Review: Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

This is the second book in Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series. It was released from Angry Robot on August 28th. Continuing the tradition of the first in the series, Blackbirds, this one also has a kick ass cover.

The Blurb

Miriam is trying. Really, she is.

But this whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis–who’s on the road half the time in his truck–is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.

It just isn’t going well. Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability–to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them–in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.

Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.

The Review

If I had a literary id, I think Miriam Black would be the personification of it. She’s a broken, vulgar-mouthed, anti-social, unapologetically selfish woman who seems to be developing this nasty habit of risking her life for the sake of other people’s. If we met in real life we’d either be instant friends or enemies for life. Maybe both. What is a certainty is that neither one of us should ever work retail again. I love Miriam because she’s just so damned fascinating. It’s like she can’t help herself but to make bad choices, and reading her is like watching a slow-motion train wreck made of blood and broken steel and sarcasm.

If you’ve read Blackbirds (and why haven’t you?) and you thought that story was a twisty mind-fuck of a tale, then you’re in for a real treat with Mockingbird. Just the title, that seemingly deceptive single word, contains layers of meaning that echo through the whole book. That’s some damned talent. So much talent, in fact, that it just makes the writer in me sick with jealousy. Sick, I tell you.

I was waxing poetic here about broken stained-glass and how this book’s complete picture is both unknowable and cutting. But you know what? Fuck that noise. This is a good damned book that’ll scare the daylights out of you, and if you like that kind of thing you should read it. Chuck Wendig is the only author I know of who can manage to be subtle with his message while beating you bloody in the face with the violent action of his story. Like I said: that’s some damned talent.

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Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanen McGuire

Discount Armageddon is InCryptid #1. It was published by DAW on March 6, 2012.

The Blurb

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night…

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren’t for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family’s old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed.

To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone’s spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city… [Goodreads]

The Review

I found this such a refreshing, engaging read. Verity Price is my kind of girl… Well, except for that whole ballroom dancing thing. Very is an independent woman with a long family line who’s trying to balance her family’s expectations with her own wants and dreams. She’s tough and smart, but also human. No crazy powers, no desperate flaw in her character. In fact, she’s just a nice, normal girl. Not counting the excessive weaponry, jumping off of buildings, slutty work uniform, and chanting religious mice in her living room, that is.

So like I said – she’s my kind of girl.

I also love that Very’s family is a group of hereditary cryptozoologists. The combination of supernatural and science is a new and enticing allure. Each chapter also includes a wise quote from one of what I believe is Very’s ancestors. They include such anecdotes as:

A lady is never truly embarrassed. And if she is, a lady is never gauche enough to leave survivors.

As well as:

A proper lady should be able to smile pretty, wear sequins like she means it, and kick a man’s ass nine ways from Sunday while wearing stiletto heels. If she can’t do that much, she’s not trying hard enough.

This is on top of Verity’s own astute – and hilarious – observations of city life. She’s warm, she’s personal… She can hide a gun in a tango dress. She’s more fun than an entire New York subway system full of dragons! I recommend you run out right now and get this book. I can’t imagine a world where you’d regret it.

Review: Fated by Benedict Jacka

Fated is the debut novel from Benedict Jacka. It’s been praised by no less than the likes of Jim Butcher — with good reason, I say. It released on February 28th, 2012 by Ace Books (a division of Penguin USA).

 

The Blurb

Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex’s own powers aren’t as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future–allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever’s inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none…[GoodReads]

The Review

Fated is a fabulous novel. I can see why Jim Butcher blurbed it. I have waited on this book to come out since Jim mentioned it at a signing way back in June 2011. It seemed…. Well, fated that the release date was my birthday. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that this book more than lived up to the anticipation.

This book is as slim and subtle and powerful as Alex Verus’ talent. You could even say that Fated is the stiletto of urban fantasies (I just did). It’s an iceberg story: the reader sees just the tip of what is clearly a massive expanse of world-building. I liked it. And I loved Alex, all noble and haunted and conflicted as he was.

I have already gobbled up the teaser for volume two, Cursed, and will be waiting eagerly for that release date as well — which GoodReads has listed as May 29th, 2012. In fact, someone at Ace Books? Can feel free to send that second volume right over so that I can gush all over it. 😉

Guest Review: Department 19 by Will Hill [From ~ap~]

A Note from Kiara: Since today is my birthday, I’m taking a day off! The following review was written by my dear friend, ~ap~, who writes about reading over at Writing About Reading.  She’s the best, and you should go read  her. Especially since she’s currently giving away a signed, hardcover of Ghost Story by Jim Butcher. The contest ends tonight, so why don’t you hop on over and enter? We’ll wait. … There. Now that that’s settled, on with the review! 

Department 19

Department 19

Author: Will Hill

Format: author-signed paperback

Publisher: HarperCollins

Original Release Date: 3/29/2011

Length: 496 pages

Acquired: won in a publisher giveaway

Department 19 WebsiteFacebook & Twitter

The blurb from the website:

Jamie Carpenter’s life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein.

Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula.

Aided by Frankenstein’s monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

Department 19 takes us through history, across Europe, and beyond – from the cobbled streets of Victorian London to prohibition-era New York, from the icy wastes of Arctic Russia to the treacherous mountains of Transylvania.

My moderately spoilery thoughts:

Considering the fact that this is a YA book, I rather enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against YA, but at times the genre can be frustrating to read, as though YA writers assume that their readers aren’t mature or intelligent enough to handle content that’s a bit more complex. Some of the writing in Department 19 definitely seemed more appropriate for a younger crowd but all in all, it was fast-paced enough to keep the pages turning and intriguing enough to keep me thinking about it when I wasn’t reading. I also found myself anxious to get back to it as soon as possible whenever I had to put it down to eat or shower or sleep or work… pesky, pesky work.

Some of my favorite sections of this book dealt with the short glimpses back in history at the protagonist’s ancestors. Jamie Carpenter’s great-grandfather worked with the fabled Abraham Van Helsing and joined his circle of Dracula-staking buddies when Department 19, aka Blacklight, was formed in 1892, 100+ years before Jamie’s story begins. His grandfather met and befriended Frankenstein’s monster, who seemed quite civilized and took on his creator’s name after he passed. Finally we learn more about his father Julian, who was also a member of Department 19 and who apparently betrayed it, and so is much hated by the time Jamie is tossed headfirst into insanity.

Before the events in this story, neither Jamie or his mother had any knowledge of the classified, vampire-killing, militant branch of the government which his father had been an honored member. He was honored before that whole betrayal thing, anyway, after which his colleagues tracked him down and summarily executed him in his driveway in front of his family. I had a hard time swallowing such fly-off-the-handle type of behavior from a highly-trained, professional organization, but I didn’t let it detract (much) from the rest of the story.

I enjoyed the fact that the author touted Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a chronicle of true events, rather than a work of fiction. As one Department 19 Operator explains to a civilian after she admits that she has read Stoker’s book, “It’s not a story; it’s a history lesson.” Though that reminded me of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, in which Dracula is essentially a How-to guide for killing vampires of the Black Court, the concept fit well and the premise opened the door for the inclusion of Frankenstein’s character, which added some spice to the story.

Jamie is torn from his life as an awkward teen when his mother is kidnapped by one of the oldest vamps in the world, after which he is rescued from the same vamp by yet another monster straight out of a horror story. A monster who happened to be pals with his dad, once upon a time (no pun intended). Of course, neither Jamie or his mother had any knowledge of the vampire-killing militant branch of the government before this story takes place so we get a lot of info-dumping to catch Jamie (us) up on the history of the organization and his family’s part in it. I feel that Hill did a great job of fleshing out Jamie’s character, from the vehement anger at his father for his betrayal and for his lies about his job to Jamie and his mother, to his stubborn insistence in ignoring what he’s told by senior members of Blacklight. I often found his behavior exceedingly annoying but it was probably pretty accurate for a teenaged boy.

Aside from a bit of choppy jumping back and forth action toward the end of the book, the only issue I had with the story was the excessive gore. Yes, I do realize that this is a Stoker-esque portrayal of vamps as blood-sucking monsters and that much blood and murder and mayhem is likely to take place, but the book is aimed at a 12+ audience and I just felt that it was a little too bloody for the pre-teen set. I got the feeling while reading the many fight scenes that the author was writing something as anti-Twilight as possible and while I approve, multiple mentions of characters being soaked in blood and then the image of a vampire covered in gore from head to toe, flinging drops of blood from her hair in the midst of battle, was just a wee bit much.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this read to anyone who wants a good ole vamp-staking story. There are cool weapons, a lot of action, and an impressively in-depth history of the Blacklight organization, as well as a dun-dun-dun-DUNNNN ending that will, hopefully, make you look forward to the next book, Department 19: The Rising, as much as I do. (teaser chapters here)

Guest Post: 5 Things to Look Forward to in Magic Most Foul by Leanna Renee Hieber

A Novel of Magic Most FoulA Note from Kia: You’re in for a treat today, kiddies. Our dear friend Leanna Renee Hieber has stopped by to give us an exclusive look at all the things we are eagerly awaiting in the next Magic Most Foul novel. (And oh, YES, we certainly are, aren’t we?) Said novel even has a name now: THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART

Edit: Also there is a giveaway! Post comment here to win copy of Darker Still! Rules over here

So now without any further chit-chat, let’s let Leanna have her say! 

Five things to look forward to in the next Magic Most Foul novel (Releasing this November!) In no particular order:

  1. Adventure! On Trains! Natalie and Jonathon as heroine and hero continue to lead the series. Our brave young lovers escape from New York City to dodge the after-effects of magic but have to dodge some additional problems along the way.
  2. There’s an homage to Frankenstein in a most disturbing way.
  3. There’s an homage to both The Exorcist and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in one new character.
  4. A Victorian Goth club. AKA “Her Majesty’s Association for Melancholy Bastards” – And I, the author, am a card-carrying Goth and member, so there.
  5. Making out in train cars and carriages. Enough said.

Stay tuned at http://leannareneehieber.comhttp://facebook.com/lrhieberhttp://twitter.com/leannarenee

Reasons to check out DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul if you haven’t already:

  1. There’s a haunted painting. A British Lord is trapped inside. And he’s really good looking. (See, that’s three reasons just in one).
  2. Natalie Stewart, a spirited and opinionated young woman everyone can cheer for, overcomes danger, incredible personal odds and adversity to save lives and save the day.
  3. It will give you the shivers. Lots. Promise. I’ve been told that Natalie’s dreams aren’t to be read right before bedtime.
  4. It’s full of danger, intrigue, mystery, curses, magic, nightmares, disguises and pretty dresses!
  5. It was chosen as an INDIE NEXT recommended book by the American Booksellers Association and it’s a trilogy, so you’d best start now…

Cheers!Leanna’s website: http://leannareneehieber.com and Twitter: http://twitter.com/leannarenee and FB: http://facebook.com/lrhieber

About Leanna

[Source] Author, actress and playwright Leanna Renee Hieber grew up in rural Ohio inventing ghost stories. She graduated with a BFA in Theatre from Miami University, a focus in the Victorian Era and a scholarship to study in London. She adapted works of 19th Century literature for the stage and her one-act plays such as FavoriteLady have been produced around the country. Her novella Dark Nest won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in the genre of Futuristic, Fantasy, or Paranormal Romance.

DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul, first in Leanna’s Gothic Historical Paranormal trilogy for teens (Sourcebooks Fire), hit the Kid’s/YA INDIE NEXT LIST as a recommended title by the American Booksellers Association. Seventeen Magazine said of DARKER STILL: “This chilling tale will draw you in and keep you guessing until the very last page!” The book has been praised by Shelf Awareness, The Chicago Tribune, Pixie Magazine and more. DARKER STILL will also be translated into several languages.

The Urban Fantasy Zodiac – What’s Your Sign?

So I was sitting here thinking about how I’ve seen a lot lately about the Chinese zodiac and how it’s the Year of the Dragon. And I think that’s cool and everything (I’m a Monkey), but the whole concept could be improved upon. So, without further adieu, allow me to introduce you to…

The Urban Fantasy Zodiac

Created by Waiting for Fairies.com

I only did these 30 years, because I didn’t want to get ridiculous with the chart, and I sincerely doubt that I have any readers under 13. However, if you don’t fit in the chart, just go look up a Chinese Zodiac Chart, find the corresponding year that matches your sign that is listed here and I’m sure you can figure it out. I’ve followed the same basic format as the Chinese version, except I’ve gone January through December simply for the sake of my sanity. ***Disclaimer: This chart is simply for fun only. I make no claims to being psychic (psycho – maybe)  or of having any sort of expertise that would allow me to make such a chart in seriousness. Except for having read a lot of urban fantasy. A lot. 

Now that we’ve established that, I bet you want to know what your sign says about you, don’t you? Okay, let’s go.

Sign of the…

Zombie

You are tenacious and like a challenge. You’ve been beaten down in the past and have no problems getting right back up again. You’ve got guts, but more than that – you’ve got braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains!

Fairy/Fae

You’re elusive and magical, and you know how to double-speak. You have a way with words and with people. But it’s probably best if people don’t let you babysit…

Dragon

Dragons are the King of the Urban Fantasy Zodiac! No one knows a lot about you, but everyone wants to be you. You’re strong and powerful, and you love shiny things. You’re favorite things are ones that are crunchy and that taste good with ketchup.

Ghost

People have a tendency to overlook you, and they shouldn’t because, while you seem gentle, you can have a terrible temper. You have trouble letting go. You love to savor experiences instead of “possessions”.

Griffin

You are strong as a lion and fierce as an eagle. You have no trouble soaring above the world’s troubles. Just don’t lose sight of the ground and lose your way.

Demon

You’re a free spirit who gets a bad rap because you don’t think the way others do. It’s not that you like to cause trouble, it’s just that you love keeping things interesting! Try not to get too hot under the collar when others call you on your mischievous ways.

Dryad

You love nature and being out in it. You’re nurturing and friendly, but playful too. Just don’t lose sight of the big picture – sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees!

Shape-shifter

You love change and get bored easily. You have a hot temper – be sure to watch it so you don’t lose control! You don’t make friends easily, but when you do there couldn’t be anyone more loyal.

Selkie

Your personality is like quick-silver – you can’t decide whether you’re coming in or going out! When you love someone, you keep your feelings way down deep. When you make a decision, you’re as inexorable as the tide.

Incubus/Succubus

Hot mama! You’re a saucy little number who adores indulging all your senses. Your attention burns bright, but brief, and then you’re on to the next best thing. You’re not fickle, you’re just flexible.

Druid

You’re an old soul who loves learning more than anything else. You’re as wise as oak and as deep as stone. Just don’t forget that there’s more to the world than the mystical. Sometimes a rock is just a rock.

Vampire

You’re a consumer – whether it’s buying the latest gadget or having a “drink” with a hot young thing. You can be greedy, but it’s only because you want to have every experience possible. It’s okay to want to have everything, but remember – nothing lasts forever!

I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about this newly-discovered-but-absolutely-ancient (honest!) (okay, maybe not) art of the Urban Fantasy Zodiac! I’d love it if you posted a comment below with your UF Zodiac sign! Feel free to share and link to this post. Tell your friends! (Just try to give me the courtesy of a link if you post the image elsewhere. Deal?)

Review: Double Dead by Chuck Wendig

Double Dead is the first full-length novel from Penmonkey Chuck Wendig. It features a vampire who wakes up in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. It rocks. It was released November 15th, 2011 from Abaddon. I read the e-book.

The Blurb (as posted on Terrible Minds)

Poor, poor Coburn. Once the king of his castle — his castle being New York City — he awakens from slumber to discover that his city and his world have been gobbled up by a zombie apocalypse.

Most of the humans are dead.

Which means his food source is spoiled. Vampire can’t live on dead blood, after all.

And so the vampire must move from predator to protector, a shepherd who must find a food source and stand vigil over the herd. It’s not an easy transition, of course. The monster is still a monster, after all.

(This ain’t Twilight, folks. Only way Coburn glitters is if he kills and eats a stripper.)

Along the way, what will he discover about the world? About the girl he protects? And about himself?

Gotta read it to find out.

A vampire in zombieland.

Featuring:

A teenage girl with a healing gift!

Zombie evolution!

Wal-Mart cannibals!

An army of Route 66 Juggalos!

A little white terrier named “Creampuff!”

And, of course, one cranky-ass cocky fuck of a vampire: Coburn.

My Review

I pretty much agree with Chuck. The only way a vampire should glitter is if he eats a stripper. Because – and this may be news to some of you, so if you feel light-headed go ahead and please sit down… Vampires eat people. The idea of a “vegetarian” vampire is ridiculous and should only be used for comedic purposes. (What would be the vampiric equivalent of Crohn’s disease? Now that would have made Twilight much more interesting!)

That established, I will say that Coburn is a bit of an asshole. To my mind, however, that’s to be expected when someone decides to make conversation with their food. If I tried to talk to a herd of cows, they’d probably think I was an asshole too. They’d be right. (Side note: mmmmm, steak!) He is ultimately motivated by self-interest, but as a reader you can’t really blame him for that. I’d be trying to protect my food supply, too, if the apocalypse was happening.

Double Dead isn’t for the queasy. Even the title is an adjective describing meat that has come from a diseased animal. One of Coburn’s meals (a fat guy) is described as “buttery”. The zombies are described in lovingly disgusting detail, and the Wal-Mart cannibals are absolutely horrifying. Yet somehow they are apt – especially their leader, who I will let you discover for yourself. I think I am grateful I’ve already vowed never to set foot in another Wal-Mart. Ever. Again.

This book is by turns revolting, touching, and hilarious. I loved the juggalos (though I wonder how many people out there would even get the reference?) It’s a big dose of horror, a little bit action-adventure, a dash of comedy, and a tiny bit redemption story. I loved it. Just when I thought I was absolutely sick of vampire stories, Double Dead came along and changed my mind.

Upcoming: Kiaras Festivus 2012!

What is Kiaras Festivus?

Kiaras Festivus is, literally ‘The Festival of Kiara’. This usually happens in February, mostly because my birthday is the 28th and I like to celebrate for as long as possible! This year, Waiting for Fairies’ also turns 5 years old (as a book review site) during the first week of March! (My very first review? Vicki Pettersson’s first book!)

That means I wanted to make this year’s celebration extra special! Festivities will kick off on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14th) and run for two weeks, or until we get tired of partying, whichever comes last!

What’s Going to Happen?

I’ve got a few thing scheduled and a couple more that I’m trying to (find the time to) get organized.

A few things already on the agenda:

  • An exclusive post from Leanna Renee Hieber (author of the recently released Darker Still) + giveaway
  • A giveaway from me for a Jim Butcher boxed set (I won it, but already have said books in SFBC omnibus, so I’m passing it along – reluctantly! – to you. Why do I have an irrational urge to keep paperbacks of books I already own in hardcover, digital, and audio? Because it’s Jim Butcher!</whine> )
  • A (pretty massive, actually) giveaway from Greyhart Press for a YA high fantasy ebook (Epic. Poetry. I’m reading it myself next.) by Gill Shutt
  • Guest posts from my friends and fellow book bloggers
  • Edit: I forgot! I’m also working on exclusive short fiction of my very own for your reading pleasure! Stay tuned! 

I’m also working on an idea for a giveaway that is along the lines of Powell’s popular “INDIEspensible” packages. Except strictly for urban fantasy and strictly for WFF’s readers.

Now how about that?

Top 10 Books I Read in 2011

Since everyone else was busy doing end-of-year posts, I figured I’d throw my 10 cents out there as well. Here are my top 10 from 2011. These are books that I read in 2011, not necessarily that were published in 2011. 

1. Number one, of course, has to be Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story. Because the 13th book in a series where the main character is dead? Not only is that some epic story-telling timing, but to also write it in a fashion that leaves the reader breathless? After thirteen books?? Oh, yes. I never did a review of this one, because, well. It’d be like flowers professing to love sunlight. Well – duh.

2. Angel Town by Lilith Saintcrow. A perfect end to a perfect series. Hard, fast, and brutal – Saintcrow’s signature. Fabulous.

3. Hounded by Kevin Hearne. You can read my review here. But I’ll repeat this much: “I loved this book, and I can see even just from the following volume that the author’s work is getting even better. I look forward to following this series through a long and prosperous life.”

4. Dead Iron by Devon Monk. I’m a fan of Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series, too. Dead Iron is a new genre for Monk: steampunk.  (Monk is no stranger to exploring genres.) I loved this book. It was like a stew of different paranormal elements that shouldn’t have been so yummy – but totally was.

5. My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland. My review is here. “…mix[ing] the macabre with the sincere… balancing the grotesque with the sarcastic, and the desperate with the ordinary. This is a fun book, with a bit of depth if you care to look for it.” It also wins my pick for Best Cover Art of 2011.

6. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch. I liked this book even more because it’s set in London, and I don’t know much about the British constabulary. Peter Grant is notable because he’s actually a pretty average guy before being chosen to work under Detective Inspector Thomas Nightingale. The blurb professes that Peter has the “ability to speak with the dead”, but it seemed to me those ghosts spoke to him out of convenience and not because of an inherent talent.

7. Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman. I reviewed this book back in January. So far it remains my favorite book in the series, even though the characters were more fully fleshed out in the following volume. Gilman handled a delicate situation excellently in this book, and she deserves high marks for that.

8. The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin. It’s not often you find a fantasy novel with a blind protagonist, and this one is woven deftly. The world is rich and unique. You can read my review of the first book in the series The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by clicking here.

9. Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber. A great new YA paranormal that evokes The Portrait of Dorian Gray and Edgar Allen Poe. You can read my review of it here.

10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If you haven’t heard of this book, you’ve been living under a rock. A young adult dystopian with some interesting things to say.

Special Mentions: 

I tried to keep this list limited to either series books that were truly exemplary, or new or almost-new series. That said, there are several more that would have made the list had I not limited it. Those are (in no particular order):

  • Blackout by Rob Thurman
  • Pale Demon by Kim Harrison
  • The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Neon Graveyard by Vicki Pettersson
  • Heartless by Gail Carriger
  • Eat Slay Love by Jesse Petersen

Other notables: 

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

Shotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig (novella)

One book I wish I hadn’t spent time on? The Magicians by Lev Grossman. It was billed as an “adult Harry Potter”, but I think it’s more accurately described as “the anti-Harry Potter”. If HP was about the power and strength of friendship, then The Magicians is about a group of the most selfish, spoiled people I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. It *was* fascinating, and for those who don’t mind hating their narrators, it may not be such a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong. It was well-crafted and well-written – but I didn’t like the way it made me feel.

 

 

 

Review: Blood Rights by Kristen Painter

Blood Rights is the first book in The House of Commaré series by Kristen Painter. It was published on October 1, 2011. There are three books currently available in this series.

The Blurb

The lacy gold mapped her entire body. A finely-wrought filigree of stars, vines, flowers, butterflies, ancient symbols and words ran from her feet, up her legs, over her narrow waist, spanned her chest and finished down her arms to the tips of her fingers.

Gothic fantasy meets vampire fiction in this debut novel from Kristen Painter – full of politics, intrigue, and blood.

Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle’s body bears the telltale marks of a comarré — a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world…and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.

Now, Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds.  If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign.

My Review

If you’re not burned out on vampire books yet, Painter gives us a nice, unique twist on the genre with Blood Rights. Our main character, Chrysabelle, is a comarré, which is basically a fancy term for a certain species of human that is born as food for the vampire nobility. Because doesn’t every girl want to grow up to be a pampered trophy and gourmet meal? Yeah, me neither – and apparently neither did Chrysabelle, as she was planning to leave her rich patron and luxurious life for a normal one in the mundane world.

Before she can, of course, her patron is murdered and Chrysabelle is forced to run for her life. She runs to her aunt (who is not really her aunt, as no comarré knows who her biological family is), who has been living a mundane life as the handicapped owner of a cosmetic company in what we are told is New Florida. This designation puts a near-future spin on the tale, but we’re told no real details of Florida – either the old or the new.

Mal, the conflicted outcast vampire who has been cursed to kill every human he drinks from, is a welcome addition (and contrast) to Chrysabelle’s story. I was ready to like Chrysabelle when she stabs Mal in the bar at the beginning of the story, but this was before we find out that not only is she apparently ambrosia to vampires but she also has been trained from a young age in combat skills. In fact, Chrysabelle apparently  has no flaws whatsoever, except for the fact that she seems alarmingly (and conveniently) attracted to the outcast Mal for someone who is supposed to be keeping herself – and thereby her blood – “pure”.

I’m being kind of snarky here, so let me reassure you that the story was gripping enough that I didn’t think about any of these annoyances until I sat down to write this review. The only thing that bothered me at the time was the obviousness of [character] being [this other character] from [first character’s] past. Twice. Sigh.

Personally, I found the supporting characters more engrossing. Mal is haunted by the voices of the people he’s killed, but only one of them can manifest herself as a real ghost. She’s interesting, as well as the cat shapeshifter who happens to be in love with her. This gentleman kitty is cursed [Cursed again? Everyone is cursed in this book…] to only be able to shapeshift into the form of a house cat. I will most likely continue reading the series simply to find out what happens to those two, and to the noble vampire villainess who has allied herself with a creature who is described – but not named as – what can only be some sort of demon.

This book is listed on NetGalley as being adult fantasy, but it looks and reads more like a young adult novel to me – and apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so.  The cover is gorgeous, the writing is sensual, and for those who don’t mind a little predictability in their stories, it’s overall a pretty nice tale. I’d recommend it for voracious readers, vampire fans, and older teens. I’m luke-warm about this one myself, but I will continue reading and I suppose that’s all that matters, yes?

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