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63 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Skin Trade lets down at the end
Perhaps I'm becoming a bad Anita Blake fan, but I didn't even remember the big bad serial killing vampire villain of Skin Trade, Vittorio. I had to go back and find out which book he was from, Incubus Dreams. I think that's truly become the rub with the Anita Blake books. There's so much sex that you don't even remember the actual story line. But on to the current book at...
Published on June 15, 2009 by M. Nespolo

versus
244 of 259 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than the others - yes. Good? Sadly no.
This book started out with such promise. I can get past all the angsty stuff, but then 3/4 of the way through the book the plot just dropped. So many threads left blowing in the wind, like the first real suspect in the case Paula Chu - they just left her at the police station halfway through and never mentioned her again. Supposedly belle morte gives Anita a new power,...
Published on June 9, 2009 by J. Stanley


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244 of 259 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than the others - yes. Good? Sadly no., June 9, 2009
By 
J. Stanley (Charlotte, NC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book started out with such promise. I can get past all the angsty stuff, but then 3/4 of the way through the book the plot just dropped. So many threads left blowing in the wind, like the first real suspect in the case Paula Chu - they just left her at the police station halfway through and never mentioned her again. Supposedly belle morte gives Anita a new power, but you never find out what it is. It was like in the last 50 pages Hamilton just got tired of writing and wrapped it up in the most ludicrous way that she could. One of the biggest baddies ever was killed by people not even in the story with a bomb. Then she sets up what could've been a really great villain with great new "allies" (the djinn), but turns him into a sexually frustrated nothing. Brand new vamps have been harder to take out in the past than this guy was - in fact the heroine didn't even actually kill him. Olaf, Edward and Bernardo just kind of disappear. Actually I don't think "the executioner" fired one shot in the entire book. I can deal with everything else, the sex really doesn't bother me in and of it self but as an end all be all to every plot it kind of sucks. Hamilton so could've redeemed herself with this book if she had actually finished writing it. Forget trying to put out at least 2 books every year - just try to get one good one in however long it takes. Please.
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414 of 451 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Anita is not back., June 20, 2009
By 
AJ (Houston, TX) - See all my reviews
WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!

The title of my review says it all : Anita is not back. She's been gone too long, and Ms. Hamilton seems to have forgotten how to write anything but repetitive and distasteful sex scenes. While it's true that there is much less sex in this book, there isn't much of anything else, either. "Skin Trade" was unspeakably dull. It moved at a pace that would make a geriatric snail on Valium look like Jackie Joyner. It took nearly a hundred pages for Anita to get from the airport in Las Vegas to the sheriff's office in the same city.

What was she doing during those one hundred pages? The same thing she always does : getting into pissing matches with any and all law enforcement officers she comes across to prove that she's the biggest and baddest of the men and talking at length about her sex life. Apparently, everyone in the Anita-verse cares far more about Anita's sex life than most of the readers do. It's brought up by every single person she meets, though she's never fired for being unprofessional when she brings her Stunt Penis along on police matters, feeds on unsuspecting police officers, or sleeps with underage boys. In one scene, Anita is told by Edward that the only reason why she still has a badge is probably because she's a woman. Not because she's The Executioner (though we haven't seen Anita kill a vampire without "loving" one to death in about 4 books now), and not because she knows how to do her job, nor because she's more powerful than all the X-men combined. No, it's because she's a woman and could sue if she's terminated. Apparently, the Anita Blake series is a fantasy in more ways than one.

What sex there is has been made worse than the author's standard fare due to the addition of underage characters and the fact that the author recycles the same three or so scenes (with variations of the same male characters) over and over again. Anita continues to get away with metaphysical rape (and to not believe that it's wrong in the slightest), though we are reminded over and over that using psychic powers to compel someone is cause for the death penalty. Ms. Hamilton seems to enjoy making rules just so that Anita can either break or ignore them completely. Anita would like us to know that 16 is the legal age of consent in Nevada. No, it's not, and I truly hope that Ms. Hamilton was aware of this. I also hope that she was speaking for the Anitaverse, and not for actual law. Hamilton insists that she does vast amounts of research for her books, yet one can rarely, if ever, tell. This could very well be a shining example of that. No matter what, it's disgusting and unnecessary. This is made even worse by the fact that Anita becomes a metaphysical sex-slavery charged version of Voltron and The Power Rangers by finding out that she's the queen of all colors of tigers at the same time. Not only can the 16 year-old literally not say no to her, but he wouldn't want to, because of course, Anita is his "queen".

Ms. Hamilton's writing style has also degraded to a point where it's difficult for me to understand how she continues to get published. Her prose is not purple, it's juvenile and ridiculous. One of the most horrid lines is said by brand-new Stunt Penis Domino : "My Queen, if by my flesh or my seed I can feed you, then feed." Another gem is said by Fluffer SWAT member Sanchez to the all-powerful Anita : "It's like if you let all your shields down, you'd burn. But it would burn black, as if the night could catch fire and eat the world."

The bottom line is that "Skin Trade" has everything wrong with it that the last several "AB:VH" books had. All women are portrayed as weak and jealous of Anita, or stereo-typical butch lesbian cops who are jealous of Anita. Any strong women other than Anita are raped, tortured, abused or murdered. All attractive men are obsessed with Anita, while unattractive men who dislike Anita are portrayed as jealous of her power and accused of being homosexuals. All of Anita's "boyfriends", Jean-Claude especially, take on the role of two-dimensional, whining, clinging, and emotionally weak girlfriends to Anita's two-dimensional, strong, stoic and seemingly uncaring "male" character. Characters attack Anita's sex life or personal beliefs for the sole purpose of allowing Anita to lecture the reader about intolerance, while Anita herself is the single most intolerant person in the series. The book, like all of the others, starts out with a plot, but loses it in a miasma of melodrama centered on Anita's sex life and her ever-growing powers, none of which she seems capable or willing to control. Anita still insists that she doesn't have casual sex, without realizing what a joke that is.

The worst thing about "Skin Trade" was its unoriginality. While Hamilton has never given credit to those who came before her, such as Joss Whedon and Anne Rice, she did come up with quite a few interesting ideas of her own. Not anymore. The plot in "Skin Trade" bears a striking resemblance to that of Carrie Vaughn's "Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand" and "Kitty Raises Hell". Las Vegas, were-tigers, djinns. It's all been done by Ms. Vaughn, and done much better at that. If these ideas had been Ms. Hamilton's first (which they were not, as Ms. Vaugh's published manuscript predates Ms. Hamilton's by 4 months), the book would at least get points for having a decent premise. Even the one thing that Hamilton did seem to create on her own, her villain, was destroyed by her inability to to see her ideas come to fruition. It ended like every other Anita Blake novel : A gimme fight which took no skill, either of Anita's or Ms. Hamilton's. The way that Anita defeats the bad guy is so laughable that I just put the book down and decided that there was no possible way without aid of a time machine, Anita is ever coming back. In case you're wondering, she wins by giving him an epic orgasm. I'm serious.

Ms. Hamilton's attachment to her "darlings" makes it impossible for her to see what she's done to her series. She cut down the sex, but without it, as badly done as it was, there is nothing left. Rehashing the same basic plot of Anita getting more and more powerful while winding up with more and more "boyfriends" is old, tired, and was never very good to begin with. I personally do not believe that Anita is ever coming back. If you are a fan of urban paranormal fantasy, Jim Butcher, Carrie Vaughn, and Kim Harrison are all much better bets.

***EDIT***

There was a mistake made in an earlier version of this review. The text should now read: "One of the most horrid lines is said by brand-new Stunt Penis Domino : "'My Queen, if by my flesh or my seed I can feed you, then feed.'" The "under-aged" line has been omitted, as it is Cynric who is under-aged. If Amazon does not publish the change, please note that I am aware of it and that I did submit the correction.
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199 of 221 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had nicer things to say, June 28, 2009
By 
Ashber (FL United States) - See all my reviews
This story had So much potential, in the first two chapters.

Then it turned into something else. As someone who has police officers as family and friends, I find this book offensive.

The police in this story are portrayed right out of a bad, grade F horror movie shot in someones basement.

I thought that this book, of three hundred plug pages was going to blow my mind. Instead, it ended up being more horrific than I thought possible.

Rape is Rape, wither its rolling people with your mind or drugging them, its the same thing. But since its Anita, its okay? No it is not. Shes a ephebophilia. This isn't the first time shes had sex with a minor but since she can't remember and now the boy loves her, its "All good."
Why this keeps coming up in LKH's series,I have no idea but it makes me want to vomit.
Worse, this is either the 3rd or 4th time. I would check but I just dont care anymore and I refuse to reread the drek that LKH has published.

I said this before, that I wasn't going to purchase another LKH book and I'm glad that I didn't. My friend did and wanted to know if I had the same problems with it she did.

I dont like Anita anymore and I don't want to waste anymore of my time expecting the books to get better. There are better writers and they will have my time and money.

Please, dont purchased this thing. Save your momey.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Well... there's 5.5 hours I will never get back., July 21, 2009
I wasn't going to bother writing a review as most of the prior negative comments pretty much sum up my issues with this book, but I figured if more "real name" posters chime in, perhaps LKH and her publisher will take note.

The first few chapters of Skin Trade actually felt like old Anita Blake. And, to my even-in-retrospect disbelief, in almost 500 pages I bet there is less that 20 pages devoted to gratuitous sex (btw - I love sex, just not poorly written sex that is used as a substitute for a plot). Instead, LKH thumps us on the head over and over again about boys not believing girls can be taken seriously and concludes with a trite ending to super-powerful villains.

I stopped feeding money into the Anita Blake machine a few novels back, but kept up via my public library. No more. I feel sad because LKH's stuff now sucks so bad that I would rather sit through a (insert-your-least-favorite-actor's-name-here) film festival that read one of her books again.

I'm also chapped because I'll probably be doing myself Karmic harm by returning Skin Trade to the library, but I must if I want to check our more books.

Miss Hamilton, if you are reading this, PLEASE make up with whoever was ghost-writing your early Anita Blake books. If not for me, do it for the children.
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65 of 74 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed once again., June 11, 2009
By 
I wasn't expecting too much from this book to begin with, having read a spoiler or two online. I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself really enjoying the beginning of this book! No, the writing wasn't the best I had ever read (nor the worst), but it wasn't boring.

I enjoyed reading about some familiar faces without feeling like the book was being bogged down by what I would consider too much relationship drama. There were moments when the conversations dragged or the subject matter got repetitive, but it wasn't enough to make me want to stop reading.

Even the obligatory feeding scenes with Wicked and Truth didn't bother me too much. Anita is a succubus and needs to feed, anyone who is still reading this series is well aware of this fact.

Then comes the point in the book where it all just goes completely downhill. What makes this book so infuriating is that the entire last part of the book comes out of nowhere.

The case that had steadily been building up for the past 54 plus chapters is suddenly thrown out the window and switched with a scenario that makes entirely no sense at all! I really felt like someone had taken a fairly decent crime novel and cut out the ending and replaced it with an ending from another book.

Not only is the ending laughable and unbelievable, it is pretty darn offensive in the way it casually throws around such serious themes for no real purpose other than to shock the reader.

I would not recommend this book to anyone unless they want to have their hopes for the series lifted, then ultimately dashed beyond repair.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book leaves a lot room to grow, I think the author lost her ability., October 8, 2009
There is nothing of original anymore.

Richard should die in the book, because she destroyed the character.

I am with Jean Claude all the way, Anita is losing it. She is becoming worse than a cheap whore and the sex lines are so poor, so rough, to lacking all that makes sex interesting that I had to skip all before I got too disgusted.

It saddens me that the series I was so loving to read, all the nice raising dead, learning new powers, having to have an entourage of lovers and conflicts between your morals and the need of feeding, the conflicts of Richard with his monogamous heart and the love for someone that cannot afford to be monogamous. The series was good, why is it so poor now?

Honestly, I am afraid to buy any more books in the series, it has being around three to four books that it has become:
1. Repetitive
2. Poor sex scenes, no romance, no delicacy, it almost sounds like dogs in heat.
3. Destruction of the main characters personality and substitution for something that is just so poor in comparison.
4. the Plots are increasingly weaker.

The author has three main characters that could have being worked into a powerful triad fighting against the council, keeping vampires in line, fighting conflicts with wereanimals community, fighting conflicts with the destruction of Anita morality, finding new ways of feeding, learning how to use the new skills. Damn, the story is good, there are so many plots that could come from it. But, the author simply lost track and destroyed her good work.

It is a pity.
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63 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Skin Trade lets down at the end, June 15, 2009
By 
M. Nespolo (Charlestown, NH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Perhaps I'm becoming a bad Anita Blake fan, but I didn't even remember the big bad serial killing vampire villain of Skin Trade, Vittorio. I had to go back and find out which book he was from, Incubus Dreams. I think that's truly become the rub with the Anita Blake books. There's so much sex that you don't even remember the actual story line. But on to the current book at hand.

Skin Trade takes place almost completely in Las Vegas. As a result, all of Anita's current "boyfriends" get nothing more than a passing mention and no sex takes place until the end of the book, where all it does is disrupt the storyline flow and bring the book to a sudden (and not wholly satisfying) end. Why not satisfying? It almost feels like a whole section of the book was removed to keep it under 500 pages. Leads are left not followed, problems are left unresolved and the ending, when it comes, feels rushed and leaves Edward out completely. Why put him in the story at all if he wasn't going to help resolve it?

Then there's the biggest let down of all, if it really is true. The final demise of Marmee Noir, Mother of All Darkness, who has been haunting Anita since book 11, Cerulean Sins, comes not at Anita's hands, but those of some unknown bounty hunter. I don't know about the rest of you, but I was looking forward to Anita finally finding a way to kick Mommy Dearest's butt and gaining back some control over her life. Who better to do it than the Vampire Executioner?

So, in the end, was I disappointed in this book? No and yes. Skin Trade starts out with a bang, a great story line, Edward, no sex in the first chapter, and ends eventually with a whimper, feeling rushed and starved for attention. Compared to some of the other books, who's plot lines I can't even remember because of the overwhelming amount of sex, it's taken a step back in the right direction. Whether or not the series can continue in that direction remains to be seen.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My Inner Beasts Say WTF..., July 16, 2009
By 
Jennifer Wardrip (Bloomington, Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
I've been trying to read this book for about two weeks now. Today, merely half-way through, I finally gave up.

I had high hopes for the first couple of chapters; after all, we went pages and pages and pages without any sex at all! Yippee! So, I thought (wrongly, but who knew at the time?) this would actually be a good story. The problem? You can't have a good story with such a horrible lack of imaginative plot.

Where's Jean-Claude? Oh yeah, he's back home in St. Louis, being moody and maudlin and getting one entire scene with Anita that's done via cell phone.

Where's Richard? I have no clue. Nathaniel? I'm guessing at home, too. Micah? Ditto.

So, who's in the story? Three of Anita's fellow Marshals - Edward/Ted, Bernardo, and Olaf the serial killer.

Now that I write that out, it SHOULD have been exciting. I mean, after all, Anita is traveling to Las Vegas because the Vampire Master Vittorio sent her a human head in a box. Seeing as how Anita can't really ignore that kind of message, off she goes.

It SHOULD have been a good story. It COULD have been a good story, except for the small matter I mentioned earlier - there is no plot! Or, if you'd like to call what is there a plot, I'll rephrase my statement into there is no GOOD, IMAGINATIVE plot.

There are weird weretigers, a djinn, vampires, Marme Noir, even weirder weretigers, a hint of Belle Morte, a human SWAT team, a fairly nasty Undersheriff, and the marshals. (And just FYI, if I never have to read about a turned-on serial killer again, it STILL won't be enough to erase the disgusting scenes that SKIN TRADE includes out of my mind.)

Most of the Anita Blake fans will read this one, or try to. I gave up buying the books forever ago, so I can't really complain that I lost anything more than time since I borrowed this one from the library.

But holy crow, I don't even know if I'll bother to try to read the next book in the series. What was once so very, very good is now beyond very, very bad. It's just plain crap.
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars End of the line, June 21, 2009
This book should be the end of the line for the Anita Blake series. There's nowhere left for it to go because the author is totally out of fresh ideas for it and has written herself into a corner. The disastrous ardeur will never go away because she can't come up with anything to replace it, and she continues to rely on the same trite elements in each book.

Nothing new here: Anita falls afoul of some branch of authority and reacts by being rude, crude and trying to prove that she can out-macho anyone; she is better known for her bedroom antics than for her marshal/slayer/necromancer skills; she continues to proudly display her misogyny to the point where the series completely lacks a relatable, developed female character to balance hers (can't have any competition!); she forces or lures yet more reluctant vamps and weres into sex with her (at this point, the population count of beasts roiling within her exceeds that of the San Diego Zoo); and the ending comes with a bang and a whimper.

The author has forgotten how to sustain a plot, action and character development. The book is padded with endless, mostly pointless talking and boring description, particularly about weaponry. How about some action scenes that show how it works, rather than yapping on and on about its capabilities?

I could go on, but other reviewers have already thoroughly covered the dreadfulness that proliferates in this bloated book.

No more Anita for this reader, not even from the library!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Downwards Slide, April 27, 2010
By 
C. Harvey (Zurich, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
What is going on with the Anita Blake series? There were some interesting idea's and characters but the writing seems to have deteriorated to the point of being repetitive jibberish.

- Anita talks constantly about being a feminist and hammering people if they don't call her Ms instead of Miss. Well, there's more to being a feminist than that, Ms Hamilton. She appears to hate not only herself but all other women. There are no other strong women other than Anita and she seems to equate equality with her unique ability to be vile to all around her. She takes offence at the smallest comment and actually causes 95% of her problems with her unfortunate personality whilst of course blaming everything on everyone else (it absolutely enrages me that she causes an argument out of nothing in pretty much every conversation and then the other person always apologises. I'd like to see someone give her a slap and then just up and dump her ass). Note to Laurel K Hamilton: woman can actually be polite, secure and dress well and still be feminist.

- She's meant to be a baddass and very secure in her self, yet she spends her life whining that she was once dumped (who hasn't been?) and that her mother was killed when she was young. Every other character in her book has been raped, victimised, attacked, tortured, prostituted etc, but we all have to feel sorry for Anita because her mum was Mexican. GET OVER YOURSELF you pathetic woman. Lots of us have dark hair and are short and manage to live totally fulfilled lives! Gasp! And why do all the men in her life persist in saying what a good, kind person she is? She's confrontational, emotionally stunted and manipulative, lacks any emotional empathy, totally humourless, rude, judgemental and socially inept.

- What is with the men in this book? Why are they all so feminised? Can't a strong woman like strong men? Plus, why does she keep trying to call some of them dominants when all they do is schlep around Anita taking whatever she dishes out. It quickly became apparent that I would have to skip all paragraph's detailing any kind of outfit because they are just too hysterical for words, not to mention all the luscious locks floating around. You can't possibly read these books and expect to take anyone seriously in the duds she dresses these wussy blokes up in. If an strong male comes along (presumably by accident) she either quickly binds him to Anita so he instantly becomes a wimp or just drops him entirely (see Haven).

- 95% of her books are now repetitive. If I had a pound for every time i'd had to read about Dolph being 6.8, Edward being WASP, Micah having leopard eyes, she doesn't do casual sex, blah blah blah, I KNOW, i've read the other 17 books where you mentioned it EVERY TIME. It's like those programmes that recap after every single commercial break. Yet with all this repetition, the author clearly doesn't read her previous books before starting a new one, as they just jump completely. Sometimes it even jumps mid-way through a book. And HOW MUCH of the action now just takes place in 'dream form'. For someone that is supposedly immune to vampire powers, she pretty much gets rolled by every single vampire that comes her way, usually in tedious dream form.

- Why does she sometimes spend (what feels like) 9 billion pages hashing something to death, and then just drop it entirely as a plot line? Possibly pregnant by the lions? Let's discuss it for EVER and then just totally forget about it. Sometimes entire characters just disappear. Unfortunately it's gotten to the point that I actually wish Anita herself would disappear and we could continue with some of the other characters who aren't as hateful.

I'm sorry, but if Ms Hamilton doesn't want to fact check her material against her previous novels, there must be a grunt at the publishing house who could say something along the lines of.."Ms Hamilton, if I remove all the lines you've lifted word for word from previous books and take out the dream sequences we're actually left with only 5 pages of nonsense...." Maybe then she could insert some plot.....
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Skin Trade (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 17)
Skin Trade (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 17) by Laurell K. Hamilton (Hardcover - June 2, 2009)
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