Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eyes of Crow

Eyes of Crow is book one of the Aspect of Crow Trilogy by Jeri Smith-Ready. The book blends Native American animal spirituality with an agrarian world. Rhia's guiding spirit is Crow. She is the one who can see death coming. She can also ease the passage between the worlds. Her people depend on her to sing the songs that send them on to the next realm. This makes her very valuable to her people.

At first Rhia denies that she hears the flapping of Crow's wings. Her mother, an Otter woman, keeps her at home long past the time when she should have started training. This is fine with Rhia until her mother is dying and she has no ability to ease the death. She misreads the signs and her mother is left to face death all alone.

On the day Rhia leaves for training she sees an image of a terrible death. Some of the village elders believe that war is coming and the vision seems to agree. Her first year of training is interrupted when she overhears that The Descendants are going to invade her village. She must help them fight a war that they must win if their way of life is to continue.

This book is well written. It moves at a good pace and has characters I can care about. The weaving of animal spirituality through the story is well done. Rhia moves from being a scared child into womanhood. She does not always like what she is but she knows that she cannot ignore Crow. The book does a good job of presenting the idea the we are connected to the earth and we lose much of what we are (our magic) if we forget to honor our animal spirits.

I cannot wait to read the other two books. Eyes of Crow left me wanting more.

Buy Eyes Of Crow (Aspect of Crow Trilogy)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sisters on the Case

Sisters On the Case: Celebrating Twenty Years of Sisters in Crime edited by Sara Paretsky contains 20 stories written by female mystery writers. Sisters in Crime has a mission to promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers "to achieve equality in the industry." This anthology is a good representation of the different kinds of crime stories women write.

I especially liked "I Killed" by Nancy Pickard. It's a conversation between two men on a park bench. The dialogue is amazing. Pickard makes mob stories interesting again. You may think you know where "Lady Patterly's Lover" by Charlotte MacLeod and and "Animal Act" by Claire McNab are going but read to the end.

I was shocked by the ending of "Hearing Her Name." I knew something had to happen but I was not expecting such a horrendous and sad turn of events. "Steak Tartare" by Barbara D'Amato has the dubious distinction of being the first mystery story to truly gross me out. Good thing it ended the way it did.

The only story I didn't like was "Dies Irae" by Dorothy Salsibury Davis. It was long and slow moving. I didn't like either sister and I didn't know enough about Denny to care. He was a disposable character. Literally.

Buy Sisters On the Case: Celebrating Twenty Years of Sisters in Crime

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Aborted Review: Wit'ch War

On my latest trip to the library I ended up checking out a book that I had meant to put back because it was the third book in a series. Last night I decided to try it anyway. The story sounded interesting on the back cover:

In her hands, the young wit'ch Elena holds the awesome energies of blood magick, and the destiny of Alasea. For the fate of that fabulous kingdom hinges on her recovery of the Blood Diary. Only by mastering the secrets recorded in its pages can Elena defeat the evil magicks of the Dark Lord. But the Diary lies hidden in A'loa Glen - the fabled city that belongs to Shorkan, chief lieutenant of the Dark Lord, and his fearsome army.

With he help of her allies, including the ocean-dwelling Sy'wen and her great dragon, Elena prepares a desperate invasion of A'loa Glen. At her side stands the one-armed warrior Er'ril, who knows how to unlock the wards that surround the Blood Diary. But unknown to Elena, Er'ril is the brother of the dreaded Shorkan. Will he continue to act as her protector, or with he choose to betray her?

I suppose I should have realized just by reading that passage that I wouldn't be able to read this book. The use of apostrophes to break up words is, in my opinion, pretentious affectation. I find it annoying. If it were only one or two names that were apostrophized, I would have been able to suffer though it. Unfortunately author James Clemens seems to love apostrophes. I gave up after the first chapter.

And couldn't he think of a better name for his villain that "Dark Lord"? I'm just sayin'...

It's a shame. It sounds like an interesting story. From looking at the other Wit'ch books I probably would have liked the whole series. If you can look past pages dotted with apostrophes give it a try. Let me know what you think.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Lick of Frost

A Lick of Frost is the sixth book in Laurell K. Hamilton's Meredith Gentry series. If you haven't read the other five you'll be hopelessly lost. I read the seventh book first because I couldn't remember how many I'd read. I missed a major plot point in Frost but they went over it in number seven anyway. The books are slowly moving Meredith towards the UnSeelie thrown but it's taking a heck of a long time. After reading Frost I believe it could have been combined with book number seven.

I guess I should back up. Meredith Gentry aka Meredith NicEssus is part human, part Brownie and part UnSeelie Sidhe. If you don't know what that means this series probably isn't for you. Hamilton has built a very interesting fantasy world where the Sidhe (pronounced shee) and their magical world are known to the humans of the mundane world. The Sidhe currently live in the US. It's the only country that would have them after a huge war between the Seelie and the UnSeelie. There welcome in the US is predicated on their not fighting. And not involving humans in their political machinations.

At the start of Frost Meredith is sitting in her lawyers office. Her uncle, King Taranis of the Seelie Court, has accused three of her guards of raping a Lady of the Court. To say that things do not go well would be an understatement. By the end of the afternoon, two guards are in the hospital, one human is bound for a psych ward and Taranis has proved beyond a doubt that he is crazy.

After that, there's a whole section of the book where nothing much happens except that Meredith has sex with various guards and talks about having to have sex with two goblins. This happens in every Meredith Gentry book. Sometimes I think the story is just an excuse to hang all the sex on.

Not that I have anything against sex. I would just like a meaty plot to go with it. This book and the one following are very sex heavy and plot light. The books are leading to a certain point but I feel as if Hamilton is trying to stretch it out as long as possible. Once Meredith has fulfilled her destiny there will be no more books so I guess Hamilton and her publisher have to milk it for every penny.

Hamilton is a good writer so I don't really know why her latest books have been so thin. I've invested too much time in the series to just walk away. I want to know what happens at the end. The fact that the end is taking so long is really beginning to piss me off. Maybe some day they'll make a Gentry omnibus with all the books in one. That will be worthwhile.

Buy A Lick of Frost (Meredith Gentry, Book 6)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz is the first in her "Blue Bloods" series. This young adult novel is basically shallow with lots of name dropping and product placements. The interesting thing about the book is its twist on vampire lore.

Schuyler is 15 and the last of a distinguished family line. Her father is dead, her mother is in a coma so she is raised by her cold and emotionally distant grandmother. Schuyler doesn't fit in amongst the "beautiful people" at her private prep school. She can't understand why she's being invited to join "The Committee" a charity group of prominent alumni.

She also can't figure out why the school's golden boy, Jack, has suddenly started taking an interest in her. Not that she minds, she's had a crush on him for a long time. She doesn't know that Jack's interest and her invitation to join The Committee" are part of the same secret that has been kept from her.

The book is rather simple. I'm sure it will keep young reader enthralled. Anyone who was an "outsider" in high school will empathize with Schuyler and her friends. The new twist on vampires (Blue Bloods) is interesting. Society's elite are all members of aristocratic family lines and also vampires. The book doesn't have an ending. You have to read the next book to find out what happened to one of Schuyler's friends.

Buy Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, Book 1)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vampire Kisses

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber is a quirky "young adult" vampire novel. The protagonist is a 16 year old "Goth Girl" named Raven. She doesn't fit in with her family or anyone else in the small town she refers to as "Dullsville." Luckily she has a fine brain, a quick wit and a strong sense of self.

Raven is obsessed with vampires. She tells people she wants to be one when she grows up. When a strange family moves into a long deserted (and thought haunted) mansion, rumors start to fly. Raven is half convinced that the teenaged son, Alexander, is a vampire. She sneaks into his house to find proof and ends up bumping into him in the dark before running home. Before long she gets an invitation to dinner from Alexander. Raven soon falls in love with him but doesn't know if it's because she thinks he's a vampire.

Kisses is more about acceptance than it is about vampires. It's also about finding out who you are and having the strength to be that no matter what anyone says. The vampire angle is just an idea to hinge the story on. The book's ending is a bit open ended. There are 4 more books in this series but I don't know if Raven continues.

Buy Vampire Kisses

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Murder in Scorpio

In Murder in Scorpio California parapsychologist/private detective Elizabeth Chase uses her psychic gifts to solve crimes. When Sgt. Thomas McGowen's high school crush is killed in a car crash he can't shake the feeling that it wasn't an accident. Even though he's a skeptic, he asks Elizabeth to look into the death.

Soon there's no lack of suspects from the druggie ex-boyfriend the victim had restraining order against to the arrogant boss who is definitely hiding something. First time author, Martha C. Lawrence, fills her pages with interesting characters and a whodunit that works its way to a suspense filled conclusion.

I love paranormal mysteries. Ghost, vampires, werewolves I'll read them all. I especially like psychics. Elizabeth Chase is a likable (and moral) character who I hope will be featured in many more novels.

Buy Murder In Scorpio (An Elizabeth Chase Mystery)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Trailer for a book?

I've never seen a trailer for a book before. Lots of money spent on making this book look good. I hope it holds up.

La Vida Vampire

La Vida Vampire is the first book in the "Oldest City Vampire" series by Nancy Haddock. Francesca (Cesca) Marinelli was buried under a house for 200 years before renovations set her free. She now lives with the new owner of the house who acts as her "sponsor" and guide into modern life. She is excited by her new job as a ghost tour guide. It's seems right up her alley until a woman on a tour ends up dead. Cesca needs to find out whodunit before the police arrest her. Worse still are anti-vampire fanatics determined to kill her.

Fist time author, Haddock, has created a quirky and funny take on the lives of the undead. The invention of sunblock allows Francesca to learn how to surf. The idea of a vampire Gidget amuses me. A lot has happened in the last 200 years so Cesca has a few problems adjusting. The fact that she hasn't had a date in two centuries leads to some interesting encounters with the modern male.

While the mystery isn't all that hard to figure out, the book is still worth a read for its humor and characters. Hopefully there will be many more in this promising new series.

Buy La Vida Vampire (Oldest City Vampire, Book 1)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Salvation in Death

Salvation in Death is the 28th in the series featuring Lt. Eve Dallas. J.D. Robb's futuristic novels have become best sellers. Set in mid-twentieth century New York they show a world almost like ours but with a few technological improvements.

I enjoy this series. I like how the characters evolve in each novel. In the first book, Dallas is a sociopathic loner who's only friend outside work is, Mavis, a con artist she once busted. She lives for the job. It's the only thing that keeps the nightmares away. By the time Salvation starts Eve has been married almost two years. Her husband is one of the richest men on the planet and she lives in a mansion. The house is often filled with a growing list of friends. Eve learns that life gets complicated once you start letting people in. There are so many rules and she's afraid she'll never learn them all.

This book opens with a funeral mass. When the priest takes a drink of the sacramental wine he falls to the floor dead. Dallas and her partner Peabody soon learn that the priest wasn't who everyone thought he was. They must dig through the man's past to find out how it caught up to him. Things are complicated by a copycat murder of a famous televangelist. Dallas has a theory and she must prove it fast so she can get back to tracking the priest.

Along the way Dallas must navigate the scary waters of the bridal shower and bachlorette. As always there's time for hot sex with her husband Roarke. And when I say hot sex I really mean it. These books are sometimes listed as romances probably because J. D. Robb is a pen name for romance writer Nora Roberts.

Buy Salvation in Death

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Blood Groove

By placing his noir-vampire novel in the 70s author Alex Bledsoe gets away with being racist and misogynistic. I consider the 70s to be the decade that taste forgot. I might be a bit biased. The treatment of blacks and women in this novel was a real turn off. In the end I didn't care about any of the characters in this book and I was bored with the violence.

European aristocrat, Baron Rudolfo Zginski, was staked in 1915 but he comes back to life when when the stake is removed. Sixty years have passed and he is now in the new world. He has no idea how to live in the modern world. His first clue is the black, woman doctor who removed the stake. To Zginski's way of thinking no woman, but especially not a black woman could be a doctor.

Ziginski sees another vampire in a picture printed in a newspaper and sets out to find any other vampires in Memphis. He gets a guide in the form of a female vampire stuck at 15 years of age. She tells him that a young vampire was found dead and bloodless in an alley. With a little detective work they figure out that a new drug is responsible for the death. Ziginski and a group of Memphis vamps track down the source of the drug. Along the way they use humans, especially women, as their slaves and meals.

I'm not really sure who the protagonist of this book is supposed to be. Ziginski? The female coroner he forces to analyze the drug? Fauvette the 15 year old vampire? I just don't know. As I said before I didn't care about any of the characters. So many of them end up dead anyway.

There was one anachronism that jolted me right out of the story. One vampire says he's gonna kick ass and take names. I looked it up and from what I can tell that phrase didn't come into common use until the 80s.

Some people like really dark, violent noir. I like it when it's done right. This just didn't feel right to me. I just never found the right groove to enjoy Blood Groove

Buy Blood Groove