Book: Anthology ‘Hex Appeal’ part 3

It was a bit of a struggle but I managed to finish all the stories in ‘Hex Appeal’.

The remaining stories were:

P. N. Elrod’s Outside The Box
Simon R. Green’s How Do You Feel?
Lori Handeland’s There Will Be Demons
Erica Hayes’ Cherry Kisses
Carrie Vaughn’s The Arcane Art of Misdirection

hex appeal

‘Outside the box’ was rather good, it felt like an introduction to a universe – in this case P. N. Elrod’s ‘Vampire Files’ universe. However when I looked at the ‘Vampire Files’ books they were set in 1930s Chicago… whilst ‘Outside The Box’ feels pretty modern.

So despite enjoying the story I am not sure I can actually read anything else by Elrod – which is vexing!

Simon R. Green’s ‘How Do You Feel?’ was odd. An unwilling zombie goes on a quest to find the person ultimately responsible for his murder years before. It is an odd story and doesn’t really make me want to touch anything else by Green – personally I didn’t think urban fantasy involved cars from the future that turn into sex bots.

Lori Handeland’s ‘There Will Be Demons’ made me uncomfortable. The female lead is  set up by multiple people and clearly used sexually, and it bothered me that the reader was meant to be ok about this setting up the wider universe. It features fairies, skinwalkers, dhampires and angels – it was a vaguely interesting premise but it went downhill very very quickly.

Erica Hayes’ ‘Cherry Kisses’ was sleazy and the female lead was not a nice person – at all. It features fairies, vampires and demons, if it hasn’t been for the sleaze it might have been ok.

Carrie Vaughn’s ‘The Arcane Art of Misdirection’ wasn’t even 30 pages long and this was a pity as Odysseus Grant is one of the most interesting characters in the Kitty books.

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Book: Stacey Jay’s ‘Blood on the Bayou’ – “We’re people who knew older versions of each other too well to ever see the new person standing in front of us”

I gave away ‘dead on the delta’ after reading it once, but it came back so I felt I should reread it to see if it improved after the shock value of needless cruelty to animals was diminished because I knew it was coming (and could skip over those sections).

Skipping those section meant it was actually ok on second read and I was curious as to where the plot was going, so I found a very cheap copy of book two ‘Blood on the Bayou’ to call my own.

It built on from the first book rather nicely, there are still mosquito-sized fairies with poisonous bites, Annabelle is still rather dysfunctional but now has the start of powers from the injection that the invisible Tucker gave her. I won’t comment on anything else that Tucker is also giving Annabelle as Cane is still on the scene…

Blood on the Bayou

Also Hitch is still hanging around – despite having a pregnant fiancée, and wants Annabelle’s help investigating what seems to be a secret government funded lab.

The book twists and turns somewhat, to the point where no one can be trusted and unfortunately it doesn’t get resolve in this book… nor has a sequel come out yet… so if you are impatient I wouldn’t suggest reading this book just yet…

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Book: Phillipa Bornikova’s ‘This Case Is Gonna Kill Me’ – “I felt like a small rodent trapped between mastodons”

I bought this book despite the title and because it was very cheap. Linnet Ellery is straight out of law school and her family connections have got her a job at a law firm – a Vampire run law firm. Apparently in this world Vampires are out of the coffin and ruling the world – along with werewolves and some fae to boot. this case is gonna kill me The plot barely matters as the whole book feels thrown together, there is the new girl getting the case that looks boring but has secrets ,a werewolf rampaging in the office block, having sex with the office creep, the scary assassins following the brave Linnet as she tries to unravel the secrets, the random fae bit and a subplot about horses being shoved in with a crowbar. It feels like a beach read, there isn’t enough depth to the characters or the plot to keep it more than mildly interesting and Linnet is really very dumb. Copyright © WhereEvilThoughts 2014 – excluding pictures! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Book: Kelley Armstrong’s ‘Visions’ – “I wasn’t sure which was worse. At least the killer had left.”

‘Visons’ is the second book in the Cainsville series, the first book (‘Omens’) was interesting as it was about Olivia Taylor-Jones and her discovery that she is adopted – and that her birth parents are notorious serial killers.

Cainsville is the small and very old fashioned town that Olivia finds herself in and things start to get weird. ‘Omens’ was more of a detective novel than urban fantasy, but there were elements of fantasy and hints of fae things running amok.

kelley armstrong visions

‘Visions’ is less detective work and more running around like loons – also more fae hints. As with the previous book the ending came out of the blue somewhat, but it is a trilogy so an element of plot cramming is to be expected.

The matter of Olivia’s parents guilt is an interesting plotline in its own right, adding in the fae makes it potentially more interesting and confusing. I am not sure that the third book needs the love triangle that ‘Visions’ has set up, it starts feeling a bit like ‘Trueblood’ and I am just waiting for the Shifters to appear.

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Book: Stacey Jay’s ‘Dead in the Delta’ – “Monsters come in every sex, color and creed, and hold a wide variety of jobs.”

It is refreshingly low pressure to pick up a book expecting to find it dire. I had heard awful things about the main character in ‘Dead in the Delta’ and had invested a whole 1 pence in purchasing the book (plus £2.80 postage).

Annabelle Lee is described on the back over as a “hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead”, what this means in real terms is that she is a functioning alcoholic, at times barely functioning but still doing way better than Chess in a similar urban fantasy series.

The background is that a terrorist blew up a chemical plant and it mutated fairies into human-flesh craving monsters. Once a human is bitten by a fairy they die, get put into a camp or, if they are immune they work for the government.

Annabelle is immune and works picking up samples from the swamp, but mostly she drinks and shags her cop boyfriend.  However booze transpires to be a pretty tame bad habit as the drug of choice in this post-fairy-mutation world is Breeze, which is a combination of fairy poo and bleach.

dead on the delta

At this point I did wonder about the sanity of Stacy Jay’s imagination, this idle pondering turned into outright disgust after details of cats being drowned and bunnies being killed with rocks. It didn’t seem necessary and if it hadn’t been for these I would have called the book surprisingly good – for cheap trash that features cheap trash, although ‘Game of Thrones’ has rather taken any surprise out of a blonde haired child being the product of incest.

As it is I’m cheerfully going to drop it at a charity shop and avoid Jay’s work in future.

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Book: Melissa Marr’s ‘Wicked Lovely’ – “Just tender feelings walking around exposed in their delicate shells…Easy to crush.”

I am starting to wonder if I am being overly fussy of late, there seem to be more things that I am under-impressed with than usual and I am listening to a lot of shouty music (I woke up with Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Sin’ stuck in my head and Skinlab’s ‘Come and Get It’ seems to have been on loop this week). So I decided to curl up with a book and not multi-task!

‘Wicked Lovey’ had a cute quote on the front cover, “Never speak to invisible faeries” and the quote on the back of the book was intriguing too “If she ran, they’d chase: faeries always gave chase.”

wicked lovely

This fits with the fae folk in the stories that I grew up with , from Grimm’s tales to Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’, Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ and Pratchett’s ‘Lords and Ladies’. In these the fae weren’t nice, they were just so pretty that people forgot what they were like, to quote ‘Lords and Ladies’ “If cats looked like frogs we’d realize what nasty, cruel little bastards they are.”

Aislinn has a stupid name and can see faeries, she just tries really really hard to pretend that she doesn’t so that the fae don’t find out her secret. Then Keenan, the Summer King, starts stalking her and stuff happens.

The book started well and had some pretty imagery, for example “The vine-girl in the suit was there again. She looked up from her newest menagerie of origami animals – which were now walking around as if they were alive. “Told you, Cerise,” she said, and went back to folding more leaves.”

However some of the characters were a little too two-dimensional for my tastes and at times they were so immature that it was obviously a Young Adult (YA) book. Keenan is more of a princeling than a king, he is immature and self-centred, he has a panto style relationship with his mother who is a paint-by-numbers Disney cartoon villain and Aislinn is pretty shallow too!

goblin market

In keeping with the general framework of a Young Adult book there was no actual sex, but there were numerous references to “the Summer girls” being very open to anyone’s attentions in bed, one in particular that surprised me was:

“Once they’re Summer Girls, their inhibitions are gone. Remember Eliza when she was a mortal? Not the least bit affectionate.” He took a long drink and sighed. “Now she’s much more receptive.”

I personally feel that this is uber creepy and sounds far too close to grooming or spiking drinks. ‘Wicked Lovely’ is also the first Young Adult book in which I’ve encountered clear rape references or tests for sexually transmitted diseases “test results for everything from HIV to chlamydia”. I’m a fan of educated teens (and adults!), but it was a bit of a shocker to trip over these sentences.

lords and ladies

I’m going to stick with less STD-ridden fae from now on, Pratchett had it spot on in his depiction:

“Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.”

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