Friday, 28 September 2012

Hello Blog!'s it going? I've neglected you, I know, I'm a terrible blogger.

Something tragic has happened. I have finally become so jaded, so very bitter about the endless stream of shite being published under the umbrella term of "Urban Fantasy" that I can no longer look the genre in the eye. I really can't. It's 99.9% paranormal romance pond slime and I'm just too tired to keep looking for the .01% of awesome anymore.

The straw that broke the camel's back for me was reading The Dark Heroine...and thinking of how the author got a 6 fix advance on it. 6 bloody figures...for lovesick teenage drivel. It's just...I mean, obviously that must be what the masses want, and I just don't fit in with the masses. To me, it's pitiful. I feel like the kid who was convinced the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes.

I have a good friend, who's massively into Epic Fantasy. Now in the past I've never got into it, but she's seen me weep over my crappy book options a few times and has persuaded me to try something by some George RR Martin fella. So I'll give that a go. And if it's any good, maybe I'll wander back to book blogging a happy chappy.

..if not...God knows!!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Last Werewolf: Glen Duncan

Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you'd never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you--and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely. Jake's depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide--even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive. Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend--mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century--a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human. One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.

It's really very simple. I have 3 words for this one. Werewolves for Grownups.

It's literary, and it's brutal. A real blend of styles and genres that will have your mind reeling. The language is abrasive, the sex is explicit, and the violence is absolute. And if that's not enough to make you add-to-basket I don't know what is! It's like no other Urban Fantasy I've read. Duncan is in a class of his own. Conceptually brilliant and perfectly excuted.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Lifestyles of the Rich and Undead: Katie MacAlister

"A delightful e-short story from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katie MacAlister, featuring the vampire hero of her novella "Shades of Gray," from the upcoming Pocket Books paranormal romance anthology The Undead in My Bed. Ladies, be sure to catch our interview with the reclusive, oh-so-sexy Dark One Grayson Soucek, when he talks to our reporter about what it's like to be one of the Otherworld's most eligible (and titled!) bachelors. Gray dishes all on what he's looking for in a permanent blood donor, his turn-ons and turn-offs, and what he likes on a date (hint—dinner in a romantic dungeon is one way to this vampire's heart). It's all in our next edition of Lifestyles of the Rich and Undead!"

Well now, this was...short. If I was to give a prize for the shortest short story I ever did see, this one would win hands down.

In fairness, semi naked men on the covers rarely sell books for me, but I wanted a quick easy read and I'm hoovering up anything and everything Vamp just now. So I gave this a go.

I'm not entirely sure what the point of it is, if it's to entice readers into this series...there's really just not enough to go on. It was mildly amusing at one point, but baffling in the sense that there's just not enough of...anything...certainly nowhere near enough to make me think, "Oo, that looks fun, I must read more". It was more a case of "What the hell was that?".

It was like overhearing part of someone's phone conversation on the train, you catch a brief section of dialogue, but only get half the story, and by the time they've got off at their stop you've completely forgotten everything that was said. Because it's meaningless. "Turdy" though, that made me laugh, I'll give it that!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Unholy Ghosts: Stacia Kane

"The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. 

Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah."

Jackpot! This is just what I've been looking for. Urban Fantasy with a strong female protagonist that smashes all the tired stereotypes. Bloody fantastic. Kane wipes the floor with all the fluffy, squealy, 'kick ass' PNR crowd. There are no dreamy gentleman here to be swooned over, no teenage dreams and lusts, just hard hitting dark reality. Urban Fantasy for Grown-ups.

Kane's world building is hugely entertaining and so easy to immerse yourself in, the future dystopia and the roles of the ghosts and the Church are compelling, but but far the coolest thing about Unholy Ghosts is the characters. Chess is brilliantly flawed, an addict whose habit dictates a huge proportion of her actions. It makes her stand out from the UF crowd and she really is a breath of fresh air to read. Terrible is an invention of pure genius, a wonderfully complicated and surprising individual. Full marks. I couldn't have loved this more.

Fans of Daniel Polansky's Low Town will find similarities to rave over here I think. Don't pass Kane over as one of the fluffies, this is really something special. I can't wait to get my paws on the rest of the series now. Wonderful stuff.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Two Ravens and One Crow: Kevin Hearne

"Six years into the training of his beautiful apprentice, Granuaile, a large crow swoops down and transforms into none other than the Morrigan, a goddess who insists that Atticus come with her at once. He must leave his apprentice behind, along with his Irish wolfhound, Oberon—and he must also leave his sword. 

The Morrigan has always taken extreme pleasure in pronouncing the Druid’s mortal danger and imminent doom, so the fact that she won’t reveal the purpose of their journey makes him very nervous. Of course, any time the Celtic Chooser of the Slain drops in unannounced, it’s never good. When she does let slip that she’ll be saving his life in the near future, Atticus is left to wonder . . . will he soon be giving his legions of enemies something to crow about?"

I've got admit I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but I love the Iron Druid Chronicles so I gave this one a go. It's Hearne so you know it's going to be intelligent and well-written, whatever the format.

With Oberon off the scene for the majority of the story though, it felt a little flat. It's essentially just a bridge across the 12 year jump in the series that the next novel takes. And a money-spinner also of course. It's engaging, but a very fast read. Too fast for me.

If you're a fan of the series, you'll like it. If, like me, you're a fan who finds short stories too short to be's not going to convince you otherwise, but you'll get some insight and some chuckles all the same. Above all though, it hammers home just how central to the concept the cynical, talking dog is...(well, not talking..but you know what I mean). I'm not entirely sure this is a good thing. Maybe it should be re-branded as "The Oberon Chronicles"..

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Asylum Interviews, Trixie: Jocelynn Drake

Gage's ex-girlfriend is back in town and needs help escaping a master vampire. While not the easiest of tasks, he certainly didn't count of getting help from a mysterious woman with a few secrets of her own.

I don't know who gets to make the cover art decisions in these situations, but, a Katie Price-esque pout really does nothing for this one. I can't imagine what they were thinking. However much they get paid, it's too much.

Hideous cover aside, it's not a bad little story. Over sexed and over simplified, but in essence it's a decent concept with some really nice touches. This is the exactly kind of Urban Fantasy I would LOVE to see with all the ridiculous sex stripped out and the actual Fantasy element taken seriously. The ideas of Race and Magic here are great, the characters are engaging, but it just reads like someone has said "put more sex in it, and dumb down the plot more". To me, at least.

The cover...seriously I've got to come back to it. Does no one think that guys would like to read about a magical tattoo parlour in Low Town? With Warlocks and Vamps and Trolls? Because that cover will score a 100% hit rate for making them snark merrily and wander off to the 'B for Butcher" section for the Fantasy aisle. Hell, I only read it because it was in e-book form.

Conceptually, it's fun, but the sex and simplicity make it hard to take seriously. I can't see the hardcore UF crowd getting down with this. Teenage girls will no doubt adore it. 

Blood and Feathers: Lou Morgan

"What's the first thing you think of when I say 'angel'?" asked Mallory. Alice shrugged. "I don't know... guns?" Alice isn't having the best of days. She was late for work, she missed her bus, and now she's getting rained on. What she doesn't know is that her day's about to get worse: the epic, grand-scale kind of worse that comes from the arrival of two angels who claim everything about her life is a lie. The war between the angels and the Fallen is escalating; the age-old balance is tipping, and innocent civilians are getting caught in the cross-fire. If the balance is to be restored, the angels must act - or risk the Fallen taking control. Forever. 

That’s where Alice comes in. Hunted by the Fallen and guided by Mallory - a disgraced angel with a drinking problem and a whole load of secrets - Alice will learn the truth about her own history… and why the angels want to send her to hell. What do the Fallen want from her? How does Mallory know so much about her past? What is it the angels are hiding - and can she trust either side? Caught between the power plays of the angels and Lucifer himself, it isn't just hell's demons that Alice will have to defeat...

Well now, this is a tough one. I've got to start with the obvious, the cover art is gorgeous, and the hype around this one was pretty impressive. Looking past both of OK read. There are some nice touches, and I thought Morgan's vision of Hell was brilliant. Mallory was a fun character, but I found Alice a bit two a protagonist that's clearly not ideal, I didn't really get behind her but I was rooting for Mallory.

It's tough to write this because I wanted to love it. I found parts of the novel to be slow and repetitive, particularly when the Earthbound were waiting to get into Hell. Morgan lost me a bit there, and I was more interested in the Fallen than the Angels. Essentially I lost interest towards the end waiting for the Good Guys to win the battle.

It's also worth mentioning that the typos in this one were pretty distracting. Not something you usually see, or expect in an £8 copy.

My expectations for Blood and Feathers had probably been pumped up way too high. It's a nice concept, and a fun read in places. It's not without its flaws. Something out of the ordinary, but not quite extraordinary. I'd give the sequel a look, but won't be counting down the days.