Saturday, December 31, 2011

Random shit: A year of snark


Sorry, I have to bow to peer pressure and do an end-of-the-year recap like everyone else. And yes, if everyone else jumped off of a cliff I would too because I would be so lonely without you all. So, it's been a good year of snarky reviews. No apologies-- that's how I roll.  The snark has stood me in good stead because my readership on this blog has increased from zero to some! I'm grateful for each and every one that has visited Bitch Factor 10 this year. And, I hope you'll come back and see me in 2012! I will be starting a new feature in January-- Question or Two with ____________ where I will throw a few goofy questions out to some authors and we'll see what they have to say.

To hold you over until the New Year I am highlighting some of my favorite BF10 reviews, blog posts, goofy quotes and  best books/series read in 2011. I think I had the most fun writing The Synecdoche of The Penis-- after all, how often do you get to write a piece with over a dozen "penises" in it? The link to that one is the at the very end of the post. Here's the rest:

My Picks for Favorite Books Read in 2011

  • The Tourist by Clare London
  • Bleeder by LK Rigel
  • Counterpunch by Aleksandr Voinov
  • Devil's Garden by Jane Kindred
  •  Grown Men by Damon Suede
  • Out of Time by Monique Martin
  • Scorpion by Aleksandr Voinov
  • Break and Enter by Rachel Haimowitz and Aleksandr Voinov
  • Hot Head by Damon Suede
  • The Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred
  • Truth in the Dark by Amy Lane

Favorite Series Read in 2011

  • Deviations -- Chris Owen and Jodi Payne
  • Bareback-- Chris Owen
  • Dark Soul (Vol 1-3)-- Aleksandr Voinov
  • Sophie Green Mysteries-- Kate Johnson
  • Belonging--Rachel Haimowitz
  • With or Without -- J.L. Langley
  • Demonica-- Larissa Ione
  • Special Forces -- Alesandr Voinov and Marquesate

Favorite Quotes from Bitch Factor 10, 2011 reviews

Tell Me More by Janet Mullany

Reviewed 6/14/11: http://bitchfactor10.blogspot.com/2011/06/book-review-tell-me-more-by-janet.html

 "I can forgive Jo for "doing the nasty" with her hunky Irish tenant (man, I love a hot Irishman!), but there's quite a parade of "cads" getting an all-access tour of Jo's vagina, and that's just unseemly behavior for a supposed smart woman."

"This ain't rocket science, but it certainly can help you get your rocks off!"


The Perfect Union (Perfect Love) by Trina Lane

Reviewed 8/25/11: http://bitchfactor10.blogspot.com/2011/08/book-review-perfect-union-perfect-love.html

 

"The guys in this one aren't hot-- they seem like cardboard cut-outs. And I couldn't help but laugh when they almost "cross swords" hehehe. Their near-homophobia just grates. This story would definitely have been improved by the guys getting it on. Then something interesting would have happened!"

 

Victorious Star by Morgan Hawke

Reviewed: 7/15/11: http://bitchfactor10.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-victorious-star-by-morgan.html

 

"I'm at a loss for words. Oh, maybe it's that I'm having trouble talking around my ball gag. Oops, did I say that out loud? This one combined two of my favorites-- erotica and scifi. What's not to love? Well, if the whole BDSM scene isn't to your taste, then this one isn't for you. Scat got your tongue? This one isn't for you. Menage a twat isn't your thing? Move along, there's nothing to see here."

 

Without Reservations by J.L. Langley

Reviewed 7/7/11: http://bitchfactor10.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-without-reservations-by-jl.html

 

"If one is a bit uncertain about how to conduct some steamy Man-on-Man action, one would only have to have this book on hand, because Without Reservations read like a Kama Sutra of man-love, giving us plenty of pretty imaginative detail and nifty things to consider."

 

Rough, Raw and Ready by Lorelai James

Reviewed 11/17/11: http://bitchfactor10.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-review-rough-raw-and-ready-by.html

 

"This was the first time I've read a "straight-for-you" story. I kinda have a problem with gay characters being written as if they are one fuck away from being straight."

 

Texan Undercover by Anne Marie Novark

Reviewed  8/31/11: http://bitchfactor10.blogspot.com/2011/08/book-review-texan-undercover-by-anne.html

 

"I encountered more suspense finding the marshmallows in a box of Lucky Charms!"

 

"And oh boy, when those two finally get together, Claire orgasms in zero time flat-- I guess it had been a long, long time for her. But really, Dillon doesn't have to work very hard for that, or even his own orgasm. That the two of them would think to themselves that their first lovemaking together was the very best they'd both had EVER had is hilarious-- the description was sooo boring. I have had more orgasmic thrills going out to get the garbage bill out of the mailbox, hehehe"

 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book review: Lone Star by Josh Lanyon

Lone StarLone Star by Josh Lanyon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I hate Christmas, as I established on my blog-- http://bitchfactor10.blogspot.com/2011/1... But even though I hate Christmas, I did enjoy this story. It is the only Christmas story I'm reading this holiday season. It may be the only Christmas story I will ever read-- unless someone pays me (I accept PayPal).

This story might have gotten more stars from me except for a few issues: I live in the Texas Hill Country and a few of the geographic details seemed off and this story was typical of the long-lost-childhood-love variety and didn't bring anything new.

I wish I could rant about the characterizations of some of the Texans in this story-- but there's some truth to the way Lanyon has written them. I'd like to state for the record that there are plenty of male ballet dancers in Texas (which is not to suggest that the gay ones don't get their asses threatened on a regular basis-- not unique to Texas, I imagine), and lots of Texans enjoy ballet-- we're not from some other planet, ya know? Whole Nother Country, maybe. Why we Texans can be quite cultured-- 'Cue, Tabacky and Goat-ropin', aside. Hey, I'm allowed to revel in the stereotypes because I actually picked up and moved here.

Anyhoo...I didn't tell you a damned thing else about the story, but this "review" is already as long as the story is, so go read the blurb if you want to know more.



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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Book review: Break and Enter by Rachel Haimowitz and Aleksandr Voinov

Break and EnterBreak and Enter by Rachel Haimowitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Break and Enter by  Rachel Haimowitz and Aleksandr Voinov is a geeky girl's wet dream. Ok, not every geeky girl is into M/M romance-- but I don't know, this story has all the right elements to turn one around (not that it takes much prompting for some of us). Cyke's habit of breaking and entering into the Sentinel Tech's physical and virtual premises brings him in contact with high-tech security goons, under-the-influence/possibly in-the-pocket cops, and a kind, considerate and hot EMT named Bear. There's mutual attraction between Cyke and Bear from the git-go, but I'm not sure beyond that why these two work together. Nor do I really care. Bear thinks like me-- Cyke is perfect boyfriend material because he's tenacious, dangerous and comes with built-in cutlery. *swoon*



Break and Enter moves along so swiftly that it only lasts about as long as a real B&E. We are only treated to snippets of what's really going on in the Red Cell universe, but we know it'll be an amazing ride. I hope we learn more about Cyke's history and what SenTech is up to in future additions-- and Bear needs a bit more  characterization than being a medi-geek (Bionic Man trumps Medi-Geek, right? Though, having a guy who could swap out your hard drives is oh, so appealing. Uh oh, call the nanos in for cleanup because I think I just sprung a leak!).



So, wrapping it up-- Break and Enter is fast-paced, thrilling and sexy. Technophiles will likely geek-out (in a good way), but technophobes will be able to keep up and follow along-- freaking Luddites, hrmph! Four stars-- not nearly enough...definitely needs about .7 more. Gee, thinking in fractional amounts, that's pretty nerdy.



Rachel and Aleks-- do whatever you have to to schedules, Muses and each other, but gives us the sequel soon, 'k?





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Friday, December 23, 2011

Book review: When the Walls Fell by Monique Martin

When the Walls FellWhen the Walls Fell by Monique Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I was really looking forward to this sequel to Out of Time. OoT was one of my favorite reads this year. I was quite taken with Elizabeth and Simon and their time-traveling adventures in the first book. I liked that OoT had a paranormal (albeit a little silly)twist to the romance and adventure, and I expected the same in When the Walls Fell.



WtWF is romantic-- but I felt that romance didn't really progress from the first book. The declaration of love was in Out; in When... we have an abundance of loving reaffirmations, but that's about it-- oh, and a couple of fights between Simon and Elizabeth. It looks like theirs is going to be one of those long drawn-out affairs.



I loved the 1906 pre-San Francisco earthquake setting of this book. Martin does an excellent job of transporting the reader to the past, and I learned things about historic San Francisco that I had never picked up in 25+ years of living in the SF Bay Area.



We are treated to a lot of new characters in When...and these were delightful additions to the series-- I just hope we will see more of Teddy, Lillian and Gerald, especially since they are in on time traveling secret.



I felt there were a few things missing from When..., though. There's a hint of the paranormal, but not enough for me! The paranormal element in the first book lifted it from the usual romance book.  Other than the time travel, which is the backbone of the story, there isn't as much paranormality in When....



More glaringly, what was missing was proofreading! There were so many errors that it was quite distracting, and since the errors became more numerous about halfway through the book, I was wondering if there had been a midway rush to finish and publish. I probably would have rated When the Walls Fell much higher than 3 stars had more attention been paid to editing.



In spite of my disappointment with When the Walls Fell (ugh, yeah, that title doesn't do much for me, either), I do think Monique Martin is a gifted wordsmith. I am committed to finishing out the series, but I do hope the next novel has a bit more going for it-- more action, more background on the physics behind the time-traveling, more followup on some of the past characters and at least an engagement between Simon and Elizabeth! Effective proofreading would be icing on that sequel-cake.



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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mini-movie-review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy




 http://focusfeatures.com/tinker_tailor_soldier_spy


Tinker... is based on the John Le Carre's 1974 spy novel of the same name. There's a mole in the British Intelligence ranks and agent George Smiley (played by Gary Oldman) works to ferret him, and his co-conspirators, out.

This was a tautly told tale (ah, alliteration). I thought the acting was the movie's greatest strength. Wish I had looked at the scorecard (provided at this studio-sponsored screening at the Alamo Drafthouse, Austin) before the movie, though, because at times I had a little trouble keeping up with all the players. My one reservation, however, is why is this movie being made now-- many years past the Cold War? I don't see any indication that this speaks to our current relationship with Russia or any other country right now. Still, this does not detract from my enjoyment of the film-- it's just a curiosity.  Overall, Tinker... satiated the wanna-be-Cold-War-spy in me, and I recommend it if you like movies in this sub-genre.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Hate Christmas

I really, really hate Christmas. This wasn't always the case. Growing up, I was as much into sitting on Santa's lap as any other  little girl. Er, I mean, I was into celebrating Jesus' birthday as any other scarily-religious little girl. But as I got older, and the gifts I got for Christmas started to suck more and more, and I started hating Christmas. Here's some of my (faulty) reasonings:

  • December 25 is an unlikely time for Jesus' birth
  • Christmas time seems to coincide more with the Winter Solstice
  • Hello? Not everyone is Christian and celebrates Christmas!
  • Christmas season seems to start before Halloween now
  • There ought to be more giving than receiving
  • I don't really want that creepy Secret Santa gift you gave me that's two sizes too small
  • One should not spend money one doesn't have, on gifts that are probably undeserved
  • I become an even crankier old bitch whenever I hear Christmas music 
Now that Christmas is over and done, you are free to hate it too, without the guilt. If you hate Christmas, go ahead and comment. Trust me, I won't share this info with Santa so you should be good for another 11 months. Oh, and the world is ending before Christmas next year anyway, so you really don't have anything to worry about it. Er, or rather, there's no point in worrying. Weigh in on Christmas.


    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    Book review: The Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred

    The Fallen Queen (The House of Arkhangel'sk)The Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars


    I met Jane Kindred at a women's retreat for a San Francisco Bay Area org-- many moons ago. She stood out in the group because she was personable, smart as a whip and attractive. During that weekend Jane shared about some of her writings, but I was just beginning to read erotica so I wasn't familiar with any of her work. Several weeks later, Jane was in attendance at another of this organization's get-togethers-- and this time she played host. And Jane was the consummate host-- making us all comfortable, serving us yummy food and providing some entertainment. This evening, that entertainment took the form of tarot readings-- Jane pulled out a deck and offered to read each of us. I watched in fascination as Jane read each person, with nervous titters from the observers as the cards revealed various outcomes. My turn came last, as I wasn't in any hurry to see what the tarot cards would say-- I didn't really believe in that sort of thing, but was willing to go along for the hell of it.  It wasn't too long, though, before the mood seemed to change from frivolity to...I don't know what!  I was taken aback by how quiet Jane got as she dealt my cards. As a matter-of-fact, Jane's hands were shaking as she spread the tarot cards out. I honestly don't remember anything that was said during the reading that day,  but Jane's response to me has stuck in my mind all these 14+ years. It takes more than a questionable tarot reading to scare me off, so after that night I did what I could to follow Jane's writing career online (hmmm, that sounds a little stalkerish, doesn't it? It really wasn't...mostly. hehehe).



    I am glad that I kept tabs on Jane. I love her lyrical style of writing and how she takes chances with characters and subject matter. I thoroughly enjoyed her novella, The Devil's Garden, a richly woven tale of gender fluidity and love. I knew I was in for a treat when I read about her latest novel, The Fallen Queen. What's not to love about a book with angels and demons, falling dynasties, an ice queen, Russia, two male lovers and the young woman who forever changes their lives?



    If you want to read a synopsis of The Fallen Queen, you can find that here (scroll down to "Heaven can go to hell" section): http://www.janekindred.com/books/the-hou... . This review is a bit spoilery-- but it's difficult to discuss such an epic tale without bringing up some plot points.



    There are several things I absolutely love about this novel. Jane Kindred is a gifted a storyteller. What really caught my attention about The Fallen Queen was that the book is inspired by the fall of the Romanov dynasty in early 20th Century Russia. The Fallen Queen almost serves as a frame story, a shadowing of  the  execution of  the Romanov royals-- the tsar and tsarina, their four daughters and one son. Or perhaps those earth-bound events in Russia's history are framed by the coup in Heaven that takes place in the novel. In this urban fantasy, Heaven is an alternative universe with a similar set of circumstances to Tsarist Russia-- political unrest brought on by ineffective leadership, war and resentments of the working class.



    Grand Duchess Anazakia Helisonovna (the Fallen Queen of this tale) is an indulged princess, the daughter of the supernal ruler of the House of Arkhangel'sk.  The majority of the story is told through Anazakia's memoirs. Anazakia is an angel, but not exactly angelic, as she  escapes execution  because she has slipped off to find mischief at a casino, while the rest of her family meets their doom at the hands of her deranged cousin. Anazaki's story mirros the pop culture stories of Anastasia Romanov's escape from her family's execution. Anazakia unwittingly falls in with a couple of demons--   Belphago and Vasily, air and fire demons, respectively. Anazakia, as innocent and inexperienced as she is, does not completely trust these Fallen demons, but has little choice but to put her faith in them until she can figure  a way out of her situation (when her escape from execution is discovered a team of angelic enforcers is sent to retrieve her).



    I can imagine that some readers would be put off by a story filled with angels and demons, but Jane really bends the usual heaven/hell/earth motif to her will. Kindred draws on some of the names and descriptions of the angelic hosts, fallen angels or demons of the Christian mythos. There are Seraphims, Nephilims, Cherubim (there are some extra-biblical classes added for good measure) and their abodes within various dominions and principalities-- any student of the bible would have at least a passing familiarity with these terms. But, Kindred turns the KJV on its head-- this is not a simple angels-good  vs demons-bad story: the demons Vasily and Belphago are the heroes, here.



    Oh, and usually biblical accounts don't include fairies-- and as much as I usually dislike fairies (which is funny, because I love "fairy" tales), the fae in this story serve their purpose and don't overwhelm the story. I must say, that trying to keep up with all the different bands and factions of angels and demons-- and humans, once our main characters fall to the World of Man (semi-modern day Russia-- the timing isn't exactly nailed down)--is a bit daunting, but Kindred does include a hierarchy at the beginning of the book that should help readers out. I've got to say that there's enough world-building here for a rather elaborate video game.



    Speaking of the World of Man, one of my favorite parts of the book is when Anazakia finds her self in a parallel universe-palace, that mirrors the one where she has grown up, and where her loved ones were murdered. It seemed to me that this is the place in the story where Anazakia sobers up and starts to grasp how her world of privilege has passed, just as it did for Russia's royal family in 1917. This is but one instance where Anazakia must make sense of her predicament and seek a way out-- and it seems like it ultimatelys takes all of heaven and earth to restore the Fallen Queen.



    One of my favorite characters in The Fallen Queen is Aeval. I don't know how to pronounce this bitch's name, but "evil" certainly seems to fit! Aeval is the epitome of a "ice queen"-- she has very little regard for the suffering of others, is madly driven to having her way, is cold to the touch, and has a sparkly white wardrobe. Just as in Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen, we have a frosty temptress that bespells a prince, Kae, Anazakia's cousin, who has been overpowered by Aeval and tasked with carrying out her evil biddings. I really shouldn't feel sorry for Kae, because his own lust for power and position renders him susceptible to the Aeval's corruption, but he's not the first character (and certainly won't be the last)  to fall under the charms of evil woman.



    This is starting to sounds like one major run-on sentence, so I'll try to move things along. Romance! Ah, there's an abundance of romance in The Fallen Queen. To me, Anazakia is so much, in turns, a spoiled brat or an annoyingly naive angel that I found that I really didn't care if she ever found love or not. The relationship between Belphagor and Vasily, though, tugged at my heartstrings. Yeah, I'm a sucker for demon love stories, and their's is BDSM-tinged and orientation-fluid-- there were just enough angsty-goings on to keep me glued to the story. Belphagor may be the "Prince of Tricks," but his love for Vasily brings out all of the most noble in him.



    The Fallen Queen is a very complex story, and there are many more things I could discuss about it, but I'm really trying to scale back so that my reviews aren't longer than the source material.  There are so many other things in the story worth looking into-- the Romany/Gypsies and the part these humans play in knocking down Queen Aeval quest for empire. I wanted to know more about Vashti, Demetri and Nephilim politics. Just what kind of organization is  Knud really a part of? The fairies-- what's their agenda? Perhaps these and other questions will be answered in the next installment-- The Fallen Queen will be followed up with a sequel called The Midnight Court, coming in early 2012.



    The Fallen Queen fascinated me as much as its author has all these years. This novel is a fantastical blend of great storytelling, myth and legend, adventure, magic, political intrigue and a hint of  social consciousness. Tall order, sure-- but Jane Kindred more than pulls its off. I highly recommend this one.









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    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    Mini-review: Dark Soul (vol 3) by Aleksandr Voinov

    Dark Soul (Vol 3)Dark Soul by Aleksandr Voinov

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

     eta: I am giving Dark Soul (vol 3) a high-high four now, because I want to see this serial novel through to the end before I give an overall rating. The brevity of the sections we've already have been treated to don't allow for the deep development these characters, imo, demand and deserve. I don't want to seem like a detractor, especially since I know that Voinov won't disappoint me, but I feel it's still prudent to reserve my final judgement until the conclusion of Dark Soul.


    I haven't really decided when I'm going to start reviewing the Dark Soul series. My original inclination was to wait until the very end-- but I'm not sure I can sit on my thumbs that long. So, maybe it would be better to consider each volume separately and doing a final wrap-up at the conclusion of the series. For now, just a couple of thoughts I can refer to later, when I'm ready to start writing actual reviews of Dark Soul.

    I think this one was my favorite of the three volumes-- most likely because it seems to be the most revealing, this far. Vol 3 takes more time to unfurl. And in spite of its more languid pace, it does not lack action.

    The bookends make this volume for me, maybe because Dark Lady I and Dark Brother held the most surprises. I am intrigued by Franco, Silvio's brother (French Foreign Legion, eh? Where have I encountered that before? hehehe), and that interest goes way beyond the "going there" place in Dark Brother. Volume 3 is all Silvio's book, though, and I guess I wanted to learn more about Stefano-- and not necessarily through a Silvio lens.

    I can't wait until the next installment. I hope Aleksandr Voinov realizes, though, that I have a shortened life expectancy and can't go on to my sexy reward without knowing how this all ends. Actually, Dark Soul gives me yet another reason to keep holding on-- right up there with the fam, milk and Nutter Butter Creme Patties. squee!



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    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Random shit: Still a bridesmaid...

    I'll never know if this blog stood in the way of me getting a job I interviewed for last week. But analytics for my blog showed that someone from that tiny community spent an awfully long time perusing page after page of my blog. Part of me feels that I was a dummy for not blocking the pathways to finding this blog. But the bigger parts of me say, "nope, you've made a commitment to transparency and being yourself-- so *raspberry*" Yeah, that isn't the most professional response-- but it is an honest one.

    In a lot of ways, I'm kinda glad that I didn't get that job. It would have meant an hour commute, each way. It probably didn't have health benefits. I would have had to cut short my medical treatments three days a week to get to work on time. So, not getting that job was probably for the best-- for all involved.

    I am happy, though, that my contract was renewed with the robots I work for online. Yeah, I think they're really robots. They only respond by email using form letters. There wasn't an interview-- I just applied online, took a test online and ta-da, "they" hired me. Hey, I'm not complaining-- they pay me more per hour working online than I have earned per hour at any job I've had since moving to Texas. The robots renewed my contract for another six months, too. And icing? My on-call position at a library has given me more hours recently. See? Things are working out for the better.

    Oh, I'm still in the bridesmaid position...but that's ok for now. As long as I can keep Bitch Factor afloat, I'm happy.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Book review: Blood Hunt by Christopher Buecheler

    Blood Hunt (II AM Trilogy #2)Blood Hunt by Christopher Buecheler

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars


    Christopher Buecheler's The Blood That Bonds was one of the first books I downloaded on the Kindle I got for my birthday, October 2010. I was hungry for more vampire stories, after building my (mostly-defunct) career around being a "Twilight Librarian" (hey, if it got kids reading I was all for it...). Blood that Bonds had an atypical  heroine in Two Majors-- she was a heroin addict whose prostitution brings her in contact with vampire Theroen. I fell in love with the scrappy Two (though her name drove me crazy...I kept reading it and thinking, "two whats?") I didn't care so much about Theroen, but I was fascinated by the life he led with Abraham, Melissa/Missy and Tori. Blood that Bonds ended all too quickly and I was definitely wanting more.



    I immediately sought out Buecheler's website so I could see when the sequel to Blood would debut and was dismayed to find out that Buecheler was taking his sweet time with the next installment.  How dare he not hurry through his work so that I could get my fix! I went on to other vampires of various sorts, but Two was always in my back of my mind.



    So I was doing the happy dance when I found out recently that Blood that Bonds' follow up was out-- Blood Hunt. Let me tell ya-- it was worth the wait! Long-suffering Two was back, and this time we learn more about her through the vampire world-- and the friends she has tried to leave behind.



    Let me get to what I loved about Blood Hunt. I love vampire lore and I really like how Buecheler bends the rules of the typical vampire story. And let's face it-- you gotta break from the tired old vampire dogma that states that vampires can't be out in the daylight or they must kill their victims to be satiated, yada, yada, yada (Stephenie Meyer only gets a 1/4 pass, though, for coming up with that sparkly vampire shit. Ugh!) Buecheler takes us to new places with Two, who has (mostly) reverted to her formerly-human self.  Two seeks a return to the "life" by seeking out a bloodsucker that would bring her back into the vampiric fold.



    This is where my second love in this book comes in-- vampire politics. Ah, if only a vampire would run for the Republican nomination (now that we've lost both Donald Trump and Herman Cain in next year's election)! I'm convinced that Obama is a zombie-- so having a vampire enter the race would make this all the more interesting. But back to Blood Hunt. I like that we get to find out about the vampire caste system here, and Buecheler does a splendid job of establishing the various vampire worldviews. Abraham, the big baddie from BtB is ever-present in the decisions the American vampire council must grapple with, and we get to meet the movers-and-shakers-- namely, Naomi, Jakob, Malik and Stephen (who provides an outsider-insider's view). The little anarchist in me was thrilled that there were dissidents-- I was mildly sympathetic to the plight of the Burilgi, but per usual, their leader is batshit crazy (but hey, that's way of subalterns, no?).



    Ah, now we come to the characters. This is where Blood Hunt shines for me. My love of Two grew in this one, but then she does fulfill all my spunky girlcrush needs. I love that we got more of Rhes, Sarah and Molly in this one, too. I especially like how Sarah speaks her mind and how we are brought into her pain over her blindness. Sarah's contribution to the captives finding their way out of the Burilgi mess? Love that she was essential and not just a victim because of her "disability." Ah, and the proposal-- be still my little unconventional-proposal heart! If dire circumstances don't solidify your union, nothing will, and boy, do Rhes and Sarah find themselves in a case of the dires! Oh, and Molly seems to be shaping up as a mini-Two, and I hope we see more of her in the next book.



    As far as other characters are concerned-- we've seen the human-despising vampire female before, but I really admired Sasha, here, and want more of her. Stephen-- could not get enough of him (Buecheler, I know you are wrapping up this trilogy, but I need Stephen's full backstory. Pronto! Get on it!). The Ancient and near-Ancient are represented by Ashayt and Eadwyn (I adored his wackadoodle riddling). The stories of Ashayt, Eresh and the other ancients are somewhat reminiscent of the originators in Anne Rice's early Vampire Chronicles series-- but I don't mind this (what if all these vampire folklorists came together and spun one giant tale that incorporated various elements from all their tales...hmmm...).



    I should probably touch on the romances. Unrequited love figures prominently into the lives of several characters. We still feel Two's despair from losing Thereon in the first novel, and I found my self rooting for her to find new love and move along. Naomi, though? Bleh! Haven't we seen the wimpy, clingy female vampire before? I get that she, too, has suffered the loss of loved ones-- but geez, girl, it's been a few hundred years-- get over it! And ok, I'm really getting old(er), because I was kinda happy there wasn't one sex scene after another. There was just enough boot-knocking to keep me happy, and Buecheler imbues intimate moments with just the right amount of heat and emotion between the characters (I feel that a lot of male authors simply fail at this--sexist, I know...  but kudos to Buecheler!)



    Ok, let's move on to what didn't work for me. This was the perfect vampire story to me-- for the first 90% of the book. When Blood Hunt doubles back to relay the events that lead up to the rescue attempt of the captives, the tale started to loses steam. When the rescue team shows up and they each, in turn, step forward to reveal themselves, it seemed kinda corny. The ending was starting to feel a little too twisty  and drawn out (and while I'm not entirely happy with how it ended-- I can understand where Buecheler was taking the story, and that makes enough sense for concluding the trilogy). I wish I cared about Tori. I really didn't care about her in the first book, and I care even less about her in this one-- and she's essential to the plot of the last book in this series, The Children of the Sun. I am on-board until the very end of IIAM, but I wonder if Buecheler will bring something fresh to the vampire-hunter theme. I certainly hope so. Tori is (understandably) emotionally vacant (and physically, too, I might add) throughout  Blood Hunt, but I'm going to need a whole lot more from her character to hold my interest in the next book.



    As I stated in the beginning, Blood Hunt was worth the wait. Buecheler does a fine job with this sophomore effort. He does an excellent job of breathing new life into this sub-genre and Two and most of her fellow sojourners are interesting, likable characters.



    Buecheler, I'm going to be keeping an eye on you on Twitter. Don't be a-tarrying-- hurry up and finish Children of the Sun. Like Two in Blood that Bonds, I need a vampire to come along to cure my addiction, and that ain't happening anytime soon, so, yes, get on with it!





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    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    So Many Books-- so little time

    I am amazed at the backlog of reading I have to do before the new year. I think I have fallen behind because I have been lingering over my last few books a bit longer than usual. And, there are so many distractions at this time of the year, too. Oh, and can't forget NaNoWriMo (which I didn't finish-- but that's ok, because it was my first one, working on my first novel and I'm just glad I got started with the whole thing). Here's a rundown of what I'm going to be reading over the next few weeks:

    1. Works of Aphra Behn-- I haven't read the complete works, just Oroonoko
    2. How Gods Bleed by Shane Porteous. Was going to review this one for Goodreads
    3. Blood Hunt--Christopher Buecheler. First book in the II AM Trilogy was decent so I'll read this, too
    4. Immortal Rider by Larissa Ione. This one has good buzz
    5. Dark Soul (Vol 1) by Aleksandr Voinov-- want to have plenty time available to devour this
    6. Reckoning: From Unbound by Jeaninene Frost. Don't know much about this one but I like Frost
    7. Open All the Way by Sadie Smythe. I like her readings at Bed Post Confessions each month
    Then there are rereads:

    1. Burden of Blood by Wenona Hulsey-- I'm planning on interviewing Wenona in a couple of weeks and wanted to read the book again before that
    2. Making of Legend by Richard Barrs-- rereading because the author had asked a question about a comment I made in my original reviews
    3. Anything by Philip K. Dick-- because it's been awhile and he's one of favorites
    4. Special Forces by Aleksandr Voinov and Marquesate -- because I had pneumonia the first time around and this time I would like to read with the interruption of not being able to breathe.

    Well, I shall be quite busy. What are you reading this December?

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Grown Men by Damon Suede

    Grown Men (HardCell, #1)Grown Men by Damon Suede

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars


    Well, Damon Suede is now on my must-read list. Grown Men was exquisitely descriptive. I was totally drawn into the world Suede has created-- it felt both highly inventive and plausible, and that doesn't always come together in works like this. The world-building seemed effortless.



    What really got me on board, though, was the use of language. I love when authors create their own lexicon to support a work-- and you kinda need to take that liberty when you are creating alternative worlds, right? Suede has introduced some words and phrases that I will be repeating to friends and family (how annoying is that...but oh so fun).



    Actually, communication plays a big part in my enjoyment of this story. Ox, for all intents and purposes, is mute and must use other means to convey his thoughts and feelings. This is where Suede shines-- so much is shared through the senses, what we "see," the touch, the sounds. And I like that Suede doesn't give in and speed up the communication process as some authors do where suddenly everyone understands and speaks sign language, or that the impediment is suddenly (and unrealistically) remedied. In end, it is the ways in which these two people "speak" with the most intimate (and incongruous) parts of their bodies that "says" the most.



    This was not a perfect book (I had some doubts about the relationships as it progressed-- but then I always have doubts about that, don't I? Oh, and dear Goddess, the sex!??!) but it was rather entertaining and I can't wait for the series to continue. After finishing Grown Men I looped back and read Seedy Business, which I also enjoyed, for perfectly different reasons than those here.  Yeah, can't wait for the next "transmission." Good job, Mr. Suede!



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