Oct 31 - Nov 6, 2012
A Hunger Like No Other
Published April 2006
Lachlain MacRieve is a badass psycho werewolf. Emmaline Troy is a half-breed at best (cue the Cher):
And she's got an overly healthy dash of wuss. But when fate thrusts these two together, they must overcome it all to follow their hearts...
I fucking love this paranormal romance series. You hear that? FUCKING LOVE IT. These are words that I never though would come out of my mouth (or out of a pen, or onto a computer). This was right up there on the "Zero Probability of Ever Saying List", along with "No salt for me, I'm watching my cholesterol!" and "Family Guy? Can't we watch C-SPAN?" as well as "There's too many books in here and we need to burn them to make room for my bunny skinning station." I've had a pretty bad impression of romance novels of any kind, as a few of the first books I'd read in the genre were pretty predictable and bland. Bad luck for me because I'm also a big fan of sexy sex, and apparently I've been missing out.
Now, I won't say this was without flaws. I mean, it's still romance. There wasn't enough focus on the actual penetration and the sex was a little soft for me (said the chick who reads some pretty fucked up erotica thanks to the internetz). I can live with that. This is aimed at suburban upper-crusty housewives who actually have enough time to read:
As opposed to the internetz, which is aimed at emotionally disturbed 17-year-old boys:
And I was surprised by how little doggy style there was, considering the protagonist is a goddamn werewolf.
I will also fully admit that I took issue with the stunning lack of communication between Lachlain and Emmaline that drove the majority of this plot (as it seems to in most romance novels, paranormal or otherwise). But again, to be fair, miscommunication is a common occurrence in the lives of the general populace. "Do I tell her she's my mate?" "Should I let him know about my horrific visions?" "Should I tell him I have herpes even if I'm not having an outbreak?" (Seriously, the last situation is one I read in a zombie anthology... though zombies probably don't worry about herpes so that character ended up being in the clear). This illogical ritual of keeping the people you care for in the dark out of some strange desire to protect them or yourself makes for a convenient but irritating as fuck plot device. Hell, maybe it's just that us readers can see that what the characters are doing isn't going to end well, just like movie watchers who yell at the chick for going into the spooky attic after midnight to have sex with her boyfriend after a naked swim.
But I can forgive all that, because this is some of the bast damn fluff EVER.
Sexy monsters and werewolves and vampires, sexy battles between these sexy creatures, sexy sex... A Hunger Like No Other was a stimulating book in more ways than one. Trying to read this at work was the most deliciously awkward nightmare you could possibly imagine. If you ever come into my shop and I yell, "Hello!" into your face at max volume and I look like I've just run a 5 minute mile, it's because I've been reading stuff like this at work.
Liking our female protagonist Emmaline is easy as fuck. Who wouldn't love a character that starts out shy and insecure (just like most of us) and just gets stronger and more badass as the story progresses? Lachlain, our manly male protagonist is even easier (to love, that is): he's ridiculously tall dark and handsome (and also buff) as well as a sex crazed king with unlimited wealth. I kind of imagine him as looking like Gerard Butler:
But with less clothes.
It was written pretty well enough; the author has a fertile imagination and she's got this massive Lore Universe that has unlimited potential for storylines. And I love books that have recurring characters but don't necessarily have to be read in order. That way I pretty much know what's going on but I don't have to read them one after the other in one massive orgy of the same damn shit. You know what I mean, right? If you're going to have an orgy, you want variety, not just vanilla after vanilla after vanilla, if you catch my drift. And the author throws in tons of culture references, and while I normally hate that (it dates the book so quickly) here it works. Look, ma! I can identify with this!
I really enjoyed the read (a few times even!) and I'm stoked to try out the next one in the series. Consider me stimulated.
Oct 9 - Oct 29, 2012
Fear: A Modern Anthology Of Horror And Terror - Volume One
A horror anthology comprised of indie authors (yay!) with all proceeds benefiting Barnardo's and Medecines sans Frontieres (or Doctors Without Boarders, for us English speaking types). Hoe do you not love this book already?
Of Events At Lowkirk Cemetery by Michael Cail - A deceased gentleman's personal effects are not the only thing troubling his friend...
A nice classy (and classic!) Gothic horror story to start things off right. Beautifully written, and a bit racier (and by that I mean bloodier) than your average Gothic tale, it was a good traditional beginning to this anthology.
Dead Ding Donger by Wayne Via - Woodrow Harper has got something sinister in mind for the young folk who prank him on Halloween...
Very simple and somewhat outlandish. Besides the adult language, it totally reminded me of something I would have read as a preteen. Like R.L. Stine for... ahem... "mature" (read: fucked up) kids.
Old Mabel's Stray Cat by Cameron Trost - Old Mabel's cat is far more dangerous than she could ever imagine...
This story actually make me mutter, "Ugh, creepy!" out loud; I literally could not contain myself. To be fair, I talk to myself more often than most people, but still. I thought I knew where it was going, but was completely shocked by where it ended up. I was genuinely disturbed by this read and I'm sure I'll have nightmares because of it. I'll say it again: Ugh, creepy. And I'll throw in a shudder for good measure. Definitely a favorite.
Last Call by E. L. Norry - A bitter man makes the worst of a bad situation...
So well written (except for "whilst" being used twice so close together) that I was totally cheesed when it ended so abruptly! Definitely read like a first chapter as opposed to a short story.
Don't Break The Glass by Jennifer Martin - A zombie outbreak is no place for a family...
Wasn't so sure about this one to begin with. The protagonist was a little juvenile starting out, but once I got past that the story ended up being great! I would love to see this as a full-length novel. Just lose the phrase "WTF", please. Only Valley girls talk like that, and while Clueless was UH-MAZ-ING, it shouldn't be done anymore.
What Goes Around by Carmen Jenner - Keeping the woman you love captive in a basement can have far greater ramifications than one could ever imagine...
GREAT story. Went in a totally unexpected direction and turned out so SO well. I had a hard time figuring out who I liked and who I felt sorry for - the protagonist or the antagonist. Which means we had some complicated, realistic, and well done characters. Did I mention there was also gore? I'd love to see this turned into a novel. Well done.
Breaker One Nine by Connor Rice - Being an ice trucker can be mighty dangerous, and not just for the most obvious reasons...
Another favorite. So creepy and surreal as well as unique - I'm a big fan of new monsters. As opposed to being a huge metal fan:
Which I actually am, by the way. My only complaint? Editing mistakes a-plenty. Enough so that the ending (while being totally epic and awesome) was fucked up because of a misplaced word that distracted me from the final shebang. Turn it into a full length read and hire an editor. I'd buy it. Little Darlings by Ginger Nielsen - Maybe the creepy old woman across the street really IS all the fearful things you think about her... Definitely had a promising start; creepy and intriguing. But I felt like it transitioned really abruptly and unrealistically. It almost felt like reading two different stories. Two stories is fine. Two SEPARATE stories. Not two stories mashed together like awkward teens in an arranged marriage.
And what about Wickers?! What's his deal?! Salvation Sign by Brad Cobb - Opal Hodges is a good God-fearing woman, but the feelings she's been having lately are less than charitable... I had trouble with this one. Basically, the old woman feels weird. Page after page of how weird she feels. It definitely gets repetitive after a while (especially for someone who feels weird all the time anyways). Then the ending just kind of blasted me in the face, coming way out of left field (I bet there's a sex euphemism for something like that... A Houdini, I think?) and while it was interesting for sure, it was also pretty vague. Either it was too subtle for me, or someone spiked the old bat's communal wine with LSD:
Church Farm House by Patrick O'Neill - Living in the home of a notorious killer can have grave consequences... I liked this one. Well written and creepy (especially one certain scene... nasty in every sense of the word). And hell, there was even a surprise! You have to be pretty good to surprise the likes of me when I'm reading horror, so good show. Harvest Home by Linton Robinson - There's no safety at the homestead in THIS community... A delightful little short. Loved how descriptive the author was; well detailed and realistic. And as a bonus, it was just gross enough to make me smile. A really weird and wonderful take on the traditional zombie tale. I'd love to see this as a longer book. The Book by Lyn McConchie - Fable and legend have to start somewhere... At first glance, this appeared to be a fairy tale. But quickly it revealed itself to be the old dark kind, not the fluffy Disney kind. Enough blood and murder in this one to stand with the best of them. So far the most different of the lot in this anthology in style and subject - a beautiful prodigious interlude. Well done. Synesthesia by E. E. King - If we knew all the wonders the world had to offer, it could drive a person mad... Bizarre. Totally freakin' bizarre. but delightful in a gruesome sort of way. Well written and thought provoking. And another character who may very well have been high on LSD. Hell, at least he tried to go with it... Would love to read this as a novella or even a novel. Another favorite. Octavia by Chantal Boudreau - A phobia can be a powerful mental disorder, but the cure can be much MUCH worse... This had a great opener. Straight up grabbed me from the word go. Very traditional in writing style, and was straightforward and easy to understand - just the way I like my reading. It definitely reminded me of Dread by Clive Barker, but in a good way. The Wild Huntsman by Skander Lafif - Venturing into the woods at night can have disturbing consequences... Now THIS reads like a traditional ghost story. I could expect to find this in one of those spooky as books I loved so much as a kid. But with more sophisticated writing. Tho Storm by Sara Fowles - This apocalypse begins with tiny animals and lots of itching... Skillfully done. A fantastic tense buildup and purple prose that wasn't too damn purple (almost always an issue for me). Kind of finished by winding into Christ-knows-what, but still definitely good. A Cloud Over The Sun by A. A. Garrison - Wishes don't always turn out like one would hope... Wonderful, original, creepy and upsetting. All the good things a horror story should be. A great read. Dave And The Raven by Duncan Jones - There's something more sinister than shoddy service at your local retailer... Hilarious and bizarre; loved the combo horror and humor. So rarely done this well because it takes such immense skill. Though it was missing a really goddamn important writing element (no paragraph breaks whatsoever) I still really enjoyed this. If All Else Perished by Kiona Smith-Strickland - Running a zombie recovery service can be a mighty tough gig... Very professionally done. Realistic characters and reactions not usually seen in the protagonists of zombie stories. Unique and thoroughly enjoyable. A Quiet Corner Of Town by Angel Propps - It takes more work than you think to keep up a trailer park... Interesting. Neat concept. Occasionally over complex sentences, and mildly confusing, but I liked it because of the characters and the alternate realities presented. Which are always damn confusing, now that I think about it. Seamless by Shirley Golden - The perfect woman is, by no means, quite perfect... Whoa. Neat. One of those rare stories that start out confusing as hell and resolve themselves so effortlessly. The writing was ace, the story was weird, and reading it was fun. I really liked this. Possibly because I imagine having one of these little creations for myself.... for research purposes, you understand. Luther by Jay Wilburn - Rehabilitation with the monks isn't quite what we'd think it is... While the writing was good and the characters and concept were interesting, I definitely didn't get what was going on. Not enough explanation for me. But I've never been good with subtle. Granma's House by Tara Fox Hall - Who'd have thought staying in the house your granma died in would be spooky... I thought the monsters/ghosts were particularly disturbing in this one. Nightmare worthy to be sure. And while I would have liked more of an explanation, it was a good ghostly read. The Glass Eye by J. L. Petty - This ventriloquist and dummy have a mighty strange relationship... Because I've been reading horror forever, I pretty much had the idea where this was heading as soon as I got into it. And while the antagonists were better done than most ventriloquist/dummy horror stories, the protagonist had a pretty weird adjective ("almond hair" just makes me think of weird hippie cookies). Plus, the author was using semi-colons incorrectly: "I checked my watch again; which read 4:15 am. I put my hand in my pocket and clutched a silver revolver; with a tight grip. Afraid of whom I'd meet; I quietly concealed the gun in my pocket... I turned towards my car; with hopes of going home."Which was the most disturbing part of the story, really. This is why editors are so damn important. Stuff like that is REALLY distracting. Disturbance Of The Natural Pecking Order by Brandon Swarrow - When children go missing, parents will go along with just about anything to get them back... Extremely sinister and definitely creeped me out; possibly because it pretty realistically depicted how people can get into really fucked up situations (though I'm hoping this particular situation is none too common).
Would make an excellent full length novel. Hurbane Wulf by Raymond John Clarke - Lost love is a terrifying prospect... So there was definitely some lacking punctuation and punctuation where it wasn't supposed to be in this one (I had to lean that 'it's' and 'its' are two different things with two different meanings, and so should other people). But aside from that nasty bit, this was a lovely traditional horror story that, surprisingly, didn't have any werewolves. Alarming by Gregory A. Carter - This car is far more alarming than most (see what I did there?)... There were some missing words in this one, which always confuses and irritates the shit out of me. Luckily, the story was damn good and original, so I was appeased. I thought the idea was very Stephen King-esque (mega compliment in my books) and I liked how the author played the protagonist's relationship; that is, nonchalantly. Awesomely horrific and just the right amount of bizarre. Red by Rick Allden - There are worse things than your child disappearing... like your child coming back... Gripping as hell. Really enjoyed this story and the way it was written. I was totally creeped out by the description of the characters (definitely a good thing). Another Ghostly Figure by Chris Morton - A stroll though a haunted village might not be the best way to spend Halloween... A nice classical English horror story... with a subtly disturbing twist. Well written and nicely done with lots of creeping horror and a shy hint of weird. House For Rent by Phil Richardson - A cheap price on a place to live is never a good sign... Eerie. Reminded me of something I'd read as a kid (if authors and publishing houses didn't think kids were total wieners that can't handle a little murder). The protagonist is definitely worth getting to know better and I think the author could make a novel out of this one that would be worth buying. Last Dance by Peter Lingard - Being lost in the woods can be a frightening experience... A well done little horror story that didn't end up being a horror story at all... at least in the traditional sense. The protagonist was realistic and and situation was well done; it was definitely a nice way to end the book. Altogether, Fear: Volume One was a better than usual anthology. While occasionally the need for an editor cropped up and I usually prefer my reads longer, these facts were more than made for for by the variety and profusion of stories. No matter what you like, you'll find something here to suit your fancy, and it's definitely worth picking up.
Sep 2 - Sep 18, 2012
Eddie Griffin has got a tough lot in life. After winning the Superbowl and becoming one of the most recognizable men on the planet, the unthinkable happens: the dead rise and the Zombie Apocalypse swings into full force. But Eddie is definitely a survivor, and after teaming up with Lt. Jim Shrike, the two set off on a mission of unimaginable proportions...
I can honestly say, without a doubt, that I have NEVER read anything like this in my life. And I think the experience was good.
See, I thought Undead Reckoning was a horror novel. I mean, the cover, the title, the fact that it's about zombies... You can't fault me for pigeonholing the book right off the bat. But while it started out as a fairly straightforward horror/military zombie story, things quickly escalated. Suddenly there were gods and demons and warriors and robots and monsters and lots of chicks with big titties and thousands of other bits and bobs all occurring one after another (or on top of each other... if you know what I mean).
Reading this honestly kind of felt like getting sucked up into a tornado whirling over your local trailer park - there's so much stuff in it that all you can do is hold on to your garden gnomes and hope you don't get whacked by something. Or something else. Or 12 somethings. At once.
There were probably close to 100 characters (one of which was named Eddie Griffin; seeing as how he's a main protagonist, the name is thrown around a lot and it can get kind of distracting... or awesome, depending on how I feel that day) and so many situations; when looked at separately, they seemed to have no relation, and I was having trouble following what was going on.
I also noticed a marked evolution in the writing; it started off fairly simple and green, progressed into your average style, and finished off as full blown good-ass storytelling. And all the while there was a ton of shit going on.
So basically, I read the first part - "I totally get the zombie stuff, and I know what most of this terminology means, so don't treat me like a moron with all these annotations and maybe work on some more complete and complex sentence structures." which led to "I have no idea what the fuck is going on." to "OK, I think I get it." to "This is actually really fucking epic." to "I fucking lost it AGAIN." and finally to "Fuck it. I may not have any idea what the fuck is going on but I'm going to damn well enjoy it."
Undead Reckoning was definitely more Sci-Fi/Fantasy than horror, and while I liked it, I bet I would have liked it more if I was more experienced in sweeping epics and funny names.
July 30 - Aug 4, 2012 The Cabin in the Woods Tim Lebbon Horror/Movie Tie-In Published April 2012 297 pages 10/10 It's the classic horror movie set up - a group of sexy young adults take a trip to a spooky remote locale for some unsupervised debauchery. We all know what happens next. But in this case, what actually occurs is so far outside anyone's imagining, that NO ONE could have seen it coming... Can I just tell you? I was riveted. RIVETED. I started reading, was lulled into a false sense of detached skepticism ("THIS is supposed to be the horror experience to turn all the ones before it on their ears? This is just like any other horror setup! Mysterious plot lines, incredibly sexy but otherwise average Joes going somewhere totally inappropriate, casual sex... Oooh, sex.") But then I got hit by the runaway Weird Train at the What The Fuck Is Happening crossing in the center of Jesus Christ This Is Bizarreville. Not only was I enchanted, but I was also STOKED. I was weird! I want strange! I want different! I want this: "A unicorn gored a scientist against a well, its horn probing through his stomach and chest, grinding, tearing, and his spurting blood painted its gorgeous flowing mane red." I tell you, I don't see this in your average horror novel. Though I will say that I can definitely see similarities between this plot and The Midnight Meat Train by Clive Barker (read my review HERE)
and dashes of Bentley Little in the writing style - strange, dry humor, and viscous gore. If Barker and Little got together and made sweet sweet love at a fetish club in an abattoir during comedy hour, Tim Lebbon would be their freaky fuck trophy.
The writing was fast paced and kept similar time to a horror movie plot. Which makes sense, because the book is based on a horror movie. It was all laid out quite well, and I found it utterly delightful to find telling signs of the author's UK heritage. I can peg one of those Limey bastards from just a handful of pages.
Now, I can't really heap credit on the author for how unique this book is (seeing as how it's a movie novelization and all) but I can applaud him for taking what he was given and doing it a great service. It's not terrifically often that I find a book where the characters are likable and believable.
And you know who I loved most? Besides all the awesome monsters? Marty. That's right, the stoner. Are you surprised, though? I mean, the things that guy could do with a bong made me weak in the knees. And while he was definitely a stereotype, he was definitely given a treat treatment. Now THAT'S a fictional character I'd marry! Or screw. Whatever.
And finally, I just have to say that the ending was FANTASTIC. Seriously great.
Anyone who likes horror should read this, unless they've ruined it for themselves by watching the film first. To those people I say, Fuck you, cinephiles! Bibliophiles is where it's at!
July 6, 2012
Jesus the Mexican Vampire Hunter
Normally I'd give you a little blurb on the gist of this story (or Vampire Short, if you want to be precise... which I always do) but honestly, the title really says it all. There's honestly no way I could try to describe it any better than that without being redundant. Have I ever mentioned how much I like books like that? Straight forward, to the point... and boy, did I EVER have some creepers over my shoulder at the bus station when THIS title page came up on my KOBO!
Martin Lastrapes has got serious chops. From the title selection to the cover design (we can thank his bro for that, actually) to his mad writing skills and great characters - the man can really put a piece together like nobody's business. The main draw for this story, for me anyways, was Jesus; he seems noble (Vampire hunting is pretty risky, so I gather) yet flawed ('roids definitely aren't on the upstanding citizen's breakfast menu) but he's 100% badass. I liked the fact that the glimpse into his early life made him a little more human; for all his hardcore attributes, he still maintained a lovable quality. I mean, lovable for me. But my version of lovable and your version may differ a little. You probably love Cute Overload - I love Vampire Hunters with drug habits. I definitely want to read more about him; I find Jesus the most fascinating out of all the different
characters I've discovered in Lastrapes' Vampire Shorts. Wait, I just read that last part and lost my shit a little bit. Can I just say that one more time, please? Ahem. "I find Jesus the most fascinating out of all the different characters I've discovered in Lastrapes' Vampire Shorts." Christ. If you can find Jesus in a man's shorts, you're doing well. Anyways, back to the subject at hand. The writing, as always, was superb. So much so that I seem to find myself drifting off into this epic world of luchadores and Vampires
and when it all ends so suddenly, well... I feel a little downright pissy. This teasing has got to end soon, Martin; I'm getting a case of literary blue-balls.
June 28, 2012
Adam & Olivia
Olivia is a regular Joe (regular Jane?) who wants to be a writer. Adam is a Vampire that wants Olivia's blood. And an encounter in the park leads them to a less than average boy-meets-girl scenario...
Martin Lastrapes creates openers like a seasoned pro - his first line in this short was no exception:
"Adam first sucked Olivia's blood in the sandbox of Heritage Park..."
How do you not keep reading?! These few words are more visceral and disturbing than some entire novels. Lastrapes is a skilled writer, no doubt about it. Or, as we Canadians like to say, no doot aboot it:
Adam & Olivia was definitely a good read, but I take issue with one thing. While Adam is well drawn and intriguing, Olivia is laid out with so many intimate details in a short period of time that I feel like I'm on a awkward first date with a former fat girl who blossomed recently but has no social skills and she's spilled her life story to me before I've even gotten her to the restaurant.
Not that I wouldn't still do her, but c'mon Olivia, slow down! Can't we have some meaningless chitchat before you tell me about your dysfunctional upbringing and your hopes and dreams?
Hey, it's a personal preference that I like to get to know my protagonists over the course of a few chapters, or even a whole book, but it's still a preference nonetheless.
Adam, on the other hand, is pretty fuckin' dialed, and I want to find more out about him. See, Olivia? THIS is how you do a first date! Give me the main points, surprise me (but not with VD) and leave me wanting more.
But maybe don't assault me.
Hell, I'm sure there's a happy medium between the two.
Mar 18, 2012
When blood-drained corpses begin turning up in Minneapolis, the FBI sends in a very particular man for the job...
I just had this feeling - a stupid scumbag-brain inkling that gave it away. I've read too many books and seen to many M. Night Shyamalan movies to ever a new intellectual fray without at least considering a twist ending.
In this case, my inkling was right, and I missed out on the surprise, because I had already guessed it from the first paragraph.
But Maitrejean has a way with words that immediately draws you in and keeps you riveted, and if he had made the story a bit longer (maybe 20-40 pages to flesh out the protagonist and give us a chance to identify with him) I probably would have forgotten my guess at the ending BEFORE the ending.
It was a rad little story that grabbed me right from the get go - I just wish there was more of it! Hey Paul, make it a full length novel, would ya?!
Feb 6 - Feb 9, 2012
Edo Van Belkom
Hitchhiking across Canada just become even more dangerous, because there's a trucker out there who will do some bad BAD things to you before he kills you... and he's had a lot of time to hone his craft. So if you're a pretty young thing trying to get away from a bad situation at home like Amanda Peck, consider saving up for a Greyhound ticket before you throw caution to the wind and decide to stand on the side of the road with your thumb out...
This had all the makings of a pulp horror novel - an evil monster, a helpless victim, an asshole of a boyfriend, a likable gumshoe detective determined to crack the case, all wrapped up in an innocuous paperback with a pun on the cover. But I hesitate to call this pulp, because it was too damn good, and too damn surprising to entirely fit into that category. The evil monster (while horrifying) is also nearly pathetic; the helpless victim doesn't wait around to be rescued and takes matters into her own hands; the asshole decides to get his shit together; the gumshoe... well, he's still that, but he's likable because he's written well, not because he's some clumsy Clouseau-esque inspector simply penciled in for a laugh.
As for the pun on the cover, well, I fucking love puns. Shoot me.
Really, it was an enjoyable read. When I was certain I had the plot figured out (and wondered how the hell the author was going to drag the book out for another 150 pages) shit went haywire and the story moved along in a totally new (but totally plausible) direction, which is a huge plus in my books because it takes a lot to hold my interest, and I get bored pretty easily. I'm the proverbial tough critic, and you've got to be on point to keep me from heckling you like an asshole.
The best part about this book was that it was SURPRISING. Good surprising. Not The Crying Game surprising. While our lady protagonist was enough of a stereotype to get herself into such a massively shitty situation, she turned out to be badass enough to deal with it, and her evolution as a character warmed the jaded cockles of my heart. You get stereotypes in pulp - you get evolution in literature. Really, Amanda Peck is pretty fuckin' awesome, and unquestionable my favorite character, though the crusty mess that is our antagonist comes in at a close second. He's nasty in appearance and nastier in personality, disgustingly gross but disgustingly powerful. Much like a traumatized hobo living on the edge of a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl.
Sure, there were a few persnickety bits that irked me; certain wording in a sentence here and there, calling semen "seed". That's all personal preference though, and the author couldn't have foreseen that the term "seed" will forever and always immediately catapult me to THIS:
More than anything though, this book was FUN. Likable characters, excitement, action, surprises; all these elements make for an enjoyable read that you can't wait to get back to, and Blood Road had all of it. There was an excellent balance between Pulp (humor, stereotypes, blood and gore) and Damn-Good-Reading (couldn't put the goddamn thing down). Even the ending was a perfect fit. Really, it might have been the best part, and there were a LOT of good parts.
So go out, find Blood Road, read the fuck out of it, and thank me after. I am fully willing to accept Nicholas Cage memorabilia in place of gratitude, by the way.
Jan 25 - Jan 30, 2012
Published Jan 2012
Lothaire, Enemy of Old, is a mad Vampire of Royal lineage - he's kicking ass and taking names (in his ancient ledger of Blood Debts) and is hell bent on taking control of the Vampire Kingdoms... by force. Elizabeth Peirce is a foxy backwoods piece who, unfortunately, is possessed by the spirit of the homicidal goddess Saroya and has landed on Death Row. Lothaire intends to wed Saroya in Elizabeth's body, once he gets rid of her pesky soul. But Lothaire begins to feel conflicted in his plans, because Elizabeth makes him all kinds of hot in all his lusty (and well-endowed) Vampire parts, and Soaroya... well, Saroya only has one thing on her mind and it's a lot more decapitations and a lot less lovin'...
I'll level with you - this is the first adult paranormal romance I've ever read. Really, the only one I've ever read, if you don't count Twilight (which I'm sure most people wouldn't). But Simon & Schuster sent me this book at the beginning of the month, and I figured I could use a break from my usual fare (zombies); so what better way to start than with some random book from the post office?
From what I could gather, there was a whole slew of other books from this particular Universe, but I didn't feel like an uneducated asshole for not having read them; instead there were allusions to other characters and plots (as opposed to referencing things mysteriously and adding footnotes like *Buy book 5 for the explanation!*) that seemed... pretty interesting, actually.
This book was super easy to read; every character was individual and well developed with their own back story (another reason why I'll read more from this series) and the Universe itself was badass - there were so many types of supernatural creatures with different legends and it all comes across as really new and exciting.
Lothaire as a character was fun to read about; he's ridiculously handsome, rich beyond measure, violent, mentally imbalanced, and completely sex crazed. My kind of dude. Elizabeth was kind of standard romance fare (I have read a couple of historical romances in my time): spunky, unpredictable, and a babe. She seemed a little stereotypical at first; stay strong, keep it together, don't cry out loud...
Sorry, couldn't resist. Any time I can work a reference from that movie into my life, I will.
Anyways, Elizabeth evolved from from that kind of well-done sticht, and definitely grew on me. She definitely put that badass in... badass a time or two. The other characters were a neat mix of old-timey traditional and uber modern Valley/Hipster/Punk. Another neat take on things (the mixing of mediums, as it were) and another reason why I want to read more of these.
As for the sex and violence? Lots of sex, and not a shit load of violence, but it all worked for me. The sex was nice and graphic (and bizarre at times, which is a plus) and there was just enough violence to keep my interest piqued and the action moving along. I say this as a hardcore horror junkie (Just put it in my veins!) but nice, normal readers my find it all pretty intense.
There was a weird spot towards the end where I was expecting everything to work out, while instead it got pretty messy (severed fingers and shriveled hearts, anyone?) where I was a little wigged out (My first time reading a proper Paranormal Romance and it deviated from the formula? What?!) but everything came together pretty dang well, in my opinion. For the most part.
I really liked that, at the end, while the book did wrap itself up in more specific terms (majority of major conflicts resolved, etc.) it ended in such a way that there was an opening left for another book, which I'd love to read.
Kresley Cole did a good job - great characters, well developed Universe, lots of dirty nasty sex, and she's funny, which made this book a lot of fun. And that's what reading is supposed to be (at least some of the time) right?
Honestly, I think I found a new favorite author, but check back with me after I've read a few more...
May 3 - May 12, 2011
A Discovery of Witches
Despite the danger from opposing forces, a Vampire and a Witch fall in love. OR Two wieners make shit difficult for everyone because of conveniently ridiculous circumstances.
I've never really read paranormal romance; the paranormal is cool, but the romance is always too... mushy for me. I mean, I have read the Twilight series, but in my defense, so have a billion other people. And I'm totally willing to admit that I LOVED Twilight, but I assume that has something to do with Stephanie Meyers selling her soul to the Mormon Devil.
Now, after reading A Discovery of Witches, I've come to the conclusion that this book is pretty much Twilight, but with adult protagonists, and two swear words. Does this sound familiar? " 'There's a lot I don't understand about all this, Hamish, but there are three things I do know... I will not give into this craving for her blood. I do not want to control her power. And I certainly have no wish to make her a vampire.' " That's kind of similar to Twilight's "About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him — and I didn’t know how potent that part might be — that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him." Coincidence? I think not. Now throw in the fact that our overbearing vampire Matthew is waiting to go all the way with his beloved simpering Witch Diana, and you have some striking similarities. I've already read Twilight; I don't need to do it again.
Another downfall is that the writing isn't that awesome. I mean, it's generally written well enough, but there are some issues. The pacing is brain-jarring. The first half of the book is draggy as fuck, with little action or excitement. The we read the second half, which is pretty much all action (and makes for way quicker reading) but it's all crammed in there with so many competing elements that it's hard to keep everything straight. There has to be a happy medium between boring as hell and too much shit to comprehend properly! Harkness also feels the need to go into every little friggin' detail about EVERYTHING. Crusty old architecture (snooze) crusty old school history (snore) even the exacting process of putting on riding gear - "The vest was snug and hard - but it wasn't as bad as I expected. The hat interfered with my ponytail, and I slid the elastic band lower to accommodate it before snapping the chin band together." Really? Is THAT how you put a hat on? I had no idea! I'm mesmerized! Harkness also mentions Matthew's eyebrow "rising into the shape of a question mark" no less than three times, with nearly the same wording each time (and clearly Matthew has never had Botox, if he can do THAT with his face).
And when she describes Miriam's "flat black curls" I was totally confused. How can a curl be flat? Is Miriam made out of paper? Is she the undead version of Flat Stanley?
Also, when Matthew says, "I don't want you near me when I'm angry." all I can think of is this guy -
I could have lived with all that lameness, if so much of it hadn't been so friggin' slow and uninteresting and I could find nothing else focus on. Maybe the author was just trying to build up our emotional investment in the characters?
BTW, the characters mostly sucked (with the exception of Juliette, the insane vampire assassin). Diana started out nervous and standoffish, and suddenly (literally, in the space of a paragraph) she this simpering idiot who literally has to be carried through most of the rest of the book and acts like a huge cunt to her family, all because she realizes she's in love with a Vampire. In fact, an exchange between Diana and her aunt sums my feelings up perfectly - " 'You've known Matthew for a few weeks. Yet you follow his orders so easily, and you were willing to die for him. Surely you can see why Sarah is so concerned. The Diana we've known all these years is gone.' 'I love him,' I said fiercely. 'And he loves me.' Matthew's many secrets - the Knights of Lazarus, Juliette, even Marcus - I pushed to the side, along with my knowledge of his ferocious temper and his need to control everything and everyone around him." That sounds EXACTLY like something a battered woman would say. If some broad said that to me, I'd be all:
On the other hand, Matthew is pretty static. He skulks around, keeps secrets, stalks Diana, gets all moody over previous lovers, and treats Diana like a child. He says he loves her hair because "It's imperfect, just like life. It's not like vampire hair, all polished and flawless." He KILLS and SUCKS THE BLOOD OUT OF A DEER, and Diana's all, "Shush deer, he needs to kill you to show me how dangerous he really is. Just go quietly, because this is really romantic, and I'm totally turned on right now." The she kisses his bloody mouth, and compares her eating an egg sandwich to what he just did. Maybe it's just because I'm a vegetarian, but I think that's gross.
But in all fairness, I was able to breeze through the latter portion of the book because it was just a bunch of action packed fluff. I was able to just accept the flaws and just go with it, and I even kind of got lost in it for a bit, until way too much stuff started going on and I started to auto-pilot. But I know that it's the first in a trilogy, and Harkness wants us to want to find out what's going to happen next, so I can't really blame her for leaving so many loose ends.
Really, I know this book is an epic. It's long and involved, and has multiple plots that could go in just about any direction. If it was horror, I'd totally be into it. But it's not. To me, it's a Twilight ripoff paranormal romance. And I generally don't enjoy that kind of stuff. But I can see how other people totally could.