Blood Noir (Anita Blake, vol. 15), by Laurell K. Hamilton

Yes, I’m reviewing the 15th (arguably; I don’t count Micah) volume in a series without reviewing the previous volumes. For one thing, everyone else has dealt with the series quite adequately. Second, I can gloss the plot up to this point in about three sentences. Laurell K. Hamilton arguably perfected the genre of the kickass chick with serious emotional issues who sleeps with various supernatural beings (vampires, werewolves, oh my) with a gun under her pillow. She started writing these books in the early-to-mid-1990s and while the last, say, five or six volumes have been of varying quality, there’s still a new one every year or so. This year’s release is Skin Trade (vol. 16).

Here’s the general setup of the series: We have Anita Blake, the short, assertive, overly-weaponed necromancer (zombie-raiser)/vampire hunter. More under the cut, actually, in case there’s a person left in the world who hasn’t read these books who wants to. Continue reading Blood Noir (Anita Blake, vol. 15), by Laurell K. Hamilton

Cybele’s Secret, by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is the author of a number of books, one of which was Wildwood Dancing, which I read and reviewed earlier. This novel is a companion (not a direct sequel; it follows a different character) to that one, and continues the story of the Transylvanian sisters. Ms. Marillier is a musician by training and a writer by vocation; she has been a full-time writer since 2002. Her family emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand many years ago, and she lives in a cottage in Perth, Australia.

Paula is Jena’s younger sister, the scholarly, studious one. She has been helping her father with many of his business matters, and dreams of starting her own rare-book collection. When he mentions that he is going to travel to wherever-it-is, Paula immediately clamors to go along — and is allowed. For in the city, there is a woman named Irene who has her own scholarly haven for women, and Paula would like to study there. They get to town, hire a bodyguard for Paula, and she begins her studies — but something is strange about the piece they have come to town to buy, called Cybele’s Gift. Many people are after it, and things are starting to happen — attacks, sudden withdrawals from the bidding, and the involvement of strange individuals including a pirate . . . Continue reading Cybele’s Secret, by Juliet Marillier

The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, by Mario Acevedo

Mario Acevedo apparently, when he was four years old, told one of his aunts that he wanted a machine gun for Christmas. A stint in the army — where he also flew helicopters — apparently cured him of that, and provided him with fodder and knowledge for a series of books about a vet — these books, as a matter of fact. When not in the army, he has worked as an engineer and an artist, including being a combat artist and working with children. He has apparently been writing since he was young, and has published (so far) four novels in this series, all with . . . interesting . . . titles. A member of the Rocky Mountain Writers Group, he credits joining the group with his success in the publishing world.

Felix Gomez is in the U.S. military, and while he is in Iraq, he comes back with what he tells people is “Operation Iraqi Freedom Syndrome.” Except it’s nothing of the sort; he got vampirism instead. Fortunately, some of the weaknesses of being a vampire can be mitigated by 21st-century technology, such as Dermablend and high-octane sunscreen. Now Gomez is a P.I., and one of his old friends from college has called him up to find out why something very strange has happened at his DOE base (i.e., somewhere where they do nuclear research) — the women appear to have been infected with something that is causing them to be, ahem, hyper-interested in a certain sort of physical activity. Can Gomez figure it out? And why are vampires in the area dying? Continue reading The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, by Mario Acevedo

Silver Falls, by Anne Stuart

Anne Stuart (not, coincidentally, the deceased member of the English royalty) is apparently one of the grand masters of romance, having won the lifetime achievement award from RWA. She’s been publishing novels since 1974 (when she was twenty-five) and has worked with every publisher I can think of, and in every subcategory except (as far as I can tell) paranormals. I’m sort of confused as to how this is the first novel of hers that I’ve read, what with her prolific output. Currently she is concentrating on romantic suspense/thrillers and historical romance, published by MIRA. She lives in Vermont and is inordinately fond of Japanese rock music. She also appears to have bellydanced at one point in her life, but then again, so did my grandmother. (No joke!)

Rachel Chapman is a photographer; as a single mom, she traveled around the world with her daughter Sophie for thirteen years, until, during a brief time settled in San Francisco, Sophie’s best friend Tessa was murdered. That event spooked Rachel so much that she decided to get married and settle down so that Sophie would have a safe rest of her childhood. Enter David Middleton, an English professor on sabbatical — charming, mild-mannered, smart, and a little bland, but attentive and, above all, safe — or so Rachel thinks. Some months after they return to his hometown of Silver Falls, Washington, another young woman — or three — are murdered, coincidentally right after David’s black-sheep brother Caleb returns to town. Is it a coincidence? If not, then why is Caleb so devilishly attractive?

Spoilers behind the cut. They’re always possible, but in this case, I’m telling you that there are definitely some there. Continue reading Silver Falls, by Anne Stuart

Nights of Blood 2: More Legends of the Vampire, edited by Elyse Salpeter and Bob Nailor

I was sent this book by a member of my former writers’ group (where we talked about anything but writing) who happens to have a story published in the anthology; he and a couple of the other writers, including one of the editors, are all residents of my home region. The book, however, was published by a small press located in Texas called 23 House, and is, as one may plainly see, the second volume of stories about vampires. Mr. Nailor and Ms. Salpeter are experienced editors and writers, and both have been published in other short-story anthologies. They have both been nominated for Eppie Awards, as well.

The stories in this volume include: “The Night Garden,” by Mark Onspaugh; “Debts,” by Amanda Pillar; “Under the Chocolate Tree,” by David E. Hilton; “Floaters,” by Michael S. Bumagin, M.D.; “Burden of Proof,” by Jennifer Graham; “A Rustle of Curtains,” by Henry Leon Lazarus; “Pas de Deux,” by Edward McKeown; “Defender,” by Garry Ward; “Expiration Date Not Required,” by A. D. Nailor; “Lazuli,” by Christine Rains; “1-800-VAMPYRE,” by Bob Nailor; “The Vampire Doll,” by Joette Razanski; “Days and Nights,” by Elyse Salpeter; “Down in the Cellar,” by Joe McKinney; “Barney,” by James R. Cain; “Tales of the Vampire,” by Mitchel Whitington; and “Give Until it Kills,” by Joe Sergi. Continue reading Nights of Blood 2: More Legends of the Vampire, edited by Elyse Salpeter and Bob Nailor

The Skylark, by Peter Straub

Peter Straub is a Wisconsinite; he was born and raised in Milwaukee and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his undergraduate education. He has a master’s degree from Columbia University, and at least started a Ph.D. in Dublin. He’s apparently a famous writer of poetry and horror novels; the latter have won him several Bram Stoker awards, as well as leading to several collaborations and a friendship with Stephen King. Later this year, his novel The Dark Matter will be published; as well will this novel, which is actually the same book. The Skylark is the mostly-unedited, 200-manuscript-pages-longer version, which Mr. Straub wanted preserved, so Subterranean Press is doing so.

In the mid-1960s, a group of high school friends fall under the influence of a magician-philosopher-charlatan named Spencer Mallon. The influence ends abruptly a few months later when something horrific happens, but nobody can quite determine what actually occurred. The fifth member of the group, who was not involved but was still friends with the bunch, is a famous writer, and while trying to write his memoirs, gets stuck dead at the point when the ‘something horrific’ happened. More than anything, he needs to find out what that event was, and so he finds his old friends, to figure his past out. Continue reading The Skylark, by Peter Straub

M is for Magic, by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is everyone’s darling right now. Not only have his last two movies (Coraline and Stardust) done fairly well, viagra order but he won the Newbery Award just recently for The Graveyard Book, link a novel about a toddler who runs into a graveyard to escape being murdered with the rest of his family, and is raised by the denizens there. (No, really, it is a children’s book. For more commentary, see The Colbert Report.) Anyway, Mr. Gaiman has also written a handful of books for adults and children, as well as the amazing comic series Sandman, and the scripts or translations for several movies. He’s also got a very popular blog, and now a Twitter.

M is for Magic is a collection of his already-published stories that he put together for children; the title, as he says in the introduction, is after Ray Bradbury’s similarly-collected (already published and picked for children later) works with titles such as R is for Rocket and S is for Space. The titles include “The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds,” “Troll Bridge,” “Don’t Ask Jack,” “How to Sell the Ponti Bridge,” “October in the Chair,” “Chivalry,” “The Price,” “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” and “Sunbird,” as well as “The Witch’s Headstone,” which is an excerpt from The Graveyard Book. Continue reading M is for Magic, by Neil Gaiman

Collected Stories, by Lewis Shiner

Ahh, tooth Lewis Shiner. The man who convinced me that I never want to move to Durham, gynecologist NC (the same way that Slumdog Millionaire made me not want to visit India). Born in Eugene, OR in 1950, he moved around a lot as a kid, and read science fiction and adventure novels. One of Bob Dylan’s first few “Dylan Goes Electric” concerts changed his life utterly, and he became involved in music, which would turn out to be a lifelong love and the inspiration for many of his tales. After a degree in English from SMU, he started writing more and more and although his path wasn’t straightforward (there was some technical writing in there, as well as computer programming and car trouble), eventually he was regularly selling detective fiction and science fiction to short-story magazines. His first novel, Frontera, was a finalist for a couple of major awards, and he has written five since.

This collection of short stories includes apparently 41 of his biggest and best tales, ranging from one of his first published works (“Deep Without Pity”) to three stories that had web debuts within the last couple years (“Straws,” “Golfing Vietnam,” “Fear Itself”). The tales range from a couple of punk westerns, a few pulp-type stories, straight-up science fiction, ultra-short literary fiction, a few that were intended for men’s magazines, and, of course, a few tales about rock ‘n’ roll. I won’t list all 41 titles, as that would take too much time, but interested readers can haunt the Sub Press website until they post the table of contents. This book will be published at the end of November this year. Continue reading Collected Stories, by Lewis Shiner

The Living Blood, by Tananarive Due

Tananarive Due (accent on the second syllable) is married to Steven Barnes, viagra 100mg also a novelist. Formerly a columnist for the Miami Herald, she used to live in Miami, and now lives in Glendora, CA. She received a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern (a very fine journalism school) and an M.A. in Literature, specializing in Nigerian literature, from the University of Leeds (in England). She writes primarily in a supernatural/speculative fiction genre, but she has also written a historical novel and a work of non-fiction about the civil rights movement (of which her mother was a part). She also contributed to Naked Came the Manatee, a humorous mystery novel written by a group of Miami authors some years ago.

This is a sequel, and although I never read the first book, I’m cutting the plot discussion anyway. Continue reading The Living Blood, by Tananarive Due

Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, by Eugie Foster

Eugie Foster is a Chinese-American writer; she was born in the Midwest (Urbana, adiposity IL) but escaped down south (Atlanta) and refuses to return. (After this winter, I can see why.) She writes columns on how to write for YAs, a pursuit I applaud, and is one of the directors of Dragon*Con. She’s also the managing editor of a magazine called The Fix. Her fiction (short stories) has appeared in online magazines, print anthologies by various editors, podcasts, and now a collection from Norilana Books, published this year. The Wikipedia page has a good collection of her works available online legitimately, but of course I’m going to encourage you to buy the book.

This collection of twelve stories spans a little over two hundred pages, and includes retellings of folk tales from a handful of east Asian countries, primarily China, Japan, and Korea. The titles are:

“Daughter of Bótù”
“The Tiger Fortune Princess”
“A Thread of Silk”
“The Snow Woman’s Daughter”
“The Tanuki-Kettle”
“Honor is a Game Mortals Play”
“The Raven’s Brocade”
“Shim Chung the Lotus Queen”
“The Tears of My Mother, the Shell of My Father”
“Year of the Fox”
“The Archer of the Sun and the Lady of the Moon”
“Returning My Sister’s Face”

They were all originally published in various places, including Heroes in Training, an anthology published by DAW Books in 2007; So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction, an anthology published by Haworth Press in 2007; many different magazines, and various websites. This, I believe, is her first full-length collection. Continue reading Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, by Eugie Foster