Richardson knows her way around the place and loves it for all its dark, wet, teemingness.
Harper Blaine is a P.I. who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and winds up dead. For two minutes. After she comes to in the hospital things are....different. Suddenly she sees shadows and outlines of figures who aren't there. At least not on this plane. And just like that, she's forced to accept a whole new worldview. One in which the creatures of nightmare and fairy tale drift along beside the living. They exist in an alternate plane known as the Grey and Harper is a greywalker, a mortal who can cross planes. What that ultimately means is up to Harper to find out. Fortunately, she has a few good friends to help her figure things out, including a witch, a ghost, a couple of vampires, and one extremely tall auctioneer with silver hair.
In case this description sounds like the last urban fantasy you read, let me dispel that thought. Greywalker reads like Raymond Chandler meets Charlaine Harris' Harper Connelly mysteries. The emphasis is on the noir, hardboiled private investigator about town. At first, the paranormal events are almost an afterthought. They come to play a much larger role as they begin to alter Harper's life, but the mystical never overshadows the gritty, real feel of the book. It was a nice surprise, different from what I was expecting, and I enjoyed getting to know Harper and how refreshingly adult she was about things--her job, her relationships. Not always trying to prove her worth to anyone and everyone who crosses her path. I look forward to following this series as it develops.(less)
This book actually creeped me out. In a genuinely nervous, peering into dark corners kind of way. I haven't run across a ghost story that did that in...moreThis book actually creeped me out. In a genuinely nervous, peering into dark corners kind of way. I haven't run across a ghost story that did that in quite awhile, and last night after putting The Squirt to bed and curling up in my rocker to read, I found myself glancing repeatedly at my watch, wondering when DH would be home to keep me company. The cover doesn't help. Harper looks much more sinister (almost possessed) than she did on the cover of Greywalker. So kudos to Kat Richardson. Poltergeist is not only a solid follow-up, but different enough in tone from its predecessor that it held my interest throughout and I felt compelled to keep turning the pages.
This time around Harper is hired by a local psychology professor to investigate the unexpected happenings in an experiment he's running on psychokinesis, involving a group of participants' ability to "create" their own poltergeist. Little does the skeptical Professor Gantner know how qualified this particular PI is for the job. The further she investigates, however, the more convinced Harper is that the group of misfits has, in fact, created a real ghost. And, when Dr. Gantner's assistant Mark is suddenly murdered in a decidedly unusual fashion, Harper immediately sets out on the trail of the ghost and the individual controlling it.
The bulk of this second Greywalker novel is taken up with Harper's day-to-day investigations as she gets to know the various participants in the poltergeist experiment and works alongside Detective Solis who's in charge of the murder case. Her friend, the quirky Quinton, enters the mix as well, helping Harper with the technological aspects of the case and providing an unflappable sounding board when she's at a loss as to how to proceed. Add in a couple of harrowing visits to the necromantic vampire Carlos, and I had to shake the apprehension off my shoulders more than once. I continue to like Harper for her ever matter-of-fact approach to the darker aspects of the job and for the way she looks out for the few friends she has, almost in spite of her natural reserve and strong inclination toward isolation. The third Greywalker novel, Underground, comes out in just a couple weeks and I'm hoping it will include more interaction between Harper and her friends and perhaps some additional information on her past. I just know there's stuff she's not telling us...(less)
Okay, this series continues to entertain me much more than I initially expected it to. I was so pleased to get a copy of Underground for my birthday a...moreOkay, this series continues to entertain me much more than I initially expected it to. I was so pleased to get a copy of Underground for my birthday and I immediately dived right in. It picks up shortly after the events of Poltergeist and Harper is still dealing both physically and emotionally with the fallout from her ghost busting stint. Things with tall, blond, and lanky Will are less than stellar and distraction comes in the form of Harper's mysterious friend Quinton who shows up on her doorstep demanding she investigate a rather gruesomely dead body he ran across on the train tracks. It's not the first dead body to be found in a similar state in recent weeks and Harper and Quinton discover up close and personally that it won't be the last either. Together they traipse through the uncanny city underneath Seattle's streets in search of a mythical monster who may or may not be eating the city's homeless and may or may not be controlled by an ancient Native American god.
Once again, I simply love the way Kat Richardson describes Harper's Seattle. And this time around she's added Quinton's Seattle--a very different city altogether, populated by the homeless and the dissident, and located entirely underground. I've been wanting more on this particular character and storyline and Underground provides a satisfying amount of info while still saving a few secrets for future installments. Just like Harper, I was sucked into the mysteries behind each underground inhabitant, particularly Quinton and just who he's hiding from and why. This book had a slightly grander feel than its predecessors by nature of the monster they're fighting and I loved the inclusion of Seattle's more unusual history as well as the Native American legend and language. Harper remains a likable, scrappy character who I look forward to following. If you enjoyed Greywalker, make sure you pick this one up. Definitely my favorite Greywalker book thus far.(less)
First of all. How about those gold lips? Shimmery! The color of those lips does a good job of representing the glittery-but-dangerous magic in this bo...moreFirst of all. How about those gold lips? Shimmery! The color of those lips does a good job of representing the glittery-but-dangerous magic in this book. Just as the pale skin of their owner conveys the tone of the story quite well: pale, cold, and creepy. I'm pretty sure this is my first pixie urban fantasy and I wasn't sure what to expect. What I did not expect was feeling like I was back inside the world of Stephen King's It. But apparently if a book's got Maine, winter, and a town with a curse on it, it will always evoke the same prickly, back-of-the-neck feelings in me. And Need's heroine shares my sentiments.
Zara's stepdad is dead. After watching her waste away day by day, Zara's mother puts her on a plane and sends her to her de facto grandmother--her stepdad's mom Betty. Betty lives in Maine. Maine feels like another world to Zara. A world in which the every surface is blanketed in snow and the local teenagers are all track stars or football talent or some other sort of gifted. These things combined make Carrie real nervous. As a coping mechanism, she recites phobias in the hopes that naming her fear will help her face it. Yeah, she's brave and likeable that way. And she makes a trio of truly cool, hilarious friends. The adorably scattered Issie, the kind and quiet Devyn, and the dark and looming Nick. The three of them begin giving Zara a reason to get up again. There are, of course, some kids who don't like the new girl. And there is, of course, a bit of a love triangle (but not really). And it's all very high school. That is until gold dust starts showing up everywhere and her classmates start turning out to be Not Who She Thought They Were. And it becomes clear that something wicked is definitely this way coming.
Need is a good one to stay up late at night reading. Alone. That way you can take full advantage of the awful not-pretty pixies going to eat you factor. And, really, when was the last time you did that? What I liked about Ms. Jones' writing is the way she created a truly scary world and villain with very little overt description. I have no idea what he looks like. In my head he's this huge dark form without a face and he is the scarier for it. Part of this is accounted for by the fog Zara is in when she first arrives in Maine, and part by the fear that seems to grow no matter how many names she gives it. I liked that she had such good friends and that they were actually a part of the story, not just background music. Once I met Issie and Devyn, I wanted more and more of them. Nick is definitely a good guy and could probably have used a little more conflict for my taste. But I liked him well enough. His hero complex was indeed charming. I would be happy to read more in this world. Recommended for fans of Holly Black.(less)
I get so excited when my favorite authors break into hardcover. In fact, I'm pleased as punch to shell out the bigger bucks because it means that the...moreI get so excited when my favorite authors break into hardcover. In fact, I'm pleased as punch to shell out the bigger bucks because it means that the awesome I've been basking in for awhile now has finally caught on and is being recognized on a wider scale. So it was, in a word, thrilling to open up the package from Penguin and see the words "#1 New York Times Bestselling Author" atop Patricia Briggs' shiny new hardcover Bone Crossed.
Mercy Thompson starts her fourth adventure staring herself down in the mirror trying to decide where to go from here. The closing events of Iron Kissed left our favorite VW mechanic feeling, at best, very conflicted. She managed to make several key decisions, but can't quite seem to outrun her demons. Of course occupying the place of honor as lone walker, Alpha's declared mate, and vampire public enemy #1 doesn't help. She doesn't have long to fret, though, when an old acquaintance shows up on her doorstep convinced Mercy can banish a ghost for her. Meanwhile, a pair of crossed bones show up on the door of her shop branding her traitor, her place in the pack is still perilously unclear, and her mother drops in unannounced. On the positive side, Stefan plays a much larger role in this one. It was good to have him back after his rather conspicuous, though necessary, absence in Iron Kissed. His friendship with Mercy remains a highlight of the series for me.
If you haven't guessed by now, these books are hands down my favorite urban fantasy series out there. I am ridiculously fond of them. And a big reason why is the nimble way Ms. Briggs walks that infinitesimally fine line between keeping things interesting and staying true to her characters. Beset on all sides by the supernatural, the macabre, and the horrific, her characters continue to feel so real to me. Like I could step into their world and accept it lock, stock, and barrel because Mercy's there in her garage. And what could be more normal than that? Bone Crossed had the same gritty feel that Moon Called had, as well as the dry humor and breathtaking timing of Blood Bound. Being the fourth installment, these characters know each other pretty well by now and so the interpersonal issues swirl around the arc of the mystery, lending it a richness you'll want to sink your teeth into. This series has it all. Good guys worth fighting for. Bad guys worth having nightmares over. And a heroine who can handle them all. More. Please.(less)
So it really seems like I just read Stray. I can't believe it's been almost a year since Rogue came out and that this is the third Werecat book. But,...moreSo it really seems like I just read Stray. I can't believe it's been almost a year since Rogue came out and that this is the third Werecat book. But, having finished Pride, I can honestly say that this series has gotten better with each book and this is my favorite one so far. The good news is that the wait for the fourth book, Prey, will be much less than a year. It's due out July 1st and I will definitely be picking it up. Rachel Vincent has a tendency to end each volume not necessarily on a cliffhanger, but certainly at a point at which you are definitely opposed to stopping!
This third story focuses almost solely on Faythe's murder trial and I liked the less extended plotline as it gave me a chance to visit these characters during some rather unusual downtime, though it was no less tense to be sure! The Alpha tribunal she faces consists of her sympathetic Uncle Rick, the obnoxious and conniving Calvin Malone, and the decrepit not-long-for-this-world Paul Blackwell. Malone appears intent on pushing for the death penalty if he can get Blackwell to back him. And in this courtroom Faythe is guilty until proven innocent.
I sank back into the world in this volume much faster than last time. It was good to be back with Faythe, Marc, Jace, and the gang. I immediately cared about what was going on and how/if Faythe was going to get out of this one with her claws intact. Perhaps most rewardingly, I felt like I was able to actually watch her mature somewhat during the course of the story. She's still Faythe, of course. Her credo is always gonna be it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission. But, that said, she is beginning to take into account the larger picture, the intricate snarl of pride politics, and the subtler ways in which she is able to maneuver within her world without causing dire ramifications for those she loves. I maintain, it's hard to be Faythe, and I admire her strength of will. I'm not sure I would be able to make some of the choices she's made. She's never gonna pull her punches, but she's learning to pick her battles and I have high hopes for the continuation of her fight in the next installment. (less)
So I've been hearing about this one for quite some time. And I confess, I deliberately waited for Wake to come out in paperback before buying it. (No,...moreSo I've been hearing about this one for quite some time. And I confess, I deliberately waited for Wake to come out in paperback before buying it. (No, my library does not have it. Sigh). I figured that way if it was only so-so, I'd have spent less on it. But if, as I was hoping, it was Teh Bomb, then I'd be that much closer to the sequel coming out. It was, ahem, the latter. And now Fade is out! Must secure a copy.
Janie has a hard time sleeping. What with the being sucked into everyone else's dreams without so much as a by your leave. If she's alone in her room with the door shut, she's usually fine. But all she has to do is walk by someone who's sleeping and bam! She's living their dream or nightmare right along with them. And the thing is, they often look right at her and ask her for help. But Janie has no idea how to help, or why this curse chose her life to wreak havoc upon. As if she didn't have it hard enough trying to get by with an alcoholic mother, no father, and no money to pay for college and a way out. She does have a part-time job at a nursing home, a kind, if somewhat unreliable friend Carrie, and a loner boy named Cabel who, after she storms out of a school dance, pushes her home on his skateboard.
Lisa McMann writes Janie's story in third person present tense, making optimal use of short, terse, emotion-packed sentences. I loved the way this very brief style emphasized the constant strain Janie lives under and how it becomes difficult to breathe as things begin to spiral out of her control. Janie and Cabel are both sympathetic, flawed characters and I cared about them very much. Everything about this book is fleeting. I read this through in one sitting, glued to the page, anxious to figure things out along with them. I look forward to finding out more in Fade.(less)
After finishing the wonderfully creepy Wake, I couldn't wait to extend my time with Janie and Cabel in Fade. The story picks up shortly after the end...moreAfter finishing the wonderfully creepy Wake, I couldn't wait to extend my time with Janie and Cabel in Fade. The story picks up shortly after the end of Wake. Janie and Cabel are finishing up school, looking forward to the day when they can leave Fieldridge High behind and try the freedom (and anonymity) of college life on for size. And if there are a few key, seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their way, well, what's the use of letting your worry play on an endless loop? Particularly when real, peaceful, be-who-we-are moments are so few and far between.
When Captain hands them a new case to pursue, Janie and Cabel have no idea how far it will take them from those peaceful moments together. Cabel, particularly, begins to doubt the worth of their involvement when he realizes the case centers around a possible sexual predator(s) at Fieldridge High. That and the fact that Captain intends to dangle Janie out there as bait. What Cabel doesn't know is Captain has also handed Janie a folder. One that holds the contents of her predecessor's experiences and warnings as a dreamcatcher. Emphasis on the warnings. They are dire. As Janie works day and night to catch the predator and understand her abilities, Cabel tries to help but finds most of his time taken up worrying over Janie.
My favorite thing about Fade is that spare, distilled writing Lisa McMann excels at. It's a pleasure on ice to turn the pages and simply absorb the clean, concise lines of the story. I did find myself wanting a bit more in some areas. Janie's mother remains all but nonexistent and one begins to wonder just why she's there at all. And how she could possibly be that much of a nonentity, scores of empty bottles notwithstanding. I keep feeling like she's going to play a larger role at some point, but it must be yet to come. I also felt that everyone around Janie should have seen the eventual crisis coming from a mile away. (I did). And so I spent the last portion of the book gripping the pages, internally ranting that this shouldn't. be. happening. And wishing someone would listen to Cabe and not let her go there! That said, any scene Janie and Cabe are in together is breathless and lovely. And I really liked the developing relationship between Janie and Captain. Girl needs some halfway decent adult taking an interest in her life. The third and final book, Gone, will be out February of next year. (less)
Reading Wicked Game was definitely a highlight of my summer reading last year. It easily made my Best of 2008 list and I've been looking forward to th...moreReading Wicked Game was definitely a highlight of my summer reading last year. It easily made my Best of 2008 list and I've been looking forward to the sequel ever since. Ciara's life has changed just a little bit since she first came to WVMP as a part-time marketing intern. She is now, for all intents and purposes, the station owner. What that means is she is on the clock 24/7 taking care of her little flock of vampire DJs, spinning PR as the vamps spin the tunes that are their lifeblood. She's working towards her degree, taking night classes at the local community college. She is also in an increasingly serious relationship with Shane McCallister--the station's resident 90's grunge rock expert. When a group of anti-undead religious fanatics comes to town determined to stop the signal, dismantle the station, and destroy the vamps for good, Ciara and the gang refuse to go gently into that good night.
This series is just so entertaining. I can honestly say I went in not knowing what to expect plotwise, and I finished it feeling like Jeri Smith-Ready took everything and everyone in exactly the direction they needed to go. I felt thoroughly satisfied and, more importantly, I cared about each of them more than before. Even Regina. Though Jim still scares the crap out of me and Shane should not let him anywhere near Ciara ever again no matter what kind of lousy shape he's in. I continue to be extremely fond of Ciara and so it was both heartbreaking and extremely gratifying to watch her deal with her manipulative, ne'er do well father, her growing feelings for Shane, a new undead pet, and finding herself suddenly homeless. And I do have to say that, within the larger UF world, it's nice to find one without a love triangle. I love reading about Ciara and Shane. They're flawed, messed up, in danger of going off the deep end in more ways than one. And despite all of this, they treat each other carefully. How often do you read about a human/vampire couple in which the vampire is the more vulnerable of the two? She takes care of him. She keeps him tethered to the here and now. It's freaking awesome. The good news? Pocket Books bought two more books in this series. The third one will be out sometime next year. (less)