Monday, May 28, 2012

2011, Part 1

2000 More Insults, compiled by Louis A. Safian. Looking for the perfect insult to call someone cheap, ugly, dumb, a drunk, mean, egotistical or easy, you can find insults for everyone in this book. Male, female, young and old, no one is left out. Mean-spirited in the extreme, reading this book was more than a bit stomach-turning. The only reason I'd consider using it is to come up with things for very mean-spirited characters to say about other people in a story. This is the kind of book that has gone out of fashion- and thank goodness for that! Not recommended.

Burned by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast- with the death of Heath, Zoey's human love, Zoey has turned her back on the living world and is seeking to hold onto Heath's soul by any means necessary. But in the process, her own soul has shattered into many pieces and she is trapped in a shadow world inside her mind- not quite the lands of the dead, but close enough that if she spends too long there, she, too, could truly die. Only Stark can go in after her and bring her out of it, and he must reunite the shattered and scattered pieces of her soul to do so. But what happens if Zoey doesn't want to come out? And back in Tulsa, Stevie Ray has befriended Rephaim, the Raven Mocker. But when she summons the white Bull to help Zoey out, the White Bull gives her knowledge for a terrible price in blood and pain. And its counterpart, the Black Bull, is summoned as well. tying Stevie Ray to Rephaim and his humanity. But when Neferet sends Kalona into Zoey's mind to kill her so that she can never return, can Zoey snap out of her funk, repair her shattered soul, and save Stark from Kalona? And what part will Aphrodite have to play in this? Another great novel, where Zoey is in the depths of her despair, and trying to save Heath from moving on, but she has to learn that she cannot keep a dead soul from death, and she must accept Heath's death, no matter how much it pains her. The look inside Zoey's mind was enlightening and sad all at once, and the battle towards the end was heartwrenching, both on Zoey and Stark's parts. But there is hope that Zoey will survive and continue to fight, and I still love this series. Highly recommended.

What Women Want:The Science of Female Shopping by Paco Underhill. Men are used to being in power and being in control in every area of business and marketing. But truly, this is no longer the case. These days, women are the ones in control of the shopping budget, and where money is spent, and because of this, business and marketing have adapted to meet the female mindset. Even in the home, the prominence of the bathroom and kitchen are because of the prevalence of marketing to women. It is women who luxuriate in the bath, women who generally do most or all of the cooking, and the touting of high-end ranges, refrigerators, spa-like bathtubs and other conveniences only came about because of women's demand for those things. And these days, when women also have jobs and spend their own money, its how businesses cater to women and their wants and needs that determines how successful they are- a fact laid out in amazing detail in this book. This was fascinating to read and see how women have shaped the retail industry and how they continue to shape it on a daily and yearly basis. Anyone who wants to know how to market things right would do well to read this book and absorb the impact of what it is telling you. Recommended, and fascinating to boot.

Emily the Strange: The Lost Days by Rob Reger and Jessica Gruner- Emily is a strange girl who is living in an even stranger town. But she has no idea who she really is, being afflicted with amnesia. She's living in a refrigerator box in an alley and has no idea how she even got to the town of Blackrock. To defeat her Amnesia, Emily is going to have to find out why she came to Blackrock and solve the mystery of the town so she can remember who she is and get back to the family she hopes she has and who hopefully is missing her. But who is she, really, and why was she heading to Blackrock? Emily the Strange started out as a mere image used on clothing and skating gear, but has become a character in and of herself. This book is the first to explore who she is as a character from her own perception. I had hoped the book was going to be interesting, but the book was too long and had too many sidepaths away from the main story to hold my interest. By the end of the book, I was actually getting bored. Unless you are a big fan of Emily the Strange, I don't recommend this book. It seemed too long, and the story was too drawn-out to hold my interest. Not recommended.

The Morganville Vampires: Book Eight- Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine- Michael Glass has been waiting his whole life to hear that a record company wants to make a record of his songs and is bringing him to Dallas to cut a track- but now that he's a vampire, he's extremely unlikely to be given permission to leave the town of Morganville to make the attempt. And his housemates, his lover Eve, best friend Shane and Shane's girlfriend Claire Danvers, are even less likely to be given permission to leave- until they are. However, there is a catch (of course). Oliver, the town's enforcer, is to be their escort, to see that they don't let slip anything that could endanger the town. But it's not the trip to Dallas that causes the most problems- it's the trip back, when they discover another town of vampires, one not nearly as well-controlled or enforced as Morganville, who will also do anything to protect their vampire existence from getting out, even to another group of vampires. Can Michael, Oliver and the others survive the assault by the vampires of the other town and keep their human friends and allies safe while keeping the vampires from killing all the humans in town now that their secret is out? Wow, just when you thought Morganville was bad, we get to see how much worse it could all have been without Amelie in charge, and while the vampires of Morganville are bad, they are generally not actively hostile to the humans there and let passers-through live, while these other vampires view passers-through as food. Morganville through a glass darkly makes for a book you cannot put down. Highly recommended.

The Morganville Vampires: Book Nine- Ghost Town by Rachel Caine- Claire Danvers is the one person her vampire mentor, Myrnin, trusts to see the machine that actually keeps the town of Morganville safe. And when Claire comes up with a way to use the vampires' own powers to make sure that people who aren't meant to know what the town is really like from cottoning onto the secret, she adds it to the machine. But soon, it becomes obvious that something has gone wrong- none of her roommates seem to remember her, and even the vampires are becoming extraordinarily forgetful. But can Claire race to undo what she has done before she herself forgets how to undo the changes? And what will happen if the vampires forget that the humans are under their protection? Another excellent book in the Morganville series, this one focussing on how easily Claire, who is truly brilliant and gifted in science, can overstep herself without realizing it. It was great to see her have to deal with things on her own, and how she copes when her friends can no longer remember her. Highly recommended.

Fables, the Deluxe Edition, Volume 3 by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Tony Akins and Jimmy Palmiotti- a newcomer from the Homelands arrives in Fabletown, and it is Red Riding Hood- and after Bigby leaves off investigating Ichabod Crane, he's soon investigating Red Riding Hood's astonishing survival and escape from the lands controlled by the Empire. But one of the three little pigs has survived his beheading, and warns Snow White that a holocaust is coming. But she doesn't know enough to take it seriously. Soon after, three strange men arrive in Fabletown. They are made of wood, and each is exactly the same except for the color of their hair- which are wigs. They are there at the behest of the Adversary to scout out Fabletown, get back all the magic items stolen from the Homelands by the fleeing Fables, and to kill as many Fables as they can. But when the battle finally comes to Fabletown, will everyone survive? And what will happen to the wooden soldiers who are left afterwards? I loved this graphic novel, which showed what was going on in the homelands, and yet, at the same time, brought up the prospect of war in the human world, and show them that their attempt to escape the homelands was unsuccessful, because the Adversary is still there. It's a story of war and skulduggery, and advances readers closer to the time where the Fables must return home to defeat the adversary. Highly recommended.

Field Guide to Meat by Aliza Green- If you like meat, but would like more suggestions for how to prepare it, or you see a strange cut or name of meat in the market and wondered "what is that, and where is it from?", this book will more than likely have the answers. Everything from chicken, pork, beef or cuts of sausage, bacon and possibly obscure stuff like Brauschweiger or Capacollo, this book tells you what it is and gives suggestions on how to eat it. Includes pictures of just about everything meat and meat-related. A small book with big information and ideas. Recommended.

Stormwalker by Allyson James- Janet Begay is a Stormwalker, and fled her home because people gossiped about her, her power, and her missing mother. But when she returns to the town, trouble follows her, from a mirror with a spirit to her missing mother. But at least she has her biker boyfriend to back her up, right? Well, how is he immune to her storm powers, and why is he the only person able to help her control them? With a local cop who thinks she is nothing but a troublemaker on her tail, and creatures from another dimension popping in to cause trouble, Janet is going to have to figure out the truth of her parentage and who her boyfriend is, because otherwise, she might not survive... I liked this book and the chemistry between Janet and Mick, her boyfriend, as well as the decidedly non-traditional "otherworld" that underlies the series. Vampires, werewolves and such, the lifeblood of more traditional paranormal romance, are absent here, and neither Janet nor Mick are the usual sorts of characters. A nice change and recommended.

Firewalker- Janet Begay's boyfriend Mick is a Dragon-shifter, and while he was sent by his people to kill her because she and her parentage was a threat to the world, he befriended her and came to protect and love her instead. Recently, Janet returned home and opened a hotel named "The Crossroads", which attracts all sorts of Supernatural creatures. But when a dead body is found in her hotel, the local Sherriff, Nash Jones, just recently resigned to her return, decides she must be the main suspect. But what does this have to do with Mick's people, and are they still trying to kill her because they believe she can destroy the world? When Mick goes missing, Janet will have to search for him and find him- but if he is in the hands of his own people, can Janet convince them to spare him, or will she have to sacrifice her owm life to save that of the man she loves? This is the second book in the series, and just as good as the first, although it explores Mick's people, and why they are so angry at him for not killing Janet. With more Navajho mysticism and more weird supernatural creatures than you can shake a stick at, this enlarges the world of Stormwalker, and fleshes out Mick's character and people. Another excellent book, and recommended.

Blood Wyne by Yasmine Galenorn- Menolly D'Artigo used to be a half-fae ninja, until she was attacked by a vampire in the midst of one of her missions. Now a vampire herself, Menolly threw off the reins of her maker, Drudge, to become her own woman and take on the forces of the Underworld with her sisters. But now, someone is killing humans and making it seem like the Vampire are responsible, so someone must step up and take control of the vampire Community. Menolly's associate Wade wants it to be him, because he has the experience running Vampires Anonymous. However, another candidate has also appeared for the position, Roman, a son of the feared Vampire Queen Blood Wyne, and thousands of years old. And leadership of the American Vampires isn't all that he wants- he also has his eye on Delilah as a lover, and promises her that if she convinces Wade to stand down from the position, he will prevent his mother from killing Wade or in interfering with the vampires in any way. But he also promises to fight on the side of the sisters against Shadow Wing- not an inconsiderable point when the odds are so stacked against him. But how will Menolly's lover Nerissa feel about the deal? And can Menolly convince Wade that he shouldn't even try for the position of leadership without revealing that it is Blood Wyne who is pulling the strings against him, and he is severely outclassed? And can Menolly and Wade catch the killers and exonerate the vampires in the deed? I wish I could say I loved this book, because I love this entire series, but honestly, this book had some problems that left me feeling more than a little troubled by it. The first is the reaction of both Nerissa and Roman towards sharing Menolly. Yes, Menolly is fae and has no problem with multiple lovers, but neither Roman nor Nerissa are, and I felt there was a lot of "wish fulfillment" that each was fine with sharing Menolly in this way, especially Roman, whose attitudes should be much more primitive than that. Delilah and Shade's romance actually felt a bit creepy, and despite the author having everyone treat Shade as though he was this great, cool guy, I am still a bit weirded out by how quickly Delilah overcame her feelings of Chase leaving her and shacked up with Shade. I'd like to see something of them developing a deeper relationship rather than just having it a fait accompli. And Chase has problems of his own. He's not all that great a guy, and neither is Sharah, his new lover (at least, according to a conversation later in the book), and this gave me a bit of Schadenfreude on his behalf. But it's nice to see all the sisters finding their own niche and their own groove- they are growing up, and it's a welcome change. Recommended, but not highly.

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