Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mini Me: Heart of the Sea by Christine Warren

In the world of the Others, affairs of the heart are no less complicated. Jenny Ferguson wants to give her husband-to-be a very special wedding gift, but what does a girl get for the selkie laird who has everything? She thinks she's thought of the perfect thing, but she needs help to put it together. Calling on one of her oldest friends — who also happens to be her first lover — she works a little magic that ends up causing a lot of unforeseen problems. After all, when your fiance catches you and another man… half-naked… at dawn… three days before the wedding… the situation can become more complicated than anyone ever anticipated. And Jenny might discover it will take more than magic to save her wedding day.

As a freebie on Amazon I think this description kind of gives more heft to the story than what's really there. Not that it's not cute, but the angst is very small and even the supposed misunderstanding doesn't last all that long. The background and world building is interesting though, and the premise of the hero and heroine's relationship is one that I actually think would sustain a full novel.

Ultimately the whole thing ends up feeling pretty 'ok' but definitely not worth anything more than free.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton

It’s a typical day at work for Anita Blake, if your day job is raising the dead, and being a U. S. Marshal for the preternatural branch. One phone call changed everything. It was from the mother of one of her live-in boyfriends. Micah Callahan’s father was in the hospital and he was dying. Micah had been estranged from his family for years, but now, his mother wants Anita to bring the prodigal son home for a last good-bye.

Anita thinks it’s going to be a tearful trip down memory lane, until she learns that Sheriff Callahan was attacked on the job by a zombie. The bite is rotting him from the inside out, as if it’s turning him into a zombie while he’s still alive, but Anita knows zombies and they aren’t contagious. But something is killing Micah’s father, and he’s not the only victim. And there are the missing persons, far too many to explain away. While Micah deals with his family, Anita is pulled into a case so terrible she has to call for back up from friends and lovers that are no more human than the some of the monsters they’re hunting, and even that isn’t enough. Edward, Death himself, comes with badge and flamethrower to watch over his friend, Anita Blake, while she fights for her life and the lives of those she loves.


So.....pros. Edward - always cool to see him (thankfully I don't agree with the reviews that say this book is setting up their future sexy times. Phew.), Nicky - didn't expect to like him so much but he works well in this story, coming into this own as a person and Bride to Anita, Nathaniel - awesome as usual, Cop/bad guy stuff - interesting to read and full of action (I'm not complaining), Sex - surprisingly minimal.

But books can't always just be about the pros right? Especially when it's this series there's always a few things that end up bothering you (Micah's family being a menage a trois too? Really O_o?) but ultimately my problem here is the same problem I had with the end of the Mother of All Darkness - a bad guy that requires 500+ pages to identify can be finished off in a paragraph? How does that make sense? It detracts from the rest of the book when Anita is just that big and bad that no one can stand up to the full weight of her powers. I get that she's the heroine and supposed to win but can we make the outcome seem at least a little bit more questionable?

Also, what the hell happened with the zombies and getting the victims to open up their homes to them? I went back to re-read the end and yep, I'm pretty sure they never closed that plot point up. Anybody read something I missed? Help a reviewer out.

Overall Feeling - C+

Series - ... 19) Bullet 20) Hit List 21) Affliction

Thursday, September 19, 2013

To Kill a Warlock by H.P. Mallory

Dulcie O’Neil is a fairy. And not the type to frolic in gardens. She’s a Regulator—a law-enforcement agent who monitors the creatures of the Netherworld to keep them from wreaking havoc in the mortal world.

When a warlock is murdered and Dulcie was the last person to see him alive, she must uncover the truth before she’s either deported back to the Netherworld, or she becomes the next victim.

Enter Knight Vander, a sinfully attractive investigator sent from the Netherworld to work the case with Dulcie.

Between battling her attraction to her self-appointed partner, keeping a sadomasochistic demon in check, and fending off the advances of a sexy and powerful vampire, Dulcie’s got her hands full.

As the body count increases, Dulcie finds herself battling dark magic, reconnoitering in S&M clubs and suffering the greatest of all betrayals.

Another freebie I picked up from Amazon (ok Kindle app, I like you) To Kill a Warlock turned out to be surprisingly entertaining. I was hoping from the sound of the summary it wouldn't suck but you never know, my urban fantasy meter has been wrong before. Dulcie is strong but not invincible, smart but understands when another person's experience could be helpful - even if she's undecided about whether to trust the information or not.

My biggest peeve would probably be that Knight seems to expect her to be even more awesome than she already is. We all have buttons and even the most seasoned officer is going to have people and situations where they aren't their best. Maybe I'm more forgiving since I'm not in the place where my life depends on someone else's acting ability, but I'd rather Dulcie be a real person with faults than perfectly capable in all things. I'm interested to see if the love triangle set up here is continued in future novels, but as a first book I think Mallory does a good job creating a cast of characters and a world I want to learn more about.

Overall Feeling - B-

Series - 1) To Kill a Warlock 2) A Tale of Two Goblins 3) Great Hexpectations 4) Wuthering Frights 5) Malice In Wonderland 6) For Whom The Spell Tolls

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mini Me: Girls' Night Out by Lauren Dane

Party time? Nobody does it better than the Murphys and the Chases.

Lily and Nathan's wedding is just a few short weeks away, and the Murphys and Chases are doing their parties up right!
It's Friday, and the women head to the Pumphouse to celebrate with cocktails, cake, and laughter. The men They're at the Tonk for beers, wings, and trash talk.
Throw in party games, penis hats, and crazy-eyed ex-fiancées, and it's bound to be a night they'll be talking about for a long, long time.


I really really love that Lauren Dane does these Visits to Petal vignettes. They're the perfect little look backs into the lives of characters that are just so damn likeable. Girls' Night Out is no different, and it's possibly even more hilarious than some of her full length titles since we spend a lot of the time talking about penis accessories, lol.

As a addendum to her Chase and Petal series it's great and I'm sad that she gets flack for releasing FREE SHORT STORIES to her audience (what the hell people - stop sucking).

Friday, September 13, 2013

DragonCon 2013 Reflections - Part II

In spite of all the people and the fun costumes (which I'm still not done showing you guys) a big part of why I go to DragonCon are the panels. Since this is a convention run by and for fans the panels are often the best part, the times when you get to hear directly from the actors, actresses, authors, artists, etc. that inspire you.

Every year it seems to get a little bit harder to get into every panel that I want (I still haven't seen the Geeky Burlesque Show and was completed shut out of Adam and Jamie's Mythbuster panel) but since DragonCon actually clears the room between each one there's always a chance if you don't mind sitting in the back. I might have missed Amy Acker this year (did she actually do a panel at all? Anybody know?) but I DID get to see Lucy Lawless and hear from some of my favorite authors so I'm still considering this all a win!

"Spotlight on Lucy Lawless"
I had no idea what a wonderful beautiful human being Lucy Lawless is. I loved hearing her thoughts on playing the Xena role, a Xena movie, and how she felts about the long lasting effects the character had on viewers. 

"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"
Cirroc Lofton, Avery Brooks, Terry Farrell, Garrett Wang (r-l)
Since I've spent so much time with TNG and Voyager crew in the past I made this year the DS9 year (and it was there 20th Anniversary!). This was a very cool panel, each of the actors were very graceful and fun to listen to - and Avery Brooks is a nut (in a good way).

"The Men of Urban Fantasy"
S.M Stirling (not pictured), D.B. Jackson (not pictured), James R. Tuck, Jonathan Maberry, John G. Hartness, Jim Butcher, Kevin J. Anderson (not pictured) (r-l)
How could I not go to this panel?! I heard Jim Butcher individually the first year he went to DragonCon so this time around I got to hear a bunch of male authors talk about what they liked best writing in the genre. I was also introduced to a few authors I had never hear of before (James R. Tuck & John G. Hartness, books unread, were my favorites!). 
Click below for more!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Deception Cove by Jayne Castle

In the world of Harmony, Rainshadow Island is home to a mysterious preserve, secrets that have been kept for centuries, and a treasure worth killing for…

As a light-talent, Alice North has the rare ability to make things disappear, including herself—a gift that comes in handy during her magic act with her dust bunny Houdini.

Business mogul Drake Sebastian is day-blind, since his sight was nearly destroyed in a lab accident. But he’s the one man who can see Alice when she disappears—and he needs her.

On Rainshadow Island, two dangerous Old World crystals are missing, igniting a paranormal storm. Drake thinks Alice is the key to finding them, and proposes they head there, but only after a Marriage of Convenience.

Alice’s honeymoon on Rainshadow is guaranteed to be memorable, as the island—and the passion between her and Drake—is about to explode…

I've got a soft spot in my heart for Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz) but I have to say the vulnerability she's putting into her heroes lately have been making the stories even better.  Drake is scarred inside and out, from a relationship that ended very badly, so while he's eager to establish a connection with Alice it's not clear even he knows exactly why it's so important. 

But once the two of them land in Deception Cove, and are forced to lean on each other for survival, the ways in which they complement each other come to the surface. Castle doesn't create stories where brute strength is enough to save it all and Alice and Drake have to look for clues to the missing stones, protect the hearts and bodies of the people still on the island, and understand what their relationship really is all at the same time. It results in a fast paced, entertaining novel with quick dialogue and a couple whose HEA you care about. Add in characters from past books and you've got a great addition to the Rainshadow series that functions well as a stand alone.

Overall Feeling - A

Series - 1) The Lost Night 2) Deception Cove

Monday, September 9, 2013

some DragonCon shenanigans

I've started going through and sorting the many, many, MANY pictures I took at DragonCon this year and let me tell you something - it's a labor of love! There are going to be lots of other blogs with significantly better photography *shakes fist at low light options* than the ones I showcase on Good Red Herring but I had a great time there and who knows, maybe one of you will get inspired to go one year!

Cake by Lauren Dane *ARC Review*

Art student-slash-bike messenger Wren Davis pursues what she wants. And what she wants now is Gregori Ivanov, rock star of the Seattle art scene. With his tattoos, piercings and sensual sneer, Gregori is the ultimate bad boy. Wren’s gotten to know the man beneath the body art, too—and it only makes her crave him more.

But Gregori loves women like he loves cake and champagne—intensely, but only for the moment. And after Wren experiences just how scorching sex with Gregori is, she’s determined to show him that just one taste won’t be enough… 


I think in Cake I was finally able to pinpoint at least part of what makes Lauren Dane one of my favorite authors - her writing is incredibly visual, which makes each and every character 'real' in a way that few others can duplicate. Wren and Gregori could have been caricatures, especially him with his green mohawk and tattoos, but instead Dane has used her words to ensure that the reader can clearly grasp the outside and how that reflects on the inside.

In Cake we're introduced to two people who've been dancing around each other for a while; they've got a rhythm in their conversations and the flirtation meter is turned to HIGH pretty much every time. Still the fact that they're so comfortable with each other doesn't negatively effect the bedroom antics (when those happen) or the final emotional upheaval (which is necessary to get over some baggage). Dane has won me over again with an engaging short story showing characters who are mature enough to recognize the important people in their lives, but insecure enough to need some help towards that final HEA.

Overall Feeling - A

Series - None, Title available 9/17/13

*Title requested from NetGalley*
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Cast in Sorrow by Michelle Sagara


The Barrani would be happy to see her die. So Kaylin Neya is a bit surprised by her safe arrival in the West March. Especially when enemies new and old surround her and those she would call friends are equally dangerous…

And then the real trouble starts. Kaylin's assignment is to be a "harmoniste"—one who helps tell the truth behind a Barrani Recitation. But in a land where words are more effective than weapons, Kaylin's duties are deadly. With the wrong phrase she could tear a people further asunder. And with the right ones…well, then she might be able to heal a blight on a race.

If only she understood the story. 


Warning: this is NOT a stand alone novel. Period. Cast in Sorrow is the ninth novel in Michelle Sagara's Chronicles of Elantra series and at this point things are so complicated and the cast of characters so vast that even *I* have trouble remembering who everyone is. Not that that negatively impacted my enjoyment of the story, but the intricacies of the Barrani court and the history of their relationships is a vein running through everything, and keeping the other books on hand may have been a good idea, lol. 

Still the best thing about the world Sagara has crafted is that while things are dense they are still incredibly interesting. Even though you know as the reader that it is highly unlikely that Kaylin is going to mess something up beyond repair, bad things do happen in her world and you can never be completely positive. It's a heavy duty to be handed, to attempt to tell the tale of an entire people, a tale that when told actually changes the people themselves, and Kaylin's understandably hesitant about it. She has to navigate the things that the Barrani won't (or can't) say, and sometimes that means that I'm as lost in the reading as Kaylin is in the living of it. But at 400+ pages Sagara had my attention pretty much the entire time and thankfully this book isn't a cliffhanger or lead in to another: the story Kaylin has to tell gets and ending and the fresh perspectives added in because of it have me excited about where this series will go from here.

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - ...7) Cast in Ruin 8) Cast in Peril 9) Cast in Sorrow

*Title requested from NetGalley*

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Awkward and Awesome DragonCon 2013

- People. Oh god the people. I love mingling with my fellow geeks but DragonCon & the hosting hotels need to step up their badge checking game so that every skybridge doesn't end up backed up forever.
- Gang rape by puppets. Yeah - the puppet slam is 18+ for a reason but even I wasn't prepared for that level of WTF*ckery.
- More of a personal awkward, but Eliza Dushku was behind/next to me in the bathroom in the Marriott and I DIDN'T NOTICE. I was chatting with my friend and checking my phone for where we were heading next and even when she tried to signal me I was completely oblivious. Sigh. I'm a bad fan sometimes. (Plus she's really short and I'm gonna stick to the story that it threw me off my game.)
- Moving the merchandise rooms this year to the AmericasMart was such a bad call. Complete chaos, no one could find anything, and browsing was pretty much impossible.
- Guys, I don't understand the lack of underwear for people in tight spandex. I don't need everyone to wear full coverage granny panties but I also don't want to know by looking at you if you're circumcised or not.

- The Radius Tower at the Hyatt. From the sounds of things we got a larger room in that area than usual (thank goodness) but the private key card entrance and private elevators were AMAZEBALLS!
- Author panels! Besides just the joy of finding new series to try I love connecting with authors and hearing them speak about their work - it's a rare opportunity to hear them say why exactly they love what they write (and why) and DragonCon excels at this.
- XENA IN THE HOUSE YA'LL! Lucy Lawless was at DragonCon (it was her first big convention appearance ever) and listening to her was amazing.
- I found Jen & John from Cakewrecks again! I got to see them in all their Alice in Wonderland Steampunk glory and it was fabulous (they're so nice!).
- DragonCon TV. Always a plus and probably one of the biggest reasons I stay in a hosting hotel.
- Even though I told myself that my lack of wall space meant I couldn't buy more art, I bought more art. But I love it so the regrets are pretty much nil and now I'm contemplating turning a whole wall in my studio into a Nightmare Before Christmas display!
- Costume success! I didn't get to see Yaya Han in her costumes as much as I would have liked to but I did see her in her Moulin Rouge Snow White look and personally, the couple actual costumes I had went over well (and weren't a pain to wear). Probably the most surprising thing was how much of a hit my Modcloth Pie Dress was with the crowds and I spent a lot of time telling people where to buy it!

In the end, DragonCon is a fantastic weekend where I get to reconnect with friends who live far away and learn more about the areas I'm passionate about. It's pricey but totally worth it, though I do have a teeny tiny hope that maybe a few thousand people will suddenly decide not to attend next year, lol. The crowds were at times oppressive and I can't imagine the experience for those with physical disabilities.

STAY TUNED for more pictures!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

Lucy Lang isn't looking for fireworks…

She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbecue, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important: someone who won't inspire the slightest stirring in her heart…or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can't risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn't enough either. So it's goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate "friend with privileges," and hello to a man she can marry.

Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn't going anywhere. As far as he's concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever? 


The Next Best Thing, checking out the author's website, was originally released in 2010 and I think while it's a decent entry in the contemporary romance field, it's not my favorite. Ultimately I think it suffers from a lack of POV switching, as the story is told first person by Lucy. It's limiting in that I spent a lot of my time confused as to why she was confused. Originally her desire to not have her heart broken again made sense, but as pages went by and she still refused to confront her kind of obvious feelings for Ethan, things started to get stale. Ethan starts to look more and more like the martyr because we're never able to understand things from inside his head (or heart). 

Higgins recovers it in the end, as Lucy does an admirable amount of groveling to prove to Ethan that she finally understands that she married the wrong brother (brother of her deceased husband - as you can imagine, that's drama city too). I just wish that throughout the story we'd been able to hear more from Ethan about why Lucy was so deserving of his devotion.

Overall Feeling - C

Series - None

*Title requested from NetGalley*

Monday, September 2, 2013

the adventure continues

Ever wonder what it is exactly about Dragon*Con that makes it so amazing? Well I hope this collage gives you an idea (at least until I get back home and can post pictures!)...

Dragon*Con 2013!