Audio Book Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

I know it has been a while since I posted. I’ve had a very busy summer and fall with my new job, but things are leveling out and I’ll be able to devote more time to writing up reviews and posting geeky finds. I’ve been reading away like the Dickens because my commute is atrocious and the only thing keeping me slightly sane is audio books. I say slightly, because, in spite of really good stories, the horrible drivers that constantly put everyone’s life in danger are frequent enough to cause panic attacks and I long for the days when public transportation was a viable option for my work commute. Blech.

Anyway, onto things that are a bit more fun. Like audio books and the ability to borrow them from the library. ūüôā

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Glass Houses by Rachel Caine is part of the The Morganville Vampires series. While told from Claire Danvers point of view, there are three other main characters, Michael Glass, Shane Collins, and Eve Rosser.  Claire is a bright student who is in college at the age of 16 in small school in Texas (yes, this is why I chose the book). She is being bullied by her dorm mates and so decides to move into off campus student housing with some other older kids where she finds out the sleepy little Texas town is hiding some dangerous secrets.

I thought the college town full of vampires was a fun concept and enjoyed Claire’s story. I like how the book is not just another urban fantasy novel, but also deals with complex relationships between the four friends and with Claire and her bully. I did not like that Claire was 16. It needlessly complicates things and, in my opinion, makes Claire another kid who should tell her parents what is going on instead of trying to handle things on her own. ¬†She has loving, smart parents who are concerned about her and she just ignores them. These things do not make her the best role model.

But the story is interesting and I do like other things about Claire and her friends. They are smart, they try to do the right thing, and help each other out. It does get annoying that they do not always go about it the right way. In an attempt to “help” Claire one of the guys traps her in a secret room to talk to her. All he does is talking, but the trapping thing is a huge red flag. ¬†I hope that as the series progresses they learn from their mistakes and become better human beings who use their smarts to actually do the smart, right thing.

Edit: This book was read by Cynthia Halloway. Cynthia did a good job, though her male characters sounded more alike than her female characters, she read with good inflection and dramatization of events.

If you like urban fantasy with a dash of romance and interesting couple relationships this is a fun series to check out. Don’t expect the world’s greatest role models right off the bat. These kids have some learn’ to do.

AudioBook Review: Death Warmed Over

I downloaded Death Warmed Over (Dan Shamble, Zombie PI #1) by Kevin J. Anderson narrated by Phil Gigante on Audible.

death warmed over

Summary from GoodReads:

Ever since the Big Uneasy unleashed vampires, werewolves, and other undead denizens on the world, it’s been hell being a detective – especially for zombie P.I. Dan Chambeaux. Taking on the creepiest of cases in the Unnatural Quarter with a human lawyer for a partner and a ghost for a girlfriend, Chambeaux redefines “dead on arrival”.

But just because he was murdered doesn’t mean he’d leave his clients in the lurch. Besides, zombies are so good at lurching. Now he’s back from the dead and back in business – with a caseload that’s downright unnatural. A resurrected mummy is suing the museum that put him on display. Two witches, victims of a curse gone terribly wrong, seek restitution from a publisher for not using “spell check” on its magical tomes. And he’s got to figure out a very personal question – Who killed him?

For Dan Chambeaux, it’s all in a day’s work. (Still, does everybody have to call him “Shamble”?) Funny, fresh, and irresistible, this cadaverous caper puts the P.I. in R.I.P…. with a vengeance.

My Thoughts:

I’m slowly coming around to the zombie genre. It helps that I like detective stories and Chambeaux is an excellent detective, even if he is a little dead. There is a main mystery for the book and then a couple of over arcing stories for the series that get started out in the first book and partially solved. I liked that the over arcing stories actually went somewhere and didn’t drag out too much. Plus, all of the mysteries are really interesting, funny at times, and provide a way for exposition about the background to the universe that flows naturally.

While the main character stays within the general genre scheme of private eyes, except for the being dead part, the rest of the crew and side characters are full of life (even if not literally) and add humor and depth to the story. I found it interesting that Dan as a PI has a lawyer partner and together the two of them solve the problems of their clients. It is an interesting mixture¬†of mystery solving and legal solutions to problems, that I quite enjoyed. Especially, because¬†if zombies, vampires, and werewolves did exist¬†the legal system would have to evolve and change as well. The author’s ability to recognize this as a problem and address it in the series made it more interesting for me. I also liked that Dan had an unusual relationship, and¬†one that was the usual urban fantasy triangle. Additionally, the side characters that are part of the main mystery are interesting and personable characters that add rather than distract.

Phil Gigante is a decent narrator. He does voices and I could distinguish most of his characters, though some of the women characters sounded rather similar. However, his differentiation of male characters was great and he did a very good southern accent which was important as the story is set in New Orleans. Overall, Gigante’s voice acting was an excellent addition to the experience of the story and I enjoyed listening to him tell it.

Death Warmed Over is a fun Zombie PI mystery set in New Orleans that is an enjoyable urban fantasy book. I look forward to getting my hands on the other books in the series.

eBook Review: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

fire burn and cauldron bubble

*I read this book on my Amazon Kindle app after seeing that it was a free download.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Life isn’t bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn’t have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend.

Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she’s a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost’s demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!

I’m picky about what I download and spend my time reading, even if it is free. I was hoping¬†Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H.P. Mallory would be a fun quick read with a light romance and some interesting supernatural elements, and I was not disappointed. I enjoy reading about psychics because I find them fascinating. Typical of a first book in this type of series, Jolie does not know how powerful of a psychic she is and must discover how to believe in herself. While I was expecting this behavior, I prefer when female characters know who they are a little more than Jolie does. But as the book progresses she quickly adapts to the situation, something atypical of this type of series, so I applaud her resolve and reactions to the crazy that starts happening. The quirky best friend is a typical Judy Greer role (in my head she’s Judy Greer not¬†Christa, so I will be calling her Judy). Judy is sexually liberated, unlike Jolie, but she’s also a ditz and she kind of takes advantage of Jolie and the situation. She has some endearing qualities and I understand why the author keeps her around, but at times I wondered why Jolie kept her around.

Rand is the typical male lead with lots of repressed heat and mystery. I know I keep saying typical, but it was pretty much what I expected, so I wasn’t disappointed by it. I was a little disappointed at Rand’s lack of character growth or development in the story, there isn’t even much in the way of background as to why he is the way he is. I think even a little of this and the story would have been just that much better. The way the character develops also made me re-realize that this is the first in a series. While I appreciate that authors know they have a span they can spin their story along, his character felt slightly underdeveloped and because of this the ending was rather abrupt. However, the magic he was able to do was very cool and Mallory has a universe with set rules that she adheres to and makes her tension revolve around. I enjoyed that a lot. I also like her writing, it was easy and fun without being pandering or poor writing. Sometimes these light urban fantasy novels aren’t the best written and I wonder if most ebooks ever even get an editor, but not with Mallory’s writing. I was engrossed in the magic and ghosts and vampires, oh my!, the entire time.

I also enjoyed the different settings the characters explore from Los Angeles to Chicago to England, this story spans time and space and I thought that was great. Jolie is a fun character who learns to stand up for herself and I always give that a thumb up! I wish the main characters of series like this would be as sexually liberated as their Judy Greer sidekicks, but if wishes were horses we’d all eat steak (that’s a Firefly reference, I’ve never eaten horse). Rand’s mystery was frustrating at times, but also exciting and sexy. A fun read involving vampires, warlocks, and psychics, Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble has cool characters, fun locale, and an interesting world to explore.

Audio Book Review: Moon Called

moon called

I went on a Briggs Binge after reading Wolf Cry and downloaded Moon Called by Patricia Briggs and read by Lorelei King from my library.¬†In Briggs’ alternate universe Vampires, Werewolves, and all manner of Fae exist. In her universe Werewolves are ranked by¬†dominance, but a¬†dominant¬†male are not necessarily an alpha of a pack. Submissives also play a role, they are the ones with no expectations of rising in the ranks, and instead rely on the alphas to take care of them. In the Mercy Thompson series, the Fae play a bigger part in the over arching story line and Mercy Thompson owns a garage she bought from her gremlin former boss where she works on German cars. Mercy is a Walker, a trait passed down through her¬†Native¬†American heritage, and she can take the shape of a coyote whenever she wants. She is under the protection of the local werewolf pack.

In Moon Called, Mercy is working in her garage when a young boy shows up obviously in trouble, but not looking for anything other than a job. Oh, and he’s a werewolf. Mercy decides to give him a job and to introduce him to Adam, the local pack’s Alpha. But a larger conspiracy is afoot and Mercy must face her past when she goes back to her home town and asks the Marrock for help. Along the way Mercy also gets the vampires involved, and her friendship with all the supernatural creatures requires a lot of negotiation skills and all her coyote whiles.

I really like Mercy as a female character. She is strong and cunning, both characteristics drawn from her coyote side. What is amazing about Briggs characters is her ability to really play the animal behaviors into the person’s personality. Mercy who is a coyote is really different from Anna who is an Omega werewolf. I also enjoyed all the plots twists. Briggs stories about Mercy are an exciting and dangerous ride. Adam definitely plays the typical alpha male, even though he is not in a relationship with Mercy, but he also has intelligence and thoughtfulness that give nuances the typical alpha character in an UF series.

Lorelei King is my favorite voice over actor/ narrator of books. She can do different voices, she can do accents, and before she reads the name of the character I knew who was talking. She is amazing! Frankly, she’s my hero. Her pacing is excellent and her characterization of the story superb. I was really disappointed when I finished the eaudio books on my library’s site and realized I would actually have to start reading them for myself.

However, as I mentioned before, I have a two issues with both of Briggs’ series overall. The first issue I have is that, while her books have strong female characters, there is a lot of abuse, verbally, emotionally, and sexually that happens to them. What I did like about the Mercy Thompson series verses the Alpha Omega series was that men in this part of the universe also have been abuse. Not that I want to read about people, or werewolves for that matter, being abused; but I felt Briggs used these different types of past issues to give depth to characters and not just because abuse happens to women to make them vulnerable. I still would like to see Briggs characters undergo therapy as part of the recovery process. Just saying.

The other issue I have which is more¬†prevalent¬†in the Mercy Thompson series, were the definite Christian themes. There were some Mercy Thompson books where I was¬†surprised¬†it‚Äôs not filed in the Christian Fiction section. Mercy says repeatedly that she believes in God because of all the monsters that she knows. Honestly, I don’t see the causation there. But perhaps that is just me. I also feel that in the Christian culture a lot of abuse is not properly dealt with because people are like, well I believe in God so everything will be OK. Aaaand, you also should get professional help. I guess I wish I had known that was the bent of Briggs‚Äô work because it explains more of the nuances of the tone of her stories, especially how her female characters think. Though this was a slight distraction for me, it did not detract from the overall excellent story telling in this series.

As a Walker, Mercy has the luxury of being able to approach both the werewolves, Fae, and vampires as an outsider, but it is a lonely existence. This all changes when a boy steps into her shop one afternoon and Mercy becomes involved in intrigue and conspiracies. Determined to help if she can, Mercy uses her intelligence and coyote whiles to place the players where she thinks they should be, even if that means dealing with Alpha Adam who sits on a large plot of land in a huge house behind her trailer. She gets back at him through by ruining his view with junky old cars broken into pieces and parts. The Mercy Thompson series is a fun read with characters who bring a lot to the table, exhibiting characteristics of the animals they become, Briggs characters have a lot to offer the UF genre.

Picture Me Reading Book Club Extra: Cool Takes on Monsters

Picture Me Reading

Guess what! I’m a guest over on Picture Me Reading today, where I join Alisa and Aidan during their Book Club Extra audio discussion. This week we discuss Cool Takes on Monsters. Vampires, werewolves, and zombies- Oh My!

I had so much fun collaborating with this awesome couple. I’m a huge fan of both Alisa’s Picture Me Reading blog where she draws illustrations of her book reviews and Aidan’s Chair With A Panda blog where he reviews about Doctor Who tie-in books and episodes. I hope you all head on over to Picture Me Reading Book Club Extra to hear about some cool books and monsters. Plus, this is the first time my voice is literally heard on the webs. So, eek! Be kind dear friends, I hab a cold.

If you want a list of our picks you can check them out after the break as well as links to full reviews of some of the books we talk about and some prior audio discussions on others. A lot of links, a lot of fun, you can now waste your whole morning here. ūüôā

Continue reading

Books Review: Jane Bites Back

Jane Bites Back

Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford is the first book in his Jane Fairfax series. Ford begins with the premise that Jane Austen never died, but was turned into a vampire. Now some two hundred years after her transformation, Jane owns a quaint bookstore in upstate New York and has been trying to get another book published for as long as she has been a vampire. Jane’s life is full she has a friend in her assistant Lucy and the attentions of a steadfast handyman, just like any normal woman. There is this little thing where she feeds by sipping from strangers while placing them in a stupor, but mostly normal. Unfortunately, her novel Constance has been rejected 116 times and she is just about to give up on getting it published when Jane finally gets positive feedback. She’s in a tizzy, trying to decide what kind of clothes she will need for her trip to New York City. Things start to get even more complicated when a man from her past arrives in her small town and pays some unwanted attention. Plus, Jane must use ¬†her trade mark wit, common sense, and dash of wicked good humor to deal with crazy fans who accuse her of plagiarism.

I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like this book, though the back cover blurb intrigued me and I could see it would be a quick read. I decided to check it out from the library on the off chance I might. I didn’t like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because I felt the additional writing about the zombies was nothing like Austen’s prose. I was afraid of feeling the same way about this book, but from the minute I started reading it on the train, I couldn’t put it down. Ford doesn’t try to compete with Austen’s prose, or take himself seriously, he just writes a good novel based on a funny premise. I think it helps that he moved his character Jane Austen out of her own timeline and writing (mostly). I view her in this book more as a character than any kind of historical¬†representation¬†of the woman herself. By distancing himself from Austen’s own work (mostly) his absurd premise takes on a life of his own and he creates warm and¬†interesting¬†characters. His writing is full of humor and ends up serving as ¬†a witty commentary on fandoms of hot selling series.

I was a little unnerved by Jane Austen having a sex life, I’ll be honest. In my head she’s a favorite spinster aunt, but that may just be me and it wasn’t all that risque even if it felt like it. I liked the discussions of books between Jane and her friends, as she is after all, a bookkeeper. Ford’s nods to other writers of Austen’s time (or¬†thereabouts)¬† made me feel as though I belonged to a really good book club that could discuss a multitude of literature. The mystery in the story was all well and good though I had it figured out LOOOONG before the “twist” was revealed. I thought it was a fun read, and like all good Austen heroines Jane Fairfax aka Jane Austen learns something about herself in the end, while gently prodding the reader to examine themselves as well.

Actually this reminds me, I need to see if I can get my hands on the next book in the series. You can read another review Austen Blog, Austen Prose, and The Literary Omnivore.

Nodds & Nends: Vampires in Infographs, Books, Apple Skins, and More!

Check out these 2012 Comic Con pictures from sCrypt Comics. Did you notice James Marsters?

Missing some of ¬†your nerdy shows that inevitably got cancelled? Check out io9’s reading list to help east the pain. Wishing you had more Angel episodes on TV (when he’s working for Wolfram and Heart)? io9 recommends checking out¬†Harry Connolly’s series starting with¬†Child of Fire. I’ve never read the series, so you’ll have to take their word for it. [Edit: I’ve read the series, it is amazing. Check out my review here.]

Speaking of vampires. This fun post saying we need to kill the sparkly one, is amusing. Ah popular vampire humor. ¬†ūüėÄ [via]

Own an Apple? I don’t and never will (again), except of the eating variety. Though I do appreciate the Device Skins of the geek variety for Apple lap tops. These ones are especially cool, and I even found a Snow White Vampire one, to keep with today’s posting’s theme. Aren’t you lucky?

via Copyleft Vampyr ill artlibre jnl

via Copyleft Vampyr ill artlibre jnl

Blade in Eclipse of My Heart

I’m not a Twilight Hater by any means, I found the books entertaining in an amusing sort of way. I actually liked the third movie better than the book, it took out some of the Mormanism hiding as 1800’s chauvinism and made the love triangle a little better. But honestly this Blade and¬†Twilight¬†mash-up from Marvel is just too wonderful for words. [via]

Nodds & Nends: Love Letter, Vampires, and Doctor Who

Read a love letter to Doctor Who that is full of swearing. Though I have a minor disagreement with Topless Robot commenter, in that I really hope that Amy gets an on screen death. I think it is the only redemption for her character which has become kind of whiny and non-existent. Or bring back hard ass older Amy or something, give the girl something more than being a kiss-0-gram. Sheesh.

An article on vampires of the non-sparkly variety. I love vampires of all varieties, but it is fun to be reminded of some older versions that existed before Stephanie Meyers became popular.

I may need to become a gamer and move to the U.K. so I can play Doctor Who on the playstation. Or maybe just get the computer game that is about to come out.

Vahm-pyres, Oooooh

Check out these science fiction characters re-vamped. Ha ha ha. Get it? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Check out more images on Blastr. [via The Mary Sue]

Princess Leia as a vampire. Oooh, scary.

Kirk as Captain James von Kirk. Um, a little blood and a cape make you more of a wannabe than anything else.

Captain America as a vampire is just frightening. The blood, all that blood!