Monday, December 27, 2010

December 2010 books & reviews

I'm posting this a little early because I'm in the middle of Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series and I think I'll finish the end of the year with Magic at the Gate based on where I'm at now...

December - total 9
Grand Total for 2010 - 151 Books! (Not the 200+ of last year, but hey, still a good total)

Darkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu *****
A Wild Light by Marjorie M. Liu *****
Storm Front: Dresden Files by Jim Butcher ***
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead *****
Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk *****
Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk *****
Magic in the Shadows by Devon Monk *****
Magic on the Storm by Devon Monk *****
Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk ***** (anticipated)

Darkness Calls & A Wild Light are both 5 stars. I loved this series! Maxine is one amazingly tough person who doesn't give up. Grant, her boyfriend, ooh boy - he holds her up when she might falter. And "the Boys"? Both scary and lovable.I won't even start on the demon with the knife feet. Dark well-developed world, amazing characters and some serious scary mixed in with the angst. This is a must read for its darkness and hope in the face of the bleakest of circumstances. (I just hope Maxine's hair grows back.) Read it.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher is the first of the Dresden Files (3 stars). My sister LOVES these books. Me, meh. I don't mean that in a bad way. I actually liked it (I have the whole series to read & that was what I intended to read this month, but...), but here's the thing. I had a hard time relating to Harry Dresden. I know he's not supposed to be an old man, but to me he felt 65+. Just old. And very negative about himself, which usually works for me but not here. I can't even put my finger on why. And it was a little frustrating. But the story is solid and interesting and I do plan to read the rest. I'm just going to throw them in between other books, not all at once.

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead (5 stars). I actually debated whether to give this 4 stars because I was annoyed by it. Without giving anything away....this is the finale to the Vampire Academy series which I really enjoyed. (I gave Blood Promise a very rare 6 stars.) My problem with this series is Rose became unlikeable in this book & Dmitri has been unlikeable since the last book. I think they deserved each other (and it bums me out to put it that way). There was so much left hanging with all the other characters (like they were forgotten a little in the Rose/Dmitri love story) - and I wasn't happy how things were left with Adrian. My hope is that the sequel series will clear up some of the unfinished business.

Magic (Allie Beckstrom) series by Devon Monk (5 stars across the board as far as I'm concerned - yes, I haven't gotten to the last book, but hey good writing is good writing - so I'm anticipating those 5 stars). Allie Beckstrom is a Hound, which means she uses magic to solve magic crimes. And magic uses her hard. She suffers memory loss regularly - which can make life a little difficult and traumatic. Allie's father is a wealthy businessman whose company creates magic devices. He's a total bastard. The first book starts out with Allie hounding a magical hit on a boy. It leads her straight to her father. And everything goes to hell from there on. Each book picks up where the last left off. The one bright spot in Allie's crazy-messed-up world - Zayvion Jones. I have it bad for Zayvion. He's a very secretive man who loves Allie (well, I hope he does and that he isn't using her - that's always a possibility - damn). I think I have as many trust issues as Allie. My point is - this is a great series, very unique in its world, with well-developed characters and relationships. Definitely a great read worth owning.

That's it for my post. At some point in the next day, I'm going to work on a list of the Best of 2010. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 24, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :)

This is just to wish anyone who reads this blog (all 4 of you, if you actually still peek at it), Merry Christmas - Happy Holidays - Happy Solstice - whatever works for you!

May your stockings be stuffed with coupons to bookstores and your trees be lit by faerie dust. May the spirits of holidays past, present and future not scare the crap out of you. May the scents of brownies and gingerbread fill your house. And may the pleasures of a winter wonderland (think snow) sparkle as bright as the glowing eyes of your favorite supernatural beast.

:)
Karen

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another emo post....damn it.

To everyone out there that was hoping for a blog on books - that's coming. I have to get something off my chest first. It has to do with Aspergers and special education and the a$$holes that run the high school special education team at my son's high school....

** WARNING: Do not continue to read this if you're feeling all happy with the Christmas spirit and the belief in the good in people. **

To these "Team Members" - and I use that term loosely because they may function as a team, but they're not part of the team of people who want my son to have a happy life - (not that any one of them will read this blog) but I'd like to say thank you.

Thank you for taking a 15 year old kid who is struggling with Aspergers, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem and letting him know you all think he's worthless.

Thank you for pointing out to this kid who has social skills deficits that he is NOT WORTH THE EFFORT to teach him anything.

Thank you for allowing a teacher to HUMILIATE him in front of his peers and encourage the peers to participate so that he would be absolutely SURE that EVERYONE agrees with his opinion of his own failures.

Thank you for doing NOTHING about this teacher and refusing to even ACKNOWLEDGE that this negatively affected him.

Thank you for showing him that he won't EVER be accepted into "NORMAL" society.

Thank you for putting so many obstacles in our way that my 15 year old - who turns 16 in exactly 14 days - has now decided to DROP OUT OF SCHOOL.
(I guess that's better than the alternative...that he KILL himself.)

Thank you for showing my kid that GRADES DON'T MATTER ...my KID who has a 135 IQ with his disability, a straight A average, who got the highest score at your F*CKING school on the PSATs (he's 10th grade - he outscored the 11th graders).

Thank you for reminding us exactly why we pulled him from the district in the first place. (We should have kept him free of you. Shame on us for giving you a chance to get it right.)

Thank you for doing your damnedest to RUIN HIS LIFE. (And not only not giving a SH*T that you're doing it, but seeming to GET OFF ON IT.)

Here is what we say to you....

He will use the tutor you provided* and EXCEL.
*After 6 weeks of demanding our legal right to one because he's UNABLE to attend school because of his anxiety and depression over the treatment he's received from you and your refusal to help us get him placement in a smaller school that he could navigate more effectively.

He will take the SAT early (because he needs those scores to go to college) and he will EXCEL.

He will DROP OUT, take the GED and enroll in college for the spring semester (because he will be 16 and can) and he will EXCEL.

He will go to college for a double major of computer programming and Japanese and he will EXCEL.

Yes, we say FUCK YOU very much! I have never seen such blatant disregard for another person's well-being in my life. You don't get to ruin a kid's life because you're a bunch of sanctimonious, pole-up-your-asses, superior, arrogant, douchebag asswipe dickhead FUCKING pricks. I cannot even begin to tell you how much you SUCK!

(And you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. I don't know how you look at yourselves in the mirror. But then again, I think you LIKE this.)

Do I feel any better after this rant? No. My kid is still FUCKED.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The road less traveled....EMO post

The poem of my life....
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

My thoughts on it - Robert Frost is an idiot. You should always stick to the traveled path unless you're a masochist. My path was not one of choice, but necessity and its been brambles and skree and cliff climbing without gear. It's not a path any sane person would choose. (And I swear to God if another person tells me that I was "chosen" for this path, I'm going to punch them right in the nose - HARD.) The less traveled road has hidden holes that sprain your ankles, overgrown thorn bushes that reach out and flay the skin from your body, and nasty creatures that come out of nowhere and tear out chunks of your heart, your strength and your will. There is no light along the majority of this path - its dark, its empty and its tricky. Beware of the smooth stretches of path because they're a precursor to something that will have you sitting on the ground in the mud, head bowed, limbs weak, weeping like a baby. And the worst part is, you have precious cargo. A child. A child you have to lead through this misery and convince that this is NORMAL and OKAY. That there's a reason you're on this path. That it makes SENSE. You have to push forward because the path behind you vanishes in the blink of an eye. There are no do-overs. There is only now and forward. Up the skree hill, climb that rock face, patch up the torn bits as best you can and plod on. A child relies on you to create the way. A child, who no fault of his own, is all alone and struggling but believes there is an end where people will be waiting to welcome him. Not that he's ever experienced that. You can only hope that you prepare him well enough for this path so that when you fall, when you can no longer go on, he'll be strong enough to go on alone.

The road less traveled sucks, Robert Frost. It sucks.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Books Read in November & reviews....

The following is the books I read in November - a total of twelve. I actually have a few short stories that I read on my e-reader and I haven't posted those, but I will. I love me some angst but I have to say, when reading angsty books and you're in an angsty state, you must lighten it with happy music. God help me, I listened to some seriously gag-worthy happy music this month.

Broken Angel by SW Vaughn ***
Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway ***
Beastly by Alex Flinn ****
White Cat by Holly Black *****
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick ****
Spun by Sorcery by Barbara Bretton ***
Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler ***
That Voodoo You Do by Jodi Redford ***
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers ****
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride ******
Bitten in Two by Jennifer Rardin *****
The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu *****

Broken Angel by SW Vaughn(3 stars) isn't an urban fantasy. In that I mean there aren't vampires or other supernatural creatures running around. Its the story of Gabriel, a young man searching for his sister in NYC. What he finds is an underground fighting and prostitution organization run by some seriously bad guys. The book is all about Gabriel's unwilling transformation from a young, if not innocent, man to a bad-ass fighter. There isn't a good guy to be found in this story and yet I liked the characters despite their dark souls. I have to say, tho, that for a good portion of the book I thought there was going to be some guy-on-guy moments. It felt like it was leaning that way. It never happened. It was just a good, solid, interesting story.

Almost to Die for by Tate Hallaway (3 stars) This was a funny little story of Ana, a girl just about to celebrate her 16th birthday. Her mother is a witch but Ana doesn't have power. The ceremony starts only to have things go haywire. Not only does Ana not pass the test, she discovers her father is a vampire. And all hell breaks loose. Her best friend is shunning her, the boy she likes is a slayer and her mother just wants to control her. Entertaining.

Beastly by Alex Flinn (3 stars) A modern day Beauty and the Beast. Kyle is a stuck up little shit who treats others badly. He messes with the wrong girl - and is turned into a horrible beast. He has to find true love to save himself. His father abandons him to the care of a housekeeper and a blind tutor. He kidnaps a girl who he feels bad for in hopes she will love him. And he learns that outside beauty is nothing compared to inner beauty. I thought it was well done and entertaining.

White Cat by Holly Black (5 stars) Cassel comes from a family of curse workers - people with a gift to curse you with luck, memory loss, death, etc. Only he has no powers. The books starts with him dreaming of following a white cat. He wakes up on the roof of his dorm and realizes he's been cursed. What follows is a roller coaster ride where he learns that nothing NOTHING he believes is right. I won't say more than that. Read it. It's amazing.

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (4 stars) This is the follow up to Hush Hush and I actually liked it better than the first book. Nora, the main character, is trying to figure out her relationship with Patch (who is now her guardian angel) which is quickly unraveling. Enter Scott, a boy she knew as a child who is nephilim. Lots of emotional angst and sadness and really stupid choices. I liked it.

Spun by Sorcery by Barbara Bretton (3 stars) This is the third in a series about Chloe, a sorceress, who runs a small Vermont town and Luke, her human boyfriend. The book starts after an epic battle (book 2) where the town is missing. What follows is a desperate roadtrip to Salem, MA to try to figure out what happened. This wasn't my favorite book because I missed the quirky residents of Sugar Maple. I thought it dragged a little. But I love Chloe and Luke's relationship, so I still liked it.

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler (3 stars) I'm going to preface what I say about this book with a warning - this is not a book for the faint of heart. This book is a very real look at anorexia, an illness that is very familiar to me since I suffered with it from 13 until 21. (You'd never know it looking at me now - lol.) For that reason, I had a tough time reading it. I loved Death and I thought the story was very clever. Who better to understand famine than a girl who deliberately starves herself? This book hit me on a very visceral level. I think a lot of people would be turned off by it, but I recommend it.

That Voodoo You Do by Jodi Redford (3 stars) Okay, this was an e-reader. It starts off with a majorly steamy graphic sex scene where a sweet, innocent woman seduces her gorgeous guy friend. Only it turns out he's her familiar (he shifts into a tiger) and having sex with him triggers a curse that raises zombies. Then it gets even naughtier with the introduction of a werewolf. To fight the zombies, she has to have sex with both of them! Eek! Can you see me blushing?! Holy smokes. Okay, so I'm a prude or something cause I was just like WTFH?
I liked the story. And the sex scenes didn't gross me out, so I have to say it was...um, interesting. And good. Definitely good.

Personal Demons by Lisa DesRochers (4 stars) Mary Francis is a girl with a dark secret - well, actually she has several. Luc is a demon sent from hell to tag her soul. Gabriel is an angel sent from heaven to stop him. Only once Luc meets Frannie, he doesn't really want to tag her. In fact, he falls in love with her. And he might be growing a soul. Now hell is sending other demons to do his job and Luc and Gabe have to keep her safe - not an easy job. I liked this book & I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride (6 stars) Yes, it gets a super star! I LOVED this book. Go out and buy it! Sam is a short order cook, a slacker who's floating along in life until one night he and his friends are playing potato hockey outside their fast food restaurant. Sam hits a shot that breaks a car's tail light. That brings him to the attention of Douglas, a psycho crazy necromancer. What follows is a dark, scary, funny, brilliant story that will alternately have you laughing and freaking out along with Sam. An absolute MUST READ!

Bitten in Two by Jennifer Rardin (5 stars) Another wonderful story about Jaz Parks. This one was hard to read, because Jaz is in a bad place in the book. Vayle has forgotten who she is and she's desperately trying to find a way to get his memory back and worrying about being alone. The angst Jaz feels was exacerbated by my angst reading it - because I kept thinking about Jennifer Rardin who passed away recently. This was the series which got me back into reading and I had several conversations with her (she was a super nice lady) as well as a signed book. I loved the story and this series is one of my favorites.

The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu (5 stars) A very dark story about Maxine, a Hunter, and Grant, her boyfriend who is a former priest and more than he seems. But then again, so is Maxine. She had her boys, demons who during the day live as tattoos on her body and at night peel off and help her hunt demons. Maxine comes across a kid in an alley and draws the wrong kind of attention. Suddenly, someone or something wants her dead. This is one of the darkest series I've read and it's absolutely fascinating. Like I said, I love angst. This has it in spades.

So, that's the list. I'm currently cranking through the next two books in Marjorie Liu's series while dealing with a kid STILL out of school (can I say my school district SUCKS?!) and suffering from severe anxiety, and a father in the hospital with a very scary infection. I put up two Christmas trees - one upstairs, one downstairs, I'm blasting Christmas music all day and doing lots of donating this month. Gotta mix the dark with the light, people. Just wish a little of that light would roll my way....


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What I'm Thankful For....

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd list what I'm thankful for....

1. My P's in the Pod - the psychiatrist, psychologist and educational advocate who work tirelessly to ensure my son has the best future possible. Each of them has a last name that begins with P, hence P's in the pod. Our lives would be much different without them.

2. The authors who engage their audience through blogs and contests. My life is often chaotic and depressing, and these small things they do give me moments of happiness. Winning a signed book is like a little mini birthday.

3. My dog. He's a fine beast, a loving beast, a smart sneaky beast and he never fails to make me laugh. I swear he can sniff out an empty paper towel roll from 500 feet away. And he can say "out" perfectly.

4. My books. They're my escape. They're my comfort.

5. Big flat screen HDTV. Yes, its too big for my room, I know. Its like being in my own personal movie theater without all the assholes. And I love it.

6. My computer. It connects me to the world when I am often trapped in my house by circumstances, I can still have human contact.

7. The color black. It hides the fat.

8. My son. Who taught me perseverance (the ability to persevere under difficult circumstances) as well as perseverance (the ability to hyper-focus on something until you make everyone around you insane). My life would be empty without him.

9. My husband. He pisses me off. He makes me laugh. He buys me things like e-readers and new computers and big screen HDTVs just because....

10. My family. Because they say the damndest things and never let me forget where I came from or who I am. Which isn't always a good thing, but is sometimes exactly what I need.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Word Count Widgets | National Novel Writing Month

Word Count Widgets | National Novel Writing Month: "

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Only because I type 125 words per minute & I've had a story stuck in my head for a month....
I've decided sleep is not nearly as important as writing & attempting to de-stress. So, damn it, I'm writing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Emo Post (ignore if you don't want to wallow in my misery)

Soooo.... *sigh*

My son is out of school. He hasn't been able to make it thru a day in 3 weeks. In fact, most of those days, he's suffered massive panic attacks & not even made it out the door. Why? Mix aspergers, anxiety, cruel teenagers & adults (some well-meaning, some not) who just don't get it into a big mixing bowl, stir & bake.

Here's the problem in a nutshell. Social interaction. Social rejection. The inability to fit in no matter how hard he tries. He's not a normal kid. No matter how well he learns to "fake normal" he will never be normal. Kids pick up on that. Kids are cruel.

Tomorrow we go back to home tutoring. Maybe home schooling. He has no friends. None. Because of this group of kids who invited him into their group & then rejected him, he doesn't even want to try anymore. Fifteen. The kid is fifteen. And friendless. Alone. Rejected. Ostracized.

As a mother, I don't see the point anymore. Why should I force him to go to school to be made fun of, to be teased, to be bullied? Why should he have to accept that because he's different, he needs to work harder to blend, to be less of himself, to be "normal" when normal is unkind and hateful? Why should he have to take medication to just get thru that school day so that he can tolerate that hatefulness?

And yet, he's a smart, funny, loving kid. He's kind. He's brilliant with computers. He could have such a bright future. How is he ever going to function in this world that's not user friendly for him? I don't know. If I don't see it, how can he?

I don't know how often I'll be able to post now. All else falls away when we go thru these times. This isn't the first time he's had to regroup & start over from scratch because the world failed him. Each time I worry he'll make sure it's the last. My world is upside down. Again.

Be nice to others. The next time an odd person who won't make eye contact approaches you in the store and tries to strike up a conversation about Star Wars figures or books or whatever, instead of treating them like a freak, take a minute and talk to them. That little piece of conversation may be the only social interaction that person (who likely has aspergers or autism) has in a year. For those minutes you talk to them, they feel connected - like they matter. They don't feel that often. Too many people make sure they believe that different is worthless.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Books read in October with ratings

Total books read - 12

I'd like to spend time writing reviews of these books & I'll try to edit at some point, but I'm having crazy days. I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I did it unofficially last year and have been writing like crazy ever since. (I seriously had forgotten how much I loved writing.) On top of that, my 15 yr. old has decided school is too stressful. He's throwing a huge pity party, the school is trying to just get him to his 16th birthday so that they can write him off & I'm scrambling like a madwoman. Fun days.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff ****
Raphael by DB Reynolds ***
Jabril by DB Reynolds ***
Venom by Jennifer Estep *****
Double Cross by Carolyn Crane ****
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa ***
Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow ****
Hunter's Prayer by Lilith Saintcrow ****
Redemption Alley by Lilith Saintcrow *****
Flesh Circus by Lilith Saintcrow *****
Heaven's Spite by Lilith Saintcrow *****
Sweet Disgrace by Cherrie Lynn ****

I will say this - I highly recommend all the book I read this month. Even those with 3 stars had interesting stories that kept me reading. And Lilith Saintcrow's Jill Kismet series? Oh my God! Phenomenal.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fun Fun Fun

So, there was one good thing that happened on my birthday. My husband and son got me a Cruz Reader. I will admit, I love paper books and I never thought I'd want one of these electronic devices. Read books on a stupid little screen? Not me.

Hah.

This thing runs android. I can get my emails. I can play Pandora radio. I can play games. Oh, and the books? What on eath was my husband thinking? At the touch of a click - A CLICK - I can purchase a book.

My wonderful computer savvy son downloaded the Kindle store to it and voila. Books for under $5?! Oh my God. Someone pinch me.

My husband (God bless him) actually said "We'll save a little money on all the books you buy." I didn't have the heart to tell him that he had just set me up with a library that I could go bat-shit crazy filling.

I'll never willingly give up paper books. I love them too much. If anything, I'm going to make sure that I purchase every hard copy of every book I love before they disappear. But oh man...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to me?... :( An emo post

So how will I celebrate my birthday today? Hmmmm....

My 15 yr. old will refuse to go to school because yesterday his asshole health teacher decided it was a good day to embarrass, insult and generally bully a socially inept aspergers kid who's failing his class to make sure he KNEW that he completely fails at life & no one likes him.

I will attend a meeting with the head of guidance, the special ed teacher, the nurse, the counselor & probably as many people as the school can come up with to attempt to bully me into agreeing that this is my son's problem & not the teacher.

I will take my son to his psychologist for the 2nd time in 3 days (he went 2 days ago- and needed 2 hours with him - because he was so anxious about school & the fact that he has NO friends & feels isolated and alone and is treated "like a tool") so that the psychologist can try to undo the damage done by the teacher.

I will studiously avoid any and all phone calls from people who want to wish me a happy birthday because I might just burst into tears. (Most of them avoid us like we have the plague anyway because they don't want to lose their rose-colored glasses.)

I'll pretend that its okay that my husband didn't get me anything (my son has already informed me that they didnt) & read the stupid joke cards he buys & do my best not to cry.

I'll follow the ridiculously time-consuming, painful new method of caring for my crappy teeth (and gums (twice a day) after gum repair surgery & seriously contemplate the benefits of dentures.

Today is a seriously emo day....I wish it was over already.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top 25 Urban Fantasy Men

In honor of my 48th birthday (which sucked and not in a vampire goodness way), I thought I'd list the 25 hottest men in urban fantasy. (This is, of course, based on the roughly 600 books I own.) Now, I know I've probably left off other people's favorites (and I'd love to hear who I missed on this list). Also, its in no particular order, tho the closer to the top of the list, the less I had to think about it. (And Dante is my favorite male character!)



1. Dante (Prejean) Baptiste from Adrian Phoenix's Maker series

2. Curran (The Beast Lord) from Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series

3. Niko Leandros from Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series

4. Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning's fever series

5. David from Rachel Caine's weather warden series

6. Carter from Richelle Mead's succubus series

7. Finn from Jennifer Estep's elemental assassin series

8. Kisten from Kim Harrison's Dead Witch Walking series

9. Terrible from Stacia Kane's Unholy Ghost series

10. Ethan from Chloe Neill's Chicagoland vampire series

11. Cal Leandros from Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series

12. Mercer from Karen Chance's Cassie Palmer serie

13. Adrian from Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series

14. Lucienne from Adrian Phoenix's maker series

15. Dorian from Richelle Mead's thorn queen series

16. Phineas from Kelly Medding's Dreg city series

17. Lex from Stacia Kane's Unholy Ghosts series

18. Zayvion Jones from Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series

19. Japhrimel from Lilith Saintcrow's Jill Kismet series

20. Cole from Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series

21. Robin Goodfellow from Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series

22. Al (yes, the demon Al) from Kim Harrison's Dead Witch Walking series

23. Jesse James Dawson from K.A. Stewart's A Devil in the Details

24. Capt. Michael Morrison from C.E. Murphy's walker paper series

25. Dmitri Kallinikos from Angie Fox's demonslayer series

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September reading list

Here's my list for September - Total 9 books

Chosen by Jeanne Stein *****
The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell ******
Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan **
Grimrose Path by Rob Thurman *****
The Darkest Edge of Dawn by Kelly Gay *****
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire *****
A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire *****
An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire *****
On the Edge by Ilona Andrews *****

It was another slow month for me for various reasons. Can I say I'm glad September is behind me? Not because of the books, just life. Books are what save my sanity and this month's list is filled with good books.

With the exception of one (which I'll talk about last), this month's books are 5 stars (or more, really, in the case of The Angels are the Reapers - you can read my separate blog about that). All have strong female characters, well developed worlds, intelligent dialogue, action, believable relationships and are just plain excellent.

Chosen by Jeanne Stein - This is the 6th in the Anna Strong series. Anna is a vampire - not by choice. This book delves more into the relationship with her new boyfriend while she struggles to come to terms with herself & what being a vampire means to her future. Oh - and she's totally bad-ass when necessary. I love this series.

Grimrose Path by Rob Thurman - This is the second in the Trickster series. Trixa is a bar owner & a trickster god. Leo is her friend, a fellow bartender & a god himself. Griffin & Zeke are my favorite part of this series - I love their relationship because its so sweet & crazy at the same time (an angel & demon in love? *g*). Rob is an incredible writer. Trixa does not think like a human and she tries to trick the reader in the story (hey, she's a trickster). I love that.

The Darkest Edge of Dawn by Kelly Gay - This is the second in a series. It is better than the first book. Charlie is a cop & mom to a budding teenager. The relationship between her & Hank her partner develops in interesting ways. Charlie is tough, with a lone wolf attitude that takes some serious adjusting in this book. I really love the story in these books, with one minor frustration. In the first book, her male characters sometimes seem interchangeable in description. BUT Hank & Rex both developed nicely in this second book.

Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, & An Artificial Light by Seanan McGuire - I've had these in my TBR pile for a while. I deliberately waited until the 3rd book came out to read them. October Daye is half fae & a private investigator. The series starts off with her trying to rescue a fae queen & princess only to fail & be turned into a koi by the bad guy...for 14 years! When she wakes from the spell its to find the world has moved on without her - her boyfriend and daughter are lost to her & she's not only alone, she's pissed at the world. She's working in a grocery store when she gets sucked back into fae politics. Tybalt, the King of Cats, is comparable to Curran from Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series. I love him. Seanan isn't afraid to kill off main characters and October goes through a lot of crap. These books are fantastic. I highly recommend them.

On the Edge by Ilona Andrews is about Rose, who lives in the Edge - kind of the space between the human world and the fae word. She's not a blueblood fae, but she has the power of one & that makes her a hot commodity for lesser nobles intent on breeding stronger children. She's not too happy with that. She's got enough trouble raising her two young brothers, dealing with her zombie-like grandfather and paying the bills. Her latest suitor? Declan. Enter some evil and it makes for a fantastic story. Ilona Andrews is actually a husband & wife team & never fail to deliver. In fact, they post short stories on their website to entertain fans. How can you not love that?

Finally, Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan - 3 Stars - This is a tough one to recommend. I wanted to like it. It's well written...the characters are well developed, the world is well developed, the story is there.... My problem with it is this... The main character, Miranda, is weak. Not only is she weak, she's kind of pathetic. She's a psychic who can hear people's thoughts & its driving her insane. Her only escape is her music. She meets a guy - David (who is the head of the local vampire house) at a gig. They have an instant attraction that can't be pursued because he's hunting vampires who are on a killing spree (she of course doesn't know any of that). Anyway, after the gig she's headed home & is attacked in an alley and violently & horrifically gang raped. She somehow in the moments before being murdered manages to kill her attackers pyschically. David finds her & brings her home with him where he teaches her to control & use her gift while she heals physically & mentally. In the meantime, he's dealing with rogue vampires who are trying to bring him down. I didn't like the victimization of women in this book - they were all portrayed as these weak creatures practically begging for abuse from anyone or anything that crossed their path. Or at least that's how it felt to me. Maybe I'm just over critical. I've read other books where women are raped - its a theme a lot of authors use to build a strong character. It doesn't usually bother me*. This did - mainly because it was unnecessary when the character was already a fucked up mess. Still, its not a badly written book, just not my thing. So it gets 2 stars.

*by doesn't bother me I do not mean rape doesn't bother me - I mean this...rape is an act of violence & it is horrible, vile & disturbing. It's the absolute worst thing a female character can suffer, but also something that can explain their bad-ass fight-back attitude. I don't like to see it in a story, but I'm not going to condemn a book because the author took that route to develop their character.

So, that's my rundown for September. Hopefully, October will be a month where I can crank through my growing stack of TBR's. Ugh.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Passing of Jennifer Rardin

I went online today to read the latest news from my favorite authors and was deeply saddened to discover that Jennifer Rardin passed away. For those who don't know, she's the author of the Jaz Parks novels. (Once Bitten Twice Shy, Another One Bites the Dust, Biting the Bullet, Bitten to Death, One More Bite, Bite Marks & two more books in the series that have not been released yet.) I love these books, not just because they're a wonderful blend of adventure, action and humor...

I love these books for very personal reasons.

You see, when my son was diagnosed with aspergers syndrome (originally the diagnosis was high-functioning autism) my life stopped. It was already revolving around him and his struggles, but that diagnosis ended my world as I knew it. Suddenly life became about doctors and therapists and proper school services and fighting systems that just don't care that your kid needs something extra to develop. Autism/aspergers became all consuming. Every minute of every day was taken up with it. Everything that made me me, everything that I loved was put aside. I had no time for anything, and when I did have time, I was too exhausted to do anything with it.

Then one day a little over two years ago my son & I were at Barnes & Nobles. My son was 12 at the time, being homeschooled (because school wasn't working for him) and we were shopping for books for him. Once Bitten Twice Shy caught my eye. I stopped. I picked it up. I read the first page while he paced beside me. And I added it to my stack of books. That night, after he was in bed, I read about Jaz and Vayl. I stayed up late into the night reading until my eyes wouldn't focus anymore. And I remembered. I remembered how much I used to love reading. I remembered how much I loved urban fantasy. I remembered what it was like to have "me time". How could I have forgotten that?

The next day, I got up and dragged my son to three different bookstores to find the rest of the books in the series. And I read every chance I could. I laughed at the craziness of the characters. I laughed - something else I'd forgotten how to do. When I finished Jennifer's books, I went out and bought other urban fantasy series. I made "me time" an essential part of my day. I started crafting again. I started writing again. (I have a degree in journalism and since 1st grade teachers have encouraged me to become a writer. It was another something I loved but had abandoned.) I entered a short story contest on Deadline Dames and won!

In effect, reading that first book woke me up. It reminded me to be me. To take the time for me. It found me in the dark, took my hand and guided me into the light. I never met her, but Jennifer gave me my life back.

I visited Jennifer's blog every day. Her short stories based on readers' imput made me laugh on days when laughter was hard to come by. I entered a contest (and WON) & now proudly display a signed copy of Once Bitten Twice Shy on my bookshelves. Those bookshelves are filled with urban fantasy books I now own because she reminded me I LOVE to read! I started this blog because of my love of reading and my desire to share the books I love with others.

I joke with my son that someday I'm going to have an outfit like Jaz's & I show him the picture on the book. All that black leather .He lectures me that mothers don't dress that way, asks if he can have the katana and then we laugh together. Its our standing joke.

So, God bless you and keep you Jennifer Rardin. My heart and prayers go out to your family. You have no idea what you did for me. I wish I'd had the opportunity to tell you. I'll miss reading Jaz & Vayl tales; I'll miss your blog; I will miss you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

on computers and geeky kids

Bow your head.
Dear God, watch over my poor pathetic piece-of-crap Compaq as it makes it's way to the great computer heaven in ... um ... India??! Amen.

You ever have one of those weeks? It started out with finding out my 15 yr. old needs his wisdom teeth out - $2700, of which my share is $1600. Then I had my cleaning & it turns out I need dental surgery $1500, my share $900. Closed the pool - new cover because the mice in the shed ate through the (year old) cover we had - $200. Oh, and new pump & filter - somewhere around $500. Old long pants/shirts don't fit growing kid $300. And the final killer....

....on Tuesday night my computer wouldn't start. It's been acting wonky for a couple of weeks, but this time, it showed the Compaq opening logo then went to a fast-flashing curser. It sounded like something was crunching inside. (Maybe there are little computer bugs in there eating the metal?!) The fourth time I attempted to turn it on, the motherboard began to scream and scream and scream. My son (a true giftedcomputer genius - seriously, the kid is building his own operating system from scratch) took it away from me & managed to get it to start. Then he backed up everything on his portable hard drive....documents, photos, folders, favorites, etc. before he let me have it back. I used it for a few hours without incident & shut down.

Wednesday morning, I turned it on and got the same Compaq screen followed by a black screen with flashing curser. On the third try I got ....the blue screen of death! Followed by a message about the bios having a corrupted something or other. The computer then attempted to fix itself. I watched and waited for about 15 minutes as it clicked and groaned. Then...the motherboard started screaming and screaming and screaming. I shut it off & attempted to turn it back on -- nothing except the screaming. It died a spectacular & from the sound of it, a very painful death.

My son came home from school, turned it on (no screaming this time) & got it to the bios screen. He analyzed data for about 5 minutes and declared it dead officially. Then he got in the car with me and made the drive to Best Buy (because I was in serious internet withdrawal) where I purchased a brand new Toshiba Satellite. When we got home, he opened it, cleaned out all the "junkware", loaded all of my software, virus protection, antispam, etc., configured all my settings, downloaded everything he had saved & turned it over to me. So I'm now sporting a brand new kick-ass computer with everything EXACTLY the way I like it and nothing missing --with no mental breakdown in between.

Can I say my son is the most awesome kid EVER?!!!

Oh, computer $500 (on sale) for a grand total of unexpected expenses in one week of....$4000. Egads. Thank you MasterCard.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Trick of the Light & The Grimrose Path by Rob Thurman

The Grimrose Path by Rob Thurman is the 2nd and possibly last book in her Trickster series, which just about breaks my heart. (Because sales weren't great on the first series, the series was cancelled by the publisher.)

I love Rob's books. Her Cal & Niko Leandros series is the BEST series EVER. If you haven't read it...what the hell is wrong with you?!? Her book Chimera is fantastic too (and is going to be a series as well). BUUUT I'm not going to talk about either of those series. I want to talk about Trixa and Griffin and Zeke and Leo...the characters in both Trick of the Light and The Grimrose Path.

These books take place in the same world as the Cal & Niko series, where demons and Pucks and other supernatural creatures walk the earth. In fact, in the second book, a character from the Cal & Niko books makes several appearances (Ishiah).

Trixa is a bar owner in Las Vegas. Zeke and Griffin are two young men who she's taken in and sort-of raised. They have psychic abilities - one can read other people's thoughts, the other their emotions. Leo works at the bar with Trixa. I hesitate to give anything away in this series because its written in a way that you're supposed to wonder exactly who Trixa is and what is going on and I don't want to spoil it. Trixa tells the story as if she's looking back at it from a point after the outcome and she (very sneaky Rob) deliberately leaves out some crucial info as to what she's really up to (Trixa, I mean). It's super clever. I can honestly say I was flat out shocked at the end of Trick of the Light. When I finished it, I sat back, turned back to the beginning of the last chapter & read it again. And had a good laugh. Because I was totally fooled and once I knew the truth of everything, it all made sense -- including Trixa's personality.

As for the characters, Trixa is very unique. She's tough, she's irreverent, and her motives are hard to figure out. There's a reason for it. (But I can't tell you...go buy the book & read it!). She and Leo are a couple-wanna-be. They feel like boyfriend/girlfriend, but they're not. Or not yet. Griffin is a good guy who does the right thing. He has made himself responsible for Zeke, who sees two sides to everything - black & white. God forbid you do the wrong thing for the right reason - he's likely to shoot you dead. Griffin is trying to teach him those important shades of gray (with mixed results). It's funny and horrifying at the same time. The one thing that you know is these two love each other. They're committed to protecting each other against all bad things in the world. It's something that Rob does extremely well - writing about the commitment people make to each other and the extremes they'll go to for each other.

These are not books you can speed read. You won't want to. In fact with this second book, knowing exactly who Trixa is, I found myself stopping and re-reading to try to catch where she might have left out info & guessing as to what that info might be....fat lot of good that did me. She still faked me out. :)

I just want to say I love this series. I hope there's some way the publisher can be convinced to pick it back up again. There is no other character like Trixa out there. I want to know more about her. I want to read more about Griffin and Zeke (they make me smile with their little moments). Leo, Eli, Thor, Ishiah...there's just so much more that could be done with these characters. They deserve more stories.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell - Must Read!!

I don't really like zombies. Sure, I loved Zombieland - it was a funny movie. And Resident Evil is one of my favorites. But Night of the Living Dead scared the everliving crap out of me in college & to this day I've never been able to watch it. (Okay, I admit, one should not go see a zombie movie when one has smoked certain things and is definitely brain altered...)

So, zombie books? Not really my thing.

I was at Borders last week, looking at their Buy One Get One 50% Off shelves. I found Dark & Stormy Knights, an anthology I wanted to read, but I couldn't find another book there. I have a rule that if I can't find that 50% off book, I'm not buying (its illogical, I know). So, anyway, I saw 'The Reapers are the Angels' there. I picked it up. I read the first page and it was....interesting. I decided, what the hell. I'll buy it.

Now, I wasn't even sure if I would be able to read it. Its got a funky style. There are no quotes when someone is talking - I have a BS is journalism - to me that's like not putting on your underwear and wearing a mini-skirt. I think I might rather stick forks in my eyes than read books that are grammatically incorrect. It's also written present tense - another of my pet peeves. She goes here. She does that. Ack. (I'm shivering just saying it.)

So, you'd think with all these issues, there would be no way I'd even read it, never mind make it five minutes into this book, right? Well, I'll admit what I thought would happen. I thought I would pick it up once or twice, attempt to read it, and eventually toss it aside in my 'God help me, what was I thinking?' pile.

But something about those first pages kept calling to me. They were fascinating. Captivating. I had other books lined up to read and I bumped them all to read this book. And I am so glad I did.

It is the story of Temple, a fifteen year old girl. She lives in a world greatly altered by some event that has created a world of zombies. She has never known a world where zombies don't exist, but she still sees beauty in the world that remains. Temple, you realize almost immediately, is struggling with something horrible that happened in her past. Something she did that changed her forever. She can't read or write, she's a loner, a traveler. As much as she's a caring, kind person, she sees herself as more of a monster than the zombies.

Temple finds herself in a town (more of a group of people living in a group of buildings under constant guard), where she attempts to fit in. But she makes a series of blunders that put her in a precarious position where she has to defend herself. In the process she kills a man and finds herself on the run from his brother, Moses, who wants revenge. The story follows her on her trip across the ravaged country where she meets a series of people, picks up a special needs man, all the while being chased by Moses.

This is not a funny tale. Its not even a scary tale (tho it is scary at points). Its a dark, horrible & terribly tragic story of life, loss and the need for redemption. I could not put it down. It grabbed me from the first page and held me in its icy grip as I rushed with Temple from the things that haunted her. It was beautiful and sad, and left me haunted.

The Reapers are the Angels was such a good book, I started it at 10 a.m., blew off everythign I had to do for the day & stayed up until almost 1 a.m. to finish it, knowing I had to get up at 5 to get my son off to school. Nothing was as important as finishing Temple's story. If I were to rate it, I would say it was one of the best books I've read this year. Definitely in the top 10. Seriously. I found myself just pausing today at various points and thinking about it. Its a rare book that does that to me.

All I can say is bravo, Alden Bell. Your book is brilliant in its darkness.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August books & reviews...

August was a slow month for me. I've been busy planning/shopping for a 50th wedding anniversary for my parents from 300 miles away. On top of that, I've been dealing with a stressed out aspie teen, and running around to find him school clothes'n'supplies. Add to that an at-home husband who was debating on a job offer, a dog that underwent dental surgery ... Its been a LONG month.

August 2010 - total 9

Wait for Dusk by Jocelyn Drake ***
Total Eclipse by Rachel Caine ****
Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding *****
As Lie the Dead by Kelly Meding *****
Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison **
Blood Memories by Barb Hendee ***
Hunting Memories by Barb Hendee ***
Black & White by Jackie Kessler & Caitlin Kittredge ****
Shades of Gray by Jackie Kessler & Caitlin Kittredge ****


Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison (2 stars) wasn't my favorite book. It has an interesting premise - death (or maybe the grim reaper) and a terminally ill woman who can see him fall in love, have sex & she gives birth to a daughter. The story is about the girl, Talia, who has no idea what she is, just that she's not "normal". Because of the union, bad things have been let out in the world. Now there are people who can't die. Adam, a wealthy man, is trying to find a way to kill them because his brother is one. Adam hunts down Talia based on her thesis. Anyway, I didn't like Talia - I found her weird and a little creepy, not to mention a total wimp. That's a problem for me. And the sex scene between them, I found thoroughly unpleasant. There was no emotional attachment. I'm not saying its a bad book. Or that its poorly written. It just wasn't my cup of tea. (I'll still probably read the sequel...)

Wait for Dusk by Jocelyn Drake (3 stars) is the latest in the series about Mira, a vampire, and Danaus, a human/demon. In this book, Mira is forced to return to the council & take her place. Not all the vampires are happy about it & she has to fight for something she doesn't actually want. Mira discovers some shocking truths about herself in this book. It wasn't my favorite of the series, but I enjoyed it. I just want Mira & Danaus to realize they're meant for each other.

Blood Memories & Hunting Memories by Barb Hendee (3 stars) are about Eleisha, a vampire turned at the age of 17 to care for a senile vampire, as well as all the other vampires in her life. The books feel like a series of short stories about each vampire seen through their memories and are connected by what is happening in the present. Even though not much happened, I really liked these books.

Total Eclipse by Rachel Caine (4 stars) is the final book in the Weather Warden series. Joanne and David (a djinn and her lover) have been through hell & back in this series as they attempt to save the world and keep Mother Earth from waking up. In this book, things finally come to a head. I love this series. But I'm not a big fan of the jump-ahead-in-time epilogue & this one disappointed me (even tho its a good end).

Black & White and Shades of Gray by Stacia Kane & Caitlin Kittredge (4 stars) are very clever. They're the story of Jet and Iridium. The books hop from Then to Now and from Jet to Iri, and read like a comic book. Seriously. I'm a total fan-girl of comics, so these were a treat. Then: Jet and Iri are roommates in the academy for superheroes, run by Corp. Now: Jet works for Corp & is their poster child, Iri is a "rabid" that Jet is hunting. But is Jet the hero? Or is Iri? Who are the good guys and who are the bad? Definitely worth reading, especially if you like superhero comics.

Three Days to Dead and As Lie the Dead by Kelly Meding (5 stars) are the story of Evie. I've read the first book before, but I loved it so much I went back & read it again. Evie is a Dreg Bounty Hunter who is murdered and comes to in the morgue in another woman's body. Her handler Wyatt brought her back thru magic. Something big is happening & they have three days to figure out what & stop it. I highly recommend this series. It's well written, the world is unique and believable, the characters are excellent. Buy them. You'll want to read them more than once.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Apple's Patent Asshattery

I don't own an iPod.
I don't own an iPhone.
I don't own an iPad.
And frankly after Apple's efforts to control their devices usage thru strong arm tactics that should have them hanging their heads in shame, I don't think I ever will.

Most people are aware that the US court ruled that Apple can't stop people from jailbreaking their devices. (For those who don't know, jailbreaking means altering the software to use the device for something other than its intended purpose - say turning an iPod into a portable programming device.)

How many have read the recently published patent application by Apple? In effect, its a patent to put a series of tracking programs in its devices to determine if a person hacks their devices after purchase. And not only that, but it can identify the device hacker from using heart rate recording to photo taking techniques. It would then report back to Apple the information, at which point Apple will have a built in kill switch they will use that would make the device permanently unusable.

Now, call me naive, but I thought when I purchased a device it belonged to me.

If I want to spend $600 for a pseudocomputer, bring it home, take it out of the box & use it as a tray to serve tea to my friends, that's my right.

If I want to take that same device, set it on the floor, stamp it into oblivion and glue the remains to a picture frame for art work, that's my right.

If I want to alter the software so that the device displays "You dumbass, you just voided your warranty", you know what? That's my right.

Apple doesn't own the device once I've paid for it. If they want to have a say in how I use it then lease it to me. But if I'm spending my hard earned money on a ridiculously expensive piece of hardware and I choose to void my warranty for whatever reason, I can. It's mine.

I'm not saying I would.

I've never hacked a device in my life. I like my Zune just the way it is. It holds all my music & pictures & even has some neat games. I like my computer with Windows. But if tomorrow, I decided to switch my computer to Linux or turn my Zune into a lamp, no one but me should have a say in it.

So, I have a few final questions for Apple....

If I buy a toothbrush and use it to clean the grout in my bathroom, is that legal?
If I buy a toaster oven and use it to bake my clay, is that legal?
If I buy a beer and use it to condition my hair, is that legal?

I'm pretty sure it is. So is altering the use of my iPod (again, don't own one - don't want to). Just because you made it, doesn't mean you get a say in how I use it. You don't have to like it, but I paid for it. So mind your own business.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

If I could run away from home...

I know this will sound awful. But there are days (and there have been a number of them this summer) where the only thing that gets me through my day is imagining where I would go & what I would do if I could run away from home. That I'm a 47 year old woman fantasizing about this isn't lost on me.

What gets me through days when my unemployed husband is obsessing on jobs, money & our budget -when my son is on one of his perseverations about computers, computer companies, operating systems, programming, etc. etc. for 12 hours straight like a monotone monologue (I love my son. Seriously. But I dare anyone to make it through a day like that without drifting off mentally.) - when they're at each other's throats because they're both trying to have my full undivided attention - when neither one of them (a) cleans their dishes (b) takes the dog out - and both follow me to the bathroom door (which I shut in their faces) to continue their one sided conversations while I sit on the toilet (not using it, just escaping)....

...I travel in my mind to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Have I ever been there? No. But I've seen pictures. It looks like a nice, quiet, peaceful place to live. I'd take the dog (cause otherwise he'd starve to death or die of dehydration). And we'd live in a tiny little adobe house, whitewashed with a center courtyard, and lots of bookshelves filled with books. I'd spend my days sitting outside my blanket shop, under the shade of an awning just outside the door with the dog at my feet, sipping lemonade, reading and talking to tourists. (Why a blanket shop? I don't know. It just seems comforting.) And at night, I'd have a job in a roadside diner where the only thing I did was serve strong coffee and pie to truckers. Are you there with me? Are you feeling it? Peace. And quiet. Ahhhhh...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Zip-Line Craziness

This video, if it works, is of Bromley Mountain Resort's Zip-Line in Vt. which sails over the Alpine Slide. Its crazy fun. I am terrified TERRIFIED of heights. I can't stand on a chair without getting a little panic-y. The worst part of it was climbing the metal grate staircase. Once at the top, its not bad - and in the loading dock, you can't see anything until you're strapped into the chair and the gate bursts open. It was so amazing, I did it twice. If it hadn't been $15 a ride, I think I would have done it all day. But then I would have missed out on the alpine slide, which I love with the heart of a wanna-be racecar driver. The 3rd track (the curvy one) is the best! Wait for the person in front of you to get a good distance down & FLY. (Just remember when the cart starts to get a little hinky to let up on the speed...well, unless you really want to fly...off the track.)

video

Friday, August 6, 2010

Glee

So, I'm a secret Glee lover.

And you know what's funnier? So are my son and my husband. Although both of them have threatened me with death if I ever tell anyone. (uh oh) *peering cautiously around to make sure they're not in the vicinity* (You won't tell, right??!)

If you've never watched it, I highly recommend you try. Put it on for 5 mins. & see if you aren't hooked. Sue? Oh my God! She's freaking hilarious. And the wacky relationship between the OCD guidance counselor & the gym teacher/football coach? I nearly peed my pants when she agreed to marry him - as long as they never spoke outside of school, he didn't touch her, and they maintained their own residences (among other things).

The show is so clever - each song is carefully built into the crazy plot - from Madonna to Elton John to last night's "You're Having My Baby" (a repulsive song I hate above all others in this world & I was practically on the floor screaming with laughter). Its subjects are current - teen pregnancy, handicapped access, drug use, social acceptance, etc. Its characters are over the top - the sensitive music teacher, the geek, the jock, the bad boy, the cheerleader, etc. And just when the story gets serious or emotional, you're thrown into another pop melody to lighten it up. Its f*ing brilliant!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Books Read July 2010 w/ratings

The following is my list of books read in the month of July. It was a serious month of reading. 16 total! (Well - 15 1/2...)

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews *****
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews *****
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews *****
Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews *****
Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill *****
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill *****
Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill *****
A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart *****
Pray for Dawn by Jocelyn Drake ****
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro ***
Double Dating with the Dead by Karen Kelley ***
One if by Heaven, Two if by Hell by Rick Maydak ***
Demons by John Shirley **
Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane *****+
Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane *****+
City of Ghosts by Stacia Kane *****+

So, why so many 5 stars this month? Because it was a month of AUTHOR AWESOMENESS!

(5+ stars) I've already blogged about Stacia Kane's new series (Unholy Ghosts, Unholy Magic, City of Ghosts) and I honestly think these are right up there on my favorite list for gritty dark urban fantasy. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I loved the world it was set in. Each and every piece of it was brilliantly executed. It all made sense. It was so good, I actually debated turning around and reading it a second time just to enjoy it all over again. I want more of this series - more Chess, more Terrible and more Lex!!

Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series - 5 stars - (Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds) - this is my third time reading through this series. With each new book, I start from the beginning. They're that good. Kate, the main character is tough as nails. Curran, the beast lord, will melt your socks. Every character is thought out, well written and built into the story perfectly. And the world she's created is unique and interesting.

Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampire series - 5 stars - (Friday Night Bites, Some Girls Bite, Twice Bitten) is another great read. Merit is a vampire, not by choice but because of a late night attack on campus. Ethan is head of Cadogan House & saves her life by turning her. She's not exactly thrilled by it (even if Ethan is yummy as hell). Merit is smart, strong as a vampire and her own person. No one is going to push her around. Again, another well thought out world where vampires have come out of the closet so-to-speak. The shape shifters are not happy about it. And the fae? Hmm. I love this series.

A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart (5 stars) is the first in a new series about Jesse James Dawson, a father, a husband and a modern day samurai. Oh, and he fights demons. I loved the references to ancient samurai books as well as pop culture. Listening to anime soundtracks in the car? Priceless. And Jesse gets hurt & heals like the human he is. Which is only to be expected when you're fighting demons. The characters were well written, tho I'm hoping for more insight into some of them, the world was interesting and the story pulls you in slowly and lets you get comfortable before picking up pace and speeding to the finish with action-packed goodness. I can't wait to read more.

Pray for Dawn by Jocelyn Drake (4 stars) is the 4th book in her vampire series feature Mira, a 600 yr. old vampire & fire starter and Danaus, a thousand year old human/bori demon. This book is told from Danaus's POV, a first. I can't say it was my favorite in the series. Maybe because I really like Mira's POV, which I think is phenomenally well done. Part of it was the story, though. A lot of it seemed out of character to me. And I had issues with the end - things happened that I was NOT happy about, but I'm not saying what. I just didn't see the point. I'm currently reading the next book (Wait for Dusk) which I'm enjoying so much more. I do like this series quite a bit & the other books are all 5 stars for me. This just wasn't my favorite.

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro (3 stars) is about a plane, an ancient strigoi vampire, a vampire hunter, a CDC doctor and is more of a horror story than UF. I liked it. It hops from one character to another, but the main character is the CDC guy. It reminded me a lot of early Stephen King. I thought it read more like a movie than a book (like it was laid out to be a movie). I thought in the end the main character veered from who he was through the entire book so severely that it didn't make sense. I'm hoping in the sequel that series of decisions will be explained. Overall, an enjoyable read.

Double Dating with the Dead by Karen Kelley (3 stars) is a light, funny read. Good for days when you can't put too much thought into what you're reading. The two main characters are staying at a haunted hotel because they have a bet. She says ghosts exist, he says they don't. Thing is, she knows ghosts exist. Whoever loses the bet has to publish a column in their respective newspaper admitting they were wrong. You know from the get-go how the story is going to go & that's okay. Because its fun getting there.

One if by Heaven, Two if by Hell by Richard Maydak (3 stars) was by a local author, so I don't know how easy it is to come by across the country. Its the story of a man, Ethan, a real loser to be honest. He's overweight, slovenly, a raging alcohol and really unlikeable. Thing is, he can hear people's voices - all the time, everywhere he goes & it's basically made him a little nuts, not to mention anti-social & a useless person. When he was a kid, a "toad" creature haunted him at night. Now a man in white shows up. Angel? Devil? Well, I'm not saying but lets just say its up to Ethan to figure it out & save the world. My problem is he was so thoroughly unlikeable (he watches a girl he's in love with be gang raped in an alley and does nothing) I had trouble sticking with it. But in the end, I kind of liked the story as much as the main character disgusted me. It is very dark & the imagery is violent and creepy. It won't be everyone's cup of tea.

Demons by John Shirley (2 stars)....I haven't actually managed to finish this. In fact, I got to the end of the first chunk of it and couldn't read the second part. Don't get me wrong - the story, when its actually a story, is pretty damn good. I liked the world & I liked the storyline (where demons have risen up and are intermittently killing off humans). My problem was for every page of story, there were pages and pages of pontificating on the existential meaning of our very existence within this conundrum known as life and examining our choices as they pertain to the greater meaning of good vs. evil in a world where chaos reigns. Get the point? UGH. I found myself skipping huge chunks just to read the action sequences. When the first part finished, I looked at the second part and just couldn't bring myself to keep going. Will I finish it someday? Yes. But not anytime soon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

MUST READ!! Stacia Kane's new series

I just finished a marathon reading session. Laundry? Abandoned. Wear dirty undies honey geez! Dishes? Ignored. Wash em yourdamnself dude! Computer? Wha? I own a computer? Groceries? Uh, we can scrounge can't we??! You want to go where? Ugh. cough. Not. Feeling. Well. Go without me, okay? Dog? We own a dog? Get. Away. From. Me. I'm. READING!!!!

So what had me so hooked?

Unholy Ghosts, Unholy Magic & City of Ghosts by Stacia Kane

I love reading book series in sequence, so I purchased the first two books in this series when they came out, but saved them aside & started the first the day before the 3rd book came out. I ended up having to hunt for the 3rd in the series & basically pleaded with a Borders employee last night to search her back room for one (because they weren't on the shelves) so that I could read it today. Thank GOD!

The story is about Chess, a church witch. Only the church is not our churches today -- its more of an inquisition church with magic mixed in. And our world? Greatly altered after the dead (ghosts) rose during Halloween & killed off millions. (Ghosts are not happy in this dark tale.) Chess is a debunker. Her job is to disprove hauntings. If she proves they're faked, she gets paid. If they're real, she deals with the ghost and the people who have the haunting get paid. Its pretty ingenious as a storyline & unique.

Chess is a seriously flawed character. She's all alone in the world -- an orphan raised in foster homes where she suffered serious abuse -- and she's a drug addict. While you might think this would ruin the story, it doesn't. It makes it infinitely more interesting and believeable. With what she's been through, self-destruction by drugs makes sense. And yet, she still has a will to live. You can't help but hope for her. Enter Terrible (enforcer for a drug lord - Bump - who supplies her) and Lex (employed by a rival drug lord). Bump has a ghost problem & wants Chess to use her magic to solve it. He assigns Terrible to help her. Lex doesn't want to see her succeed, because it would give Bump an edge. And Chess is put into a very difficult situation.

I LOOOVED these books!! I was so fascinated, so engrossed, that it was impossible to put them down. They had such emotional pull, I cried in the third book & had to take breaks because I was so upset with the characters (and, no, I'm not saying why). I drove my son nuts ranting about it. I will say, I was very satisfied with the end, but hope I get to read much more about Chess.

If you like dark urban fantasy, books with a gritty edge, books that make you feel the emotional struggles of their characters, these books will not disappoint. I'm actually debating reading them a second time, because I enjoyed them that much.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Music Must....David Garrett

So... you're probably thinking who the heck is David Garrett?

I first heard him when I saw him perform on PBS. He's a violinist - but not just any violinist - he's an alt rock violinist. (Yes, he also performs classical music, but he also takes rock songs and transforms them.)

Up until this new release, the only place I could find his music was online. Stores in America didn't carry it. But (YAY!) his new CD was released this week. Can I say - yum?!

The CD consists of concert pieces like Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" and my personal favorite "Vivaldi vs. Vertigo". (Yes, a mash of Vivaldi & U2's "Vertigo".)

And, while his look is completely contrived -- I've looked him up online...in his older photos, David wasn't much to look at -- he's unbelieveably delicious. Shoulder length dirty blond hair, a neatly trimmed beard, f*ing gorgeous eyes (and nose and lips) that make you think really naughty thoughts. He dresses grunge, for god's sake. And you can tell its all carefully done to create an image, but holy hell when he starts playing and loses himself in the music....(hold on, I need to wipe away my drool *grin*)

Let's face it, as my girlfriends and I would say -- "I wouldn't kick him out of bed with both feet." Hell, I wouldn't kick him out at all. No, I'll just pose him there in all his glory so I can ogle him - with his violin maybe. He can play "November Rain" for me...sigh.

His music is phenomenal. Go get the CD. If you like alt rock & classical, you won't regret it.

8/5 - As an added bonus to this post, I'm including this link because a rep from Universal Media Group found my post & very nicely emailed me to ask if I would add it. Obviously, I'm more than happy to because great talent should be recognized. (And, hey, I want David to keep making his music.) Go check it out!
http://www.gotdownloads.com/dg/

Monday, July 26, 2010

Books Read in June 2010

Here is June's list - 14 books total - along with my thoughts...

Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison ***
Stormwalker by Allyson James ****
Glimmerglass by Jenna Black ***
Bite Me by Parker Blue ***
Try Me by Parker Blue ***
Dead, Undead and Somewhere In Between by J.A. Saare ***
Blood Song by Cat Adams ***
Night Runner by Max Turner ****
Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey *****
Tempted: House of Night by P.C. & Kristen Cast ***
Burned: House of Night by P.C. & Kristen Cast ***
Tainted: Blood Lily Chronicles by Julie Kenner ****
Torn: Blood Lily Chronicles by Julie Kenner ****
Turned: Blood Lily Chronicles by Julie Kenner ****

Only one book gets 5 stars. I'd actually give it ten stars if I could. That would be Sandman Slim. I can only say - get out there & buy this book!

Four stars go to Julie Kenner's Blood Lily Chronicles. I thought these would be light fluff - I don't know why. They turned out to be excellent dark urban fantasy and I can only hope that there will be more about Lily coming. Also 4 stars is Night Runner, a YA urban fantasy about a teen in a mental institute who believes he's ill only to find out he's a vampire. This was phenomenally creative & well written. The sequel End of Days comes out in Sept. & is on my must-get list. The final 4 star is Stormwalker. I liked the creative story which mixes native american mythology with dragons, shifters, and other elements. Its sequel Firewalker comes out in Nov. & is also on my must-read list.

Finally, the 3 star books are all good reads & yes, I'll be reading their sequels, too. I thought Kim Harrison's Early to Death, Early to Rise (2nd in a series) was better than the first. Glimmerglass I liked, but it was missing backstory on the fae which would have made it much more enjoyable (I'm hopeful that will be addressed in future books). Bite Me & Try Me were both good reads (and I hope there are more in this series) with a unique take on the vampire integration into society. Dead, Undead & Somewhere In Between was a great story & I wanted more - it was left on a devastating cliffhanger which bummed me out (on the off chance there isn't a sequel, I don't like being left hanging like that). Blood Song was an entertaining story but could have been better developed. My biggest problem with it was that I couldn't reconcile the character (who is late twenties) with the cover picture (looks like a teenager to me). And finally, the House of Night series are always entertaining. The mix of vampires with magic is a unique story line & the characters feel like what they are - teens. (Some books don't manage that.)

I'll be posting my July reads at the end of this week. I tackled a lot of extraneous books this month - books that have been sitting in my TBR pile for a while & some new books. I also went back and reread two series because their latest sequels came out. All this was done while running my dog back & forth to the vet for a dental cleaning that turned into a tooth extraction, popped stitches, and more. Can I say my poor baby is miserable? :( And then there was my MOL who felt sick & ended up in the ER with a pacemaker & appts. for the next month to figure out why her pulse is wavering somewhere around 32!! Egads. Still, I'm at 13 books so far (the latest is dragging for me -- sigh -- I think I'm going to have to start skimming to get thru it.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

UF with a Strong Female Protagonist

I love books with strong female leads. That doesn't mean the female can't be flawed, or have major issues. She just has to be tough, not to the point that she's unable to love. I just don't love doormats. I can't stand seeing women cow to a man. It pisses me off.

So, with that in mind, here's my list of favorite Urban Fantasy series with a strong female protagonist.

Ilona Andrews - Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes and Magic Bleeds.
Kate Daniels is a kick ass mercenary. Her interactions with Curran, the Beast Lord will make you laugh and sometimes make you cry. Yes, she'll compromise - but she won't just accept. This is one of my favorite series.

Rachel Caine - Weather Warden series - Ill Wind, Heat Stroke, Chill Factor, Windfall, Firestorm, Thin Air, Gale Force, Cape Storm, Total Eclipse (8/3 release)
Joanne is a weather warden. In her world, wardens control the the elements keeping the world safe. She goes thru a lot of shit to be with David. Their desire to be together is the catalyst for a number of disastrous moments. I like her because she does what needs to be done even at the risk of losing that relationship.

Jennifer Estep - Elemental Assassin series - Spider's Bite, Web of Lies, Venom (9/28 release)
Gin, the main character in this series is a sociopathic assassin. Her point of view is absolutely fascinating. Despite her ability to kill without remorse, and the emotional damage she suffered at the deaths of her family, she somehow is able to love those who love her - her mentor, Finn her sort-of-brother - and she still cares about making things right. Another favorite.

Lori Handeland - Phoenix Chronicles - Any Given Doomsday, Doomsday Can Wait, Apocalypse Happens, Chaos Bites

M.L.N. Hanover - Black Son's Daughter series - Unclean Spirits, Darker Angels, Vicious Grace (11/30 release)

Kim Harrison - Rachel Morgan series - Dead Witch Walking, The Good The Bad and The Undead, Every Which Way But Dead, A Fistful of Charms, For a Few Demons More, The Outlaw Demon Wails, White Witch Black Curse, Black Magic Sanction
This book has several strong females - Rachel, a witch, Ivy, a vampire, and Ceri, an elf. Rachel has some serious issues, but she's bad ass and reckless. She has several relationships as the series progresses, but her strongest relationship is with Ivy (who is damn scary). Rachel and Kisten's love story is absolutely heartbreaking. Another favorite.

Faith Hunter - Jane Yellowrock series - Skinwalker, Blood Cross, Mercy Blade (1/4/11 release)
Jane is a unique shapeshifter created through black magic and a bounty hunter. She is so bad ass she's scary good.

Julie Kenner - Blood Lily Chronicles - Tainted, Torn, Turned
Lily isn't exactly a nice person. She did what she had to after her mother's death to survive and provide for her sister. Only despite her best efforts, a madman did awful things to her sister. Lily wakes up in someone else's body after trying to kill the monster. Now she has to save the world. I thought this would be a light read when I picked them up - wrong! It was dark and wonderful.

Richelle Mead - Georgina Kinkaid series - Succubus Blues, Succubus on Top, Succubus Dreams, Succubus Heat, Succubus Shadows, Succubus Revealed (9/2011 release)
Georgina is a succubus - reluctantly. She's good at her job, but she doesn't really like it. And she's in love with Seth, a human, a writer (a total dick as far as I'm concerned). Georgina is a great female character. She loves so deeply and wants so badly to do the right thing. She doesn't always manage it. This is an awesome series and maybe my #1 favorite of all.

Karen Marie Moning - Darkfever, Bloodfever, Feyfever, Dreamfever, Shadowfever (1/2011 release)
Mac is a bit of a pretty little fluff girl in the beginning of this series. Don't let that fool you. Her transformation is brilliantly written. And her relationship with Barrons (who is he?!?) is enjoyable. You'll hate him right along with her at the same time you love him. Its a great story.

Devon Monk - Magic to the Bone, Magic in the Blood, Magic in the Shadows, Magic on the Storm
Allie Beckstrom is a Hound - she tracks magic. The problem - when she uses magic, she gets migraines that mess her up. Oh, and she has a real bad ass father. Her relationship with Zayvion, a very mysterious man, is thoroughly enjoyable.

C.E. Murphy - Joanne Walker series - Urban Shaman, Thunderbird Falls, Coyote Dreams, Walking Dead, Demon Hunts
I love this series. Joanne is a reluctant shaman. Her mother was Irish, her father American Indian. Her real name? Siobhan Walkingstick. She likes Joanne. She deals with celtic Gods, native american creatures and more even tho in the beginning she'd rather not.

Chloe Neill - Chicagoland Vampires series - Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites, Twice Bitten
One of my favorite newer authors. Merit is a vampire. She didn't choose to be - no, she was attacked late one night. In order to save her, Ethan, the head of Cadogan House, turns her. She's not exactly thrilled and challenges him at every turn, all while trying to ignore her attraction toward him. I love their interactions. Its just the right amount of humor and a great story to boot.

Adrian Phoenix - Maker's series - A Rush of Wings, In The Blood, Beneath the Skin, Etched in Bone (? release)
I love this series for so many reasons. Its dark, its beautiful, it is brilliantly written, and the characters are phenomenal. Heather is an FBI agent on the hunt for a serial killer. Along the way, she meets Dante, a serious damaged amazing man (child of a vampire & a fallen angel). If you don't read any other series listed here - read this one.

Jennifer Rardin - Jaz Parks series - Once Bitten Twice Shy, Another One Bites the Dust, Biting the Bullet, Bitten to Death, One More Bite, Bite Marks, Bitten in Two (11/8 release)
Jaz is a deadly assassin in love with her partner, Vayle, a vampire. This series is fast paced, full of crazy adventure, and funny. I love Jaz's alter ego Lucille.

Kat Richardson - Greywalker series - Greywalker, Poltergeist, Underground, Vanished, Labyrinth (8/3 release)

Linda Robertson - Persephone Alchemides series - Vicious Circle, Hallowed Circle, (two more coming)

Margaret Ronald - Spiral Hunt, Wild Hunt

Lilith Saintcrow - Jill Kismet series - Night Shift, Hunter's Prayer, Redemption Alley, Flesh Circus, Heaven's Spite (10/27 release)

Lilith Saintcrow - Dante Valentine series - Working for the Devil, Dead Man Rising, The Devil's Right Hand, Saint City Sinners, To Hell and Back
Dante is a psi/bounty hunter/necromance with a lot of anger and a horrific past. She falls in love with Japhrimel, assigned to help her by Lucifer. This is not a happy series. Its dark, at times depressing, and Dante is a damaged person. But I loved it even as it broke my heart.

Jeanne C. Stein - Anna Strong series - The Becoming, Blood Drive, The Watcher, Legacy, Retribution, Chosen (8/28 release), Crossroads (2011 release)
Anna is a bounty hunter turned vampire against her will (she's attacked). She's tough. And she's dealing with a whole lot of personal issues (clinging to her humanity, absentee asshole boyfriend, etc.) while she does her job. A great series.

Phaedra Weldon - Zoe Martinique series - Wraith, Spectre, Phantasm, Revenant

Jaye Wells - Red Headed Stepchild, The Mage in Black, The Green Eyed Mage (2011 release)

To be fair, there are a number of series that I haven't even gotten to yet - and they're fairly big names. They're on my TBR list (and I actually have some of them) but I keep getting bogged down by more books coming out

Still, as far as I'm concerned, these I've listed - which I have read (some repeatedly with each new release) are the best of the best.