Prelim Review: I received an e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
To be fair, even though I'd put this in my romance category for organ...morePrelim Review: I received an e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
To be fair, even though I'd put this in my romance category for organizing purposes, this isn't a romance first and foremost. There is a romance, and it becomes important, but the larger emphasis is on Sydney's unique talent of staying alive in a profession that almost requires its employees to die horribly. That profession is being a 'Runner' for vampires. Sydney does have an advantage most others don't, but the fact remains she's alive and living far longer than most.
The pace of this novella, which clocks in at about 100 pages or so, is fast and doesn't give you time to enjoy the scenery (not that there's much to enjoy, snow and creepy vampires and explosions aplenty). This works to its advantage when the action scenes are the focus, but draws attention to the few 'slow' scenes when Summers is building the characters. It does help you to overlook the sometimes broad strokes given to the world development or to the characters themselves, but only until you're finished.
I enjoyed the chemistry between Sydney and Malcolm, neither were typical, but they both were also not so different as to feel weird or out of place. Summers gives us sound motivation for why Sydney does what she does, but cuts the corners at bit on Malcolm's end, instead giving us a somewhat mysterious guy who showed up to save Sydney on occasion.
Full review ot be posted at Poisoned Rationality(less)
When I first got done with Halloween Romance I wasn't sure what to think.
I definitely found comedy in the story, but I'm not certain that what I foun...moreWhen I first got done with Halloween Romance I wasn't sure what to think.
I definitely found comedy in the story, but I'm not certain that what I found to be comical was meant to be comical. Ferdinand for instance was just hilarious. Stereotypical in almost every way a vampire can be in today's vampire saturated media, I had a hard time taking him seriously. When one of his friends told him to stop being as emo as he was being, I found myself hoping he didn't, because I found his angst amusing.
The romance between Selene and Ferdinand was the best part of the story. Neither of them are fleshed out well, so growth of character happened in sporadic fits, but their relationship was as realistic as you can make it (considering its between a secret vampire and secret werewolf). Some of their excuses to each other about cravings, weird habits and disappearances were particularly fun. Ferdinand had it rougher I think since he had to make excuses for practically every day--Selene only had to worry about it one night of the month.
The rest of the book however left me feeling flat. I wasn't particularly fond of any of the secondary characters, a major problem at the end just made me shrug and in the end I didn't feel a connection with either of the characters.(less)
Time travel, books and seduction--not to mention Paris in the 40's--what more could a girl ask for in a short story? Guardian of Desire was short (jus...moreTime travel, books and seduction--not to mention Paris in the 40's--what more could a girl ask for in a short story? Guardian of Desire was short (just over 40 pages long), but packed a pretty good wallop of fun and excitement. It felt a little rushed towards the ending, but the lead up to the end was well worth it all.
We're given quick introductions to all the characters--Mark, Andrea, Esmeralda, Leonard and Kendra--but their personalities are easy to grasp. Motivations are a little bit harder to understand, as well as back stories, but we're given just enough to get us through the story at least.
I would have liked to learn more about the Councils, or the shared history between Mark and Andrea, but that's a good thing. The concepts Berns's introduces are interesting and worth a second time around.(less)
Fantasy Quest is very much a Dungeons and Dragons game come to life, or if you prefer a World of Warcraft quest come to life. Our heroine, Astiria (as...moreFantasy Quest is very much a Dungeons and Dragons game come to life, or if you prefer a World of Warcraft quest come to life. Our heroine, Astiria (aside from having a very Fantasy-esque name) fights the good fight with a mixture of common sense 'real world' strategy (ie: kneeing a goblin in the groin is as effective as kneeing a would-be purse thief) and skills she learned from playing fantasy world games.
Lerik is amusing, charming and has just enough conceited male ego to be irritating, but not obnoxious. He definitely wins points in my romance hero book for being able to take a joke without getting huffy. The interactions between himself and his Wood Elf, Oopec (who looks literally like an Elf made out of wood) are funny and filled with affection.
Astiria can sometimes be a little too 'everywoman' for my tastes--her complaints are typical (about her physical appearance) and I think she dwells too long on whether or not Lerik would like her if he saw the 'real' her, but overall she was fun and snarky.
I would have liked to see more about how...creative Lerik and Astiria could be without breaking a rule placed on them, but I was enjoying the story too much to suffer from that. I'm glad the appearance of the Goblin King was kept to such a minimum.
My only real complaint is that the whole thing with Marsoon is kind of contrived by the end of the story. It starts out entertaining (how Astiria ends up in the situation is amusing), but ends up meaning very little since, as one of the characters remarks, leveling up to Level 10 in any RPG is the easiest task. It’s the later levels that give you trouble.
I also found it amusing that in the book Astiria tries to finish a novel titled 'The Stone Maiden', an earlier novel by Tina Gerow now out of print.(less)
If I had been AlfhildLorelei and I found a naked guy in my bush that happened to be hot, I'm not sure I would have reacted the same way. Weird, yes. B...moreIf I had been AlfhildLorelei and I found a naked guy in my bush that happened to be hot, I'm not sure I would have reacted the same way. Weird, yes. But being a child of fantasy I would have immediately jumped to the conclusion that Big Major Adventure now awaits me. Like Alfhild ne` Lorelei I would have probably freaked out. I found it amusing that throughout the book she remarks about how typical heroines do this or that (depending on the genre), but she refuses to fall into that pattern. She does, sometimes, but then she admonishes herself to be more practical.
While I enjoyed Unseelie a lot, I felt at times that it should have been broken up into two or three books. A lot happens in Unseelie, but at the same time you aren't given time to digest what happened before when something new occurs. The e-book runs at 400 pages (roughly) there's plenty of Big Happenings, but the book could have benefited from focusing on one Big Happening and then writing another book about the Next Big Happening and so forth, to flesh out some characters (and motivations) and give the reader time to adjust to the changes.
I loved the interaction between Cadfael and Lorelei. The two of them sparked, giggled, fought and irritated the living daylights out of each other, but their conversations were always fun. Du, a cait-sith (a feline fae as it were, not related to the Sith of Star Wars thank you), is an amusing a quirky character. He was a little abrasive at first, but I grew to like him a lot by the end.
There's some assumption made that the reader will at least recognize some of the inhabitants of the Unseelie and Seelie Courts without too much prompting from the characters within. This was fine for me, since I grew up on these stories, but for those not really attuned to the Celtic lore confusion might abound until someone (usually Du or Cadfael) takes the time to remind Lorelei that she's being thick-headed and should remember things better.
Overall I enjoyed Unseelie a lot. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fantasy read that's both humorous but with dark touches or who found themselves wanting to know a little more about the creatures after reading other Fae related books. (less)
Kendis is pretty close to what I'd think of as the perfect sort of friend for myself. Nerdy job, nerd-like interests, half-fae...I think we'd get alon...moreKendis is pretty close to what I'd think of as the perfect sort of friend for myself. Nerdy job, nerd-like interests, half-fae...I think we'd get along quite well. She does have this unfortunate tendency to want to ignore the reality of the situation, but I'll give her leniency for the fact her whole world just imploded. And she does rally quickly when the situation grows bad and someone needs to remain in control.
Christopher, of Newfoundland, was a bit of a hoot. I always like it when guys find it hard to resist that damsel in distress--who then has to save THEM in return. Its a good thing he's comfortable with his masculinity, he gets saved by women a lot in the novel.
It bears mentioning that Seattle, as a setting, is almost a character by itself. I've never been, but Korra'ti gives us such an insider's view of Seattle, that I felt like I had gone on a tour of 'where geeks need to go' when in Seattle. For the first time in my life I thought about traveling there (I'm really more of an East Coast girl honestly), if only to check out the Geek Haven that Kendis describes.
Despite the influx of fae related novels, Korra'ti manages to still make a shade different, a little unusual and interesting. As Kendis is a Changling, it brings about some interesting revelations, as does why everyone is suddenly so gung-ho over her. And why her eyes are yellow. And she gets tingly when not-human stuff is around/touches her/happens. There is also a vagueness about the Seelie vs. the Unseelie that appealed to me. A vagueness to their motivations is perhaps the better way of explaining it. The Fae don't come in 'good' and 'evil', they're at best amoral much of the time, with certain types preferring to make problems for mortals then others.
The story moves quickly, though sometimes it becomes bogged down in the details. I noticed it especially in the beginning, when we're being introduced to Kendis and Christopher and the fight with the troll. Its not that the details seems out of place, or thrust at the reader, but more it was almost as if Korra'ti was writing for a movie or play scene--directing the scene so that the actors know where to be. Its not annoying or anything, and I like that sort of writing because it helps me visual places I haven't been before.
According to the author's website there is a sequel in the works, but she also has a number of other projects (including the beginning of a new series), so as of yet there is no details about the sequel (beyond a tentative name 'Bone Walker'). I look forward to her other stories however! (less)
I knew immediately I wanted to read this. Aside from the gorgeous cover, the synopsis really drew my attention. As did the Samhain warning. Then I wen...moreI knew immediately I wanted to read this. Aside from the gorgeous cover, the synopsis really drew my attention. As did the Samhain warning. Then I went and read more about it over at the author's blog and saw that it involved Bluebeard...and I just sort of spazzed a little bit. The novel lived up to my expectations (and the warning XD).
Isabel is hands down one of my favorite romance heroines. When a girl's mindset has her thinking "She would dress herself, suitably impress her mother with her new station and then rid the world of one incubus, named Bluebeard." (pg. 50, pdf) after learning her husband's family's deep dark secret (and being sex'ed up all night long) you have to love the girl. She doesn't spend time moping or bemoaning her fate. There are problems in her marriage, but she was determined to find some way to fix them. To put it succinctly--she puts her fear to good use by using it to galvanize her to fix things.
Rukh (pronounced 'rook') is very, very alpha male. He mentions, more than once, that he has trouble keeping his 'beast' under control as a rule and now with Isabel he seems to have almost no control whatsoever. As the reader we know why, but it takes him a little longer to catch on. I do kind of wonder at his way of showing Isabel affection, since he does more harm then good by being with her, but Isabel isn't entirely blameless. She pushes against the safety restrictions he places upon her and when he erects new ones she pushes even harder.
Rukh's family, with the exception of his nephew Christopher, are possibly the most selfish, egocentric people I've ever read about in anything and why he wants to help them at all was beyond me. I can only blame blood sings stronger then rational thinking. They also use underhanded means and like to keep secrets. Unfortunately Isabel's family isn't much better, so they are matched in that.
Passion and affection are evident in everything either of them do. Even when circumstances are so tense that I was worried for their sanity, they didn't give up. Isabel's strong will and practical nature was really what saved them in the end I think. Bluebeard, in here he is a wife-killing incubus, not a wife-killing pirate, was pretty much as depraved as they come. May he rot in whatever hell he deserves.
My only question was in regards to Christopher and Sheila. Without spoiling anything, I did not understand his need to protect her. Was it just plain old male chivalry? He was obviously a good fellow, he proved that half a dozen times, but he was bound and determined (to the point of suicide) to save Sheila and I didn't understand why.
In the end, Drake gave me a mighty fine re-imagining of the Bluebeard legend and more than that an enthralling romance as well.(less)
Its honestly not an exaggeration when I say that this story made me tear up. Look I have read a lot of romance novels (and I do mean a lot) in my life...moreIts honestly not an exaggeration when I say that this story made me tear up. Look I have read a lot of romance novels (and I do mean a lot) in my life. Everything from early Harlequin romances to yaoi and I can name on my one hand the amount of books that have made me so happy that HEA's exist in romances. Silent Blade made the list.
Meli and Celino were both defined and restrained by who their families were. What it meant to be kin, the sacrifices you had to make to keep the family strong. I'm also fairly certain that neither of them had families worth sacrificing for, but that's just my opinion.
The world that Andrews creates is brutal and devestating and neither of them are completely innocent. Its dog eat dog, where ruthlessness will win you more brownie points then mercy. This isn't to say they are evil doers killing the innocent and such, but they have a certain pragmatic viewpoint of the world. You hurt mine, I'll hurt you.
Meli's revenge is poetic and says much about who she is. I'm not entirely certain why her family put the hit on Celino--I doubt they waited 12 years to administer payback for what he did to Meli--as that was a gray area unexplored. Meli didn't question it, her father and brother weren't offering the reason and no one seemed overly concerned if Meli turned it into a personal vendetta against Celino.
I'd be lying if I didn't say I wanted to read more about this world of theirs--where its practically Mafialand in the future, but this small taste proved again why Ilona Andrews should be a must buy for anyone and everyone. (less)
I read this because a friend rec'ed it to me saying "You'll love the interactions between the two leads".
And you know what? I totally did. Ignoring t...moreI read this because a friend rec'ed it to me saying "You'll love the interactions between the two leads".
And you know what? I totally did. Ignoring the sex and BDSM, the way that Javen and Devlin interact is pure wonderful fun to read. They had the sort of conversations that people would categorize as being 'ping pong' talks. Javen would say something, Devlin would respond, Javen would challenge that response, so Devlin would challenge her challenge and it would go back and forth like that for long bouts. And I never felt as if I was bored during these conversations, rather I was amused and wondered who would win out in the end.
Also, ordinarily I would be turned off by Devlin's very aggressive nature, but he doesn't come off as creepy or desperate, but rather the sort of guy who hates to put things off. Why wait when its inevitable? He does however give Javen space and 'romance' her. Which I think is more then she deserves at first; her entire rationale made me really cranky. You either love someone or you don't. You either want to marry someone or you don't. Wanting one last fling and then wanting to go marry the guy you rejected to have that last fling? Yeah no. As Devlin says at one point, Javen has a lot of issues to work on.
In the end however, they both learn a lesson and as its a romance no one should wonder at the outcome of their romance. This is actually my first story with such a high level of BDSM in it. I've read short stories where its been present, but not to the degree it was in this one. But then, I tend to just glance over the scenes of intense eroticism so it didn't discomfort me unduly. I don't skip them completely, can't write a review if you skip large chunks of the book!, but perhaps the better phrasing is I don't spend as much concentration of those parts as I do the rest. (less)
The Bookman is one of those odd books that if I had seen it while browsing its very likely I would not have given it two glances. This isn't to say it...moreThe Bookman is one of those odd books that if I had seen it while browsing its very likely I would not have given it two glances. This isn't to say it wasn't interesting, but rather the cover does not immediately grab my attention (not in the way the publishers want I suspect at least) and the blurb only mildly piques my interests. To put it more bluntly, its not my usual reading material.
I have no prior experience with Tidhar, but his writing style is unique. Its just shy of being incomprehensible in some sections, with several of the characters speaking in cryptic vagaries or oblique nonsense. Orphan's ramshackle friend Gilgamesh (not his real name) for instance. He lives on the streets and is kind of a homeless prophet almost, cautioned Orphan at the very beginning of the novel not to treat the Bookman so lightly, but Orphan paid little heed.
Orphan is an 'everyman' character for much of the beginning of the novel, going about his business contentedly and not being a bother to anyone. He has a decent, if somewhat boring at times, job, a girl he loves and plans to marry and friends of a mostly reliable nature. He's not wealthy, but he and Lucy aren't after material wealth. I truly believe they would have been happy just as they were. Except where's the story in that?
After the Bookman's attacks hit too close to home Orphan embarks on a quest to track him down and demand answers. He wants Lucy back and is convinced the Bookman can make this happen somehow. Which is simplifying the plot and the outcome of his quest to a large degree, but that's how it begins. What it becomes is still a little confusing to me, since the writing takes a turn for the surreal with robots made to be literary giants such as Byron (but wanting their own individuality) and more secret societies then you can shake a cane at.
In the end Orphan learns a great deal, a large chunk of which he probably wishes he didn't and the Bookman's motives are made clear. Things turn out...differently then I had hoped, but I liked the ending. It was as unique as the style of writing so it complimented it quite well. Despite my reservations I enjoyed the book and found myself drawn into the world quite substantially. Its our world, but not quite--with a much larger emphasis on reading and authors, as well as a society where the power of words really can be more powerful then any other weapon known. (less)
"Blessed are the cursed, for they are the only ones who can save us" is the quote that begins the Maldito series. This quote won't actually make much...more"Blessed are the cursed, for they are the only ones who can save us" is the quote that begins the Maldito series. This quote won't actually make much sense until much further into the story however, but I found it very intriguing, just as I found this book. This is a somewhat different take on the whole vampire craze effecting the literary world (young adult or otherwise), drawing inspiration from an old Spanish legend.
Music plays an important role throughout the better part of the book. From the song that plays in Emmy's dreams, to the music she listens to, music a heavy component in her life. She wants to be a music therapist and is working hard for it. Obviously, as this is a book, you can't hear the music itself, but Trujillo chooses to highlight several songs that will be familiar to most and a few less well known songs. After the halfway point, music takes a backstage to the true drama, but for the first half we learn about Emmy's moods depending on what song is playing in the back of her brain.
Feisty, Emmy speaks her mind most of the time, accepting everyone and cheering people up just by being who she is. Some of this is explained later on, but I think it had a lot to do with her personality. She came off as being very sincere, even when wishing her best friend Sarah luck at scoring a date with Cale, the guy that Emmy has found herself reluctantly crushing on. She is jealous, which is natural, but mostly she wants her friend to be happy. As the novel progressed she became a little more uncertain of herself, but given the circumstances I understood that fine. Cale is a very mysterious guy for the first half of the book. Always smiling, always watching Emmy, always seeming to be there, Emmy isn't sure if she's flattered, irritated or pissed off by the attention. We learn about his history in bits and pieces, from a variety of sources, and he definitely screams 'smooth customer'. Then something tragic happens and the world is turned upside down while he scrambles to figure things out. I liked him better after the tragedy honestly. He came off as being much more genuine and less cocksure of himself.
Chris was the most confusing part of the entire novel for me. Most of the time he acted like a jealous boyfriend, or disgruntled old man. He was hot and cold throughout the novel, changing emotions so quickly I often had to re-read things to make sure I didn't miss anything. And I'm still not certain he's on the level honestly.
The romance between Emmy and Cale began hot, simmered for a little while and then erupted full steam. There was reluctance on both their parts, for different reasons, but once they got over those hurdles they quickly made up for lost time. Too quickly in my opinion, as it felt like they were moving so fast and committed to things so rapidly that it was hard to take it seriously. Its not that I doubted they didn't feel so deeply, its more that the development seemed to be put on the backburner after the two admitted they couldn't stay away from each other. There was tension.
The story itself reads a little unevenly, some of the transitions being rough and some characters, Chris in particular, had a misleading characterization. How he regarded Cale by the end wasn't such a big surprise, everything in between however was tangled and muddled. The 'bad guys' were also kind of one-note and throw aways, without much fleshing out beyond the fact that Emmy is important to them.
Emmy's Song was an intriguing beginning to what the author says will be a trilogy. It answers most of the questions presented throughout, but opens the gates to more exploration later. It leaves me wanting to read the next book, which is of course always a good sign. (less)
There's a lot to like about this novel. The characters are all, without any reservation, unique and interesting people. I had my doubts about a couple...moreThere's a lot to like about this novel. The characters are all, without any reservation, unique and interesting people. I had my doubts about a couple of them, the words 'too good to be true' flashed through my head, but all in all I can happily report I enjoyed the interactions and developments.
I also appreciated the fact that despite the fact that Rhiannon mentioned, more than once, that Disco was smoking hot, she didn't jump on the vampire love train. She has some deep-rooted issues that would probably give a therapist nightmares, but more than that she had a confidence in herself. Perhaps an overconfidence, bordering on suicidal at times, but she could take care of herself.
Character development wasn't rushed or choppy, I felt the flow was very smooth and made sense as the characters progressed. Many of the choices Rhiannon made were basic survival choices, especially any of the ones involving Disco or her latent abilities, but that didn't stop them from feeling right for her character.
I honestly had only one huge problem with the novel; Rhiannon curses like they are the only words she knows. She cursed more often in the first three chapters of the book then I've seen in the last dozen novels I've read. Its not a good sign if most of the secondary cast has to ask her to tone down her crudeness twice every chapter or so. At first I chalked it up to Saare wanting to give Rhiannon a 'street girl' sort of toughness, but as it continued it began to rob me of the enjoyment I was getting from the story. By the fourth chapter every time she cursed I was pulled out of the story and ended up switching to a different novel.
The ending is a cliffhanger for the overall arc of the series, but not for the main storyline's arc. If you don't mind an overabundance of f-bombs, I recommend you give this a read. Rhiannon is, when she's being civil, the sort of urban fantasy star that could teach a few of the current crop a thing or two.(less)
**spoiler alert** I'm not even sure where to start with this story.
It sounded like a story I would really enjoy, so I was excited to download it, but...more**spoiler alert** I'm not even sure where to start with this story.
It sounded like a story I would really enjoy, so I was excited to download it, but it turned into something that managed to press all the wrong buttons.
Between Melinda being turned into a werewolf without her knowledge or consent, to the werewolf unrepentantly saying that he tried numerous times before (all with the women's knowledge), but it never worked out, I was ready to bash my computer screen in.
To top it all off no one bothered to explain to her what would happen while she changed. Also, if I was her I would never trust my boss again.(less)
THE SUBSTITUTE BRIDE is the first medieval romance I have read, and I do mean my very first as my tastes tend closer to Regency/Victorian England than...moreTHE SUBSTITUTE BRIDE is the first medieval romance I have read, and I do mean my very first as my tastes tend closer to Regency/Victorian England than Tudor England. The story takes place just after the Tudor Dynasty has taken hold of England (ousting poor King Richard and the Yorkists) and a fair amount of detail has gone into the atmosphere of the time period.
I found Elizabeth Mary (or Bess) to be an enjoyable lass, spunky and willing to back up what she defends. Admirable traits in any young woman, but she seemed very forward for the time period. It seemed every other character would scold her for her brazen tongue and unusual manners. Though her audaciousness earned her some high points, in the end those she bested nearly became her undoing.
Mary Elizabeth, the rightful bride, however, was beastly. As I suppose the author meant her to be. Almost I fell into the trap of sympathy for her, but as anyone will realize within the first ten pages, Mary Elizabeth is hardly worth it. I was less than pleased with how her relationship with Bess turned out by the end of the book, however.
Our romantic lead, Edward, was hot and cold to me. And when I finally began to like him, things took a turn for the worse and then I really wanted to drown him in the Irish sea by his home. He redeems himself, as he must, of course, for this romance to work, and by the end of it I felt better disposed towards him.
Overall I thought the book was very interesting, though it forcibly reminded me why I am glad for the modern convenience of toothpaste and toothbrush; the thought of scraping my teeth with tree bark sent goose bumps up my arms.(less)
i have been a fan of zombies since I was a toddler and George Romero was the Zombie Making God. The recent rise in Zombie Romance stories caught me by...morei have been a fan of zombies since I was a toddler and George Romero was the Zombie Making God. The recent rise in Zombie Romance stories caught me by surprise since I honestly never saw them as anything but amusing shamblers with a vicious appetite. Some of these authors have changed my mind, given the Zombie Mythos a twist that doesn't make the romance so completely wrong, but others just reinforced my opinion. Regardless I enjoyed this anthology quite a bit. My individual opinions on each story are below.
Romance Ain't Dead (Jeremy Wagner)
I feel it necessary to point out that while this story disturbed me on most levels, it was a sweet story none the less. Bruce, the narrator, loses his wife in a horrible boating accident, but thankfully his next door neighbor used to be a witch doctor and can bring Sherri back--at what price? Like I said, its a little creepy, but its all about love and Bruce maintains an attitude of 'This is probably nuts and deviant, but I love her and that's all that matters' throughout the entire story.
Revanants Anonymous (Francesca Lia Block)
Like any of Block's writing, it’s not a straight forward thing. This story is about Zombies, but it leaves you wondering if they were real zombies--died and came back in other words--or if they were products of a culture that strung you so high that you only ever feel depressing misery that you aren't as good as some other person. You have these expectations and then give up because it doesn't seem like it’s worth the effort. Block's stories are always thought-provoking and this one did not disappoint me at all.
I Heart Brains (Jaime Saare)
This was a quick, amusing and oddly romantic story. Woman loses her loser husband and donates the body. Guy dies and goes in search of a new body. Fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it collides to give them both a second chance at a better life.
Everyone I Lost is Dead (Elizabeth Coldwell)
Getting the one that got away, keeping the one you have and ending up with everything you ever wanted, not a bad way to end a story or a romance. It was a little different, certainly interesting and I admit even made me a little curious as to figure out how a 'mixed morality' relationship would work out anyhow. I kind of hope there might be more in the future about Millie, Mark and Brody's strange little threesome.
Through Death to Love (S.M. Cross)
A short sweet tale that is slightly more realistic when talking about something as unrealistic as a human-zombie relationship. I wanted to know more about the Zombie Wars and Zombie Peace mentioned, but I liked how Cross rationalized the main character's (she's not named as its from her third person limited narrative) reasons for accepting the zombie, Robert's, courtship. In the simplest form her anxieties over their possibilities are no different then a human/human relationship, except for the brains part of course.
Eye of the Beholder (Stacey Graham)
Who says you can't find love even dead? Graham gives a short recounting of how two luckless zombies learn the hard way that even losing an eye can be a good time. It was an amusing and quick read and endearing somehow.
First Love Never Dies (Jan Kozlowski)
Sad. This story was so sad I swear I felt my heart break at the end of it. Its mostly a twisted little story and the end is kind of a poetic justice if you squint hard enough, but honestly it was such a heart breaking thing. It did however have the classic flesh-eating zombies make an appearance, so that raised my perk level up.
My Partner the Zombie (R.G. Hart)
This was very much like the old noir detective novels that I grew up on. Roles were reversed--what with the busty babe being the gumshoe and the femme fatale being decidedly not femme--but overall it was a neat story. The zombie angle was a little dodgy, if it had been taken out and replaced with something else the story would have flowed the same I think and had the least amount of explanation for it of all the stories included.
Undying Love (Regina Riley)
New love, old love and a nasty old necromancer who deserves a special place down below make this story a little uneven at times. Or rather, Joshua was rather confusing at times. Flirting almost from the minute he starts talking to Deetra, he doesn't really stop even after we learned about his quest. The story ended on a hopeful sort of note though, and I wouldn't mind reading about the future endeavours of Deetra and Joshua.
Captive Hearts (Brian Keene)
I'm terrified of this story. Also, I do not suggest reading it if you just ate. Or painted your toenails. Or like the 'three little piggies' song. It’s likely to ruin your reading pleasure. This was a short story, one of the shorter ones in the book, and wasn't strictly romantic. Yes the woman involved was doing it all for her husband, sort of, but…just read the story and you'll see.
Apoclaypse as Foreplay (Gina McQueen)
Fast paced, funny and easy to read. I love this sort of anthology story. Pretty much our main character is having fun relating antidotes about the neighbors she's shooting, her love life and everything in between. If ever there is a Zombie Apocalypse, we should all be as well prepared!
Julia Brainchild (Lois Gresh)
This was a pretty neat twist on the fad of diets--are brains so rich in protein and lacking in fat? I'm not sure I want to find out first hand--and the whole courtship dance. The ending was kind of off-putting, but up to that point it was interesting and fun.
Kicking the Habit (Steven Saus)
Its light and sweet, kind of a fluffy antidote to Brian Keene's story honestly. It’s a little wistful, but has a hopeful ending. Or as hopeful as two zombies in love and fighting to keep from eating human brains can be at least.
Zombified (Isabel Roman)
Roman gets mad props for cramming so many pop culture references into this story I almost couldn't keep up. Everything from Freddy Kruger to Scooby-Doo gets it own little mention. Zombies are only present in the last third of the story, but they make up for it in numbers at least!
White Knight, Black Horse (Mercy Loomis)
Much of this story required me to look up unfamiliar terms to understand fully the difference between a 'zombie' and what Joseph was exactly. Its not mentioned, but voodoo is the name of the game in this tale. This is not really a zombie tale, so much as a cultural understanding of what a Voodoo zombie is vs. your Hollywood zombies. For instance if a Voodoo Zombie's ti bon age (soul) is taken by a bokor (sorcerer) then that person has to obey the commands no matter what and has no will, spark of who they were. It was a fascinating read.
Inhuman Resources (Jeanine McAdam)
For all of us who have nagging parents, played one too many zombie killing games and dread one day having to settle down to a 'real' job, McAdam has written a wonderful solution. I really enjoyed the parallel between the 'office drone' and a 'real zombie' that the characters discussed (at length) and found the short to be an entertaining read.
The Magician's Apprentice (Stacy Brown)
A kind of a quirky be careful what you wish for sort of romance that felt a little jumbled at times and rushed. With so few pages I wouldn't expect elaborate back stories, but I would liked to know more about Antonio at least since Ray and Carla are given quite a bit of personality.
Some New Blood (Vanessa Vaugh)
This story surprised me in many ways. At various points I wasn't certain if Vaugh was trying to make a metaphorical reference to people who's marriages and lives hit a dull, same old same old streak or if the couple really was a married, working, zombie couple. The ending sort of caught me off guard as well, but it really only made sense given that, hey it’s about zombies.
Last Times at Ridgemont High (Kilt Kilpatrick)
Jeremy kind of cracks me up honestly. He is a little bit dense, which is fine and all, but I found it really funny that he was busy inventorying the weapons they could use while the girl of his sex-filled dreams was coming on to him. I don't blame him, but it just struck me as funny since in Zombie films the hero always makes the mistake of thinking 'We have time!' and then Zombie City. It was refreshing to see someone who actually learned from all those movies.
First Date (Dana Fredsti)
Fredsti won me over as soon as the main character Angie named Dawn of the Dead as a true horror film--and denounced Hostel. And Angie kept her head, she didn't waste time bemoaning the fact the world was a zombie heap, she didn't let herself get distracted by the moans of a weakling, understands the situation and gets the job done. Definitely my kind of hero and yeah Angie wins for worst first date ever.
Later (Michael Marshall Smith)
This was a very sad, wistful love story. It wasn't flashy or filled with flesh-munching zombies, just a man and the love of his life and how much that love meant to him. It was a good way to end the anthology in my opinion.
Overall I greatly enjoyed this anthology and was delighted to find several authors to check out again sometime.(less)
One of my main complaints after reading the first book in the Maldito Series, Emmy's Song, was that character development in general and Emmy and Cale...moreOne of my main complaints after reading the first book in the Maldito Series, Emmy's Song, was that character development in general and Emmy and Cale's relationship in particular was rushed and not well fleshed out. In the second book, Emmy's Heart, we get all of that and then some.
For Emmy a lot happened in a relatively short period of time in the first book; a new boy moved to the area, her best friend was killed and vampires turned out to be real. Not only that but she was the cure for the Maldito, the cursed half-human, half-vampire defenders of humanity. And Cale loved her and theirs was an epic love.
Things don't get easier in this second installment. Still reeling from her friend's death, desperately trying to find some normalcy in her chaotic life otherwise, Emmy is given a brief respite during the holidays when all (or at least a significant portion) of her family shows up to stay at her house. For a few days all is fine with the world, or at least Emmy can make believe that, and all she is really worried about is her boyfriend Cale getting along with her family. Reality comes crashing down barely a day later and from there it just goes downhill for poor Emmy.
Throughout her hostage situation Emmy keeps a fairly level head all things considered, plus a sense of dry humor that I certainly appreciated. Her captor, Nathaniel (the 'master' mentioned in the first book) is a curious blend of courteousness, cruelty and delusional insanity. It was hard for me to truly hate him, since what he did he did for his twisted version of 'love' and if put into context for just about any other vampire romance novel he would be the hero of the story not the villian. He just unfortunately tried to come between the epic love of Emmy and Cale.
Character development was a big factor of this book. Emmy and Cale had a more solid and realistic relationship brewing between them--complete with arguments, disagreements and a fair dose of uncertainty at times. The Emmy of this book was also a more mature girl, though in some ways more reckless with her safety. Their future together is discussed, in relation to his impending job and her aspirations for her own career, but they find a balance eventually. Chris, who spent most of the first book acting like a jealous ex-boyfriend towards Cale and Emmy, comes clean about what was up with all that. Him and Cale are best of friends now, almost too close to Emmy's annoyance as they make plans about her without her at times. I appreciated that instead of making Chris bitter or angry about Emmy and Cale he is genuinely happy for them and is distressed when things are not kosher between them.
To be fair there is a higher level of sensuality in this book than is present in most young adult novels today. This isn't to say it felt out of place, or unnecessary, but just a general warning.
The end of the novel, which concludes Emmy and Cale's story, opens the door to the next book featuring a character who helps Emmy out of a rough situation and another character we meet very briefly at the end of this book. I'm eager for that book as well since the male featured character is one I want to know more about.(less)
What's a stubborn, prideful Goddess to do when her Father, the ALLFATHER of gods Odin himself, grounds her? Literally? Oh shack...more"Kara" by Lyn Armstrong
What's a stubborn, prideful Goddess to do when her Father, the ALLFATHER of gods Odin himself, grounds her? Literally? Oh shack up with a hot Viking name Erik, put up with the pettiness of jealous servants, muck out the pigpens and save everyone from death, that's all. Kara (the character) was a vexing, mouthy, stubborn woman who definitely deserved to be a Viking's lover. I honestly would have liked to see more fall out after what Svala did, but I guess we should all just be happy that none of us are on the bad side of Kara.
"Mist" by Melinda Barron
Cold, heartless Mist gets thrown into Victorian London and the path of a man who would do anything to save his mother. I'll give Mist credit, she knew what she wanted and she went for it. No subtleness needed. I was less keen on the 'obey my every command' aspect of their bed play however; I'm okay with BDSM (which apparently Mist is as well, so long as she is Dom), but the clause Odin put on the amulets gave it a kind of ick feeling. I do appreciate that of the three sisters, Mist acknowledges that she's not mixing up 'love' with 'sex', but it could grow into something more if given time.
"Jola" by Ann Cory
Not so innocent Jola is found by the gallant vineyard owner Landon, whose brother is a troll of the worst sort. This was a sweet story, and until the very end, not as high on the sexual quota as its two predecessors. The ending was kind of stilted feeling. However, that would be expected with Jola talking very formally to her father and then the lovemaking not full of the passion. Plus, I think Landon's brother was a jerk--worse than a jerk he tried to force himself on Jola, but all he got was a single punch for it. He deserved worse.
In all I enjoyed the concept behind the stories, and the daughters were entertaining to read about, but the very short nature of each story didn't lend itself well to fleshing out the personalities and situations enough to warrant the sudden feelings of love. Other than Mist's story, the other two are already head over heels in love seconds after meeting the men! And as a personal nitpick, I would have liked more Norse mythology thrown in then just the usual suspects.(less)