Saturday, June 02, 2012

2012, Part 9

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost- Cat Crawfield is half-vampire, but hunts vampires, who she believes are all bad, to avenge her mother, who was raped by a vampire. But when she tries to take on the Master Vampire known as Bones, he defeats her easily despite her stronger than human strength and faster than human speed. But when he undertakes to train her to hunt vampires like he does, and with her help take down stronger vampires, can she overcome her prejudice against vampires, especially when she starts finding herself attracted to Bones? I loved this book, as it is unusual to see a Dhampir as the protagonist of a book, but Cat was raised to be a scourge of vampires, and its obvious that her mother only seems to love her when she is killing vampires, which seems a little twisted for me. But I loved Cat's character and how she changes and grows under Bones's tutelage. The way he is described seems to me to be like Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with his appearance and cockney accent, but he's much deeper than that. I loved it and couldn't wait to read more. Highly recommended.

One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost- After the events of the first novel, Cat has gone to working for the government as a vampire slayer. But she only takes out vampires that they have proof that are killing humans. But when it becomes obvious that someone undead is gunning for Cat, she finds Bones coming back into her life, and along with her former lover, she has to figure out who is out to kill her, and face her team and her boss, who think that she killed Bones back when she first joined up with the government. But when the man behind the termination order is out of Cat's past, can she and Bones bring him to justice and save her life while killing the bad vampires, and reigniting their love? Another excellent book in the series, and it was nice to see Bones and Cat back together, as how they parted in "Halfway to the Grave" was kind of sad and maddening at the same time- it's nice to know she can't escape him forever. I loved how they sparked off each other and how they dealt with her lying to her boss, as well as the revelation over who was after Cat. Highly recommended.

At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost- Despite having taken care of the man who was trying to kill her in the last book, Cat, now reconciled with her lover, Bones, has married him according to vampire society, and is planning their human wedding- against the wishes of her mother, who hates not only Bones, but all vampires. But someone is once again out to kill Cat, and Bones will have to ally with his Grandsire, Mancheres, to gain enough power to overcome the new threat to kill Cat. But why are people so anxious to kill her? And she is getting too well-known to remain in her job killing vampires for the government- too many people can recognize the "Red Reaper", so the agency decides to use another female vampire- with disastrous results. Can Cat keep off the two people wanting her dead, or will she have to defer to Bones, who wants to kill anyone whp tries to hurt her? And what does Mancheres have to do with their problems? Locked in a house in Canada, can Cat and Bones keep their friends and allies alive when their foe unleashes the grave upon them? It was a bit strange how all the villains seem to go after Cat when Bones is so much stronger than she is. But can it be that they are trying to take her out to somehow weaken him? It's a puzzle, but makes for a great story, because Cat will always want to be there in her own defense. Another great story, and Cat and Bones continue to grow in power and ability. Cat makes a new friend who promises to be quite... interesting for her. Highly recommended.

Destined for an Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost- Now a married couple in both senses of the word, Cat starts to have strange dreams where she is stalked by a strange vampire who denies that Bones is her husband. His name is Gregor, and his nickname is "The Dream Snatcher", as he can kidnap people from dreams and into reality. Cat doesn't want to go to Gregor and fights against him, but he insists that she is his wife, and that therefore she cannot have married Bones. And, as it turns out, he may be correct. As Bones tries to hold off Gregor from his assault on Cat, she discovers that she may have been lied to about her first encounter with a vampire, and that Gregor may have taken her virginity as well as her blood, before she ever met Bones. But when the truth comes out, it breaks her and Bones apart- but Cat still loves him and wants to deny Gregor. But when pictures catch Bones being unfaithful to her, can Cat deny her pain, rejoin with her former lover and kill Gregor without Bones dying or Cat being forced back into Gregor's arms? This book was quite a rollercoaster, with lots of ups and downs, and an ending that managed to be heartwarming and lovely as well as a relief. There may be more books to come in this series, and I hope there are, because I love Bones, love Cat and love all the secondary characters as well. Highly recommended, but read this series in order to get the most out of it.

First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost- Cat's best friend Denise MacGregor left Cat and Bones after her husband was killed with the assault on their home in "Grave's End". Now, she is living in Virginia, far away from any vampires and ghouls that she might know, but when her cousin is killed by a man who turns into a dog, she calls on the vampire known as Spade for help. Spade, who knew Bones when they were both convicts in Australia, lives his own life but remembers his interest in Denise quite well. So when her problem turns out to be a demon summoned by her ancestor who wants to find Nathaniel, the man who summoned him, he turns Denise into his pawn to make her find him- and threatens her parents and the remaining members of her family to get her to do so. Spade, who quickly finds himself attracted to Denise all over again, agrees to help her and goes out of his way to find out what happened to Nathaniel and track him down so Denise can be safe. But when he finds that the Demon-corrupted Denise's blood is now a drug known in vampire circles as "Red Dragon", he knows he must track down the source of "Red Dragon" to free Denise. But can he do so before the Demon catches up to her and kills her, or the other members of her family? I liked Denise from the original books, and this spin-off story was unusual in that Denise, at the beginning, is still grieving for her dead husband, but along the way, both characters find their emotions engaged with their new partner. I liked how they came together, and the ending, which fit Denise while giving her a whole new set of powers that brought her and Spade together in a new way. Another recommended book, but save this one until after you are finished with Grave's End or Destined for an Early Grave, as it takes place after both books.

Desire Untamed by Pamela Palmer- Kara MacAllister is a small town girl caring for her dying mother, but one night, a strange man shows up on her doorstep to take her away. Lyon is a feral, a man who can take on the form of a beast, in his case, a lion, and he needs Kara, in fact, all the ferals do, to be their Radiant, the one who holds their magic powers and keeps their beast selves from manifesting as more than just shapes. But Kara has been raised by humans and knows nothing at all about the ferals or their eternal foe, the mages. As Lyon works to educate her on her heritage, and bring out her powers of magic, the mages will do nothing to stop Kara from ascending to be the Radiant. But when Lyon comes to believe that Kara herself is a mage, can she defend herself without knowing anything about mages, except for their evil? And when it is revealed that the Feral known as Vhyper is Kara's destined mate, can the growing bond between Kara and Lyon survive the knowledge that he will never have her? While I liked the conceit that Kara was raised by humans and thus knows nothing about her heritage that was used to explain all the infodumping that went on in the series, the romance story itself went nothing beyond ordinary for me. In fact, the whole "Big misunderstanding threatens the love of the hero/heroine" just made it like hundreds of other romances I've read. And then there's "the man she is promised to as a mate is actually a huge prick" kind of thing that is just so rehashed I was sick of it. And Kara was appallingly passive beyond a few instances, waiting for the big misunderstanding to be cleared up rather than do anything about it herself. It just struck the wrong chord for me. Not recommended.

Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh- Sophia Russo is a J-Psy, aw oman who can delve into the memories of psychopaths to see their worst deeds, remember the details, and transmit what she sees to other Psy. But the cost to the psyche of a J-Psy is immense, and they have a history of burning out and being rehabilitated- rebuilt from the ground up with no memory of who they were earlier. And Sophia, as loathe as she is to admit it, is very close to cracking. But when working a case with human Max Shannon, she discovers a connection to him and finds herself falling in love- just one more demonstration of how close she is to losing it all. But as she and Max track down a killer of Psy for Councillor Nikita Duncan, they must also deal with the serial killer known as Bonner, probing his psyche to discover where he hid the bodies of the women he killed. But when Bonner gets free, can Max find him and Sophia, the woman he loves, before Bonner claims her as another victim? I loved this book, and how the problem of Sophia's shields, not to mention the fact that she is minor anchor for the net and thus cannot ever leave it, was resolved, as well as the romance between Max and Sophia. Bonner gives off a real feeling of evil and makes a wonderful adversary for the two, both in psychic and physical terms. Recommended.

Devour by Melina Morel- Catherine Marais is a werewolf hunter, carrying on the tradition of her family. Ian Morgan is a vampire who loves her, but worries over her latest opponent: Pierre deMontfort, the last of the Montfort werewolves. The Montfort line has always been evil, killing and murdering the weak and helpless, but now Catherine, and her partner Paul DuJardin, finally have the opportunity to end the line that has caused so much death and destruction over the centuries. But also in New York City, where the final showdown will take place, is Paul's lover, Julie Buchanan, a college teacher of French and translator of Paul's latest book- not so coincidentally about the Montfort werewolves. They are there to kill Pierre deMontfort, but can they keep each other safe, not to mention their lovers, in the wake of a rapidly maturing werewolf whose evil and cunning are without peer? This story was okay, but it was really let down by the sex aspect of the book. I never felt that the sex scenes, which are rather blandly described and often described only in generalities, supported the rest of the story. It felt, to me, as though the author only included sex scenes because "Everyone else does so" and didn't really feel them when she was writing them. It makes the rest of the story feel bland and made the book into a letdown for me. Not recommended on the whole- the story is okay, but only okay, and the sex scenes feel flat, bland and uninspired.

Prey by Melina Morel- Vivian Roussel is a werecat of the Maine Coon line, and a descendant of a famous werecat named Krasivaya, who is revered as sort of a demigoddess. But when her and her brother's warehouse of Russian antiquities is broken into, and they are nearly kidnapped, they turn to fellow werecat Pavel Federov for assistance. He is of the Russian Blue line of werecats, and thus, not as trusted as someone in their own clan, but his security company is the best in the business, and thus he seems the perfect person to keep them safe. But the break-in turns out to be a cover for someone searching for a stolen Russian icon, the Virgin of Saratov, and the theft has put both Viv and her brother Marc at risk, add to that the murdered Hierarch of the Russian Blue clan, his duplicitous wife of the Siberian Forest Cat clan, and his bumbling brother, and the Hierarch of the Maine Coons, who has apparently gone crazy and started raping the female members of his clan, and Vivian finds herself at risk from people both inside and outside her clan. But when she begins a romance with Pavel, a big no-no to those who don't believe in mixing bloodlines, can he keep her safe and return the icon to the clan, many of whom hold it in special reverence? I was hoping this book, which covered the more primal and feral werecats, would be better than Devour, but once again, the sex scenes fell amazingly flat and let down the book. I felt nothing for the two main characters and their sex scenes didn't seem all that sexy at all. A major disappointment. I will not be reading this author again. Not recommended at all.

Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel and Bouqet- is a graphic novel of the life of famed model and artist Alice Prin, who met many of the famed artists and sculptors in the 20's and 30's. The graphic novel follows her life from her birth, to living with her grandmother, to when she went to live with her mother, showing short excerpts of her life as a model when her high spirits and refusal to be put down made her get fired from all the jobs she tried, and eventually living life as a model for the Dadaist and surrealist painters, only to settle down with photographer Man Ray for a time. But sadly for Kiki, her living as a bon vivant meant she became addicted to drugs and drinking- not even a stint in prison could wean her off her addiction, and when the war was over, she swelled up like a bloated frog from dropsy. Sadly, Kiki passed away amidst a time when she should have been happy, and those who knew her were all there at her funeral. The graphic novel concludes with biographies of Kiki and those she knew. Well, it's an interesting story, and much more readable for being in graphic novel form. It's sad that the war years were sort of glossed over, but the story of her life is rich and compelling to read. Recommended.

Vermonia: Volume 6- To the Pillar of Wind by Yoyo- The friends decide to become proactive in dealing with the forces of General Uro, and split up into three seperate attack forces to free the people Uro's warriors have enslaved, break into his castle and possibly free their friend Satorin, and to go the Pillar of the Wind, where Uro's forces must attack to ensure their control over Vermonia. But the Satorin-like creature Satoran is waiting along each path, trying to lead the warriors astray and defeat them. Can they overcome the deceptions of Satoran and free the Vermonians from Uro and his warriors? We seem to be getting to a climax, but the story could continue to go on again and again. Satoran is revealed as a tricksy little bugger, but the other warriors appear to be wise to her tricks. Not a bad volume, but it seemed inconclusive to me. I am wanting this series to end soon, as it seems to be more and more stretched out in story. I wish manga creators would sometimes remember that brevity is both the soul of wit and can enliven their stories to prevent them from engendering fan fatigue. Recommended, but only slightly.

Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce- Digger is a thief living on the streets of Gerse who has come into possession of incriminating letters. Chased by the Greenmen for possessing the letters and papers, she takes shelter with a bunch of nobles sailing down the river on a boat belonging to the family of one of the nobles. She passes herself off as Celyn Contrare, a girl fleeing the Daughters of Celys, a order who serves the city's only Goddess. Taken up by one of the noblewomen as a handmaiden, Celyn promises to keep the girl safe, which she later comes to understand will be harder than it seems, as the girl has magic and is thus sacred to the Goddess Sar, whp the Celys-worshipping Greenmen regard as a heretic and a witch. But in order to keep Lady Merista safe, Celyn will have to deal with a blackmailing noble, a Prince whose own brother would kill him, and a group of Inquisitors who want to kill Merista. But can even her own thiefly skills keep herself and Merista safe? And what will she be forced to do to keep her word to Merista's cousin? I loved this book, because it starts out throwing you right into the story, and it is first in the series. It starts with Digger on the run, and gives only a few details of what happened before the book, yet manages to really draw you not only into the story, but into the world completely. Within a chapter, you are rooting for Digger/Celyn to make it out of her mess alive and safe, and then the story *really* kicks into high gear. With a strong female heroine, this book is a real delight to read. Celyn is not only physically and mentally strong, she's emotionally strong and brave as well. Highly recommended.

Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce- With Merista finally safe on her own, Celyn returns to Gerse to scout out the situation for Prince Weirolf and to see if she can incite a popular rebellion in his name and on his behalf. However, one night, she is apprehended by the Greenmen and thrown into a cell with Durrel Decath, the same man who asked her to watch over his cousin for him. It seems Durrel is in jail for murdering his wife, a cold bitch of a woman who married him only for the connections he would bring her. She was murdered after a quarrel between them and a phial of the poison used to kill her was found in his room. He maintains his innocence, but his wife's son believes Durrel was the murderer, and someone wants the truth found. Celyn agrees to investigate the murder, but it seems that everyone believes he did it, even his own father! But can Celyn find the truth, and what does it have to do with helping Sarists flee the city? This advances the story of Celyn Contrare, formerly known as Digger, but the ending lets us know there is at least one story about her still to come. An intriguing look at war and spying in a fantasy universe, with magic and murder intertwined. Highly recommended.

Untouched by Sara Humphries- Kerry Smithson is a model who has been unable to touch other people for all of her life, as doing so causes her incredible pain. Her friend, Samantha, the only person she can bear to touch, is getting married, and that means that Kerry is going to lose her only friend. But Sam, who recently discovered she is a member of the Amoveo race, a race with ties to animals, knows that Kerry is under threat from those who would kill her because she, like Sam, is only half Amoveo and thus anathema to many who believe the Amoveo should remain pure-blooded. Dante Coltari, friend to Sam's husband, is assigned to Kerry to protect her, but Kerry wants none of his protection. Even when she realizes that she can touch Dante, like Sam, without feeling pain. But will she believe Dante when he tells her of her heritage, and can he keep them both safe from a killer who would like nothing more than to lock him into his animal form forever, and kill Kerry before she can learn her clan? I didn't read the first book in the series, but I enjoyed this book a lot, and the series has real potential to be something to look forward to. Recommended.

Lust Bites by Kristina Lloyd, Portia DaCosta and Mathilde Madden is a series of three novellas about love with a vampire. Vampire's Heart has a woman loved by a vampire, but also killed by him, reborn into a human body at last. But when she and the members of a Polar Expedition fall into a trap set by her former lover and his friends, can she stay alive, or will he end up killing her all over again? Buddies Don't Bite has a virginal vampire falling in love with his human roommate. But can she overcome his mental powers to remember that she loves him, too, or will his constant tampering with her memory make her hate him? Under Her Skin has a human woman who is daughter to two of the foremost vampire slayers in the world having to stay with a vampire to get an antidote to the poison killing her father. But when the vampire turns out to be nothing like what she expected, and she finds out that her own parents have lied to her, will she put her sympathies with them or with him? Well, sort of liked the last story, but all of them had the same problems- I had trouble believing in the relationships between the characters. I didn't feel that the characters actually felt anything for each other- the relationships seemed chill and lifeless. Sex happens, yes, and can be hot, but for me it was nothing when I couldn't feel the connections between the characters. Not recommended at all, the opposite of sexy.

 Lord of the Night by Robin T. Popp- Erik Winslow is a vampire, but he isn't able to prevent a vampire from killing two of his friends and fellow vampire slayers. Their daughter, Kacie Renault, hates the vampires for what they did and becomes a slayer herself, trained by Erik. But when she finds out that he is one of those things she hates, she intends to leave him behind forever and become an accountant. Only her imminent move to the US to be with her fiancĂ© makes her return to Erik's castle to retrieve her belongings. But when a vampire in town is killed by Kacie, it reignites a blood feud between Erik and a former friend, who demands he turn Kacie over for justice. Can Erik bear to turn Kacie over to be killed, and will Kacie kill more vampires to spite him? Or will she discover that Erik is not so bad as she feared? I wound up liking this book, and the author misleads us for quite some time so that the readers won't cotton on to the true plot. Still, it was no more than interesting, and not much interesting at that, for most of the book. I rate this one a "Meh".

No comments: