Friday, June 24, 2011


I have a dilemma. I recieved an ARC of Serenity Volume 2 from NetGalley to review, which I've finished. Their page shows the release date of the hardcover to be September 7th, this year. Most publishers want the reviews posted near the release date. However, Goodreads shows that it was originally released back in 2008. I'm guessing it's being re-released. Sooo ... do I post the review now, or close to the new release date? I'll plan to post later, but it makes me wonder what the policy is.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Title: Sandman Slim
Publisher: EOS
ISBN: 9780061976261
Author: Richard Kadrey
Category: Urban Fantasy

Favorite Line:
James Stark (internal dialog): The smell of the burned bodies makes some of the Vigil crew gag. I smelled enough of it Downtown that it's familiar and even sort of comforting. I really hope there aren't any mind readers with us.

My Rating: ★★★★★

When I first started this book, it reminded me a lot of the movie The Crow, but with demons and magic. Thankfully, it didn't rehash that plot line, although there were similarities. Guy comes back from the dead (or, in this case, Hell) looking for vengeance for himself and his girlfriend. But Sandman Slim quickly spirals away from the movie's straightforward plot. The main character is unique, and I enjoyed reading from his point of view. James Stark is no hero. He's been through Hell (literally), and doesn't give a damn about anything but his revenge. Through the course of the book, he grows and begins caring again … somewhat. He's a far cry from many of the protagonists I've read recently. The story is dark urban fantasy at its best, gritty and imaginative.

Pros -

Uniqueness. The story and its protagonist are wonderful new additions to a genre that can get repetitive. Although, the beginning did remind me of The Crow, it rapidly broke new ground, following its own path. And what an enjoyable path it was.

For an urban fantasy, Sandman Slim stayed very believable. Oh, there was magic, angels and demons, but everything worked within its own rules, and Kadrey painted his world in such detail that I felt as if I were living it. I loved all the minutia he added.

The characters, not just Stark, all had their own quirks and personalities. I'm looking forward to seeing where everyone will fit in with each other in future books.

Cons -

Sandman Slim, like most urban fantasies I've read, is told from first person point of view. However, Stark's internal dialog can be hard to follow sometimes. He would enter a room, and then talk about being on the floor. A paragraph or so later, he would explain how someone knocked him down. It got confusing at times.

I really enjoyed Sandman Slim, and recommend it to most anyone who wants an in-depth dark urban fantasy, with one stipulation. There are parts that might offend the very religious. It's not very complimentary to either side of the Heaven/Hell conflict. Just a warning.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Feature & Follow Friday!

Feature and Follow Friday is here! Head over to Parajunkee's blog to participate.

Q. Genre Wars! What's your favorite genre and which book in that genre made it your favorite?

Urban fantasy is by far my favorite genre. As for which book, that's hard to say. Can I choose a series? Or, at least, the first nine books in a series? I love the early Anita Blake books. They introduced me written urban fantasy. (I watched, and loved, Buffy the Vampire Slayer before reading any UF.) If I had to choose one book from that series, it'd be Obsidian Butterfly, the ninth book. It features my favorite UF character of any series, Edward. I love him. :)

Freaky Friday: the Banshee

Today's Freaky Friday creature: the banshee.

Also goes by bean sidhe (fairy woman or woman of the mound), bean-nigde (washing woman), bean chaointe (keening woman), Washer of the Shroud, Washer at the Ford, Washer at the Banks, Dames blanche

The legend of the banshee may be traced back to an old Irish tradition. During a funeral, a woman (know as a "keener") would sing a lament, or caoineadh, for the deceased. When a member of the five great Gaelic families died, they were said to be lamented by a fairy woman. The fairy woman, with supernatural insight, would know if a family died even if they were many miles away. The fairy's lament would be the first indication they would recieve of the death.

The banshee was often described as an old woman or hag. She could also appear as a lovely young woman, or dignified matron. These three appearances mirror the three aspects of the the Celtic goddess of war and death: Badhbh, Macha and Mor-Rioghain. She is sometimes said to carry a comb, which she runs through her long hair. If a traveler found a comb on the ground, they should never pick it up. If it belonged to a banshee, she would steal the person away. The comb imagery may have been borrowed from stories of mermaids, and incorporated into the banshee legend. She could also appear as a crow, weasel or hare (animals associated with witchcraft in Ireland).

Hearing a banshee's wail (or keen) would foretell a death in the family. Actually seeing the banshee would foretell that person's own death. If several banshees sang their lament together, it signaled the death of someone of great importance.

The wail is discribed in several ways, depending on the region. In the southwest of Ireland, in Kerry, her wail is described as a "low, pleasant song." However, in Leinster, her keening was sharp enough to shatter glass. Other areas describe it as two boards being struck together (Tyrone, in the north), or a screeching sound like a cross between the wails of a woman and an owl (Rathlin Island).

Another portrayal of the banshee is of a woman washing bloody clothes or graveclothes. The clothes belonged to someone about to die. Passersby must not be seen by the washerwoman. If they are noticed, they must help her with her washing. If they do this correctly, the washerwoman will grant three wishes. However, if done wrong, she will instantly kill him or her. In Scotland, if a person can move between the washerwoman and the water, she will grant three wishes in exchange for three questions truthfully answered.

The banshee has a rich history. For more information, check out my sources at:
Wikipedia - Banshee
Monstropedia - Banshee

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8, Vol 4)

Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8, Vol 4): Time of Your Life
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN: 9781595823106
Author: Joss Whedon, Jeph Loeb
Category: Graphic Novel
Source: Advance Reader's Copy from NetGalley

Favorite Quotes:
Melaka Fray, “I fig we stake some lush haunt, lurks come out, we skin 'em for stories. Yeah?”
Buffy, “Does any part of that sentence involve me beating something up?”

Tree person-thing, “Let us show these abominations the forest's rage!”
Xander, “Followed quickly by the forest's denial, bargaining, and then short, painful acceptance.”

My Rating: ★★★

I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as the previous three. I can't connect to a lot of shows or books that jump into the near future (flying cars and all, but no spaceships). They seem a bit cheesy and it's been done before. But the events here will resound into future books. Right after finishing it, I really didn't understand why the main antagonist did what she did. After some thought, I figured it out … I think. If I'm right, there will definitely be consequences.

Pros -

The 'future speak' was different enough from our current speech that I could believe they were in a different time, but still understand what they said. Whether language/slang will change that much in one hundred years, I don't know. But it's an overlooked detail many books/shows forget when doing a 'future' episode. People will talk different in one hundred years. It added an extra touch of believability to those scenes.

As with the previous Buffy Season 8 graphic novels, the humor and art were amazing. I keep saying that every time I review one of these. But really, it's true. I feel like I'm watching another episode on TV.

Cons -

I did have one problem with the artwork. One of the future characters looks a lot like Buffy, and it was a bit confusing (especially when she's first introduced, and we don't know who she is). When they're in the same scenes, they're dressed different and Buffy's hair is a wee bit shorter, so I could tell them apart. But they're just a little too similar looking.

Some of the speech squares (where there was dialog in a box, but the speaker's not in sight) were confusing, and I had to go back and figure out who was speaking. The worst incident happened when the internal dialog boxes switched suddenly between Buffy and the future slayer, Fray. The color of the box changed, which is usually an indicator of a new narrator, but it was similar enough that I didn't notice. For several frames, I thought Buffy was still 'thinking,' but her comments made no sense for her character. Eventually I caught on, but it ruined the flow of the story until I did.

This graphic novel is probably necessary for the continuing story arc, but it's not as good as the past ones. I think fans of the series should read this, but it doesn't do the series justice for a first time reader (in fact, it'll be very confusing).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8, Vol 3)

Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8, Vol 3): Wolves at the Gates
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN: 9781595821652
Author: Joss Whedon
Category: Graphic Novel
Source: Advance Reader's Copy from NetGalley

Favorite Quotes:
Evil henchman (referring to Buffy), “You didn't kill her.”
Head bad guy, “That's been done. To little effect.”

Dracula (insulted at the idea anyone could steal his powers), “The very idea that some two-bit, run-of-the-mill vampires could just come and … take them from the … Lord of … Darkness … (long pause) oh balls.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Anyone who's read my previous reviews knows I love Buffy and Joss Whedon. So this review shouldn't come as any surprise. This volume stays true to the TV series and Joss' own brand of humor, which equals instant love from me. There was one moment that pushed the corny-meter a little high (*cough* Dawn's adversary at the end *cough*). And Buffy's possible romantic interest came from left field. I didn't see that one coming, and I'm not sure it made sense. But Buffy's made “unique” romantic choices before when strung out (sixth season, anyone?), so maybe it's in character for her. In this one, we also see the return of Dracula. I didn't much care for his episode in the TV series, but he does better here. Not spectacular, but he has his moments.

Pros -

I really can't get enough of Joss Whedon's humor. He takes a typical scene you might see anywhere, and twists it just so, and suddenly its unexpected and hilarious. Banter between adversaries is rarely the normal back and forth you might see/read anywhere else. He makes it unique. Example: in this book, Buffy and another slayer are fighting some baddies while discussing person issues. The bad guys repeatedly try to start up the typical bad guy banter (“Your blood will taste so sweet...” etc.) and Buffy keeps telling them to shut up, she's talking to someone else. All kinds of conversations get the Joss Whedon “tweak.” And it never sounds forced, or artificial. The man's a master.

Like the previous two installments, the artwork is superb. The faces and expressions blew me away. I could almost see the actors on the page. I haven't seen the rest of the comics after this one, but I sure hope they keep this artist. Beautiful, just beautiful.

I mentioned this above, but it's worth repeating. The graphic novel stays true to the show. Granted, because of the different medium, they can plan things one a grander scale (like the final battle – that would've been very difficult to manage for the TV show). But the characters, the back story, dialog, everything is like watching the show again. As a huge Buffy fan, I love it.

Cons -

Also mentioned this above, but Dawn's adversary was a bit, um, yeah... The TV show got goofy sometimes, but still managed to pull it off. This pushed my suspension of disbelief, even for Buffy.

As for Buffy's person life choices, she's never shown that kind of side before. Or anything even remotely leaning towards that type of side. I have no problems with that life style, it just seemed a bit out of character for her. Makes me wonder where that'll go.

Like the previous two graphic novels, if you enjoyed the Buffy TV series, you should read the comics, preferably in order. They're entertaining, they continue where season seven ended and well worth the time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy dance!

Thanks to FictFact*, which emailed me today, I know when the next book in Patricia Brigg's Alpha & Omega series is coming out! (Pause for fangirl squeel...) Fair Game is due out Febuary 7, 2012 (one day after my birthday - Happy Birthday to me!). Both the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series are on the top of my Must-Read list. I can't wait to read this one!

Links for Fair Game:

*If you've never been to FictFact, and you like series, you really should check it out. It's a great resource. You imput your series, and it tracks them for you and emails you when the next book is coming out (or, as in this case, when the next one is revealed). I love it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Feature & Follow Friday!

Feature and Follow Friday is here again! Time to meet new bloggers and explore new sites. :) Come join the fun. Go to Parajunkee's View to sign up.

Q. The magic book fairy pops out of your cereal box and says "you and your favorite character (from a book of course) can switch places!" Who are you going to switch with?

If I could live one character's life, I would go with Mercy Thompson, from the amazing mind of Patricia Briggs. What's not to love about instant shapeshifting into a coyote? Okay, not the most powerful shifter out there, but she has more control than most of them, and no painful transformations. Poof, coyote. And Adam and his pack are good people to have around. Not to mention, if my car ever broke down, I'd have some clue what to do (which is more than I can say now). Of course, that would leave the real Mercy living in my boring life. Surely, she wouldn't mind, right? Right?

Freaky Friday: the Púca

I'm starting a new segment where I dig around the internet for a mythological creature to discuss. Welcome to Freaky Friday!

Today's installment: the Púca

Also goes by Pooka, Phooka, Phouka, Púka, Pwca (Welch), Pouque (Dgèrnésiais), Glashtyn (Manx), Bucca (Cornish) and Gruagach.

The Púca is from Celtic folklore; a shapeshifter that can take numerous forms (among them horse, goat, dog, eagle or goblin). One form is that of a half-human, half-goat satyr, reminecent of the famous character Puck, from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Regardless of it's shape, it almost always has dark fur or hair. The most common dipiction of a Púca is that of a sleek black horse with a flowing mane and vibrant yellow eyes.

The Púca could be benevolent, or destructive. As a horse, it would lure people onto it's back and take them away for a wild ride. They would return, but not the same as they left. Accounts differ on whether the Púca, when near lakes or streams, would take the human under the water and rip them apart like kelpies were said to do.

Brian Boru, High King of Irland, used a bridle made of three hairs of the Púca's tail to control and ride it. He rode it until, exhuasted, it succumbed to his will. He forced two promises from it: one, it would no longer harm Christian people or damage their property, and two, it would no longer attack any Irishman unless they were drunk or abroad with evil intent. Apparently, this bargain did not last, since attacks still happened after it was made.

The Púca could speak, and sometimes offered warnings or prophecies to those who left it gifts. It is a creature of the mountains and hills. On November Day, people could ascend to certain high places to leave offerings and seek advice.

Like many of the fairy folk, the Púca was both feared and respected. It enjoyed confusing people, but overall was considered a benevolent creature.

Sources and more information on the Púca:
Wikipedia - Púca
Monstropedia - Pooka

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chance to win a Kindle!

Anyone interested in winning a Kindle? Parajunkee's hosting a contest for a free Kindle. Gotta love that, yes? Head on over and leave a comment for a chance to win. Good luck! :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Currently Reading

I'm currently reading Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey. First impression? Wow, he cusses a lot.

Second impression: It's reminding me a lot of the movie, The Crow. A guy comes back from the dead (or, in this case, Hell) looking for vengence. I get the feel that there's more going on than a simple 'vengence' theme, though. I'm really curious how this will play out. So far, I'm loving it!

Child of Fire by Harry Connolly

I just finished Child of Fire, the first of the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly. Wow, it was amazing! I don't think “page turner” or “fast paced” can do this masterpiece justice.

My Rating: ★★★★★

I loved Child of Fire. I don't think any book has so completely engrossed me since (any of) the Dresden Files books. Now, I've heard this one compared to the Dresden books several times, and they do both have a male protagonist. Both are engrossing and action packed. But Ray Lilly is not Harry Dresden. He is harder and does not have Harry's refreshing sense of humor. Ray is in an awful situation – he only expects to live a few days, at most – and really, has nothing to joke about. Dresden's world can be dark, but Ray's manages to be darker. This is not a light read. But it's well worth it.

Pros -

Everything? Can I say that? It's hard to point out just a few great things with Child of Fire, because I loved it so much. When I was reading, I hated to put it down. It gripped me from the first few pages and didn't let go. I loved both the main characters, even though Annalise was almost an anti-hero (technically, on Ray's side, but still scary as all could be). I really understood Ray, and empathized with him. The plot intrigued me, although only part of it was still a mystery up to the end. The action was intense and thoroughly enjoyable. Just about everything about Child of Fire was amazing.

Cons -

This is more on me, I think, than the book. I couldn't keep up with all the side characters and the names being thrown around. Ray would learn some clue about someone, and mention that person later, and I wouldn't remember that name. Anyone who's met me in real life knows I'm horrible with names. There are plenty of names in this book, some of people we never meet.

This was not an issue for me, but others might have problems with it: this is closer to a horror novel than a fantasy (albeit urban fantasy). Many parts are surprisingly dark. The main plot revolves around children dying, horribly, and being completely forgotten by everyone around them. That's not a spoiler. The first one happens within just a few pages. It is very gritty and dark.

This is an excellent addition to the urban fantasy genre, and I recommend it to anyone who likes their UF dark or are looking for something new.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Feature & Follow Friday!

I'm joining the Feature and Follow Friday! For more info, go check out Parajunkee's View.

This week's question is: What are you doing to prepare for an upcoming zombie apocalypse and/or the return of Mel Gibson to the silver screen? (Both of which could be terrifying.)

For the zombie apocalypse, I'm practicing the time honored traditioned of denial. If I don't acknowledge it, obviously it doesn't exist, right? Works for me.

As for Mel Gibson ... ? Denial, anyone? Oh, yeah, it's a wonderful thing. I'm in my happy place.

Blogger likes me again!

Blogger likes me again ... for now. I can now actually comment on my own blog. Shocking that I'd want to do such a thing. I played nice and sent the Blogger people lots of chocolate and flowers. Eventually, they forgave me for whatever horrible crime I committed. All is well in the blog-verse.

Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre

I've just finished Wanderlust, the second Sirantha Jax novel. I enjoyed the first one so much, I was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, something just didn't click for me.

My Rating: ★★

Jax and company have upset the social order of the galaxy, but all that happened in the first book. Now they (and everyone else) has to deal with the backlash. As part of that “dealing,” Jax has been named Ambassador and sent to get a hostile alien species to join the government. Wanderlust covers her attempt to reach them, and all the obstacles thrown in. There were parts I enjoyed, but some of the chemistry was missing in this one.

Pros -

Jax and company can banter like pros. I love the bickering between them. It made me laugh, and gives a real insight to the characters. The back and forth sounded genuine, like I'd expect from people forced to like and work in close quarters. It was dialog like this that I loved from the first book.

Cons -

Maybe I wasn't in the mood for this type of book, but it seemed to spend way to much time going over Jax's own internal dilemmas. I never felt like she was whining, per se, but I just wanted to move on with the story. About half way through the book, I almost stopped reading it. I grew tired of the internal drama. It picked up again later, but it slowed the story down.

Off the top of my head, I can name two examples of blatant forecasting on the author's part. (I'll try to keep these vague to avoid any possible spoilers. No names, besides Jax's, mentioned.) First, Jax meets a new character who has a duplicate skill to another of her crew, right as they're planning to leave the planet. I had to wonder if the original crew member wasn't leaving with them. After all, why would they need two people with the same skill? Lo and behold, I was right. And the second, Jax kept mentioning wanting to get a certain piece of equipment, which she couldn't afford. She talks about it several times, even stating a brand name. Near the end, she just finds one laying around, which she fixes. Those “coincidences” could have been slid in more carefully. Maybe the extra person gets introduced at the beginning of the book, or doesn't have the exact same skills, but can “wing it.” And with the piece of equipment? Have Jax run into it, then realize its value and fix it, not broadcast how she wants that very thing for several chapters.

I don't know if I'll continue this series. It ended at a spot that promised more emotional drama ahead, and if it's like this book, I don't know if I want to read that. Wanderlust had its moments, but they were both good and bad. If you liked the first one, try this one. But you may want to borrow it before buying, just in case.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8, Vol 2)

I'm continuing my Buffy the Vampire fix by devouring the Season 8 comics I received free to review from NetGalley. I am so very, very glad Joss Whedon decided to continue the show, albeit in a different medium. I just finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer: No Future for You (Season 8, Vol 2).

My Rating: ★★★★★

The main story arc of this graphic novel follows Faith as she completes a mission for Giles. I've always loved her character, and I enjoyed following her story. She is still struggling to better herself and having lapses. Faith is a wounded soul, but not lost. She has taken up the responsibility of doing the dirty and thankless jobs that the new slayers just aren't ready for. In the opening scene of this book, a single mom has become a vampire. Faith is sent in to check on her children, who have all been turned as well. She's forced to slay several children (vampire children, but children nonetheless). It obviously disturbs her, but she still does it. We get the feeling this is not the first time she's done something she hates. Giles offers Faith a way out, if she'll do one last job. It's a great catching up with Faith.

Pros -

This is all about Faith. Buffy shows up, but Faith is definitely the main character. I've always enjoyed Faith, as both protagonist and antagonist. There are so much history and depth to her. She's always been one of my favorite characters.

Like the first graphic novel, the artwork is amazing. All the characters look like their actors. This wouldn't be near so enjoyable if the illustrations weren't so well done.

Also like the first graphic novel, Joss Whedon's humor shines through. There were many moments where I actually laughed out loud. I adore his humor.

Cons -

At first I couldn't really think of one, but I settled for the antagonist. She was a bit one dimensional. Her main reason for being there was to be a mirror for Faith to see herself in. But she had no real motivation other than wanting power because she could take it.

Overall, I loved this graphic novel. It's definitely for Buffy fans, and a must read for anyone who enjoyed Faith's character.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thank you and Blogger hates me

Thank you for all the comments! Unfortunately, I can't seem to comment back on anything right now. Obviously, I'm logged on, but whenever I try to reply, I get endless logon screens. Soooo ... I'm not sure what to do about that. I'm hoping Blogger will forgive me for whatever I did to it. I don't want people to think I'm ignoring them.

Also, apparently, I can't comment on other blogs that require me to sign in with my Google account. Sigh.