Book Review: Hunted by the Others

Last week as I was walking into work with a book under my arm, a client stopped me and asked me, all excitedly, if it was a Harry Potter book. I stopped and held it up so he could see it, “No, it’s another YA fiction series. But often scifi/ fantasy series use the same font and similar cover art, so it can be confusing!” In fact, font often plays a big part in why I will pick up a new series as I’ve come to recognize certain ones that invoke memories of other series that I love. Font is one of the reasons I picked up Hunted by the Others, by Jess Haines, when I was at the library the other week.

hunted by the others


Summary from Amazon

Shiarra Waynest’s detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm – if it doesn’t kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York’s most powerful vampires. As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend – a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing – and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren’t always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil – whether she likes it or not…

Shiarra is an interesting urban fantasy heroine. Her parents and brothers are still around and supportive, she works with her best friend doing what they both love, and money problems are her biggest concern. Often urban fantasy heroines come from broken homes, bad backgrounds, and find their only support network is the vampires and werewolves in their lives. But not Shia, and I think that is what makes this series interesting. Yes, she has more to loose, and that can be played against her, but she also has a reason to live and to find a way around the maneuverings of the mages and vampires. However, one of Shia’s flaws is her bigoted thinking of Others, influenced by her family’s phobia, so having a strong family network does not always help. While she does learn to set aside some of her prejudices as the book develops, the process was a bit clunky. While I’m all for the badass huntress thing, Shia’s is more window dressing than anything real substantial as she grapples with her new place in the world. But, seeing as this is the first book in the series, I will give some latitude to her learning curve and save final judgment on her character for a couple more books. 

I quite enjoyed the cast of characters in this book from the sexy vampire to the geeky mage. Some of their characteristics were predictable, especially Alex the mysterious and overbearing vampire and Chaz, the ex-boyfriend, with a puppy-dog like desire to follow her around. But despite the sexy vampire being a dark brooding vampire and the hot werewolf being all hairy and manly, nerdy Arnold the mage is my favorite secondary character. He is intelligent, sneaky, and willing to help when it suits his purpose. While he has ulterior motives up the wazoo, none of them include sleeping with Shia which was refreshing. I mean the whole triangle thing is obviously going on with the werewolf and vampire, but if the mage was after her too, I was going to be a bit – le sigh all the boys want Shiarra. I found Shia’s partner and best friend, Sara, interesting and the brief look into her unusual past only whetted my appetite to learn more. I’ll admit by nerdy and law interests bias me in favor of these characters, because I like how they think and act. I especially like that though nerdy, Arnold gets into the thick of things. Sara wants to use her brain for good and struggles with moral gray areas. What? A lawyer portrayed with ethics? Yes, and thank you. 

Speaking of lawyers.. after the reveal of the Others in the wake of 9/11, legislature became very important to try and stop the Others from committing atrocities toward the poor humans (no wonder Shia has some biases). One way is through the requirement of a Contract between the Other and the Human stating that the Human has willingly given over to the Other and that if the Human is killed, the Other is not legally responsibly. This plays into Shia’s first case with Alec because he insists she sign a Contract with him. How she handles this is the most surprising part of the book, and one of the reasons I kept reading the book and want to continue with the series.

While this series is not as dark as some of the other urban fantasy I’ve ready, as it does have its lighter moments, it was not a light-hearted romp, by any means. If you like police procedural urban fantasy with a dose of chuckles check out Hunted by the Others

Read a review by Love Vampires, The Happy Logofile, and check out the author’s site for a list of more reviews and the other books in the series. 

Classic Television Review: Dark Shadows

I’m currently in a long distance relationship and one of the things we like to do is watch movies and television together. We’ve even perfected doing this across five states and a time zone, thanks to Netflix Boyfriend who has not acted jealous at all. Obviously I know how to pick ’em! (OK, so the other night he got up and left the room, but he’s been mostly understanding.) We’ve watched several classic movies such as Chinatown and The Invisible Man (review hopefully to come soon, once I finish listening to the audio version of the book), but mostly I cuddle into my couch and we will watch one or two episodes of Dark Shadows in the evenings. We both come at the television show a little differently. While I’ve seen (and reviewed) the movie starring Johnny Depp that came out in 2012, Chris has not, so I have a better general knowledge of the story line than he does. However, I joined watching the television series partway into season 2 (after the vampire arrives) and so I don’t have a lot of detailed knowledge of the background and Chris does. But if you think about this show as a soap opera (which it totally was) you know I didn’t miss much of anything even in an entire season (and Chris catches me up on events and people as they reappear).

dark shadows castSynopsis for

Dark Shadows was a daytime soap opera on ABC-TV which aired weekdays during the afternoon. With vampires, witches, worlocks, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures, it became a surprising phenomenon, lasting for five years before it was cancelled.

Synopsis from TOR:

Primarily, Dark Shadows concerns the machinations of the Collins family, of which Barnabas Collins, a vampire, is a distant ancestor. They all live at a gothic estate called Collinswood (sic), which is located in the town of Collinsport, a fishing village located in Maine. (Collinsport is not a real place, though it may have been inspired by another town in Maine called Bucksport, which had a rumored history of witchcraft and other things that go bump in the night.) The first episode sees New York City gal Victoria Winters heading by train on a dark and stormy night to Collinsport, for a governess job at Collinwood. Right away, spooky things are going on, an entire wing of the estate is closed, and people are arguing constantly. BUT, no ghosts, ghouls or vampires for a while. . . .

. . . . Initially not meant to be a reoccurring character, Barnabas Collins was introduced in episode 211. That’s right, 211 episodes into the show, the person we consider to be the main character finally arrived. The previous episode, 210, foreshadows what is about to happen by having Willie Loomis very interested in the portrait of the long-dead Barnabas, hanging up in Collinwood. Willie is a con artist hanging around Collinsport initially to attempt to blackmail Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the matriarch of the family. Willie eventually digs up the coffin containing Barnabas at the end of episode 210, and starting with episode 211, the show would never be the same. (Incidentally, James Hall played Willie through episode 205, but then by John Karlen from episode 206 all the way through episode 1106. Weird, when one considers how pivotal the character was!)

After Barnabas Collins, a good deal of the storylines deal with him and his friendship with Victoria Winters, who in some ways is the other main character of Dark Shadows. . . .

Considered a cult classic Dark Shadows is a lot of fun to watch if you don’t mind campy melodramatic goth soap operas. Which I don’t. The characters are almost caricatures of themselves. Perhaps this is because the show’s producers and writers never knew what the heck was going on. I mean they created the main character a season into the show! I understand when a guest star appears and does well and so the writers and producers keep that character on the show (Spike for (another vampire) example), but the main character! That is a little unusual. Plus they decided to add ghosts and other supernatural elements after pitching and beginning production the show. What? This lack of forward thinking is obvious in the chaotic story line, which seems like it is flying by the seat of its pants. But Oh My God it is an awesome ride! Everything is just so over the top that I laugh through most of the episodes. Chris and I make fun of the characters and their dramatic speeches. It’s a great show to watch while making commentary, because nothing happens and all the characters get upset about it.

The other really fun thing we do is try to catch all the mistakes. These people do not do retakes. Not even when a boom mic drops into the camera’s view, or the camera person’s shadow shows, or some crew member walks across the background! The actors flub their melodramatic lines all the time and it is gloriously hilarious and entertaining. Honestly, I don’t even know what is happening most of the time, but it is great fun to watch. Plus I really enjoy Barnabas, he is quite the creepy scary vampire!

If you enjoy campy cult classics, like to find hidden Easter Eggs of hilarity,  and scary vampires, try a couple of episodes of Dark Shadows. Only 22 minutes long, even if it’s not your thing you haven’t wasted much time.

Aaaand If You Didn’t Get Enough Doctor Who Cuff Links – Here’s More!

Sorry for the uber long subject of this post. Sometimes I get long winded, when I’m trying to be funny. See, I imagine that sentence done by the the voice of “Heeeeere’s JOHNNY!! So, it makes me giggle a little. I am contrite enough when it comes to the realization that what’s in my head may not quite make it to the page. But super giggly enough at what does go through my head to put it down even if it isn’t quite funny to everyone. I have all these little insdie jokes in my head and hope that by sharing them I make a few more people smile.

Even if it’s at me because I’m a teeny bit crazy.

More Doctor Who for the Mens, or snazzy female dressers who wear cuff links. Not that your clothes dresser at home is female and wants some cuff links to sit on top  of her, but those ladies who like to wear snazzy cuff links. You know what I mean.


Galifreyan cuff links for the subtle Doctor Who fan.

11TH Doctor on your wrist, no. Not like a vampire. Like his image on cuff links, on your wrist.

And my favorite, more TARDIS cuff links. I actually want these. Even though I don’t have a  shirt I could wear them on. Wait! Actually I do. Ok, so my birthday may not be right around the corner, But Doctor Who Day is! Someone is more than welcome to purchase a pair for me. 😉

Movie Review: Dark Shadows

Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer star in Dark Shadows a movie based on a television show of the late 60’s. Dark Shadows is the story of a man, Barnabas, who was cursed when after he hooked up with a scullery maid/witch but spurned her for a fair haired maiden. The scullery maid spelled the fair haired maiden into jumping off a cliff and when Barnabas followed his true love off the cliff he fell into the crags only to discover that he did not die because he was…. a vampyre (think Andrew in “Storyteller” in season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The witch formed a mob of the towns people and they stowed Barnabas away in a coffin and buried it underground.

Fast forward to the 60’s. Barnabas’ descendants rattle around in the grand old mansion Barnabas’ parents built. They’ve closed off most of the rooms because they can’t afford to heat them. Enter Victoria, or so she claims to be, a brunette with big eyes who arrives in answer to a post in the newspaper advertising a governess position for a little boy who sees ghosts. The family business, owning fishing ports, is going down the drain because a big head honcho Angelique has been buying up the ports and taking over their business. Barnabas’ coffin is uncovered during construction on the land and he awakens and bloodies his hands, and mouth, with the lives of the construction workers before hunting down his family. Though he swears he wont harm them.

Instead, he goes about revitalizing their name and business. As part of his revitalization he confronts Angelique, who turns out to be a figure from his past. His descendant Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, played by Michelle Pfieffer, is mother to a rebellious teenager and aunt to the ghost believing nephew. She is trying to hold down the fort and deal with Barnabas’ arrival with as much grace as she can muster. Barnabas is enchanted (in the normal sense, I think) by the governess who bears some relation to his dead fair haired maiden. Then his past looms up to destroy him.

With the help of several drinks at my local theater (they have a liquor license, it was perfectly legal) and having only spent $5 on a matinee I giggled my way through the movie. Due more to my slightly sober state, than the movie. In a word it was, OK. Not nearly as campy or as funny as I thought it would be. There was a whole lot of melodramatic acting which is only giggle worthy for a short time. Johnny Depp was how Johnny Depp always is in a Tim Burton film. Quirky, white faced, with lots of hand gestures. Michelle Pfeiffer was, as usual, excellent. The story line went along as expected until the last five minutes and then…. W. T. F?

And I don’t think it was because I had had something to drink that I didn’t understand the sudden turn in plot line. Additionally, the $5 dollar payment and drinking did not excuse a noticeable plethora of plot holes. Which would have been OK if there had been some sort of meta acknowledgement about them. Instead it was just more melodrama. How did Barnabas have descendants that survived if his parents were killed off, he was the only kid, and he died/became a vampire before having any children with the fair haired maiden? (If they had kids at some point, this was never explicitly explained.) The whole premise of the movie is based on something that makes NO SENSE!!!! Furthermore, the continuity in the universe as relating to vampire mythology is completely lacking. At one point the only way to be turned is to drink the blood of the sire and then the next there is no need to turn. I don’t really care how a person sets up their universe when it comes to vampires, mythological creatures after all, be it sparkles or ruthless blood thirsty demons who can get their souls back, but I demand continuity or the premise stinks to high heaven like a rotting corpse in the Florida everglades.

Quirky, with a few giggles, Dark Shadows does not rise to the level of cult classic campy nor does it leave the melodrama behind to be a fun family film. It hovers somewhere in the middle like a vampire outside the window of a 17 year-old sour face. All in all, I was extremely glad I had only paid $5 to see the show and that I had a class (or two) of champagne to see me through.

I did have fun posing in the lobby! Though, I need a better phone camera.

Book Review: A Taste of the Nightlife

After reading Little Red Reviewer‘s interview with author Sarah Zettel and seeing that a paranormal series existed about vamprires and cooking, I decided to check out the Vampire Chef Mystery series. I picked up A Taste of the Night Life from the library this week and immediately started reading it, setting aside the other book I was plowing through. Plowing as in with a horse and plow. Which frankly had more to do with my ever dwindling attention span than the book itself.

Staring at a horses butt for hours on end sounds as awful as dealing with screaming clients in retail. But I could be wrong.

A Taste of the Night Life, is the story of Chef Caine who owns a restaurant with her vampire brother Chet catering to nightblood clientele. The politically correct term for blood sucking vampires. Those walking about during the day (and some who stay awake through the wee hours of the night too), be they witches, werewolves, or just plain humans are called daybloods. Chef Caine is doing her furious yelling bit, like all good chefs, when she is called to the front of the restaurant to deal with an irate customer. The witch Pamela has a problem with a werewolf working the establishment and wants him fired. Because, though the books and movies say otherwise, it is actually the witches and warlocks who fight with the vampires and werewolves and not the latter two among themselves. While dealing with Pamela, another warlock appears on the scene and causes quite a commotion, using fire to make his point and setting off the sprinklers. Effectively shutting down the restaurant for the night before escaping out the door.

After the pushing customers out the door and cleaning up the fire extinguishing foam, Chef Caine sends every one home and heads out to the early morning New York City markets for some fresh produce. She returns to the restaurant to find the fire flinging warlock dead and in her restaurant. So begins Charlotte’s involvement in intrigue, corporate espionage, and a vampire named Anatole Sevarin who was turned by Ivan the Terrible. Charlotte alternately works with and against Brendan Maddox cousin to the dead guy as she seeks to get her restaurant reopened, figure out how her vampire brother Chet is involved in the murder of Dylan Maddox, and keep her roommates from painting her toes scarlet red. She fails at the latter.

There are a lot of ugly feet with pretty nails on the Internet. Just FYI if you feel like Googling scarlet toe nails. You’ve been warned.

Sarah Zettel, besides having a cool last name starting with “Z”, writes an intriguing and decent mystery romp. While her universe is neither complex nor all that different from the rest of the genre, she concentrates her universe building in the kitchen. Some of the dishes Chef Caine cooks made my stomach growl. Charlotte is a fairly put together person, and as a character in a paranormal novel, that is refreshing. She leans on her girlfriends for help and doesn’t just fall into the arms of every werewolf, warlock, or vampire to come her way. At the same time, she is smart enough to know when the strength of a vampire and the cunning mind of a fire wielding warlock may come in handy. Her one blind spot being her brother, Charlotte is for the most part plowing through the hard spots in her life with her head held high and saves the blubbering for when she is alone and no one can watch her break down.

I like Zettel’s prose and pacing. The book is a paranormal mystery, so what you think you are getting you get. I can appreciate that. The story stayed interesting up until the end, and my assumptions about were the plot was going slightly off. So, she kept me guessing until the last page. My only bone is the never ending use of two male romantic figures to create tension in the female character’s love life. Knowing for a fact that there can be a whole lot of tension in a single romantic relationship, I get a little tired of always reading the same cliches over and over. I liked this book for the cooking parts and the mystery parts. I was less interested in the  paranormal universe and romantic entanglements, both of them being like every other series I’ve read. Frankly, it seems as though Zettel set up her series like this on purpose. Spending her time and energy on to food and mystery aspect of the book rather than the romantic side. Which is just as well for me. A fun light-hearted read, A Taste of the Nightlife isn’t going to make you question the meaning of the universe, but it will keep you entertained and wanting more.

Read another review here, here, and here.

New Trailer for Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Trailer

I’m actually getting kind of excited for this movie. It looks like the fight scenes and action will be kick ass. But then, sometimes movie trailers are deceptive. So, we’ll see. I’m also excited to add it to the little fantasy world in my head where Sam and Dean live and where maybe they meet a descendant of Lincoln who is still a hunter specializing in taking out vampires.  This is why day dreaming is so much more fun than working. [via]

On a side note I always have to think Link -oh-lynne to remember how to spell Lincoln. How that helps me, since I’m adding a bunch of letters, I don’t know.

Movie Review: Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Screen Still from Dylan Dog

I actually watched Dylan Dog: Dead of Night via a free redbox rental several weeks ago, and have been meaning to post a short review. But just as the movie was kind of “meh” I figured my review of it would be also. This was not a bad movie, nor was it such a terrible movie it became good (which is what I was hoping for), it neither took off nor faltered. It just sort of endured.

Dylan Dog and his Zombie Assisstant
Screen Still from Dylan Dog

What I enjoyed was the plot. It was decent and fun with “vampires” and “werewolves” and a detective using non magical means to confront them. Which also meant that Brandon Routh got thrown around a lot. The “fight” scenes became more like when Sam and Dean went up against the Leviathan in the recent episode of Supernatural. A lot of blood, bruising, and not a lot of fighting. I liked the whole ghouls/zombie mythology, it was fun, entertaining, and original. I liked the girl in the movie, but can’t remember her name, so that’s how much I liked her. Just enough to remember she was a petite blond with a few good scenes, but not enough to remember what her character’s name was. I didn’t like that it was fairly predictable. But then, maybe that is because all I do is watch science fiction movies and television, and there really is nothing new under the sun. Taye Diggs was fun, but should have had more screen time. The scenes he were in were by far the best. Hot. Man. And sooo fiiine!!

Dylan Dog and sexyness
Screen Still from Dylan Dog

I enjoyed that the “universe” of Dylan Dog fit nicely into the Jami’s Science Fiction Universe Residing in the Back of Her Brain. See, I read all these books about vampires and werewolves from Sookie Stackhouse, to Dresden Files, to Kim Harrison’s Hollows Series, and I watch nearly every movie about them too. Underworld, Twilight (yes, I watch the Twilight movies), True Blood, and Supernatural are just some of the series I watch. What I decided awhile ago, was that every author, writer, director, creator of such a series spoke of one universe in different words. Every person had a different perspective, but it was one huge universe. Sam and Dean (Supernatural) travel the country hunting down monsters, and they might some day come across Harry Dresden’s half brother a vampire who eats emotions or Rachel’s (Hollow’s Series) roommate who is trying not to die twice which would turn her into a real vampire like in “Twilight“. See, how my brain works? It’s scary. What helps is that each of these series is usually set in a specific city and they don’t overlap (generally). True Sam and Dean travel across the country, but Rachel resides in Cincinnati, Edward and Jacob in Oregon, Dresden in Chicago (!), Sookie in Louisiana, Elizabeth (Undead Series) in Minneapolis, so they all are in slightly different locals. Each has a niche in the market and geography which is what biases their slightly different wording regarding the same creatures. And Dylan Dog fit perfectly into the same universe in my head. His was just another fun story to add to the collection that universe has put on several shelves, closets, drawers in my head. And that made me happy.

Taye Diggs, yum.
Screen Still from Dylan Dog

An OK movie, that made me happy. But I was glad I got it as a free rental with Redbox. Worth having on while working on projects in the house, such as my afghan crochet project. Read another review here.

Fright Night Take 2

Here is a Fright Night II trailer with more David Tennant clips. Um, awesome. I may have to watch this movie just for him. Although, I really dislike this type of movie in general. Horror movies with a touch of vampire to elicit popular crowd reactions, either too cheesy or not cheesy enough. Hopefully Tennant brings something that make it worth watching all the way through. 😀 [via Topless Robot]