The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

So this post is all about The Iron Druid Chronicles. I got the three book bundle and read them one right after the other. Witty, fast-paced, heavy in magic and paranormal creatures, I strongly recommend all three that I read. I desperately want the next, but I have too much to read. And so, let the reviewing commence. The blurbs come from Goodreads and that is where the link goes. And just for fun, I liken my reviews to jungle cats. For no reason whatsoever.

HOUNDED  

hounded

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Tempe, Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time. A handsome, tattooed Irish dude, he looks like he’s about twenty-one years old—actually, he’s twenty-one centuries old and he wields a magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer. Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and now Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, and a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

————

My take:  The plot takes off and doesn’t stop for a second. The writing style is excellent – you just fall into the story. Sometimes, you flounder at the beginning of a book trying to learn the world. Hearne does a good job of peppering in information about the more esoteric mythological people and creatures in a way that doesn’t bring the story to a stop. I will admit that dummy here spent the first 3/4 of the book confusing druid with dryad….then I remembered…. them what built the stonehenge! Yeah. Sad.

If you love intermixing of the magical with the mundane, people turning into animals, you love action in your fantasy, gods, goddesses, and/or if you’ve ever wished to converse with a gigantic Irish wolfhound, this could be for you. Our hero learns there are drawbacks to having two beautiful goddesses after you… especially when the two goddesses are not exactly friendly. Turns out the Tuatha de are not exactly at war with one another… yet. But besides the goddesses wrangling for power, Atticus’s enemy, Aenghus Og is gathering followers and magical weapons. But is Atticus his target, or Brighed, his sister, and leader of the Tuatha de Danann?

This kept me turning pages and gave me a satisfying ending. I finished this and opened the next book right away.

I rate this book: Cheetah force.

HEXED 

hexed

Atticus doesn’t care much for witches, but he’s about to make nice with the local coven when suddenly the witch population in Tempe quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II. But with a fallen angel feasting on local students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt.

————

My take: This book had more tension rather than non stop action. This one also has a moral. Be very careful when making deals with witches. Trust me. And if you don’t, read the book and see where Atticus went wrong. Yes, it turns out our hero isn’t all knowing and invincible. This one he’s dealing with witches and bacchants, rather than the Tuatha who he had shielded himself against.

I loved the first, but it was a raging white-water raft trip, and this one, while heavy on action and plot, (as well as 5 words I didn’t know) has twists and turns that really made me go … ah! And it SHOULD be hard to outmaneuver a 2100 year old magical druid. A real page turner.

I rate this book: Tiger stealth.

HAMMERED 

hammered

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is a blowhard and a bully, and Viking vampire Leif Helgarson has asked his friend Atticus for help taking down this Norse nightmare. As a rule, Atticus generally tries to stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. Soon, though, Atticus and Leif are off to the plane of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.

————

My take: We knew it was comin’. The battle with the Thunder God. We’ve heard what a jerk Thor is for two books, and now, we hear just HOW big of a jerk. And believe me, he has it comin’. Adding to the tension is various magical beings trying to convince Atticus what a mistake this could be. They don’t convince him, but they had me wishing he wouldn’t go. I hoped he would find a way out of this. I hoped he was going to pull a Laksha (read the last book to see what I mean by that) and maybe pull thru on just the letter of his promise to help kill Thor and everything would come out ok. But then we wouldn’t have a book.

Atticus really flexes his Druid powers in this one. And shows he’s got the smarts. But the gods of Asgard have might, and they know he’s up to something. Added to the danger is the emotional toll all this is taking. Atticus is much more introspective. He realizes he’s stirred the deity pot, and that all the troubles have increased since he settled in one place instead of staying mobile. I actually teared up during a talk he has with his wolfhound, on the matter of humans and immortality.

In short – this was still fast paced, well written, engrossing – I hated when real life kept getting in the way and keeping me from what was happening. I just wanted to sit and read. Very satisfying, even though he hits you with a cheap shot at the very end. Read the epilogue and you’ll see what I mean.

I rate this book: Jaguar camouflage.

Pride and Prejudice Anniversary Blog Hop

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Today is the official birthday of Pride and Prejudice. I’m going to post twice about this book this week. Today I am joining in with Alyssa Goodnite and Stilleto Storytime for the Pride and Prejudice Anniversary Blog Hop.

PandPPartyHop1-1

For those of you who enjoy the incredible array of Austen prequels, spin-offs and retelling’s, you might know Alyssa’s name. Austentatious is not a retelling or a continuation, but an  homage. I have not read this book – but it’s got some great reviews. It’s got romance and some fantasy, it involves a magic journal…. pretty much right up my alley. I will be checking it out. Her follow up, Austensibly Ordinary,  is being released tomorrow. It’s got the same magical journal, but it looks like this one has the shades of Pemberley about it. I’ve entered the Goodreads giveaway, and so can you. Here it is: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/41649-austensibly-ordinary

The point of the blog hop is to celebrate Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: to write about your first time reading it, seeing it on screen, maybe talk about your favorite Darcy portrayal. I am so in love with Jane, I am doing this blog hope and the year long Bicentenary Challenge for 2013, so I’ll be reviewing the book and the 2005 movie later. So for this post, I’m going to talk about my favorite part about reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time.

In short: the proposal. Almost all of Jane’s books rotate around the hope, fear, or expectation of the proposal. The proposal between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth is a bit of a dream. We, as readers, hope for it. We know that Darcy admires Lizzy. We know how deserving she is of a large income and a fabulous house. However, the first time I read the book, I never saw it coming. I thought for sure Darcy was going to try and overcome his  “unfortunate” admiration for our Lizzy. But then he has the bad taste to mention this in his proposal.

DOH!

Really, Mr. Darcy? Are you so blinded by your own consequence? Let me answer that for him. Yes. I mean the guy is loaded. He’s got Pemberley, the house is Grosvenor Square, and ten thousand a year. He’s a romantic literary figure, but let me warn you, modern gentlemen, don’t take cues from his first address. So much of being a romantic literary figure is, as the English say, seriously cocking things up. After the beautiful and unexpected beginning, this happens:

He spoke well: but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride.

His sense of her inferiority – of its being a degradation – of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavors, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favorable answer. He SPOKE of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security.

No. Just no. You don’t tell the object of your affection, the bright woman with such fine eyes that her family in Cheapside (not to mention that overbearing mother and ridiculous sisters, which he did have the good sense to leave out), are an embarrassment and that despite this you are still laying yourself at her feet, please and thank you, what pudding should we serve at Christmas?

Well, Lizzy’s not having it. She tells him where to put his proposal, in the feminine and gentle terms of the times. She does it with enough heat that Mr. Darcy demands an explanation. I love her answer.

I might as well inquire…why with so evident a desire of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character? Was not this some excuse for uncivility, if I WAS uncivil? But I have other provocations. You know I have. Had not my feelings decided against you – had they been indifferent, or had they even been favorable, do you think that any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has been the means of ruining, perhaps forever, the happiness of a most beloved sister?

She’s got you there, Darcy. She found out that it was Darcy who encouraged his friend, Mr. Bingley, to remove himself from the area upon realizing he was falling in love with Jane, Elizabeth’s sister. Darcy claims it was because he saw no signs of love in Jane’s behavior.

Now, I think a modern man, having been bitch-slapped thusly would backpeddle, grow red, or try and explain himself. I guess Darcy figured he hadn’t shoved his hand-made Italian shoe far enough down his throat, because not only does he admit it, he tells her that “I rejoice in my success. Towards HIM (Mr. Bingley) I have been kinder than towards myself.”

The first time I read the book, I didn’t see how Darcy was going to redeem himself. Pride is one thing, Willful pride is another. If you can tell the woman you love that you wrecked her sister’s chance of happiness and security, and still be proud of your actions, you are either very short-sighted, or very loyal.

I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone (ahem, I mean, really? Why would you be here if you didn’t have whole passages of this book memorized?) but it turns out Darcy is loyal and a damn fine man. He goes above and beyond for Lizzy and her infernal family. In a Jane biopic, a character quips that Lizzy doesn’t fall in love with Darcy until she sees the size of his house. I strongly disagree.

He shows her the size of his heart.

And the second proposal is leaps and bounds better than the first.

Happy Birthday, Virginia & The Hours

“For most of history, anonymous was a woman.” Virginia Woolf

a room of ones own vw cover

For me, the above quote perfectly represents Virginia Woolf. Today happens to be her birthday, so, Happy Birthday, Virginia. I was introduced to her by my 9th grade English teacher. I was, at the time, a dreamy, poetic kid with little to recommend me other than good behavior, who listened as she filled our minds with Dickens and Shakespeare. I was only then beginning to appreciate classic literature. I admit my first attempt at reading A Room of One’s Own didn’t get very far. I tried again, sometime after high school. I could not appreciate it. Years later, I read Mrs. Dalloway, and bemoaned what I had been missing. I went back to A Room of One’s Own… and still found it a little dry. I then read Jacob’s Room and was lost completely.

Despite my narrow experience with her work (considering one novel genius, finding another unapproachable and being admittedly bored by her most famous essay) I read a few biographies about her. They often present more questions than answers. This goes beyond the debate if she was manic depressive (that was the term used in the books I read, which is now referred to as bipolar) or schizophrenic (it would describe the voices she mentions). Was she a lesbian? Was she asexual, despite her marriage? What affect did sexual abuse play in her adult life? Does all of the above come down to the sexual abuse, or was there something genetic in the mix?

Though she isn’t someone whose work I am completely gaga for, I find this woman absolutely fascinating. Despite flares of crippling mental illness, she married, she lived a full life, she wrote. Then when she couldn’t take it anymore, when the headaches and the voices started up again, she took her own life. Before she did, she wrote what might have been the most eloquent suicide letter ever penned. Now, I don’t think the suicide of an artist is a romantic thing. It’s a tragedy. But I also can’t imagine the pain she suffered, physical and mental, and the archaic “treatments” she was subjected to, which we know could only have exacerbated her condition.

When I heard about the movie The Hours being made, and the (initially) shocking news that Nicole Kidman was going to portray Woolf, I was interested. When I learned it was a book (written by Michael Cunningham) I snapped it up from the library. I would like to personally thank Nicole Kidman for bringing this book into my life.

the hours

These days, Clarissa believes, you measure people first by their kindness and their capacity for devotion. You get tired, sometimes, of wit and intellect; everybody’s little display of genius.  Michael Cunningham, The Hours

Here is the blurb:

The Hours tells the story of three women: Virginia Woolf, beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway as she recuperates in a London suburb with her husband in 1923; Clarissa Vaughan, beloved friend of an acclaimed poet dying from AIDS, who in modern-day New York is planning a party in his honor; and Laura Brown, in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, who slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home. By the end of the novel, these three stories intertwine in remarkable ways, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace.

The Hours is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

I’m going to cheat here, and just post my review from Goodreads, only because it’s been a few months since I’ve read The Hours and I always prefer a fresh review, written without nostalgia. I find I read it at least once a year. And though Mrs. Dalloway is still my favorite Woolf work (I have since read Monday or Tuesday, a short story collection and enjoyed it enough for 4 stars) I feel a connection to her as a woman, a writer, and a person. That feeling was increased by reading The Hours, even though I know it is only a fictional account of her life, and of only one short period in her life. Below is my review.

The Hours is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’m also a huge fan of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, which inspired the book. So many literary works lack plot in lieu of beautiful prose/intense characterization. This isn’t one of those books. Cunningham deftly weaves three characters in three different times together, bringing them together in a very unexpected way. He said in an interview this book is about a writer, a reader, and a character, but this never feels like a “gimmick”. It’s also one of those rare books that plumbs the depths of feminine struggles (with madness, family, the strain of our crazy everyday lives and what they expect from us, even touching on illness (AIDS) and sexuality) with a delicate hand. I never once was pulled out of the story thinking what does this man know about women and how they feel and how they react? He treats “women’s problems” like human problems. He also deals with love in the same way – it’s just love, not heterosexual love vs. lesbian vs. gay love.

There is just this for consolation: an hour here or there, when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined , though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything, for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so. Michael Cunningham, The Hours

Lycan Unleashed by Tiffany Allee

Image

Yeah. The word you were looking for was “oooonph…” with a slight forward motion and a curl of the shoulders. Or at least that is my reaction to this cover.

Miss Allee has been blessed by the Entity I think of as The Cover Goddess. TCG (as she is known to her friends) has clearly found approval with whatever Allee is sacrificing in her name, as the dudes on the covers of her novellas, known as “The Files of the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency” keep getting hotter. A cover doesn’t make a book better, but if I get a gorgeous Lycan in a leatherjacket on the cover with my three bucks, I’m not gonna kick him out of the Kindle. Metaphorically.

I am no fan of writing summaries, so here is the blurb for the book.

Detective Astrid Holmes is a sensitive, a human capable of feeling the energy of otherworlders. When she is dispatched to the horrific murder scene of a local vampire, she expects it to be just another day on the job. But when evidence is stolen on her watch, she is removed—not only from the investigation, but from her job as a member of the Chicago police department’s paranormal unit.

Astrid’s only hope of reinstatement lies with her ex co-worker and almost-lover, Lycan Mason Sanderson. But convincing the OWEA agent to let her assist with the investigation isn’t nearly as difficult as staying alive when the murderer realizes that Astrid may hold the key to unlocking his identity.

Fighting to take down a killer could have deadly consequences for Astrid and Mason, but working together puts their already fragile relationship in jeopardy.

What the blurb rather overstates is the almost-lover part. In truth, Astrid and Mason have shared one passionate, knee-knocking, panty-twisting kiss at a party. And that was it. Not only did the guy not call her, but she didn’t even get dinner. And now, here he shows up, a member of the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency, looking all hot and… and lycan-y… and doing his sexy-man thing, and hardly looks at her. And he’s probably going to take over the case. I’d be pissed. I wouldn’t want to work with him. Astrid certainly doesn’t want to get caught up in Mr. Smoochie-without-even-dinner again, right? She’s a smart girl. She figures it will work out for the best. She’s more a fan of desk work and a little energy-sensing, once the danger at the crime scene is over. She likes her job, but she’s not like the female main characters of the other two books. She prefers to leave the field work to the go-getters.

Now. What kind of story is this going to be, then, you wonder? Urban Fantasies don’t work when the mc stays at a desk. Enter our inciting incident. A bit of evidence goes missing and Astrid is put on temporary suspension. Her only hope to clear her name and protect her career means getting back in on the investigation. She tells Mason she might be able to identify the killer from the energy signature left on the coin. Mason is the hot dude on the cover. Did I mention he’s a Lycan? A big sexy Lycan?

Mason’s got family issues. That’s a problem for a Lycan, as the pack is more than just family to a werewolf. He hints that he can’t be with anyone. And he has an irritating habit, for someone who can’t be with anyone, of kissing a girl when she least expects it. Astrid  has some serious mommy issues. There’s something in her past that she doesn’t like to talk about, but she can’t keep it out of her internal monologue. She also can’t swear without hearing her mom in her head. She’s isn’t crazy about the field, but she’s worked too hard, and now her reputation and career hang in the balance. She has the gumption to follow Mason, our sexy were-beast, into the field to investigate. Sexual tension and good police procedural ensue.

This is the 3rd in the Other World Enforcement Agency books, and I think the writing and the plotting just keep getting tighter. Novella length, I read this in two days and was engaged the whole way through. You don’t have to read the other books before reading this one, but I think you’ll want to. 🙂 This seamlessly mixes in magic and myth and good old police procedural. I’m looking forward to more of these.

If you want to read more, here are the links to the other books on Goodreads. If we become friends…you can see my reviews. Or you can look up my reviews.

Image

Banshee Charmer

Image

Succubus Lost

Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for 2013**


I previously mentioned that I am doing a few challenges this year. One of them is the brainchild of the Austenprose blog. Here is the post with the official-ly rules and such. The impetus is the 200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. The idea is to read and review Pride and Prejudice itself, or the prequels, sequels, re-tellings, variations, books, movies, miniseries, etc. and then review them on your blog, or if you don’t have a blog, you can leave your review in the comments in the review posts at Austenprose. If you wish to participate, please read the original post and follow the instructions. There are prizes and everything!


The first thing to do is to pick the level of participation you want to commit to:  Neophyte: 1 – 4 selections, Disciple: 5 – 8 selections, Aficionada: 9 – 12 selections. I’m going full on Aficionada. 🙂 Below are my selections, linking to descriptions on Goodreads or IMDB, and the date the deliciousness will hit the bloggery. I’m going mainly with books, except for the one movie choice in February. I can’t talk enough about Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy

 

 

 

There is nothing sexier than a tall, surly, dark-haired Englishman. Heathcliff. Mr. Rochester. Mr. Thornton… oh Mr. Thornton. But Mr. Darcy is the archetype… I blame PBS for this unnatural predilection.

 

February 1 – Pride and Prejudice, the original! Jane Austen

March 1 – Pride and Prejudice – The Movie starring Keira Knightly 2005

April 1 – Georgiana Darcy’s Diary – Anna Elliott

May 1 – Dreams and Expectations by Wendi Sotis – which I won in the Pride and Prejudice Blog Hop.

July 1 – Mr. Darcy’s Diary – Amanda Grange

August 1 – Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One – Sharon Lathan

October 1 – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Sethe Grahame-Smith

November 1 – Death Comes to Pemberley – P.D. James

 

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books. Can you believe it was the only Jane Austen book I read for years and years? I was afraid the others wouldn’t hold up. I tend to cling to the familiar. At some point I kicked myself in the metaphorical keister and read all of them. I promptly regretted my foolishness. I’ve probably gone on to love Northanger Abbey as much as Pride and Prejudice. I just recently read my first Austen-sequel, and it was a continuation of Catherine and Henry Tilney’s adventures. A proper gothic romance. I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to a year of the Darcy’s… I tried to pick “fan favorites” or those that tend to the dark and mysterious…. mwah ha ha! I’m ending the year (at least so far as I have mapped out) where it began – the first Austen sequel written in 1919. I am even going to read that damn zombie book…. Don’t judge me.

**This was originally posted on my “Far Seeing Fairy Tales” blog, but as it is book related, I will be doing it here. I have also changed the dates when I will be posting the reviews from the last day of the Month to the first day of the month. There will be no January review I’ll start in February.

Welcome to the new blog about books!

shut the fuck up babyhiddles

Greetings. How are you? I’m fine, thanks for asking. I’m Bettie Lee – not as in Mrs. or Ms. Lee, but Bettie Lee, as in my parents are from Oklahoma, and everyone has two names.

Now that the pleasantries are out of the way… why are we all here? Because of books. I am obsessed with books. I write them. (No, not published, yet.) I read them. I buy too many. I scan Project Gutenberg looking for free ones. I keep lists of what I read and review them on Goodreads. I figured…. why not have a blog about it?

I’ve tried this before, with limited success. Meaning it lasted about a month and a half. I wanted a different kind of book blog and made myself a confusing and time encompassing format. This time, we’re going to be fun and fancy free. I have a Kindle. I have over 400 books on it, and considering I only read 108 books last year, 30 of which were physical books, I got lotsa reading to do. I also get books from my local library as ebooks. So. Books. Books. Books. Books.

There is no agenda here. I read widely, from classic literature…. and classics that aren’t so literary… like gothic trash and sensational novels. I also read urban fantasy, dystopian, apocalyptic (are they the same thing? Not always), regency romance, a little science fiction and your more traditional fantasy. I love fantasy. I love magic. I am obsessed with all things English. English literature is my favorite. Set it in England anytime between 1785 and 1910 and I’m down with it. In case you want more info on what I read, you can click the “About” or “Authors/Series I have Read” links up above the blog title.

Besides giving you book reviews, I figure I’ll celebrate my favorite authors birthdays. (Yesterday was Edgar Allen Poe’s. Happy Late Birthday, Mr. Poe.) I’ll also cover releases of new books in series that I follow. I am an enormous fan of Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye Series (I want to read the InCrypted as well, but I’m trying not to buy more books!) as well as Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts. I am positively salivating for the next book in Alex Adams’ White Horse Trilogy. I also wait, with baited and irritated breath, for the last Wheel of Time book to be available in Kindle format. I’ll try and keep the little sidebar updated with what is coming up on the blog.

I’ve made the controversial decision not to review books I don’t like on this blog. First, it attracts crazies. Second, I want this to be fun, and writing up bad reviews in intricate detail pisses me off. I will continue to voice my displeasure on Goodreads. I try to be honest and forthright, not mean or vindictive. We all like and/or hate different things. If I can warn off those that hate the same things I do, I figure I’ve done my job. I don’t think writing a bad review is an unpardonable sin. But I don’t wish to spend a lot of time doing it.

If you would like to know even MOAR about me, there are links to my Goodreads and Twitter in the sidebar. I admit that I don’t autofollow, but if you @ me and say you came as a result of the blog, I will follaback! If you want to be my friend on Goodreads, I’d love it.

BettieLee Turner at Goodreads

What say you, friends? Care to go on an unexpected journey?