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 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!

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.