In Review: Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison

Released: 5/25/10, 240 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0061718175

Madison emerged as the dark time keeper in Once Dead, Twice Shy, and now she's trying to find a delicate balance between Fate and choice. And she's not alone, to help her, both Nikita the dark reaper and Barnabas the not quite light reaper.

This time instead of the story revolving around a bunch of reaps it revolves around one, which Madison is desperately trying stop. A computer virus that was just suppose to be a little fun ends the lives of many as it is unleashed upon a hospital.

This one was much better than Once Dead, Twice Shy. The writing feels cleaner, the plot tighter and most of this is because of the careful world building of the first. Madison grows a little and begins to understand that its not all black and white, and sees that she may not be the best person for the job, but its still her job. She doesn't believe in Fate, but instead choice, but both are intertwined.

The characters continue to grow and adapt to the changes around them. Nikita learns to see the value of fear, and Barnabas is struggling to find his place again after learning that everything he knew was a lie.

There isn't as much action as in Kim Harrison's adult novels, but the heart and the humor remains consistant.


In Review: Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Released: 5/25/10 480 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0312599072
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s beloved Dark Hunter series as a young adult novel, I was about as skeptical as they come. I have an intense love hate relationship with young adult novels. It’s not that I need cursing or hard core sex in my stories, I need less angst and more substance, and this is where Sherrilyn Kenyon delivers.
Any reader of the Dark Hunter Series knows Nick Gautier. He’s a dark hunter, but he’s also so much more, and let’s face it he’s sort of a fan favorite. We know some of his history, but there’s still much left unsaid, until now.
Chronicles of Nick does open with some of the back story that we do already know, but it greatly expands on it. His mother, Cherise, is a kind hearted stripper, trying to raise him right, and he’d do anything for her, even if it causes him to be humiliated at school, which is part of the reason for his snarky attitude. He’s really not a bad kid, but he does get into a bit of trouble which results his meeting of Kyrian Hunter.
Frequent readers will already know what happens during that meeting, but that’s just the beginning of the stories, there’s also zombies. Someone is turning members of the student body into zombies, and Nick has to find a way to stop it before he falls victim to it as well. I’ll admit zombies done correctly in any format and I’m in love. Throw in survivalist nut Bubba and one screw loose war veteran Mark, and I’m over the moon.
A love interest for Nick is also introduced, Nekoda Kennedy or Kody as she prefers, but she isn’t in present day books, so where she actually fits in is still left to be seen. In all of her books Kenyon has made it clear, that you can’t change the past. What is suppose to happen will still happen, but someone is definitely tampering with the timeline, so whether or not that statement remains true is still up in the air. There is one meeting in particular, when he meets Simi that is not suppose to happen until much later, but happens now. Maybe he forgets he met her, or maybe its addressed later, but its a little pivotal to the events of the future if you ask me.
There is lots of character development and expanding, on not just on the part of Nick. Other known characters from the Dark Hunter universe are seen; Acheron, young Tad and Tabitha, Kyrian. The plot is well drawn out, and the story was so interesting I could hardly put it down. All the fears about young adult writing were assuaged, and why I hesitated picking this one up seems silly. Chronicles of Nick definitely shows Sherrilyn Kenyon writing at the top of her game.


In Review: Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 2001                 424  pages                          
Publisher: Berkley Books
Format: Paperback

After spending the last two books out of town, the newest book finds Anita not only in town but also in a whole new heap of trouble. Anita is determined to renew her connection between the men that she’s tied to, Jean-Claude and Richard, and all the people that are connected to them. She continues to grow closer to Jean-Claude, accepting all his flaws, while hold Richard at arm’s length, picking and scrutinizing his every insecurity. No matter what he does it’s not right unless he’s doing exactly what Anita wants.  

And the men aren’t her only problem, especially not when alphas are disappearing from weaker Were groups, and new alphas arrive on the scene shaking up the balance of things. Micah is looking to unite his pard with Anita’s wereleopards, but Jacob is looking to tear Richard’s pack apart. There’s also the ardeur, the power to feed off lust, that Anita only recently discovered that Jean-Claude had infects her when he feeds through her, and now she must feed it as well.

New species are discovered, and Anita’s powers are tested further as she discovers things she never knew she could do. Anita is turning into something she should hate, she’s asking of others what she herself could never do, which should be wrong. She has grown a lot since the series has started, but she takes several steps back. Her selfish streak is widening, and her need for dominance annoying.

And as if one infection isn’t enough, she’s infected a second time by something completely different. There is a lot going on in this one, which makes for an interesting sometimes hard to follow story, and a messy  plot.  Anita’s logic is becoming increasing more illogical, and her morals continue to crumble. Thankfully the epilogue ties up the loose ends that the story hastily wrapped up.


In Review: Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 2000                 386  pages                          
Publisher: Ace Books
Format: Paperback

Again Anita is headed out of town, but this time its to accompany Edward to repay the favor she owed him. They’re headed to New Mexico to investigate a series of supernatural attacks where the victims are skinned or dead.
Here Edward goes from contract killer/sometimes friend to an actual developed character. Edward has always been a favorite, so it was nice to see him actually fleshed out. Anita meets his fiancĂ©e and her children, and there’s a tenderness that had always been lacking in him in the past. It makes that cold front he shows when on a hunt all the more icy.
There is a severe lack of Jean-Claude and Richard, which is both fantastic and horrible. The sudden drop off from them feels like a huge gap in the story, that is not so easily explained away, since it wasn’t apparent after the last novel.
Anita comes face to face with Aztec Gods, and Ulfrics, necromancers, and all around bad guys without her usual posse, but instead there is Bernardo and Olaf. Bernardo the fun, flirty killer, and Olaf the crazy, calm killer. Again the unspeakable happens, and this time even more so with the innocents involved, and Anita has to rise to the challenge to help save the day.
The book took a further departure from the normal Anita books it was a very addicting story. Once started, I could not put it down. Although the love interests were absent, love was very much on her mind and it seems she may have actually learned something about herself, yay for character development. The story was written well enough that the holes in the plot could easily be forgiven.


Supernatural Recap: Swan Song

Chuck is writing his final story as the Apocalypse looms on the horizon. He talks about the one millionth car GM rolled out, the 1967 Impala, which John Winchester bought after its first owner died, which is where the story begins and ends.
Sam and Dean are throwing back drinks, when Dean finally reveals that he’s finally ready to back Sam, that he’s not a kid anymore and he’s going to stop treating him like one. He assures him that if anyone can pull this off its Sam, he just wants to know if it’s what Sam wants. Sam says it’s his responsibility.
Sam, Dean, Castiel and Bobby go on a demon hunt to collect enough blood for Sam to be able to contain Lucifer. Going over omens, they discover he’s in Detroit. Dean reminds Sam that Lucifer said he’d take him in Detroit, and figures he’s playing him. Their only hope lies in the fact that Lucifer doesn’t know they have all the Horsemen’s rings. Sam makes Dean promise he won’t try to bring him back, that he’ll find Lisa and have a normal happy life, but Dean makes no promises.
The four come to Lucifer’s safe house in Michigan, filled with demons. Bobby tells Sam farewell, to keep fighting Lucifer, and Sam tells Castiel to watch over Bobby and Dean. Sam drinks the remainder of the blood, and together Sam and Dean announce to Lucifer’s cronies they’re there.
Chuck continues to write about the Impala. About the Legos Dean lost in the heating vent, the army man Sam melted in one of ashtrays, all the little blemishes that Dean painstakingly made sure were still there when he rebuilt it, not that Lucifer cares about any of that.
Sam tells Lucifer he came to say yes, killing a demon with a thought, but he wants Lucifer to guarantee the his and Dean’s safety and to bring his parents back. Lucifer reveals he knows about the rings, but he isn’t mad. In fact he’s still all creepy calm. He wants a one on one fight with Sam, and Sam agrees with no other options at hand. There’s a flash of light, then only Sam left, lying on the floor. Dean throws the rings, invocating the spell. The wall cracks, and a vortex begins to pull everything inside is Nothing. Sam wakes up, and Dean tries to get him out, but it isn’t Sam anymore. Lucifer seals the portal and takes the rings, teleporting away.
Lucifer looks at himself in a broken mirror, talking to Sam, whose raging inside. He doesn’t know why Sam is so angry, he’s never fit in with his family. This is where he belongs, and he let Dean live, he’ll even bring back Mary and John back to make Sam happy. Lucifer shows him the people who have gathered, the Yellow-Eyed Demon’s demons. People assigned to keep watch over Sam. He suggests they blow off some steam.
Dean, Bobby, and Castiel watch new reports of the disasters that are happening globally, and Castiel says that there is no hope. Lucifer and Michael will meet for the final battle, but he doesn’t know where. Dean refuses to give up, but none know where to start.
Lucifer sits surrounded by corpses of the demons.
Chuck writes about how sometimes the boys would take a break from everything and just sit under the open sky, watching the stars. He gets a call from Dean, he already knows what has transpired with Sam but even though the angels are trying to keep the location of the final battle under wraps he’s seen it. Stull Cemetery, but that is all he knows.
Bobby asks what Dean is planning. He’s going to Kansas to be with his brother. Castiel warns that he’ll just be going to see Michael kill Sam, but Dean has nothing left to lose and he won’t let Sam die alone.
At the cemetery Lucifer awaits for Michael to arrive, they both admit this fight is a long time coming, though they both wish they didn’t have to do it. Lucifer wonders why, but Michael insists it was Lucifer actions that forced this. Lucifer claims that God did this, he wanted the Devil, though he doesn’t know the point. They’re going to kill each other over one of God’s tests. Michael insists that he is the good son that refuses to rebel, and Lucifer is looking for anyone but himself to blame. Lucifer counters that God laid out their paths he is responsible for his actions. Michael resorts to name calling, saying that Lucifer is a monster. Lucifer taunts him to hit him with his best shot, to do his worse, but before they can do anything, Dean arrives blasting Def Leppard’s Rock of Ages.
Dean gets out, wanting to talk to Lucifer, but both Lucifer and Michael tell him this is no longer his fight. Michael refuses to leave, Castiel arrives throwing a Molotov cocktail filled with holy fire at Michael driving him away. Angered Lucifer pops Cas like a blood bag, and slams Dean into the Impala. Bobby shoots Lucifer twice with the colt, and Lucifer snaps his neck for his trouble. Dean attacks him, desperate to get through to Sam, insisting he won’t leave him. As Lucifer is about to kill Dean, he see the Impala, and all of Sam memories, and Dean.
Sam is back in control. He tells Dean he’ll be okay, then he uses the rings to open the cage. Michael returns still ready to fight his brother and fulfill his destiny. Sam gives Dean one final glance before falling into the cage, taking Michael with him. The cage is sealed in a burst of light.
Bloody and broken Dean kneels in the cemetery. Castiel returns, fully restored in all his angel glory; he’s not God as Dean wonders, but God did bring him back. He heals Dean and resurrects Bobby, then walks away.
Chuck finishes up his story, “Swan Song,” and admits that fans won’t be happy, there will be complaints about flaws, but he can’t do anything about it now. He has to do the hardest part, finish the ending.
Castiel is off to restore order to heaven, he’s not sure it’s what God wants, but it feels right. Dean is angry, vowing to go after God, but Cas points out he got what he wanted: freedom. Chuck writes that Dean took Bobby home, and went to fulfill his promise.
He ends up at Lisa’s door, asking if it’s too late to take her up on her offer for a beer, Lisa tells him its never too late. Chuck wonders the meaning of it all, if it was just a test for the boys, but they did all right, they chose family. He finishes his story, nothing that nothing truly ends and disappears.
Dean and Lisa relax, as creeper Sam watches from the shadows outside their window.


In Review: Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 1998                 418  pages                          
Publisher: Ace Books
Format: Paperback

Anita gets out of town, but not for any vacation. Richard, studying Trolls in Tennessee has been accused of rape, and he’s refusing to lawyer up, so Anita runs to the rescue knowing Richard would never force himself on someone nor would he need to, which of course is laden with trouble. The Master of the City of Tennessee denies Anita entry, and sees her coming for any reason, even to save the handsome Richard as an act of war. And someone wants the trolls and Richard’s project off the land.

Anita does get some good advice about the Wereleopards, most of whom accompany her, which should have been common sense. They are a broken group who need to be molded into a more cohesive unit, like the wolves. Asher and Damian also come with her, and their characters are fleshed out more.

Anita’s and Richard’s relationship is explored a little, but Richard is too submissive to Jean-Claude, and I hate him playing second fiddle, he deserves better. Anita also learns more about Jean-Claude, which should raise far more red flags than it does. He’s using her in more ways than she realized. And even knowing that he still has a greater hold on her than Richard can manage.

Anita learns more about the werewolf culture, when she unleashes forces she is unprepared for. And her morals and limits are pushed and stretched to the breaking point as she learns who is behind all the trouble in Tennessee, which also puts her and Richard to the test.

I loved the greater focus on the werewolves, and lesser on Jean-Claude and his manipulations, though they are definitely still there, even when he’s not on the page. There were a couple of really good twists, and some great writing, making this one of my favorites.


Supernatural Recap: Two Minutes To Midnight

An elderly woman is visited by her doctor, Dr. Green aka Pestilence. She sick, and dying, infected with three diseases when he infects her with a fourth. She’s been his petri dish, blending his diseases, and he watches as she dies.
Dean and Sam meet at Bobby’s and Dean is unhappy with Sam’s plan to let Lucifer take him as a vessel. They get a call from Castiel, at a hospital with no memory how he got there, only that his powers are all but drained. He needs money for food, travel and pain medication. He also apologizes for losing faith in Dean.
The boys go after Pestilence where Brady said he’d be, at the Serenity Valley retirement Home. They find him posing as a doctor, but a demon nurse spots them first and warns Pestilence. Pestilence is willing to disobey Lucifer’s orders in order to dispose of the boys. So he activates his ring and embraces the nurse.
The illness spreads through the hospital, affecting everyone including Sam and Dean. They collapse before they can do anything. The demon nurse brings them before Pestilence, and he’s boastful, taunting them with a slow and painful death. Castiel arrives and Pestilence strikes him down, but Cas manages to cut off Pestilence’s finger and kill the nurse. They recover but Pestilence warns them it’s too late before he flashes out.
With Pestilence’s last words still in their heads, they’re back at Bobby’s going over the latest disasters and Death’s whereabouts. When the boys press Bobby to explain how he tracked Death so fast, Crowley appears and makes him come clean. Bobby admits that he traded his soul temporarily to find death, and Crowley has the picture of the kiss that sealed the deal to prove it. They also find out that Crowley refuses to return it until after the Apocalypse is adverted.
As they leave, Sam tells Dean he fears he is too weak to take on Lucifer, but he can’t just do nothing. Crowley breaks up the pity party by showing them a newspaper article. Niveus Pharmaceutical is getting ready to release a vaccine nationwide, and they know it’s really filled with the Croatoan virus.
Death arrives in Chicago, a man rudely shoves past him, Death kills him with a simple gesture of brushing away the dirt from his suit.
The boys split up. Castiel and Bobby, now able to walk thanks to an extra clause Crowley added in their bargain, go with Sam to stop the virus. And Crowley and Dean go to find death. Crowley gives dean a rusty mythical scythe that can kill anything, even death.
Bobby and Sam discuss with Cas, Sam’s plan to overcome Lucifer. Castiel is proud of the boys, they constantly exceed his expectations for them. He warns though that Michael has chosen Adam as his vessel, and that if Sam fails it will be a major catastrophe. To succeed Sam will have to consume massive amounts of demon blood to survive Lucifer merely in his body.
The next morning at Niveus, they stop the first truck from leaving. Sam works to get the humans out, until he realizes that the demons have already infected them, leaving the trio with no choice but to kill the humans. Sam takes off deeper into the building alone.
In Chicago, Crowley goes to locate death via the reapers nearby. When he fails, Crowley eager to leave before the trouble assures Dean he will return Bobby’s soul since he couldn’t hold up his end of the bargain. Dean wonders how he can clear the entire city, when Crowley locates Death in a pizzeria, he tells him the location and high tails it out of there.
Meanwhile Sam clears the building of all but one final infected victim. Bobby is out of bullets when Cas arrives taking the last person down.
Dean enters the pizzeria to find all inside dead. The scythe heats in his hand, and he’s forced to drop it, not that he ever thought he’d have a chance to really use it, once dropped it appears next to death. Death invites him to sit and have pizza with him. Death explains that he is old, perhaps older than God, and that one day he will reap God. When Dean asks why Death hasn’t killed him yet, Death explains that Lucifer, petty child that he is, has bound him by a spell. Death wants Dean to free him, to let Sam jump into the pit, and he will give him his ring. Dean agrees, but Death warns that he cannot cheat his way out.
Dean brings the four rings together, they’re attracted to each other like magnets. Bobby admits that he’s glad to be able to walk again, even if it isn’t forever, and Dean wonders what Death will do when he finds out Dean lied, if they can even trust Death. Bobby tells Dean he believes Sam may be able to pull this off, or die trying and ask Dean if he’s scared of losing, or losing his brother.


In Review: Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 1996                 370  pages                          
Publisher: Ace Books
Format: Paperback

Bloody Bones opens with another job for our favorite animator, this time a mass zombie raising, in Branson, Missouri in order to build a resort on the graveyard. All the corpses are at least 100 years old, some much older and she’s probably the only person in the world able to raise them without a human sacrifice. But of course it can’t be that easy where Anita is involved, there is some dispute over the land, and elsewhere in the city there is a crime scene of mangled teens that point to a sword wielding vampire.
Soon an additional suspect winds up on her radar in the form of a half fey, who has both the spped, agaility, and magic to have killed those teens, and his family is the ones who are holding up resort’s building.
Another police call, brings on a vampire hunt, when a local girl appears to have been  turned. Anita spends much of the books jumping from one disaster to another, until she tracks whose actually at the bottom of the deaths, the turning, and what is actually going on with that graveyard.
While Dolph is only seen via phone, Jean-Claude and Jason do show up to help, but no Richard. I love Jason, but he’s no Richard, and Jean-Claude is using Jason to try to deter Anita from marrying Richard. We’re introduced to a new kind of vampire, rotting vampires, and the ick factor knows no bounds. Anita’s will is put to the test in more ways than one, as is Larry’s stomach.
It is a quick read, that had few dull moments. Some of Jean-Claude’s history is explained, and the death of Anita’s mother is very vivid. The story’s has subplots that are a part of the entire series, however the way that the story’s main arc is written it is able to stand on it own without giving a new reader too much trouble to follow along. For the best effect all of the books should be read in order. The story wrapped up quickly and fairly cleanly as most of Mrs. Hamilton’s stories do.


In Review: Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 1998                 392  pages                          
Publisher: Ace Books
Format: Paperback

The next book in the Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series brings Anita investigating a series of arson incidents, and dealing with the fallout of the last book.

Having killed the local wereleopard’s leader, they’re in need of protection, and Anita’s obligated to provide it. Although she and Richard are no longer together, she’s still his Lupa and there’s the issue of dominance and gaining their trust for the wolf pack. And, as if that weren’t enough to deal with, the Vampire Council is feeling a little threatened since Jean-Claude has killed a councilmember but turned down a council seat, and they send their representatives.

Anita is constantly put to the test to prove herself, and she always comes out on top, though at times the odds are impossible. As the stakes continue to rise, and the pyrokinetic’s path of destruction widens the story delivers plenty of action and devastation.

Anita delves deeper into bed with the vampires, and a new, intriguing character is introduced, Asher. He’s beautiful, horribly scared and broken, which makes him a perfect addition to the story.

The story dragged at times, bogged down with vampire one upmanship, and the plot wrapped up quickly with a sudden finding of faith, but other than that, a very good read.


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