Hermitwitch’s Weblog

At Wit’s End

Various and sundry

Diana Pharaoh Francis has started something interesting in The Cipher: A Novel of Crosspointe. The world is very detailed and appealing, and well-built. The magic system is very different and, considering this is a magic system we’re talking about, believable. The cast of characters is one of the more interesting that I’ve encountered, and the reader quickly becomes enmeshed in a ‘how the hell they gonna get out of THIS’ mindset. My only caveat with this book is that the writing style is a little wooden, particularly in the beginning. As the plot unfolds, that caveat becomes less noticeable and less important to the reader’s enjoyment. I am guardedly looking forward to the next in the series.

I recently finished Passage: The Sharing Knife Book 3 by one of my favorite authors Lois Mcmaster Bujold. My enjoyment of book three lead me to re-read the first two volumes and, ahem, now I’m reading the third again. Although sometimes Dag’s ruminations on his magic abilities, and the possible wider implications, get tiresome, this is a small complaint. The series is populated with a group of people you would really like to know, in a world you’d really like to live in. As Spark herself might add, “I can’t say fairer than that.”

At the moment, I’m not reading much in the way of urban fantasy because I’m scribbling away at my own UF. I find that reading in the same genre in which I’m trying to write throws me off. Somewhere in this blog I’m going to post a bit of that writing for anyone who wants to trash comment on it. 🙂

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May 1, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews | | Leave a comment

Magic Lost, Trouble Found

I actually don’t have a single negative thing to say about Magic Lost, Trouble Found or Armed & Magical, both by Lisa Shearin.  (Tez will probably accuse me of writing sappy girly reviews or something.)  They’re both excellent fantasies, with well-drawn characters, and an unusual magic system that works.  That is, the author doesn’t violate the magic’s logic system, if that makes any sense.  I like the world the author creates (it’s got pirates, too). These are definitely the kind of books I will re-read whenever I need a fix of good, solid fantasy.  Five stars.

Impatiently waiting for the next book, even though the second just came out. 😉

April 21, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews | | 3 Comments

Midnight Rising (book review)

If you like your male vampires big, hunky, and alpha to the core (I do), you’ll probably enjoy Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian. It’s part of a series, which I have not read and probably won’t. Probably. Maybe. The vampire warrior group reminded me a tiny bit of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger brotherhood, but without the cool factor and prison slang.

I’m always interested to see how different authors interpret vampires, shapeshifters, etc. That is, how they make their version stand out from the burgeoning masses. I think this author did an admirable job of adding a little bling (for want of a better word) without sacrificing all the qualities we love in vampires.*

So, recommended for the vampire addicts among us.

*Except for the part where “people are food” of course.

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews | | Leave a comment

Rush of Wings (book review)

Hmm. I enjoyed the first few chapters of A Rush of Wings by Adrian Phoenix; it was solid, the kind of serial killer hunt that I enjoy. Happily, I settled down with my tea and book.

Then, about a third of the way into the book, the story and the writing style got a little weird. Almost like it was being written by another person. The main female protagonist, Heather Wallace (age 30 or so), goes from being tough and together to having a somewhat dippy teenager mentality. She makes stupid, unlikely mistakes for an FBI profiler who was top of her class. Of course, perhaps that was because she was fell madly and improbably in love with Dante, a beyond gorgeous, sexy young vampire, and her brain went south. Dante is a tortured soul and, as the story unfolds, it turns out Dante has good reason to be a sociopath since he was trained to be one by the Evil Dr. No. I mean, the Evil Dr. Johanna Moore. The story is further complicated by the names of the characters who were variously referred to by first or last names, which usually isn’t a problem but here it was for some reason. The book is salted through with Dante’s thoughts and songs, which kind of smacked of high school poetry. The most interesting character, to me, was “E,” Dr. Moore’s other experiment.

All that said, though, I think this book would appeal to a younger 20-something crowd who are more into the Goth mindset than I am, or to folks who really enjoyed Anne Rice’s purple erotica.

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews | , , | Leave a comment

Ah, tax day

Gotta love it. I always like how the IRS can take their time about getting refunds to people but we, the taxpayers, had best not be late writing out a check to them. I am particularly grieved about it this year because I owed NYS a sizable sum.

So, to soothe my grief, I am treating myself to smoked eel sushi for lunch. I’m something of a wasabi and pickled ginger whore, so it doesn’t actually matter to me much what the sushi beneath is, but I do like smoked eel. The only thing that would make this better is a jug of sake.

I recently finished Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder. The verdict is: disappointed. I enjoyed the first in the series, Poison Study, a great deal, Magic Study (book 2) somewhat less, but I always hold out hope for the series I like. It’s not that Fire Study was poorly written, not at all, and I like the characters, and the plot was cool. What I found irritating, though, was Yelena’s exponentially increased powers. It seemed as though whatever difficulties she and her group ran into, she suddenly had the power to get them out of it. Her horse, Kiki, seemed to get smarter by the page, too. So, although I’m not sorry I read the book, it just left me feeling dissatisfied.

Maybe the sushi will help.

April 15, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews, Gripes | | 1 Comment

In the Blood by Savannah Russe

Darkwing Chronicles, Book 4, In the Blood: I’m behind in this series, but that will just lead to more joy when Under Darkness (Darkwing #5) comes out May 6th. I’ve got this instant gratification problem when it comes to books.

I forgot about this series altogether (pause for shamed silence) and only rediscovered it when I ransacked my house for something new to read. I have teetering piles of books that I have not yet devoured, but you know how it is — you have to be in the mood for that particular genre of book. So, lo, there it was on my shelf, a virgin paperback full of vampiric lust activities.

I remembered why I like this series so much. The characters are well drawn (even Gunther the rat) and the plots move right along. This particular book has a bit more introspection on Daphne’s part, but I think it is done well, without pages and pages of angst, rending of clothes, and tearing of hair. It was just right.

Now, on the all important subject of rending clothes: I confess I usually skip the erotic scenes in most books I read, whether they’re paranormal romance, urban fantasy, fantasy, or whatever. (Well, some of the historical romances are hilarious in their descriptions of anatomical parts, but that’s another review for another time.) But I read the ones written in In the Blood. Honey. They were hot. A taste for rough sex and bdsm helps, of course, but the style of writing fit the subject matter: no creamy thighs and delicate sighs of pleasure here.

So, I do recommend this title, as well as the others in Ms. Russe’s series. I am looking forward to the next one. I think I’m going to have to get a job in a bookstore so I can sneak books before their street dates.

April 13, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews | , | 3 Comments

Kim Harrison: book review

You know how you’ll be reading (i.e., addicted to) a series that starts a long, painful decline into mediocrity or worse? But, of course, you keep reading it because you like the characters and you cherish the hope that it will get better. Well, Kim Harrison’s series does not fall into that category. The Outlaw Demon Wails maintains the same caliber as the previous novels, maybe even a tad better. Hallelujah! I like how the author handles villains, for want of a better word; I want a pixie tribe of my own; and the scenes with Ivy are just hot. Nothing like ongoing sexual/power tensions.

My only kvetch about this book is that Rachel’s belligerence and stubbornness really started to get on my nerves. Yes, I know conflict drives the plot forward, but there were times I wanted to send Rachel to her room. Possibly even ground her. Part of this reaction may be because I am growing older and hence more stubborn, bitchy, and outspoken myself. I find myself reacting this way to characters in other books and tv shows.

I can’t blame it all on impending menopause; I deeply fear I am channeling my mother’s ghost. I caught myself pursing my lips disapprovingly at a young maiden’s very visible ass antlers the other day, and had to suppress the urge to tell her to pull up her pants.

::sigh:: But I digress. The book is very good, well worth the read, and if you haven’t read the entire series, I recommend you start at the beginning with Dead Witch Walking.

April 10, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews | | 2 Comments

Patricia Briggs: book reviews

Sneaky publishers and their shiny new covers on old books. Gotta watch ’em like hawks. Recently, Ace reissued a couple of Patricia Briggs‘ older fantasy novels, like Steal the Dragon and When Demons Walk, probably capitalizing on the success of the Mercy Thompson series (which I love). The two books mentioned above fall into the realm of what I call ‘comfort food’ reading. They’re easy and quick and generally satisfying. Maybe I should call it ‘fast food’ reading. 🙂 To me, they are basically mature young adult books, so if you’re looking for some steamy erotica, give these a pass. If you’re looking for some better-than-average fantasy, with a dash of romance, you’ll probably enjoy these. One minor irritation with Steal the Dragon was that the heroine of the story, Rialla, seemed to be far too knowledgeable and well spoken for a slave of common trader stock. I know, picky picky.

April 9, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews | , | Leave a comment

Another book review

Generally I’m not a fan of footnotes, even in Terry Pratchett’s books, but the author of Happy Hour of the Damned, Mark Henry really, really uses them well. I love this book! It’s extremely funny in places (no worries: no spoilers here — although there’s this one bit about [deleted] that made me laugh out loud and has stayed with me ever since, causing public snickering whenever it pops into my head).* It reminded me of the first “Queen Betsy” book by Mary Janice Davidson in some ways (shoes and shopping), but Happy Hour is better written; more stylish. I’m really looking forward to the author’s next book.

I could discuss the too-early morning activities of my cat, Fat Bastard, but I’ll save it for after my nap maybe. 🙂


*Like, you know, you’re in a public restroom stall, all by yourself (you better be!), and suddenly you remember something that always, always makes you laugh, so you start giggle-snorting because you’re trying to suppress it so the chick in the next stall doesn’t get nervous that there’s a whacko next door and call 911 on her cell. Don’t you hate people who use cell phones in public bathrooms?

April 8, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews | , | 1 Comment

Book review(s)

There’s just no pleasing me.

Matters of the Blood by Maria Lima: urban fantasy, paranormal romance, mystery.  The author had some good ideas, and the mystery is decent, but the book needed a solid editing for continuity.  At times, the “voice” of the book had a weird immature quality.  I think Maria Lima will be an author to keep an eye on, though.

Black Magic Woman by Justin Gustainis: urban fantasy, mystery.  Okay, I admit it.  I didn’t even get to chapter two.  I find most attempts at writing dialect annoying, and that’s how the book starts; sort of a ‘hillbillies ‘r’ us” tone.  Yes, it reverts back to standard speech with the introduction of the main characters, but from the little bit I read, there was a preachy/lecturing tone sometimes.  I am also getting a little tired of supernatural detective agencies. 🙂  So, I can’t really comment on whether the book was good or not, but I will anyway.

Heart of the Wolf by Terry Spear: urban fantasy, werewolves.  I love werewolves.  I’d rather be a shapeshifter than a vampire any day.  And yep, I have to admit I didn’t finish this one either, although I made it about half way through.  ::le sigh::  I guess I just don’t get the animal heat thing.  Here is the heroine of our tale, Bella, in the midst of some wild disaster involving getting shot and captured, thinking about her would-be lover’s muscular thighs.  She can’t get her mind off of this guy (who is also a were).  There gets to be a whiny quality about her musings as well…why, why doesn’t he want me?  Why, why doesn’t he want to set up house and have puppies?  She’s a couple of hundred years old and sounds like a high school girl with a crush.  Plus, and this is picky, in the prologue, which is set in 1850, she is apparently wearing crotchless panties.   So, I’d give this one a pass, too.

All that said, if anyone wants any of these books, please let me know.  I’d be happy to mail them to you.

~ the grumpy hermit

April 6, 2008 Posted by | Book reviews | , , , | 4 Comments