Author Archives: ocdreader

Review – Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Skinwalker

by Faith Hunter

This has been an interesting book, a gritty and realistic post-Katrina New Orleans and a complex lead character.  Jane Yellowrock is Cherokee, a skinwalker meaning she can change her shape into any creature, and shares her soul with a Mountain Lion she calls Beast.  She also hunts and kills rogue vampires, has an attitude problem, and doesn’t remember her life before she crawled out of the forest at 12 and was sent to live in a Christian children’s home.

Jane goes to New Orleans to hunt down a rogue vampire who is killing humans and vampires alike.  He smells funny and Beast calls him a liver eater.  We find all about what a liver eater is, and it hits Jane pretty hard.

So I had a hard time getting into this book.  I enjoyed her sass, though it does get a little old, but towards the end of the book she begins to have more of a filter, “But, I didn’t say it.  I was getting better at controlling my natural rude instincts.”  She plays a dangerous game.  Yes, she is a hunter, her employers (sane vampires) don’t know what she is and how quickly she can heal or how much damage she can both take and inflict, but she also is learning as she goes and gets by on the skin of her teeth at times.

Also, when she shapeshifts and becomes Beast, or even talks to Beast, the narrative is very basic and animalistic, which makes it easier to discern who is thinking what when there is internal dialog, but it is difficult to get used to and I was slightly annoyed with it at first.  But this becomes more streamlined as the book and story move forward until you get used to it, and quite honestly I think it is softened somewhat by Hunter as she gets into the story.

This book is pretty bloody and violent.  The rogue kills often and leaves a pretty grotesque, disgusting scene.  When Jane shifts into the beast they hunt and kill animals and the vampires drink of lot of blood.  Not for the squeamish.

No real romance to speak of, there is plenty of sparring and innuendo and blatant offers, and while Jane shows some interest, that isn’t the direction this character goes in this book at least.  Who knows, we find out she is going to stay in New Orleans for the next book in the series, perhaps she will pick someone to get a little closer to.

Even though it took me a while to get hooked on the book, it did finally catch and the end is one wild ride.  Jane is a character to watch and I think I might just pick up the next book, Blood Cross next.  3.5 stars.

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Review – Pale Demon (The Hollows #9)

Pale Demon (Book #9)
by Kim Harrison

In honor of the next book in the series, A Perfect Blood being released yesterday (yay, so excited to pick it up at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego on March 4th where I am going to get it SIGNED)…just a little reminder of how Pale Demon kicked some booty, or was that Rachel?!

Wow, Pale Demon is a non-stop thrill ride!  I had to put it down once in a while just to get my head around what is happening.  There are very few plot twists I could actually predict, which is both fun and overwhelming. Rachel, Trent, Jenks and Ivy embark on a road trip to CA, and they have to get there in two days. Rachel to hopefully get her shunning revoked and Trent, well he isn’t very forthcoming about his reasons. Unfortunately, they don’t just have to contend with boring highways, close quarters and how to make good time when they have to keep taking bathroom breaks (Jenks has a small bladder, you know). Someone is trying to kill Trent and we have many other mishaps and mysteries along the way. Read the rest of this entry

Review – The Thirteenth Pillar

The Thirteenth Pillar
By J.L. O’Faolain

After the events of “The Thirteenth Child”, Cole, our sidhe hero, Cole has his very own sithen to call home, and  he’s now a cop, a member of Section Thirteen, the unit of the NYPD that investigates the unexplainable crimes involving fae and other supernatural beings.   He is also in a new relationship with the inspector Joss Vallimun, his boss.

A child murderer is on the loose and the Section Thirteen team is tirelessly working to stop whoever is responsible.  Then, a teacher for a Staten Island private school is murdered, and Cole is summoned to the scene of the crime.  This murder leads Cole to discover that he and his fellow fae are in great danger and it all seems to be circling around the school where that teacher had worked.  When Joss is injured in the line of duty, facing down a rampaging ogre no less, Cole has to keep the investigation going until the very end.  Because Joss is out of the action Cole needs to pull in reinforcements and we get three new interesting characters to learn about, an ogre, a ballsy policeman, and a witch. 

This is a terrific, action-packed follow up to “The Thirteenth Child” which has quite a few twists, so get ready for a great ride.   There is a lot of chemistry between Cole and Joss, and their developing relationship adds a new dimension only hinted at in the first book.  Cole, though a warrior and not prone to much emotion, is quite sweet with his new lover.  Though the two are so busy, they don’t have too much down time together in this story. 

As in the previous book, the fusion of action, suspense, fantasy and romance works really well.  The mythology and backstory are filling in beautifully and O’Faolain is creating a rich tapestry to build on.  In this story, the horror of the child murders is juxtaposed against the almost ridiculous reality of who is committing the killings, along with the identity of the mastermind behind the Staten Island problems and why.  Ultimately, the larger picture storyline isn’t fully resolved, but that just means we get another book soon.  Yay! Read the rest of this entry

Review – Magic Gifts

Magic Gifts
By Ilona Andrews

So as soon as I finished my bookclub non-fiction book, I decided I was allowed the yummy treat I had been saving all month, Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews. It is a self-published novella which takes place after Magic Slays, but during the not-yet-released GunMetal Magic, Andrea’s book.

This was such a delicious story. Curran and Kate have plenty of snarky dialogue, their relationship has always been such fun to read because of it, and this book doesn’t disappoint. This novella opens with Kate and Curran going out to dinner. Because it is these two, all hell breaks loose and they end up trying to help fix the outcome of the evening the rest of the book. This brings them to deal with some Vikings (yes, Vikings with horned helmets and everything), Norse death creatures, some vampires and a lot of administrative stuff. I think Kate likes the administrative stuff the least. Kate does get a lovely entrance which I enjoyed quite a bit. She is learning to throw her weight around in new and interesting ways – so awesome.

So this novella was given away free on Ilona Andrews’ website after Christmas. What a lovely present to her fans! So, there are a few typos here and there, but nothing that ruins the story (I am just a freak who likes to spot them). The action is pretty much non-stop, it really has to be to fit it all into the shorter format because they do quite a bit to find the help they need and deal with some other fallout from Magic Slays. AND, the glimpse of Andrea is quite enticing. Because this story happens during the Andrea’s book, we get a sneak peak at what she will be dealing with and I cannot wait to read all about it! Andrea has had some tough times in the last couple of books so if you have read them, you know that she is finally facing what she needs to face, mainly her relationships with Raphael and the Pack. It is going to be so much fun!

Anyway, I loved Magic Gifts. I really enjoy this series and this is a must read for fans of Kate Daniels. The series is a must read for any UF fans.

Review – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
By Rebecca Skloot

So, I recently joined a bookclub and they are suggesting books I wouldn’t normally pick for myself, but turn out to be some amazing reads. To me, that is a lot of why I like bookclubs, the other reason is that once a month you have an excuse to eat and drink wine while talking about books. Not much is better than that! So this month they picked The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I was fortunate because I had just found it at a used bookstore and bought it for my husband to read. So I confiscated it from his TBR pile and added it to mine. This was an absolutely fascinating read. It covers so much without condemning or presenting much of an opinion by the author, instead she lets you form your own opinions.  I really appreciate this because the book could have gone off on many tangents and been quite incendiary.

The long and short of it, Henrietta Lacks went to the hospital for treatment for cervical cancer. Her doctor took a sample of the cancer and tried to get them to live in a test tube, they did, and multiplied and it became the first cell culture to live for any extended period of time in a lab. Because of this, these cells have been used to help cure many diseases, DNA mapping, cancer research etc. In fact, her cells are still going strong. But, at the time these cells were taken, there was no informed consent, human studies were not closely monitored and some truly horrible things were done in the name of science. This book covers all that as well as Henrietta Lacks’ family. The children and husband she left behind, along with their children and grandchildren who didn’t find out that Henrietta’s cells were still living until much, much later.

Wow. This book covers the history of the 1940s to present day, human drama and scientific progress all rolled into one. A couple of recommendations, don’t eat when you start this book. I made the mistake of starting it on my lunch break. The beginning is about Henrietta’s cancer, treatment and doctor visits. Blurgh. Second, if you enjoy a little science or history or just want a huge deviation from what you normally read, do pick it up. The chapters are short, and the science is fairly light. If you remember some of your high school biology you should be just fine. 

This book really made me appreciate growing up when I did instead of 30-40 years earlier. I cried a bit at the end. (I think I am just sappy, but hey, it was sad.) I give this book 4 stars.

Review – Grave Dance

Grave Dance
by Kalayna Price

I love the books about the fae, and while I didn’t expect that of this series…we are in the world of faerie an awful lot here! It is wonderful. I don’t really know what it is, maybe seeing the same type of fae depicted in such different ways by different authors. The differences are fascinating to me.

Alex Craft raises shades of the recently deceased. She is a grave witch and helps out the police in homicide investigations. The world of faerie has “come out” to mankind years before, because they needed the belief of humans to keep them from fading away. It has been one month since the last book and Alex’s life is humming along, except that she hasn’t seen Falin (her love interest from Grave Witch and the Winter Queen’s knight) in all that time. Alex is called in to assist the police. Left feet keep turning up and she is hoping to help find the rest of the bodies. It goes nuts from there. In fact, there are so many seemingly disparate elements that Alex bumbles about unsure of what leads where. It was crazy and the action heats up because EVERYONE, faery courts, family, friends, magic users etc. wants a piece of what Alex can bring. (It is a tiny bit reminiscent of some of the Cassie Palmer books action style.) Magic constructs are attacking her and anyone near her. She finds she is linked to faerie in ways she never imagined, and then becomes linked in more ways. Her body and magic are changing since the last book and she has a whole bunch of secrets from her friends and family. It was entertainingly delicious. As a side note, this is the first book that has gotten me to appreciate the not saying Thank you or Please to the fae, implying a debt. Many stories have conveyed that information, but few have illustrated it so well.

Because there is so much action which goes in different ways, it is hard to know what is going on or to keep up. The nearly has as much difficulty as Alex does. However, it effectively masks, along with a little misdirection, what is really going on so we are all surprised when the culprit is revealed. There are many new issues and loose ends that make the next book very exciting to contemplate including castles, new relatives, faery courts, the nightmare realm and her planeweaving abilities, just to name a few. I really enjoyed the first book, Grave Witch and I very much enjoyed this one. There are many elements that are similar to other series I have read, but Price does a really good job of differentiating Alex’s world. The fae creatures we get introduced to are scary, yet at the same time the reader can empathize with their desire to remain independent and free. Her characters are great and the secondary characters are being fleshed out further with each book. Alex can see through most glamour now, so we find out some interesting tidbits here and there. Plus there are a bunch of new introductions. The new characters slow the action down a little bit and we are given a lot of information, but there are some very interesting new players in this world!

I really enjoyed this book and the series in general, they are a solid addition to the urban fantasy genre. I give Grave Dance 4 stars. I am definitely going to book push these on friends and family.

Review – Divergent

Divergent
By Veronica Roth

I read about this book on goodreads.com. It was voted as the best book of 2011. I don’t know about all that, but this is one action-packed YA, dystopian future. I loved the Hunger Games trilogy so I asked for this book for Christmas. Divergent has many of the same elements but the reader has less of an understanding of a bad guy, in fact, there are a few throughout. The action is constant most of the book and is one long life or death trial for our heroine Tris. But she doesn’t understand what is really going on until very near the end, right before all hell breaks loose.

So what the heck is this perfect future mankind has created for itself? We don’t get too much world building but, after the last big war society decided to put everyone in Chicago into five factions who embody a specific virtue in order to avoid evil and war again. Every person belongs in one, and each faction is pretty fanatical about only allowing their members to elicit the supporting behavior traits of the specific virtue – honesty (no lying ever, they are loud and obnoxious), selflessness (government officials, no mirrors, bland food), peacefulness (not sure but they farm), bravery (patrol the border fences keeping something out or people in??, tattoos) and intelligence (they study all day and wear glasses to look smarter). When you turn 16 you choose your faction and don’t have anything to do with the other factions, including your family if you switch away from theirs. There is this idea that people within a faction will remain pure to that faction’s ideals and won’t have any leanings towards the virtues of the other factions. I keep thinking of Jurassic Park where the scientists think the dinosaurs can’t breed – Life finds a way. Meaning of course this perfectly controlled society will break down! I wonder if Roth is writing a mankind that has genetically changed from today to be so easily pigeon-holed or if it is a commentary on today’s society. The factions don’t get along with each other (surprise! Cliques don’t work?!) and have little trust for one another as well. Tris was raised selfless (Abnegation) but knows she has selfish tendencies and has many other traits that are not allowed within her faction, so her choice is a difficult one: to follow her own hopes and dreams and selfishly choose another faction, or stay with her family in Abnegation. She has no clue what she will choose until she makes the final decision.

Tris and the reader get quite a few hints of what is to come, but she is 16, struggling to survive and therefore not too focused about figuring out the bigger picture so it doesn’t all come together until the bitter end. In fact there are a few times where things need to be spelled out for her after she freaks out and causes problems, but then she is young and was very sheltered as they don’t believe in telling kids much in Abnegation. She does blunder about a bit and there is a surprising lack of adults throughout, so you have to ignore some stuff.

So, I whipped through this book. There are some issues, but they didn’t really ruin the excitement for me. I was big time confused at her last initiation trial, I totally thought she was giving herself away and had to put the book down an walk away. You see, Tris finds out fairly early she is “Divergent”. No one tells her what that is for quite a while, but basically she thinks differently than most everyone else. In fact, all she knows is that if anyone finds out she is divergent, she will be killed, so “be careful”. Hmmm. This is a society with crumbling roads only a few cars and little food, but they have the capability to insert some sort of serum full of transmitters into their veins to run hallucinations and simulations to help live through their fears and conquer them. A trainer can see these hallucinations on a screen, so she can give herself away by doing something “no one should be able to do.” I eventually figured out why it the trial worked, but it took me a little while to reason it out.

This series is going to be a trilogy about the breakdown of this perfect society and, my guess is, end with the phoenix of hope that rises from its ashes. The story is non-stop but truly gets going near the very end of the book. People die, more choices are made, questions are answered and some big things go down. The end is a pause in the action and we are left with a gaping hole of unknown ahead, so I am excited for when I can get my hands on the next book, Insurgent. These types of books are fun and make you think. I like this particular world Roth created because the society, while horribly flawed, was not intended as a punishment for previous deeds, there is no tyrant in power and all of the current problems are from the issues with the flawed society and the manipulations by a select few. It makes one reflect and question our current society and government as well as our minds, would I be divergent or one of the easily controlled?! A fun read, though because of the thin world building and plot holes I give it 3 stars. We will see where Roth takes us next.

Review – Abercrombie Zombie

Abercrombie Zombie
By K.Z. Snow

I must admit that I picked up this book fully expecting to make fun of it. The title totally threw me for a loop as I was expecting some model loopy-loo with a craving for brains or something equally as goofy. I don’t know. But, the malicious smile I had plastered to my face as I started reading the first few lines got wiped off pretty darn quickly as I got fully sucked into this book. I really enjoyed it. It was a sweet story about two men, Quinn and Hunter, who are colleagues. Quinn and Hunter are psychics with complementary abilities in sensing ghosts and traumatic events and consult with the police as well as do “those types” of tv shows. Quinn is gay and Hunter is not, except for one incident early on in their professional relationship when they weren’t so professional. Quinn harbors feelings for Hunter, unrequited love really, and is having a hard time just being friends and colleagues. If something doesn’t change, he is worried they will have to split up.

Enter Dustin deWind, a man who can see and talk to ghosts, and offers to help Quinn and Hunter in exchange for a favor. He also walks kinda funny, his skin doesn’t fit too well and the color is off, though he is dressed quite well. Hmmm. He doesn’t eat brains though, so that is good. Working with Dustin brings the guys closer together, so they can actually communicate with each other instead of the ghosts they normally hunt. It is sweet, it is sexy and it just shows how people who seem close can be so far away from the truth. It explores communication, or the lack of communication and how it can destroy as well as create, most specifically the thin line between love and hate.

There isn’t anything hard-hitting or controversial or much to discuss except that it was enjoyable and well written. The supernatural, ghost hunter aspect is acceptable as the way things are and really plays the secondary role to the developing relationship between our lead characters. The story itself seems like a novella spin-off from another world Snow has been writing in and I am interested in reading some of her other books. I would give this book 4 stars overall only because it didn’t break any new ground, but I would give it 5 stars for writing style and enjoyment.

Review – Bad to the Bone

Review: Bad to the Bone

By Jeri Smith-Ready

So I was recently wandering around our local Borders, everything is pretty picked over by now, but I found this little beauty. It looked interesting, so I picked it up. I needed a book because I didn’t have one with me at the time, plenty at home, but none with me. Anyway, what a satisfying novel! I just finished it and had a really good time reading this book. I didn’t read the first one, and while I do want to know the backstory to how the characters got to where they are in Bad to the Bone, it wasn’t necessary. But I am planning on picking up Wicked Game as soon as I can. In this storybook world, vampires get “stuck” in the decade they are changed, as in they never move beyond that time period. Ciara helps run a radio station with vampire DJs who each specialize in their own decade. The older they get, the more OCD and confused vampires can be and they have a harder time understanding and processing new technology or even new songs. The vampire DJs are part of the marketing for the station, they are the “lifeblood of rock and roll” nudge nudge wink wink. Ciara is the PR person for the station, she is dating one of the DJs and she is trying to learn to have a normal, trusting relationship. Her parents were religious charlatans who taught her to grift and to never trust anything or anyone, so this is new and somewhat difficult for her.

So besides all that, the radio station is being targeted by a religious group who interrupts their broadcasts with religious rhetoric. It gets more involved, fire-bombing and kidnapping and then more dangerous from there.

This book sucked me in pretty quickly, no pun intended. Ciara is funny, wry and a little wicked and since it is first person narration, she makes it enjoyable to be in her head. She and Shane have a sweet relationship, he is from the 90s and they are working to get his mind into the next decade. They got together in the first book and are exploring and figuring out their relationship in this one. There is a little bit of relationship angst, but not too much. She does some worrying but doesn’t linger, so you don’t feel bogged down. Ciara’s relationships with her new friends, co-workers and her mother and father take a little while to grasp, since I didn’t have the background from book 1, but I caught on pretty quickly. In fact, her relationships really progress in this book. Because she doesn’t trust easily, it is interesting to see who she allows close to her and why.  The vamps are quirky, though they aren’t all “nice”, and even the ones that are, have issues. The dog is great, he added much enjoyment to the story.  The mystery of who is targeting the station and why, is well done. The action culminates and the game gets trickier and much more dangerous. Ciara puts herself on the front line and gets her war wounds. She loses some things and gains others and learns a lot more about herself in the process. I will look for the next book, after I finish Wicked Game of course. Four stars.

Review – The Thirteenth Child

The Thirteenth Child
By J.L. O’Faolain

What a roller coaster ride!  This story is about a banished sidhe, Cole, making his living off of helping his fellow fae in New York City.  The story opens with a fight scene and the pace just picks up from there.  Cole is pulled into an investigation by his old detective friend, their relationship had ended but there is still enough sizzle and unfinished business to make them both uncomfortable when they are reunited to work this case.  Someone is killing people in extraordinary ways and leaving no evidence behind.  The Detective, James knows just enough magic to summon Cole, literally straight out of the shower, to get his help and magical expertise to find the maniac who can burn a person’s lungs while still in their body.  Some powerful dark magic is at play and time is running out.

I really enjoyed this book.  It is an urban fantasy with some sex.  Do not go into it expecting the typical romance stuff.  This is urban fantasy all the way and the lead character is sidhe, who is not human and doesn’t necessarily behave like one.  He is happy finding love and loving where he finds it.  I don’t think sidhe struggle with the ideas of gay or straight, they just find pleasure and love where it falls.  The romantic interest is there, but don’t expect a cute, sweet resolution, there is backstory and actually a dash of real life issues in this fantasy that might disappoint you.  Just go with the flow and see where it takes you.  It reminds me a little bit of the LKH’s Meredith Gentry series.  Hers have a bit more sex and frolicking, but just as much violence, magic and craziness.  Also the fae and sidhe characters and some of their magics are very similar.  These fae live in the city, go to school, basically fitting in among humans and our society as best they can, even though they live under a bridge or in a drainage pipe.  I enjoy that type of backdrop because it sets the story in our world, making faery and everything that goes along with it possible, we just don’t know about it.  I like that idea, though it is a little scary when you meet some of the characters in this story.

Regardless, O’Faolain has created a set of characters and circumstances that look to be the beginning of an exciting new series.  The intrigues of the sidhe, along with or because of their longevity and different sets of laws, morals and power struggles are fascinating and O’Faolain works them well.  While the fae work on fitting in to escape human attention, you never forget they are otherworldly and different.  Even Cole, our hero, though plagued with more human emotion than most since he has been earthbound so long, is never is allowed to be seen as too human for too long.  It seems just enough to make him feel comfortable to us very human readers as the hero, instead of completely alien.

There were a few little things that threw me about the book, some word choices here and there and some of the character introductions seemed more for another book than this one but otherwise this book was solid.  I really loved the side character Robyn, she rocked, was crazy and out of left field for a while, but I hope we get to that demented “little girl” again. 

So if you like urban fantasy, the sidhe and the fae, a little sex, violence and craziness you will really enjoy this novel.  I do, as urban fantasy has been my genre of choice these days, so I give it 3.5/4 stars.

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