Mea culpa: "To yard sale" is real slang meaning "to fall down." However, it comes from skiing/snowboarding, when a violent fall scatters your equipment like junk spread out on a lawn for a yard sale. Very witty and intuitively clear in that context! The context in Ward's book was a guy who was stumbling around his apartment either naked or in pajamas, I forget which. Nothing would have scattered had he keeled over.

Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 4) is the one with the human cop hero and the sad virgin vampire heroine. I actually liked the heroine, Marissa. The hero, Butch, was a total jackass. You could not have come up with a better example of how "alpha male" traits taken to extremes are actually asshole traits.

Butch had one of the stupidest conflicts I've ever come across in a romance novel. He's human and if his vampire girlfriend drinks his blood, he'll DIE. So she drinks from a vampire friend instead, which is how vampires normally feed. Butch is jealous because feeding has sexual overtones, and demands that she drink from him instead, even though it will KILL HIM. He gets so demanding about it and furious at her drinking from someone other than him that his poor girlfriend, who doesn't want to KILL HIM, starts starving herself!

So he would rather DIE by forcing the woman he supposedly loves to KILL HIM, thus leaving her alone, heartbroken, and horribly guilty, than have her perform a mildly sexual act with a friend that she needs to do TO LIVE.

Admittedly, this is called out as stupid in the book. But it's also portrayed that it's totally natural for Butch, a MANLY MANLY MAN, to prefer death to having his girlfriend have a relationship with another man which she has no choice over and does not regard as sexual (though Butch does.)

There was a nicely effective bit of body horror when Butch is infected with eevil and his come turns black. YIKES.

Bad medicine: Do not cram stuff into people's mouths if they're having a seizure!

Quote chosen by randomly opening book: "I threatened the king's life to ahvenge your honor!"

Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 3) was my favorite. The hero of this one, Zsadist-- just pause to admire that-- is not an asshole. He's a physically and emotionally scarred survivor of kidnapping and repeated rape, who thinks he's too damaged to be anything but a killer and has some serious hang-ups about sex. Within the completely over the top context of the book, I have to say that this was handled pretty realistically and sensitively. And also milked for maximum angst. The heroine, Bella, is sexually assertive and mostly rescues herself. Very nice!

Zsadist's twin brother, Phury-- just pause to admire that-- has possibly the all-time best "how I lost my leg" story. Incidentally, a number of the male vampires are disabled, sometimes with magical compensation but often not. I liked this aspect of the series.

Bad medicine: If you've been injected with a drug, vomiting won't "get it out of your system." It's in your bloodstream, not your stomach.

Quote chosen by randomly opening book: Before Zsadist left, he took one last look at the fish tank. The food was almost gone now, snipped off the surface by little gaping mouths, mouths that came at it from the underside. (I like this, actually. Zsadist is feeling triggered and unsettled and not consciously noticing it, but everything around him has taken on a slightly sinister tinge.)

In Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 5), we learn that Vishous-- just pause to admire that-- is canonically bisexual and has a crush on Butch. Sadly, this is the book about his romance with a woman, Jane, a doctor who gets kidnapped to tend Vishous' wounds. The romance made no sense in this one. Vishous is traumatized by early noncon same-sex encounters so now he can only have sex by dominating women in completely consensual BDSM settings, and he and Jane have sweet banter and then he repeatedly dubcons her but it's OK because she consented, sort of, and then he subs for her in penance for... something. What? It also turns out that he knows how to resurrect the dead, which may have been set up in previous books but seemed out of the blue in this one. Bonus WTF "happy ending."

Bad medicine: You STILL don't stuff things in people's mouths if they have a seizure!

Quote chosen by randomly opening book: Butch's jaw dropped and he pulled a bobble.
Luke knows enough just enough about what his father does as a black ops infiltrator to know which questions not to ask. But when his dad goes missing, Luke realizes that life will always be different for him. Suddenly he must avoid the kidnappers looking to use him as leverage against his father, while at the same time evading the attention of the school's mysterious elite clique of Russian hipsters.

This YA novel is even more fun than the cover copy implies, throwing together werewolves, Indian legends, secret evil laboratories, martial arts, and – yes, really – a mysterious elite clique of Russian hipsters. And more. Much more. Despite its everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach, it’s a surprisingly coherent action-adventure with a big helping of comedy.

Given the title and cover, it’s no spoiler to say that Luke is a werewolf. Like Bruchac, the author, he’s also an Abenaki Indian. Between the Indian werewolves and a cool take on vampires, I suspect that Twilight was one of the inspirations for this novel. It’s not a parody, but there are a few winks in that direction. Luke, a bad-ass literature geek with a political bent and a mind crammed full of information, was reminiscent of a Cory Doctorow character, but with the saving grace of being much less smug. I liked him.

The mix of action, new riffs on old myths, and wisecracks would probably appeal a lot to Percy Jackson fans. It appealed a lot to me. There’s some over-explaining and messaginess, and while Meena, the girl Luke crushes on, is a likable character with her own issues, she is structurally just The Girl. And the denuement is a bit rushed. But overall, I liked it a lot. Many of you would probably like it too.

This is one of the debut titles of Tu Publishing, an imprint of Lee and Low and the only mainstream YA imprint I know of in America dedicated to publishing multicultural sf and fantasy. They’re off to a good start.

Wolf Mark

Meet Joseph Bruchac: poet, novelist, storyteller, musician, nuclear physicist, race car driver
These will be brief, as I read them both ages ago and only now realized that I never got around to reviewing them.

True Meaning of Smekday, The is a marvelous and very funny science fiction comedy in which eleven-year-old Gratuity "Tip" Tucci tells the story of how Earth was colonized by aliens, and she ended up traveling cross-country in search of her mother in a flying car called Slushious, in the company of a conflicted alien named J. Lo.

This book has all sorts of elements which I normally hate, from cutesy pop culture references to heavy-handed messages ("colonialism is bad") to mocking Disneyland (easy target). Amazingly, I loved it anyway. It's very, very, very funny, the messages are on-target, and Tip is an extremely likable heroine, if a tad mature for eleven. There are some comic strips incorporated which tell the history of the aliens, and I nearly died laughing reading them.

I also liked that Tip is biracial (African-American/Italian) and it comes up believably, but that's not the subject of the story. Though I have to register my usual annoyance that while she is accurately depicted in the interior illustrations, she's not present on the cover. Seriously, would it kill publishers to occasionally depict people of color on the covers of books in which they are the protagonists?

I think anyone over about eight could appreciate this one, if their reading level is up to it.

Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story is a young adult novel, definitely not appropriate for young children, about a fat geeky teenage boy, Doug, who becomes the world's least glamorous vampire. It's nowhere near as assured or successful as Smekday.

It alternates narratives between Doug and Senjal, an Indian exchange student with an internet addiction. Doug's narration is dead-on as a geeky teenage boy. Senjal is potentially interesting but comes across more as a narrative construct than a flesh-and-blood character. But I was enjoying it, mostly for Doug's narration, until, at the two-thirds mark, the entire thing falls apart into a mess of preachiness and WTF.

Read more... )
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