I completely agree with the criticism of some of the reviewers of Obsidian Son. Much in the way of the Paranormal Romances I have read, Obsidian Son has a bizarre view of looks and what attracts people to each other. Instead of big cocks, there are big racks. The main character is shallow, obnoxious and has few redeeming qualities. In addition, there is a lack of research. Finally, there are grammatical problems.
In spite of all that, I had fun. Imagine what Shayne Silvers could have accomplished with a better team. So many of the authors I read, or try to read, claim their stories have had editors and beta-readers. As does Silvers. Hmmm. Who are these editors and beta-readers?
I still had fun. This is an urban fantasy interspersed with mythological and magical creatures. The main character has magic, is wealthy and is extremely attractive to the opposite gender. Some of that attraction is because of out-of-control magic. There are dragons. They are the best part of the story. Really fun dragons.
Thaumatology 101is a mystery. Ceridwyn (Ceri) Brent has been hired as a research assistant to Dr. Tennant at the Metropolitan University in London at the High-energy Thaumatology Building. Thaumatology is the magic of Teasdale’s world. Dr. Tennant has been working for a couple of years on finding a solution for the containment of T-Null. It turns out her other assistant, Shane Walters, has hampered her work. After an accident occurs that almost kills Ceri, Ceri and Lily begin searching for an answer to why Shane is out to stop Ceri.
I like the way Teasdale introduces us to the world (and the house) both Ceri and Lily are part of. Thaumatology 101 is very much about the friendship between Lily and Ceri. Ceri experiences major changes in her life during the story and Lily is there to both support and hamper her. Thaumatology 101 celebrates sexuality without being preachy or crude. I found that refreshing. Not being a romance was also great. Violence in the story was toned down. Because of the toned down violence and joyful sexuality, I would call this an older Young Adult urban fantasy tale. The story is somewhere between a novella and a novel in length (137 pgs).
In my opinionDark Earth seems aimed at a younger Young Adult audience.
Jason Halstead starts off the story in modern US and then takes us to a parallel world set to a pre-industrial age. He describes this Dark Earth as meaner and greedier than our own. Perhaps that is due to the younger audience he is writing for and possibly a need to create a good and a bad world. I certainly know of plenty of people who are as mean and greedy on our side of the gates. Places that are more or less pre-industrial are in existence although these are becoming fewer by the decade.
Our heroes are Eric, who lost his wife 13 years ago, and his 13-year-old daughter Jessica. Eric is still caught in the grief of his wife being killed while in her 8th month of pregnancy. When a guy turns up at his house attempting to murder his daughter, Eric is understandably frustrated, angry, afraid and reminded of his previous loss. Then Eric and Jessica discover that they are part of a 2000-year-old legacy that reaches across to parallel world. Now the two will also have to deal with Jessica being kidnapped and Eric being bitten by a strange wolf.
I read Dark Earth a long time ago but had forgotten to write a review for it. That meant I had to read it again. Jason Halstead certainly writes well enough for me to also enjoy the second reading. Although Jessica was the person of interest to the various parties, Eric was the character that I saw the most of. He was the one that showed growth and development.
There was plenty of action and some violence. Only one short bit might be considered by some parents as too much for the youngest children. Other than that, Dark Earth must be one of the safer stories out there for a Young adult audience. There was no swearing, very little violence, some sadness and no romance (except in the memory of Eric and his late wife).
The Agency by Jessica Page is a paranormal romance with a mystery twist. The Agency is Ms. Page’s first published novel and is part of a series called Agency Hunger. Ms. Page provided me with a copy of her novel in return for a review.
We all know that I am a terrible romance reviewer but I will comment of the stuff that I understand about the concept.
Our male main character’s name is Reid. He falls into the cognitive trap of telling himself to “not think about thinking about a subject”. You know what happens then. The more you fight it, the more you think about it. Sure enough. The more Reid thought about not thinking about liking Harper the more she stuck out in his mind. Silly old vampire. Should know better by now. Especially since he discovers early one that Harper is able to read minds. I thought this was hilarious which is what romance is to me.
The other romance bit that I am able to understand is the sex part. For those of you who do not know yet, I am Norwegian. When Ms. Page told me that her novel had adult content I admit that made me curious as to whether this Viking would think so as well. Personally I think older young adults could read Ms. Page’s novel so they could learn about consensual sex. Because that was what it was. Nice, consensual sex that made me a bit horny. Well done Ms. Page – both on making me horny with your writing and for writing about kind sex. Nor was the violence especially violent.
Both Reid and Harper are extremely sexy and good-looking and that seems to be some sort of rule with romances.
We first meet Harper as she is on her way to and arrives on the subway platform. She has her first encounter with the supernatural world when a person sneaks up behind her wanting to “taste her”. Harper knows this because of what she thinks is a one-of-a-kind ability. To say that she is freaked out is putting it mildly. She turns around, sees sharp incisors and red eyes and thinks what any regular person would
“a fucking vampire standing right in front of me ready to kill me? That is not possible.”
Immediately she has her second encounter when the first vampire is pulled off her by another one – Reid.
Harper is dragged into the supernatural world disbelieving herself and who/what she meets yet finally feeling as though she fits in. Her mind-reading ability caused her adoptive parents to turn her over to a private research facility for testing and Harper had lived 8 years of her life in a laboratory being examined in all sorts of ways. Growing up is difficult enough to do under normal circumstances. Adding non-optional electric shocks and other invasive procedures has made her wary of other people’s reactions to her abilities. Discovering that she is a normal supernatural with an irregular ability must have been relaxing. Finally there is a place in this world where she belongs.
The supernatural members of Harper’s new world are werewolves, vampires and mages (Harper is a mage). You are either born or made a vampire or werewolf. Mages have to be born but do not begin manifesting their abilities until they are ten years old. Werewolves have controlled, painless transitions and they remain in charge of themselves after the change. Vampires are alive but depend on blood to feed the virus that gives them extra abilities. Both werewolves and vampires need to be coached while they are newbies so they do not allow their predatory sides to take over.
Reid is old enough that he has seen the consequences of letting his predatory side rule. His choice was to join up with the group of supernaturals that wanted to keep the community and themselves under control. He belongs to the Agency as one of their best trainers and agents. His responsibility will be to train Harper. Their job will be to help figure out why all the illegal turnings and the deaths that follow the unsuccessful ones are happening.
I liked Jessica Page’s first attempt at a novel. Sure, there is something that needs work. That is a tightening of the story. Sometimes her story falls out of the flow and she has to find her way back into the stream again. But she manages to make her text flow and that is a feat in and of itself. Her English is Canadian English.
I generally do some research before writing about a book. When the blurb began:
“What if Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf turned out to be the same person?”
I went off on one of my curiosity sprees. Roald Dahl has a wonderful version of Little Red Riding Hood (below) that resembles the version of Little Red Riding Hood that Jordan Summers writes about.
Red has three Riding Hoods that are eaten by the big bad wolf while their grandmothers are left alone. Our Were-theme is discovered in the first chapter when the murderer describes being wracked with the pain of being ripped apart and put back together again. Then he mauls and eats his murder victim. Summers’ description of the mauling and eating is just as descriptive as her description later on in the novel of sex and its prelude – pretty explicit.
The mystery part of Red is pretty straight-forward. As a reader I know everything long before Red and Morgan do. When Renee Forrester, Lisa Salomon and Moira Collins turn up dead, I draw conclusions faster than the couple-to-be. Embroiled as they are in the action and full of fear of being discovered, fear of the other not liking them, fear of the other person liking them, and being horny to the degree that the two of them are probably slows them down.
Red is full of the non-existent, exterminated Others. These people were supposed to have been wiped out. Instead they are turning up all over the place. Some of them do not even know that they are an Other. Discovering what they are might just mean the difference between life and death for themselves and others.
We are all Others of some sort. It isn’t my Asperger side that defines me as an Other but rather the Beast in me that might rear its head at some point in my life. We sure see a lot of the Beast types in the world without needing to genetically tinker one into us.
As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma’s door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, “May I come in?”
Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
“He’s going to eat me up!” she cried.
And she was absolutely right.
He ate her up in one big bite.
But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, “That’s not enough!
I haven’t yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!”
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
“I’ve got to have a second helping!”
Then added with a frightful leer,
“I’m therefore going to wait right here
Till Little Miss Red Riding Hood
Comes home from walking in the wood.”
He quickly put on Grandma’s clothes,
(Of course he hadn’t eaten those).
He dressed himself in coat and hat.
He put on shoes, and after that
He even brushed and curled his hair,
Then sat himself in Grandma’s chair.
In came the little girl in red.
She stopped. She stared. And then she said,
“What great big ears you have, Grandma.”
“All the better to hear you with,” the Wolf replied.
“What great big eyes you have, Grandma.”
said Little Red Riding Hood.
“All the better to see you with,” the Wolf replied.
He sat there watching her and smiled.
He thought, I’m going to eat this child.
Compared with her old Grandmamma
She’s going to taste like caviar.
Then Little Red Riding Hood said, “But Grandma,
what a lovely great big furry coat you have on.”
“That’s wrong!” cried Wolf. “Have you forgot
To tell me what BIG TEETH I’ve got?
Ah well, no matter what you say,
I’m going to eat you anyway.”
The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She wimps a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature’s head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.
A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, “Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry wolfskin coat.”
“That’s because pixies think with their hearts,” Quen said, ignoring Trent’s peeved expression. “This decision is already causing problems.”
“Most warriors think with their hearts,” I said, telling the mystics to back off and that I wasn’t angry with anything they could crush or explode. “It’s what keeps them alive through the crap they have to deal with to keep the rest of you safe.”
Quen smiled, deep and full. “Rachel,” he amended, then headed into the hall. “Jenks, a word?”
“What the hell is it with you people?” Jenks griped as he followed him out. “Can’t you make a decision without talking to the pixy?”
“Warriors build empires around the kernel of truth that others overlook,” came Quen’s soft voice …
Who are the warriors? Well, in the world of The Undead Pool the warriors are pretty much all of Rachel’s friends. They save the world from the chaos caused by others and sometimes themselves (unintentionally). Some of them crave the adrenalin that comes from the fight while others fight for what they believe even though they are frightened half to bits.
When you take away the trappings of fantasy, you quickly see that Rachel Morgan is like many of us.
She grew up a sickly child. Her father died while she was young and her mother lost it for a while after that. Rachel was an outsider and bullied for being different. As she grew up Rachel learned to keep to herself and was afraid of bonding with others. But her personality was of one that stands up for what she believes in and one that fights for the weak in society. In time the force of her personality drew people to her and because of Rachel’s willingness to sacrifice for others those bonds became strong. Due to her fear of intimate relationships, Rachel had a tendency to choose lovers who spoke to her self-destructive side. But eventually her choices and the choices of others opened her eyes to the fact that it is OK to choose a partner who will be just that – a partner.
What Rachel has learned is that life is about so much more than surviving our pasts. In letting people into her life and taking the chance of being hurt further, Rachel has opened up for possibilities that would not have been there otherwise. In her fight for the protection of the weak, Rachel now has support that enables her to do what has become her “job”. She is still an outsider, but no longer is she alone.
Then we add the trappings of fantasy and we have a rip-roaring yarn told by one of my favorite authors.
As you all know I loved the first installment of the Rune Alexander series, Shiv Crew. Talk about dark. I am going to state one major complaint about Blood and Bite. It was simply too short. Way too short. I was having this humongously fun time reading it and then it was over. Bummer.
So now you know. I liked Blood Bite. There were still the “baby’s” that I thought were weird. Norwegians just don’t go around throwing endearments at people we like. I kind of wish we did.
Shiv Crew is still adorable. I want to give them all a big hug. You’ve got this gang of huge (except for Rune and Lex) guys running around killing monsters in monstrous ways and I want to give them a group-hug. I must be messed up.
The characters that are the most fun in Blood and Bite are Rune and Ellis. I think that these two characters are the ones that kind of carry the story or maybe the idea of Shiv Crew. Ellis is Shiv Crew’s assistant but also their mascot and heart. At least that is the way Rune feels. Without him she thinks she would fall apart. And Rune might be right about that. For in spite of her stay with the shrinks at the rehab Rune is still messed up, although she is dealing more sensibly with her “monster”. Her mantra has become: “I am my monster, and my monster is me.” Rune’s monster loves fighting. Rune is not averse to it either. If there is one thing she excels at it is fighting. Along with the fighting Rune instills a sense of loyalty in those who work with her (nut-cases excepted).
There are a couple of nut-cases in Blood and Bite. Nicolas Llodra, the vampire master, and Tim Emerson, the Church of Slayers, are the worst ones in Rune’s life at the moment. Nicky has gone bonkers. Insanity seems to be the doom of all vampires. Whether Rune is one is kind of difficult to say. She believes that herself, but we as readers are given hints that there is something else in her blood. Insanity is the one thing that terrifies Rune and killing Nicholas seems a mercy-stroke to her. If only he wasn’t holding something over the heads of Shiv Crew.
Tim Emerson is a nut-case in a human manner. We all know that the worst monsters out there are humans. When we go bad we seem to go all out. Fanaticism just gives us that push to do what we might otherwise hesitate to do. My opinion is that Tim Emerson would have been a cold-blooded monster even without the Church of Slayers. But getting rid of Emerson without proof is difficult.
Raze, our rat-loving, Shiv Crew member is out of jail and Shad returns from Philadelphia with his wife and son. Gunnar the Ghoul is stranger than usual. Ellis is having trouble in his love-life. And – to top it all – Rune’s house is burned down. Hurrah, let’s just give the girl another challenge.
I think there are probably authors out there who love to make the lives of their main protagonists as difficult as possible, and I suspect Laken is such an author. But it makes for a fun time for the reader.
Anyways, have fun. Oh, and there is no sex but some explicit violence.