Bites
February 18, 2017

Published: May17, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke. (goodreads.com)

Well, the blurb is a great indicator of what the book’s like: something that goes on forever. Ugh. I stopped caring about the story probably around the 350 to 400 page mark. There are 750 pages, by the way. I accepted this book for review because I liked NOS4A2 and the premise sounded really good. Something kind of different.

I wanted to stop reading THE FIREMAN for the same reason I stopped watching The Walking Dead: I just couldn’t take the meandering nothing of people trying to make their way through a dead world anymore. At least THE FIREMAN wasn’t plagued by awful decision-making like TWD was. I hear it’s still a great show, but I just got bored with it. Like I got really bored with THE FIREMAN.

And not sure why it’s called that because the character of the same name is really a secondary character for about 3/4 of the book. He really only comes into play toward the very end and even then he’s literally dragged along because he’s so injured and useless.

I mean it was interesting watching the camp develop (or devolve, as it were) and how the whole vibe of the place can change and how quickly. But it got old. Reading a never-ending book of people just existing got really old. Once the plot shifted to the camp it stayed there for most of the story so it was just people going about their daily lives. Any kind of action or plot development came in violent, short-lived chunks that didn’t do enough to sustain me while reading. I’m just wondering how much of what I read could actually be cut and we’d still end up with the same story. I’m guessing at least 300 pages of it.

It felt like a story that Hill wanted to get out of his head in order to make room for better work. The book felt aimless, obviously incredibly drawn out, and went roughly nowhere with plot. There’s very little light at the end of the tunnel and the ending just pissed me off. All that reading, all that investment, for basically nothing.

I did like the characters. For all I didn’t like about the book the characters were at least engaging enough and every single one of them had growth from one end of the book to the other. All of them owned their little corner of this world and I felt each character was vivid and realistic and popped right off the page. That’s about all I liked here.

I’ll definitely think twice about picking up another Joe Hill book because he’s one and one right now. Starting to get a little leery.

2

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Published: May 25, 2013
Publisher: Aphrodisia
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

By day, Monica is a barista in a local Las Vegas cafe. It doesn’t pay a lot, but it puts her up close and personal with her sexy boss, Drew. Unfortunately, that’s as far as a succubus can go unless she wants to take his soul.

Monica needs mind blowing sex to sustain her, and she finds her victims every night at a local strip club where she’s an exotic dancer. But when her powers begin to diminish and her fellow succubi start turning up dead, all bets are off. Monica realizes she’s the one immortal who has a chance in hell of making things right… (goodreads.com)

I couldn’t help myself with SOUL STRIPPER. It was one of those deeply discounted eBooks that I got through some Kobo sale or something and it just sounded so ridiculous and appetizing that I just couldn’t not. So I did. And I’m kind of glad I did.

My biggest issue was that the editing wasn’t stellar. More typos than I’d care to see in a finished book, and Aphrodisia is a Kensington imprint so it’s not like it’s self-published or a super small indie or something. But there were enough for it to be irksome.

Other than that it was a fun, super hot little read. I mean if you’ve watched any of the TV show Lost Girl (which is also a fun, trashy little show that I need to get back into) then a succubus having to bang dudes to heal herself and sustain herself is nothing new. The fact that Monica’s a stripper just helps her out in that regard (and creates some hot sex scenes, let me tell you). It’s not a mind-blowingly awesome story, but it’s compelling. It had me hooked, especially because the book started on some incredibly hot sex. How could I not be?

I did like how Collins interjected some substance to it. There’s this whole unknown regarding Monica’s rise as a succubus and going through her history in little flashbacks was interesting. I did think, though, that her banging her way through a battle field in order to alleviate soldiers’ pain (and lessen her own guilt) was a bit much. Kind of lost me there a little. But other than that I was totally on board for the story I was being told (and the sex, have I mentioned that?).

I knew who the killer was from the beginning. It’s fairly obvious and the fact that no one in the story made the connection was a bit plot-serving (and a dead giveaway), but whatever. I had fun reading it.

SOUL STRIPPER isn’t fantastic, but it’s fun. You’ll have a good time with the story. From the action (non-sex action) to the sex (sex sex action) to the character development (believe it or not), it was all really enjoyable once you got over how silly and kind of ridiculous the premise is. There’s not much to not like here, not when you’re looking for a light romp through a demon-run strip club. I already have the second book on its way to me!

4

February 13, 2017

This was the book that first introduced me to Mari Mancusi about ten years ago and it’s been love ever since. And not only because she totally love-drops The Lost Boys in her Blood Coven series. It’s a fantastic set of books with awesome characters and a plot that’ll suck you in right from the beginning and won’t let you go until the very end.

Mari recently had the rights to the series returned to her so she’s re-releasing the whole set with brand new covers! And starting today through February 17th you can get a copy of BOYS THAT BITE for free on Amazon Kindle! If you haven’t checked out the Blood Coven series yet, now’s the perfect time to start.

Two sisters–as different as the sun and the rain. For one, getting into the Blood Coven is to die for. But for the other, getting out could be lethal…

When Sunny McDonald gets dragged to Club Fang by her twin sister Rayne, she doesn’t expect to find anything besides a bunch of Goth kids playing at being vampires. But when some guy mistakes Sunny for her dark-side-loving sister and bites her on the neck, she finds out that his fangs are real–and deadly.

Now, Sunny has less than a week to figure out how to reverse the bite, or else she’s going to end up as the perpetually undead. And not only will she be a vampire, she’ll also be bonded to Magnus–the bloodsucker who bit her–forever. And forever is a really long time… (Amazon.com)

Published: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Pyr
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm. (goodreads.com)

BLACK CITY SAINT sounded like a really interesting read, combining faerie things and the Roaring 20s together in an epic battle of good versus evil. Except it landed rather flat, with me being disinterested most of the time.

I couldn’t really connect with Nick as a character. I think it had a lot to do with how he spoke. It was just really stilted and almost disinterested, plus a lot of things ended up getting explained in the past tense and he ended up blacking out a lot so chunks of action were skipped. A lot of the actions scenes were also over-explained to the point of being too involved. I found myself glazing over for a good portion of the story as any concept of action was removed as Nick thwarted another foe with his faerie sword. He had quite a few items on him that made him hard to beat (that sword that could kill pretty much anything, the dragon living in him that could annihilate anything, his faerie senses, made him rather dull, I think).

Claryce just became downright annoying, but I really don’t think it had anything to do with her as a character. She appeared to do a lot of things off the page and held her own a lot that as a reader you don’t get to see because she’s away from Nick and the story’s in his POV. As a result Claryce ends up being this rather whiny, clingy woman who always wants to be around Nick and is always worried about him. The two parts of the single character stood in stark contrast against each other throughout the story. I think she was supposed to be a strong woman, but because we never got to see it, and I was only told that he’s done some incredible things, it all fell flat.

As for the overall plot I was less than impressed. It dragged out for an overlong time with Nick and his nemesis having unnecessarily long conversations with each other that reminded me of bad movie villains. Just get on with it already. I didn’t find anything about what happened exciting and I had a hard time keeping my attention on what I was reading.

Overall, BLACK CITY SAINT was a miss. Great premise but blah execution. From the voice to the descriptions to the Stu factor going on with Nick, it just wasn’t my thing. It didn’t stick for me.

2

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

February 7, 2017

Published: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Angry Robot
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Miriam is trying. Really, she is.

But this whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis–who’s on the road half the time in his truck–is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.

It just isn’t going well. Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability–to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them–in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.

Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear. (goodreads.com)

Ugh. I love Chuck’s writing. Like seriously. It’s so gritty and raw and sometimes it just scrapes my eye drums the wrong way yet I can’t help but love it. Plus he has a really spectacular way of spitting out insults that really just tickles me down in my cockles. Like this gem:

He said peen.

The Miriam Black books are laced with these kinds of genius word orgies and I can’t get enough of them.

MOCKINGBIRD, book two in the Miriam Black series, was everything I expected with a little bit of meth dusted on there for good measure. Also, I didn’t think smoking meth out of a light bulb was actually a thing. Knowledge is power.

I did find myself, as times, thinking Miriam to be a bit too much to handle as a reader. She’s rather huge on self-sabotage for the sake of self-sabotage and it felt a hint plot-serving at times, but it wasn’t enough to throw me out of the story. Miriam’s a tough character. Sometimes she’s downright unappealing and I kind of revel when she takes a boot to the head. But most of the time you see how damaged she is and how she’s doing the best she can (most of the time) with the hand she’s been dealt.

As for the plot, I felt like I was on a rollercoaster and at times I did feel like I was going to vomit. That would have been unappealing at work. It just got a little graphic in places. Nothing I couldn’t handle. There was one point where it seemed like the story was wrapping up, but I still had a good chunk of pages to get through and I’m like HUH? And then it kept going. Like I was on a rollercoaster in a black tunnel and couldn’t see the drop coming. My stomach’s still at the top of the hill.

Reading MOCKINGBIRD it makes me wonder where the story’s going to go next in THE CORMORANT. Because MOCKINGBIRD went in a hell of a weird direction and it was a little disorienting, but totally thrilling. And inappropriately hilarious (PEENS). It makes me itchy to keep reading in the series.

So if you’re looking for a super gritty yet incredibly witty story about a completely grungy woman that shits on herself more than life does, who drinks and smokes too much and treats the people who care about her pretty crappily but feels really bad about it, be sure to read MOCKINGBIRD. I mean start with BLACKBIRDS first because you can’t start in the middle of a series (I don’t care what anyone else says) and then read MOCKINGBIRD for more Miriam goodness. And Wendig wittiness.

4.5