Books I Read This Week: Vol 18, May 13

Murder of Crows

Author: Anne Bishop

Series: The Others #2

Tags: Alternate History, Urban Fantasy, werewolves, vampires, crow shifters, coyote shifters, elementals

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!

 

I love this series.

 

And no, I'm not going to explain the plot to you again. I have already done it twice now when I read #3 two weeks ago, and #1 last week. So look it up if you are interested.

 

#2 is more romance-y than the others.

Simon the Wolf and human Meg often hang out together, cuddle, and sleep together, usually with Simon in his wolf form. At the start of the book, Meg is having a bad dream and startles Simon by kicking him off the bed. He shifts to human to yell at her, climbs back into bed as a human, and promptly falls asleep.

So suddenly Meg is sleeping next to a human naked male and she HAS NO IDEA what to do.

Things get awkward because blerrrrrrrrghhhh feeeeeelingssssssss. But they work it out.

 

I'm going to read the third one again now that I have read the first two and I know what the hell is going on.

Yay! Can't wait for the fourth one!


 

UPDATE: I reread the third one. Onto #4!

 


 

The Stranger

Author: Albert Camus

Series: N/A

Tags: Non-romance, Classics, existentialist

Format: paper book!

Rating: yuck.

 

Amidst all my dukes and vampires, I read an actual book! It's for my Serious Book Club and it's not even a romance novel!

 

Okay, so, I read this out of context, and I had no idea what I was walking into. Here's the context (thanks, SparkNotes): 

Albert Camus, an Algerian living in Europe in post-war 1940's, developed the belief of The Absurd. Nothing really matters, and nothing has a purpose, and life is in fact so random it's the definition of absurd.

The Stranger is a fiction about a guy who cares about nothing, kills a man for no reason, and gets convicted of the murder he commits particularly because he doesn't play the game of pretending to care about things he doesn't care about. His trial becomes way more about the fact that he didn't cry at his mother's funeral than the fact that he killed the man.

 

OMG the main character was so fucking annoying. We get it, alright? You don't care about anything. I felt bad for his girlfriend, who was just trying to make it work, and he basically talks about her like boobs that walk. 

The whole thing felt so much like so many Fiction 101 short stories I have read, where:

  • The main character doesn't care/have an opinion about anything
  • Other side characters care about stuff... aren't they stupid to not realize the utter meaninglessness of everything?
  • Characters interact with him, but he remains unchanged, and spends more time giving short poetic descriptions of objects and scenery. 
  • Society is nothing but a shell of meaningless rules and norms, signifying nothing.
  • Main character tragically, yet smugly, walks away knowing his opinion and his view of society are the right ones (unlike everyone else's).

 

Okay, here's the thing about the "everything is meaningless" approach to life. When someone says "this has meaning" and you say "no it is meaningless" aren't you assigning a meaning to it by taking away one? I mean, it's really two sides of the same coin, isn't it? If your opinion was truly completely neutral, you wouldn't feel compelled to contradict the other person's opinion. The word meaningless itself is defined by the absence of meaning. 

 

You don't have to be so fucking smug about it.

 

About the fuck society thing. I just hate books that are all like "har har the idiocy of society" and then give no alternative or explanation of an existence outside of it. It always makes me think of Age of Innocence that was all about, "duh, you can't get away from society. You would just be going into a different society."

YOU CANNOT ESCAPE.

 

The story itself... I've read better versions of the same thing. What is that plot line? Philosophical murders? How is that a thing?

Native Son, now THAT was a good philosophical murder book.

I haven't read Crime and Punishment.

Most of the time, though, it just reminded me of Great Gatsby, which is awful in its own way.


 

Pleasure Unbound

Author: Larissa Ione

Series: Demonica #1

Tags: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, demons, vampires, werewolves, incubus, succubus, stick-in-the-mud, kickass heroine, slayer, paranormal hospital

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!

 

Hooo, this was a lot of the sexy. Not that I'm surprised. The title is a pretty clear indication of what to expect. I think you can measure general concentration of D by how many euphemisms are in the title. This one is two for two!

It's a fun ride, though. Actually a bit more plotty than the title suggests. Fun world, with their demons, and portals, and slayers, and surprise DNA cocktails. I super love paranormal hospitals. If you do too, check out Cassie Alexander's Night Shifted series.

 

In many ways this felt like a First of the Series book, including:

  • I have a feeling the sexy will calm down a little in later books. But you have to make your mark, right?
  • SO MANY characters introduced for no other reason than to have them show up in later books.
  • You have to get the boring stick-in-the-mud brother out of the way first. Subsequent less honorable characters will be main characters later, and then we can really have some fun.

I will be interested to see how the series changes.

Also, I have a feeling this paranormal series doesn't need to be read in order. It's set up a lot like a romance, in fact: three brothers, spanning the hot guy archetype variety pack, all get their own books. Hooray! I hate reading things in order.

 

Plot twists, pretty predictable. Surprise secret twin!

Dumb.

Also, I'm going to spoiler alert myself and go ahead and call that the bad guy for the next book is the supposedly dead bad brother of the trio.

 

Oh, and by the way, there's a bunch of trigger bait in this one: rapey, non-consenty situations, + solving emotional trauma through sex. Because that always works.

Fingers crossed that the trigger bait will also die down in the next books.


 

Passion Unleashed

Author: Larissa Ione

Series: Demonica #3

Tags: Paranormal romance, urban fantasy, demons, vampires, werewolves, angels, archaeologist, ne'er-do-well, tortured past, paranormal hospital

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!

 

I couldn't check out the second one, so on with #3! 

Apparently, I missed out on Second Brother Chill Guy's story, and now I'm onto the Third Brother Angsty Ne'er-do-well. He's a incubus/vampire hybrid with a scarred past chocked full of torture and trauma, and spends most of his time being a royal pain in the ass to his brothers.

So, that's fun.

 

I think I missed out on some character development of this guy. He is introduced in the first book as a pain in the ass, and even hypnotizes his brother's girlfriend to "show her what it'd be like" to have sex with him instead. That's not good. And kinda rapey.

He apparently calms down a little bit in the second book, but the third book is where he really finds his humanity when he has to trick a girl into giving up her charm by having sex with him so that he can live and she will die. 

I've been watching his development and let me tell you, he does not have a selfless bone in his body. He's just not a good person. Even when he does do nice things, it's for his girlfriend, so there's kind of a self-investment in there, right?

 

None of that really matters (who cares if he's a nice guy really?) because his shtick is learning to break down his considerable mental hang ups to get to a point where he can love. He's never kissed anyone before! Awww! He's never slept with a human! Awww! 100 years old, needs to have sex to live (being an incubus) and never gone down on a woman? Seems kind of unbelievable, but sure, we'll go with it.

 

Can I mention that it sounds like a horrendous pain in the ass to be mated to an incubus in this world? Incubi a) need sex to live b) never calm down after being aroused, just suffer increasing pain until they orgasm or die and c) cannot achieve completion except through good ol' fashioned p & v sex. Add that to the fact that they d) get aroused at the drop of a hat and e) when fully matured have the choice of becoming a kind of insane bastard or mate with a woman and therefore not want anyone else for the next several hundred years, and that mated lady has a lot of responsibility.

Don't want to have sex with him? He could literally die.

You can't even slide by with a handie. Doesn't work. Only P & V. 

I mean, I'm all for a healthy sex life, but shit, I've got things to do! 

Sounds like a lot of work.

 

You know what really helped this book? The audiobook is performed by my buddy Rene Raudman. She is the voice of all Ilona Andrews books, and a few other paranormal romances that I've read. She's got a great way of making the lady characters sound not dumb, and I like the way she inserts sarcasm into the text. 

Narrators seem to stick to one genre, and even one author. It's funny: you get so used to a narrator that if the author switches the narrator on you on book 5 or whatever, you're like "who dis bitch?"

Ilona Andrews is so great, and I'm so used to Raudman's narration of Andrews, that I had to keep reminding myself that I was not in fact listening to an Andrews. 

The characters are not interesting enough to be an Andrews.

 

Anyway, I'm enjoying this series, and I'll probably read them all, since they are all on OverDrive. So, sit tight cuz you'll be seeing a whole lotta euphemistic titles in the future!

I don't really have an inclination to read the second one, because Chill Brother sounds boring, and it also focuses on a human named Kynan who I have come to hate. UGH self righteous upstanding stick-in-the-mud slayer.  Good guys are always so boring.


 

In Love With a Wicked Man

Author: Liz Carlyle

Series: MacLachlan Family and Friends #9

Tags: Historical Romance, Victorian, gaming hell owner, estate manager, amnesia, nursing back to health, liaison arrangement, country party, forthright female

Format: paper book!

Rating: super yay!

 

I have come to find that Carlyle is hit or miss for me. She does a great job at character development, but her books are LENGTHY, and sometimes I just don't have the patience. My experiences with her books have been so dry I wanted to shoot myself, and so much fun I didn't want the book to end.

My favorite has been so far Three Little Secrets. But this one is a contender for sure.

 

It was a hit! Very much a hit. I was severely impressed by the story. The heroine was smart, no-nonsense, pragmatic, and purposeful. The hero was deliciously rakish, and his transformation was believable; no on/off switch in any case.

+10 for amnesia and the tension that came from before/after amnesia difference!

+10 for well developed supporting characters, including:

  • her infuriating/adorable mom who schemes and hides in vases and pretends to be stupid, all for the love of her daughters
  • her younger, pretty sister, who is a little flighty, and could have been a two dimensional airhead, but wasn't

+10 for a cast of women that weren't stupid, overly emotional, petty, or competition to other women!

+10 for being #9 in the series and still able to stand on its own!

 

I don't know what these points do, but the book definitely deserves them.

 

The MacLachlan series is kind of weird because it is sometimes magical and sometimes not. It's much more about a world they all live in than a sequence. Some of the characters have special gifts of premonition and such, and there's even a fraternity of gifted men plot line. But then again, sometimes there's no magic at all. There was absolutely no magic in this book, and I must say I am very glad there wasn't. I prefer not to mix my genres. 

Ugh, that fraternity was the reason I gave up on several of the other Carlyle books. Too much political talk. Not enough of the romance.

 

The only thing I can say is that this book, too, is a little too long. So many things happen! Amnesia, mistaken identity, illegimate child, spurned old lover, kidnapping, country party, hijinks, switcheroo shenanigans, two side romances, one secret gay, two blackmail attempts, and a pug that snores.

Did we really need to have the hero save her from a kidnapping attempt? No, not really. 

It's so long that I've been working on this book for a while, and had to stop in the middle to read two other books in between. I kind of don't remember the beginning of the book. 

 

Will I read another Carlyle? Maaaaaybe... I think I picked this one up because, hello, AMNESIA, but have otherwise given up on Carlyle. I don't think this book, as fun as it was, has changed my mind. We will see.

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