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review 2017-02-23 20:24
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

Before I review this, you should know two very important things. 

 

1. I am a total Gaiman fangirl. There are very few things he's written that I didn't love, and I look forward to a new Gaiman book more than I do to Christmas. Or my birthday. I have at least 3 copies of every Sandman book (My beloved originals carefully put away, digital copies, and the reprinted hardcovers :) 

 

2. I live in Viking Central. I mean literally. It's 20 minutes by boat to Birka. There are more viking ruins (if you include runestones) within 50km of where I live than the rest of Scandinavia put together. My kids learnt to read runes at school, and there is a Viking festival here every year on the beach about 5 minutes from my house, where everyone comes and literally lives viking style for an entire week (of which my favourite part is the horses and the silversmithery, because mead--actually not that good.)

 

In any case, despite not being born in Sweden, I know the myths inside and out, they are still considered a really important part of history and culture in this particular area, and I've sat through many (many!) a school play where my kids acted one or more of them out. And I know how deeply funny most of them are, all the little subtleties that are often lost in translation. Like how Thor is dumb as a box of hammers, and Loki is ... well just Loki.

 

The result is, I actually wasn't, for once, looking forward to this book with my usual joyous anticipation, I was terrified slightly worried my beloved Mr. Gaiman would get something wrong, and I'd be horribly disappointed. 

 

So to the actual review. You knew I'd get there eventually :)

 

I wasn't disappointed. Not in the slightest. 

 

Gaiman takes some very fragmented, and occasionally contradictory stories, and manages to weave them into a coherent and totally readable saga, beginning with the creation myth and ending with Ragnarök, and detouring into all the funniest and most fun stories in between. While each story stands well enough alone, there's a master storyteller steering the whole thing along a red thread of narrative.

 

And of course it includes my absolute favourite stories. Including my two favourite stories: The one where Loki is the mother of Odin's horse and the one where Thor cross dresses as a bride. And people think the Marvel universe is so daring for having a female Thor. The vikings have been there done that, 1500 years ago :)

 

So, despite all the buildup, that's my actual review: It's great.

 

If you love the norse myths already, this is a perfect little compendium of the best of them, all in one little package - and if you don't, it's also a perfect little compendium to get to know them from.

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review 2016-05-25 15:49
Flawed, but with good potential
Dead Spots - Melissa F. Olson

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.” ― Shannon L. Alder

 

Scarlett Bernard is one pragmatic lady. Of course, she has to be considering her job is supernatural crime scene cleanup. As in, get in, clean up the mess, steal the body, and book the hell out of Dodge before the cops arrive. She is truly good at her job, and her boss, the cold and distant Dashiell, Master Vampire of the city, may be scary, but he pretty much allows her to do her job without interference. But then, the worst happens.

 

She gets caught. Caught by a newly minted detective, Jesse Cruz, just after she arrives at a scene more bloody and grotesque than any she has ever seen. What happens next is fast paced action with terrific world building and interesting characters. I first read the book back in 2012, and enjoyed it then. This time I listened to the Audible edition narrated by Amy McFadden (one of my favorite narrators) and, as sometimes happens, I liked it even more as I listened. Scarlett is a strong character with a well-developed, though brutal, background and is likeable. She isn’t perfect, but that is what makes her interesting. She has taken horrific hits in her life – but the one she walks into later on is absolutely devastating and Olson does a rather wonderful job of writing the horrors of betrayal. I would have liked her to be more mature in her interactions with others – her tendency to cope a nasty, self-serving attitude at times was a downer. I am hoping that the next books will show growth in her as a character (especially since I own them all). Her behavior isn’t as horrendous as other female characters in the genre, but I am hoping for more maturity in upcoming works.

There are some things that were irritating. The Dreaded Love Triangle. Irritating! Not only do love triangles make me retch, this one felt stilted and unnecessary, dragging down the storyline. Also, the POV switches between characters and from first to third person erratically and unnecessarily. Irritating, but not as irritating as the lurrve (titter titter, Groan) triangle. Olson’s take on werewolf psychology was more interesting than a lot of other books in the genre, and her friendship with the Alpha and Beta were more realistic than many others. The Alpha isn’t as ‘Alpha’ as in other books (thank the Goddess!) and the tortured Beta was very realistically portrayed in the vein of “I never wanted this in the first place.”

 

So, flawed, it isn’t perfect by any means, but I still enjoyed it as much as I remembered, and Amy’s narration was, as always, spot on.

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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review 2016-05-02 00:00
Spirit Marked (Yaoi)
Spirit Marked (Yaoi) - Colter Hillman,Yishan Li

GR Cleanup Project Read in 2010

 

Meh story, pretty artwork. Tatsuki's entire family is slain by an evil but shockingly beautiful male demon. Tatsuki swears vengeance but is waylaid by a leopard/man who "marks" him with a temporary tattoo of the leopard people (apparently his "spirit" has been marked). As he heads off to wreak revenge on the demon-man with the pretty face he is further waylaid when he's kidnapped by a traveling circus, whipped by a fat man (who thank the good lord of yaoi doesn't rape him) and is then forced into slavery. Some guys just can't catch a break, eh? There he meets another young slave named Keo who stars in the acrobatic show. After Tatsuki watches Teo fly through the air with the greatest of ease in his tight little costume, they fall madly in love and run away together. They have steamy sex in the forest that is totally blocked out by various body parts (grrr), as is the way with most of this yaoi. Turns out Keo is marked by a beast too. Damn, what are the odds? Because of this they have to go through some trial to become shaman's or somesuch for the forest folk but meanwhile Tatsuki is having bizarro dreams of the demon who is trying to seduce him. More weird and confusing things happen, the demon does bad things to Tatsuki and sweet little Keo and it ends at an abrupt and confusing HEA. Was it all a dream or no? I'm so confused. Why do I read these? They make my head spin.

 

The second story is a total stinker. It's about a boy and a clockwork boy who get all kissy face for no other reason than they are the only two boys on the planet (why? who knows). There is no substance AND the artwork is just not good.

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review 2016-05-02 00:00
Hunger Aroused by Dee Carney
Hunger Aroused (Vampire Hunger #1) - Dee Carney

GR Cleanup Project Read in 2010

 

Jasmine’s a nurse who is feeling crappy and is sent home from work early. She’s a trooper though and decides to walk, as she normally does, but on this fateful night she happens to walk past Corin who recognizes the “scent” of change. He is a vampire who holds the title of “Executioner” and it’s his job to destroy all unauthorized vampire fledglings. And this one is definitely unauthorized. Her smell intoxicates him and he follows her home.

Jasmine’s a bit taken aback to find a stunningly gorgeous male in her home but she goes with the flow (hey, I can’t say as I blame her). Corin wastes no time explaining what is happening to her body and that he’s there to destroy her in three days’ time. As Jasmine is overcome with the “heat” of change (think Anita Blake’s ardeur) she is told by Corin that the only way to soothe her need is spicy food, chocolate or sex. There aren’t any chick flicks and boxes of Godiva’s lying around so guess what they end up doing instead? After petting her throbbing need into submission for the moment, Corin calls in her existence to the “Council” thus sealing her fate. He must kill her in three days or they will do it for him. He instantly regrets it because, damn, she smells like cinnamon and he finds himself falling in lusty-love. Yummy.

It all starts out fun and sexy and I was looking forward to learning more about both Corin and Jasmine but soon after the setup the story turns into a humorless, running from danger, angst-fest and I was disappointed. Corin is dripping with drama, the poor vampire-man. His past is seriously dark and tortured, I’ll give him that. He’s been raped and tortured and forced to serve a sadistic master at some point in his long existence. It’s not pretty stuff and we only get to see glimpses of it (darn!), but you get the gist that it was a very bad time for him. It’s turned him into a deadly serious vampire. I can take angst, I will even go so far as to admit I’m a sucker for angsty romance, but this one just didn’t draw me in. I never once got that heart-sick feeling that tells me I’m reading an unforgettable romance. Sadness. I even ended up skimming a little and I don’t usually do such things.

As for the storyline, there were far too many things that were not explained in enough detail for me. But the two that stand out are Jasmine’s vampirism (she was poked with an infected needle) and the little fact that Corin is already bonded to his male maker. There was much fuss made about Jasmine being “a new breed of vampire” but it just didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Also the whole sharing blood and bonding thing left me wondering about a lot of things. What if The Big Bad Master Vamp (sorry, his name has escaped me) got a sudden craving for Corin’s fine bum and showed up demanding kinky m/m sex? Would Corin still be forced to oblige? And would Jasmine enjoy watching? (probably not, she’s not me). Seriously, I fear for Jasmine’s HEA.

I liked Jasmine. She was a nice character and she was a good match for Corin. She stood up to him and even tried to save his sorry ass but I would have enjoyed this story so much more if the prose weren’t so overblown and we got a little bit of “getting to know you” time between the two characters. In the end, it all seemed too rushed, much like many of Jasmine’s orgasms.

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review 2016-04-18 00:00
The Lucid Dreaming by Lisa Morton
The Lucid Dreaming - Lisa Morton

GR Cleanup Originally Read in 2010

 

Spike is a 20 something violent paranoid schizophrenic who was locked away when she forgot to take her meds and went a little crazy with a knife on a homeless man. Her life consists of living in a medication muted haze surrounded by other various levels of disturbed folks. Recently her predictable world has been interrupted with an increased number of inmates and the place is getting terribly crowded. One day things are ominously quiet, her favorite nurse never arrives with her meals or meds and she ventures out to find blood smeared walls and to discover that the world has indeed gone crazy. She stockpiles her drugs to retain her sanity and fears she may be the only one immune to the “dream” epidemic.

This is a unique take on the apocalypse. People are dreaming when they’re awake and doing terrible things and you don’t have your typical cast of heroes. Spike is mentally unstable without her drugs, with them she’s a bit off kilter but not as dangerous. She hooks up with a hunk suffering from the dream sickness but she likes him because he has sweet dreams and he seems to like her too, even during his few moments of lucidity so she takes care of him. Danger looms, however, when Spike has a run-in with a band of baddies (and there’s always a group of baddies in a book like this) who are using people as slaves and/or breeders to continue on their quest to rule the new planet.

This was a well written little story that held my attention all the way through. It wasn’t overly gory, just purely entertaining mainly because of Spike’s observations. Sure, there were unanswered questions, and I’d love to read an expanded version of this story someday, but I enjoyed it for the tightly written little novella that it was.

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