Tag Archives: fairy

Review: Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse series novel #11), by Charlaine Harris

TLDR recap:

Sookie’s fairy kin are secretive and devious.  Sookie’s vampire friends are secretive and edgy.  Sookie’s old enemies are secretly still gunning for her.  Sookie’s family secrets finally see the light of day.  Secrets, secrets, everywhere, in Dead Reckoning, the 11th offering in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Chronicles.

    • Title: Dead Reckoning
    • Series: The Southern Vampire Chronicles (Sookie Stackhouse) series – book #11
    • Author: Charlaine Harris
    • Prominent Characters: Sookie, Eric, Pam, & co.
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: Fairly light

I am going to try very hard to keep spoilers out of this review!  I know not everyone reads at the speed of light and I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t finished it, so if you read on, expect to see hints of the overall tone of the story but no real specifics (other than a few unrevealing quotes). 

Thoughts:

This is going to be a very difficult review to write and it’s tempting to just put it off for another time, but the truth is I’ll probably only read this book again once, maybe twice ever, so I should get my thoughts written down while they’re still fresh.  Did I like the book?  Yeah, it was ok.  Did I enjoy the story?  I enjoyed the last half of the story, until the (yet again) unresolved ending.  Did I get the usual feeling of fulfillment and completion upon finishing it?  Ugh, no.  I really wanted to love this one; I wanted Charlaine to hit it out of the park!  The last Sookie Stackhouse novel left me feeling similarly disjointed and unsatisfied and I’d hoped it was just a case of middle-movie syndrome (you know, the important 2nd movie in a trilogy that has the meat of the story but doesn’t pack the cinematic punch and resolution of the beginning and end).  I’m going to try to do this without spoilers, so I’ll break it down by character…

Sookie: Nothing really new here, same old Sook (although a little less “christian”, by her own definition, and a little more ruthless).  Our Sookie is learning to survive in a world where she is perpetually fragile and she’s not too sure she’s happy with the “new” her.  She does, of course, have no objections to still being alive.  *wink*  And you know it wouldn’t be a Sookie Stackhouse novel if people (plural) weren’t trying to kill her pretty much constantly…

Eric: Also more of the same: secretive, domineering, oddly charming at times (“my lover” /swoon), and utterly ruthless and centered.  It’s becoming more apparent that Eric actually does love Sookie for more than just her value as a political tool, but does he love her enough to endanger his own precarious position?  More on this later…

Pam: Pam is her usual visciously effective self, with a dash of vulnerability that we haven’t seen in her to date.  This was a nice change!  It’s also nice to see Sookie actually thinking of Pam as a “good friend” rather than a vampire who’s just impartial about her and helps her out when it suits the situation.

Bill: Another reviewer made a pretty witty statement about Bill’s role in this novel (“everyone’s favourite killjoy crawls out of his sickhole”), and before reading Dead Reckoning, I agreed and thought it was fairly entertaining & appropriate.  I mean, honestly, Bill has become a bore, hasn’t he?  After finishing the novel, however, I felt that Bill’s presence lent some of the only straightforward love and support that Sookie received throughout the entire book.  After being staunchly Team Eric since the early novels, I’m now starting to wonder why I’m still holding out…

Sam: Oh Sam, a perpetual friend art thee.  First let me say that I do NOT like Jannalyn, Sam’s newest honey, and her role in this novel doesn’t win her as many brownie points as it loses her, putting her slightly down in the count at the close.  She doesn’t care though – she’s a badass pack enforcer and everyone else who isn’t Alcide are just peons, right?  I’m thinking maybe Sam should rethink just what it is he’s getting out of this relationship with Ms. Testosterone.

Alcide: Ugh.  Seriously.  UGH!  I want this guy to go away.  How many more ways can he possibly abuse Sookie’s one-time friendship and trust?  Admittedly, his part in this story does lend some much-needed levity to an otherwise overly serious & sometimes slightly boring progression.  Ironically, I’d actually forgotten how much I disliked Alcide until I read his scene – Joe Manganiello sure does do a sweet, sexy portrayal of him and it’s damn hard not to like Alcide in the HBO series True Blood!  Psst Charlaine, if you’re going to put in guest appearances, toss us some Quinn next time! 

Jason:  Sookie’s annoying and self-centered brother makes only a brief appearance in this one, and he doesn’t even get a line to speak.  I guess having a fairy in residence who looks just like him is a good enough substitute, and I am most definitely NOT complaining about the lack of Jason-time!

Memorable quotes:

Oh fair tradition!

I could imagine my grandmother’s opinion about Holly’s white wedding dress, since Holly had a little boy in school – but hey, whatever made the bride happy.  White used to symbolize the virgin purity of the wearer.  Now it just meant the bride had acquired an expensive and unusable dress to hang in her closet after the big day.

Those fairies, always playing hard to get!

They didn’t really care a whole hell of a bunch about what happened to humans they didn’t know.  If they’d ever read John Donne, they would have disagreed with his idea that no man is an island.  Most humans were on one big island, to the fairies, and that island was adrift on a sea called I Totally Don’t Care.

Well, Bill certainly isn’t playing hard to get…

“I think just knocking on your door and looking lonesome would probably get me where I wanted to be, if that was my goal.  Or I could just say, ‘How ’bout it big boy?’  I don’t think I need to be naked and in danger to get you lusty.  Right?”

Buy now and get a special bonus!

Go on the Sookie Stackhouse Narrow Avoidance of Death Diet!  Run for your life, and miss meals, too!  Excercise plus starvation.

Never a dull moment at Sookie’s house…

I wondered if she’d see Bubba in the woods.  Or Bill.  Or maybe there’d be fairies.  Or some more kidnappers.  A homicidal maniac!  You never knew what you’d find in my woods.


If you like…

If you like Dead Reckoning and the Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles) series, you might enjoy the Cassandra Palmer series.  They have a surprisingly lot in common: innate psychic powers they’d rather not have, people constantly trying to kill or control them, multiple powerful men trying to maneuver them into bed, and a strong backbone and sense of right vs. wrong.  The Cassie Palmer series, by Karen Chance, is currently 4 novels long, with the 5th releasing early next month.

If you find yourself frustrated by the sometimes slow pace in the Sookie Stackhouse series and want a little more bang for your buck, check out the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward. Having recently released its 9th novel (10th, if you count the Insider’s Guide, and you totally should!), the series is packed with love, sex, violence, drama, unexpected twists, and some of the most well-written romantic entanglements I’ve ever read.  Read it for the couples or read it for the politics and action… just read it!  =)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Cat & Bones, my favorite paranormal couple from a series, in the “if you like this, then read this” list.  The Night Huntress series, by Jeaniene Frost, is still going strong after recently releasing its 6th most excellent novel (8 counting the 2 “world” spinoffs) and more is on the way later this year!

Final thoughts:

A lot goes down in this book and several long-running mysteries and plotlines are neatly tied off.  Some of the action feels almost TOO easy after the looooong draaaaawn out story arcs of perpetual assassination attempts and political intrigue.  I was definitely very happy with two particular outcomes, and I found myself laughing out loud at a few scenes that, for anyone but Sookie, shouldn’t have been amusing at all.  Long-time readers will be satisfied with some of the resolutions and spontaneous little gifts of information Ms. Harris delivers.  I’m already starting to speculate about where things will head next, but I’ll leave that for the comments below to keep from spoiling key plot points.  *wink*

My review probably comes across a little harsh for a 4+ rating.  I think the deal here is that we’ve all loved and lived Sookie’s life for years now, and waited so long in between very short-feeling installments (most of these books take place within a week of time or less!), that we’re impatient for big happenings.  Sookie’s love life has been tumultuous from the start, and I keep thinking “ok, it’s got to settle down some time!” but Ms. Harris obviously has other plans.  Personally, I read these novels partially for the Sookie/Eric developments and it feels like each new novel just delays their progression by filling the space with yet more political angst, assassination attempts, and battles.

So, bottom line, if you’re a long-time reader who doesn’t mind the incremental progress and can focus on the bigger picture of the series as a whole, you’re probably going to really enjoy this book!  If you, like me, need a little more romantic closure and less what-chores-Sookie-is-doing-today, you might leave this one feeling a little frustrated and wrung out.

Rating:
4.25 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.charlaineharris.com/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://jeanienefrost.com/

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

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Review: Dead Witch Walking (Rachel Morgan/The Hollows series novel #1), by Kim Harrison

TLDR recap:

Rachel Morgan is a dead witch walking, seeing as how her old boss has put a price on her head to cover the losses he took when she ended her contract early.  Witches, warlocks, fairies, and demons all make a go at her as she tries to prove the guilt of Councilman Trent Kalamack, a well-respected businessman and suspected drug lord.  Luckily for Rachel, she has a few faithful sidekicks- a “living” vampire, a spirited pixy, and a nebulously artless human- to keep her out of trouble.

  • Title: Dead Witch Walking
  • Series: Rachel Morgan – book #1
  • Author: Kim Harrison
  • Prominent Characters: Rachel, Ivy, Jenks, Nick
  • Recommended reader age: 14+
  • Sexual content level: Virtually none to very low

Premise:

After half the world’s human population is killed by an accidental rogue bio-virus, magic users (called Inderlanders) make their secret existence known to human society and jump in to fill the void.  Speeding ahead 50 years, with human vs. Inderlander segregation still prevalent, we meet our plucky heroine and her pixy and vampire sidekicks.  Rachel has a price on her head and spends most of her time avoiding assassination attempts while trying to gather enough evidence on a suspected black-market drug lord to buy off her contract.

Thoughts:

This book had the unfortunate disadvantage of having to follow Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood book #8) in my reading list, which is only the second novel to date that I have given a full 5-Fang rating to.  Needless to say it was a hell of a book and a very hard act to follow, so even though I tried to remain unbiased, there’s a possibility this book got the same treatment as Nancy Kerrigan when Oksana Baiul skated a near perfect and crowd-pleasing routine before the U. S. Skater’s set in the ’94 Olympics.  For those of you who just went “huh?!” and scratched your head, basically it’s really hard to follow a gold-medal performance… or book… and be judged impartially.

That said, this book did start out strong, and I had visions of a new potential Cat & Bones (Night Huntress series) to obsess myself with.  The first chapter immediately immerses the reader in The Hollows, the magical (primarily non-human) side of the tracks, and Rachel shows she has a campy sense of humor.  However, the initial momentum didn’t last through even the first chapter, when the story starts to become bogged down in a few too many unfamiliar terms and references.  Now normally, I’d say that practice (of tossing the reader in head-first and using references and implications to describe the story’s culture) is an effective and enjoyable tool for an author to use, but in this book it just fell flat and left me somewhat confused (and with a meandering attention span).  It does get a little better, but not fast enough for me to really latch on to either the characters or the “universe”.

The “universe” concept for this book/series is an interesting (and fairly original) concept.  Something like half of the world’s human population was wiped out nearly overnight by a mutated bio-virus that managed to hide itself inside a bio-engineered tomato.  This leads to some of the more campy humor of the book, with humans (including Nick) having a serious aversion to tomatoes and using tomato-inspired references as swear words.

The characters:

The Vampire: Ivy is a “living vamp”, who can walk in daylight and choose not to consume human blood, while still retaining some of the speed and strength of the soulless “dead vamps” who must consume human blood to continue existing.  Ivy is a frustrating quandary.  I think the author’s intent was to make her mysterious and brooding with implied secrets about her abilities.  To me, however, she just comes across as moody and annoying.

The Human: Nick is a seemingly harmless human with a murky background, lax morals, a sweet disposition, and no as-yet-known special abilities.  He has an uncanny knack for making things happen and finding solutions quickly and efficiently, and it seems as though he is being set up as Rachel’s love interest, although nothing really seems to come of that.  While it is somewhat alluring to be teased with hints about Nick’s potential for some kind of hidden power, there is just not enough substance to him to make me care what happens next.  His chemistry with Rachel is hazy at best, making it difficult to root for them as a couple.

The Pixy:  Jenks is a witty, fierce, clever, & efficient little winged warrior, who doubles as Rachel’s spy and bodyguard.  This little fireball of a pixy is by far my favorite character in the book, which is a little disturbing considering he’s not the main character and the story is not told in his voice.  The book isn’t called “Dead Pixy Flitting”, although that might have actually been a more amusing story to tell.  His humor, competence, situational awareness, fighting prowess, and larger-than-Tink personality really make him shine.  Without Jenks, I probably wouldn’t have rated this book as high as I did (which isn’t saying much).

The Witch: Rachel Morgan is the main character and narrator for the story.  She’s a witch, but she almost exclusively uses charms to cast her magic, which seems a pretty cumbersome way of going about things since they have to be pre-enchanted then carried around and physically activated with a time delay.  While I think Rachel has some potential to grow into a strong and likable heroine, in this book she tends to hover somewhere between being a careless liability and a spunky rogue with a one-track brain.

Memorable quotes:

About Inderlanders & the Hollows…

The Hollows have become a bastion of Inderland life, comfortable and casual on the surface, with its potential problems carefully hidden.  Most humans are surprised at how normal the Hollows appear, which, when you stop to think about it, makes sense.  Our history is that of humanity’s.  We didn’t just drop out of the sky in ’66; we emigrated in through Ellis Island.  We fought in the Civil War, World War One, and World War Two – some of us in all three.  We suffered in the Depression, and we waited like everyone else to find out who shot JR.

On pint-sized sidekicks…

I’d found Jenks to be a pretentious snot with a bad attitude and a temper to match.  But he knew what side of the garden his nectar came from.  And apparently pixies were the best they’d let me take out since the frog incident.  I would have sworn fairies were too big to fit into a frog’s mouth.

See, chocolate IS medicinal!

It was nerves that made me stop at the sweet shop.  Everyone knows chocolate soothes the jitters; I think they did a study on it.  And for five glorious minutes, Jenks stopped talking while he ate the caramel I bought him.

If you like…

If you like Dead Witch Walking and other books in the Rachel Morgan series, you may like the Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance.  It has a similar competent-yet-disaster-prone female lead and is told from the same first-person viewpoint.  They also both feature vampires, wizards, fairies, demons, and humans.  In my opinion, the Cassie Palmer series has more momentum & wit, and a clever, more complex plot.  I also enjoy the interactions between the main and secondary characters much more, and the pace of the story is much, much faster.   You may also like the Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series by Jeaniene Frost, which is told with the same first-person-spunky-heroine style, but focuses almost exclusively on vampires and ghouls.

Final thoughts:

I really wanted to like this book a lot.  I need a new series to keep me occupied between the Night Huntress, Black Dagger Brotherhood, Anita Blake/Meredeth Gentry, Cassie Palmer, Guild Hunter, and Sookie Stackhouse novel releases.  That might sound like a lot of series to keep track of, but when they average 1-2 book releases a year per series (some even less) and I read 1-2 books a week, that leaves me with a lot of free reading time and there’s only so many times I can re-read these series before I have them committed to memory!  *grin*

I was hoping Dead Witch Walking would draw me in enough to want to read the second one, but I just wasn’t invested enough in it at the end of the story.  The ending sequence of events is so predictable it’s almost depressing to read it play out when you know what’s coming.  I know a lot of people like this series and this book.  Maybe it gets better as it goes along.  Maybe I’ll come back to it later.  Obviously everyone has different tastes, so if you disagree with many of my review ratings, then you will probably enjoy this book!

Rating:
3.75 fangs: BITE IT, but beware splinters…

Related links:

http://www.kimharrison.net/

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

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

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Review: Divine Misdemeanors (Meredith Gentry series novel #8) by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

The princess is back to her L.A. private eye roots in this 8th installment in the Meredith Gentry series.  Less faerie politics and more detective horror mystery is what you’ll find in Divine Misdemeanors.  Merry has finally settled down in L.A. (sort of) with her 6 baby daddies… and assorted other guards and entourage… to await the birth of their twins and to take a few detective consults on the side.  The band is back together and the inter-personal drama is as rich as the crime mystery.  This is a great read and a good return to the Merry Gentry detective series after its recent departure into deep faerie politics and the pregnancy race.

  • Title: Divine Misdemeanors
  • Series: Meredith Gentry – book #8
  • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Recommended reader age: 18+
  • Sexual content level: Heavy
  • Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
  • Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse, Anita Blake

Premise:

Meredith Gentry, recently crowned queen of the slaugh and of the Unseelie Court by faerie itself, has sacrificed her crown to bring back her lost love Frost and to settle down in Los Angeles with her men to await the birth of their twins.  With 6 fathers for the 2 babies, the inter-personal drama is lively and definitely has potential for exciting future scuffles, while Merry’s entourage continues to grow (even her list of lovers, if you can believe it!) to over 100 fey living with her in exile!  No, they aren’t ALL lovers (although it is easy to lose count at times) and luckily LKH does not try to juggle all 100+ of these personalities in the story, but we do get to see some past characters brought more into the spotlight and we get some updates on some of our old friends.

A nasty string of fey murders is the central plotline for this book, while some personal drama and some political maneuvering are starting to brew in the background.  It’s back to her horror & detective roots for Laurell K. Hamilton with this one, with less emphasis on sex and more (respective to the past 3 novels in this series) on solving the crimes.

Thoughts:

You might be thinking… ‘Hey, you missed some books!’.  I skipped reviewing books 5-7 in this series because they all felt like one massive story split into 3 covers.  I don’t want to give away too much of the story in these reviews, so it was safer to just skip them.  They’re good, so if you were debating on finishing the series and you’ve made it happily through book 4, the next 3 are a quick & fun read.

This book, #8, reminds me a lot of the early Anita Blake novels.  Actually, the first half reminds me of those and the second half reminds me of the later Anita Blake novels.  It’s all crime-solving, crime-solving, crime-solving, then sex, sex, sex, then the book wraps up neatly (and predictably).  Considering the extremely heavy sexual content of the past several novels in this series, this one is a breath of fresh air and a fun read all around.  I would not recommend reading this unless you’ve read the rest of the series though… way too much history and too many characters to keep you confused!

You might also like…

If you’ve read the rest of the books in the Meredith Gentry series and liked them, you should check out the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  The Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance is similar in adventure style (and by the fact that someone is ALWAYS trying to kill the main character!), but the charged sexual atmosphere now resembles Anita Blake more than Cassie Palmer.

Memorable quotes:

The first crime scene…

The spicy smell of Eucalyptus could almost hide the scent of blood.  If it had been this many adult human-sized bodies the Eucalyptus wouldn’t have had a chance, but they weren’t adult-sized.  They were tiny by human standards, so tiny, the size of dolls; none of the corpses were even a foot tall, and some were less than five inches.  They lay on the ground with their bright butterfly wings frozen as if in mid-movement.  Their dead hands were wrapped around wilted flowers like a cheerful game gone horribly wrong.  They looked like so many broken Barbie dolls, except Barbie dolls never lay so lifelike, or so perfectly poised.  No matter how hard I’d tried as a little girl, their limbs remained stiff and unyielding.  The bodies on the ground were stiff with rigor mortis, but they’d been laid out carefully, so they had stiffened in strangely graceful, almost dancing poses.

Final thoughts:

LKH has stated that the crime scenes she writes about are all based on true crime.  That made it tough for me to read some of the early Anita Blake novels, due not just to the level of violence and gore, but to the mental knowlege that somewhere these terrible things (or something similar to them) actually happened to someone.  There are scenes in this book that are serial killer spooky, but luckily the gore is toned WAY down.  Maybe I’m desensitized from the ABVH books, but these scenes really didn’t bother me much at all.

Rating:
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


Review: A Stroke of Midnight (Meredith Gentry series novel #4) by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

A double homicide that exposes the human police to the new-and-improved Unseelie sithen, assassination attemps galore, even more guards for Merry, and an increasingly unstable Queen are the ingredients for a fun and frantic race through Ms. Hamilton’s world.  Great read!

  • Title: A Stroke of Midnight
  • Series: Meredith Gentry – book #4
  • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Recommended reader age: 18+
  • Sexual content level: Heavy
  • Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
  • Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse, Anita Blake

Premise:

Being in prison isn’t stopping Prince Cel from trying to assasinate his cousin, Princess Meredith Gentry, and it doesn’t seem to be deterring anyone else either.  Assasination attempts on Merry, her guard, and the Queen abound in this fourth offering of the Meredith Gentry series.  With this novel, LKH turns up the heat on Merry and her band of guards.  Doyle and Frost are still her favorite honeys, but Galen gets some attention here too, and she brings a slew of new guards to the group.  We also get a healthy helping of Rhys, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.

Time runs a little strangely in this novel, so what passes in mere minutes just outside the doors of faerie, takes hours to unfold inside.  The result being a jam-packed adventure with sexual encounters imbedded in just about every possible situation.  Faerie itself is becoming more friendly with Meredith, and gifting her with all sorts of new abilities… if only the residents of faerie were so friendly!

Thoughts:

This book and the next in the series (Mistral’s Kiss) are almost one story split into two novels.  The timeline is so close that if you aren’t reading these back-to-back, you might be confused.  It also very closely relates to book 3, Seduced By Moonlight.  LKH has stated that she doesn’t like cliffhangers and she tries at the end of each novel to nicely wrap up the story.  I’m finding that with the way these novels are starting to bleed together, I can’t remember where one ended and another started.  If I weren’t reading these in such quick succession, I might feel like they really were cliffhangers.

The sex in this book (and, presumably, all the ones that will follow it) is seriously amped up from what we saw in the first few novels.  It reminds me of the break in the Anita Blake series where the novels go from adventure/horror focused with a dash of romance to sex-centric with a frame of a story to support the advancement of the overarching AB series plotline.  It’s more detailed, definitely feels more “erotica” than “romance” in nature, and the scenes occur more predictably (and often).  If you’ve read the AB series and didn’t enjoy the switch in focus, you may want to stop reading Merry Gentry about now as well.  If it follows the Anita Blake trend, the story will start to become the accent to the romantic encounters, instead of the other way around, so consider yourself duly warned (or encouraged)!  *wink*

You might also like…

If you’ve read A Stroke of Midnight and Mistral’s Kiss and liked them, you should check out the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  The Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance is similar in adventure style (and by the fact that someone is ALWAYS trying to kill the main character!), but the charged sexual atmosphere is beginning to more resemble Anita Blake than Cassie Palmer.

Memorable quotes:

On political interactions…

I put the phone back in the cradle.  Too nice to be true.  My father had taught me to be nice first, because you can always be mean later, but once you’ve been mean to someone, they won’t believe the nice anymore.  So be nice, be nice, until it’s time to stop being nice, then destroy them.

Final thoughts:

When I first started reading LKH, the bad grammar made me a little crazy.  I guess somewhere on my path through 19 Anita Blake books, it either grew on me or I became desensitized to it, because when I started reading the Merry Gentry series, I thought to myself “hey, that grammar thing must have just been a literary vehicle for Anita Blake’s character!”.  Only now, 5 books in, do I realize it’s been there along and I’m just reading through it instead of around it.  Oh well, so much for my dreams of becoming a print editor!  =P

Rating:
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


Review: Seduced by Moonlight (Meredith Gentry series novel #3) by Laurell K. Hamilton

  • Title: Seduced by Moonlight
  • Series: Meredith Gentry – book #3
  • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Recommended reader age: 18+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate
  • Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
  • Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse, Anita Blake

Premise:

Princess Meredith is set to inherit the throne of the Unseelie (dark fae) court… all she has to do is conceive a child with one of her fae guards, the Queen’s Ravens.  Even though she’s decended from 5 different fertility gods, this is a lot harder than it sounds.  Harder, but not a hardship.  *wink*  Merry’s little band (*ahem* harem) of 5 guards is quickly becoming less of a band and more of a company.  She’s due to appear in three fae courts soon- the Seelie, Unseelie, and Goblin- and keeping her alive through all that may be challenging, since her cousin Prince Cel’s supporters still want to see him on the throne instead of Merry.  As she starts her tour of the courts, long-lost fae powers begin returning to her warriors (and herself), and the action heats up!

Thoughts:

I really liked this one.  The first two were great reads – easy to get through and really grabbed my attention- but this one was hard to put down.  What power would she manifest next?  What new ability would one of her guards accidentally develop?  Who would she get to try her new Hand of Blood power on?

One of the things I really like about LKH is that she develops characters “for the long haul”, meaning she gives them depth and purpose but she doesn’t shove it all in your face the first time you meet them.  The introduction of the nuances of their personality and character (and abilities!) are woven into the storylines and are integral to the personal feel of the novels.  Her characters stick around (unless they die, and even then you may see them again) and you never know what she’s going to do with them.

I also love the dynamic between LKH’s strong female leads and her supporting male characters (and the females too, although there aren’t as many of those).  She’s put Merry (and Anita Blake, in her other series) in a situation where she must spend large amounts of time with a crowd of men.  That sets the scene for some great romantic encounters and for some stellar tension and drama.  Goodbye boring bodice rippers, hello magical 2, 3, & 4-way encounters!  And by magical, I mean actual magic…

In many respects, the Merry Gentry series is similar to the Anita Blake series – it has a strong central female character, who is a detective and is always in mortal danger, surrounded by a literal harem of men, and develops unique and impressive abilities as the series goes on.  However, Merry’s series is much more magically bent than Anita’s. Anita lives in a world of violence, where guns and swords and fangs are the biggest threats, with a side of magic here and there.  Merry’s whole life is based on magic.  She is so sensitive to it that she has to keep up a permanent shield to the latent magic that surrounds all fae and the environment of the fairy locales.  I’m a fan of fantasy as much as science fiction, and while I don’t care for straight up violence and gore (a few of the AB books gave me a rough time!), I actually enjoy it sometimes when it’s mixed with magic or high fantasy.  Maybe because it’s less real… I dunno, but I don’t question it!  😉

You might also like…

If you’ve read Seduced by Moonlight and liked it, you might check out the Cassandra Palmer series from Karen Chance and the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Merry’s adventure-style story and overall personality are closer to Cassie Palmer than to Anita Blake (especially with the magical elements), but the detective work relationships with all the men resembles Anita Blake as well.  This series (so far) also reminds me of Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles by Charlaine Harris) in the earlier novels, before the politics started taking over the plotlines, albeit with a more cosmopolitan attitude about sex.

Memorable quotes:

On being famous…

I caught a glimpse of the gun wrapped in (Doyle’s) towel.  The helicopter circling overhead never knew that any of us was armed.  They also couldn’t see Frost standing just inside the sliding glass doors, hidden by a spill of drapes.  He was fully dressed, and very fully armed.  I think the reason I didn’t mind the media games so much was that if no one tried to kill me, it was a good day.  When that’s your criterion for a good day, what’s a few helicopters and some racy photos?  Not much.

Final thoughts:

Hmmm I think I put all my “final thoughts” into my “thoughts” section!  Not much more to say about this one because I’m too eager to finish this so I can move on to the next!!  Loved it!  If you’re on the fence about reading Laurell K. Hamilton because of what you’ve heard about the Anita Blake series, give Merry Gentry a try.  It’s less violent (well, less gory), more romantically focused yet with a good mystery plot.  The sexual encounters (so far at least – in these first three books) are less detailed than the later Anita Blake books, but not boring in any respect, so if the voyeuristic nature of Anita’s lifestyle bothers you, you may feel more comfortable with Merry.  =)

Rating:
 

 
 
5 fangs: BITE IT!

 

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


Review: A Caress of Twilight (Meredith Gentry series novel #2) by Laurell K. Hamilton

  • Title: A Caress of Twilight
  • Series: Meredith Gentry – book #2
  • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Recommended reader age: 16+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate
  • Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
  • Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse, Anita Blake

Premise:

Meredith Gentry is the heir to the Unseelie Court (dark fae) throne… if she can conceive a child before her co-heir, Prince Cel.  Luckily for Merry, Prince Cel is currently in the middle of a 6 month punishment.  Unluckily for her, once he gets out, he’s probably going to be insane and she’ll be at the top of his list o’ people to see, people to kill.  The Queen, who set up this little death match, has sportingly allowed Merry her own “court” (read: harem) of men to help her secure the throne (read: become pregnant).  So the princess and her merry band of men all live together in a a 1-room apartment in L.A., working as private detectives (and sometimes bodyguards to the rich and famous).

Thoughts:

This story is adventure-style, so of course it has a Big Bad as well as a few not-to-be-trusted royals.  The Big Bad seems almost secondary though, as Merry’s interaction with her men and her private detective work (much like the mid-series Anita Blake books) take center stage.  Surprisingly, this novel is not all that graphic sexually.  For LKH, it’s quite well behaved!

I enjoyed the novel and read it fairly quickly (which you can tell if you look at the time between this post and the first Meredith Gentry book review I did).  I’ve given myself an ultimatum: slow down with the reading, or speed along but write reviews at the end of each novel before going on to the next one.  I have to write this review now so I can read #3 later tonight!! =D

You might also like…

If you’ve read A Caress of Twilight and liked it, you might check out the Cassandra Palmer series from Karen Chance and the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Merry’s adventure-style story and overall personality are closer to Cassie Palmer than to Anita Blake, but the detective work relationships with all the men resembles Anita Blake as well.  This series (so far) also reminds me of Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles by Charlaine Harris) in the earlier novels, before the politics started taking over the plotlines, albeit with a more cosmopolitan attitude about sex.

Memorable quotes:

Even magic can bleed…

The air became blood, and it was like trying to breathe underwater.  For a second I thought I would drown, then I was choking in air and trying to spit out blood at the same time.

Whew, talk about imagery!  If blood and gore aren’t your thing, you may want to avoid some of LKH’s novels.  The first half of the Anita Blake series, for example.  Having read through those books, this one is almost tame by comparison.  There’s really only one instance of that level of violence, and it’s not so bad.  I did want to give this warning though, because had I known what I was getting into with some of the AB books, I’d probably have passed.  I’m glad I didn’t (because I truly love the over-arching storyline), but I definitely would have skimmed a lot more often.  *wink*

Final thoughts:

The I’m-not-going-to-be-a-cliff-hanger story wrap-up at the end of the book is almost as tantalizing as a real cliff hanger ending!  Reading about what new abilities the characters have gained (because that’s pretty standard for LKH’s characters- they are constantly evolving) just makes me want to dive into the next book.  Laurell K. Hamilton gets a lot of criticism for the erotica she includes in some (ok, most) of her novels.  I applaud her for being willing to write what SHE wants and not caving to all the negativity.  Her scenes are honest and vibrant, and that’s not something you see in a lot of today’s romance.  So, bravo Ms. Hamilton!

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


Review: A Kiss of Shadows (Meredith Gentry series novel #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Title: A Kiss of Shadows

Series: Meredith Gentry series – book #1
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Recommended reader age: 18+
Sexual content level: On the heavy side of moderate
Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse

Premise:

Meredith Gentry is dark fae, ah, gentry… but she doesn’t want to be. Ok, she *wants* to be, but she doesn’t want to deal with the daily assassination attempts at the Unseelie Court. In hiding for 3 years, Merry has been working as a detective and avoiding being recognized as the world-famous “Princess Meredith” until a case gets personal and she’s finally exposed. Suddenly in a race for her life, the adventure begins. True to form, author Laurell K. Hamilton (LKH) gives us lots of men and danger with a sprinkling of humor.

Thoughts:

LKH makes memorable characters. The leads are strong, both in body and spirit, but they’re also flawed. I like that. When a story is written in first person, like all LKH books are, I need to be able to identify with the narrator, and Merry Gentry is enjoyable to read. She’s not as kick-ass as Anita Blake, but she’s also not as pious as Anita is in her earlier novels. Merry is quick-witted, temperate, determined, and able to defend herself without coming across as a female Rambo like Anita Blake (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I ❤ how Anita comes in guns blazing!). Add in a little magic, court intrigue, and the beginnings of a harem of baby daddies (yes, literally a harem), and this book sets the tone for a fun series to follow. I’m not as hooked as I have been on the more recent Anita Blake books or Jeaniene Frost’s Cat & Bones novels, but the Meredith Gentry series is definitely worth continuing.

Ok it’s Laurell K Hamilton, so I have to talk about the sex. There’s actually not as much of it as I expected, after speeding through all 19 Anita Blake books, and it’s not as explicit or continental. There are two-ish actual sex scenes, but the entire book is sprinkled with flirting and foreplay (some of it pretty damn close to counting as a scene). I LOVE how she puts all her male characters in crazy outfits and then makes them uncomfortable in them! I mean, if I had my guy wear leather and chains (which would take a lot of convincing on my part) and he was blasé about it, something would really be off about that. LKH seems to approach sex from a more realistic standpoint… well, as realistic as this type of novel gets anyway. She allows the characters fairly free reign of emotion, real emotions of vulnerability, shame, and even lack of confidence, and it makes the stories more personal and likeable even when things are happening that aren’t pleasant.

Another thing I like about the fairy setting of this book is that the main male characters don’t “die” at dawn. I really like Jean-Claude and Asher and the other vamps in the Blake series, but having them forced out of the stories at dawn drives me nuts sometimes! Here here to fairy stamina!  *wink*

You might also like…

If you’ve read A Kiss of Shadows and liked it, you might check out the Cassandra Palmer series from Karen Chance. To me, Merry’s adventure-style story and overall personality are closer to Cassie Palmer than to Anita Blake. This story also reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles by Charlaine Harris) in the earlier novels, before the politics started taking over the plotlines, albeit with a more cosmopolitan attitude about sex.

Memorable quotes:

On tea parties and levitating tea cups…

The china saucer touched my hand, and I carefully uncurled my fingers and took it out of the air. It would have been easier to put my entire hand under the saucer to cradle it, but that was not ladylike. I’d learned to drink tea to rules of etiquette that were a hundred years or more out of date. The next dangerous point with a hot beverage being levitated is that when the person takes the levitation away, the cup gets heavier. Almost everyone sloshes a little tea over the side the first few times. No shame in it. I didn’t slosh any tea. Gran and I had our first tea party when I was five.

I love the little things like this that LKH adds to her stories. They give them credibility and make them feel more personal and real. Instead of trying to force the readers to superficially accept some stated law of her universe, she doles it out in little snippets of memory or matter-of-fact statements that are in context (to help you understand) but have no dedicated explanation.

Final thoughts:

LKH does not do cliff hangers, even as part of a longer series. Yay for an author that actually finishes a story while still allowing you to enjoy it in series! This is the first author I’ve read, aside from the most recent Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse novel, that does that, and I LOVE it!! ❤

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT!


Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


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