Caveat: I seldom review books. When I do go public with a review, it will be favorable.
"Danger, danger, danger!"
Danger comes on thick and fast. Raine...moreCaveat: I seldom review books. When I do go public with a review, it will be favorable.
"Danger, danger, danger!"
Danger comes on thick and fast. Raine Benares and her tall, dark, handsome and charmingly corrupt cousin Mago had a most intriguing con on the front burner. I should have liked to see that con play out.
Unfortunately, their cover was blown, if not blown up. Goblin Prince Chigaru sailed into port a few days early, and he is an assassin-magnet. He's also in love (but not with Raine) and in a committed relationship which I found strangely disappointing... maybe because his name means "hound" in Egyptian. If Tam is off the table as the dark point of a love triangle, a Mal'Salin prince might have made things even more interesting.
The Mal'Salin royal family is mentally unstable, which is convenient, because the Prince isn't utterly consistent in his behavior and in his reactions to Raine. No matter. Here's an example of what I love about Lisa Shearin's world-building and style, snagged from Lisa's website.
".....Goblins thought differently from elves. Hell, goblins thought differently than any other race. To them a threat of murder was simply overprotective and harmless. And if Chigaru’s guards had succeeded in offing me, the prince would have referred to it as an unfortunate misunderstanding. A misunderstanding for him that would be unfortunately permanent for me. As Imala said, murder and intrigue were merely another way to pass the time at the goblin court; neither was met with much if any concern.
And now, Prince Chigaru was pissed at me, or at least regally annoyed. I saved his life and he blamed me for interfering with his plans.
“Did your plan involve getting yourself shot, poisoned, and blown into fish food?” I asked mildly."
Raine spends a goodly portion of CON & CONJURE saving Prince Chigaru's royal backside and other parts from himself, and from others. High elves, even higher and mightier goblins, and low commoners for hire are all doing their best to kill the prince, with no regard for collateral damage.
It's the collateral damage that concerns Raine most. There is also the proverb, which she does *not* quote, "My enemies' enemy is my friend." Raine's enemies want Prince Chigaru dead. Raine's enemies, of the mortal and also immortal kind, want Raine dead in the worst way.
A death sentence and lawful beheading "for her own protection" is the kindest cut facing her if she is seen to use the Saghred's powers. Old goblin enemies plot to kill her in unspeakable ways. A gang of elven mages give darker meaning to "bondage" with their plan to share her and her Saghred-given powers.
Raine Benares is in more danger than ever before. Con & Conjure is a page-turning, heart-pounding, absorbing read, with the stakes ever higher --especially around the dangerous goblin embassy-- the long and short knives out, and Raine cannot depend upon anyone being who and what they appear to be.
Tamnais Nathrach was my favorite character in the previous books in the series. I knew that I wouldn't see much of him in CON & CONJURE. In fact, knowing that, I seriously considered not buying this episode, but I am glad I did buy the book, even though Tam did very little of his trademark hissing something short and deadly in Old Goblin and killing villains with a black magic word.
Another favorite from the earlier books was the suave and flamboyant Captain Phaelan Benares. His accident-prone role in this book reminded me a little bit of Merry in Lord Of The Rings. He's still good, but his big brother Mago is better, and wittier.
On the other hand, I did not miss the teenage spellsingers in the least. They were mostly motivation, and Raine has other innocents and not-exactly-innocents to protect as the villains up the ante. You wouldn't think it possible to up the ante after Hell opened and man-eating demons invaded Mid in THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS, but Lisa Shearin achieved it, IMHO. (Not forgetting BEWITCHED AND BETRAYED came between.)
I don't want this series to end. And I do. With a story this good, I want to know how it ends, and waiting for a year or more between books without knowing when the series will end is... well... a drag.
Bottom line. I recommend that you buy the paperback. Buy all the paperbacks, if you haven't already, and read the series from start to date. If you don't do that, then read every word because everything the new reader needs to know is covered, but economically and only once.
Each book does stand alone, but the sum is greater than the parts. (less)
In the beginning, Joe wrote these words (among others) "…And it's going to freak you out. If you're easily disturbed, have a...moreUpping The Ante On Nasty.
In the beginning, Joe wrote these words (among others) "…And it's going to freak you out. If you're easily disturbed, have a weak stomach, or are prone to nightmares, stop reading right now. There are no sexy teen heartthrobs herein. You have been warned…."
I do have a weak stomach, I am prone to nightmares, and I don't enjoy fainting. But I also have a strong contrarian streak, so when Joe Konrath warns me that I'm probably not going to want to look at his collaborative effort with Jeff Stand, Blake Crouch, and F. Paul Wilson, curiosity will impel me to look.
But, I started cautiously at the back. Worth the entire $2.99 by themselves are the bonus stories, one of which begins with the awesome line, " The hardest thing about killing a hitchhiker is finding one to pick up."
“DRACULAS“ is worth its weight in gold for the bonus material alone.
Curiosity, killed cats, and other red herrings aside there's another reason to devour every bit of this exceptionally well-written, highly entertaining and disturbing book. Joe Konrath hangs ten on the crest of the most powerful waves and this book could be the way authors write faster, add extra value and thrive.
Here's how. Four first rate spec fic and occasionally hilarious authors put their heads together to horrific effect. Each chose their own hero/victim/evil-doer from a cast of characters, and each dashed off a parallel novella of approximately 20,000 words, then they sliced and diced and cobbled each author's bits together into the literary equivalent of a Frankenstein's monster. Only, it's Freddy on steroids. It gives a whole new dimension to sucking face, and not a nice one.
The dedication --"For Bram Stoker, with deepest apologies"-- is a perfect foretaste of what to expect from “DRACULAS“. Irreverence. Dark humor that is so wry, it's twisted. Offensive stuff, and indeed there is a scene involving bowels and a clown who likes to make rather different balloon animals…. Lots of "wet work", and they maybe ought to have offered apologies of some depth to Clint Eastwood, too!
The prologue (not that they call it that) contains the mother of all hooks. Erroneously, I imagined the conversation those 4 bad boys of grim *might* have had, before I looked at Joe's generous back matter, and learned how it really was. Their conversations make entertaining reading!
"Let's dig up a head." "Let's make it really old…" "And evil. It must be evil." "Let's attach something nasty to it. What?" "A curse." "Wicked teeth." "Maybe we make those teeth like… like Sleeping Beauty's spindle." "Dracula's deadly prick…" "We need sex…" "You can't have sex with a severed head…" "Oh, yes you can!" "Look, we'll call the person who gets hold of the head More Cock." "And we'll give him an incurable disease."
The foregoing is my imagination. This conversation did not happen… but the gentle reader should remember that Joe Konrath aka Jack Kilborn once wrote a Christmas story about an amnesiac werewolf who discovered that his midnight snacking habit was abnormal after he noticed buttons and coins in his poop.
These "Draculas" have the compassion of hornets, the dentition of sharks, the voracious appetites of shrews and no respect for garlic whatsoever. If you can contemplate a rabid, blood thirsty Edward Scissorteeth in a maternity or pediatric ward, using a severed artery as a drinking straw, or lashing out among the blind… go for it, but with your eyes open.
Do not pay $2.99 merely to find out what's in “DRACULAS“ (and don't go looking for it on the pirate sites, either). There's more than enough in the free sample chapters to give you an accurate idea what to expect. Here: http://www.amazon.com/DRACULAS-Chapte...
Know before you buy that you're going to be ambushed by some of the grossest, sickest, most disturbed, politically incorrect and indiscriminate bloodlusty slash fest that four insensitive guys can think up.
Disclaimer. This is an author review. 4-stars is as low as I go. Five Stars!
**spoiler alert** This was a gripping story, and I was riveted, right up to the final page. I found it topical, appalling, almost utterly believable,...more**spoiler alert** This was a gripping story, and I was riveted, right up to the final page. I found it topical, appalling, almost utterly believable, and quite infuriating.
I just happened to read this book at this time, with the greatest industrial pollution/deformed children scandal since Thalidomide in the headlines, not to mention the Acorn scandal, the Iranian election difficulties, and the swift passage of Bills in the US without time allowed for congressmen to read them.
It probably reflects life accurately, which depressed me unutterably. I find it hard to believe that the SEC would be blind to the insider trading. The political corruption, the vote rigging, the deceptive advertising, and the "buying" of a seat on a fictional Supreme Court were all plausibly written and very disturbing.
I highly recommend everything about this book except the ending.(less)
Socrates the cogitating mule, has come to the conclusion that his bullfighting, thrill-seeking, stealthily wealthy owner, Brody Alexander, needs a ve...more Socrates the cogitating mule, has come to the conclusion that his bullfighting, thrill-seeking, stealthily wealthy owner, Brody Alexander, needs a very special woman to make him happy, even if a lovely lady barrel rider did once steal his heart.
Therefore, Socrates, Guinevere the skunk, Perseus and Beauty, put their heads together.
Corporate career girl Rita Markum has come back to rural Grasmere from the big city to take care of her mother, Judy, during her convalescence following surgery, only to find that her mother has a suitor.
The last thing Rita expected was to catch sight of the rodeo clown from her past, Brody Alexander, and realize that she was just as much in love with him as she had been ten years before when her awkward attempt at seduction ended with him brushing her off.
Lovers' misunderstandings, stubborn pride, and hurt feelings might keep Brody and Rita apart, but if there's anything more obstinate than a lover who feels scorned, it's a mule. A match-making mule.
Down Home Ever Lovin Mule Blues by Jacquie Rogers, is a highly entertaining and well written story, which is what we've come to expect from the author of "Faery Special Romances". Ms Rogers' stories are funny, sweet, moving and heartwarming. I recommend this book for any time of year when a reader wants a light-hearted, feel-good story with a distinctive Happy Ever After.
I like cozies. I might as well be honest about that. Also happy ever afters. Further, in the interests of full disclosure, you should know that I read...moreI like cozies. I might as well be honest about that. Also happy ever afters. Further, in the interests of full disclosure, you should know that I read AFRAID by Jack Kilborn (with a view to a review) because Joe Konrath dared me to do so.He has a thick skin, and a strong stomach... and anyone who reads AFRAID needs both.
This is not a book to take on a fishing trip, especially if you've left your loved ones at home, alone. In fact, this book ought to come with a free membership of the NRA. You'll want your Brinks alarm turned on, and a loaded shotgun under your mattress if you read AFRAID in bed at night. You might want one of those panic button pendants, too.
Be warned. It is gruesome. AFRAID is the sort of book to be read aloud, in a large group. Maybe journalists who need to be kept up all night --for a slow-to-break story on Airforce One, for instance-- or secret types on a stakeout, would get a bang out of AFRAID.
The villains are seriously, SERIOUSLY, nasty. My own most horrible villain (Insufficient Mating Material) rendered his victims insensible, had his wicked way, then took a small plug of pubic hair for a souvenir. Jack Kilborn's baddies do a great deal more than that. You get a sense of the horrors to come when a faceless bad guy sits on his first victim's bed, and when she asks what he's going to do to her, he says "Everything."
And that's just page 7.
Jack Kilborn is exceptionally readable. His prose is clear, elegant, vivid, and intelligent. I'm hooked.(less)
It doesn't seem fair to rate the entire anthology, when I've only read one story. However, I would like to share my review of JA Konrath's "S.A."
Some...moreIt doesn't seem fair to rate the entire anthology, when I've only read one story. However, I would like to share my review of JA Konrath's "S.A."
Some of us push the envelope... JA Konrath's S.A. begins with a most unhappy --but healthy-- gentleman crossing a snowy parking lot, carrying a semi-see-through, blue plastic box containing a large stool sample. In fact, it's not a sample. It's the whole enchilada.
He's taking this vigorous specimen to his doctor because there's something unusual about it. There are buttons and coins embedded in it. Now, it's nothing like that health insurance advert where the patient has money coming out of the wazoo, as the western oriental ER surgeon explained when making one of those predetermination phone calls.
The coins are small change. The doctor's advice about unhealthy midnight snacks is... priceless.
After a thorough rectal exam which brings to light many strange things and leads to some unpalatable conclusions in the mind of our hero, he waddles off to search the internet for clues as to whom he's been eating when the moon is full.
Just when I thought I'd read every dragonish permutation of bad people tasting good (or bad), or good people tasting bad (or good), JA Konrath comes up with a fresh twist.
This story is a riot. I laughed out loud three times in the first three pages. Of course, there are certain bathroom words that will make me laugh out loud. One of them is poop.
The would-be sci-fi writer in me appreciated the elegance of JA Konrath's solution as regards mass. The hero has a mind-boggling telephone conversation with a were-squirrel... who collects nuts... and he asks both questions that spring to mind, much to this reader's delight.
I'm not going to tell you what "S.A." means, because I enjoyed guessing.
Poop is a very good place to start, when one is creating a convincing werewolf. Done right, starting with the scat is an excellent short cut to world-building.
Jacqueline Lichtenberg advises world-builders to start with the sun. But for a short story about a magical being, why not start where the sun don't shine? I'm not a gentle reader. I don't suspend disbelief easily. I'm not programmed to trust my author, no matter how outrageous. Not at first, anyway.
I can give a turd the benefit of the doubt for several reasons. For a start, the narrator is embarrassed about it. That's believable. He's also frightened. He's not Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs), so he's probably not inclined to put it through a sieve.
If there are bits of teeth, chips of bone, coins, buttons, a crucifix, a clump of dead man's beard... I get the picture. I don't worry about the force of a werewolf's bite, or his stomach capacity, or the inhuman speed of his digestive processes whereby the indigestible evidence of his midnight feast ends up in his morning toilet bowl.
This short story straddles rather too many genres for my taste. It's heart pounding, fast paced action, humorous horror, satire, paranormal with (lite) romantic elements. I hope someone has the wit to publish this short story as a stand-alone e-book!
**spoiler alert** Page turner, yes. In fact, this was a pretty good read until I got to the HMTT (or whatever acronym was for the super duper, go fast...more**spoiler alert** Page turner, yes. In fact, this was a pretty good read until I got to the HMTT (or whatever acronym was for the super duper, go fast, go anywhere over any terrain, million dollar truck) was introduced.
If you have a truck that will go 120 mph, will climb mountains, eat up deserts and do all the other great things Lord Archer explains it can do, and which was totally plausible, why on earth would you take it to pieces and bury it in exchange for an old, pink Cadillac which the gallant hero and his helpers then take to pieces, carry in pieces across the Iraq desert, reassemble by hand (taking about 20 minutes to do so)....