Friday, 30 November 2012

Kiss the Dead

Level: Explicit
Genre: Urban Fantasy > Vampire
Obtained: Borrowed from a friend
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

Can't look away from heaving cleavage... Is it a great cover? No. However, I do think it works for the recent Anita Blake books, and it's certainly a step up from the Hit List cover. Kiss the Dead continues the same look and feel as Hit List, but unlike Hit List, Kiss the Dead doesn't look at it was slapped together at the last minute. Personally, I think the worst thing this cover has going for it is the model's vacant expression. Well, that and she looks a bit cheap, but this is a post Narcissus in Chains Anita Blake book we are talking about so cheap works. I have to admit I really like the lettering in the tears and the texture on the girl. It gives it something extra, a bit of grime and grit, if you will. Of course, this cover is bound to bring some blush to a few cheeks since it screams you are reading something naughty, but at the same time, this cover ought to bring in those that would be interested in the newer Anita Blake books.

About the Book:
In the 21st installment of the Anita Blake series, Anita finds out some disconcerting news while she is rescuing a kidnapped girl. It turns out there is a large group of vampires made mainly of teenagers, soccer moms, and grannies, that are living without a master. They are quite adamant about never having one and therefore refuse an oath to Jean-Claude. Meanwhile, Anita is still having personal issues concerning her men, mainly Cynric. Anita is still rather upset about how young he is and the fact that he loves her but she's not sure if she loves him. At least, not in the same way.

Rating: 3/10
Wow. I actually didn't hate this book as much as I anticipated. Of course, with the more recent Anita Blake books being utter dreck, my expectations were extremely low. Of course, just because I didn't dislike the book as much as I expected did not mean I would say it was good. This book still had plenty of points that had me seething, Some have been annoyances with me since Guilty Pleasures, such as the hatred of women and Anita constantly saying how guy she is (IE "It took us one sentence, two looks, and a nod -- with another woman it would have been at least five minutes of out-loud talking. Lucky for me I spoke fluent guy."). Sure this issue has only gotten worse as the series progressed, but it has always been there. Then, we have the whole Anita getting into a tiff with authority, because they are prejudiced against her due to the fact that she is sleeping with the monsters, is half Mexican, is polyamorous (polyandrous maybe), is a woman, is take your pick. Now, this has irritated me for many books now, but not as much with Kiss the Dead. The reason for this was mainly because the "brass" Anita was arguing with were actually quite pleasant and honestly, the concerns they did have were justified (for more on this check out my post).

The other major tiffs I had were specifically with this book. Now, I am not going to go into every little one, but here are some major irritants of mine. The first of these involved Larry Kirkland. For those who are unaware of who he is, he is also a vampire hunter/animator, and he was trained as a hunter by Anita. Throughout their relationship, Anita and Larry have had many disagreements yet remained friends. First off, that is flushed down the toilet in this book. However, this is far from the first time that LKH has had a character act, well, out of character. What had me grumbling was that not a single person sided with Larry, including the newly introduced Marshal Brice. Now, you might expect RPIT to side  with Anita against a stranger or someone they dislike, but this is Larry, and it is never shown that the cops had an issue with before hand. 

The second issue I'd like to focus on in Cynric. The Cynric issue seems to be one that hits the nerves of several people since Anita originally slept with him when he was a sixteen year old virgin. I never had a huge problem  with this since both Cynric and Anita had been mind fucked by the original vampire herself, Marmee Noir (though there are plenty of arguements that point out that is probably could have been prevented, but I am not going to get into that here). The fact is that Anita did not choose for Cynric to be that young. Now that he is eighteen, Anita had agreed to take him in as a lover and his guardian. Because those two things mix so well... In fact, Anita and Cynric even have a conversation about it. After they come to a conclusion (where Sin tells Anita to stop going to parent teacher conferences), what is literally seconds later, Anita is pawing and rubbing up against Sin (aka Cynric). Now, I have absolutely no objection to the age difference, but do remember that Cynric and Anita had just finished having a conversation where Anita felt that she was too much of a parent figure to also be Cynric's lover so needless to say, those thoughts of him being in the child type position more than likely would still be fresh in her mind. However, we are supposed to believe that Anita is wigged out about being Cynric's lover while being his guardian when she starts snogging him seconds after the conversation. Yeah, don't think so...

Now, I am going to go into one final tiff that was specifically Kiss the Dead (though the longer I work on this review, the more issues I am realising exist). Again, this deals with another character Hamilton has completely ruined. I am speaking of the once snarky and once likable Asher.

In this book, Asger now has a boyfriend (Dev/Devil ... yeah, I'm sure you are wondering who that even is), but Dev also wants to see women. Apparently, Asher is very jealous and wants Dev to be with him and him alone. This causes Pod Asher to start acting up, and he ends up cutting Anita's lip to the point where she would have needed stitches if she didn't heal super fast. First off, the wound was only as bad as it was because Anita loves Asher too much to hurt him. This is from the once tough as nails vampire hunter who may have hesitated at killing Jean-Claude at one point but not hurting him if needed. However, she suddenly can't hurt Asher to defend herself, because she loves him too much. Don't worry. The stupid only worsens. So because of Asher attacking Anita and wounding her lip, she is now unable to perform oral. The outrage! There can only be one punishment! Asher must leave for another city by tomorrow. Okay, it's only supposed to be for a month, but it's still utterly ridiculous. Just ...


Okay, okay ... for those of you who have read my other reviews should know by now that I try to find both good and bad in every book, and even with all the issues that this book holds, I did not have to overtax my brain to think of some good. In fact, compared to the recent Anita Blake books, I think this one was grand. Kiss the Dead, first off, actually had a plot (I had a plot once! It ended up biting me and running away). What's more is this plot took up about half the book ... Well, stuff that related to the plot, but for a post Narcissus in Chains book, that is quite the feat. We also get Anita working with RPIT again, Of course, all the women are jealous of Anita, and all the men think Anita is the toughest and bestest there ever was, but it was really nice to see old friends. I will admit that I found myself grinning when Zerbrowski was on the page. Besides seeing old faces, it was also nice to see Anita doing some police work through a good chunk of the book. Have I mentioned there was also some sort of plot? An author should not make me this excited about having a plot, even a weak one.

Now, as much as I was excited there was a plot, I did feel it fell flat. As noted in the summary, Anita ends up running into a group ... sorry, a kiss of vampires that refuse to be blood oathed to Jean-Claude. That could have been terribly exciting and would have even given Anita the excuse to internalise her problems. She could wonder why this kiss was so adamant to not be oathed to Jean-Claude and Anita. Perhaps Anita and co. aren't as good as they think they are. All of this potential is overlooked, however, so we are left a fairly poor plot. Speaking of missed potential, Anita's constant angsting of whether she is a monster or not. Now, a lot of people have complained how repetitive this ordeal was (both within the series and in this book). I do agree that it is brought up way too often. However, if there was actually a solution to it (besides Anita's lover patting her on the back and telling her that she isn't a monster and that she is overly wonderful), I don't really think I would have minded it so much. Instead, we are bombarded with "monster, monster, am I a monster?" but no answer to it or even really seeing Anita actually take the time to think on it.

Now, with me looking at the overuse of the "am I a monster?" drama, I now would like to focus on more general overusage and repetition. What was the editor doing during this book?! I'll tell you one thing, he certainly wasn't doing his job. Okay, I understand giving a brief reminder of what a character looks like or who they are, especially for those new to the series (though why they are starting at book 21 is beyond me). Key word: brief! We also do not need twenty million reminders. We certainly do not need to be reminded two pages later (this is not an exaggeration). What's worse is that Laurell K. Hamilton isn't just repeating just the eye or hair colour. No, she literally repeats the entire paragraph! Even from the beginning, the Anita Blake series had some issues with repetition (bench press a Toyota, anyone?), but no where near as bad as this. Seriously, if you removed all the repeated descriptions, I would not be surprised is Kiss the Dead ended up half its size. Hell, I would put money on it. There is also the overly detailed desciptions. I am actually one of those people that love knowing what a character looks like, but there is a point where it becomes too much. Not only were the physical descriptions repeated too often, but they went into so much excessive detail that I was bored to tears. Hamilton actually tells us what Cynric's hair looks like in the sinlight versus what it looks like in the dark. Again, I love physical details, but this is too much.

I could continuemore, but this review is already quite lengthy. I found Kiss the Dead to more interesting than the last few Anita Blake installements. I didn't find myself grinding my teeth through most of this book either. Kiss the Dead still had lots of problems, both new and old, and a good amount of missed potential. This book is still far from the charm that the earlier Anita Blake books had, but it is a step in the right direction. For an Anita Blake novel, Kiss the Dead isn't bad, but in general, it's still pretty rank.

What I'm Reading Next:   

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Anita Blake: I Hate Authority Just Because...

Anyone that knows me is aware that I am not a fan of the later Anita Blake books for several reasons (mainly the substituting plot for sex and the severe lack of character development, or in some cases the characters devolving). One of the things Anita has always been known for was mouthing off to authority type figures. Sometimes she was just being a pain (such as with Bert) and other times she arguing because the authority figure was being sexist or bias. Now, often times with the latter I had an issue with the author constantly putting these type of people into the story, because it felt like she was giving an Anita an excuse to mouth off. However, in the latest Anita Blake book, Kiss the Dead, there is a chapter where we are clearly supposed to be hating the authority and siding with Anita yet I found the detectives quite pleasurable and only doing their job. I have to say the following chapter had me seething, even more so than other ones. Yes, the entire chapter is written out below so you're aren't only going to get bits and pieces. Also, I am not trying to snark this. I am sure there will be a few lines of snark here and there, but snark is not my intent.

If I'd been on my own, or just with another Preternatural Branch Marshal, I could have gone home, but working with SWAT meant that I had to give my version of events, since we had wounded officers.

I sat at the little table, huddled over my umpteenth cup of really bad coffee, feeling the dried blood on my pants crinkle as I shifted my weight in the hard metal chair. Two men in nice clean suits sat across from me, asking the same questions for the dozenth time. I was beginning to resent them, just a little.

Detective Preston said, "How did Officer Hermes get his leg broken?"

I raised my eyes from the tabletop to look at him. He was tall, thin, balding, and wore glasses that were too small and round for his angular face. "Are you asking the same questions over and over because you think you'll wear me down and I'll tell a different story, or do you guys just have nothing better to do?"

I rubbed my fingers across my eyes. They felt gritty, and I was tired.

Already Anita is getting snappish. However, I will defend her here. Honestly, if I was covered in blood, extremely tired, and was being asked the same questions over and over again, I'd be a bit irritable as well so I will be keeping this in mind as I read the chapter.

"Ms. Blake..."

I looked up then, and I knew it wasn't a friendly look. "Marshal, it's Marshal Blake, and the fact that you keep forgetting that is either deliberate, or you're just an asshole; which is it? Is it a tactic, or are you just rude?"

Asks the person who is being even more rude. However, I will defend Anita here again. It is very possible the detective is deliberately forgetting her title, but then again, this also reminds me of the earlier books when she threw a fit when someone called her Miss instead of Ms. Nothing wrong with correcting someone, but you don't always have to get snappy. However, the above passage shows that this wasn't a first time mishap so although Anita is annoying me, I can still see why she may start getting snappish.

"Marshal Blake, we need to understand what happened so we can keep it from happening again."

The second detective cleared his throat. We both looked at him. He was older, heavier, as if he hadn't seen the inside of a gym in a decade or more. His white hair was cut short and precise to his soft face. "What I don't understand, Marshal, is how you moved fast enough and with enough force to break the ribs on both Marshal Brice and Officer Hermes, and break Hermes's leg? Why did you attack your own men?"

I shook my head. "You know the answer to all of that."

"Humor me."

"No," I said.

No? Wait ... why is she just flat out refusing? Did she already say why, or is she assuming they already know the answer? If the former, I can understand her putting her foot down. Again, she is tired and what is the point of repeating the same thing over and over? If the latter, why is she refusing? Why is Anita dragging her feet and making things worse?

They both sort of stiffened in their chairs, Owens, the shorter, rounder one, smiled. "Now, Marshal Blake, it's just procedure."

"Maybe, but it's not my procedure." I pushed back my chair and stood up.

Again, I understand Anita is tired as all fuck, but these detectives are only doing their job. From what we have seen so far, the worst they have done is repeat questions and refused to call her Marshal. Actually, we've only seen one of the detectives refuse to call her by her title ONCE. The repetition of questions and dismissal of her title has been told to us. Normally, I would take this at its word, but Anita has a knack of blowing things out of proportion quite often so far as I know, these detectives may have only asked the same question two or three times. However, I am going to give Anita the benefit of the doubt here. Either way, it does not change the fact that the higher ups are only doing their job.

"Sit back down," Preston said.

"No, I am a federal officer, so you guys aren't the boss of me. If I were SWAT, I might have to sit here and take this, but I'm not, so I don't. I've answered all the questions, and the answers aren't going to change, so ..." I waved at them and started for the door.

First, I've had several friends point out the flaw of Anita not having a boss, especially if she is going to be working in a group unit. I mean, who do you go to if Anita messes up or acts up? Secondly, does anyone else get the sense of Anita is pretty much sticking out her tongue and saying, "Neener neener, you're not the boss of me,"?

"If you ever want to work with SWAT again, you will sit here as long as we want you to sit here, and you'll answer any question we ask," Preston said.

I shook my head and smiled.

"I fail to see the humor," Owens said.

"Last I heard, Brice and Hermes are both going to heal up just fine."

Wait .. what? I feel like something has been cut here. Preston is threatening Anita that she will never be able to work with SWAT again, and then she smiles, indicating that she knows something that will keep this from happening. Suddenly, it's Brice and Hermes will heal up fine. What? So because they are going to be a-okay, this stops the higher ups from refusing to let Anita work with SWAT? How?

Preston stood up, using that tall, gangly height to look down on me. I so didn't care. "Hermes is over six feet tall, and you shoved him into a wall, left a fucking imprint of his body, and shoved a vampire halfway through the wall by throwing Hermes into her. That's not standard operating procedure, Blake. We want to understand what happened."

"You have my blood tests somewhere. I'm sure that'll help you figure it all out."

Oh, so Anita hadn't told them why earlier. She had been assuming they just knew just how special she is. Tell me again, why was Anita refusing to tell the detectives that she happens to be faster and stronger than normal humans? There was no reason to not tell them. As she just said, there are blood tests out there, and it seems to be common knowledge that she's super awesome so why not just say, "Oh, I happen to have lycanthropy so I am now stronger and faster," especially considering she is already assuming they know anyway? You know, Anita, mentioning that would have probably made this little procedure go by much more quickly.

"You carry six different kinds of lycanthropy, but you don't shapeshift, which is a medical impossibility."

"Yeah, I'm just a medical marvel, and I'm taking my marvelous ass home."

"Which home?" Owens said.

I looked at him, eyes narrowing. "What?"

"Your house, or the Circus of the Damned and the Master of the City of St. Louis; which house are you going to tonight?"

"Circus of the Damned tonight, not that it's any of your business."

Okay, I am going to side with Anita here. He does not need to be asking where she is going to be sleeping. Well, unless he thinks she is hiding something and may run away or start something, but even so, knowing where she is isn't going to be much help. There's not much he can do so yeah, I can understand why Anita would be a bit tiffed about the detective asking.

"Why there tonight?" he asked.

I was tired, or I wouldn't have answered. "Because we're scheduled to sleep there tonight."

"Who are we?" Owens asked, and something about the way he said it made me suspect that it was my personal life more than my professional life they were after.

I shook my head. "I don't owe you my personal life, Detective Owens."

No, Anita doesn't owe him her personal life. I will give her that. As for the"something about the way he said it made me suspect that it was my personal life more than my professional life they were after," why add that? I would think asking about where you sleep has little to do, if anything, with your professional life.

"There are people on the force who believe your personal life compromises your loyalties."

This is something that makes sense. Replace monsters with the mob and Jean-Claude would be the Don. It makes sense for the boys in blue to question where Anita's loyalty may lie. No, not every crime is related to Jean-Claude's crime ring, but what happens when it does? They don't KNOW whether Anita would warn JC and co. Also, keep this in mind for later.

"No one who's ever put their shoulder next to mine and gone into a dangerous situation with me questions my loyalty. No one who went into that house today with me questions my loyalty, and frankly that's all I care about."

"We can recommend that you are too dangerous and unpredictable to work with SWAT here in St. Louis," Owens said.

Ha ha. Silly man, don't you know that Anita Blake never has to deal with nasty repercussions?

I shook my head, shrugged. It was easier to do now that I wasn't in the vest and all the weapons. "You're going to do whatever the fuck you want to do. Nothing I say will make a damn bit of difference. You're obviously decided to use my sexual orientation against me." I said it in that way deliberately; I  knew the rules, too.

"We haven't questioned your sexual orientation, Marshal Blake," Owens said.

Which they haven't. He asked where she was going to be sleeping and questioned her loyalties, but no where did he even mention her sexual orientation.

"I'm polyamorous, which means loving more than one person, and what I heard was you saying that the fact that I wasn't white-bread, missionary-position monogamous compromised my loyalty. Isn't that what they used to say about homosexual officers, too?"

I debate on Anita being polyamorous, but I'll save that for another post. As for what is actually written here, first I would like to point out the "what I heard." Again, the detective in question has said nothing about her sexual orientation or her being poly. I'd even go so far that he never even indicated any of the sort, but that's what Anita heard

"It's not the number of men you live with that we object to, it's that they're all wereanimals and vampires," Preston said.

Okay, remember that mafia/mob reference I made earlier and how that could make others question Anita's loyalty for good reason? Put that into place again. What's worse is that later in the book even Anita starts to question her own loyalty and debates whether she can be both a human servant and a marshal.

"Was I a U.S. Marshal, or Jean-Claude's human servant? Was I a Marshal, or Micah's Nimir-Ra? Was I a police officer, or Nathaniel's sweetie? Was I an officer, or Nicky's master? Was I a cop, or the new Mistress of Tigers of Sin, and Dev, and Jade, and Ethan, and Crispin, and ... Could I keep being a cop and be everything else?" (Kiss the Dead, hardback edition, page 299)

That's right. Anita, herself, even questions of whether she can be both, but if someone else questions it, how dare they! They're not being reasonable. They must be some sort of bigot that is out to get her! Clearly.

"So, you're discriminating against my boyfriends because they have a disease?"

Again, this was never said and no where was it indicating that this is what the detectives were thinking. I could refer you back to the mafia relation, but I am going to assume it is still fresh in your head.

Owens touched Preston's arm. "We aren't discriminating against anyone, Marshal Blake."

"So, you aren't prejudiced against vampires or wereanimals?" I asked.

"Of course not, that would be illegal," Owens said. He pulled on Preston's arm until the taller man sat down.

I stayed standing. "Good to know that you aren't prejudiced on the basis of illness, or sexual orientation."

Even though he gave no indication that he was prejudiced in the first place. He questioned your loyalty and with good reason, but he never said nor indicated it was because he was prejudiced. 

"Poly-whatsit isn't a sexual orientation; it's a lifestyle choice," Preston said.

"Funny, I thought it was my sexual orientation, but if you're a psychologist with a background in sexuality, by all means, you're right."

And this is where my brain broke. First off, Preston is actually correct. Polyamory is not a sexual orientation. Saying it is would be like saying BDSM is an orientation or being monogamous is a sexual orientation, but to clear it up even more, let us look at the definition.

sex·u·al o·ri·en·ta·tion
sexual orientations, plural
A person's sexual identity in relation to the gender to which they are attracted; the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual

Now, I am aware there are more sexual orientations used than just homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual. There are several other such as omni or pansexual and asexual and then some that are more on a sliding scale, such as heteroflexible or homoflexible. However,  these all have to go with the gender and/or sex that you are attracted to. Polyamory, on the other hand, is a romantic preference.

"You know full well I'm not," Preston said, and the first hint of real anger was creeping into his voice. If I kept poking at him, maybe I could get him to yell and that would be on the video, too.

Oh, so Anita is intentionally trying to piss him off. Of course, that is nothing new. It's certainly not professional, but nothing new. Also, she realises that her being difficult is also going to be on said film as well, right?

"I have no idea what your areas of professional expertise are, Detective Preston. I thought since you were speaking like an expert about my sex life, you must know something I don't."

"I did not say a damn thing about your sex life."

I know I am probably starting to sound like a broken record here (or even an Anita Blake book), but again Preston is in the right. None of the detectives said anything about Anita's sex life. In fact, Anita's sex life and preferences weren't brought up until Anita had brought them up yet we are supposed to be hating these guys.

"I'm sorry, I thought you did."

Is this anything like Anita's hearing?

"You know damn well I didn't."

"No," I said, and gave him the full unhappiness in my eyes, and the beginnings of anger in my cold, controlled voice, "no, I don't know that at all. In fact, I thought I heard both of you question my loyalty to my badge and my service, because I'm sleeping with monsters, and that must mean I'm a monster, too."

You guys must be sick of hearing it from me, but again I refer you back to the mob analogy. These detectives have every right to question her loyalty, because her sleeping with the monsters actually could compromise her duty to the boys in blue. This isn't a case of Anita sleeping with multiple human men and then the cops questioning her loyalty. As for Owens and Preston saying (or even implying) that she was a monster simply because she slept with them, well...

"We never said that," Owens said.

I think Owens said it for me.

"Funny," I said," because that's what I heard. If that's not what you meant, then please, enlighten me. Tell me what you actually meant, gentlemen. Tell me what I misunderstood in this conversation."

Anita sure seems to hear people being prejudiced against her being a monster because she sleeps with monsters quite a lot even when nothing of the sort has been said. Same goes with her "sexual orientation," her being short, half Mexican, and being a woman. 

I stood there and looked at them. Preston glared at me, but it was Owen who said, "We would never question your home life, your sex life, or imply that who suffer from lycanthropy, or vampirism, are less worthy of the rights and privileges accorded to everyone in the country."

Say it with me, everyone, "Because they haven't!" Okay, they asked where she was going to be sleeping, but that's about as personal as they got.

"When you run for office, let me know, so I won't vote for you," I said.

He looked surprised. "I'm not running for office."

"Huh, usually when someone talks like a politician, they're running for something," I said.

You know, make what you want of this. My brain is too full of rage and hurting from all the stupid. I simply cannot think any more. This chapter killed my brain cells, people.

He flushed, angry at last. "You can go, Marshal. In fact, maybe you better go."

"Happy to," I said, and I left them to be angry together, and probably still angry with me. They could recommend that I not be allowed to go out with SWAT anymore, but it would be just that, a recommendation, and the other officers didn't like these guys any better than I did. They could recommend all they wanted; they could go to hell for all I cared. I was going home.

You know, it might not go through this time, but if you don't play well with others, eventually, they are going to put you up, Anita. Or in real life, they would. As I stated earlier, Anita never suffers ill repercussions in this series even though logically, she should. Of course, in real life, the officers wouldn't be the ones deciding whether Anita stayed with them or not so it would be moot whether they liked the higher ups or not.

(chapter taken from Laurell K. Hamilton's Kiss the Dead, hardback edition, pages 216-220)

Saturday, 17 November 2012


Level: Adult
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy-Vampires
Obtained: Online Bookseller
Reviewed by: Maggie W. 

About the Book:
This book is a prequel to the main Night Huntress series. It's the introduction to one of the main characters in the series, Bones. Although the events in the book happen before the rest of the series this short novella was published in an anthology after a few books had been published. 

Rating: 8/10

I'd already read many of the books in the Night Huntress series before I read this one. Bones is actually one of my favorite characters from the series so I love that she wrote about his time before he met Cat. 

The book opens with a man named Eric, who's visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras, going on a haunted tour of the city. Another girl that happens to be in the tour group with him happens to catch his eye. During the tour they've passed many bars (such a shock in the French Quarter in NO) so by the end of the tour Eric is pretty drunk. The girl he's been eyeing all night asks him back to her place for the night since she lives in a house near by. After they get there they start to fool around a bit when then as yet unnamed women starts getting really aggressive and eventually bites off the tip of Eric's tongue. Understandably upset, Eric tries to push her off and leave, but she basically throws him down the stairs. Lying dazed and in pain at the bottom the lights suddenly come on, and Eric sees they're not alone in the house. As the woman comes downstairs to where Eric and another other man are, she tells Eric she's going to eat him.

The next chapter begins with the first introduction to Bones. He's been invited to New Orleans to help the ghoul queen of New Orleans Marie, or Majestic as she's know by her followers, to track down the person(s) responsible for people going missing only to have their bodies turn up a few days later, minus a few limbs. He's met by Marie's right hand man, Jelani, who instead of leading him to Marie's official seat takes him to a nearby bar instead. 

Jelani explains how the current serial murders are like the ones that happened in the city 50 years before, as well as just after the Civil War, before he was turned into a ghoul. It's the same people that have committed the murders both times but they managed to escape. Jelani's explains that his wife was one of the original victims of the LaLaurie's in the 1800's and that Marie wants them hunted down and killed for daring to go against her wishes in her own city. 

Jelani tells the story of how his wife served in the LaLaurie household while he was off fighting in the Civil War. After being horribly injured during a battle Jelani was shipped home after they had to amputate both his arms and legs. He arrived home in time to hear that he was to late because the LaLauries, who both are ghouls, killed and ate his wife. Since then he's wanted them dead but is unable to do so himself. 

The majority of the rest of the book is spent with the LaLauries staying one step ahead of Bones until he finally corners them. It's after this point that the truth of why Bones was asked to New Orleans, and Jelani's real past are revealed.

Though this novella is sort of a prequel to the Night Huntress series I actually didn't read it for the first time until I was 3 or 4 books into the series. I really enjoyed this book because Bones is one of my favorite characters from the series so him getting his own short book was a nice treat. Though it takes place a few years before the start of the series it isn't really necessary to read it before you start the main series. 

What I'm reading next:

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Taming of the Werewolf

Level: Older teen to Adult
Genre: Historical fantasy
Obtained: Borrowed from my mother
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

Personally, I don't think this is a bad cover. Is it a great one? No, but I think it works. First, it actually shows the character, which is always nice. I guess people could complain that the wolf is the wrong colour. Well, tough. Covers are all about the visual and the black wolf looks better. Normally, I would say steer clear of centering everything, but it works in this case. The wolf's eyes also help to draw in the reader and then brings the reader down to what is assumed to be Katherina. Finally, we have the font. Usually, I hate book covers that use that Olde English style font. It's large and rarely work on a cover, especially ones that have pictures. Most of the time, the font just looks slapped on. However, the font here isn't horrible though I believe the design above it help balance it out. The one font I am not sure on is the elegant font near the top. It's not horrible, but it would probably look cleaner with a smaller font. Overall though, it's a pleasant cover. It might be a little embarrassing to men though. As for getting a potential buyer's attention, I'm not quite sure it would, and that, I think, is its biggest flaw.

About the Book:
The simplest way to summarize this book is to simply say that it is Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, only Katherina is a werewolf. For those of you who don't know the plot of The Taming of the Shrew, you may want to read the rest of the "About the Book" section.

The plot of this well-known comedy is fairly simple. A wealthy man by the name of Baptista has two daughters, Katherina and Bianca. The latter has many suitors, but Baptista refuses to let her marry until Katherina is wed herself. The problem with this is that Katherina in known for having a fearsome temper (and in this version, she also happens to be a werewolf). However, a man who is willing to marry for money alone marries the ill-tempered Kate and uses his cunning to try to tame her.

Rating: 6/10
I have to say that I had mixed feelings about this book, to the point where I am still unsure as to whether I actually liked it or not. I loved the bits where the author weaved her words with the great bard's, and I felt that she did an excellent job. Sylvia Shults mixed the modern and Shakespearean English brilliantly together, which I, honestly, was not expecting. I feared that it would be too much of a copy/paste or that her writing wouldn't hold any of that Shakespeare charm. I am pleased that my fears were for naught. 

Well, that was what I loved in the book, but I also ended up despising Shults' writing. While I loved the intermingling of Shakespeare and Shults, I could not stand Shults when she was alone. There were times in the book when Shults would add her own elements that more as a modern style paranormal/historical romance. It was when Shults was on her own that I literally wanted to throw the book across the room. I didn't since this was not my personal copy, but I constantly had to stop reading and calm myself. The first time this happened was when Shults gave Kate a love story where she falls in love with a servant boy by the name of Amadeo. First off, the loving outside of your class is extremely overdone. That's not to say I dislike it, but it can get very old, and when you see something played out all the time, the author need quite the talent to make it seem more worthwhile to the reader. However, I think it was the "he'll be the only love in my life," tripe that had me grinding my teeth.

The other thing that bothered me when the author was writing "alone" was when Kate turns into a wolf. She still seemed human to me. Now, I am in no way saying that every werewolf should lose all it humanity. I think the human/wolf mindset is brilliant, but in my experience, few authors have been able to pull it off well. Sure Kate says she longs to take a bite out of a living rabbit, but it always felt like simple words to me. I never felt the wolf's passion in Shults' writing. Now, I do like the fact that the author integrated real wolf traits in her character. I liked that she made her werewolf more wolf like than monster like. What's more is she seemed to do her research on how wolves act (though I did find a couple of mistakes). As I said, her werewolf just too human minded for my liking.

Everything else was a tossup to me on whether I enjoyed it or not. Part of this was Sylvia Shults' giving Kate a reason to be a shrew (because being property isn't reason enough) and to dislike Bianca. I liked that she tried to flesh out Kate more, but I disliked that the author had Kate start out as your typical Renaissance woman. Personally, I liked the idea that Kate was always this stubborn woman, but that's neither here nor there. The main tossup I really had involved the ending. In the original The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio, more or less, turns Katherina into what would have been considered the perfect female: mild, complacent, and completely obedient to her husband while in The Taming of the Werewolf, Kate and Petruchio are in love. Yes, she is still "tamed," but it is more her choice in Werewolf while in Shrew, this isn't necessarily the case. While the original work is extremely sexist to the point where it had me grinding my teeth, I also realise that this was how those times were. So yes, I wanted to punch Petruchio, but at the same time, this if 16th century Italy. With The Taming of the Werewolf, it is a lot less sexist but the whole falling in love at the end really bothers me. Sure I like Petruchio a lot more, but as I pointed out, this is 16th century Italy. Sure love is possible, but considering that Petruchio and Katherina have only been together for a few days and that Petruchio originally married Kate for money alone, it seems damn unlikely. So what's better? Having it be more authentic or having Petruchio be less of a dick and letting women (and some men) have that romantic fantasy?

Overall, this was a book of extremes for me. There were a variety of things I loved and a multitude of things I despised, making this quite the see saw. Does this book have issues? Clearly. Is it worth reading? I'd say yes. Is it worth buying? I'm not sure on that. I guess it would depend on the price for me.

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