Category Archives: Paranormal Romance

It’s a Tom Robbin’s Kind of Day…!

jitterbug

What if you lived in a land that executed its rulers at their first sign of old age. A wrinkle? Poison it is for you! A grey hair? Down falls the axe! Luckily, unless you’re a professional super model, this doesn’t really apply to you. What if you were a king who defied these laws and escaped–only to spend the rest of your magically LOOOOOONG life seeking immortality. And messing around with Pan. Yep, the goaty one. That’s Jitterbug Perfume for you.

“The unhappy person resents it when you try to cheer him up, because that means he has to stop dwelling on himself and start paying attention to the universe. Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence. When you’re unhappy, you get to pay a lot of attention to yourself. You get to take yourself oh so very seriously.”

Or, in the case of Still Life with Woodpecker, you are a lovely redheaded princess in modern day America. You live in a moldering old house with your doddering sovereign parents and your batty old nursemaid. Then, during a vacation to Hawaii, you fall in love with a self-proclaimed outlaw. A snaggle-toothed ginger terrorist with dynamite strapped to him. Seriously.

My dear friends Merri and Peter introduced me to Tom Robbins, and out of all the books I’ve adopted from them, TR is by far my favorite author. His unusual and sometimes vulgar writing style is vastly entertaining and his metaphors are so strange yet so… right…that you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of them yourself.

Jitterbug Perfume was a pretty dense read compared to Still Life with Woodpecker, and had a few more dry spots. However, that being said, they both earn 4 out of 5 Camel cigarettes and drops of horny goat elixir.

Baaaaaa….

stilllife


The Rising by Kelley Armstrong

Ahhh, Kelley, you’ve done it again. Somehow you’ve managed to make the third book in a trilogy better than the first two while simultaneously intertwining two parallel story lines. Phew. I’m tired just saying that.

The Rising wraps up the Darkness Rising trilogy, which follows Maya, a mountain lion shapeshifter, and her band of genetically modified friends. They’re on the run from some of the most dangerous cabals in the supernatural underworld and have recently learned that the sleepy life they were accustomed to was all a lie. 11864728

Much to my delight, while on the run, they meet up with the teens from Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy and kinda wrap that whole situation up too. I enjoyed this series wholeheartedly–probably for its simplicity. Everything was as it seemed for the most part and for ONCE an ending didn’t piss me off. Things were as they should be. And this love triangle ended the right way.

Reading these books was like dipping my toes in a lukewarm pool. It was pleasant, relaxing, and I didn’t have to get soaked. Some books cause me so much anxiety that I almost stop reading them out of enjoyment and read them to relieve the nervousness they cause. Like I said, these are easy reading.

Keep up the good work, Kelley!

3 birth marks of 5

Also, I highly recommend reading The Darkest Powers bonus pack one and two. They each contain two or three stories out of the DP world and they are definitely worth your time. They fill in a lot of gaps and add a lot to the overall trilogy and are super cheap for the Kindle. (I actually think KA posts them for free on her website but takes them down as new ones are written…)

1307622215730675

And as another, probably useless, sidenote– I also happened to download her other short story Hunting Kat. As far as I know it’s a stand alone, and hopefully it stays that way. The new vampire/genetic vampire/bitten vampire on the run thing was way too contrived. KA has some awesome work out there and this comes no where close to representing her talent. Skip it.

12603860

 


Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

It’s been a long time coming for the supposedly “last” book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. With a huge fan base and a wildly popular HBO TV series (Alexander Skarsgard, anyone? Nomnomnomnom), Charlaine Harris is living the life that most poor starving authors can only dream of. Unfortunately, she may have been too deeply asleep when she wrote Dead Ever After… Someone needs to pinch the crap out of her! dead-ever-after-by-charlaine-harris-cover-3_4_r560

DEA seems to exist solely to tie up any plot threads that are still left–gasping for air–no matter how weak they may be. Eric, the fairies, Sam, the Weres, Amelia… You name it. Unfortunately, Harris seems to bring up a few new characters and then forget about them–leaving their stories unanswered. But not in a cliff-hanger/spinoff kinda way. More like a “Oh, I totally forgot about that, but oh well my manuscript is due tomorrow! *Send*” kinda way.

Also, as much as I’ve enjoyed the majority of the SS series… Can we please stop detailing Sookie’s mundane day-to-day life?? She literally wasted a whole sentence–awholesecondofmylife!–bemoaning how hard it is to stuff a Digiornio box in the trash. Seriously?? Way to yank me out of the moment. I know plenty about taking the garbage out, not so much about the TrueBlood vamps. That’s what I’m paying you to write about, not pizza boxes.

AND–I DON’T WANT TO SPOIL ANYTHING FOR YOU–BUT… The way she handled Sookie’s love life in this book was very strange. And I would NOT have made the same choice had I been in her shoes. Ew. I mean, woof.

All in all, since I have OCD about this sort of thing–I’m glad I read DEA. However, if this had been my first Charlaine Harris experience… I would’ve run screaming for the hills. I can appreciate a light pool-side read every now and again, but if Sookie’s story gets any lighter it just might float away.

3 bite marks of 5

 


War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

I’m sitting here trying to think of how I felt while reading War for the Oaks and I’m really having a hard time remembering any sort of emotional response. I wasn’t thrilled, I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t really that captivated…. Eh… It was just another in a long line of books that I will probably never pick up again.

That being said, I TOTALLY give it mad props for being what it is—Bull published it in 1987 and really it was one of the first books of its kind. She helped establish one of my all time favorite genres, urban fantasy, and for that I will forever be grateful. Not to mention, she’s made a cameo in some of my favorite anthologies–the Bordertown series, the Firebird anthologies, and The Faery Reel. Love love love.

So honestly, I can’t talk too much smack about it. It was her first book and for the love of god, it was set in the 80’s! Eddi McCandry is part of a wannabe famous rock group, but when her lead singer boyfriend dumps her and the band splits up, she understandably feels a little low. Too bad she doesn’t have time to wallow in it, cause pretty soon all of the Fairy realm comes knocking at her door. Ok, well not knocking… barking. Let’s just say one very annoying shape-shifting phooka gets her smack-dab in the middle of a fairy war. warforoaks

But also gives her the potential to be a member of the greatest rock band of all time!

What to do?? *cue cheesy synthesizer music*

Honestly, when you picture urban fantasy mixed with the 80’s, does anything OTHER than David Bowie’s crotch come to mind? (The Labyrinth, duh). I couldn’t help but giggle when Bull described the character’s outfits and musical stylings. Looking back on the 80’s… they were a terrible time. Bull’s dialogue was a bit cheesy and her characters were pretty predictable, but the Phooka was her saving grace. (By the way, if you claim to have pictured anyone other than Prince to play him in your mind, you are lying).

I enjoyed it, and I thank her for helping to create urban fantasy–but this one I think it’s safe to pass on.

3 puffy sleeves of 5

 

 


Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Oh, Ms. Stohl and Ms. Garcia. You totally pulled a fast one on me last year. I thought for sure that Beautiful Chaos was going to complete the Caster Chronicles trilogy, but–color me surprised–you instead left me with one hell of a cliffhanger.

And thankfully, a long-awaited forth book. BeautifulRedemption

Oh and (obviously) SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT READ PAST HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST THREE BOOKS. 

Beautiful Redemption follows Ethan Wate into the afterlife–after his fateful jump off the water tower, that is. Yep. He’s dead. Again. But you know… like, for real this time.

Brokenhearted, Lena and Amma look for ways to bring Ethan back, but this time he might be too far out of their reach. But Ethan has the gut feeling that something went wrong, that he wasn’t supposed to die the way he did. Maybe Fate made a mistake, just this once.

And–wouldn’t you know it?–those bastards at the Far Keep DID have something to do with it and now Ethan must face dangers untold to fight his way back to the girl he loves.

Sheesh… You’d think once you’d died you wouldn’t have much left to worry about…

I really did enjoy BR, it was a nice cherry on top of the cake that is the Caster Chronicles. Yet, for some reason I just didn’t feel the same urgency of the situation as I did with the other books. Maybe it was because the die had already been cast. Maybe it was because I’m not in love with Lena-the-girlfriend as a character. Or because my favorite character Ridley barely had any “on screen” time. Who knows?

I am glad that the authors took the time to make this an extra book, and not just a rushed few chapters at the end of the third novel. For that reason I am rating it as highly as I am, NOT as a stand alone book. I think this was a nice ending to a long series, but it was pretty predictable.

4 lemon meringue pies of 5


Death’s Excellent Vacation edt. by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner

Seeing as I’ve been on Chelsea’s Excellent Vacation since July, reading about Death’s Excellent Vacation was no stretch. 

(As a side note, sorry for being AFK so long. I’ve moved back to the US and have been scrambling around seeing anxious friends and relatives).

Like many of the books I’ve read in recent months, DEV is an anthology of fantastical short stories by some pretty talented names. I had several favorite stories, including:

  • Two Blondes by Charlaine Harris- Sookie and Pam are at it again. Strippers, elves, murderers, and vampires, OH MY! (If I were them I would stop listening to Eric…)
  • The Boys Go Fishing by Sarah Smith- An elderly super hero is forced out of retirement when a bunch of mutant kids are dumped on his doorstep. I liked this one because I pictured Morgan Freeman as the main character–you’ll see what I mean.
  • The Innsmouth Nook by A. Lee Martinez- A goofy tale of two guys opening a bed and breakfast in a town straight from the Black Lagoon.
  • Safe and Sound by Jeff Abbott- Let’s put it this way: Nancy Grace covering the Natalie Holloway case meets supernatural disappearances.
  • Seeing is Believing by L.A. Banks- Old swamp voodoo brings a young couple together, but there’s more than meets the eye.
  • Thin Walls by Christopher Golden- SUCCUBUS, OMG! Just wait til you read the mouth/vagina description… *shudder*
  • The Heart is Always Right by Lilith Saintcrow- A story about gargoyles in the modern world that was so captivating, I’m hoping for a series to be spawned.

There were a handful of others, while cute and entertaining, were just not as gripping as those listed above. They were either too corny or just emitted the paranormal romance vibe too strongly.

I highly recommend this anthology and it’s going down as a new favorite. Read it to stave off post-Halloween withdrawals.

4 horny demon dogs of 5


Waking Storms by Sarah Porter

Ok, picture it: You’re a mermaid. (Hopefully you’re a girl, because chest hair and scales just don’t go…) You’re swimming around being all mythical and hot, but you have problems. Apparently even mermaids can’t escape drama all the time. For Luce, her problems include being outcast from her tribe, an evil “queen”, a human lover, AND suspicious FBI agents. (Not to mention being an orphan and a former abuse victim. Which is how girls end up as mermaids, after all.)

PLUS there are killer whales that love to eat mermaids and icy terrible winters to contend with.

(For the record: If I were a mermaid I’d be in Bora Bora or Fiji. FORGET Alaska.)

In Sarah Porter’s second book in the Lost Voices Trilogy, Waking Storms, Luce has external struggles with her estranged tribe, her forbidden boyfriend, and the FBI. Her internal struggles (of course) lie in the gray area of doing what is easy versus doing what is right. (Been there, honey!) She must choose between her love for Dorian and the safety of the other mermaids. Her voice is becoming more and more powerful and Luce is beginning to realize that she must get past her selfish reluctance and lay claim to her right as queen for the betterment of all.

I really like Porter’s writing style in general and her use of prose really brings the story to life. She’s very descriptive and I can easily picture the scene taking place in my mind’s eye. She’s good at bringing a dark or emotional element to the forefront without overshadowing the characters or making the tone too depressing. The sea really comes to life under her skillful pen.

Plus, MERMAIDS ARE AWESOME. Duh.

However, as soon as the boyfriend and the FBI got involved, it killed me a little inside. I hated both of those energies throughout the novel. The FBI is annoying and horrible, as is the rest of the American government in all fiction anywhere ever. They’re always the bad guys that are nearly insurmountable in their power. Understood.

But Dorian? I HATED him. HATED. From the start.

Like, seriously, I get that you are a mermaid and you’re lonely and there are no mermen out there to satisfy your mermaid needs. (However that would work…?) No boys? It would totally suck. Especially for emotionally and/or physically abused young girls. All they want is a little love, I totally get it.

But at the risk of  your entire race being exposed and killed? Or trying to endure a tremendously agonizing transformation back to human form that is 99.99999% deadly? No thank you. I am sick of mermaids always giving up who they are to get the guy. Stay a mermaid, girl! There are only essays and bills and traffic and chores waiting for you out here!

When you read it yourself, you’ll realize why I screamed aloud in annoyance at some parts.

4 seashell bras of 5


Tiger’s Quest by Colleen Houck

Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan are at it again in the second installment of the Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck. This time, K&R FINALLY realize their extreme love for one another and all of us girls can breathe a sigh of relief and bask in a few chapters of hearts-aflutter feel good times. BUT after Ren’s heart-breaking capture by Lokesh’s goons, Kelsey and Kishan are forced to go on quest numero dos together. (You didn’t think they’d live happily ever after that easily, did you, nubcake?) After she experiences terrible visions of the torture Ren is enduring on her behalf, the time crunch is on to find him before it’s too late.

And this book kills me, it kills me. The same way the Vampire Diaries show kills me. Cliff hangers galore and WHYYYYYYYY??? moments are sure to have you reaching for the calm-down pills. Especially towards the end once you realize what’s really going on. Stupid idiot tigers and their stupid idiot curses. 

This book was just as nail-bitingly good as the first in the series. Believe me.

Oh yeah, and there are super powers now!

I was pissed with the whole Ren-capture thing. It’s highly reminiscent of the Twilight series where in New Moon Edward is removed from the situation and feelings are allowed to blossom between the girl and the other point on the love triangle.

It makes me yell “NO” loudly and startle my boyfriend.

That being said, Kishan is a really nice guy. In fact, Houck is skilled enough in her writing to make a reader consider changing sides. That rarely happens to me, but in this situation I could definitely see it.

I’m glad Kelsey is much less of a vadge in her current adventures, because it makes the whole thing more bearable. I can’t stand the Oh, why me? This is terrible! What am I to do? puts-a-hand-to-forehead-and-faints-backwards-gracefully kind of crap women are expected to indulge in. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, kick-ass heroines are where it’s at.

Now where matters of the heart are concerned… That’s a little more complicated…

5 lightning bolts of 5


Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

I’m about to say something blasphemous. Mothers should draw the shades and cover their children’s eyes.

WHAT THE LIVING EFF WAS THIS GARBAGE?

No, I’m not talking about the book–never the book. The movie.

I know right now you’re thinking, But Chelsea, of course the movie was garbage. They always are compared to the book. What did you expect? And you would be right.

Except this book did not EXIST before the movie. Yep, you heard me right. It was based on a screenplay written by David Leslie Johnson, made for a movie directed by Catherine Hardwicke, based off of an idea of Leonardo DiCaprio’s. Talk about Inception… It’s a book inside a screenplay inside a movie inside an idea. What?

And that’s fine. But this is the last time I trust Catherine Hardwicke with a movie. I was willing to give her a chance even after she eff’d up the Twilight movie (“Hold on tight, spider monkey.” Really, Catherine? Really??) But now, the gloves are off.

Not only was the Red Riding Hood movie a spectacular cheese-fest of terrible, it also was ABSOLUTELY UNLIKE the book. And yeah, sure, the movie and the book are never the same–I get it. But this book was written FOR THE MOVIE and yet still, it was completely off the mark. Do you get what I’m saying?

Shouldn’t the book follow the movie pretty well, especially if it was created because of it? Is it just me?

Rant aside, the book was enjoyable. Blakley-Cartwright took what assuredly was a heinous script and added dark elegance and flowing prose to round it out. She used great imagery and was very creative with her descriptions. I appreciate her writing style, I really do. It was nothing like the classic fairy tale. RRH is not a retelling, it’s a re-imagining.

Now if only she could’ve sat in the director’s chair instead…

Verdict: Please for the love of all that is holy, do NOT watch the movie. Read the book instead and forget there ever was such a nightmare. And try not to think about the fact that the actors involved in this…thing…are getting paid more than you ever will. It’s a sad state of affairs.

4 big bad wolves of 5


Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

Coyote shapeshifter mechanic Mercy Thompson is at it again in Patricia Brigg’s second installment Blood Bound. I’ve only read the first two of the series, but so far I’d say it would be the love child between Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series and Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. Except without the easy Southern charm of the former and the sex appeal of the latter. 

This time tattooed, tom-boy Mercy is there to help her vampire friend Stefan out of a bit of trouble. Unfortunately, they both get a little more than they bargained for when the rogue vampire they’re pursuing turns out to be demonically possessed. Enter the creep factor. Especially during the trailer attack scene. Blegh. I can deal with monsters and mayhem, but a psychopath really creeps me out. I like being a little scared by books, especially when my hulking Boy is sleeping next to me. But other than that scene, it wasn’t a particularly disturbing tale.

I like this series kind of the same way I enjoy peanut butter and fluff sandwiches…. Occasionally I’ll get a craving for it, but it’s not something I can sustain myself on for long. I usually enjoy paranormal fiction, as long it’s not too heavily dosed with romance. I like love stories but I HATE romance novels. Blood Bound isn’t love-heavy, but it kind of has the archtypal confusing love triangle garbage that I, for one, am quite tired of. Can’t a love story between two people ever be enough? (Having been involved in a love triangle at one point, I can verify that it’s neither as arousing or as exciting as one might imagine… More so confusing and inconvenient, really).

I do like Mercy’s rugged I’m-kind-of-a-badass-but-I’m-still-a-girl nature, however. I’m all about the heroines. I think I just may have come across this series too late in the game, after teenage years filled with Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, and Anne Rice… it’s hard to compete.

Bottom line: beach read at it’s finest.

3 tattooed mechanics of 5