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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

At Grave's End (Night Huntress, Book 3) by Jeaniene Frost

I was up until well into the night so I could finish At Grave's End, the latest Cat and Bones story. UPS delivered it around 5:00, just as the family was sitting down to supper. By the time I got the girls ready for bed and actually got to begin reading it I was chomping at the bit. But it was worth every second I had to wait. What an incredible book.

One kind of off-topic thing I want to say though, I think the model on the cover is pregnant. Look closely, the face is a bit fuller, there appear to be more boobs, and you can see what looks like a pregnant stomach hanging down. They did a great job of putting her in a position to conceal it, and I'm glad they got the same model for consistency's sake. And she looks great, incredible even, for a pregnant woman... still with those legs that don't stop. Okay, I'll stop commenting on the cover now and get to the book.

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

Some things won't stay buried...

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.

The book starts with action and the action rarely lets up for very long. I didn't lay in bed and read this one, I sat up, with a pillow in my lap hunched over reading it. And I flew through it. I'll have to go back and read it again to pick up all of the nuances.

I'll even admit to doing something I very very very rarely do. At one point I just had to know something and I briefly jumped ahead in the book to read and see if what appeared to be happening was really happening. I read for maybe ten seconds, just long enough to see one thing but not long enough to spoil anything else, and then went right back to where I was. I can only remember doing that with two other books my entire life. This book makes three.

A lot happens in At Grave's End besides the plot in this book. I mean, the plot is once again well thought out and really good, but one of the great things about books in a series is that there is a lot more going on than just the plot, right?  So what else happens? With the intention of informing but not spoiling I'll say that: 
  • Cat grows up some more, in a couple of ways. 
  • More surprisingly, Cat's mom even does some growing up. 
  • Bones becomes more powerful. 
  • Two of Cat's team take Bone's up on his offer of turning people into vampires. 
  • We learn a whole lot more about Mencheres. 
  • And we even get to meet a historical figure.

As I was telling a coworker about the premise of the books yesterday, I realized something. Yes, it's a good story, but from any other author it wouldn't be my favorite series. Sure, the world building is interesting, and the plots are good. But we get that in a lot of other series as well. I think that part of what makes this series so good is the mastery of the author in actually telling the story and building the characters. We have wonderful conversation along with lots of humor, fear, tension, happiness, sadness, despair, lust, anger, wonderment, and... a ton of other feelings and emotions that I'm not going to take the time to write.  We get to know Cat and Bones and Justina and Tate and Juan and even lesser characters like Mencheres and Spade. We see their personalities in a way that not many authors can manage. 

The next book, An Early Grave, is due out in 6 months. Once again, I can't wait.

Series Rating: 10 out of 10
Book Rating: 10 out of 10

Night Huntress Novels
Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress 1) October 2007
One Foot in the the Grave (Night Huntress 2) April 2008
At Grave's End (Night Huntress 3) December 2008
An Early Grave (Night Huntress 4) July 2009

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

It took me forever to read American Gods. Weeks. Considering I read most books in one or two evenings, that's saying quite a bit. Part of the reason it took so long is that I put it down during the slow parts, and part of the reason is that it's a long book. Mostly though, I put it down when I needed a break from it, which happened quite a bit.

Why did I need a break? Part of the blame truly is that there were some slow parts, but part of it is that it jumps around quite a bit, telling you about things that happened 10,000 years ago right in the middle of another part of the story.

There are two main premises of the book: 1) the old gods are still around and barely surviving since they don't get much (if any) worship anymore and 2) the places of energy in the US are tourist attractions (as opposed to Europe where Cathedrals and stone circles and such were built in places of energy). I love that Rock City plays a role, as it has to be the epitome of "tourist attraction in a place of energy", and the fact that I had already recognized it as such, made the book just a bit creepier.

The story follows Shadow, who is in prison but due to get out soon when we first meet him. We follow him once he is out of prison, and we watch him navigate through almost every archetype I've ever studied. If I had to guess, I'd say the author has had his own mystical experiences, either that or he's just done a lot of studying of archetypes and how to incorporate them using old and new labels.

I'm not sure if I'll read the next book, Anansi Boys. I certainly won't read it any time soon, but perhaps later, after I've had more time to digest this book.

This is more than an adventure, it's a spiritual odyssey. I think that to fully grasp American Gods, one must read it twice. And I will likely do that at some point, but not right now.

I put this in the Urban Fantasy genre, since the premise of gods like Thor and Odin along with various minor gods and goddesses being real seems to fit.

And I've rated it an 8 of 10. If it weren't for the slow parts it would have easily gotten a 9 of 10. It's a great story, but the slow parts were hard to get through.

American Gods is a masterfully written book, parts of it are pure genius. It's one of those books you could pull hundreds of interesting quotes from, single quotes that you could meditate on for hours. All together, it can be a bit overwhelming, but that doesn't take away from the brilliance of the story and the insights taken from the story. I recommend American Gods to those looking for something to really sink their teeth into. This is not a light read.

Sneak Peeks of books I'm waiting for

Some of the book on my Anxiously Awaiting list have sneak peeks available at the author's websites.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Anxiously Awaiting (late December 2008)

The following are books in a series I am Anxiously Awaiting. They are either part of a series I am already reading, or they are the first book in a new series by an author I already like.

If someone wants to send me an ARC of one of these books, I will read it within a day or two of it arriving (assuming I'm home and I'm not sick or anything), and will get a blog post up of it as soon as I've finished reading it. You may contact me for a shipping address at chained lightning at g mail dot com (remove all of the spaces, of course).

12/30/08 At Grave's End (Night Huntress, Bk 3) Jeaniene Frost
01/06/09 A Witch's Beauty (Mermaid Series) Joey W. Hill
01/20/09 Kiss of a Demon King (Immortals after Dark, 6) Kresley Cole
01/27/09 Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (Kitty Norville, 5) Carrie Vaughn
01/27/09 Men of the Otherworld (Women/Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong
02/03/09 Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, Bk 4) Patricia Briggs
02/24/09 Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville, Book 6) Carrie Vaughn
02/24/09 Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford, Bk 2) Kelley Armstrong
02/24/09 White Witch, Black Curse (Rachel Morgan, Bk 7) Kim Harrison
02/24/09 Jailbait Zombie (Felix Gomez) Mario Acevedo
03/03/09 A Vampire's Claim (Vampire Queen Series) Joey W. Hill
03/03/09 Deathwish (Cal Leandros Bk 4) Rob Thurman
03/03/09 Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter, Bk 1) Nalini Singh
03/24/09 Deadly Desire (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Bk 7) by Keri Arthur
03/31/09 Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3) Ilona Andrews
04/07/09 Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, Bk 4) Karen Chance
04/07/09 Turn Coat (Dresden Files, Bk 11) Jim Butcher
04/28/09 Doomsday Can Wait (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 2) Lori Handeland
05/05/09 Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 9) by Charlaine Harris
06/02/09 Skin Trade, Anita Blake Series, Laurel K Hamilton
06/02/09 Undead and Unwelcome (Queen Betsy, Bk 8) MaryJanice Davidson
06/16/09 Fifteen to Smithereens (Stephanie Plum), Janet Evanovich
07/07/09 Branded by Fire (Psy-Changelings), Nalini Singh
07/21/09 Not That Innocent (Anthlgy) Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kresley Cole...
07/21/09 Mercy Thompson Homecoming (Comic) Patricia Briggs, Francis Tsai
07/28/09 An Early Grave (Night Huntress, Bk 4) Jeaniene Frost
07/28/09 Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Book 2) by Patricia Briggs
08/??/09 Beloved Vampire (Vampire Queen Series) Joey W. Hill
08/??/09 Bad Moon Rising (Dark Hunter Series) Sherrilyn Kenyon
09/??/09 Apocalypse Happens (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 3) Lori Handeland
09/??/09 Doom with a View (Psychic Eye Mystery) Victoria Laurie
11/??/09 Frostbitten (Elena & Clay) (Women/Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong
01/??/10 Untitled, Dev's book, (Psy-Changelings), Nalini Singh

Not all of the series I keep up with have another book listed as coming out. The authors have stated there will be more, but they haven't said when, or given a title name. I've listed those series below.

* Meredith Gentry Series by Laurel K Hamilton
* Bronwyn the Witch series by Candace Havens

We are so close to the release of At Graves End, I've been waiting for this book for months. I literally cannot wait.