Monthly Archives: February 2011

Review: This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress series #5) by Jeaniene Frost

TLDR recap:

Jeaniene Frost’s latest offering in the Night Huntress paranormal romance series (more affectionately known as Cat & Bones) gets the whole gang back together as they try to defuse some very nasty political violence & insidious rumormongoring, and prevent an all-out  vamps vs. ghouls undead civil war.  This novel has everything fans of the Night Huntress world have come to love and expect from the series: quick wit, explosive action, a spunky kick-ass heroine (Cat), a strong sexy & deadly leading man (Bones), and Ms. Frost’s trademark unique & inventive passionate Cat & Bones moments.

  • Title: This Side of the Grave
  • Series: The Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series – book #5 (Night Huntress World-inclusive book #7)
  • Author: Jeaniene Frost
  • Prominent Characters: Cat, Bones, Vlad, Mencheres, Fabian
  • Recommended reader age: 17+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

Even though Cat has been a full vampire for a few months now, Apollyon is still trying to use her as a figurehead to start a bloody war between the vampire and ghoul nations.  Cat, Bones, & crew have to find a way to take out Apollyon without inciting the very war they’re trying to prevent.  Cat also has to deal with her Uncle’s devastating terminal illness and her mother’s newfound aspirations, in addition to leaning to use and perfect some very advanced new powers she’s recently acquired.  With threats coming from all sides, and the passion between Cat & Bones as combustible as ever, our favorite paranormal couple is in for a wild ride.

Thoughts:

One of the things I like most about Cat, aside from being a strong, kick-ass chic with fangs, is that after 5 books (7 if you count the NHWorld books) and 8 years of battles, political standoffs, and hanging around some of the oldest, most powerful creatures on earth, she’s still a little socially awkward.  Her irreverent modern slang dialogue and off-the-cuff reactions make for some unforgettably fun scenes!  I mean, honestly, who can identify with a gal who’s got an unlimited lifespan, a battle-honed figure, frequently gains ridiculously awesome new powers, AND has a gorgeous, talented lover?  She’s got to have something to make her a little more human… ok, maybe not “human” so much as vulnerable… and Ms. Frost has done an excellent job keepin’ it real.  =)

Mencheres, however, isn’t really real… if you know what I mean.  😉  Aside from possessing enough power to support a small nation and having one of the most stoic countenances of any of the NH crew, he’s a freaking ex-Egyptian pharoah!  Cat has been uncomfortable around Mencheres since she first met him, and I have to agree that he’s a little creepy sometimes… in a lovable kind of way, of course.  *wink*  It was really nice to see Mencheres acting a little more loose and normal, and there are a couple of delightful scenes between him and Kira.

Something that did annoy me a little with this book was the frequent repetition of past story details.  Now granted, most readers probably aren’t as intent on story details or focused on (read: obsessed with) re-reading a series before the newest book is released as I am, but still I didn’t feel that the dialogue put in to catch up new readers was really believable from a conversational viewpoint.  If you’ve been through so much with someone over such a long period of time, you generally don’t need to tell each other how you met or how this event or that went down.   It just felt awkward to me.  Instead of having this as dialogue between the characters, I’d have preferred it to be explained as a narration in Cat’s first-person sections.

That said, pretty much everything else about this book was AWESOME!  And Chapter 21… OOOOOOOH MMMMYYYYYYY!!  I’d heard about Chapter 21 before I read this book, so I was expecting it to be memorable (and boy, is it!).  It’s been compared to Chapter 32 of One Foot In the Grave (NH #2), which I’m not going to spoil for those of you who haven’t read it yet, and I have to say that it’s definitely in the same category of did-they-really-just-do-that.  I still think Ch. 32 of OFitG was more fleshed out (no pun intended =D) and extensive, but I really enjoyed Ch. 21 of this one as well.   Ms. Frost has a real talent for writing gripping, passionate love scenes for all sorts of encounters- from the standard steamy stuff, venturing into a little BDSM.

OH!  Did anyone else catch the little by-play with Ian and Veritas?!  I suspect a new Night Huntress World pairing in the making… *grin*  Still no new mentions of Timothy or Cain though.  Oh Jeaniene, you are such a TEASE!

You might also like…

If you like Cat & Bones (Night Huntress series), you might also like the Cassandra Palmer Pythia series by Karen Chance or the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward.  The Southern Vampire (Sookie Stackhouse) series by Charlaine Harris is also somewhat similar in its early books, but becomes too politically mired in the later ones to keep up the fast pace that the Night Huntress series is known for.  The Cassie Palmer books are a crazy-fun trip through chaos, danger, time-travel, & vamp/mage politics, with a little romance on the side.  If Cat & Bones are your favorite couple, you’ll probably also like Cassie/Mircea/Pritkin (yeah I know that sounds weird- read it and you’ll see what I mean!) and several of the Black Dagger Brotherhood pairings.

Memorable quotes:

Note: I didn’t put ALL of the fun one-liners in here.  I wanted you guys to have a few things to discover on your own.  Twilight fans, be on the lookout for an easter egg that is NOT mentioned below (although other reviewers have spoiled the goods already, so don’t go reading reviews if you don’t want to know what it is)…

A day in the life of a half-breed vampire dictator…

“But if Apollyon is behind these attacks, we need a way to get to him without looking like we’re being mindlessly antagonistic.  Otherwise…”

Bones didn’t have to finish the sentence.  Otherwise, Apollyon will have more fuel for the rumors that I’m seeking to be some sort of vampiric Stalin, I mentally finished.  Right, because that’s what I put on my To Do list every morning.  Brush teeth.  Wash hair.  Rule undead world with an iron fist.

How not to party-crash a graveyard…

Most people didn’t visit cemetaries for cheery reasons, so it wasn’t a place where striking up impromptu conversations was the norm.  Not to mention it would take a really ballsy person to go up to a group gathered around a gravesite with the opening line of “So what are we talking about, anyway?”

Vlad, on learning new skills…

“Less bitching… more learning,” Vlad grated.  Then he closed his eyes as if dismissing me.  “I know, I’m delicious.  Nummy… nummy,” he muttered to the remnants feasting on him.

Bones, on the Cat’s reunion with a former ghostly acquaintance <altered to avoid spoilers>…

“This is the sod?” Bones started down the porch stairs even as <the ghost> began to edge away.  “Come back here, you scurvy little-”

“Bones, don’t!” I interrupted, not wanting him to start using slurs that might offend the other living-impaireds gathered here.

He stopped, giving a last glare to <the ghost> while mouthing, You. Me. Exorcist, before returning to my side.

Explaining modern weaponry to a 19th century ghost…

“Machine guns?” I asked, miming holding one and making a series of rapid staccato noises.

Bones’s mouth twitched, but he dipped his head so I wouldn’t see his clear amusement over my “GI Jane does Pictionary” imitation.

Final thoughts:

Cat has finally come to terms with who and what she is, and has publicly accepted it.  She’s come full circle from the girl we first met in Halfway to the Grave… from hating & killing vampires, to eating them and marrying one.  This time around it’s her turn to listen to her friends and family spout the same excuses and “human” rhetoric that she used to shove at Bones.  She’s finally starting to understand the frustration she’s put him through and the deep well of patience and faith in her that he’s always had.  I do love a heroine who can be sensitive and vulnerable while still kicking ass and taking names!

With the threat of Apollyon gone, having been the looming Big Bad for the last few books, it will be interesting to see what Ms. Frost throws at our favorite paranormal couple next.  I hope she takes the track of “new and different” as opposed to “bigger and badder”… the former will keep the series fresh and fun while the latter would, I fear, hasten it to an early grave.

Cat & Bones are a powerhouse… as a couple, as a fighting team, and as leaders of their extensive undead “family” line.  Oh, and don’t miss the preview excerpt from the next Cat & Bones book (One Grave at a Time) at the end of this one.  “Fall 2011” is a long time to wait for the next installment, and I can’t wait!

Rating:
4.25 fangs: BITE IT!

This novel was almost all I wanted it to be, and that’s some pretty high expectations to live up to!  The action is a little slow in parts, but still enjoyable.  If you haven’t read the first 4 (plus 2 World books, Spade and Mencheres), I’d recommend reading them first, as there’s a ton of history and a fairly large cast of characters brought in at the climax of this story.  Even without reading the other novels, though, this will still be a good read, and you’ll get to see what all the “Cat & Bones” fuss is about.  =)

Related links:

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.html

http://www.karenchance.com/books.html

http://www.charlaineharris.com/bibliography/bibliog-sookie.html


SyFy’s Being Human is a supernatural hit!

SyFy’s new supernatural hit series Being Human is a tale of love lost and lives changed forever, as a trio of unlikely roommates tries to conquer their troublesome natures and just learn how to be human.

Aidan, the vampire, is a 200+ year old immortal who has parted with his maker and coven and is trying to stay on the straight-and-narrow and keep from “feeding live”. (If this series had come out last year, Aidan would have been on my Top 10 Sexiest Vamps & Weres of 2010!  Shame.)

Josh, the werewolf, has run away from everything he knew and is trying to reconcile his new situation with the happy life he left behind, complete with a loving family and fiancée.

Sally, the ghost, has been trapped for the last 6 months in the lonely apartment she died in and just wants her fiancé to know she still exists.  

Being Human is a darker, slightly more edgy mashup of Angel & Twilight, without the love triangles or a new cheesy Big Bad every week.  It’s sophisticated and mellow, with good acting, relatable storylines, striking cinematography, & progressively appropriate music.  Aidan, played by Sam Witwer, is the most compelling character for me.  Granted, I do have a thing for vampires, but this dude can smolder and brood with the best of ’em, and yes I am definitely thinking of our favorite vampire-with-a-soul played by David Boreanaz!  Josh, played by Sam Huntington, initially just appears cute and clueless, but has a knack for making the audience feel awkward and uncomfortable, and still manages to project humor and a deep-seated personal struggle.  Sally, played by Meaghan Rath, is quirky and likeable and does a great job at making you feel thankful for the relationships you have.

This series is better than I expected.  This is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy blog and I’m posting about a tv show that has no foreseeable romance, especially not as its premise, so it’s definitely struck a chord!  I’m not sure why I thought it would have less oomph, considering this is the same channel that hosted the mega-successful, hard-hitting Battlestar Galactica (which I LOVED), but I hope Being Human sticks around for another season.  The series is currently only 4 episodes in, so it’s not too late to get caught up if you haven’t seen it yet.  You can watch full episodes on SyFy’s Being Human website.   Check it out!


This Side of the Grave (Cat & Bones #5) book trailer released!

Jeaniene Frost, author of the wildly popular (and ridiculously awesome!) Night Huntress paranormal romance series (also known as “Cat & Bones”), released the trailer for her newest book, “This Side of the Grave”, today. Holy O+ Batman, could I have possibly convoluted that sentence more?!  (Probably. HAH!)

I know I know, hold your horses ladies.  I’m embedding the trailer below so we can all watch it together!  Sheesh.  However, for anyone who has not seen a “book trailer” before and is confused about how this works (there’s no video, right?), it’s basically just a collection of images, text, and music all animated together.  They aren’t as BAM! or POW! as say a Harry Potter movie trailer or *swoon* the preview for the first half of Breaking Dawn, but they are a fun way to see a summary of  the book’s back cover.  Without further ado, here’s the trailer for the much anticipated Cat & Bones #5…


Woah, what’s this about Cat going “deeper into the grave”?  Are we talking human/vampire/ghoul hybrid?!  Damn it, now I want to read it even more than I did before (and that was already A LOT)!  Oh the agonizing wait until February 22….

Pssst! You can click the banner at the top of this post for a link to Ms. Frost’s trailer announcement on her website. =)


Review: Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood series novel #2) by J. R. Ward

TLDR recap:

Rhage, the Black Dagger Brother who is known across the species for his many and frequent female conquests, is in a bind.  He’s found “the one”, but she’s a mortal and she’s terminally ill.  She also knows far too much about his species and he’s been ordered by Wrath, the king, to either wipe her memories or kill her.  If that weren’t enough trouble, Rhage possesses a literal beast within him that forces him to change shapes when he becomes angry or stressed, and that beast will kill anything and everything around it… even his fellow brothers and, he fears, Mary.  Will Rhage and Mary be able to make their strange relationship work, or will the Black Dagger Brotherhood lose yet another warrior?  An excellent book – put this on your “must read” list!

  • Title: Lover Eternal
  • Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood – book #2
  • Author: J. R. Ward
  • Prominent Characters: Rhage & Mary
  • Recommended reader age: 16+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

Rhage is the Brotherhood’s strongest fighter, a drop-dead-gorgeous playboy knockout with a short fuse who has earns his reputation (both for fighting and with the ladies) nightly.  Don’t be deceived by appearances – he hates having to be with so many females like that and he’d stop if he could, but it’s the only thing (other than fighting) that keeps his beast in check (and you REALLY won’t like him when he’s angry!).  Mary Luce is a cancer survivor who thinks she may be sick again.  She knows this is it – if her tests come back positive, she probably won’t make it through the treatments a second time.  Rhage bonds with her but she can’t accept that someone as perfect as he is could ever want to be with someone as plain and damaged as she is.  Rhage has to choose whether to go against Wrath, and by extension the Brotherhood itself – the only friends he’s really ever known, or let go the only woman who has ever made him feel.

Thoughts:

One of the things that really stood out for me with this book was the prominence of Mary’s cancer;  it’s a defining theme throughout the story.  Where most writers, of this genre at least, stay away from hard-hitting issues like this (especially concerning their central characters), Ms. Robb uses it to give us a glimpse into the life and struggle of someone not only afflicted by cancer, but dealing with it for a second time.

Something else I really like about Ms. Robb is that she doesn’t telegraph what’s coming next in these stories.   Of course some of it is predictable – that’s just the nature of this type of novel – but some of it is the opposite of what you think the scene is setting up for.  The emotion and suspense will build up and up until you’re sure something terrible is about to happen, then BAM! normalcy… things ending up just as they should, instead of some new catastrophe plaguing the characters.  Then other times, things will be moving along happily, the story unfolding as it should and POW! something life-(and story-)changing happens.  It really keeps you on your toes as a reader and it helps you enjoy even the “down” time between large action or romance sequences.  Using this technique, Ms. Robb is able to bring emotion to scenes that would normally be filler fluff, and that is very refreshing.

You might also like…

There are not really any other series LIKE this one, but when I read it and feel a connection to the characters, I’m reminded of how I feel when I read Jeaniene Frost’s Cat & Bones or Karen Chance’s Cassie & crew or Nalini Singh’s Archangel/Guild Hunter cast.  The characters become part of your “family”, and the plots are earthy and hard-hitting… no partnership is spared sudden and unexpected (and sometimes brutal) hardships!  This series has the potential to make you laugh, cry, and swear, and I loved every minute of it!

Memorable quotes:

First impressions…

He wanted to give her another word to say, something like luscious or whisper or strawberry.  Hell,antidisestablishmentarianism would do it.

The effect she had on him was druglike, a tantalizing combination of sexual need and profound ease.  Like he was having an orgasm and falling asleep at the same time.  It was like nothing he’d ever felt before.

After watching Rhage order 4 entrees and 4 sides at dinner, just for himself…

The waitress looked a little awkward.  “Is all that for both you and your sister?”  As if family obligation was the only reason a man like him would be out with a woman like her.  Oh, man…

“No, that’s for me.  And she’s my date, not my sister.  Mary?”

“I… ah, I’ll just have a Caesar salad, whenever his” – feeding trough?- “dinner comes.”

Rhage on “manipulation”…

She smiled a little.  “You’re a manipulator.”

“I like to think of myself more as an outcome engineer.”

Final thoughts:

All of the Brothers are physically flawed (and sometimes emotionally as well) in some way.  I really like this – it makes them more real and believable (aside from the whole I’m-a-vampire thing) and easier to connect with.  They are all attractive, but in different ways, and not all of them are drop-dead gorgeous like Rhage is.  I also really like that.  A collection of super-sexy-ridiculously-beautiful warrior-type men is just not believable or relate-able.  These guys are physically attractive in individual ways, and their personalities are all unique and commanding.

In each book, there are characters other than the primary couple that get a decent amount of face time.  Ms. Robb is very skilled at giving these other characters depth and developing their characters without fixating on them or taking away from the title characters.  The result is that, since she is building her character backgrounds and multiple story lines through out each successive novel, when the characters finally have their own book, they’ve already got a good base and she can start right in on the relationships and book-specific plot lines.  It’s chaotic and crazy and I love it!  This way, I get MANY characters to fall in love with, and I get to see them more often!

BDB books are definitely emotionally charged!  I think it’s a sign of a good author if, as a reader, you really *feel* something even when you know it’s coming.

As a final thought, if you’re just starting this series, READ THE GLOSSARY BEFORE YOU START!! Ms. Ward uses an entire new vocabulary of terms in the vampire language, and if you don’t at least look at them first, you might find yourself a little confused. =)  Even if this is your second BDB novel, look over it again.  There are a few new words (like wahlker) in this one.

Rating:
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

READ READ READ this novel!  If you didn’t read Dark Lover first, you’ll probably be ok starting with this one, but you’ll spoil a few of the plot points for DL… and you’ll be confused about the strange new vampire vocabulary!  Still, I think Rhage’s story is even more powerful than Wrath’s, and he got a “must read!” recommedation from me too.  *grin*

Related links:

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.html

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

http://www.karenchance.com/books.html

http://www.nalinisingh.com/books.html#guild


Top 10 Sexiest Vamps & Weres of 2010

I know people normally do this at the end of the year, but *I* say it’s never too late to have a “sexiest” list!  Here are my top picks, in no particular order…

 

Alexander Skarsgård as Erik Northman & Stephen Moyer as Bill ComptonTrueBlood

 

Joe Manganiello as Alcide HerveauxTrueBlood

 

Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore & Paul Wesley as Stephan SalvatoreThe Vampire Diaries

 

Taylor Lautner as Jacob BlackEclipse

 

Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, Eclipse

 

Ryan Robbins as Henry FossSanctuary

 

Sam Trammell as Sam Merlotte, TrueBlood

 

Jonathon Young as Nikola Tesla, Sanctuary

 

 

So apparently I have a thing for the TrueBlood crew.  HBO really knows how to cast ’em, eh?  *wink*  Isn’t that Rolling Stones cover TO DIE FOR?!!  <Yep, that pun was totally intended!> Seriously, it’s perfect for TrueBlood: sexy, bloody, & no-holds-barred (uh, literally)… love it!

To stay off the beaten path, I tried to steer from shirtless muscle shots in favor of professional-yet-smoldering headshots, but that Alcide one was just begging to be posted.  Muscles like that should not be hidden beneath a garment (unless it’s a tight t-shirt, then it’s ok *grin*).  Jacob Black, on the other hand, spends so much time with his shirt off in the movies that I thought I’d switch it up a bit and make him stay decent for once.  Not that we don’t all love the view…

And yes yes, I realize Nikola isn’t a vampire any longer.  This really makes me sad!  He’ll always be a vampire to me, even if he had to settle for the magnetic thing in 2010.

Yeah I know there aren’t any ladies on the list.  I tried to find at least one, but alas, the men were all just more appealing this year.  But hey, it’s *my* list!  Feel free to make your own list and comment it here!  *grin*  Enjoy the eye candy!

❤ DVK


True Blood’s Lafayette recognized by Rolling Stone!

Our favorite Short-Order Cook/drug-dealer Lafayette (played by Nelsan Ellis) has been recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 15 Most Groundbreaking Gay Roles on Television.  ***WARNING: Book 2 spoiler in the text below!***

Here’s what RS had to say about him…

Thanks to creator Alan Ball’s brilliant thinking, Bon Temps’ most flashy short-order cook/V dealer is alive and well instead of dead in the back of Andy Bellefleur’s car (his character’s fate in Book Two of the Sookie Stackhouse novels). Although Lafayette embodies certain gay stereotypes (eyeliner, lipstick, jewelry, he prefers the ladies’ room – “I is gorgeous”), he is easily one of the most trustworthy characters in a world filled with devious vampires, werewolves, maenads, shape-shifters and, most recently, a witch – the latter of whom just happens to be Lafayette’s new boyfriend. Hookah, please!

Usually I’m not a happy camper when a tv series alters the flow of a novel series with major character or plot changes, but in the case of True Blood (based on the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Chronicles by Charlaine Harris) I couldn’t be happier about the Lafayette extended-storylines.  He’s one of the few characters I actually like better in the tv series than in the books!  Way to go Nelsan!  Keep up the awesome.  *grin*

PS:  Kurt & Blaine from Glee were also recognized!  LOVE Glee!!!

❤ DVK



Preview of Cat & Bones #5, This Side of the Grave

I know, I JUST posted about Cat & Bones!  Ms. Frost knows how to captivate an audience, and I had to share this tidbit I just found in my reader…

If you want to read the first 20% of the new Cat & Bones book, This Side of the Grave, click here! Apparently this had previously been posted but with a spoiler to later events in the book and Ms. Frost has corrected the error.

If you want to hear Ms. Frost talk about Cat & Bones and the new book, go here and listen to the “Frostcast”!

Ok, I promise to try to behave and talk about something else… * mischievous grin*  I will be doing some Cat & Bones reviews before the release of This Side of the Grave, so if you haven’t read the books and want to know what all the fuss is about, stay tuned!  =)

 

❤ DVK


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