Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review of 'Succubus Shadows' by Richelle Mead

I cannot believe that I have to wait until August 30th to read the last book in this series.  I know that it's only a few days, but I cannot wait to find out how Seth and Georgianna end up together.  Yes, I am actually excited about a romance in an urban fantasy book - somewhere pigs are flying.

In this book, Mead explored the complexity of life. Though Georgianna is technically a lesser immortal and a succubus, as she went through the centuries she experienced relationships that ended in tragedies, each time she tried to be good.  She gave up her soul to end her husbands pain after she was unfaithful.  She took the dying power of a man that she tried to avoid, because she didn't want to corrupt his soul.  In the present she struggles not to sleep with Seth, for fear that she will shorten his life.  Georgianna's intention are always good, but they always seem to end in disaster.  In fact, she makes a point of saying several times that her life is circular.

Questions like why does God let bad things happen to good people and do miracles really exist were explored.  In some ways reading this story kind of reminded me of Pandora's box.  Instead of a box being closed to allow people to hope, in this case a box was opened that provided hope in a situation in which beings had no right to be hopeful. Even though Georgianna has been kidnapped and outright tortured, the idea that the end might lead to a life beyond imagining with Seth, seems to keep her going.  It seems to me that what Mead is trying to tell us that hope and of itself is a manifestation of God's presence in our life, even if she does have Georgianna say, "fucking angels" several times in each book.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Proven Guilty, Book 8 of the Harry Dresden files by Jim Butcher

There are monsters appearing in Chicago. Literal Horror film monsters bursting from the screen, killing people and feeding on their fear (I'm actually kind of curious as to who did this first, since I've seen that plot line in about a dozen places). Harry must find out who is doing this and how – before more people are killed – or left living only to have their psyches mauled in the wake of the attack. It hits even closer to home when he sees that Michael's child Molly is directly involved in the horror and she and her friends are at risk.

The war between the vampires and the White Council continues, further confused because the expected support from the Summer and Winter courts has not arisen – much to everyone's surprise. Harry, as the Wizard most closely linked to the courts, must try to unravel why and secure their help

Harry is settling into his role as a Warden, though clashing with the Merlin over the severity of having to execute young wizards whose main mistake in life has been to grow up with power but no education or training. This only becomes more poignant as he is faced with the task of saving a friend's life – in defiance of this brutal policy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Jascinda is a draki – the descendents of dragons. She can shift her form into a humanoid dragon, scales, claws, wings and all. It's not easy though, for their kind are hunted to sell their body parts – indeed Jascinda barely escapes when one handsome young hunter spares her life.

Also, like all draki, she has a talent – she can breathe fire and makes her highly in demand. So in demand that her mother (who is effectively human) and her twin sister take her away from her pride in the dead of night.

Taking her to Nevada, to a city in the desert. In the hot, dry air without fertile land, Jascinda's draki will die and she can be a normal person just like her mother and her sister – but she doesn't want that and her draki withering feels like part of her soul is dying.

But who is at the school? Why it is hot hunter guy in her class! What an incredible (and by incredible I mean utterly ridiculous and mockable) coincidence! (No, really, it's a coincidence. The guy hunting her in Colorado turns out to be one of her class mates in Nevada just random chance). And she can't help but love him and she pushes him away but is pulled back – and their passion manages to keep her draki alive in the desert

But she must combat his hunter nature, his family as well as the demands of living in the desert when she longs for home – as well as the pride's demand she return.

So this book was YA, and probably epitomised so much about YA that I dislike. And I have to fight my cynical face because it had a lot of the tropes that are common to YA (and Urban fantasy as a whole if I'm honest) that are a tad tired – Jascinda is also the chosen special one who Does Not Want to be. She manages to maintain book long angst. No, really, there isn't a page in this book where Jascinda is not angsting. Ok she had good reason for the angst – but daaamn, do you need training to maintain abject angst for this long? Did she go to the special Bella Swan school of angst?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review of 'Succubus Heat' by Richelle Mead

Though I have so many other books on my to read list, I cannot stop reading the Georgina Kincaid series.  This is really out of character for me because the novel is essentially a love story between Georgina and Seth.  It's not quite paranormal romance but it's not far from it either.
In this book, Jerome, the archdemon of Seattle is summoned, causing all the lesser immortals in the area to lose their power.  For Georgina this translates to not being able to shift and not being dependent on stealing bits of people's soul to survive.  For the first time she can actually have sex with Seth and not worry about shortening his life. Suddenly, the prophecy that she would have a child and be with someone that she loves, looks possible for the first time.

Unfortunately, no good thing comes without a cost in Georgina's life.  She realizes that she must rescue Jerome or risk her whole life being torn apart.  It's a case of the devil you know really.  The problem of course is that if she does rescue Jerome, she will go back to being a succubus thus ending her relationship with Seth. It's a no win situation for her because even if she does not immediately find Jerome hell being the organized institution that is, will simply appoint a new archdemon.

What I found interesting about this book is that Georgina was the only one who could be arsed to look for Jerome even though all of the lesser immortals knew that their lives might also drastically change with his absence.  To find him she risked physical danger and even the possibility of being smote. To be honest I really like this version of a strong female protagonist.  Often, what the reader is meant to perceive as the strong woman trope is reduced to ass kicking, but in the case of Georgiana, strength literally means strength of will and that is something that we don't see often in this genre at all.  In many ways, this makes Georgina far more authentic than characters like Anita Blake or Damali. The very idea that strength can and should manifest in different ways, is something that Mead has absolutely mastered. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, Episode 29

This week we discuss True Blood, Jennifer Estep's Spider's Bite, Yasmine Galenorn's Dragonwych, Richelle Mead's Succubus series and Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Review of "City of Souls":The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac by Vicki Pettersson

I am happy to report that this is the first book in this series where I did not come across any GLBT failure.   I think Pettersson just decided to go all out with her erasure. As a straight person, I am not in a position to say that the complete erasure was a relief, because it also represents a form of failure that is reoccurring in this genre.  Once again, the book takes places in Las Vegas, and there are no people of colour.  As a woman of colour, I can say that after watching her treatment of the GLBT community, that I am kind of happy to be erased.

If I had to say that this particular book had any message at all, it would be that absolutism is dangerous.  Throughout the series, Joanna/Olivia's nemesis is her biological father tulpa.  His mission is to either destroy her before she can bring about his destruction, or to force her into becoming his ally.  When we examine this from a womanist perspective, it is clear that in this case that the tulpa constructs her as a possession to be claimed or punished/destroyed for a failure to submit.  When we consider that historically daughters have always been understood to be the possession of their fathers until they were lawfully wed, the tulpa's quest to claim to Joanna/Olivia fits into the framework of women as objects.

On the other side of the equation we have the warriors of the light led by Warren.  From the beginning of the story, Warren has been either outright deceitful or manipulative.  He justifies this by saying that as a leader, he does not have to explain his actions, and that he has the best intentions for his crew.  Unfortunately, Warren's best intentions mean sacrificing anyone in his bid to destroy the Tulpa.  He said at the end of the third book that the only reason he didn't erase Ben's memory, is because he didn't want Joanna/Olivia distracted, and in this book, he manipulates the end of the budding relationship between Hunter and Joanna/Olivia, because he feels that this would distract her from her true purpose.  When Joanna attempts to make it clear that she is a person, he tells her that she is a weapon. Warren also sent her to Midheaven knowing that it would weaken her, but because it was part of his goal to strip her down and remake her in his image, he had no problem with the loss. Warren does not actively seek Joanna/Olivia's death, but he is hardly much different in his approach to her than the tulpa.  Once again Joanna/Olivia is an object to be manipulated at will.

Monday, August 22, 2011

True Blood: Nobody Leaves

Let's do something a little different this week.  Let's discuss last night episode by character/plot.  Last night's episode began with Alcide carrying Sookie away from the battle.  Sookie is taken from him by Bill.  Bill tries to give her his blood, while Alcide asks, "does she even have a pulse?"  Can we just say right now that there was no suspense to this. Of course the minute that Sookie wakes up she barely thanks Alcide and proceeds to make plans with Bill to get Eric. In the first sensible thing that Alcide has done in a long time he tells her that he is done and walks out of the house.  

Unfortunately for Alcide, Debbie is awake when he gets home.  She pretends to sleep but you can see the tension all over her.  (BTW, thank you Alan Ball for the naked shot of my fav werewolf)  As Alcide snuggles up to Debbie, her eyes go yellow.  It's clear to me that Alcide needs to just take his fine behind away from both Sookie and Debbie.  Could any man really be that slow to catch on?

Creepy Debbie shows up at Sookie's place the next day with flowers, claiming to want to help Sookie.  Right after telling Debbie that she cannot forget the fact that she tried to kill her, Sookie listens to her thoughts and decides to trust her. Obviously, Debbie would only think what she wanted Sookie to know.  So thelma and louise head off to Goddess Emporium, where Debbie rats her out immediately.  Tara holds a gun on Sookie, and tells her how stupid she is for showing up, but I guess the idea of some good ole fashioned spunky agency was too much for Sookie to avoid.  Tara tells Sookie where Bill is and Sookie charges Tara and escapes.  One would think she would have clued in then that Debbie is up to no good, but Sookie jumps into Debbies truck. It's also worth mentioning that she showed no concern for the fact that Tara was being held prisoner and so her main target to help as Bill. Why is Tara even friends with this woman?