Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quick & Dirty Reviews: Lord of the White Hell - Books One & Two by Ginn Hale

Lord of the White Hell (Book One) by Ginn Hale
Book Blurb: Kiram Kir-Zaki may be considered a mechanist prodigy among his own people, but when he becomes the first Haldiim ever admitted to the prestigious Sagrada Academy, he is thrown into a world where power, superstition and swordplay outweigh even the most scholarly of achievements. 
But when the intimidation from his Cadeleonian classmates turns bloody, Kiram unexpectedly finds himself befriended by Javier Tornesal, the leader of a group of cardsharps, duelists and lotharios who call themselves Hellions.
However Javier is a dangerous friend to have. Wielder of the White Hell and sole heir of a dukedom, he is surrounded by rumors of forbidden seductions, murder and damnation. His enemies are many and any one of his secrets could not only end his life but Kiram's as well.

Ginn Hale is an adept writer and really has a way with evoking a fully realized fantasy world that sucks the reader right in.  The world building is complicated and very detailed but never difficult to follow.  This is a fantasy with a romance as opposed to a Romance Fantasy and it's kinda like a gay Harry Potter. Despite being an adult novel, Lord of the White Hell comes across more as a young adult novel.  (That's not a criticism, just an observation.)  This book is about first love and coming of age, that transition between young adult to adult and emotionally, the characters are quite complex.  There are some sex scenes in the book but they were not graphic, there more for the emotional payoff than to titillate.  (Not that there is anything wrong with titillation.) 
The reader is introduced to this world through the eyes of Kiram, a Haldiim and the first of his kind to be admitted to the Sagrada Academy, a prestigious school for affluent and elite Cadeleonian male youths.  Kiram comes from a matriarchal culture where all sexualities are accepted.  Kiram is gay.  He's never had to come out.  Being gay is accepted fully with no judgements.  But in the patriarchal Cadeleonian society being gay can get you stripped of everything and exiled.  Which makes his attraction to Javier dangerous for they both have much to lose.  The erotic tension in the story is just lovely and fully in line with the characters' emotional arcs.   Hale's characters are all fully realized, each one unique and individual. She has crafted a romantic relationship between the two main characters that rings true and is compelling to read.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More For Your Radar

The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark
Since accepting a teaching position at remote Fairwick College in upstate New York, Callie McFay has experienced the same disturbingly erotic dream every night: A mist enters her bedroom, then takes the shape of a virile, seductive stranger who proceeds to ravish her in the most toe-curling, wholly satisfying ways possible. Perhaps these dreams are the result of writing her bestselling book, The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers. After all, Callie’s lifelong passion is the intersection of lurid fairy tales and Gothic literature—which is why she finds herself at Fairwick’s renowned folklore department, living in a once-stately Victorian house that, at first sight, seemed to call her name.
But Callie soon realizes that her dreams are alarmingly real. She has a demon lover—an incubus—and he will seduce her, pleasure her, and eventually suck the very life from her. Then Callie makes another startling discovery: He’s not the only mythical creature in Fairwick. As the tenured witches of the college and the resident fairies in the surrounding woods prepare to cast out the incubus, Callie must accomplish something infinitely more difficult—banishing this demon lover from her heart.  Drops 12/27/2012

Wildcat (Shifters Unbound #3) by Jennifer Ashley
When Feline Shifter Cassidy Warden saves detective Diego Escobar from plunging to his death, the naked Shifter woman takes his breath away. But she'd been breaking all kinds of human laws, and Diego, to save her from termination, has to promise his department he'll watch over her. 
Diego finds the task harder than he thinks--Cassidy is trying to find out what kind of mysterious hunter killed her mate two years ago, a hunter that could bring danger to all Shifters. Plus Cassidy has scent-marked Diego--essentially telling all other Shifter females, "Hands off."
Diego risks his personal and professional life getting involved with Cassidy, but he realizes he'll do anything, even confront the deadliest of assassins and his own inner demons, to keep her safe.  Drops January 2012

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Reviews: Blood of the Wicked & Lure of the Wicked by Karina Cooper

Blood of the Wicked by Karina Cooper
From the back cover:
When the world went straight to hell, humanity needed a scapegoat to judge, to blame . . . to burn.
As an independent witch living off the grid, Jessie Leigh has spent her life running, trying to blend in among the faceless drudges in the rebuilt city. She thought she was finally safe, but now she's been found in a New Seattle strip club—by a hard-eyed man on a mission to destroy her kind.
A soldier of the Holy Order, Silas Smith believes in the cause: trawling the fringes of society for the murderous witches who threaten what's left of the world. Forced into a twisting web of half-truths and lies, he has to stay close to the most sensuous and electrifying woman he has ever seen and manipulate her into leading him to the witch he has to kill: her brother. Silas doesn't know that Jessie's his enemy, only that he wants her, needs her, even as he lies to her . . . and must protect her until his final breath.

This is the first book in the Dark Mission series, set in the post-cataclysmic world of New Seattle.  At first glance, the author does a nice job of evoking the grim, paranoid, wet (Hey, alternate world or not – it’s still Seattle), world that has emerged after catastrophic events destroyed much of the city. It has a dark atmosphere and evocative, moody tone that I am a fan of.  New Seattle has been built over the ruins of old Seattle and what was once a diverse, vibrant city has been sharply divided between the haves and the have-nots.  The rich and well to do live in the soaring towers built over old Seattle, with security, sunlight and fresh air, while the poor and downtrodden live below in the ruins of the old city.  At least I think they do.  The book falls short when it came to describing the details that would have given me a fuller picture.  (WTF is the carousel?  Is it a futuristic highway?)  I really wish Cooper had given us more detail.  The world of Blood of the Wicked sounds kinda cool but I never felt like the descriptions went deeper than surface level and left me with only a vague picture of the setting.  I also had trouble grasping how this society works.  What exactly is the Holy Order?  How did they come into power? What is the philosophy the church has been built upon?  What’s the cause that drives them?  (Beyond killing witches, that is.) I really wanted to know more.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kate Daniels News & a couple of links

If you know me, you know that I am a big fan of Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series.  Well, today over at her blog, Andrews announced that the next book in the series won't be out until February 2013.  That's right.  2013! 
I'm not completely surprised by this news.  Andrews had already stated that in terms of the story's timeline, Andrea's book needed to happen first.  That book will be out May 2012.
You can read Andrew's post on the subject here.

If you need a laugh after that news head over to The Hairpin for Favorite Books of the Secretly Jerky.

Also, over at NPR is a poll in which you can vote for the top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy books ever.