May 28, 2008

Windfall by Rachel Caine

I think this was my favorite Weather Warden book so far. Having washed her hands of the Wardens, Jo is back in Florida working a pay-the-bills job as a "weather girl" with a local TV station. The hilarious part is she doesn't even get to predict the weather. She just stands around in nightmarish costumes (picture huge foam suns with face cut-outs and bulky clouds dripping glitter rain), forced to grit her teeth and smile as the schmaltzy-beyond-belief weather man struts his stuff. Fortunately she has a new friend in the feisty Cherise--the petite and beautiful weather girl who drives a Mustang, gets to wear flattering bikinis, and never gets buckets of water dumped on her.

Jo's carefully laid plan of flying under the supernatural radar while trying to figure out how to revive David gets blown to smithereens when her estranged sister shows up on her doorstep in need of a place to stay at the same time as the local Wardens come after her for supposedly tampering with the weather in a Big Bad sort of way. Meanwhile, nobody can find Jonathan, the free Djinn are starting to form into factions, and the whole conflict seems to be quickly ratcheting up the scale from debacle to outright civil war.

The great thing about Windfall is the new characters that are introduced. I loved Cherise and I really liked Jo's sister Sarah. Together they bring a human quality to the story that seemed to be lacking in the last two books and that, I think, Jo desperately needs if she's going to stay afloat. It's good to know there are people who care about her and who will be there when she needs a friend or someone to help ransack the dump for a missing bottle. Four books in and Rachel Caine continues to keep the tension taut, the stakes high, and Jo's wardrobe awesome. On to the next. I'm so glad I found this series after six books were already out...

Links
Readers Read Review
Word Nerd Review
The Written Word Series Review

May 27, 2008

Renegade

Ann Aguirre has posted a short story set in the Grimspace world on her website. Told from March's point of view, "Renegade" is set before the events of Grimspace take place and gives the reader a little insight into who March is and how he became the gritty, ruthless pilot we know and love. If you leave a comment here telling her what you liked or disliked about the story, Ms. Aguirre will enter you in a contest to win an ARC of Wanderlust. Talk about incentives...

Enjoy.

Chill Factor by Rachel Caine

Vegas, baby.

This third installment in the Weather Warden series sees our girl Jo burning rubber to stop that little twit Kevin from taking over the world. Now that he's nigh unto invincible (thanks to a heady cocktail of Jonathan and Lewis' powers), he's made his new home a penthouse suite at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Jo has a very unpleasant history with Sin City, and it comes back to haunt her in a Big Way as she desperately tries to locate Kevin and persuade him to see the light.

Chill Factor has a bit of the transitional novel feel to it as a new organization comparable (but sort of diametrically opposed) to the Wardens is introduced, exponentially complicating Joanne's life. Once again, every character except Jo seems to have layer upon layer of hidden motives. In some cases, (such as Marian Bearheart's) these motives made me want to cheer. In others, (such as Lewis') I felt a twist of pain in my gut and, even though he had a quasi-valid explanation, it still felt like betrayal and I didn't like it one bit. But I really did like the book and it certainly provided plenty of fodder for the coming books. Though this isn't the kind of book you'd want to, say, finish after all the bookstores have closed and not have the sequel waiting safely on your nightstand. You really wouldn't.

Links
Someone's Read it Already Review
Word Nerd Review

May 23, 2008

Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine

Wow. Rachel Caine wasn't kidding with the end of Ill Wind. And the second Weather Warden book, Heat Stroke, takes that unexpected ending and runs with it. Wild. And Jo doesn't get much more of a breather than the reader does as she's plunged headlong into life as a Djinn. Or one half of a Djinn. Or a Djinn in training. Who can tell for sure?

Good thing the lovely David is there to help her get a grip on her new reality. Unfortunately, it turns out David broke a few not-so-minor rules when he saved her life and the head Djinn Jonathan isn't happy with him. No, sir. Jonathan's not a bit happy. Before she can catch her breath, he turns Jo over to the rather dubious (but hilarious) Patrick to complete her training. In a week. Or die. And if Jo dies? Yep, you've got it. David'll be gone too. *sob* Of course, it's Jo we're talking about here. So the words "fighting chance" actually mean something. Plus, where Jo is, Lewis can never be very far. And with Lewis lurking about, waggling his fingers at the cosmos, channeling a grown up Charles Wallace Murry like nobody's business, chances of surviving an apocalypse are slightly better.

Even so, nothing is as it seems in this book and you can't necessarily trust who you thought you could. I've tried to avoid spoilers for the following books in the series, so I don't know where Caine is going with all this mayhem, but I kind of dig it. Gives the whole series an unsettling, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants feel while keeping the characters consistent and very, very interesting.

Links
BookLoons Review
Darque Reviews Interview

May 21, 2008

Ill Wind by Rachel Caine

So I finally got around to picking up my first Rachel Caine book. Kimberly's great interview with Ms. Caine pushed me over the edge and I snagged a copy of Ill Wind, the first in Caine's Weather Warden series featuring Joanne Baldwin. I have to say I really like the cover design and artwork on this series. Simple, classy lines accompany the smooth, witching weather artwork making the overall package quite pleasing. I'm looking forward to how they'll look all lined up nicely on my shelf.

Joanne is a weather warden, one of a few hundred people on Earth gifted with the ability to control the elements. Jo's gift is over water and air. She can summon up a storm and divert a disaster, but whenever a warden uses her power, the energy fallout has to go somewhere. And it's a daunting, thankless task managing where to expel it without creating another disaster along the way. Jo's job is made that much more difficult by the fact that she's recently become the unwanted owner of a Demon Mark, and the darkness inside will slowly consume her if she's unable to find a way to discharge it.

Caine's writing is highly accessible and I had trouble putting the book down in between sittings, mostly because I liked Jo and David (and Lewis). I liked the unusually deft incorporation of flashbacks to Joanne's college years and warden training days to show the reader how she came to be the girl she is. It's always fun sinking into a new world, particularly one like Caine's--that rare urban fantasy sans vampire, shape shifter, or other furry beastie. Although Jo's world isn't a completely Mythic Creature Free Zone. Most advanced wardens are given a Djinn--a magical being bound to serve them. (And, yes, they do usually come complete with a bottle to call home). The Djinn were a fun addition to the world and I can tell they're going to play a much larger role in the books to come.

Links
Babbling Book Review
Bibliophile Stalker Review
Darque Reviews Interview
Urban Fantasy Review

May 19, 2008

Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair

Thanks go to The Book Smugglers for tipping me off to this one. I've heard good things about Linnea Sinclair for awhile but was never sure where to jump in and was waiting for the right mood. I've definitely had a sci-fi hankering lately, so I figured now (on the heels of Grimspace and The Host) was as good a time as any. Gabriel's Ghost is certainly a fast-paced book and it was kind of cool that it started after some pretty significant action had already happened. The reader is caught up along the way as Captain Chasidah Bergren, aka Chaz, attempts to survive her life sentence on the desolate planet Moabar for a crime she didn't commit. Sound a bit like Jax's predicament in Grimspace? The two stories do have a fair bit in common, including a leading man who's "psychically gifted" to put it mildly. Though the writing style, IMO, is distinctly different.

I'm going to skip a detailed plot synopsis and just say it's light, entertaining space opera fare and I kept reading because of the characters. Chaz and Sully (aka Gabriel Ross Sullivan) are good ones. The dialogue is snappy and realistic and I liked that I never got frustrated with Chaz (who narrates the story). With Sully, yes, several times. Although, there always seemed to be a rather horrifically painful justifying reason for his actions and apparent complete failure to be forthcoming. But I was never frustrated with Chaz, never wanted to smack her upside the head for a particularly childish reaction or preoccupation with something irrelevant. And that was refreshing. I hate it when my heroines go against character and do something stupid merely for the sake of the plot. Chaz kept her head (if not her heart) and never ran off half-cocked, inadvertently plunging her companions into Utter Peril. I liked her and I liked Sully. I wanted to find out what happened to them and enjoyed the not-so-neatly wrapped up ending. I can say that with a smile on my face because the sequel comes out in July.

Links
In the Library Review
Jace Scribbles Review
Kathy's Review Corner Review
The Book Smugglers Review

May 16, 2008

Dollhouse


Here's an early promotional image for Joss Whedon's upcoming Fox show "Dollhouse" starring Eliza Dushku. "Dollhouse" is set to premier in January and has an initial contract for 13 episodes. It's very exciting...

May 14, 2008

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

From Dead to Worse is the eighth Sookie Stackhouse book and, after reading it, definitely a comfort Sookie for me. Meaning, of the eight books so far, this is one I'll go back and reread when I want to feel good about things again. Right up there with numbers four and five--Dead to the World and Dead as a Doornail. And, yes, I realize that my favorite Sookie books are also the ones with a high Eric factor. That's just the way it is. Fortunately, Ms. Harris seems to be channeling the good Eric vibes as well, because I continue to like where his and Sookie's relationship is going. And I like that it's not speeding but taking its time. Although, I will put in a request for "that conversation" to happen in the next book, please thank you.

This installment sees Sookie and company recovering from the repercussions of the disastrous vampire summit in the last book. Post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana is also still recovering and several new people come into Sookie's life as a result of this necessary shifting around of their state and their lives. This story seemed very real to me. The trademark humor is still there and as charming as ever. But Sookie makes several weighty decisions throughout the course of this book. Forces herself to, in some cases. And where a few new characters come in, a few older ones make what I would term exits. Wisely chosen ones, I thought.

Sam maintains a quiet but firm presence in Sookie's life. Bill determinedly lingers around the edges. And, even though I will always despise him, he did remind me (and Sookie) of a few of the reasons they got together in the first book. And Eric and Sookie continue to navigate the deep waters between them (their increasingly powerful blood bond, that pesky long-term amnesia thing Eric's got going on, etc). I enjoyed this installment because it was low key, but carried simmering consequences and intriguing possible developments under its calm-ish surface. Sookie was superb. Extremely mature, unafraid, and determined. In all the best ways. Another hit for Charlaine Harris. Can't wait for book nine.

Links
Darque Reviews
Dear Author Review
Fantasy & Sc-ifi Lovin' Book Review
Lurv a la Mode Review

May 12, 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I felt myself getting more and more excited about this book as the release date drew closer. I've enjoyed the Twilight books and I'm looking forward to their conclusion in Breaking Dawn, but I found myself pretty intrigued to see what Stephenie Meyer would do when she set out to do something different. Plus, I was just in the mood for some science fiction. I've loved sci fi ever since I picked up my first Ray Bradbury and, even though Meyer states it's science fiction for people who don't read science fiction, it certainly qualifies. What with the aliens and all. And there ended up being more (and a wider variety) of them than I was expecting.

You're undoubtedly familiar with the premise of this novel already, so I'll leave it at this: it's invasion of the body snatchers, but the body snatchers are benevolent and the humans are, well, human. Flawed, emotional, corruptible. You name it. And there are very few of them left at all. But the few there are are....tenacious. Especially Melanie, the human whose body has just been taken over by the soul called Wanderer. Known for her extreme skill at taking over a body, as well as her penchant for never staying on one world for more than one life, Wanderer has been hand-picked for insertion in the rebellious Mel in the hopes that she will be able to glean details from Mel's memory about possible leftover humans in hiding. As you might expect, all does not go smoothly for Wanderer. Or Mel.

The great thing about The Host is that the main character is one of the "bad guys." As a result, the reader's emotions (and loyalties) are wonderfully conflicted throughout the beginning of the story. It doesn't take long, though, to fall in love with Wanderer and I really liked the way Meyer interspersed Wanderer's narrative with flashbacks from Mel's life as she hurled them, one after another, at Wanderer's mind in a bid to save herself as well as the ones she loves--her younger brother Jamie and her human love Jared. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, contrary to the whole love story being central to the plot scenario I'd been prepped for, the book was not at all ruled by romance. It is a story about love, but it's more a story about what it means to be human and humane. The love in the story includes all forms: familial, friendship, platonic, and romantic. I was particularly drawn to Wanda's fierce love for Mel's little brother Jamie and the lengths she went to to protect him. The Host is in many ways (despite its length) a small, intensely personal story. I loved it, was sad when it was over, and will reread it again soon.

Links
Avid Book Reader Review
Blog Critics Review
Karin's Book Nook Review
Over My Head Review
SFF World Review
Tez Says Review

May 8, 2008

Bloodhound Cover Art


Because we've been waiting So Long for this book. Thought I'd break it up a bit with the cover art for Tamora Pierce's upcoming Beka Cooper book Bloodhound. The deep blue is pretty cool. Looks like she's in Port Caynn, doesn't it? The latest on this one is that it'll be out in April. Of '09. Sigh.

May 7, 2008

Page 123

Kimberly over at Darque Reviews tagged me with the following:

1. Pick up the nearest book.

2. Open to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you've posted your three sentences.

The book nearest at hand at the time was Newes from the Dead by Mary Hooper. So here you go:

Everyone in the room looked keenly at Dr. Petty's face, watching for any shade of change upon it. He repeated the question once more, before shaking his head and concluding quietly, "She does not respond." Robert felt his heart fall.


Make you want to read more? I hereby tag: Elisa, Liz, Carrie, Allie, and Koseli.

May 6, 2008

One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

I was excited for this sequel for many reasons: Bones, Bones, oh, and Bones. Also, because it takes place a rather shocking Four Years after Halfway to the Grave and, I have to say, I like that Jeaniene Frost was willing to take that big a leap with just her second book. Most urban fantasy series books take place right on on each other's feverish heels, yet the readers have waited sometimes a year for the second installment, and occasionally I find myself wanting more time to have passed for the characters as well. Add a little more gravitas to the situation. Like we've all grown up a little in the interim.

One Foot in the Grave starts out in the middle of Cat Crawfield's new life as a federal agent working for a little known department of Homeland Security specializing in vampire eradication. Having forced herself (for his safety) to leave Bones and her former life behind, Cat has become Cristine Russell and spent the last four years literally consumed by her work, training up a team of vampire slayers lean and mean enough to make Bones proud. Unfortunately, someone seems to have discovered her secret and is leaving clues around her old stomping grounds. Cat and her team follow the clues home to find someone old and powerful has put a price on her head and all the undead bounty hunters are coming to play.

I definitely liked the premise of this story and the guys on Cat's team are fun, interesting characters who I hope will stick around throughout the series. The scene where Bones and Cat see each other for the first time in four years was just as delicious as I hoped it would be. And, who are we kidding? Any page with Bones on it is a good one. Make that, a great one. What I needed was more from Cat. She doesn't seem to have grown at all in the last four years. And while I understand she's sort of been hiding from a lot things she doesn't want to face, she's still got this great team of guys who will walk over hot coals for her, and (when he comes back) a protector and lover who will do anything to make her happy, and she still seems to spend most of her time drinking, fighting, swearing, and whining. All in slightly too extreme quantities for me to buy. That's not the Cat I remember. She's Cat sans the the sweetness and sense of humor that made her so endearing in the first book and that made me think she deserved the awesomeness that is Bones. Oodles of action (fighting and otherwise) seem to dominate this story when I wanted more character development and the Cat I remember. Maybe Bones feels the same way...Hopefully, we'll both find what we're looking for in the next volume, At Grave's End, due out in January.

Links
Darque Review
Dear Author Review
The Good, the Bad, the Unread Review
The Happily Ever After Review
Urban Fantasy Land Interview

May 5, 2008

Twilight Teaser Trailer


The Twilight Lexicon has posted links to the official Twilight teaser trailer available on MySpace. It's short. It's sweet. It gives me the deep tingles.

Sookie Sookie

The latest Sookie Stackhouse book, From Dead to Worse, comes out tomorrow! If you're a Sookie fan, there's a great interview with Sookie (aka Charlaine Harris) over at Cat and Muse.

Check it out.

(Thanks to Urban Fantasy Land for the link)

May 2, 2008

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr's first novel, was on my Best of 2007 list and I've been very excited about the sequel, Ink Exchange. The storyline follows Aislinn's friend Leslie. Leslie is surrounded by a fog of secrets and unable to break through the fog because of something that happened to her while Aislinn was caught up in her own set of the tumultuous events in Wicked Lovely. The gulf between the two girls only grows wider as they find themselves unable to talk about how they have each been irrevocably altered. While Aislinn negotiates a tricky truce between Keenan and Seth, Leslie is left to fend for herself, waitressing tables to pay the bills and avoiding going home for any length of time. She is also storing away a little cash to get a tattoo as a symbol of taking her life back and escaping the terror that's dominated it for too long.

Turns out she's not completely alone, though. Aislinn has commissioned Niall, Keenan's friend and right hand man, to watch over Leslie, haunting her steps in order to protect her from the Dark Court faeries who seem to have developed a sudden, unhealthy interest in her. Chief among Aislinn's worries is Irial, the Dark King himself. But, unbeknownst to any of them, Leslie has chosen Irial's tattoo to ink on her back, a process which will link the girl and the Dark King, allowing him to feed off human emotion through her, and thereby keep his people from starving. Add to that the complication that Niall is falling in love with Leslie. Irial is falling in....something....with Leslie. And Niall and Irial have A History. A long, dark, twisted, and surprisingly moving one.

The thing about Ink Exchange is, just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. With a vengeance. A sort of hazy, starbursty kind of worse. Until you want to run screaming onto the page, snatch Leslie (and Niall, and, yes, Irial, too) in your arms and stash them away somewhere warm and safe and dry until they're able to heal. Short of being able to do that, you keep reading. I liked Leslie. I liked her a lot. And I hated that she had so few choices available and that, for the majority of the book, she was being manipulated left and right. By those who loved her, wanted her, and hated her alike. It made me mad. At all the characters, even as I loved them. Even my beloved Seth who seemed to see clearer than anyone, except perhaps Irial. And it made the ending a very satisfying one. But it wasn't an easy read. And it wasn't a pleasant one. And I still, epilogue be damned, have the aforementioned urge to run in and save them all. But I will wait. Somewhat impatiently. For book three.

Links
Bookshelves of Doom Review
Darque Review
Karin's Book Nook Review
The Book Muncher Review
Urban Fantasy Land Review
Wands and Worlds Review