Tag Archives: night huntress

Caught in the Smex Beam

I think it is fair to say that in PNR/UF novels, there are a few things that are expected and accepted:

  1. The hero will be gorgeous and well hung.
  2. The heroine will be attractive, smart, perhaps funny, but most of all likeable and relatable to the reader.
  3. The story will have elements that drag us in, besides the two pretty people it centers on, and transport us to another reality.
  4. The hero and heroine will be irrevocably caught in the Smex Beam.

“What exactly is a Smex Beam, Captain?” you ask.  Ha ha, fear not reader.  Your Captain is here to offer guidance and instruction.

The Smex Beam is the magic that exists the first time our fated lovers meet and never lets go.  They may be engaged in a fight to the death (perhaps with each other), they may be walking down the street contemplating quantum physics, they could even be falling out of a dressing room while trying on too tight jeans.  The point, young paduan, is that when it hits, the Smex Beam obliterates everything else.

Suddenly, there is no one else on the planet that holds any interest for our couple. No matter how much they may fight it, no matter the obstacles, which can include and are not limited to: zombies, vampires, werewolves, assorted fey creatures, car accidents, gun battles, psychic attack, old lovers, fear of commitment, fear of her mother, fear of his mother, paralysis, demons, magic spells gone wrong, angry gods/goddesses, being sucked into another dimension, differences in species, ancient prophecies…….

It. just.doesn’t. matter.  The Smex Beam conquers all.

When you are in its sights, there is no escape. Cupid wishes his arrows worked this well.   Star Trek’s tractor beam? Heh! Old news, old tech.  Captain Kirk wishes he could have had this on the Enterprise. (As if the guy wasn’t already busy enough with all those hot alien chicks.  Just sayin’.)

We readers love it. Every tension-filled scintillating moment, every hungry look and heat-filled glance at our hero’s amazing pack – ahem- pecs,  every time one or the other tries to escape its clutches, we come screaming back for more.  It helps drive the story and plot arc, keeps us turning pages at a break neck pace, reading until our eyes burn and our chin is resting on our chests.  We have to know, will they make it out together?  Will our couple realize their amazing gift of love and unending lust as bestowed by the Smex Beam?

But of course!  This is romance, silly!  The Smex Beam doesn’t make mistakes, and while occasionally we may think someone has managed to slip its sticky tentacles and go running down the side of a ravine, they are always dragged back, lamenting their own stupidity.

What, you want evidence?  Examples, you say, of these lusty lovers caught in the inescapable clutches of true love and exceedingly good sex?  No problem, here’s a little list of my favorites:

1) Edward and Bella, the Twilight Saga.   Sure, he’s a hundred something year old vampire who reads minds, eats mountain lions, and is condemned to high school hell for eternity.  She’s the clumsy, too perfect daughter of the town sheriff with blood that smells so delectable Edward can’t stop obsessing over how he’s NOT going to eat her.  He runs off to Italy to try to save her soul, she jumps off a cliff and hangs with his sworn enemies, a bunch of stinky dog smelling  shape shifters.  His skin may be freezing cold, but that doesn’t stop them from gettin’ down and dirty in the ocean off a little island named after Edward’s pseudo-mom.  With marriage comes a baby who doesn’t need a carriage but an iron crib and a newly transformed wife who won’t ever die and doesn’t need sleep.  What do they do with all that free time at night?  Hmm, let me think…..

2) Cat and Bones, the Night Huntress Series.  Cat’s an uber hot red head born to a mom convinced her half breed daughter is mostly evil.  Bones is a two hundred plus year old vamp that spent his human years earning his keep on top of, under, next to, well, just inside a bunch of aristocratic British bitches before he got shipped to a penal colony for putting his hands where they didn’t belong.  Add some silver knives, sexual tension you can’t cut with a Sawz-All, a smokin’ hot hero who is incredibly open with his feelings, a sexually repressed heroine you just love to root for, witty banter and action sequences so slick and tight your heart beats almost as hard as during the sex scenes, and it just can’t be denied that these two are definitely in the direct path of the S.B.

3) Clay and Elena, Women of the Otherworld.  Clay is the Enforcer of the North American Pack, Elena is his lady love, mate and wife.  These two had such a strange and rocky start to their story with Elena taking off and Clayton quietly stalking her from afar (the issues are heavy and myriad, both had difficult childhoods – actually that may underplay it, but you’ll have to read the books if you want to know) that the angst was almost unbearable.  Clay is no angel, and a reader can’t help but understand his lady love’s anger and bad attitude, but his single minded determination and focus are in the end some of his best qualities. Well, that and his unswerving devotion to tough as nails Elena.  Clay is so physically attractive as to be almost unbelievable, but he has eyes only for Elena, no slouch in the looks department herself.  Last I checked in with these two, they were living the PNR/UF dream with minimal death threats, a healthy pack and great sex life.

4) Mercy Thompson and Adam Hauptman, Mercy Thompson Series.  This series is more urban fantasy that paranormal romance, but I beg you to give it a look-see.  There is sex, yes, but it is not graphic and the romance is not the main arc of the plot, but it is so well written and paced that you’re rooting for these two from book one.  Mercy is a shape shifting coyote, Adam is the super powerful and incredibly sexy alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack.  These two engage is some really funny contests of wills that involve, among other things, a cat named Medea, a broken down Volkswagen Rabbit, and pancakes.  Mercy tries to consciously run from Adam while her subconscious is just pulling her in closer all the time courtesy of the Smex Beam.  She may be dodging rogue spells cast by angry Fey, trying not be a vampire snack and confused (at first) by her feelings for her first love Sam, but she is inevitably and quite happily conquered by the unstoppable force of the Beam and the drowning chocolate brown of a certain alpha werewolf’s eyes. (The bod attached to those eyes is certainly a bonus….)

5) The hellren and shellans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  A series that is running strong nine (or is it ten?) books in, a girl can’t stop rooting for these couples.  The danger, the sex, the passion of a mated male, the sex, the unswerving devotion in the face of danger, the sex, the shit kicker boots and leather, the sex……

These guys and gals overcome bodily injury and constant peril to be together.  They battle their sworn enemies the lessers, train endlessly, fight personal demons, and fight obstacles that seem insurmountable to be together.  What other explanation could there be than the Smex Beam?  Who would go through the nonsense that the universe throws at these people for nothing but a good lay?  No, there is more at work here to cause the levels of love, devotion, respect, and downright horniness these people feel for each other.

“But Captain”, you ask, “just where did the Smex Beam come from? Who, in all their infinite wisdom and intelligence invented the Smex Beam?”

That, dear reader is a topic for another post.  I will however, give you her initials.

G.O.E.


Night Huntress World: Vlad & Leila celebrate their first title!

Original image from Frostfans.com

She’s a mortal with dark powers…He’s the Prince of Night…

Jeaniene Frost, author of the popular Night Huntress & Night Huntress World series’ has released the title of her first book in the upcoming Vlad & Leila series, featuring everyone’s favorite pyrokinetic vampire and his new, apparently mortal, lady love.  Ready for this?

Once Burned

*mwuah!* Perfecto!  On the as-yet-mysterious Leila, Ms. Frost says…

Leila has some unusual abilities, too, but I can’t say more about those until I’m allowed to release the book description.

And of course, we all want to know the release date now that it’s really for real!  Sheesh…

ONCE BURNED is tentatively scheduled to release on March 29th, 2012, assuming I can finish it soon. Cross your fingers for me :) .

We definitely will.  *wink*  And you can bet on legions of Cat & Bones fans eagerly hitting bookstores on release day to devour the new Vlad novel (myself included)!  =)

Not yet a subscriber? If you liked this post and want to see more, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS feed below!  Wordpress and Email subscriptions are at the top of the sidebar.
Follow davincikittie on Twitter  Subscribe in a Reader

One Grave at a Time: newest Night Huntress book trailer and excerpts!

For Cat & Bones fans, the wait for Book 6 is nearly over.  One Grave at a Time doesn’t hit bookshelves until the end of this month (August 30th), but impatient readers can get an early glimpse of the first three chapters on Ms. Frost’s website.  To spoil or not to spoil, that is the question!  Actually, it’s more like “excellent impulse control or rabid pleasure seeker?” because anyone who’s already a fan of this series is going to have a tough time not taking a peek!  If you’re of the “give it to me now!” camp, click here to read the teaser chapters.

Whether or not you choose to indulge in the chapter previews, you can safely check out the book trailer sans spoilers!  (Psst – click Play below!) 

Not yet a subscriber? If you liked this post and want to see more, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS feed below!  Wordpress and Email subscriptions are at the top of the sidebar.
Follow davincikittie on Twitter  Subscribe in a Reader

Night Huntress World novella Happily Never After now available as an e-book

Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress World novella Happily Never After, featuring Isabella and Chance (a friend of everyone’s favorite ex-gigolo vampire Bones), is now available in e-book form for your instant gratification!  Previously released in May of 2008 as part of the anthology Weddings From Hell, now fans of the Night Huntress universe can download this little gem all on its own for $1.99.

Click here to download from Amazon and get your gratuitous Cat & Bones fix now.

Luckily, we won’t have to wait too long for our next helping of Night Huntress.  Another NHW novella, Devil To Pay, will be available for download starting August 23rd.  Devil to Pay originally appeared in the Four Dukes and a Devil anthology, released in June of 2009.  Then, finally, the wait for One Grave At A Time is finally over on August 30th of this year!

More info on the upcoming releases as they approach.  Until then, indulge a little in the Night Huntress world with this fun short.  =)


Bones vs Kate Daniels smacktalk & a Jeaniene Frost ARC charity auction

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks (and hey, I’m guilty of that occasionally *wink*), you know about the recent devastating tornadoes in our southern states.  With so many families affected and in need of aid, Night Huntress series author Jeaniene Frost has put up a triple book pack for auction on her blog, and will match any winning bid up to $500.  The lucky winning bidder will make their donation directly to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and will then receive the following signed books in the mail…

Eagle-eyed Night Huntress fans will notice that One Grave at a Time is an ARC (advanced reader copy) since it will not be released until August 30th of this year.  Technically Magic Slays is also an ARC, but since it releases tomorrow (May 31st), the winning bidder won’t receive it until after it is publicly available.  Ms. Frost did state that there will be other opportunities to win an ARC of OGaaT on her blog, so don’t fret too much if you can’t beat the already-impressive high bid of $425.  If, however, you do have some extra cash to throw around or just REALLY want to get your hands on that new Cat & Bones book, head over to Jeaniene Frost’s blog and make your bid before 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday, May 31st (tomorrow!).  Be sure to read the rules before bidding.  Click here to check it out, and kudos to Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook for their generosity!

Speaking of Cat & Bones, if you’ve been following the Vampire Book Club’s 2011 Alpha Showdown, you know that poor Bones had to defeat the love of his life, Cat, in order to progress to the third tournament bracket… just to lose to Jace Wayland of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare (note to self: must check out book 1 of that series and find out who Jace is – he must be pretty awesome to have beat Bones!).  Kate Daniels won her round against Raphael of the Guild series by Nalini Singh (uh, how?! He’s an ARCHANGEL!  Seriously people…) and will now be facing off against Jericho Barrons of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.  Speculation is dim for Kate to take that victory, and since Jeaniene and Ilona Andrews didn’t think their two characters would end up facing off, they engaged in a little smack talk instead.  From Ms. Frost’s blog, here’s the dialog between Bones and Kate. Enjoy!

Bones: I will beat you because am tough but inwardly vulnerable since I spent the last two hundred years whoring and killing to fill the emptiness inside.
Kate: I am tough but inwardly vulnerable, too! And I will kick your ass because I was born with a secret power that made me a loner, and don’t even get me started on my pent-up rage over my daddy issues.
Bones: Secret powers and daddy issues don’t scare me. You just described my wife.
Kate: Dude, I make spikes out of my blood.  Also I have a magic sword that eats vampire flesh.
Bones: So do I, and it’s in my pants. Haven’t you heard about Chapter 32?
Kate: What’s Chapter 32?
Bones: Ask Curran to show you.
Kate: What does any of this have to do with us fighting to the death?
Bones: It means I can launch a sneak attack from the front OR back!
Kate:  Oh, you want cheesy word play? Fine, I will defeat you with my overused phrases.  Why me, dear God, slabbed with muscle, Your Furriness, aha.
Bones: Bollocks, bloody hell,  luv, pet–
Kate: – You forgot Kitten.
Bones: –thrust deep, thrust deep, thrust deep –
Kate: More Chapter 32 again?
Bones: No, I have to do this in every book. Seems I shag as though I’m drilling for crude oil.
Not yet a subscriber? If you liked this post and want to see more, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS feed below! WordPress and Email subscriptions are at the top of the sidebar.
Follow davincikittie on Twitter Subscribe in a Reader

Fangtastic Friday: The Alpha Showdown is ON! Bones & Cat go fang-to-fang!

I came across this great review blog last week via Facebook and LOVE the Alpha Showdown idea!  The Vampire Book Club has set up a tournament bracket, pitting some of our favorite heroes and heroines of paranormal romance & urban fantasy against each other.  The contest is billed as an “alpha” showdown, implying it’s about strength of leadership but it’s feeling more like a “who could kick whose ass in a fight” sort of thing.  Really either way is fun, so no complaint here!  In the first two showdowns, one of my personal favorite paranormal romance couples, the Night Huntress series’ Cat & Bones, won their respective matches and are moving on to the next round… to fight EACH OTHER!  *gasp*

Soooooo, this is either some really bad bracket seeding or a nice ironic jab at the power couple.  Now there’s a tough choice for voters: powerful, sexy, badass, dirty-fighting Bones or his one-of-a-kind vampire-blood-drinking mate, whom he trained personally.  My first instinct is “Bones, hands down”.  He’s got at least a century on Cat, extra strength and abilities, and knows all her weaknesses.  That said, she knows all of his weaknesses too, and she tops his list of “people I’d rather die for than sneeze at”.  She also could drain him of all his blood and absorb some of his powers… if she could hold him down long enough.  Mmmm, toss -up.

Now, that said, this is the showdown doesn’t necessarily have to involve fighting.  When it comes to straight leadership, it’s still a tight race, with both of them having headed up separate successful and powerful organizations, but I think the scales tip a little to Bones on that front.  She does allow him to dominate her though (well, moreso than the other way around at least), and that’s what being “alpha” is about – convincing others to accept you as their leader, whether through fighting, love,  loyalty, or manipulation.  Who will win?  You’ll have to check back and see!

Other notable match-ups are…

  • Anita Blake vs Eugenie Markham
  • Zsadist vs Curran (I’d have rather seen Vishous here! /pout)
  • Eric Northman vs Raphael (this one should be interesting)
To follow the action, check out The Vampire Book Club and cast your vote!  The competition bracket is below, if you want a sneak peek…
Not yet a subscriber? If you liked this post and want to see more, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS feed below!  Wordpress and Email subscriptions are at the top of the sidebar.
Follow davincikittie on Twitter  Subscribe in a Reader

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/

Not yet a subscriber? If you liked this post and want to see more, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS feed below!  Wordpress and Email subscriptions are at the top of the sidebar.
Follow davincikittie on Twitter  Subscribe in a Reader

Jeaniene Frost’s Vlad Tepesh to get his own series of novels

Fans of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series (Cat & Bones featured above), are no doubt excited about the prospect of a Vlad-centric series of novels.  Vlad will be getting his own spunky heroine, Leila, and Ms. Frost promises that she’ll give him “a run for his money that he’ll never be expecting.”  Tentative plans are for the first Vlad and Leila novel to release some time in 2012, but I’ll post updates as I hear about them!  From Ms. Frost’s Night Huntress blog

And finally, I spoke to my editor firming up the plot summary for Vlad’s book and discussing my wish list for the cover. My editor and I are in agreement that we’d like to see just Vlad on the cover, with him and Leila on the stepback (kind of a reverse of the Cat and Bones covers). Now, I need to brainstorm a title for the book. It won’t have “grave” in it to denote that it’s NOT a C&B book, but I don’t know if I want a recurring word in his titles or not. Do you like it when a series has a recurring word in the title, or does that make you crazy? Also, if anyone wants to share their idea for a title for Vlad’s book, please do. If my editor gives your suggestion a thumb’s up, I’ll be sure to mention you in the acknowledgments, if you’d like.

In other equally exciting news, Cat & Bones have been upgraded from 7 books to 9!  This means we get a few more years to enjoy our favorite paranormal romance couple and the rich world Ms. Frost has built around them.  Woo!  *throws confetti*  Cat & Bones #5 (This Side of the Grave) was released earlier this year, and two more are planned for 2011 release dates: One Grave at a Time (C&B #6) and a short story in a holiday-themed anthology called The Bite Before Christmas.  More from Ms. Frost’s blog…

What’s this story about, I’ll again assume you asked? :) . It’s a Cat and Bones tale called Home for the Holidays, where long buried secrets of Bones’s past resurface to take a bite out of their holiday cheer. I’ve mentioned in other places that a member of the Night Huntress crew has known some bombshell things about Bones’s history that even he wasn’t aware of. In Home for the Holidays, I finally get to reveal who that person is and share those secrets with readers, which I’ve been itching to do. 

Deleted scenes from This Side of the Grave?  Yes, please!

There’s one small scene snippet featuring Vlad in a cowboy outfit that I’ll have to dig out, but give me a little time. I’ll be sure to let everyone know once it’s up. 

Yay for Cat & Bones updates!!  ❤

Not yet a subscriber? If you liked this post and want to see more, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS feed below!  Wordpress and Email subscriptions are at the top of the sidebar.
Follow davincikittie on Twitter  Subscribe in a Reader

Review: Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake series novel #10), by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

Anita reconnects with Jean-Claude and Richard to finally “marry” the vampire marks that bind them as a triumvirate.  Meanwhile, a brand new sweetie and a nasty new big bad hit town, as Anita fights her way from one crisis to the next in true ABVH style.

    • Title: Narcissus in Chains
    • Series: The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series – book #10
    • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
    • Prominent Characters: Anita, Jean-Claude, Richard, Nathaniel, Micah
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate, but fairly explicit

*** Spoiler alert! ***

If you have not read the first 9 books of the ABVH series and still plan to, OR if you do not want to know ANYTHING about the major events that will happen in Narcissus in Chains, stop reading now and come back once you’ve read it.  If you want some insight into the happenings of the novel, read on!  =) 

Premise & overview:

Anita, Richard, and Jean Claude finally marry their vampire marks, resulting in increased powers and new, although not necessarily desirable, abilities for each of them.  Anita & Richard are on-again off-again before Anita meets a new main squeeze and has to deal with the possibility of being Nimir-Ra of the leopards for real.  Furry politics takes a nasty turn when a new mystery alpha comes to town.

Thoughts:

It’s been a while since I read an Anita Blake book, but since I’ve never reviewed one and I really enjoyed this re-read, I figured it was a good time to put this one out there.  Narcissus in Chains is the book where Anita becomes “one of the monsters” and the series turns from being a mostly horror/thriller crime-solving drama to focusing on Anita’s new arduous power & burgeoning bevy of lovers and vamp/furry politics.

I’m a big fan of the Anita Blake series.  There are definitely things that annoy me, and the pace seems to spontaneously switch from super-slow to super-speed, but somehow I keep coming back for more even though I’ve read all the later books at least a few times.  The first 9 books mostly focus on Anita’s work as a necromancer (raising zombies for a living) and her side-job as a licensed vampire executioner and police correspondent, while developing the foundations of her relationships with Jean-Claude and Richard.  Because these early books were written nearly 20 years ago, there are a lot of references to now-antiquated technology and fashions that make it difficult to stay immersed in the story.  For example, any talk of shoulderpads automatically gives me visions of the 80s and 90s and really, to be completely honest, puts me off.  Let’s face it: shoulderpads are just NOT that attractive in normal clothes and I don’t want to read about them on my supposedly cute & kick-ass heroine!  Also, not having access to a cell phone, or having any references to cell phones, makes me think “why doesn’t she just get a cell phone?!” because mobile phones are one of the most, if not the absolute most, common personal accessory in our society today.  The early books also make a lot of references to Anita’s Nike shoes: what color they are, how many pairs she has, how often she wears them.  I don’t know why, I just find that really annoying.  It’s almost like Ms. Hamilton had some sort of advertising deal with Nike.  Of course, it could just be that she likes to thoroughly describe people, items, and events in her novels…

That is actually one of the things that annoys me most yet I like the most about Anita – she has a tendency to chat up little details regardless of their significance to the plot.  It’s sort of how people notice the things happening around them in real-time and the thoughts that pass through our heads – sometimes these thoughts are pertinent to the situation at hand and sometimes they’re superfluous, but including these little blurbs definitely helps the readers immerse themselves in the story and feel a closer connection to the main character.  The down-side to this is that there’s apparently no limit to what Ms. Hamilton is willing to talk circles around, including her sex scenes.  LKH writes some of the most steamy & gutsy sex scenes of all the authors I read, but sometimes it takes her forever to get down to it.  Sometimes, the characters actually talk themselves OUT of having sex during chapters-long dialogues that end in arguments (usually involving Richard – shocker, I know).  This is less of an issue in the later books, once Anita and Richard come more to grips with what they have become.

Narcissus in Chains marks the turning point in the series, where the books go from being widely classified as “thrillers” or “horror/crime drama” to “erotica” and “paranormal romance”.  The further into the series you get, the more appropriate the erotica label becomes.  I imagine bookstores have a tough time classifying this series – what section do you shelve it in when it’s pretty much split in two?

Memorable quotes:

Finally one of the monsters…

I’d tried not to be one of the monsters for so long, and now, in one fell swoop I was them, both of them.  You couldn’t be a bloodsucking vampire and be a lycanthrope at the same time.  They cancelled each other out as a disease or a curse… I’d always thought I’d have to drink blood to be one of them.  But I had been wrong about so many things.

Direct?  Who, me?

“You are simultaneously one of the most direct women I know, and one of the most self-deluding.”

“I am really not liking where this conversation is going.”

A lesson in BDSM…

I kept equating submissiveness with being inferior, and that wasn’t really the case.  Some people choose to be bottoms, to serve; it doesn’t make them less, just different.

Is there such a thing as too much firepower?

The doorbell rang again.  I didn’t jump this time.  I hung the Uzi over my shoulder by its strap and settled the Browning more comfortably in my hand.  The Uzi was really an emergency weapon.  The fact that I’d even thought about answering my door with it on my person was probably a bad sign.  If I needed more than a 9mm to answer my own front door, I should just leave town.

If you like…

If you like Narcissus in Chains and the Anita Blake series, you will almost certainly like the Meredith Gentry series, also written by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Unlike the ABVH series, which takes 10 books to really get into the steamy stuff, Merry Gentry focuses on sex as a central plot device starting with the first book.  MG also has some crime-solving elements in its plots, making it pretty damn near the fae version of an Anita Blake clone series, harem of hunky men included.

You might also like the Sookie Stackhouse (South Vampire Chronicles) series by Charlaine Harris and the Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series by Jeaniene Frost.  Both of these are told from the same first person heroine perspective and involve plenty of vamps and other supes.  The Night Huntress series is probably closer to ABVH than Sookie Stackhouse since the main character is also a fighter, but be aware that while both these series have some excellent steamy moments, they are not nearly as close to being classified as erotica as ABVH is.

Final thoughts:

LKH has created a world where the heroine is kick-ass, attractive, intelligent, capable, and gains power constantly.  Anita attracts men and trouble like flies to honey, and since the stories are all told in first person, the reader really gets to feel immersed in the crazy happenings and goings on.  We also get to see the plots of the entire series unfold through the eyes of one person (Anita), instead of from a third person view of whatever the marquee couple is for a particular book.  To have a successful series dedicated to one main voice that has lasted for this long is a fairly rare accomplishment in the Paranormal Romance genre, and I’m excited to see a few new series coming along a similar path.

I personally found the first few books, and a few of the non-St. Louis books (featuring Edward), very difficult to read.  I’m not into excessive gore or horror or thrillers, and some of the crime scene content in the first half of the series really left me troubled (especially considering LKH has stated that she gets her ideas from actual crimes!).  For readers with more sensitive psyches I’d like to recommend just skipping those first 9 books and starting with Narcissus in Chains.  However, if you do that, you’re going to miss out on all the groundwork for the Anita/Jean-Claude/Richard relationships and a lot of the events that shape Anita into who she becomes.  If you decide to start the series with NiC, find a good wiki and read cliff-note versions of the stories so you at least have an idea of what happened.  Read the entire series if you can, and stick it out through all the horror content if that’s not your bag, until at least NiC… skip through parts if you need to!  I’ve included some helpful wiki links below.  Be very careful what you click on with these, as you could inadvertently spoil some of the book 11+ storylines.   *wink*

Maybe I just really identify with Anita’s personality, or maybe it’s just that engrossing (I think the frequent random details and descriptions probably help with that more than they hurt) , but this series definitely has a permanent place on my bookshelf.

Rating:

4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Rating:

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/

http://www.anitablakewiki.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Blake

Not yet a subscriber? If you liked this post and want to see more, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS feed below! WordPress and Email subscriptions are at the top of the sidebar.
Follow davincikittie on Twitter Subscribe in a Reader

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/

Not yet a subscriber? If you liked this post and want to see more, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS feed below! WordPress and Email subscriptions are at the top of the sidebar.
Follow davincikittie on Twitter Subscribe in a Reader

%d bloggers like this: