Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Storm Born" by Richelle Mead

This is the first book in Mead's new Dark Swan series, and it's quite the departure from her Succubus books that I've been reading. While I did like this work, reader beware - this is definitely an dark urban fantasy with quite a bit more sex than the Succubus books. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Eugenie Markham is a shaman, and her services are sought after by those needing to banish spirits and fey who make their way into our world. Her latest case involves a tennis shoe; yes, it's actually a haunted sneaker. She's got a couple of sidekicks from the other side that are bound to her and must obey, etc. Sounds like the usual sort of fare for an urban fantasy, right? Enter Wil. He needs Eugenie to rescue his sister; she's been kidnapped by a fey to use and abuse as he wants. Having a soft heart, Eugenie agrees, even though it means putting her life at great risk. Normally, she sends her spirit self into the Otherworld, but this rescue will require her to go bodily.

Along the journey to retrieve the girl, Eugenie runs into a shape-shifter named Kiyo, and another fey king named Dorian, both of whom appear to be romantic interests. Oh, and several of the creatures living in the Otherworld seem to know Eugenie by her real name, not her spirit name of Odile (also known as the Dark Swan). Oh, those same creatures all seem to want to have sex with her, too. Turns out there's a prophecy of Eugenie and her future offspring, if she choses to have any. That same prophecy also reveals who her real father is. Cue the music, people...

While I liked this book, I must say that it seemed as if Mead was trying to make it as different as possible from her other work. I've run accross that sort of thing before, most notedly with Charlaine Harris' series about Harper Connelly. The first Harper book was a bit jarring, mostly because I think Harris wanted to be sure that she wasn't anything like Sookie Stackhouse. Mead has the same problem; she wants Eugenie to be a complete 180 from Georgina Kincaid. I gave Harris another chance, and now I'm a huge fan of the Harper books. So I will also give Mead another chance, and hopefully the next Dark Swan book will be better, too.

"This Land is Their Land" by Barbara Ehrenreich

I've been a fan of Ehrenreich's since reading "Nickel and Dimed". I enjoy her arguments on paying people a fair wage, on covering their health insurance, and basically on making it possible for people to acheive their dreams. It went without saying that I was going to read this book, which I did. And I really liked it, but not for the reason you'd think.

This particular work is a collection of previously published essays, so there's not really any new ground being covered here. The essay format was really nice for someone like me that wants to read the author's take on several different subjects, rather than one longer, more detailed work. It gives Ehrenreich the chance to cover wide scope of social issues, including but not limited to illegal immigrants, military families, unemployment, health insurance, corporate spying, cancer, and even - gasp - Disney's Princess products.

A little does go a long way, so I'd take my time with this book. Read an essay or two, ponder on them, give yourself time to digest the information, then hit a few more. It's also a good way to dip your toe into Ehrenreich's style of writing, which is not for the faint of heart. She does at times lean very close to the bleeding-heart liberal line, but most of her arguments are sound. And as she very clearly points out in most of these essays, the rich continue to get richer, to the detriment of those with very little to their names.

"Tethered" by Amy Mackinnon

I read this book several months ago, and it's taken me this long to really think about it and how I felt about it. Yeah, it's one of those books. It's a debut novel that had a lot of good press going for it, not to mention the interesting story, so I was very interested in reading it. I also loved the cover art - very eye-catching and made me want to read it that much more.

The story seems basic enough. Clara Marsh is an undertaker, a very quiet woman who believes that the dead should be dead. She shows great understanding of the people she works on, giving the reader a sense that she sees them as people, not just bodies. She leads a simple, rather introspective life, perhaps wishing for something more, but satisfied with things as they are.

When she's called out to a pick up a recently deceased Charlie Kelly, she meets Officer Mike Sullivan, who tells her that the police have been receiving anonymous calls about a little girl that was killed three years ago and a very special birthmark that was on the back of her neck. The same birthmark that Clara saw when she prepared the body for the funeral - but never told police about. A birthmark that has haunted Clara these three years.

As the plot unfolds, Clara becomes more attracted to Mike, and more involved in the murder case of the Precious Doe. She also meets a young girl at the mortuary, Trecie, who seems to come and go at will and has no sign of any parents. The mortuary's owner, Linus Bartholomew, seems to know Trecie and is content to let her play in her rather unusual "playground". But Clara believes the girl is somehow connected to the Precious Doe case, and her mere presence becomes unnerving. Does she have information about the case? Did she know Precious Doe? Is Clara getting closer to a killer?

I haven't really done justice to the plot, but then again, the book is very complex. To say more would more than likely give away things best left to the reader to discover. What I can say is this - I did like the book, but didn't love it as I had hoped. It's a very compelling read, and obviously thought-provoking if I'm still mulling it over after these several months. But I wish Mackinnon has fleshed out her characters just a bit more. I wanted to know more about Clara, more about Mike, even more about Linus and his wife. There were things that weren't explored that I remain curious about. I almost wish that Mackinnon would write a sequel about Clara, even though there's really nothing to warrant one, just because I want to know more about her. Overall, I give it a decent read rating, and hope that the author's sophomore work (if she puts one out) is better.

"Every Last Drop" by Charlie Huston

When we last left vamp P. I. Joe Pitt, he was exiled to the Bronx, mostly due to his own actions. He'd made quite a few enemies, becoming persona non gratis in almost every Clan. And he'd managed to get his HIV-positive girlfriend, Evie, infected with the Vyrus by someone in the Enclave, which means that she'll never get out. It was a dark time in Joe's life.

Joe's life hasn't gotten much brighter when "Every Last Drop" opens. He's been in the Bronx for a year now, subsisting as best he can, trying to keep his head low and not cause trouble. Except this being Pitt, trouble finds him, as usual, this time in the form of a gang of teen hoodlums, all infected with the Vyrus. Joe realizes that they're trouble, and thinks he can handle them; he ends up being bound with razor wire and delivered to their boss, Alistair Lament. While being questioned and tortured by Lament, Pitt is rescued by another old enemy, Mrs. Vandewater. Once his dealings with her begin, he is in turn rescued from her by yet another enemy, none other than Mr. Predo. Seems that the Coalition needs Joe to investigate the newest Clan on the block, the one started by a human girl, the one claiming to be working towards a cure. This would mean Joe being back on his home turf, but it won't be easy. Like I said, Joe made a lot of enemies the last time around.

Joe does what he does best - play everyone off each other. He agrees to Predo's demands, then tells the girl that he's spying for him. She in turn wants something, too. She asks Joe to find out where all the blood comes from. Of all the Clans, the Coalition is the only one that keeps its members fed, and fed well. Others have even gone to the Coalition and cut deals when their supplies have run low. Where does all that blood come from? The answer is, in a word, horrific. I always knew that Huston could write down and dirty when he needed to, or chose to, but wow. This took things in a completely nasty direction, one I didn't see coming. It's certainly not one that Joe expected, either.

It's another wild ride in Pitt's life, and I'm glad to say that I'm pretty sure it's not going to be the last. I mean, after all, Joe's still got to get the girl, right? Well, maybe. It is a Huston book, after all, and he's not known for his happy endings. Still, I'd like to think that Joe will get a happy ending - he's my kind of guy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip - Confessions of a Cynical Waiter" by The Waiter

This falls along the lines of "Kitchen Confidential" and other such "behind-the-scenes" books that have come out lately. That doesn't make it not worth reading, though, and I bet you're on your best behavior at dining establishment of all kinds afterward, too. The Waiter started all this as, of course, a blog, and finally collected enough rants, got himself a publisher, and voila! A book was born.

There are all sorts of good insider gossip here, everything from how the wait staff are abused by managers, the rampant drug and alcohol abuse by many in the restaurant industry as a whole, and the blatant paranoia of restaurant owners. It's pretty eye-opening stuff, or at least it was for me. Then again, I don't dine in fancy digs very often, being more of an Applebee's kind of girl. Good food for a good price is my motto, and quite frankly, the dive right down the street from work is more my style. Great burgers, fabulous breakfast stuff, and the hubby & I can go eat for right around $10 every time. Jacket and tie attire is not my style, so it was interesting to read about that world.

Of course, there are several "rants" about the customers, and rightly so in most cases. I think everyone should read this book just so they know how not to behave when they're out and about. I could never be a waitress - I would've told off several of the people described in this book. Just because you have money to eat somewhere expensive doesn't give you license to be an asshole. The worst rant was about a couple insisting on a specific section of the dining room, even when it became obvious that someone in that section needed urgent medical attention. While the EMTs were trying to get this woman out the door and save her life, these yahoos were still complaining that they would be most unhappy if they couldn't sit in that section. The Waiter was far kinder than I would've been, I can tell you that, but he does give his inner monologue, which is more along the lines of what I would've said.

It's a good little book, a bit repetitive at times, but overall worth the read. Again, if you see anything in here that even remotely reminds you of yourself, it's not too late to change your behavior and learn to be a good restaurant patron!

"Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth" by Simon R. Green

If I didn't already know that there are more John Taylor tales out there, I would have easily believed this to be the end of Green's Nightside series. It finally ties up the story of his mother, Lilith, and John's quest to deal with her without destroying the world, a prophecy that many have feared since his return to the Nightside. Where is the Nightside, you ask? London, but not on any map. It's a no-man's land where neither Heaven nor Hell are able to interfere, and where it's always 3 a.m. It's a place of magic and mayhem, and where John Taylor is most at home, even though it seems there's always someone out there trying to kill him. And this time is no different...

The usual cast of characters show up in this installment: Suzy Shotgun, Eddie the Punk God of the Razor, Tommy Oblivion, John's secretary Cathy, Dead Boy, and, of course, Walker. No wonder I thought it could be the end - the gang is all here. It's a fight to the death, but not the destruction, of Lilith. If she can't be vanquished, then John and his friends are all doomed, as is the entire world as we know it. To say much more is to delve deeply into the plot, and that seems silly, given that these books are fantastic and you're probably reading them anyway, right? Of course you are.

I will say that this is probably the bleakest of the Nightside books, and with good reason; Green could have decided to end the series here and gone on to other things. As it is, there are other books after this one, and he has gone on to other things, namely his new Shaman Bond series, which I've also reviewed. Basically, Green is a very good writer and I like his work, regardless of who he's writing about. Check him out for yourself in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of your local library/book store today.

Friday, December 26, 2008

"Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things" by Reader's Digest

This is a really interesting book, full of useful hints for things you probably have lying around your house/apartment. Some of the suggestions are common (use vinegar and baking soda to clean just about anything in your home) to downright ingenious (use clear nail polish to seal envelopes if you're not sure about the glue or hate to do the licking!)

The book is very use-friendly, too. There are a few pages at the front that are set up as "Most Useful Items for..." and contains such categories as "around the house", "for the cook", "for health and beauty", etc. These pages simply direct you to the hints themselves, so consider this a quick guide to what you may be looking for. Or take you time leafing through the rest of the book, which lists each "ordinary item" in alphabetical order. Some of the items only have 2-3 suggestions, then you have your "Super Items", which have page after page of hints. These are things like vinegar, baking soda, duct tape, etc.

This isn't really one of those books that you can read quickly, either. It's best to do a little at a time, and I'd keep a notebook handy - you'll want to write down some of the hints for your own use, or at the very least, make note of the page numbers and have copies done after you're done with the book. I know I did!

"Backup" by Jim Butcher

In some of the reviews, this has a subtitle, "A Story of the Dresden Files". And story is the key word there because this is really nothing more than a prettily packaged short story. Not a bad short story, but nevertheless, a short story. And if you actually purchased this book, you'd be out at least $20 for something that might - MIGHT - take you an hour to read.

But if you love the Dresden books, and if you have the money, you might just do it anyway.

I can't really give a plot line because the story is, well, so short. Suffice to say that this book is not about our beloved wizard, Harry Dresden, but about his half-brother, Thomas Wraith. Thomas, if you'll recall, is a vampire. He helps Harry on occasion, but they try to keep their relationship on the down-low, lest the wrong entities stumble over the truth. Family ties can be used against you, you know. Thomas is called into action by his sister, and it seems the main reason he goes along with the plan is to save Harry's life. A good reason, but I didn't buy into Harry needing that kind of saving.

As I said, it's a very short story, and not entirely satisfying. The one thing I really did like about it was that it gave me a bit of insight into Thomas's vampire hunger, something we haven't really gotten a handle on through the Harry books. It was like reading about an addiction, and it made me feel for Thomas that much more. Overall, I think this story has a place, probably in a collection of other such stories (ooooh, wouldn't that be interesting? A whole collection of shorts told from the sidekicks' points of view!). But it didn't really deserve it's own individual pressing.

"All Souls' Night: Blood Ties, Book Four" by Jennifer Armintrout

This has been one of those love-hate relationships, and thank goodness the author gave me the reason near the beginning of this book. The "heroine", Carrie Ames, has just had an argument with her lover, Nathan Grant; he's off to rescue his son, Ziggy, and she doesn't want him to go, believing that he's walking into a trap. Having said some brutal things to Carrie, then storming out, Carrie has an epiphany where she realizes that she is selfish, she is jealous. And that's been my biggest problem with the Blood Ties series - I'm just not all that crazy about Carrie.

Luckily, Armintrout has enough other characters on the canvas, sympathetic ones, that it balances out. If the entire book was told from Carrie's point of view, I don't think I could handle it. In fact, I believe that my review of the second book wasn't overly enthusiastic and I was hoping the third book was better. Well, the fourth book is pretty good, and - get this - it is the last book in the series. Yes, an author who chooses to write a closed-end series, rather than let the thing go on and on and on until I've lost interest due to increasingly poor writing (I think we all know who the guilty parties are, too!)

Carrie and Nathan are still on a mission to stop his sire, Jacob Seymour, also known as The Soul Eater, from attaining god-hood. Enlisted in the mission are various friends and allies, including Max, the vampire-werewolf hybrid; Ziggy, the afore-mentioned son and now vampire; and Bill, an enterprising human who runs a "blood service" for a price (not his own, too many customers). They're up against enormous odds, not the least of which is Dahlia, the witch-turned-vampiress who will perform the ritual that allows Jacob to achieve his god-hood. Except this being Armintrout, things don't go smoothly, and new allies will show up to help save the day. It's an interesting way to end things, mostly satisfying but with a bit of a "Hollywood" ending that I thought rang false. But who wants to end on a sour note, right?

The whole series is worth checking out, more action than romance, and the romance is mostly sex. Armintrout is due to have another work out in August 2009, "Lightworld/Darkworld", and there's a preview at the end of the book. Looks to be fantasy-oriented writing, might be interesting. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Daemons Are Forever" by Simon R. Green

Eddie Drood is back! If you recall, Green started this Bond-ish series with "The Man with the Golden Torc" (see review on this blog). I knew there were plans for more books, and we finally got this one here at the library. O Happy Day! I've read several of Green's Nightside series, and was pretty happy with the first Eddie Drood book, so I was anxious to get my hands on this one.

Eddie Drood has taken over the Drood family business after his adventures of the first book. The family is still wary of him and his motivation, and the rest of the world is waiting to find out just how vulnerable the Droods are after, well, go read the first book, then come on back for the rest of the review!

OK, continuing....

Eddie and his Inner Circle decide that they need to choose an enemy to attack; they need to put on a good show of force, let the world know that they are just fine, thank you very much, and that the world had better be on its best behavior. The chosen target? The Loathly Ones, beings from another dimension that place a part of themselves in humans and sort of gestate, taking over the humans' actions, thoughts, etc. Think "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", except that there are no duplicates in this case, just you losing more and more of yourself to the foreign thing growing inside you. When the Loathly Ones infect and take over an entire town, it becomes what's known in the biz as a "ghoulville", and it would seem that there are more and more of them popping up of late. Eddie decides to destroy on of these ghost towns, and the strange tower that is being built on the outskirts, something that looks very, very wrong.

Turns out the tower is just one of many being built, all in the hopes of bringing the Hungry Gods, also known as the Many-Angled Ones, on through to Earth. Yeah, it's just as horrible as it sounds. The Droods not only have to make a stand, they need to find a way to truly vanquish the Loathly Ones and stop their evil plan. How they do it makes up the bulk of the book, and trust me, it's a complicated plot that would be too time-consuming to explain. Suffice to say that old friends are back, new enemies are introduced, and there are enough gadgets here to make old Q from the Bond movies proud.

I really enjoyed this book, and was very happy at the end to see that Eddie and his pals will be back in a third entry. While I enjoy the Nightside series by Green, I think I might actually like this one a bit better. There's a bit more levity in the Drood series, and I think Eddie is a more rounded character. Of course, there are quite a few similarities to the series, too, but that's to be expected I think. I've never read his Deathstalker works, but since a Deathstalker character does have a role in "Daemons", I may be checking that out in the very near future. Just as you, dear readers, should be checking out Eddie Drood and his adventures!

"Serpent Girl" by Matthew Carnahan

One of the best things about working in a library is getting a chance to look at books that people have checked out from other branches, seeing things I wouldn't ordinarily know anything about. This little debut novel is exactly one of those things; a patron had checked it out from our "main" branch (also known as "the big library") and returned it at our little building. She said it was pretty weird, not really her style, which, of course, made us want to read it all that more. My coworker got her hands on it first, then it was my turn (after Hubby Dearest got his hands on it!). It's an interesting little work, all of 199 pages, and really not a word wasted. The style reminds me a bit of Charlie Huston, and if you follow this blog at all, you know I'm mighty impressed with his stuff.

Bailey Quinn is a 22-year-old headed to hell. He regains consciousness in the middle of the desert with pretty much no memory of how he got there, why his throat hurts so much, or why he's naked. Slowly it all comes back to him...his "friends" stabbed him in the back. They literally cut his throat. And they took off with the money that they had all stolen, but it was Bailey that worked out the con and put it all together. He wants his money back, with interest, and he wants to teach his so-called friends a lesson. But it's not going to be easy.

The Freaks are on his tail, and they want blood.

See, Bailey used to work for the circus. Not Barnum and Bailey, the good one, the clean one, the one with the best performers and animals. No, he hooked up with a second-rate outfit, one that gets all of B&B's hand-me-downs and castoffs. It's currently being run by the Freaks, real circus freaks that are also freaky in that they do drugs, cook drugs, beat the animals, have sex with just about anyone and each other, and do some very, very shady accounting. Bailey catches on to the fact that the circus is pretty much a cash-only business, ripe for a theft of several thousands of dollars. He starts working on getting in good with Eelie, the Serpent Girl, because she's the one that knows everything about the circus's financial set-up. Eelie was born without arms or legs, using her flipper of sorts to move around on her skateboard from place to place. Bailey realizes that she's not very happily married and uses that angle to work his plan.

But Bailey is the one getting worked - he falls in love with Eelie, and she with him. And we all know what happens when a woman is scorned, don't we? Thus the wild adventure that Bailey has trying to find his "buds" and his money. He may find more than he bargained for. And he may not live through it, either.

This is a really good debut, one that again, doesn't mince words. I sort of wanted a bit more background on Bailey and some of the other characters, but the more I think about it, it's probably best that Carnahan left it as terse as he did. Do we really need to know about Bailey's childhood, why he hangs out with the sort of people he does, why he lives a life of "copping free" (stealing stuff), why he's into drugs? Not really. A lesser writer probably would have explored that angle, and I think the story would have been worse for it. I'm anxious to find out if Carnahan has done anything since this book; if he has, keep your eyes here, because I'm sure to post about it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

"By the Sword" by F. Paul Wilson

Hate to say it, but Wilson is finally down to his last few Jack novels, culminating in a re-released and majorly overhauled version of "Night World", which was the last book in his Adversary Cycle. Wilson includes a forward in this book that explains how the Jack books will be ending, how they won't "wrap up" with each book anymore, and how he advises the reader to be on the lookout for that new version of "Night World". It makes me sad that Jack's story is almost over, but I knew it wasn't going to last forever; I read the original Adversary Cycle quite a while back and already know how it ends. Or at least, how it did end...

Jack has been contacted in regards to a stolen sword, a Japanese katana, crafted by the master metallurgist Masamune. The sword disappeared almost 50 years ago from the Hiroshima Peace Museum, and this gentleman wants it back. He can't go to the police, though, because his father was the one who "liberated" it from the museum. Thus, he enlists Jack and his services. But Jack's being taken for a ride; this guy isn't who he says he is, as he finds out when he meets the real Nakanaori Okumo Slater. As if this wasn't bad enough, Jack soon realizes that there are other factions searching for the legendary katana, including but not limited to the following:

Hank Thompson: leader of the Kicker movement, he dreams about the sword almost every night. He knows it's important to the coming Evolution promised by his father, but he doesn't know exactly how it fits. He's also still on the lookout for Dawn Pickering and her unborn child, but again, he's not entirely sure where she fits into the big picture.

The Kaze Group: Hideo Takita and three yakuza are sent by this corporation to the United States to find the katana. Hideo has ulterior motives, as well - he plans to track down and kill the man that killed his brother. And that man just happens to be Jack...

The Kakureta Kao: a Japanese cult from long ago, thought to be exterminated by the bomb in Hiroshima. A very strange group that believes in removing their senses one by one, in the most literal fashion, too. They believe the sword is vital to their very existence, as well as their ability to create the Kuroikaze, or Black Wind, a phenomenon that kills everything in its path; it doesn't create a literal wind, such as the kind that tears down trees, but more of a spiritual black hole.

Jack has his hands full and there are a lot of characters willing to double cross him and each other. This book is full of action, which is a bit of a departure for Wilson, as most of the Jack books balanced action with the human element. And speaking of the human element, Jack's girlfriend Gia and her daughter Vicky are all but MIA in this book, something that was very disappointing to me. Jack can become almost one-note at times, but his interactions with Gia and Vicks bring out his best, and I like to see that. What did make me happy is the actual introduction of Glaeken (under an AKA); he and Jack finally meet and talk, with the ancient warrior filling Jack in on some of the upcoming battle plans. It's a nice touch to what's coming up, and I really enjoyed watching these two get to know each other, as they're so obviously alike. It will be interesting to see how Wilson brings Jack's story to an end, and even more interesting to see what changes he makes to the revised edition of "Night World".

Hang on, because I think it's going to be a very bumpy ride.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Wait Till Your Vampire Gets Home" by Michele Bardsley

The fourth book of the Broken Heart, Oklahoma series by Bardsley doesn't really cover any new territory, and that's just fine by me. The books are cute paranormal romances, usually take little time to read, and put a smile on my face. Each one has been centered around a single parent in the small town of - where else? - Broken Heart; each of these struggling parents has been "turned" during one awful night a while back. In their attempts to create a safe haven for the newly turned and others, the Consortium has pretty much taken over Broken Heart and is doing its best to keep out strangers. But their best isn't going to be good enough...

Enter Libby Monroe and her hippie-dippie parents, who run PRIS, Paranormal Research and Investigation Services. They've heard rumors about Broken Heart and have arrived to investigate. Much to Libby's shock, there are creatures such as vampires and werewolves, and now she's looking at living proof of them. There's also no way she can return to "normal" society, not with her new knowledge - or with her new powers. Libby has been turned into a half-dragon of sorts when a dying dragon passes on her soul. But this wasn't just any gift; the soul was split in two upon transfer, and the other half is in hotter-than-hot daddy vamp Ralph Genessa. The two literally have sparks flying between them, which makes things difficult for the citizens of Broken Heart. And where are Libby's parents? What's happened to them? Are they trapped in BH too? Or has something more sinister happened to them?

The chemistry between Ralph and Libby is cute, and one has to feel for Ralph. His wife died suddenly, and after being turned, he sent his boys to live with their grandparents, hoping to keep them safe. It's obvious how much he misses them, though. Libby is OK, but didn't think through a lot of her actions. That's typical of some people, but it bothered me a bit here. Not entirely sure why.

Bardsley wisely puts in two glossaries for the reader, one with a lot of the terms and people who live in Broken Heart, the other a dictionary of foreign phrases that are used. It's helpful to those who might not have picked up any of the books before, and a great way to refresh yourself if it's been a while since you read the last entry! Overall, a good read, and a nice way to spend an afternoon/evening.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"One Silent Night" by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Well, it was bound to happen at some point. I used to really like the Dark-Hunter series, considering it a bit of a naughty pleasure. The books were never going to qualify as "great" literature, but gosh - they sure were fun reads, and they always had a good, hot romance. The series (including the Hunter series) is now up to fifteen or sixteen books, and unfortunately, I think Kenyon has gotten to the point where she's really reaching for material. I was pleasantly surprised by "Acheron", but with "One Silent Night", we're back to scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Rather than even attempt to describe a plot to you, faithful fans, I will merely tell you why I wasn't thrilled with this book and why I will no longer be reading the series. There are several reasons, but let's distill it down to its most basic aspect, shall we? COMPLETE LACK OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. This is something that's been plaguing the last few DH books, with the exception of "Acheron" but that one also clocked in at 700+ pages. OSN has so many characters on canvas that I was desperately hoping for a scorecard of some sort. Most of the gods/goddesses/Daimons/demons, etc, had been introduced at some point, but there were a few names I plain didn't recognize. For example, Nick's former nanny makes an appearance, and yeah, she's totally not human. Huh? I don't even remember him having a nanny! He and his mom were poor, so how is that possible?

Along the lines of the lack of CD are also what I consider to be actions completely out of character, and this book has tons of them. Stryker, Ash's long-standing nemesis, is actually the hero of this book; he wins back his ex-wife of some 11,000 years ago, shows his soft side, claims to have the welfare of his men at the top of his mind, etc. WTF?? I don't ever remember Stryker being soft about anything; the man killed his own son for fraternizing with the enemy. Sigh. The ex-wife isn't any better, and wonder of wonders, she's got a slave that she tortures, one that happens to be some sort of last-of-his-kind hottie. Does that sound familiar to anyone? I checked out reviews on Amazon and several posters pointed the similarities between Jared (no, I kid you not - that's the immortal guy's name!) and Ash. I realize that Kenyon has had abuse issues of her own, and I could appreciate where she went with them in Ash's story, but I really don't want to read more of the same, especially not that. Move on, please.

It's always a sad day for me when a writer I once really enjoyed goes into this sort of crap territory. But Kenyon isn't the first to be abandoned by me, and I doubt she'll be the last. The one good thing about fiction is that there's always someone else out there writing along the same lines, and there's always newcomers that really bring something to the table. Why read the half-hearted attempts when you can be awed by the excellent? So long, Dark-Hunters, and here's hoping you find your way back someday.