Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I am Smirking Revenge's 2008 in Review


I read a lot. Not quite as many as I wanted to, but I did a fair share. It was a year of changes for me, of new degrees, of new homes, and new jobs. It wasn’t too bad and here’s to hoping that 2009 is absolutely frakking brilliant. So here is the list and the best and the worst in bibliosnark fare for the last 52 weeks.

The Read
75. Lucifer: Volume 2 (Children and Monsters) by Mike Carey
74. French Milk by Lucy Knisley
73. Unusual Suspects Edited by Dana Stabenow
72. Whispers of the Flesh by Louisa Burton
71. Monster Island by David Wellington
70. Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa
69. Y: The Last Man Volume 2 (Cycles) by Brian K Vaughan
68. Y: The Last Man Volume 1 (Unmanned) by Brian K Vaughan
67. Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K Hamilton
66. BSG: Sagittarius is Bleeding by Peter David
65. Doctor Who: The Stone Rose by Jac Rayner
64. Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
63. The Harlequin by Laurell K Hamilton
62. Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine
61. Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman
60. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K Vaughan
59. Lucifer: Volume 1 (Devil in the Gateway) by Mike Carey
58. The Walking Dead: Volume 8 (Made to Suffer) by Robert Kirkman
57. Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
56. Welcome to the Jungle by Jim Butcher
55. Angel: After the Fall by Brian Lynch
54. We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro
53. Buffy: Season 8 – No Future for You by Brian K Vaughan and Joss Whedon
52. Spike: Shadow Puppets by Brian Lynch
51. Blood Noir by Laurell K Hamilton
50. 5 People Who Died During Sex by Karl Shaw
49. Love Your Handwriting by Heidi Swapp
48. The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
47. Night of the Wolf by Alice Borchardt
46. I Was Told There Would Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
45. In the Small by Michael Hague
44. World War Z by Max Brooks
43. Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk
42. The Magician and the Fool by Barth Anderson
41. Battlestar Galactica: Unity by Steven Harper
40. Winkie by Clifford Chase
39. The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
38. The Bone Key by Sarah Monette
37. Dog Days by John Levitt
36. A Kiss Before the Apocalypse by By Thomas E. Sniegoski
35. In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Culleton Mosionier
34. Fullmetal Alchemist Volume One by Hiromu Arakawa
33. Bound by Moonlight by Louisa Burton
32. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
31. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
30. Dead to Me by Anton Strout
29. Embrace the Night by Karen Chance
28. Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
27.The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have by Dennis DiClaudio
26.The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Book 1) by Alexander McCall Smith
25.House of Dark Delights by Louisa Burton
24.The Walking Dead 7: The Calm Before by Robert Kirkman
23.The Walking Dead 6: This Sorrowful Life by Robert Kirkman
22.The Walking Dead V.5: The Best Defense by Robert Kirkman
21.The Walking Dead V.4: The Heart's Desire by Robert Kirkman
20.The Walking Dead V.3: Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkman
19. Things Fall Apart: A Novel by Chinua Achebe
18. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction by Jon Stewart, The Writers of The Daily Show
17/16. The Complete Maus Vol. 1&2 by Art Spiegelman
15. The Walking Dead Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirman
14. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
13. The Walking Dead V.1 by Robert Kirkman
12. Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
11. Succbus Blues by Richelle Mead
10. Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith
9. Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? by Allyson Beatrice
8. Black Magic Woman by Justin Gustainis
7. Under Cover of Darkness (Anthology) Edited by Czerneda and Paniccia
6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
5. Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine
4. Dead Girl's Dance by Rachel Caine.
3. Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
2. The Unnatural Inquirer by Simon R Green
1. Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

+++++++++++++

The Best
10. Buffy Season 8 Comics by Joss Whedon and Co
9. I was Told There Would be Cake by Sloane Crosley
8. Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
6. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
5. The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
3. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
2. World War Z by Max Brooks
1. Y: The Last Man series by Brian K Vaughan

Favorite New Series
Felix Castor series by Mike Carey, Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, The Walking Dead Series by Robert Kirman, Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan and Lucifer by Mike Carey.

Most Read Genre
Urban Fantasy (What can I say?)

Least Read Genre
Historical/Non Fiction (I should get on that)

The Worst
Blood Noir (Anita Blake Book 16) by Laurell K Hamilton which was neither bloody nor noiry and where sex was apparently the solution to everything. Such a let down from Harlequin and The Under Cover of Darkness Anthology which had about two good stories in all.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lucifer: Volume 2

Lucifer Volume 2
(Children and Monsters)
Written by: Mike Carey
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Vertigo
Language: English
January 2002, $19.99
Genre: Graphic Novel


For Lucifer Morningstar, the former ruler of Hell, retirement has proved a little problematic. Recruited by Heaven to save all of Creation from the threat of the Voiceless Gods, he has been rewarded with an object of inconceivable power — a gate that leads to the uncreated void. But the gateway itself is only a tool that Lucifer must use to achieve his true goals. Now his quest will take him to the Japanese afterworld of Izanami, and to the terrible House of Windowless Rooms, in search of his lost wings. Leaving his immortality and power at the door, Lucifer walks into a labyrinth of traps and treachery where the only thing more dangerous than failure is success. And behind him, in the Los Angeles piano bar that has become his home, the powers begin to gather — drawn by the door that Lucifer has cut into the fabric of existence, and willing to destroy the whole of reality in order to possess it. When the storm breaks, there may be nothing left for Lucifer to return to.


+++++++++++++

Yeah, more Lucifer. You don’t hear that from me every day. I have to say I am quite enjoying this little series and my love for Mike Carey continues to grow (I have his latest Felix Castor novel in my TBR pile).

Children and Monsters begins where the last volume left off. The Morningstar has completed God’s quest and now has a very special gateway in his possession. But now Lucifer needs his wings again and so he heads to regain them from Izanami, the Japanese Goddess of Death who collects all sorts of little trinkets of power. In this story, Lucifer continues to be the manipulative and clever bastard we know him to be, but you cannot help but love him for it. Without his powers, he still manages to win and that is what makes him and these stories so interesting.

As I said this volume was just as entertaining as the first. However, the art didn’t delight me as much though it is still fantastic. I do have a minor complaint with the angels as a whole who seemed too arrogant, too illogical, and very one dimensional for my tastes. I just expected a bit more from them. I think the story as a whole, especially some nice plot tension, would have benefited from some changes with the angels. Having said that, I really liked Michael’s story though. For me, his character was what I expected out of more of the angels.

Mazikeen’s story was also very interesting and it was nice to see her get some more screen time. I am curious to see how Elaine Belloc’s story figures into the whole, which I am guessing it does, and see how that all turns out. Another winner for me and I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Monday, December 29, 2008

French Milk

French Milk
Written by: Lucy Knisley
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Touchstone
Language: English
October 2008, $14.99
Genre: Fiction/Travelogue/Graphic Novel

Through delightful drawings, photographs, and musings, twenty-three-year-old Lucy Knisley documents a six-week trip she and her mother took to Paris when each was facing a milestone birthday. With a quirky flat in the fifth arrondissement as their home base, they set out to explore all the city has to offer, watching fireworks over the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve, visiting Oscar Wilde's grave, loafing at cafés, and, of course, drinking delicious French milk. What results is not only a sweet and savory journey through the City of Light but a moving, personal look at a mother-daughter relationship.

+++++++++++++

Thanks to the lovely Miss Whitney over at Pop Candy, I discovered this little gem. However, I had to wait for the second printing to show up before I could nab it and I am so glad that I did. Three things came out of my little read. One, I want to go to Paris like Lucy and her mother did (If but for the delicious milk). Two, I *so* need to be more artistically inclined (no my graphic design does not cut it. I need to learn to draw). And three, I got really hungry (sadly there are no French cuisine restaurants around here). I wondered if spending a month with my mother in a quaint little Parisian abode would bring us closer together or wrench us further apart. I pondered if my French would hold up or would I be hopelessly lost. And I fantasized on whether if I had the means and went when I came back would I do a whole ‘Sabrina’ thing and be more self assured, more coiffed and more Frenchy as Lucy would put it. Though I am a few years older than Lucy, I related to her tremendously. She has my fears and some of my dreams. I lived vicariously through her for the hour and change it took me to read her adventures.

The book as a whole is a travelogue and yet it is just one chapter of an artist’s memoir as well. It’s a charming little scrapbook done in a way I only wish I could do. I loved her artwork and her descriptions. And I especially liked her sometimes non linear trains of thought. Lucy threw in enough pop culture references, such as singing the soundtrack of Funny Face throughout her visit or her adoration for Oscar Wilde to make me appreciate her even more. When I turned the last page, I sighed happily and then was annoyed that there wasn’t more. I sat and reflected about my own life, felt the twinges of jealousy at Lucy and her mother’s relationship, and decided I need to take some chances next year and work abroad. If a book stays with me long after I have closed it, for me that is a sign of a very good book.

Pick it up. I cannot imagine that you would be at all disappointed.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Unusual Suspects

Unusual Suspects
Edited by: Dana Stabenow
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Ace Trade
Language: English
December 2008, $14.00
Genre: Anthology/Urban Fantasy/Fantasy

This follow-up to Powers of Detection showcases bestselling and award-winning names from Simon Green to Laurie King to Sharon Shinn—with original stories featuring otherworldly investigators trailing uncanny criminals across fantastical realms. From video game characters seeking civil rights and a cave dragon loan shark pondering an investment, to Santa Claus’s Australian vacation and an enemy of Sam Spade’s out for revenge—plus visits to the Nightside and Sookie Stackhouse’s hometown— these stories will take readers around the world on a magical mystery tour.

+++++++++++++

I liked the first anthology, Powers of Detection, so I had this on my little wishlist for some time. Plus, any chance to get a new Nightside story and I am a happy camper. It’s not strictly Urban Fantasy fare and two of the stories I really enjoyed were set in more traditional fantasy worlds. I did enjoy some of the offerings this time around, but I think as a whole I enjoyed the first a bit better. However, there are a couple of authors I am going to look up after this one.

“Lucky” by Charlaine Harris: Sookie Stackhouse and Amelia offer to help a local insurance agent. A nice little short for any fans of the series.

”Bogieman” by Carole Nelson Douglas: Delilah Street investigates the murder of none other than the Sam Spade. It was my first taste of Delilah Street and while I was a bit lost at first, I found myself intrigued at the end. Any author who can use pop culture icons in a new way makes me, if anything, curious. So I added her to my little TBR pile.

”Looks Are Deceiving” by Michael A Stackpole: The Iron Duke has been poisoned and despite his dislike Primin must investigate. As the title suggests not everything is what it appears to be. Fun little read and one I enjoyed considering I am not a big traditional fantasy fan. However, for a short story there was too much name dropping for a world I didn’t know and character histories that I knew nothing of. But the characters were likable.

“The House of Seven Spirits” by Sharon Shinn: A recently separated woman moves into a haunted house, but not all of her new roommates are that bad. This one made me smile and is one of the best of the stories. There’s mystery, humor and in the end kind of made me feel as if I should leave the TV going, just in case I have some roomies of my own.

“Glamour” by Mike Doogan: When his daughter goes missing, a peasant named Alf works with a stranger to try and find her. Very tongue in cheek and a nice little parody of the traveling salesman shtick. Cute.

“Spellbound” by Donna Andrews: A wizard conference presents not only a witch’s seduction spells for a wizard’s apprentice, but a murder as well. I like Gwynn, but I wanted more out of it.

“The Duh Vice” by Michael Armstrong: In a distant future, resources are restricted and one man is there to enforce those who try to buck the system. But he gets more than he bargained for when he stumbles on one offender. Flat, and slow paced the only thing I liked about this was I wanted my own little warming hut in this below zero weather we have been having.

“Weight of the World” by John Straley: After Christmas Eve is completed, Santa and the crew head off for a holiday, but the rest is far from over when one of the elves is murdered. Someone’s been naughty. The story was okay. Didn’t really fit with everything else and yet because I just read it before Christmas it was fine.

”Illumination” by Laura Anne Gilman: Bonnie knows her father is in trouble, especially when loan shark dragons may be involved. One of my favorites of the anthology, this is set in the Retriever universe and magic is current. I have been meaning to read Gilman’s Retriever series for some time and they all still sit in my TBR pile. This makes me want to pick them up next. I loved Bonnie and from what I hear there is a book featuring her, so double yeah.

“The House” by Laurie R. King: Brad and his friends choose the old abandoned house for their history project, but none of them expects what happens once inside. For some reason I had visions of Doctor Who’s Blink while reading this except without the creepy weeping angels. Its atmospheric and I like the voice of the story. However, the ending didn’t quite work for me. It seemed rushed and didn’t fit with the rest of it. Good story though.

“Appetite for Murder” by Simon R. Green: When a killer is on the loose in the Nightside it isn’t just John Taylor that investigates. Enter Sam Warren and Miss Fate as they try to catch a serial killer that is preying on the supernatural. Loved this one of course and if you’ve ever been curious about Miss Fate from the Nightside series this one is for you. Well done and I cannot wait to pick up the next Nightside novel.

“A Woman’s Work” by Dana Stabenow: The Sword and the Seer are sent to be judge, jury and executioner in the King’s name. When they arrive in Pylos, where women are treated as second class citizens, they hear the case of an accused murderess and the dark magic that surrounds her. The second of my faves in the traditional fantasy genre, I want to read more about Seer and Sword. I like the characters. I like the world. Please Dana, may I have some more?

A good anthology in all, especially if you liked Powers of Detection.

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Monday, December 22, 2008

Whispers of the Flesh

Whispers of the Flesh
(Book Three of the Hidden Grotto)
Written by: Louisa Burton
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Language: English
September 2008, $12.99
Genre: Fiction/Erotica

Hidden in a deep mountain valley in rural France is an ancient castle known only to an exclusive few. Here, four exquisitely beautiful immortals who thrive on carnal energy captivate and ravish their human visitors, fulfilling their darkest fantasies, their most secret hungers.

A chaste young British Jesuit poses as a landscaper to investigate centuries of rumored wickedness at the château, forcing him to confront the long-sublimated desires and urges seething beneath his own pious exterior.... The American daughter of the château’s dying administrator can’t bear the thought of succeeding her father, since it would mean playing matchmaker to the love of her life. The roots of her dilemma, and its possible solution, hark back to a weekend in 1972 when a group of free-loving hippies descended on the château for a few days of orgiastic revelry, where every convention was broken and nothing was taboo.

Step into the Castle of the Hidden Grotto and lose yourself in a realm of mystery, temptation, and intoxicating sensuality.


+++++++++++++

I have never been a huge romance novel fan, however I do like the occasional smut every now and again (and no, I do not consider Laurell K’s smut to be satisfactory of late). This is the third installment of the Hidden Grotto series and I continue to enjoy them. Burton created some characters and some relationships that I am genuinely interested in (though give poor Darius someone to love as I adore him) and some great eroticism as well.

If you haven’t read any of the other Grotto novels, you can easily pick one up and not feel lost, though you will get more enjoyment if you do read them all. Of the two stories I enjoyed Adrien and Isabel’s story the most, especially after the last book and the way it ended. What can I say I am a sucker for the happily ever after shtick.

I think these are just the right blend of steamy erotica and an entertaining story bound with a ribbon of flesh and fantasy. Not for everyone, but a delightful diversion for those who need a good dose of smut every now and again.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monster Island

Monster Island: A Zombie Novel
Written by: David Wellington
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Running Press
Language: English
April 2006, $13.99
Genre: Fiction

It's one month after a global disaster. The most "developed" nations of the world have fallen to the shambling zombie masses. Only a few pockets of humanity survive — in places rife with high-powered weaponry, such as Somalia. In New York City, the dead walk the streets, driven by an insatiable hunger for all things living. One amongst them is different; though he shares their appetites he has retained his human intelligence. Alone among the mindless zombies, Gary Fleck is an eyewitness to the end of the world — and perhaps the evil genius behind it all. From the other side of the planet, a small but heavily-armed group of schoolgirls-turned-soldiers has come in search of desperately needed medicine. Dekalb, a former United Nations weapons inspector, leads them as their local guide. Ayaan, a crack shot at the age of sixteen, will stop at nothing to complete her mission. They think they are prepared for anything. On Monster Island they will find that there is something worse even than being undead, as Gary learns the true price of survival.

+++++++++++++

It shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone that I dig zombie fiction. Whether it is the Walking Dead comic series or Max Brooks’s World War Z, or something else entirely I am a complete believer that zombies make everything better. *smirk* I had seen the Monster Trilogy on the bookshelves for some time, but never got around to picking it up and finally did when Halloween rolled around. Alas, I never got around to it during the bewitching hours. Instead I got a nice little macabre fix during the holiday season. Yeah me.

This isn’t your average zombie novel. Sure there are the rotting corpses I know and love, but this time Wellington spun a couple a twists for me and ones I enjoyed whole heartedly. One of the things I liked is being dropped right in the middle of the action. The crisis has already occurred, the horror of the beginning of the end already in the past tense. Enter in Dekalb, a man who tries to stick to his principles and hopes to get back to the daughter he loves so much. Nothing always ends the way you would like it to and sometimes you are put into situations where those principles are tested. Dekalb is a good man and the story is divided between him and Gary’s point of views.

I did want Gary’s character to be fleshed out a bit more, no pun intended, because I wanted more reasoning, more back story to his character so he wasn’t so two dimensional for me. Not that he’s not a great character to read because he is, I just wanted more. Without ruining the story, Gary’s story in the latter half of the book changed so suddenly and so quickly (mostly after the megastore) that it seemed rushed and too easy especially considering his previous vocation.

The descriptions are great, everything I want in a zombie novel or film. Beyond the zombie depictions, the prose as a whole is a joy to read. The pace is quick without being frenzied, dialogue realistic, and enough mystery remaining so that not everything is explained away or described leaving the reader to use their own imagination. The book isn’t without its flaws. Some may find Mael laughable, others may think some of the situations overly absurd. Some might even say, ‘Hey that’s a lot like Stephen King’s Cell’. But I really enjoyed it. I think Wellington is a great storyteller, has a knack for great characters and I cannot wait to read more of the Monster Trilogy as well as start his Vampire series.


3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Read some new blogs

I love reading other people’s reviews on the books I love simply because it is refreshing to see another perspective and to add even more books to that ever increasing to be read pile of mine that is threatening to take over my home. John over at Grasping At the Wind came up with a brilliant idea of creating a meme of blogs. So all you have to do is head on over to his blog, add your blog to the list and then take your time and read to your heart’s content.

A Dribble Of Ink
Adventures in Reading
The Agony Column
Bibliophile Stalker
BillWardWriter.com
Bookspotcentral
The Book Swede
Breeni Books
Cheryl's Musings
Confessions of a Book Whore
Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews
Dragons, Heroes and Wizards
Dusk Before the Dawn
Enter the Octopus
Fantasy Book Critic
Fantasy Debut
Fantasy Book Reviews and News
Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin' Blog
The Fix
The Foghorn Review
The Galaxy Express
Graeme's Fantasy Book Review
Galleycat
Jumpdrives and Cantrips
Literary Escapism
Neth Space
NextRead
OF Blog of the Fallen
The Old Bat's Belfry
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Realms of Speculative Fiction
Rob's Blog o' Stuff
ScifiChick
Severian's Fantastic Worlds
SF Signal
SF Site
SFF World's Book Reviews
Silver Reviews
Sporadic Book Reviews
The Road Not Taken
Un:Bound
Urban Fantasy Land
Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic
Variety SF
Walker of Worlds
Wands and Worlds
The Wertzone
WJ Fantasy Reviews
The World in a Satin Bag

Foreign Language (other than English)

Elbakin.net [French]

Three Shadows

Three Shadows
Written & Illustrated by: Cyril Pedrosa
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: First Second
Language: English
April 2008, $15.99
Genre: Graphic Novel

Can you ever escape your fate?

Three shadows stand outside the house – and Louis and Lise know why the spectral figures are there. The shadows have come for Louis and Lise’s son, and nothing anyone can do will stop them. Louis cannot let his son die without trying to prevent it, so the family embarks on a journey to the ends of the earth, fleeing death. Poignant and suspenseful, Three Shadows is a haunting story of love and grief, told in moving text and sweeping black and white artwork by Cyril Pedrosa.


+++++++++++++

”In this our springtime, there is no better, there is no worse
Blossoming branches burgeon as they must
Some are long, some are short. “

Cyril Pedrosa, who once drew for Disney, wrote Three Shadows after a friend’s child died at a very young age. But Three Shadows is more than a tale of grief and loss, it’s about love and family and enjoying every single moment that you have. The art is simple and yet no short of beautiful. Once again, I have had the pleasure to read a graphic novel that is poignant, brilliant and just as amazing as some of the books I have read in the past year.

I am not a parent, but know what loss feels like. I could relate to Louis wanting to do anything in his power to protect his son, but I also understood Lise. But there are some things that no amount of determination and strength can prevent and fear of death will hurt you even more in the end. It’s a difficult subject to tackle, but Cyril manages to do it with grace. I will say that there is a little bit of a detour in the third act that didn’t quite fit with the rest of the novel and yet I still enjoyed it because it was just another perspective on death.

Well worth the read and I hope you’ll give it a try.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

December New Releases

DECEMBER 2nd
Vow of Silence
By Robert Laughlin
“Set in an alternate society-described with its history, geography, economy, technology, laws, arts and civilization myth-in which literacy has not been invented because a substantial minority of people can be taught to develop perfect recall. The narrator is a man who was inducted into this special caste that records and passes on the permanent and ephemeral knowledge of the world. As his power matures, he realizes it is more a curse than a gift because he cannot forget disruptive memories of pleasant and painful experience--they are always with him. After he finishes the course of mental training, he perpetrates a devious and horrific revenge on his former teachers, to strike back at a society he feels has cruelly used him to service its needs. His personal regeneration is made possible only by a chain of events that also changes his society for the better.”

The Knights of the Cornerstone
By James P Blaylock
“Calvin Bryson has hidden himself away from the world, losing himself in his work and his collection of rare & quirky books. He never meant to let so much time go by without visiting his aunt and uncle in the tiny town of New Cyprus, California. When he gets there, he’ll discover the town’s strange secrets and a mysterious group dedicated to preserving and protecting holy relics—a modern day incarnation of the legendary Knights Templar…”

Unclean Spirits: Book One of the Black Sun's Daughter
By M.L.N. Hanover
“In a world where magic walks and demons ride, you can't always play by the rules.
Jayné Heller thinks of herself as a realist, until she discovers reality isn't quite what she thought it was. When her uncle Eric is murdered, Jayné travels to Denver to settle his estate, only to learn that it's all hers -- and vaster than she ever imagined. And along with properties across the world and an inexhaustible fortune, Eric left her a legacy of a different kind: his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the Invisible College. Led by the ruthless Randolph Coin, the Invisible College harnesses demon spirits for their own ends of power and domination. Jayné finds it difficult to believe magic and demons can even exist, let alone be responsible for the death of her uncle. But Coin sees Eric's heir as a threat to be eliminated by any means -- magical or mundane -- so Jayné had better start believing in something to save her own life. Aided in her mission by a group of unlikely companions -- Aubrey, Eric's devastatingly attractive assistant; Ex, a former Jesuit with a lethal agenda; Midian, a two-hundred-year-old man who claims to be under a curse from Randolph Coin himself; and Chogyi Jake, a self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities -- Jayné finds that her new reality is not only unexpected, but often unexplainable. And if she hopes to survive, she'll have to learn the new rules fast -- or break them completely…”

Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy
Edited By Dana Stabenow
“This follow-up to “Powers of Detection” showcases twelve original new stories featuring otherworldly investigators trailing uncanny criminals across fantastical realms. From video game characters seeking civil rights to a cave dragon loan shark pondering an investment and an enemy of Sam Spade’s out for revenge, these stories will take readers around the world on a magical mystery tour…”

Busted Flush: A Wild Cards Novel
By George R. R. Martin
“In 1946, an alien virus that rewrites human DNA was accidentally unleashed in the skies over New York City. It killed ninety percent of those it infected. Nine percent survived to mutate into tragically deformed creatures. And one percent gained superpowers. The Wild Cards shared-universe series, created and edited since 1987 by New York Times #1 bestseller George R. R. Martin ("The American Tolkien" --Time magazine) along with Melinda Snodgrass, is the tale of the history of the world since then—and of the heroes among the one percent. Now a new generation of heroes has taken its place on the world stage, its members crucial players in international events. At the United Nations, veteran ace John Fortune has assembled a team of young aces known as the Committee, to assist at trouble spots around the world–including a genocidal was in the Niger Delta, an invasion of zombies in hurricane ravaged New Orleans, and a freak nuclear explosion in a small Texas town…”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DECEMBER 9th
The Suicide Collectors
By David Oppegaard
“The Despair has plagued the earth for five years. Most of the world’s population has inexplicably died by its own hand, and the few survivors struggle to remain alive. A mysterious, shadowy group called the Collectors has emerged, inevitably appearing to remove the bodies of the dead. But in the crumbling state of Florida, a man named Norman takes an unprecedented stand against the Collectors, propelling him on a journey across North America. It’s rumored a scientist in Seattle is working on a cure for the Despair, but in a world ruled by death, it won’t be easy to get there.”

Persistence of Memory
By Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
“Sixteen-year-old Erin Misrahe just wants to be like everyone else in her new school. But Erin has more to worry about than passing AP Chemistry or making friends. In times of stress, she has always been overcome by her alter ego, Shevaun, whose violent behavior wreaks havoc on those around her. Erin can never remember anything about these episodes, and she’s grateful to have been spared them for a while. But when a protective friend comes back into Erin’s life, he insists that Shevaun is a vampire who actually exists apart from Erin. Shevaun has dangerous allies, like the handsome witch Adjila—and they’re determined to sever Shevaun’s connection to Erin once and for all..”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DECEMBER 23rd
Elsewhere
By William Peter Blatty
“This incredible haunted house novel from William Peter Blatty—the legendary author of The Exorcist, The Ninth Configuration, Legion, and many other books—is disturbing, unsettling, chilling, and laced with a nasty streak of dark humor. Featuring a stunning cover by Bruce Haley (Time, Life) and beautiful interior illustrations by Alex McVey (Stephen King, Joe Lansdale), “Elsewhere” is a must-have for all fans of dark fiction and sure to become a time-honored classic in the genre…”

Need
By Carrie Jones
“Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal. Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.”

Wondrous Strange
By Lesley Livingston
“Since the dawn of time, the Faerie have taken. . . . For seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow, faeries are just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery, whose steel-gray eyes mask an equally steely determination to protect her. Sonny guards the Samhain Gate, which connects the mortal realm with the Faerie's enchanted, dangerous Otherworld. Usually kept shut by order of icy King Auberon, the Gate stands open but once a year. This year, as the time approaches when the Samhain Gate will swing wide and nightmarish Fae will fight their way into an unsuspecting human world, something different is happening . . . something wondrous and strange. And Kelley's eyes are opening not just to the Faerie that surround her but to the heritage that awaits her. Now Kelley must navigate deadly Faerie treachery—and her growing feelings for Sonny—in this dazzling page-turner filled with luminous romance. ”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DECEMBER 30th
Contagious
By Scott Sigler
“Across America, a mysterious pathogen transforms ordinary people into raging killers, psychopaths driven by a terrifying, alien agenda. The human race fights back, yet after every battle the disease responds, adapts, using sophisticated strategies and brilliant ruses to fool its pursuers. The only possible explanation: the epidemic is driven not by evolution but by some malevolent intelligence. Standing against this unimaginable threat is a small group, assembled under the strictest secrecy. Their best weapon is hulking former football star Perry Dawsey, left psychologically shattered by his own struggles with this terrible enemy, who possesses an unexplainable ability to locate the disease’s hosts. Violent and unpredictable, Perry is both the nation’s best hope and a terrifying liability. Hardened CIA veteran Dew Phillips must somehow forge a connection with him if they’re going to stand a chance against this maddeningly adaptable opponent. Alongside them is Margaret Montoya, a brilliant epidemiologist who fights for a cure even as she reels under the weight of endless horrors. These three and their team have kept humanity in the game, but that’s not good enough anymore, not when the disease turns contagious, triggering a fast countdown to Armageddon. Meanwhile, other enemies join the battle, and a new threat — one that comes from a most unexpected source — may ultimately prove the most dangerous of all.”

Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts
By Laura Benedict
“Three childhood friends. A malicious lie. One hell of a consequence. Growing up, Roxanne, Del, and Alice tested the limits of their friendship with cruel, and often dangerous, games–but they always knew they would be bound together forever. Now, Alice’s marriage is over, and her husband is having a child with another woman. Roxanne, an artist consumed by her work, is losing touch with her friends–and perhaps with reality. And Del is desperate to be a perfect wife and adoring stepmother, but her friends see that her careful façade is crumbling. The instrument of their destruction is a single enigmatic man–Varick. He seems to be a lonely woman’s dream come true, but where has he come from? And what does he want? As he seduces the women in turn, their lives become unrecognizable to them. Varick’s secret lies buried in their shared past. One simple, childish act has brought them, all these years later, to a place where not only their lives but also their souls are at risk. For once upon a time, the three of them agreed to tell a lie–one that ruined the life of a young priest. Defrocked, destitute, and ruined, he hoped with the whole of his shattered heart that he would get revenge. And in that hope he shook hands with the one who promised it. The devil himself. Now they all must live with the consequences..”

The Angel Maker
By Stefan Brijs
“The village of Wolfheim is a quiet little place until the geneticist Dr. Victor Hoppe returns after an absence of nearly twenty years. The doctor brings with him his infant children—three identical boys all sharing a disturbing disfigurement. He keeps them hidden away until Charlotte, the woman who is hired to care for them, begins to suspect that the triplets—and the good doctor— aren’t quite what they seem. As the villagers become increasingly suspicious, the story of Dr. Hoppe’s past begins to unfold, and the shocking secrets that he has been keeping are revealed. A chilling story that explores the ethical limits of science and religion, The Angel Maker is a haunting tale in the tradition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein. Brought to life by internationally bestselling author Stefan Brijs, this eerie tale promises to get under readers’ skin...”

The Book of Unholy Mischief
By Elle Newmark
“In a world of violence and intrigue, who guards the truth? It is 1498, the dawn of the Renaissance, and Venice teems with rumors of an ancient book that holds the secret to unimaginable power. It is an alchemist's dream, with recipes for gold, immortality, and undying love. Everyone, rich and poor alike, speculates about the long-buried secrets scrawled in its pages and where it could possibly be hidden within the labyrinthine city. But while those who seek the book will stop at nothing to get it, those who know will die to protect it. As a storm of intrigue and desire circles the republic that grew from the sea, Luciano, a penniless orphan with a quick wit and an even faster hand, is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired, for reasons he cannot yet begin to understand, as an apprentice in the palace kitchen. There, in the lavish home of the most powerful man in Venice, he is initiated into the chef's rich and aromatic world, with all its seductive ingredients and secrets. Luciano's loyalty to his street friends and the passion he holds for a convent girl named Francesca remain, but it is not long before he, too, is caught up in the madness. After he witnesses a shocking murder in the Palace dining room, he realizes that nothing is as it seems and that no one, not even those he's come to rely on most, can be trusted. Armed with a precocious mind and an insatiable curiosity, Luciano embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth. What he discovers will swing open the shutters of his mind, inflame his deepest desires, and leave an indelible mark on his soul.”

At Grave’s End (Night Huntress Book 3)
By Jeaniene Frost
“Some things won't stay buried . . . at grave's end. It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield's life. With her undead lover Bones at her side, she's successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat's worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover's finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger. As if that wasn't enough, a woman from Bones's past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat's about to learn the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she's learned as a special agent won't help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself—and Bones—from a fate worse than the grave.”

Evil Ways (Quincy Morris Book Two)
By Justin Gustainis
“Children are being murdered for their organs—again. If this evil weren't enough to contend with, it also appears that someone—or something—is determined to kill Quincey Morris’ friend and partner, white witch Libby Chastain. Quincey is dragged into both of these cases, little realizing that each is a part of the same horrific plot against humankind, and it will be up to the investigator to save the world. Here's hoping he doesn't blow it…”

Shimmer
By Dallas Reed
“When the box is opened, everything starts to change. On a freezing night in Winter, Colorado, there's a party going on—and it will change the town forever. Justin, the party's host, doesn't know that the box in his dad's study contains a shimmering dust that has the power to transform all it touches. Emma, the cute new girl, doesn't know she will spend the next twenty-four hours running for her life through a freezing blizzard. Russ, a local snowboarder, doesn't know that the person he loves most is about to betray him. And Tess, the queen of the school, only knows she wants to see what's in that box. Nobody knows what's coming—yet. But as the party gets under way, the residents of Winter will find themselves face-to-face with forces darker than any December storm.”

Black Cathedral
By LH Maynard and MPN Sims
“At an old manor house on a remote Scottish island, six managers of a large corporation all suffer horrifying deaths, their bodies never to be found. The government assigns the case to Department 18, a special unit created to investigate the supernatural and the paranormal. However this is no mere haunted house. The evil on this island goes back centuries and the forces of darkness are preparing to attack…”

Jake’s Wake
By John Skipp & Cody Goodfellow
“Pastor Jake promised his followers everlasting life…he just didn’t say what kind. So when the small-town televangelist and con man climbs out of his coffin at his own wake, it becomes Judgment Day for everyone gathered to mourn his death. Jake is back, in the rotting flesh, filled with anger & vengeance, accompanied by frightening demons. What follows is a long night of endless terror; a blood-drenched rampage not even death could stop…”

Woods and Waters Wild
By Charles de Lint
“Woods and Waters Wild is the third volume of Charles de Lint's Collected Early Stories after A Handful of Coppers and Quicksilver & Shadow. Includes stories of Angharad, Dennet & Willie, Thomas the Rhymer, and other obscurities that will be the envy of de Lint readers everywhere.”

Dead, She Said
By Steve Niles
“Detective Coogan knows well that there are some pretty shady freaks out there in the big city... but he doesn't know that some of those freaks aren't human! He learns it the hard way, and ends up on the wrong side of a bullet in this new series that mixes horror and noir into a tightly wound nightmare of twists and turns. An all-new story by comic book legends Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson.”

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Y: The Last Man Vol. 2

Y: The Last Man Vol. 2
(Cycles)
Written by: Brian K Vaghaun
Illustrated by: Pia Guerra
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Vertigo
Language: English
September 2003, $12.99
Genre: Graphic Novel


From writer Brian K. Vaughan (Swamp Thing, The Hood) and up-and-coming artist Pia Guerra comes a view of a dystopian society where suddenly - and without warning - a mysterious plague kills every living creature on the planet with a Y chromosone...in other words, no more men! Except one. Yorick Brown has somehow survived. It's now a very different world, and his unique status is far from privileged. He finds himself on the run from a coven of Amazons who want him dead...one of whom is his own sister! As Yorick Brown, the last man on Earth, begins to make his way across the country to California, he and his companions are forced to make an unscheduled stop in Marrisville, Ohio—a small town with a big secret.

+++++++++++++

Dr. Mann, Yorick, Agent 355 and Ampersand find themselves trying to get to Dr. Mann’s other laboratory on the West Coast. Of course nothing could be as simple as hopping on a train and going event free. The little subplot of the little burb in Ohio was nice. Some would say that this volume is not as strong as Unmanned and while I agree that it switches gears a bit, I liked the change of pace and didn’t find it any less interesting plot wise. Maybe the secret behind the small town is hardly surprising and had me envisioning Rosie the Riveter a bit with a twist, but I think if things went south there are certain groups of people who would be able to cope and rebuild better than others because their lives before the plague come in handy now. Of course it isn’t without its flaws. Yorick’s reaction to the small town’s secret is a bit drama queenish for me, but then again the boy is not perfect and that is why I like him. I will also comment that for all his pining and obsessing over his girlfriend, Yorick was awfully quick to forget about her when it was convenient. Hero continues to be interesting as much of a nutter as she is and I am curious to see how it pans out. I can’t forget the ending either because whoo hoo.

There are some decent explorations in this series, some a bit glossed over and not as complex as I would like to be, but things that make you think. How would I, as a woman, react? I have heard that some people disagree on how women have reacted in the story. A lot of things have gone into chaos, but I think people forget that it isn’t that the men have disappeared it’s the fact that half of the population is now gone. The society that is left has lost their husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, and more. And yeah, half the workforce. To be honest, I think they have coped remarkably. The Amazons, as crazy as they are, are believable. Some are feminists taking the anti-male rhetoric to the extreme and others are easily brainwashed because they are lost, or grieving or just a little broken. Then there are others who are going to band together in a positive way, who despite their loss are going to try and start over and continue the only way they know how (Marisville).

I am still digging this series though and cannot wait for more.


3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1
(Unmanned)
Written by: Brian K Vaghaun
Illustrated by: Pia Guerra
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Vertigo
Language: English
January 2003, $12.99
Genre: Graphic Novel

From writer Brian K. Vaughan (Swamp Thing, The Hood) and up and coming artist Pia Guerra comes a view of a dystopian society where suddenly - and without warning - a mysterious plague kills every living creature on the planet with a Y chromosone...in other words, no more men! Except one. Amateur escape artist Yorick Brown has somehow survived. It's now a very different world, and his unique status is far from privileged. If they can't exploit Yorick, the new world powers may just decide his usefulness is at an end!

+++++++++++++

I am not sure what took me so long to pick this up and read it. Maybe it’s the monkey or maybe it’s just the great story, but I am hooked and was hooked from page one. You like Yorick, you like Ampersand, and you like the what-if of the whole plot even if it isn’t anything particularly new. Here is a world where women are grieving, trying to make sense of the world and rebuild, and sometimes even rejoicing. What caused the men of the world to die out? Why were Yorick and Ampersand immune? What is due to cloning a human? Or perhaps the artifact that was taken from Jordan? How will society rebuild itself? Is this the end? It’s that mystery and blend of fantasy and sci-fi mixed with the real that has me turning the pages ever faster.

Of course, the artwork is nice, but more than that the characterizations are real and even if you love to hate certain characters, they’re not so ridiculous that you laugh. Yes, even Miss Hippolyta, Amazon Queen wannabe herself. Similar to Walking Dead, another fave, the story isn’t really about the fact that men are now extinct, it’s about how you deal with the aftermath.

I hope the rest of the series is just as good and this may have even got me to pick up Runaways as well.

3.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Swallowing Darkness

Swallowing Darkness
(Merry Gentry Book 7)
Written by: Laurell K Hamilton
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Language: English
November 2008, $25.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy

I am Meredith, princess of faerie, wielder of the hands of Flesh and Blood, and at long last, I am with child–twins, fathered by my royal guard. Though my uncle, Taranis, King of Light and Illusion, claims that he is the true father since he abducted me from my home, betrayed, and defiled me. And now he has branded my guards as a threat to my unborn children.

Bearing an heir has placed me halfway to my aunt’s throne, that much closer to my reign over the Unseelie Court–and well ahead of her son, my cousin Cel, in this race. Now I must stay alive to see my children born and claim my place as queen.

But not all in faerie are pleased with the news, and conspirators from every court in the realm plot against me and mine. They seek to strip my guards, my lovers, from me by poisoned word or cold steel. But I still have supporters, and even friends, among the goblins and the sluagh, who will stand by me.

I am Meredith Nic Essus, and those who would defy and destroy me are destined to pay a terrible price–for I am truly my father’s daughter. To protect what is mine, I will sacrifice anything–even if it means waging a great battle against my darkest enemies and making the most momentous decision ever made as princess of faerie.


+++++++++++++

If you’ve read my earlier review on the Harlequin then you know how I feel about Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. And while the Merry Gentry series is not light on the smut either, it was in this volume and in subsequent volumes there has been a point to it. And that point was first to get pregnant not only gets to rule the Unseelie Court, but gets to keep their life. Some volumes are a bit better than others, but the thing I have loved the most about this series was the sidhe themselves. I love how Faerie is returning to life and I love reading about this new awakening. It’s magical and a joy to read, but then again I am a sucker for anything fey (same goes with zombies and vampires).

I saw a lot of bad reviews for this one and to be honest I am a bit surprised. Not that it is without flaws, because they are there, but it is one of the better volumes and if Hamilton decided to stop there I would be okay with it (she is not though and has said so on her blog). Although I will say when the title was first released I laughed out loud. ‘Swallowing Darkness?’ Really? Considering that the lead male character is called Darkness and the books have never been light on the smut. You can see why I laughed out loud, but could you really blame me?

But back to the book. A Lick of Frost, the previous volume, ended on bit of a downer. Despite Merry finally becoming pregnant (which we knew would eventually happen), Frost, my favorite character beyond Doyle, was sacrificed so that Merry could be Queen. Worse, Merry herself was raped by her Uncle, the King of the Seelie. Not a happy place to start Swallowing Darkness with. And it shouldn’t be. The loss of Frost is still raw and so are uncle’s doings. The rape is a bit glossed over and that is a flaw because Merry should have to deal with it psychologically at some point, but the gal has a lot to still deal with. Now that she is carrying twins everyone wants a piece of her. Some want her to rule the Seelie Court, some want to keep her as far away from either throne as they can. And even more still worry about the strength of her future kings. Getting pregnant was the first step, but it is all far from over.

The one thing I liked about Merry in this book was she finally started acting like a Queen. She was no longer a hesitant oh woe is me chickie. She became her father’s daughter, albeit a bit more ruthless and willing to do whatever it takes to protect the lives of the children she carries and the men she loves. There are many who don’t think she should have the throne with her human lineage, but the Goddess makes it quite clear that she is tired of the Sidhe not recognizing the gifts and boons she is giving them through Merry and perhaps it is time that magic came to the mortal world. I am glad this isn’t the end, because I think Hamilton could do a lot with this series if she wanted to. This is the beginning and things are finally on Merry’s terms.

As I said there are flaws though. Cel’s character did change a bit, but then again the man is a complete nutter and to be honest nothing would be surprise me although I was expecting a bit more of a fight and sadly it was a bit anti-climactic. Queen Andais wasn’t in it a lot, which is unfortunate because I love the beautiful and twisted sociopath. But I understood her at the end, madness at all. What wouldn’t you do when it really came down to your children? Is she contradictory, yeah. I got it though. Sure I missed some of the intrigue, the misdirection, but I know it will come back. The ending is a bit rushed, but as I said I know this is not the end.

More action that sexual antics, this was a great volume in my opinion though I think it may be one of those that you either love or hate. For me, it proved that the Laurell K Hamilton I fell in love with is still out there and that hope I spoke of in my Harlequin review just got a little bit bigger. It’s not tidy, its not perfect but it exceeded my expectations.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

BSG: Sagittarius is Bleeding

BSG: Sagittarius is Bleeding
Written by: Peter David
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
Language: English
June 2007, $6.99
Genre: TV Series Tie-In/Sci-Fi

President Laura Roslin bears a heavy burden. Since becoming the president of the twelve human colonies when the Cylons brutally attacked and destroyed all but a small remnant of humanity’s billions, she has been the voice of a civil authority, counterbalancing the military leadership of Commander Adama of the Battlestar Galactica. President Roslin has been a source of inspiration to the tens of thousands who survive on Galactica and the other colonial ships. They look to her for honesty, integrity, and courage. For fairness and an evenhanded rule. And most important, for the prophecy she has shared with them: Earth, the fabled home of the lost colony, can be found. She has seen this in a vision that has the power of truth.

Recently, though, her dreams have been darker, of a galaxy overrun by Cylons…Is she having visions of an inevitable future? Or are these terrible dreams caused by the powerful medication she’s been taking? More dangerous, the Midguardians, radicals who believe that the end of humanity is coming soon, have learned of Roslin’s dreams and taken them as a sign. Now the Midguardians prepare to act. President Roslin faces the most important decision of her life. Should she tell Commander Adama about the Midguardians and risk being imprisoned again as a traitor, or dare she keep her secret and possibly endanger the future of the entire fleet?


+++++++++++++

If you couldn’t tell by now I am a Battlestar Galactica geek (I don’t know what gave it away) who has big girly crush on Miss Kara Thrace (so beautifully damaged I cannot help but adore her and her snarkiness) and most of the male cast (what can I say I am a girl and one who appreciates Lee Adama in a towel). Geekiness aside I picked up most of the re-imagined tie-ins, especially when you have months in between seasons. I need to get my fix somehow of course.

Set in the second half of Season 2 after Commander Fisk from the Pegasus is killed. Sharon is still pregnant with Hera and in the brig while Zarek is busy making trouble as per usual. Unfortunately, this one took me a few tries to not only get into but to finish. It wasn’t a horrible book, but it did have some noticeable problems for me. Some of the characterizations (Baltar in particular) are fairly off, there are some large continuity problems and it took forever to get to the meat of the story. But it does have some great moments. Roslin’s characterization was fairly good and I did like some of the questions posed with Sharon. In fact my favorite scene in the whole book was Sharon gaining information from a certain character and the inner monologue she has with herself.

Probably my biggest problem with the novel was the implications set by the ending. I could have done without his character in the first place, but to then imply that he was a Cylon just made me giggle like a schoolgirl. While my hopes of Kendra Shaw or Romo Lampkin as the fifth Cylon are big longshots, this character is even more absurd. Of course, there was also a point in the novel where Roslin sees “Head Six”. Moore and Co haven’t revealed why Baltar sees her in the first place, so for David to give a confirmation of her presence just doesn’t work. Now I realize this novel was written long before we know what we know now, but it ruined things just a bit for me.

As I said there are moments. David does a great job of questioning what effects Roslin may have had with Hera’s blood running through her veins other than the cancer remission. I like the exploration of human rights and defining a Cylon in the eyes of the law. The Midguardians were a good idea, but didn’t pan out the way I would have expected or liked.

Not bad for a BSG novel, but I expected much more. Unity, even with its small problems was a better read for me. Of course as a fan its worth the read, but I expect other fans may be a bit disappointed. I guess that means I will just have to watch the teaser clips during the Bond marathon on Sci-Fi to get my BSG fix for now.

2.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Doctor Who: The Stone Rose

Doctor Who: The Stone Rose
Written by: Jac Rayner
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: BBC Books
Language: English
June 2006, $11.99
Genre: TV Series Tie-In/Sci-Fi

Mickey is startled to find a statue of Rose in a museum - a statue that is 2,000 years old. The Doctor realizes that this means the TARDIS will shortly take them to Ancient Rome, but when it does, he and Rose soon have more on their minds than sculpture. While the Doctor searches for a missing boy, Rose befriends a girl who claims to know the future. But then the Doctor stumbles on the hideous truth behind the statue of Rose - and Rose herself learns that you have to be very careful what you wish for...

+++++++++++++

Let me say that I probably enjoyed this even more because it was the audio version I “read” with David Tennant behind it all. For those who know me I am a fairly big Doctor Who fan and absolutely love David Tennant as the 10th Doctor (which makes me even more morose that he is leaving). But beyond my need for Tennant to read the phone book to me, which sadly I would probably also enjoy listening to (what can I say it’s the voice and the pretty little picture I have in my head as well). Tennant’s Doctor is charming, quirky and manic in a completely good way. He’s a bit geeky, snarky and did I mention charming? I will say that Rayner managed to capture him fairly well, though admittedly it does help that Tennant reads it with the personality and fervor of the character he plays oh so well.

However, beyond that the story, despite being a bit cliché, is just like an episode. It’s a bit campy, has spirit and action, some puzzles, and made me smile. I could picture everything in my head as if I were watching the episode and that is always a good thing. Plus it takes place largely during ancient Rome and as a mythology buff it made me even more giddy.

I thought it was worth it, definitely worth the listen, but I imagine just reading it alone would have been fine. For a novelization it did lack some of the emotional depth and deeper characterization that you can do with the written word, but as I said I didn’t really mind.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Mind the Gap - A Tale of the Hidden Cities

Mind the Gap
(A Novel of the Hidden Cities Book One)
Written by: Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Spectra
Language: English
May 2008, $11.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy

For as long as she can remember, 17-year-old Jazz and her mother have been taken care of by the enigmatic dark-suited men known as the Uncles, equally relying on and fearing them. For that same length of time, Jazz's mother has drilled into her a sense of paranoia and distrust, to be wary of everyone, no matter what their outward appearance. There's the feeling that they're all waiting for something to happen, and one day, it does. Jazz comes home to find her mother murdered by the Uncles, and a last message written in her own blood: Jazz hide forever. And so Jazz runs, fast and far, ultimately ending up deep under London, in the vast labyrinth of tunnels and forgotten subway stations and abandoned bomb shelters, where the city's lost and unwanted congregate. There, she meets Harry, a smooth-tongued thief and modern-day Fagin who runs a small gang of teenagers he calls the United Kingdom. They take Jazz in, making her part of their odd little family, and she learns how to steal with the best of them, though never forgetting to be wary, never forgetting to keep an eye out for the Uncles and their agents. Even the Underground isn't entirely safe, for it's down here that the ghosts of London's past still dwell, existing in a tortured state of in-between, appearing only to those few with the ability to perceive them... like Jazz.

The longer Jazz spends with Harry and the others, the more she realizes that she's at the center of a great mystery, a mystery that's claimed numerous lives already, and bound to claim more before it's over. Who are the Uncles, and why did they kill Jazz's mother, and why are they after her? How does Harry fit into this? And what part will Terence, a dashing rival thief, play? The search for answers will take Jazz from the homes of the most important men in London, down into the forgotten depths of the Underground, and force her to stop running and make a stand once and for all. But one thing remains constant: trust is earned, not given, and there are far too many people with far too many secrets for her to be comfortable. Unfortunately, these secrets are worth dying for.


+++++++++++++

I have been a fan of Christopher Golden since the Buffy novel days as well as the Shadow Saga which is a great vampire series. His newer work including his collaborations with people like Mike Mignola (Baltimore), Thomas E. Sniegoski (The Menagerie series), and Amber Benson (Ghosts of Albion) have been great as well as his solo outings such as the Lost Ones series or the Ferryman. So it was hardly a surprise that I picked up his latest book. Plus I love the idea. When you think about it there are hidden cities everywhere, and not just in the Neil Gaiman Neverwhere sense. Instead cities that were created underground during wars, cities of the dead, or just cities built on the ruins of others.

The action in the novel begins right away when Jazz’s mother is murdered by the “Uncles” and its stays fairly steady until the second half of the book. When Jazz flees to the Underground she sees the ghosts or rather the echoes of those that once inhabited that same space. In fact the Hour of Screams was one of my favorite parts. With the United Kingdom there is a bit of Oliver Twist with the thieving and I enjoyed it. Even the nod to My Fair Lady. The action slows down midway and takes a bit of a turn, but it was one that I didn’t mind because it picks up again at the end. It’s a great story that is part urban fantasy, part thriller and part suspense. While I prefer some of Golden’s collaborations a little bit more, this was a quick, but solid read I look forward to seeing what Golden and Lebbon will do with New Orleans which is the Hidden City for the next volume.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Harlequin
(Anita Blake Book 15)
Written by: Laurell K Hamilton
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Berkeley Hardcover
Language: English
June 2007, $25.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Anita Blake is about to face the challenge of her life. Into her world--a world already overflowing with power--have come creatures so feared that powerful, centuries-old vampires refuse to mention their names. It is forbidden to speak of The Harlequin unless you've been contacted. And to be contacted by The Harlequin can mean three things. It can mean that they're watching, or that they're tormenting, or that they're going to kill you. The Harlequin belong to Marmée Noire, the Mother of Darkness, a figure so old, it's not known whether she's a vampire, a lycanthrope or something else. Long-time rivals for Anita's affections, Jean-Claude, Master Vampire of the City, and Richard Zeeman, Ulfric of the local werewolf pack, will need to become allies. Wereleopards Nathaniel and Micah will have to step up their support. And then there's Edward. In this situation, Anita knows that she needs to call the one man who has always been there for her, but he responds in a way that she didn't anticipate.

+++++++++++++

Before I review this, I should say that I have been reading the Anita Blake series since they first came out. I fell in love with Anita and the universe. Anita was snarky, one hell of a necromancer and I found myself getting lost in the supernatural world Hamilton created. The plots weren’t bad either (Bloody Bones is my favorite book). And yeah, I wouldn’t complain if I had the men in my life that Anita has in hers. And then for me it began to fall apart around Obsidian Butterfly, and perhaps a little before that, when sex took precedence over plot. Now I am a fan of smut and am not puritanical in any sense, but the one thing I respected the Anita series for was not making them “girly” aka making them more about boy meets girl then having a strong female with thrilling plots. I didn’t mind a little graphic sex and I had a feeling the ardeur was going to stay. Now I read Blood Noir before I read this which I found to be an absolute disaster (its actually the book after this one) and had me seriously reconsidering even reading this one at all. But I did because somehow I hope and have faith that Anita will get back on track. Because I saw glimmers of my old Anita in the Harlequin. I will commend Laurell for not creating some magical loophole to squash the negativity. And in her defense we keep picking them up despite our outrage at times. I just miss the old Anita. I respected the old Anita. I liked the old Anita. But I digress.

The Harlequin is a hit or miss Anita Blake. It has some great moments, the last half battle of wills in particular, and some eye rolling moments as well. However, The Harlequin are a great villain; observers, executioners and enforcers of vampire society and the Council. They are creepy and scary and I like the idea behind the colored masks. But alas they don’t get a whole lot of screen time instead we have to endure the usual Anita soap opera which has gone beyond tiresome for me. I also liked seeing some more of the supernatural hierarchy. Court politics and intrigue make me happy and the triumvirates have made things interesting. I will admit I did like seeing Edward and even the chilling Olaf again, but they didn’t have as much screen time as I would have liked. The prose is a bit lacking in this one as well, but then again this is the fifteenth book and it is hard not to retread on things we have already read.

You still have the usual smut of course. Thankfully its not every other chapter, but it is still a bit more gratuitous than I would have liked. Someone once pointed out that Anita’s men exist only to fulfill Anita’s needs and sadly they tend to be fairly two dimensional and they are woefully thus in this outing. I am not asking Anita to be monogamous or as I said for the ardeur to be quickly tied up in a bow, I just want the books to be Urban Fantasy again. I want Anita to stop being the Mary Sue she has become. If I wanted a flimsy plot and lots of sex, I would just head on over to the romance section of the bookstore. Anita cannot keep thinking of herself as a prude when she’ll jump a complete stranger, no scratch that several strangers in one book.

Anyway, maybe I am fool for standing by my book and not being able to just say no, but I love to read and like I said I keep hoping that my love affair with the Anita series will blossom again instead of wilting away. This volume had potential and I could see the glimmers of old school Laurell K and Anita. There was a decent horror/thrill story it just got lost. Find your way soon is all I can say because there are many more authors I would rather spend my 19.99 on.

2.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Feast of Fools

Feast of Fools
(Book 4 of the Morganville Vampires)
Written by: Rachel Caine
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Signet
Language: English
June 2008, $5.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Young Adult

The wait is over. dig into the feast...

In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans live in relative peace. Student Claire Danvers has never been convinced, though—especially with the arrival of Mr. Bishop, an ancient, old-school vampire who cares nothing about harmony. What he wants from the town’s living and its dead is unthinkably sinister. It’s only at a formal ball, attended by vampires and their human dates, that Claire realizes the elaborately evil trap he’s set for Morganville.


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I am a fan of Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series and when I found out that she did a young adult series about vampires I thought I would give them a go. I am now four books into the series and while it is primarily a young adult series it’s not bad. It must not be horrid or else I wouldn’t keep buying the books. *smile*

The third installment was largely an exposition novel and frustratingly some of the questions that volume posed were not answered as I would have liked in this fourth installment. But this installment has its moments. Not only is it a bit more tension filled due to Bishop’s arrival and those vampires he brings with them (especially since one of them decides that Shane, Claire’s boyfriend, needs to be a personal pet), but because of the action that happens in the second half of the book.

I like this series of books because of Morganville itself. I like the vampire hierarchy. I like the feudal system that goes on between the vampires and the humans of the small town. Claire is an interesting character and so are her friends. I even love to hate Miss Teen Morganville and her snooty friends. Sure these are mainly for teens, but if you changed Claire’s age and introduced a little TV-MA to the situations you would find it right next to Caine’s Weather Warden series.

Unfortunately you can’t really pick this one up and know what is going on without having read the other three. But they are fun quick reads and I imagine I will probably pick up the fifth book which comes out in January.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Monday, November 10, 2008

Marvel 1602

Marvel 1602
Written by: Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by: Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Vertigo
Language: English
June 2001, $14.99

In Marvel 1602, award-winning writer Neil Gaiman and artist Andy Kubert present a unique vision of the Marvel universe set four hundred years in the past. Classic Marvel icons such as the X-Men, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and Daredevil appear in this intriguing world of 17th-century science and sorcery, instantly familiar to readers, yet subtly different in this new time. Marvel 1602 combines classic Marvel action and adventure with the historically accurate setting of Queen Elizabeth's reign to create a unique series unlike any other published by Marvel Comics.

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I heart Neil Gaiman big time so anyone who knows me should not find it unusual that I picked up Marvel 1602. I am also a costume drama fan when it comes to my film picks as well. Combine Gaiman and the Elizabethan age with some of my favorite superheroes and I am one happy chick. Of course the prospect of having Dr. Strange, The X-Men, Nick Fury, etc mingle with Queen Elizabeth is too good not to pick up. And I was happy to discover I was not at all disappointed and in fact, I wanted it to go on (though I hear the second volume not penned by Gaiman isn’t as good).

I had a blast deciphering who each of the heroes and villains were because some of them are not easily recognizable at first. Is it as deep as Sandman? No. But it is so much fun that you don’t care. A shame Gaiman didn’t do the second volume.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Pride of Baghdad

Pride of Baghdad
Written by: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrated by: Niko Henrichon
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Vertigo
Language: English
June 2001, $14.99

A fictionalized account of a true story, Pride of Baghdad tells the story of four lions that escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during the 2003 invasion of Baghdad by US forces. During their brief freedom, they explore the ruined city. It is the pride's first taste of freedom. But at what cost?

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The story begins with a change in the air, a change that all of the animals have begun to feel. Though there is a hierarchy in the zoo, some of the animals have broken this code (the monkeys conspiring with the lions) in hopes to secure freedom. Then we meet the four lions - Zill, his two wives Noor and Safa and his son Ali. Zill does not mind the confines of the zoo. He is comfortable and fat though he admits wanting to see the horizon one day again. Safa, Zill’s bitter old lioness also has no desire to leave the zoo as she remembers what ‘freedom’ was like (a gang rape by a band of male lions) and has no desire to risk personal safety over life beyond a cage. Then there is Noor, Zill’s current mate who wants nothing more than freedom as she believes that being free would bring her happiness. Finally there is the impulsive and inquisitive Ali, Zill and Noor’s son. He is a child and acts thus.

Of course early on, you discover that though Pride of Baghdad focuses on the lions it is hardly about the lions. Lions don’t gang rape. And though the not so subtle allusions to war and the political and social commentary can be a little heavy handed at times, it still breaks your heart. I felt the same way about Orwell’s Animal Farm. It is a heart wrenching story about freedom and the cost for that freedom. And as I said earlier it breaks your heart. For example there is a turtle who mourns the deaths of his entire family and the “lions of Babylon” that will destroy everything. I don’t like seeing animals in pain, fictional or not. More than that, I get what Vaughan was trying to do and say.

One of the best things about this graphic novel though is Henrichon’s artwork. It is stunning and beautiful. In one volume you see the tragedy of war and the beauty of the King of Beasts. The animals remained realistic and didn’t go Lion King on me despite being able to read the different emotions and expressions on their faces. In fact, Henrichon’s art is so gorgeous that I would like to find more comics he has worked on.

Between Y: The Last Man, this and his work on Buffy Season 8, I am seriously developing a crush on Brian K Vaughan. This is an amazing graphic novel and deserves the praise it has received, though I know I am a little late to the party. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

November Urban Fantasy Releases

I read a lot of different genres, but urban fantasy is probably my favorite. Urban Fantasy is contemporary for the most part where the supernatural mixes with the mundane. Think Charles de Lint, Simon R Green, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, etc. So, if you are a fan like I am here is some of the stuff coming out this month.


NOVEMBER 4th
The Memorist
By MJ Rose
“As a child, Meer Logan was haunted by memories of another time and place, always accompanied by the faint strains of elusive music. Now the past has reached out again in the form of a strange letter that sets her on a journey to Vienna to unlock the mystery of who she once was. A a gripping and unforgettable novel about a woman paralyzed by the past, a man robbed of his future, and a centuries old secret… This is a loose sequel to The Reincarnationist.”

Night Work
By Thomas Glavinic
“An ordinary man wakes up on an ordinary day to find that he's the only living creature in the entire city. The radio and TV are suddenly filled with white noise, there's no newspaper, the Internet is down and no one's answering the phone. What happened? How? Why? And why is he still here?”

Escape From Hell
By Hal Duncan
“A hitman, a hooker, a homosexual kid, and a hobo suicide make the ultimate prison break . . . escape from Hell itself! But when news of their attempted escape gets out, the souls of the damned are transformed into a rioting mob, and all Hell truly does break loose. It's Escape from New York meets Jacob's Ladder.”

The Reawakened (Book Three in the Aspect of Crow trilogy)
By Jeri Smith-Ready
“In a world besieged by escalating conflict, fate has marked Rhia—bound to the Spirit of Crow—to deliver the Reawakened from oppression. Now, with a mighty army of Descendants threatening to crush what's left of her people's magic, she must trust an ancient prophecy and accept the deadly power of her birthright. For while the storm of revolution rages, the legacy of the Reawakened is about to be rewritten . . . in her family's blood…”

Swallowing Darkness (Merry Gentry series Book 7)
By Laurell K Hamilton
“I am Meredith, princess of faerie, wielder of the hands of Flesh and Blood, and at long last, I am with child–twins, fathered by my royal guard. Though my uncle, Taranis, King of Light and Illusion, claims that he is the true father since he abducted me from my home, betrayed, and defiled me. And now he has branded my guards as a threat to my unborn children. Bearing an heir has placed me halfway to my aunt’s throne, that much closer to my reign over the Unseelie Court–and well ahead of her son, my cousin Cel, in this race. Now I must stay alive to see my children born and claim my place as queen. But not all in faerie are pleased with the news, and conspirators from every court in the realm plot against me and mine. They seek to strip my guards, my lovers, from me by poisoned word or cold steel. But I still have supporters, and even friends, among the goblins and the sluagh, who will stand by me. I am Meredith Nic Essus, and those who would defy and destroy me are destined to pay a terrible price–for I am truly my father’s daughter. To protect what is mine, I will sacrifice anything–even if it means waging a great battle against my darkest enemies and making the most momentous decision ever made as princess of faerie.”

Magic to the Bone
By Devon Monk
“Using magic means it uses you back, and every spell exacts a price from its user. But some people get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent. Then it’s Allison Beckstrom’s job to identify the spell-caster. Allie would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence than accept the family fortune—and the strings that come with it. But when she finds a boy dying from a magical Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into his world of black magic. And the forces she calls on in her quest for the truth will make her capable of things that some will do anything to control…”

Better Off Undead
By Martin Greenberg
“From vampires to mummy con artists, this collection explores the many forms the undead can take in stories that range from the chilling to the hysterical. There are those who people the Afterlife, others who wander the lands of the living in ghostly form, and even those who walk about in the flesh. Featuring 18 original stories, Better Off Undead will provide a range of intriguing answers from those who are undead…”

The Last Watch (Night Watch Book 4)
By Sergei Lukyanenko
“Part fantasy, and part detective potboiler, the Night Watch (Day Watch, Twilight Watch) series is the most successful science fiction series of all time in Russia, and a true international sensation. Now, in the breathtaking final novel in the series, Anton is sent on a mission that takes him from Edinburgh to Uzbekistan to Moscow and back again, as a murder investigation spirals into a larger, more complex, and more terrifying threat than the world has ever faced…”

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NOVEMBER 13th
Thirteen Orphans
By Jane Lindskold
“As far as college freshman Brenda Morris knows, there is only one Earth and magic exists only in fairy tales. Brenda is wrong. A father-daughter weekend turns into a nightmare when Brenda’s father is magically attacked before her eyes. Brenda soon learns that her ancestors once lived in world of smoke and shadows, of magic and secrets. When that world’s Emperor was overthrown, the Thirteen Orphans fled to our earth and hid their magic system in the game of mah-jong. Each Orphan represents an animal from the Chinese Zodiac. Brenda’s father is the Rat. And her polished, former child-star aunt, Pearl—that eminent lady is the Tiger. Only a handful of Orphans remain to stand against their enemies. The Tiger, the Rooster, the Dog, the Rabbit . . . and Brenda Morris. Not quite the Rat, but not quite human either.”

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NOVEMBER 18th
The Rose Labyrinth
By Titania Hardie
“Before his death in 1609, brilliant spy, astrologer & mathematician, John Dee, hid many of his papers, believing that the world was not ready for the ideas they held. For 17 generations, his female descendants have protected his most precious secrets, waiting for the right moment to reveal them. In 2003, Diana was forced to pass the enigmatic legacy to her son Will, leading him into a world of extraordinary riddles and dangerous secrets…”

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NOVEMBER 25th
The Reach
By Nate Kenyon
“Young Sarah is no ordinary girl. She’s been diagnosed as schizophrenic and locked away in a children’s psychiatric ward. She also has a very strange—and powerful—gift. Scientists have been studying Sarah’s remarkable psychic power for years, enhancing it, manipulating it, and twisting it into something evil. But their plans have gone horribly wrong. How much longer can they control Sarah? And what will happen if her powers are unleashed?”

The Devil’s Due (Morgan Kingsley Book 3)
By Jenna Black
”Possession was never this much fun. Trust me or die…That’s the choice Morgan Kingsley, exorcist, is given by the gorgeous rogue demon who’s gotten inside her. The truth is, Morgan has dozens of reasons not to trust anyone, from the violence that torched her house and killed her father to a love life that’s left her questioning her relationship with her erstwhile boyfriend, Brian. But Lugh, a king among demons, won’t take no for an answer. He’s prying into her body, her mind, even her sex life. And he’s just pulled Morgan into a power struggle that could have devastating consequences for both the human and demon worlds. But Morgan still has a job to do: investigating the highly bizarre possession of the son of a wealthy Philadelphia couple. That hunt leads Morgan into a realm of sexual depravity, then a terrifying kidnapping.… Now a woman who makes her living prying demons from their hosts finds her day job colliding with the night: a darkness that is attracting demons of the damnedest sort, including the one who’s about to demand his ultimate due.”

New Tricks
By John Levitt
“Former enforcer Mason would normally be concerned with finding ghosts and vampires stalking the Castro section of San Francisco. Fortunately, Halloween provides the perfect explanation for the abundance of ghouls. But someone is trying to possess his old flame, Sarah. Now, with the help of his magical dog Louie, Mason must uncover the black magician responsible.”

On The Prowl (Tales of an Urban Werewolf Book 2)
By Karen MacInerney
”Talk about a bad-hair day! Sophie Garou is a master at taming her inner beast, which comes in handy since she’s a werewolf. With a big promotion at work and a supersexy boyfriend, Heath (whom she recently spotted leaving a jewelry store with a beguiling ring box), she’s one happy girl. But when Heath starts spending long nights at the office with his new associate–a dead-ringer for Career Day Barbie–Sophie smells trouble. And when her professional relationship with her big new client–who also happens to be Texas’s brilliantly blue-eyed most eligible bachelor–begins to sizzle, she wonders if her animal instincts are leading her in the wrong direction. Just when it seems that things can’t get any more complicated, they do. The Houston werewolf pack has sniffed Sophie out, and their message is chillingly clear: you’re either with us or against us. And unless she can prove that she’s with them, the next full moon may just be her last.”