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E. Obata "Aphrodite McGonagall" RSS Feed (St. Louis, MO USA)
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Autumn Bones: Agent of Hel
Autumn Bones: Agent of Hel
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $10.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jacqueline of All Genres?, January 20, 2014
Carey continues to trade in on a supremely popular genre: urban fantasy (or if you prefer, paranormal romance). Is she worse than Laurel K. Hamilton or Charlaine Harris? No. Is she better? Not particularly. One thing is for certain, though, she's hit the generic nail on the head. The degree to which she's successfully recreated this genre seems almost formulaic.

What amazes me is that Carey can so adroitly shift her niche. I realize authors must always be able to portray the voices and mindsets of multiple characters, but these shifts go far, far beyond simple anachronism. Even the greatest authors have literary foibles -- favorite words or situations -- that give them away (or endear them). (I mean, Moirin from Naamah's Legacy echoed Phedre almost too much at times). Yet Daisy's voice is so terribly far from any other voice Carey has ever used that it's like my favorite tea just switched from natural spice to artificial flavor.

I have to honestly ask, did Carey have a brain operation at some point in the past few years? Is there a ghost writer using her name? Is she farming out work to starving English students? Or is "Jacqueline Carey" just a pseudonym used by a group of people operating under a figurehead, in the manner of "Homer"? I mean, you can pretty much draw a line with Terre d'Ange on one side, Banewreaker on another, Santa Olivia on yet another, and Saints Astray and Daisy Johanssen on a fourth. Does she have a set of dice with different genera on each side that she simply rolls at whim to choose her next niche? (Dystopian today, paranormal romance tomorrow...) Am I the only one jarred by this?

Anyway, Autumn Bones. (And I promise not to give away anything of major plot significance here.)

As with most heroines of urban fantasy, Daisy Johanssen continues to vacillate between the various attractive gentlemen courting her: distant Cody Fairfax, her longtime crush, sometime cop partner, and "down-low" werewolf; supposed boyfriend-material Sinclair Palmer, the phaux Jamaican with (as it turns out) way more baggage than he lets on; and noble Stefan Ludovic, the gorgeous, motorcycle-riding six-hundred-year-old ghoul who totally wants to jump Daisy's bones.

Ms. Johanssen picks up a few more tricks in this book, including certain psychic/magical gifts. You'll have to read to see what they are. Nothing as ridiculous as Sookie's fairy powers, but there's a certain suggestion of that gradual transformation from normal to BAMF.

Her tail, which for me seemed rather awkward in the first book, features in multiple sex scenes (although sadly never in any lesbian ones), and I'll admit it's growing on me a little. I actually regret more than anything that it's not more interesting. I mean, it's just skin-colored, nine inches long, two inches wide and hairy at the base, tapering down to a slightly smaller width at the tip. How boring is that? It honestly sounds a lot like something else. It's actually kind of sad that it can't glow or grow spines or spray sex-fire or something else diabolically kinky... I mean, she is a hellspawn, am I right? Anyway, I'm hoping in the next book we get just a LITTLE bit of... to put it bluntly, girl-on-tail action.

Anyway, long tale short, if you like paranormal romance, this series will fit perfectly next to your copies of Guilty Pleasures and Dead Until Dark. If you like Kushiel's Dart, pretend someone else wrote these books. Who knows? You may actually be right. I'm seriously starting to think this is a group of people trolling.


Saints Astray
Saints Astray
by Jacqueline Carey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.99
148 used & new from $0.01

26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Carey's Reputation Astray!, December 12, 2011
This review is from: Saints Astray (Paperback)
I love Jacqueline Carey as much as the next groupie that imaginary Loup Garron is shoving away. I fell in love with Kushiel's Legacy. I enjoyed Naamah's Legacy. I own every book set in Terre d'Ange.

I would argue that Santa Olivia is Carey's strongest work. It's not crappy paranormal romance, and it's not your typical science fiction novel. In fact, Santa Olivia's quality and content approach the kind of "classic" status I would confer on such authors as Ursula LeGuin, Kurt Vonnegut, or Margaret Atwood. I read the book while taking a class on Social Justice in Catholic Social Teaching, and found it addressed so many of the arguments we debated in class. Christian morals are hotly discussed -- with views on both sides of the spectrum -- among Los Santitos (I'm looking at you, Matthew 10:34), and I believe those discussions enriched the text substantially. Finally, the book addressed homosexuality, a hot controversy these days, in a way that was empathetic but not confrontational. It was an exceptional work.

Saints Astray ruins Santa Olivia. I wish it had never been published. This book _is_ crappy paranormal romance: the characters are canned; the plot is predictable; at least a third of the book is simply sweet talk between the characters. And yet, we barely see any sex scenes, and the ones we do see are unremarkable and repetitive. (Not that I read Saints Astray for the sex scenes, but if it's going to be paranormal romance, it might as well deliver.) What happened to the kind work Carey produced with Phedre -- or even Loup, in the first book? I'd expect this kind of work from a beginning writer or perhaps a hack writer, one whose goal was to write marketable romance novels without much concern for the quality of the work, but not an author who has proven her brilliance time and again.

All authors write bad books, sometimes more often than good ones. The difference is that when a beginning author submits a bad work to a publisher, it's usually rejected. However, a publisher will sometimes accept a bad novel from an author with a large fan base -- like Carey -- especially if it's a sequel to a successful work. And Carey makes money from publishing work, so why would she choose not to publish a bad book? She has nothing to lose.

Or does she...? First Naamah's Blessing and now Saints Astray -- two inferior sequels to excellent works. Carey, I fear your reputation may be wandering astray.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2012 3:11 PM PST


A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire)
A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.76
298 used & new from $2.95

8 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truncated Too Soon -- Or Too Early., December 1, 2011
*Update*
I've noticed many of the 1-3 star reviews are written by individuals who either skipped entire chapters in this book, didn't finish the book, or in some extreme cases, didn't read A Feast for Crows. I appreciate the full disclosure, but I don't believe that a reviewer can offer a meaningful, credible review without completing the reviewed work in its entirety. I read both AFFC and ADWD completely, and I enjoyed both books. Not everyone will enjoy them, but I imagine that anyone who skips whole chapters, or even whole books, will, without exception, write a negative review. You would have to be critical of it before even starting to skip some of the stories, and skipping passages would likely not improve your opinion. I found that characters I cared nothing about before starting this book, like Victarion Greyjoy, became some of my favorites; I would never have known these plots would come to interest me had I skipped chapters I didn't eagerly await. Similarly, had I skipped AFFC, I would never even have come in contact with Victarion before starting ADWD.

--
Review:

Martin should have cut the book off as soon as the timelines from AFFC and ADWD converged chronologically. Or, alternatively, completed some of the timelines that end abruptly -- and in some cases, with an easily discernable next step -- instead of truncating them at 15-30% completion. The former would have made a shorter -- but still long! -- book; the latter would have made a substantially longer -- but better -- book.

Massive spoilers ahead.

Some of the plotlines that should have been carried through:

1. Cersei's trial. Ser Robert Strong will certainly win. (And in the same vein, it's fairly clear that Ser Robert Strong is a resurrected or preserved Ser Gregor Clegane.)
2. Aegon's attack on Storm's End.
3. Barristan's battle at Meereen.
4. Victarion's arrival in Meereen. Why end with him floating in the straits?
5. Bran's further learning from Bloodraven. Seemed to end abruptly, in the middle of the teaching.
5. Theon and Jeyne's time in Stannis' camp, from Theon's viewpoint.

I'm glad that certain other plots ended where they did, as the ending clearly segued into the next segment. They are:

1. Jon's possible death. I think it likely Melisandre will heal him, as the red priests clearly possess this power, but it's a good, natural finish.
2. Arya's completion of training at the Temple of Black and White. Her tutelage with her first mentor is a good beginning for her story in the next book.
3. Davos' setting off for Skagos. This storyline will begin (and hopefully end) in TWOW.
4. Tyrion's solicitation of the Second Sons. We don't know his plans, but it's a good finish to his time in Meereen.
5. Quentyn's death. Seems apt.
6. Lady Nym setting off for King's Landing.
7. Daenerys' rescue/capture by Khal Jhoqo and Mago.

I'm also glad Martin left certain stories out entirely. They will make for interesting plots in the next book. They are:

1. Sansa's engagement to Harry the Heir.
2. Brienne and Lady Stoneheart's plans.
3. Loras Tyrell.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2011 1:35 PM PST


Bloodlines
Bloodlines
by Richelle Mead
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.15
182 used & new from $0.08

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fan for Life, August 27, 2011
This review is from: Bloodlines (Hardcover)
I remember checking Vampire Academy out from the library years ago. I stayed up all night during a thunderstorm to read it, but the part where Natalie turns Strigoi scared me so much that I had nightmares for weeks (and I was a sophomore in college at the time). I couldn't bring myself to read the rest. Years later, being a lover of vampires and dhampirs in the extreme, and a student of Russian fairy tales besides (Vasilisa the Beautiful, anyone?), I decided to give the series another try. It took me about a week to finish them all, and afterward, I felt like a gaping hole had opened up in my life. I was being denied an intense pleasure, one with which I'd become enchanted; I found it impossible, painful to wait for the next release.

Every book since has provided the same joy followed by a feeling of intense loss and desire, and Bloodlines is no exception. In this first segment of the new series, we find out some gritty truths about the puritan Alchemists, and get to know our favorite blonde-haired, brown-eyed Alchemist as she puzzles through a suspenseful year as an undercover boarding school student.

Sydney Sage is a character with whom I can relate: studious, reserved, socially awkward, and yet unintentionally funny in her naivete. She doesn't have vampire powers, luscious beauty, dhampir strength, a soul mate (yet!) or a shadow-kissed bond, but she does have her wits and she's learning (slowly) to stand up for herself. Familiar faces emerge: Adrian, Jillian, Eddie, the terrible, horrible, awesome Zmey. Rose has a brief cameo as well, but she's definitely not the focus of this book.

There is one con I can bring up, which admittedly upset me a little. Sydney solves two big mysteries in this book, and the solution to one is almost immediately obvious to readers as a result of copious foreshadowing. Mead might have been a little less black and white with a particularly central villain. The second thread, also neatly tied, was not obvious. A rare fan might be able to figure it out, but I certainly didn't.

This book sets up many possibilities for future novels, something which surprised me almost as much as the setting for the book (Palm Springs, CA). I feared along the journey that the story was so neat that future novels might feel forced. Not so! Sydney may be an Alchemist, but there's something else going on in her bloodline, too...

Also, Angelline, the aggressive redheaded Keeper girl from Last Sacrifice, has a cameo and Mead seems to imply that she'll appear in the future books! When I first met Angelline, I hoped she might become a protagonist in later novels, but she and Sydney works just as well. I'm piqued!

All in all, I can't wait for the next book. Seriously. It's killing me. Definitely still a Richelle Mead FFL.


Hinterland [Download]
Hinterland [Download]
Price: $8.49

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short, Sweet, June 19, 2011
I liked this game. It felt a bit like playing a family board game, in that it was fun while it lasted, but it didn't last long.

There's no story. No campaign. In a nutshell, it's just a "game" that you can play as much as you want; the dynamics never change, and every game is finite. You CAN change your character race and class (and subsequently, your armies, buildings, etc) and the difficulty level, but beyond that, once you've grasped the mechanism behind the game, you're set.

Don't get me wrong, I really, really liked the game's mechanics; the villagers think for themselves (kind of like Majesty), and it is actually a good mix of strategy and rpg. If they'd had a campaign, it would have been absolutely fabulous. Unfortunately, as it stands, this game is just a glorified type of solitaire.


Avatar The Game - Nintendo Wii
Avatar The Game - Nintendo Wii
Offered by Big Game Vendor
Price: $19.99
94 used & new from $0.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Workout, Casual, March 28, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
First, a little about me. I'm no hardcore console gamer, one of the main reasons I own a Wii. I like to play with friends, and occasionally get in a few solo experiences, like zooming through racetracks on MarioKart, traversing a monster and trap-filled world on SuperMario, or playing some Wii Fit games. I like the Wii because most of its games are interactive.

Avatar adds something else to the mix: it's cooperative. Every Nintendo (C) game I own is, for the most part, competitive. I played Avatar with my partner, and we felt like we were on Pandora together, fighting the RDA _together_.

True, the game is easy. Controls have a learning curve, but once you understand them, it's a warm Pandoran breeze. But Avatar is not about being bloody difficult; rather, the point is to explore the lush Pandoran scenery and to enjoy being a Na'vi, bodily (including movement) -- just like a Dreamwalker/Avatar. Highly recommend cooperative gameplay, as it's nice to enjoy the atmosphere with another Avatar fan.

Finally, this game is a workout! Fighting is kind of strenuous. I'm a bit out of shape strength-wise, but no couch potato (I bike around regularly). This game whooped me. My gameplay = limited by body endurance. But then again, Naavi are friggin' built, right?


Bloody Valentine (A Blue Bloods Book)
Bloody Valentine (A Blue Bloods Book)
by Melissa de la Cruz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.72
197 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars De la Cruz = lazy, Meyerian writer., March 23, 2011
Lazy, if not lousy. And by lazy, I'm not talking about the "gaps" between releases. I'd wait years, as I did for Order of the Phoenix, for a great addition to an epic series. I'm talking about the lack of continuity. The dei ex machina -- that is, impossibly convenient solutions to pressing problems -- that were painful to read. Ashley with a Ukelele has discussed these two issues in some depth here: [...]

Second, as some reviewers have noted, each story contains soft-core porn -- that is, a bloody sex scene (and I'm not talking just about the Caerimonia Osculor or whatever nonsense the vampire bite called; that's right, HYMEN LOSS! *gasps wrack the chaste, naive YA readership*).

Third, the first white elephant in the room: the many intriguing concepts mentioned (particularly in Allegra's story) that erupt in... nothing. Pardon the innuendo. I mean, what the *bleed* (intentional typo) happened in Florence? Differences between 'Sacred Language' and the 'bastard Red Blood' Latin --- like what? Oh, wait, you can't tell us because you didn't take the time to... err... create a new, ornate language (even one based on a well-established language), since no great fantasy author ever did that...

Finally, the second, bigger white elephant that interrupted Queen Melissa's dream (Buddhist reference)... which may not bother some, but certainly bothers me... is the outdated morals of these stories. Faux News would love itself some 'DLC. Regression is at its peak, no pun intended, here. Schuyler's story shines as a perfect example of the careful neutering of the Third Wave by some young adult series. Schuyler is Bella Swan; let's be honest. Alternatively-dressed girl with black hair, who gets the hottest guy in school -- and turns out to be beautiful. Oh, and waits until marriage to have sex. And gets protected by her man. Who owns her. Wow. But the problem isn't this likeness, it's that I seriously expected better of an author so obviously well-educated (well, based on previous books...).

If you do read this book, please support free public services by checking it out from the library (if you can). If you're American (which I think most .com Amazons are), you technically already own this book many times over; it circulates in countless library systems across the country. If you're like me, reading it freely means you won't regret lightening your wallet on a two-hour disappointment. If you aren't like me and you love it, you'll at least avoid the clutter of amassing myriad books in a hoarder-like fashion.


Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage
Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage
by Alma Alexander
Edition: Hardcover
73 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice world, poor weaving., January 28, 2011
While I found Alexander's world intriguing -- and not just the magic, but the different magical beings and their various flaws and skills -- the story was, as one reviewer writes, "disjointed." The major problem is that the main point of the book -- that Thea uses computers to do magic -- is a tiny subplot tacked on at the end. The majority of the book doesn't focus on this element at all. I felt very disappointed after finishing Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage because the jacket led me to imagine it was very different book.

PROS:
--The structure of world is vividly imagined. Humanity is in contact with different sentient beings (via dimensional portals rather than space travel) and magic is common on Earth.
--Unique characters. Some of these are taken directly from the folklore of the American Southwest; some are pure human -- but with very special personalities and matching magical styles.
--Definitely no guessing this plot! It's... errr... twisted. Whether that's a good thing in this case is another call.

CONS:
-- The plot pacing is deathly slow in parts.
--The characters are memorable, but only reasonably well-developed (And there are a lot of them! Her oodles of siblings, parents, aunt, various magical mentors, teachers, school friends. I'm actually impressed Alexander was able to finesse a dramatis personae that enormous!).
--The whole thing doesn't really feel like a novel; it feels like various types of novels with different plots and VERY different pacing thrown together. Also, I should mention it involves flashbacks. A lot.

I didn't read the sequels because this book was difficult to finish on its own -- and frankly, I was frightened of being further let down -- but there are MANY loose ends left open. Maybe these cliffhangers do ultimately continue on into tidy peaks and valleys in subsequent books in the series.

This book really deserves three stars, but I'm giving it two because the people who rated the book three stars seem to give glowing reviews (what's up with that?) and I wanted to distance myself from them. It's an "ok" book. Don't expect computers to play a very big role, and you might like it on account of its unique world.


Naamah's Curse
Naamah's Curse
by Jacqueline Carey
Edition: Hardcover
144 used & new from $0.01

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Author for Hapas like Me., July 13, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Naamah's Curse (Hardcover)
First, to clarify: Hapa, from the Hawaiian for "half," is a term that is sometimes used to describe a multiracial person. It doesn't matter, ultimately, which races combined to create a hapa, as all of us (I think I can say this unequivocally) feel pulled between two worlds in some way, and struggle to determine which one is right.

I've just noticed how sensitive Carey is to this issue. Naamah's Curse is not even Carey's first novel to feature a biracial heroine; Santa Olivia technically holds that position. Yet Moirin, unlike Loup -- Santa Olivia's fearless heroine -- is intensely aware of being biracial and grapples deeply with it, especially in Naamah's Curse. To boot, her beau Bao, whom readers will remember from the first installment in this series, is caught between his inclement Tatar and Ch'in heritages and both come to bear heavily in his experiences in this segment. There is also a third major character, whom I will not reveal so as not to spoil the plot, who like Moirin is half-D'Angeline and battles with it perhaps even more than she does! And although their biracial lineages never took the forefront in Kushiel's series, one cannot forget the half-Alban princesses Alais and Sidonie, as well as the Stregazza Courcels in La Serenissima, Rousse's son Eamonn mac Grainne, and of course, beloved Hyacinthe, who all dealt with hapa status, sometimes fitfully.

To be perfectly honest, I've never encountered an author in this genre who is so aware of the hapa predicament. Beautiful as their D'Angeline blood may make them, these characters are still no typecast Aryan heroes. I find myself wondering if Carey herself is biracial or loves someone who is.

Although this review presents no direct critique of Carey's latest novel, I feel its contents bear note. There are a lot of us hapas, and all too often, we're invisible (Obama himself is generally called African-American, when in fact, he too is an invisible hapa). I'm grateful to Carey for making many, many heroes and heroines with whom I can finally identify.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2010 11:34 PM PDT


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