Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015
DINNER AT DEVIANT'S PALACE (1985), by Tim Powers, is even weirder than his epic historical novel THE STRESS OF HER REGARD (and considering the silicon-based vampire species in that novel, that's saying something). He sets DINNER... in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, a generation after nuclear bombs devastated civilization. It comes across as a dark, dangerous place, with futuristic slang to set the tone. As the main medium of exchange, the economy bases its currency on a type of high-proof brandy. Poisonous levels of radiation linger in some areas. Mutants, marauders, and "trashmen" (makeshift cyborgs assembled from miscellaneous scraps) prowl the blasted wastelands. Deranged women called "pocalocas" dance in the streets of the city. The action centers around a private club, Deviant's Palace, notorious for drugs and perversions, and a mysterious cult run by a man named Norton Jaybush. Middle-aged, hard-boiled musician Greg Rivas, a retired "redemption" agent, gets hired by the wealthy father of his first girlfriend, Urania, to rescue her from Jaybush and his "Jaybirds." As for vampirism, the novel includes energy draining, a reddish-brown powdered drug called Blood (derived from guess what), and translucent, floating, bloodsucking monsters something like balloons or jellyfish, called "hemogoblins," which take on vaguely human shape when fully fed.
In search of Urania, Rivas tries to go undercover in Jaybush's cult. He's sidetracked by several harrowing encounters but finally makes his way to the Holy City. Fortunately, he knows ways to accept the "sacrament," a literally electrifying touch that engenders an experience labeled "merging with the Lord," without suffering its full effects. Some worshipers who endure this process too many times become the "far-gone," their individuality irretrievably lost. Subjected to an accidental overdose of Blood at one point, Rivas links with the mind of a far-gone and gets flooded by the memories of Jaybush himself. Rivas ultimately discovers the connections among Deviant's Palace, the cult, and Blood and learns the origin and nature of hemogoblins and the truth about Jaybush. It's not too much of a spoiler to reveal that the "Lord," despite his outward appearance, isn't remotely human; he's one of the most repellent alien vampires I've ever encountered. At the climactic dinner with Jaybush and Urania, Rivas manages to render the villain powerless without being able to destroy him. Rivas succeeds in his quest but doesn't win a happy ending for himself. Instead, he takes on a lifelong burden.
DINNER AT DEVIANT'S PALACE has one drawback as an SF horror novel. In its surrealistic future California, where everything is strange and threats lurk almost everywhere, it's hard to tell we should accept as "normal" for the setting and what's paranormal. Everything is scary—and as madly creative as you'd expect from Tim Powers.
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt
Monday, May 11, 2015
Monday, May 4, 2015
Who doesn't love Star Wars? When I was about 3 years old there was a phase when I would only answer to the name Princess Leia and my outfit of the day was a flowing white shirt belonging to my grandmother with one of her belts around my waist. On the really good days she would even do my hair in the classic Leia side buns. Later, I switched to the action figures, dolls, and even some Underoos (which are making a strong comeback), and no matter my age I remain a Star Wars nerd to this day.
Monday, April 27, 2015
So here's what I was reading this month (no ratings since they haven't been published yet):
Falling For Her Husband
A Matter of Sin
Escaping Reality- Lisa Renee Jones (Yes, it was as amazing as I had hoped!)
The Silenced- Heather Graham (I love the Krewe of Hunters!)
Knight on Ocean Lane
The Wrong Hero
Plus, my monthly Harlequin Desire series, which featured some excellent choices this month:
The Billionaire's Daddy Test
Seduced by the Spare Heir
Pregnant by the Cowboy CEO
Lone Star Baby Bombshell
Claiming His Secret Son
A Royal Amnesia Scandal
I highly recommend that you give these titles a try, and if you haven't already...get a subscription to RT or stop by the website. Hands down the best way to keep track of what's new in the world of romance.
Since I was able to finish my deadline early I picked up a few books off my TBR pile. Yay! The first book was The Shadows by J.R. Ward and let's just say that it had been awhile since a booked completely wrecked me so I must have been long overdue. At times, I wasn't even aware I was crying until giant tears hit the page, and at other points I just sobbed like my heart was being ripped away. Only Ward can create characters that are so truly alive with a vividness that makes their heartache and pain feel just as real as their love. The BDB are forces unto themselves and each person in her world has a history with so much depth that a reader can't help feeling connected somehow. Every emotion feels so very real and picking up one of her books guarantees you the best kind of reading roller coaster ride, complete with the sexiest alpha men surrounded by the brightest strong women, plenty of ass kicking action, and the sweetest demonstrations of love and family. Nothing is ever easy and it's impossible to predict exactly what will happen in each book...I love every single minute!
Next up on my reading list is The Liar by Nora Roberts, my beloved go-to author when I want a beautiful romance that will leave me feeling refreshed and smiling when I'm done.
After those I plan on Beauty's Kingsdom by Anne Rice, a sentimental choice since once upon a time Flyboy bought me the original trilogy (long before erotica and retelling fairy tales became popular) and I'm curious to see if Rice can recapture the magic and allure after all these years.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
One of these days I'm gonna get to one of these conventions, especially since I've been reviewing for them for a couple of years now, and the more I hear the more jelly I get about missing out. Not flattering, but true all the same. So many books and authors all in one place! It's almost too much to hope for!
My other drawback to attending, besides trying to leave town during the school year, is that I am incredibly shy around strangers which makes talking to authors an awkward experience all around. Seriously, it's quite an overwhelming idea for me which is probably why I blog and review, if you think about it. I get to talk with people about books without managing the crowded rooms that come with book signings and conventions. I would just hate to embarrass myself by going all fangirl or not knowing what to say. Anyways...I'll get over it because I really, really want to go!
The 2015 Convention is only a few weeks away and I would love to hear from anyone that plans on attending. Feel free to share your expert tips or talk about the authors you're most looking forward to.
All the deets can be found here.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Here's an interesting article from my local paper about the relationship between the rise in population and the many endangered species on our planet, and the creative way they've chosen to get that message out on college campuses. Hint: involves sustainable condoms.
For more information about how you can get involved or to find events in your local area, click here.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
In A TERRIBLE BEAUTY (1996), Canadian vampire author Nancy Baker adapts "Beauty and the Beast" with the sexes reversed in a modern setting, the wilds of Canada. A dying professor, Simon Donovan, gets a letter from Sidonie Moreau, a woman from his past whom he hasn't seen in decades. She wants restitution for the wrong he did to her. Simon confesses to his sons that Sidonie had served as his research assistant on a project involving esoteric documents. They had shared a brief love affair, while she did most of the work in unraveling the scholarly puzzle that had baffled him. Then she had mysteriously vanished from the university, with no record of ever being enrolled. Simon published the work without giving her credit, and now she demands that he visit her to deliver some unspecified compensation.
Simon's youngest son, Matthew, a penniless artist, makes the journey in his father's place, just as Beauty in the fairy tale offers herself to the Beast to save her father. Matthew travels to the distant northern forest, where Sidonie Moreau lives on an isolated island. There he meets a young woman who claims to be the daughter of his father's old lover. She dwells in a huge mansion with many locked doors and no mirrors. Inhabitants of the nearest village, two of whom work for her, avoid answering his questions. Soon enough, of course, his hostess reveals herself as the original Sidonie—a vampire. Two thousand years old, she is the only surviving native speaker of the language she helped his father translate. In payment for his father's betrayal, she requires Matthew to stay with her until she chooses to let him leave.
Each night, she will ask him the same question: Will he give her his blood, even though the donation might kill him? He wonders, since she can feed on the blood of animals, why does she need his? Eventually scenes from her viewpoint reveal to the reader (but not to Matthew) that she cherishes a secret belief about the benefits of blood freely offered, not taken by force or seduction.
Although a figure of allure and pathos, Sidonie also projects an aura of danger. She has killed human victims in the past, and she doesn't let Matthew forget what she could do to him and his family if he defied her (though at first her threats focus more on disgrace and ruin than physical violence). Once she allows him to see her true self instead of the human mask, her beauty has an alien quality he can't ignore. After futile attempts to find her daytime resting place or to escape, he resigns himself to remaining her prisoner until his death. When a small group of other vampires comes to visit with their mortal slaves, Sidonie appears benign in contrast. Little by little, as she and Matthew learn about each other's lives, his fear, revulsion, and hostility transform into friendship. He spends his free hours painting, his creativity flourishing under her influence. When he gets a letter announcing his father's imminent death, the tale plays out as we'd expect from the "Beauty and the Beast" parallel, yet with a surprise or two.
This enchanting story is guaranteed to enthrall fans of either vampire romances or fairy-tale retellings.
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt