Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “werewolves”

Malin’s #CBR4 Review 93: Eternal Pleasure by Nina Bangs

This was the alt-book in Vaginal Fantasy Hangout in September, and due to the rather unusual subject matter, I felt compelled to check it out. As the e-book is currently unavailable, I ended up paying 5 times the cost of the actual book to have it shipped from the US, but it did entertain me, so I guess I don’t mind too much.

There’s a lot of paranormal fantasy and romance out there featuring shapeshifters of various kinds. I suspect it’s the most common trope after vampires. The hero in this book, is a slightly different sort of a shapeshifter, hence the lovely ladies of VFH’s enthusiasm, and my needing to read the book. But what is it actually about, you ask.

Apparently there is a battle between huge and powerful forces in the world, and the bad side, known among other things as the Lords of Time (and yes, there is a Doctor Who reference in the book!), whilst the good guys are the Gods of the Night. The leader for the Gods of the Night is called Fin (he has long, silvery sparkly hair and silvery eyes with hints of purple – my brain can’t even fully visualize that, but boy, do I want to read whatever book he’s the hero of). He leads the Eleven, who are souls who have been resting since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and now have been placed in the bodies of super hot dudes. Who have to help Fin fight the various evil supernatural creatures that are the minions of the Lords of Time (just to make it more confusing, there’s “good” vampires and werewolves too). If the Gods of the Night don’t stop the baddies,humanity will be wiped out on the 21st of December 2012 – the exact date when the Mayan calendar ended!

Our hero in this book is Ty Endeka, who when he was last conscious, was a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Yeah, I kid you not. All of the Eleven were dinosaurs in their last incarnation (although it’s suggested that that is not who they originally were, and this battle between good and evil has been going on a LONG time). They need help adjusting to the modern world, and can’t drive cars, so they have sexy ladies to chauffeur them around (because who wants a dude to do stuff like that?).

His driver is Kelly Maloy, who when she’s not making lots of money driving the hot, but clearly dangerous Ty around is a student of some sort (I don’t remember the finer details – c’mon, I just wanted to get to the dino parts!). If the Eleven don’t concentrate real hard, their inner dino-ness seems to affect everyone around them, and people tend to get twitchy when gigantic pre-historic predators are around (yeah, none of the hot dudes seem to have been herbivores, if there had been one,  I bet that guy would be the quiet, sensitive, nerdy one of the group). Anyways, Kelly is attracted to Ty, but also understands that he’s not just your normal hot dude.

While the truth behind the Eleven is supposed to be kept secret, too much stuff happens over a short space of time for Kelly not to understand that there’s a lot more out there that goes bump in the night than was dreamt of in her philosophy, and soon Fin has let her in on all the secrets, and conveniently Kelly is needed to help them defeat one of the evil lieutenants, boringly just called Nine (because there are Nine of them).

Over the course of the book, there are obviously a bunch of action sequences where the dino-dudes have to fight evil vampires and werewolves and such. I was disappointed to find that the Eleven don’t actually shapeshift into actual gigantic dinosaurs, it’s more like a big big dinosaur-shaped forcefield around each guy (which can still bite and rend and claw, so that’s convenient). Also, at least one guy is a flying dinosaur, and one is one of those gigantic toothy water-based ones, which I liked a lot.

Naturally Kelly and Ty’s attraction to each other is because they are each other’s soul mates. The romance aspect of this book is not exactly the most compelling I’ve ever read. Nor is this ever going to be classified as great literature. But it was quite fun, it certainly offered something new in a genre where a lot of things are very samey and if it turns out that Nina Bangs (I do hope that’s her real name) ever writes Fin’s book, I promise to buy, read and review that too.

Amanda6′s #CBR4 Review 43-45: The Mortal Instruments 1-3 by Cassandra Clare

This review covers the “original” trilogy of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass. More books have been written and the series is up to five now; I have no idea how long the author intends for the series to run at this point.

Look at those covers — aren’t they kind of hilarious? Anyway, being the dedicated Tumblr user that I am, I couldn’t help but notice the fervor over these, particularly with the movie adaptation currently filming and slated for release in spring 2013. Turns out, I’m way behind on this phenomenon, since City of Bones was first released in 2008. Anyway. Onto the actual review-y stuff.

Set in modern New York, the series concerns the re-education of “mundane” Clary Fray, who grew up much like you and I, blind to the supernatural worlds that exist intertwined with ours. That changes one evening at a nightclub when she witnesses a group of Shadowhunters engaged in a bit of demon-slaying. Shadowhunters are humans that are angel-blessed and have the ability (and responsibility) to fight demons and other forces of evil. Shadowhunters are born only from the established bloodline of known Shadowhunters, so when the supposedly-normal Clary is able to see what ordinary humans, called “mundanes,” cannot, the Shadowhunter group takes her back to their lair. Meanwhile, her mother is kidnapped, as it turns out, by demons, and Clary and her new companions, along with her other mundane friend Simon, learn Clary’s true heritage and begin a quest to rescue her mother.

This is basically the setup for the first three books in the series, which has everything you would expect from a supernatural YA series: the epic and passionate romance that appears delayed by insurmountable circumstances and kind of leads to a love triangle, except that you’re never quite convinced that there is really any competition; the showdown between good and evil, which in this case is led by a former Shadowhunter-turned-bad; appearances from vampires, warlocks, werewolves, and faeries — etc, etc. There is also a lot of meta humor and current pop culture references, which make the books fun now but will probably lead to them seeming really dated in another few years.

Overall, yes, these were really fun. I read all three over the course of a single weekend, and I can understand why teenagers (aka, the actual target market for YA) have gone rabid over them. I really enjoyed the world-building and fast paced plot, both of which kept me engaged and caused me to want to zip through these quickly. The romance was fun too, due to a legitimately surprising twist, which keeps them “apart” for a good 2/3 of the trilogy and makes for some deliciously conflicted sexual tension. The writing itself was kind of hokey and immature, and didn’t really achieve the same kind of character depth or development that, say, Collins does in The Hunger Games, or even that THG would-be competitors like Divergent (Roth) do. What the characters lack in depth, though, they make up for in sassy quips. Again, these lend themselves to fun, quick reads rather than truly thought-provoking YA, but I’m not really complaining. One of the things that the Cannonball has done for me is taken away a bit of my prejudice regarding “serious” books. If I’m trying to read at least 52 books in a year, I owe myself a few silly fun ones along the way! So that’s what I recommend to this audience. The Mortal Instruments make a great palate-cleanser as part of the Cannonball: you’ll probably enjoy them, even if they don’t “stay with you,” as they say. And if this kind of stuff is actually right up your alley, you’ve probably already read them, since like I said, I’m late to this game.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review#77: Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

This is the final book (at least so far) in Kelley Armstrong’sWomen of the Otherworld series. This review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series, and anyone who hasn’t read Kelley Armstrong before, would be better off starting with Bitten, Dime Store Magic, Haunted, Personal Demon or Spell Bound.

Thirteen starts pretty much immediately after the cliffhanger ending of Waking the Witch. Savannah Levine has rescued her half-brother from a renegade group of supernaturals determined to reveal their existence to the world. They’ve injected Savannah’s half-brother with some something containing the DNA of several supernatural races, and it’s making him really sick. Savannah and her friends need to make sure that the Supernatural Liberation Movement don’t succeed in their plan, but with powerful forces involved, both on the demonic and angelic sides, the struggle could turn into an all-out war, and that would be very bad for humans and supernaturals alike.

As a fan of Kelley Armstrong since 2004, it was both nice and a bit strange to readThirteen, the culmination of all her Women of the Otherworld books. Like the previous book in the series, this book features pretty much every major character in the series, both protagonists of previous books and a large cast of supporting characters. As such, I doubt it’ll be very satisfying to anyone for whom this is their first foray into Armstrong’s supernatural universe. Armstrong writes good heroines, and no one can say that she has cookie cutter characters. While the quality of the series has been a bit varied (I went off it for a bit, only to go back and rediscover why I loved it a few years back), this is a solid ending, and it was great to see all the former heroines and heroes working together towards a common goal.

Savannah, who started out as a supporting character in Stolen and Dime Store Magic wasn’t always a very likable character, and even annoyed me quite a bit in the previous two books in Armstrong’s final trilogy. Yet it was obviously carefully calculated by the author, to show just how much growing and development the character had left to do. I’d rather a character had too many flaws, rather than none and it’s always nice when they develop and mature into someone better after a series of trial and tribulations.

If you’ve read some or all of Armstrong’s other books in this series, then you’ll probably enjoy this one a lot. If you haven’t, do yourself a favour and check out one of the earlier ones I mentioned, they’re some of the finest paranormal fantasy out there.

Also published on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR4 Reviews #70-74: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost, Timeless by Gail Carriger, Grave Memory by Kalayna Price, The Thief and The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

More of my backlog being cleared, here are five more reviews:

Book 70: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost. First book in new series of paranormal fantasy books, where a girl who channels electricity and can read the history of objects, and the vampireVlad Tepesh (who hates being called Dracula) fall in lust and get into hijinx. 4 stars.

Book 71: Timeless by Gail Carriger. Fifth and final novel in the Parasol Protectorate series. Fluffy fun. 3 stars.

Book 72: Grave Memory by Kalayna Price. Third book in a well-written paranormal series I discovered through Felicia Day. 3 1/2 stars.

Book 73: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I wasn’t very impressed with this book the first time I read it, and nearly stopped reading half the way through. Boy, am I glad I stuck with it. Essential young adult literature. 4 stars.

Book 74: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. I loved this one the first time I read it, and even more on a second reading, when I really knew how clever and wonderful it was. Everyone should read this book. 5 stars.

Goddess of Apathy’s #CBR4 Review #4, The Wolf Gift, by Anne Rice

What Have I Become, My Sweetest Friend………….

There are many of you Cannonball readers who are  “of a certain age” as I am and you quite possibly are die-hard fans of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I’m the first to argue how much better vampire stories were back in my day!  Rice’s vampires were not sparkly navel gazers; they were monstrous devils.  Rice’s Louis lived a tortured life, regretting his weary immortality, but Lestat was preening, deliciously wicked fun.  The Vampire Chronicles were dirty, deviant, mature, and violent–exactly what is missing in today’s vampire stories.

As you may suspect, I read a lot of Anne Rice. I stuck with Rice when she wrote about the  Mayfair witches, too. But, then I got a little older, and I stopped reading Anne Rice.  I am not sure if that is her fault or mine. However, when I read that she was publishing a new book, The Wolf Gift, I thought maybe I should give it a whirl once more. We had so much history together. Wolves are hot right now, too, and I hoped she injected some maturity into the popular lit-trash that has been published recently.

I admit I am the cheapest cheapskate there is. I have a Kindle, but so far I have just the free stuff, like self-published e-books and the classics.  I placed a hold on The Wolf Gift from the local library and waited patiently for my turn.

When I finally had the opportunity to check out the book, I was thoroughly excited. It was fresh and new. I began reading it immediately.  If you read the publisher’s summary, it tells you the book takes place on the coast of Northern California in the present. I felt that Anne Rice’s description of the scenery was vivid and captivating.  The story begins in  a towering mansion on the edge of the Pacific.  I could see it in my mind. So far so good.

The main character, young Reuben Golding,  is a reporter for the San Francisco Observer and he has arrived at the mysterious mansion because it must be sold quickly.  I was excited by all the details that Anne Rice gave to the setting–the redwood forests, the exquisite details of every room in the house, the weather.  I have always enjoyed her writing in that respect. My desire to go to New Orleans was born with her novels and I can say that my interest in northern California is piqued by this book.

As fascinating as the setting was, I had a difficult time envisioning Reuben. I could never get a clear visual on him, based on either my own inability to comprehend or Rice’s lack of giving as much detail to Reuben’s exterior as she did the setting. He was young, rich, and just a little lost. However, his life is changed at the mansion when he is attacked and bitten by some horrible creature.  This bite transforms him into something wholly implausible and incredible.

Once he begins to transform, his life changes. He has a purpose; he becomes something better than he was before that fateful night in the mysterious mansion. Reuben has received a Gift. Why has he received it? Can he use it for the greater good or will it destroy him?

I do not want to spoil the complete story for anyone interested in reading this book. I will finish by saying that it is not as violent an Anne Rice book as I was expecting. There was a positive angle in the book that was refreshing.  Rice created her own rules and mythology for her creations and characters that is familiar yet new.

Anne Rice created a wholly readable and enjoyable new book that will likely be a series of books. Her writing has changed, just as we have, but she is still a captivating storyteller, capable of maturity and spinning a great yarn.

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #30 River Marked (Mercy Thompson #6) by Patricia Briggs

In this sixth installment of the Mercy Thompson series, Mercy is on her honeymoon (yes!  she actually made a choice!) when she and her husband come across a big evil making it’s home in the Columbia River.  Without giving away any spoilers, I just want to say this book and this series are awesome!  First of all, I LOVE that Mercy grows across the series and actually makes a romantic choice (no wishy-washy, thank you very much).  Plus, the revelations about Mercy’s real father and Native American/shapeshifter heritage that we’ve been waiting for finally come to pass and they are sooo worth the wait.  If you’re at all a fan of Native American mythology, you’ll really like what happens here.  I love the crossover between the Native American spirits and the European fae – it reminds me A LOT of Charles DeLint’s Newford novels.  Really good stuff.

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #29 Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5) by Patricia Briggs

This is the fifth in the Mercy Thompson urban paranormal series by Patricia Briggs.  What I love about this series is that everything Mercy does has consequences for her and her friends – it’s not as though they hit the reset button between books.  This book deals more with the werewolf and fae side of the supernatural world that Briggs has created.  In an earlier book, Mercy borrowed a powerful, old Fae book and someone wants it back badly enough to kill.  As if that isn’t enough, Mercy’s friend Samuel is in trouble – struggling to keep the wolf side of his nature under control.  If Mercy can’t figure out a way to help Samuel, his father, Bran, the most powerful of all werewolves, will be forced to kill Samuel to prevent him from losing control and becoming an mindless killing machine.  Really, really fun stuff.  I love this series!

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #28 Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4) by Patricia Briggs

This fourth book in the Mercy Thompson series sees the return of my least favorite love interest, the Scooby Doo loving vampire Stefan.  I have to say, I do like the fact that all of Mercy’s actions have consequences.  In book two, she crossed the vampires and now Marsilia, queen of the Tri-Cities vampire seethe, is out for justice.  And since Mercy is officially pack, that means the Tri-Cities pack and the seethe will go to war unless Mercy can find some way out.  Which each book in this series, the world gets deeper and more interesting and, of course, the consequences of sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong (how like a coyote!) keeping adding up, making our humble mechanic A LOT more visible in the supernatural community than she’d like to be.

Good stuff!

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #27 Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson #3) by Patricia Briggs

If you’ve been following my urban paranormal/vaginal fantasies reviews will probably have noticed something by now – I tend to prefer the werewolf and fae story lines and dislike the ones about vampires.  It’s ok if vampires are in your story or ‘verse, I’m just not partial to them as leads.  (Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite TV series but otherwise, Twilight, True Blood, Anne Rice…. all that stuff just makes me really really tired.  For some reason, reanimated corpses are not sexy to me.  Yeah – I don’t like zombies either.)  Anyway….  So as much as I disliked the second Mercy Thompson books for being all about vampires and their crazy bloodsucking, power hungry ways, I LOVED the third book for being about scary, dark, power hungry, ancient, inscrutable fae.  These kinds of stories, based on the dark truths in our older European mythology, really speak to me on a deep level.  In this book, Mercy is tracking a serial killer who somehow is able to overcome the all-powerful and mysterious fae.  In doing so, she draws more and more attention to herself in the supernatural community – something neither she, nor her love interests, approves of in any way.  In case you’re worried, no this isn’t the sparkly white light fairy godmother type stuff that is so annoying in the Sookie Stackhouse novels.  These fae are dark, bloodthirsty and… weird.  Their motivations and ethics are very different from that of humans and that makes them very interesting as characters.  They’re hungrier, more intense humans in the way that vampires are.  If werewolves seem to represent the animal side of nature, then I’d say the fae represent the invisible side of nature – weather, earth forces, stuff like that.  Of course, I could just be reading A LOT into it.  As with the books before, this one moves forward Mercy’s personal relationships in a believable and satisfying way (she’s not in stasis or bouncing back and forth between a number of guys – she’s really figuring things out with Adam and Samuel).  This book is way more intense than the other ones and I actually cried at the end of it.  I love it when a series can be fun and silly but still take on real things with emotional truthfulness.  Really enjoyed this book and highly recommend the series.

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #26 Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson #2) by Patricia Briggs

I absolutely loved the first Mercy Thompson book, and I adore the series over all, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the others.  The storyline, involving the vampire subculture of this series, is probably at fault here because I’m beyond over vampires.  In particular, the character of Stefan (the Scooby Doo loving vampire who has a crush on our Mercy) just doesn’t come across to me.  Of course, there’s some fun stuff involving the tension between Mercy, Adam and Sam (who is now her roommate).  Basically I liked all the stuff in this book that *didn’t* have anything to do with the plot.  Still, I enjoyed the book and I love the series.

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