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review 2016-10-06 05:19
Sick Reading: Nalini Singh
Archangel's Blade - Nalini Singh

I got super sick last week and read a half dozen trashy and less trashy PNR/UF books to salve my soul. Also, I managed to tear through all of the Mercy Thompson books, so I'm a little at loose ends as far as light reading goes. I hit a lot of different series to try them out, and the last is Nalini Singh's Guardians series. 


So, I've read me all of Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series, because she totally hits me somewhere strange. The background of that world, which is set in the late 2070s, is that there are three races of humans on the planet: regular humans, like you or I; changelings, who can turn into everything from birds to rats to leopards; and the Psy, who are basically psychic Vulcans. The Psy, who have a variety of psychic gifts, embraced something called Silence in the late 1970s, a conditioning designed to suppress all emotions, and bring their sometimes terrifying psychic powers under rigid control. A hundred years later, and Silence is breaking, a failed experiment. 


The series of over a dozen novels follows various pairings of Psy, changelings, and only very occasionally humans. The changelings are invariably predatory animals like wolves or big cats, I think because deer changelings, or squid changelings, are totally ridiculous. Also, because she seems to have a lady-boner for predatory alpha types; I cannot think of a single male character who isn't described as dominant.


The mythology in the background mostly deals with the Psy's breaking Silence, and it's fucking fascinating. My personal predictions do not run to the alpha type, but even that aside, the Psy characters are something like a million times more interesting than the changelings puffing up at each other in various dominance displays. The Psy, without an exception, are brutalized, damaged people, just as a baseline, and then those characters often carry other scars because Silence makes people into sociopaths.


The narratives of the Psy discovering emotion, healing, and their humanity are often slowly sensual and emotionally touching, this odd, metaphorical narrative of people working through bad childhoods and hideous betrayals toward a resonant, complete emotional connection. Or not: some of the more interesting stories, like the one about Kaleb Krycheck, deal with people who can only heal so far, and that one emotional relationship is all he can manage. Which is interesting too, a strange kind of acknowledgement that some damage is permanent. 


Anyway, blah blah, not what I'm here to say. I decided to try out her Guardians series, partially because her most recent Psy-Changeling collection kinda sucked. And what a weird series. The Guardians takes place in an alternate present, where angels and archangels rule the world. They create vampires as their lackeys, and divvy up the world amongst themselves. Angels are not the warriors for the Lord from the bible, but magical creatures with wings and immortality. And, like the PSy, they are pretty much universally brutalized and brutalizing, their immortality tending towards a murderous sociopathy.


The first three novels deal with a woman, a hunter, who works for the angels by contract to bring rogue vamps back into line. She gets involved with a big bad archangel; she's turned into an angel herself; various psychotic angels and archangels try to kill everyone. Pretty much every single character has a history steeped in blood and death, and often really inventively bloody and horrifying traumas. I can't think of anyone who isn't horrifically scarred, often to the point of either loving pain or hating touch. Eesh. But we have three books of the hunter and the angel, and that's unusual because typically PNR follows a single pair each outing. By the fourth, we turn our attention to a different couple. So here we go. 


Archangel's Blade follows a thousand year old vampire who's really awful, and a hunter who was taken by other awful vampires and brutalized and raped for two months. She's, you know, super fucking traumatized, but finally pulls herself up to do a job for the angels. Which is when she meets vamp dude, who immediately starts sexually harassing her and trying to assault her. He's the romantic lead.


I kind of don't know how, but it gets worse from there. There is so, so much bloody carnage in this novel I find the romance sticker a little hilarious. Several years ago, I wondered aloud if there was horror romance, because there seems to be romance novel versions of just about every genre under the sun. There's beheadings and loving descriptions of torture, castrations, murdered children, people getting their hearts pulled out still beating, et fucking cetera. I just, I don't even know. 


And I want to be clear, I'm not trying to high horse this one, passing judgement. Singh is doing something really strange with this series, something I don't understand, but I feel like it's not coming from some place of misogyny. It's just, the emotional reckonings are so left-handed, the hunter woman allowed to lash out and rage and hate her sexual responses like someone who has been sexually brutalized, and then this romantic lead who seems to reenact so much of that brutalization, or at least the mindset behind it.


It's like it has a realness at the center of some kind of wish fulfillment exercise of the bloodiest sort, but the juxtaposition is so, so much more stark than usual in this sort of thing. Fucking bizarre. It was definitely a weird novel to pick as my last book coming out of a horror cold, and I'm pretty sure I'm done with this series, whatever it's doing. It's funny that something that's ostensibly romantic can bug me out way more than most horror novels, even those that trade in sexual violence for kicks. Those are just boring and done to death, this is something much more intimately fucked. Happy Halloween. 

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review 2014-06-29 20:15
Review: Blood Bath by Rachel Rawlings
Blood Bath - Rachel Rawlings

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Blood Bath is the fourth book in the Maurin Kincaide series. I haven't read the previous books but after reading this one, I will be adding them to my TBR list. While I think you can enjoy this novel without reading the first three, I highly recommend reading them first. If you've read Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, I think you'll find some similarities (without the graphic sex that plagued the later books) -- so I think fans of that series will like this one.


Maurin is an intriguing character. She is descended from a powerful fae lord and that power runs through her veins, literally. She has more male suitors than any woman should, leaving me to wonder what exactly is drawing all of these powerful men to her. There's a lot of jealousy and baiting among the men, reminding me of a high school drama. Maurin is a rather kick-ass woman which I always appreciate in a heroine.


I liked the villains, Caligula and Countess Bathory. Both very interesting historical figures. Though I do wonder how there are any women left in the world with Countess Bathory roaming around as a vampire. There were lots of things I liked about this novel: Maurin, the villains, Conry, the inclusion of fae along with the other preternatural characters. But there were also some things I found off-putting: the constant rivalry and jealousy among the men (some definitely old enough to know better), and the relationship drama being the main plot line rather than the mystery.


Overall, I found Blood Bath to be an enjoyable read with fun characters and an interesting plot. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.


Source: www.kimberleighwheaton.com/2014/06/blog-tour-blood-bath-by-rachel-rawlings.html
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review 2013-10-23 00:00
Blood Bath & Beyond - Michelle Rowen DNF. Why do I ever pick up books about vampires?
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review 2012-10-03 00:00
Blood Bath & Beyond - Michelle Rowen Vampires got it rough. In recent years they've gone from feared creatures then to sexual and sensual and now sparkle teen heart throbs with great hair. Thankfully Michelle Rowen makes her vampires have middle ground and making them pretty normal and badass. Then again what's normal now of days? Still a newbie vampire, Sarah Dearly is getting use to her new life as a vampire. With a diet of blood and a hate for anyone able to eat that tasty sweet treat. She's happy and thankful to have her fiancé and master vampire- Thierry by her side. Things take a turn when the Ring ask Thierry back for a long 50 year stint job. One that could put a real dent into their relationship. Not one for giving up. Sarah takes the risk for the guy she loves and decides to travel with him on his cases. Sarah and Thierry are in for a ride as they come up face to face with a child beauty pageant contestant, vampire serial killer, and Thierry past. Viva Las Vegas! Sarah was a great mix of tough and sweet. She tries to see the good in everybody and while she does get burned for her troubles. It doesn't stop her from reaching out time and again. Her and Thierry couldn't be more different then day and night. While Sarah is open and a tad snarky. Theirry is cool and calm. Hiding behind a stone mask that only few can see the true caring and loving Thierry. It was wonderful to read a well establish couple. The two play well off each other and you can see clearly how much love they love one another. While they do have their troubles it nice to see a couple work it out without either of them going off the deep end. Very refreshing. While the romance is strong, it's dealt a light hand as not to overshadow the mystery. It takes Sarah to the vegas underground to coming face to face with a vampire enforcer- Markus Reed and of course Victoria a child vampire with attitude not to mention glitter and sparkles! I thought everything that happen tied up very nicely over who the killer truly was. "Blood Bath & Beyond" got this series off to bloody good start. The next book in the series "Bled & Breakfast" comes out June 2013.
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review 2012-08-28 00:00
Blood Bath & Beyond (Immortality Bites Mystery #1)
Blood Bath & Beyond - Michelle Rowen

This is the first book in a new mystery series that is an offshoot of a series called Immortality Bites - a paranormal romance series.  I haven't read the paranormal romance series, since it really isn't my thing (the romance part), but I didn't find myself adrift at all reading this book.


I'm not a fan of inner dialogue, and this book has a lot of it - she's angsty about marring a vampire several centuries older than she, worried about whether he'll be found guilty of a crime he didn't commit, and adrift because all her friends have scattered to the four winds (presumably at the end of the previous series).


But having said that, I liked the characters and the mystery was a good one (two mysteries, really). I will say, I found the ending to Thierry's suspicion of murder plot line to be very very weak.  I mean, really, he's going to be released simply because they *said* they had proof that the murdered man set it up himself - because his ghost told them so?  But the serial killer plot line was a good one and I didn't see the guilty party until the end.


Not the strongest start to a series I've read, but certainly not the worst - there's a lot to like in this book and I'm looking forward to reading the next one.

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