Archive | September, 2009

Vampires and diaries part 1

11 Sep

vampire diariesIf you didn’t catch the Vampire Diaries series pilot you sure missed out on an hour of entertainment. I haven’t read the books that the series is based on written by L.J. Smith, so it’s not necessary to have read them to enjoy the series.

A quick summary: Good vampire is attracted to girl who is spitting image of a woman from his past. Bad vampire is good vampire’s brother and they are rivals. Bad vampire is determined to ruin good vampire. Town and its people are collateral damage. THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

Benighted by Kit Whitfield

7 Sep

benightedwhitfieldFavorite Lines: “There were nights when I let no one near me, when I knew that the boys who came to try their luck were just taking an opportunity, and I’d fight them, kick and scratch in a silent battle under the harsh fabric coverings. There were nights when I hadn’t the strength to fight and would reach down, moving my hands fast to get the encounter over with as quickly as I could. There were nights when I’d lie unresisting and close my eyes, slipping my fingers under boys’ clothing in case I might find succor there…Fewer friendships come out of the creches. We do too much to one another within them.” (p. 170-71)

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Lola Galley is one of the few handicapped people in a lyco-filled world. She is a “bareback” who wants more, but has learned from experience exactly what she can expect: prejudice, disdain and pain. She is a public defender for those lunes who roam during full moons and an enforcer. She ensures that the lycanthropic population follow the rules and lock themselves up.

Lola doesn’t get to pick her cases and is not thrilled when she gets the case of a lune who bit her friend’s hand off. Then her friend is killed before his attacker is tried fro the crime beginning a lonely journey to a disturbing answer.

I’ve read reviews of Benighted (Bareback in the UK) for over a year. Nothing prepared me for the despair I felt while reading it. When I turned the final page of the story I felt no sense of resolution, contentment or any other positive emotion. I was depressed and saddened. I’m not even glad that I read the well-written story.

Benighted starts off slow. It is a world that I never imagined, centered around a woman who has seen the worst in life. Lola is a crippled lune who doesn’t connect with people well. As a minority of the population, she is and was placed in appalling situations because the majority of the population believed it was for the best. As a child she was put in the creches to protect her from the humans that transform into animals. As an adult she was told her employer would be the Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity. In both instances she had no choice.

Lola is tired and resigned to living in a world where her thoughts and emotions matter little until she begins digging into a case for an alleged killer. During her investigation she stumbles upon another case which forces her to reexamine her opinions on several issues. She also meets and bonds with people only to be disappointed in the end.

One problem I had with Benighted is that the other characters felt stiff. Because the story is told in third person from Lola’s point-of-view the audience is only given her thoughts, feelings and opinions of all the people she interacts with. This makes all the other characters feel one-sided. But it worked to make me sympathize with Lola. I felt drawn to her misery.

Benighted is a grim, urban fantasy. It is not a book that instills happy feelings. It is a book that makes you think about the injustice in the world and forces acknowledgement that not all wrongs are corrected. I know that Ms. Whitfield wants the story to end on a positive note (Light shines in through the windows…It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. P. 516) unfortunately, I felt none of it.

Other reviews can be found at Asking the Wrong Questions, Byftpups and Calico Reaction.

This story isn’t one that you’ll want to read while you eat or immediately following, so before reading Benighted make Potato and Sausage Hash with Moroccan Flavors.

Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell

2 Sep

secondhandspiritsblackwellJuliet Blackwell is the author of  Secondhand Spirits, book one in the Witchcraft Mystery series. Set in San Francisco the book is about Lily Ivory, a witch who owns a vintage clothing shop and becomes embroiled in murder and kidnappings. She tries to keep her witch abilities secret, but with a couple of men sniffing around her it may not be possible.

Favorite Lines: “Last Halloween some kids broke in there….You mark my words. She’s like that …how do you call her? In the fairy tales? The evil witch that lures kids in and they’re never seen again.” (p. 125)

Vintage store owner and closet-witch, Lily Ivory, visits an old lady, Mrs. Potts, about scores of clothes hanging in the woman’s basement and winds up wanting to protect the grandmother-like woman who is surrounded by a bad neighborhood and a deadly spirit, La Llorona. To protect the fragile woman, Lily brews a protection spell for her, but the woman is found dead the next day and suspicion falls on Lily.

La Llorona haunts the shores of the river in search of children’s souls to steal, but it is right outside of Mrs. Potts house where she arrives and snatches a little girl. Lily is a skilled witch who is familiar with the paranormal. She knows that she may be the only chance the young girl has and despite attention from both a high ranking male witch and a male myth buster begins searching for answers.

Ms. Blackwell is the author of Secondhand Spirits, a paranormal mystery chasing down the questions surrounding an old woman’s death and the retrieval of a missing child. It has a touch of romance, but is firmly a mystery novel focused on fun, secondhand clothes and spirits.

La Llorona is the spirit of a woman who drowned her children and herself in despair after her lover left her. She wails for her children, but don’t let it fool ya, she is evil. The evil spirit has been around for a long time and may have had a little bit of help. Lily isn’t looking forward to facing the spirit, but will do anything necessary to save the missing child.

Lily is an enchanting puzzle. We are never given all the pieces (hello, it’s book one of a new series) making certain remarks memorable. For example, there are plenty of times when she speaks about her absent father and hints about a horrible, life-altering experience that we are never told in book one. Lily is a thrifty loner.

The secondary characters (powerful male witch, Aiden; myth buster, Max Carmichael; Lily’s store mate, Brownwyn; etc.) are intriguing and multifaceted people that I can’t wait to learn more about.

Secondhand Spirits is a quick read with themes of loneliness. Foreshadowing has been spread throughout the story, yet it does nothing to detract from the ongoing mystery that continues until the final few chapters. Looking back I find myself saying, “duh” because I should have added two plus two and gotten four, but that is part of the fun of reading Secondhand Spirits.

Book two in the Witchcraft Mystery series, A Coven in the Closet, will be released in 2010.

Read my review at Scooper Speaks for more about Secondhand Spirits. After you’ve read the review, go get the book and make a breakfast trifle to enjoy while you read Secondhand Spirits.omelet

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