WOOFER'S LAIR

Welcome to Woofer's Lair. Curious as to what you will see here? Well, for the most part, you will find book reviews, maybe the occasional movie review, and if you are lucky, you might stumble across one of my own works in progress. If you like what you see or what read, and even if you don't, please feel free to leave your comments. As I am somewhat new to blogging, all of your constructive feedback is appreciated. Have fun and thanks for stopping by.

Wicked Seasons

Wicked Seasons
My short story, HUNGRY FOR MORE, is included

CURRENTLY READING

CURRENTLY READING
Koji Suzuki's Spiral

Monday, February 22, 2010

VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, AND WITCHES, OH MY!


After a brief foray into Urban Fantasy, I thought I was talking a literary trip back to my old stomping grounds -- the horror novel. Unfortunately, Rhinehoth by Brian E. Niskala, would be classified as another Urban Fantasy novel with a pinch of Paranormal Romance thrown in.

Simon Roberts has been tried and and found guilty by association of murder. He was the wheelman in a jewelry heist gone wrong that left the jeweler and the three gunmen dead. While Simon was not involved with the shooting, somebody needed to be held accountable and Simon, driving the getaway car, is the lucky man. He is sentenced to a life-term in Rhinehoth, a maximum security prison located deep in the Black Forest of Germany. Rhinehoth is an ancient castle that was converted to a prison.

On his arrival, many things about Rhinehoth seem familiar to Simon, the building, one of his fellow prisoners -- a man named Siegfried, the only person who has ever successfully escaped from the prison, some of the guards, and the prison's doctor, the beautiful, cat-eyed Maxine Heulen. From his very first day, Simon is visited nightly by dreams of Maxine that grown increasingly erotic in nature, which only serves to create this deep attraction to the strange woman, who, we find out early on, has a fondness for blood. He is also the subject of a strong animosity from the guards, who are almost bestial in their attitudes, and receives a beating that leaves him a patient in the infirmary. As the mysteries surrounding Rhinehoth deepen, Simon's role in the events unfolding at the prison become clear.

The story strikes a cord close to the Underworld series in that it deals with a century long battle between werewolves and vampires. That in itself was enough to keep my reading, and while I love the Underworld series, I cannot say the same thing for Brian Niskala's first novel. But that's not to say I didn't like it, because I did. The thing that kept me from loving Rhinehoth is poor writing. I got the feeling this book was written in haste and was not revised once it was completed. The sentence structure is lazy, starting present tense, switching to past, then back to present, sometimes within the same sentence. Typographical errors and the improper use of words had me going back and rereading paragraphs at times, and missing words in sentences were a major stumbling block. All this combined made for painful reading. There are plot points that I feel could been developed more but they were glossed over. This happened, this happened, and this happened, and the lack of development makes this read like a first draft. I wish the author had turned the manuscript over to an editor. If he had done that and the manuscript had been tightened up, I feel this could have made for an excellent novel.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oooops. . . The Accidental Werewolf by Dakota Cassidy


Once again I have found myself out of my so-called comfort zone with my reading with Dakota Cassidy's The Accidental Werewolf. It's what I would definitely call a chick book, but I really enjoyed it.

As the book opens, we find Marty Andrews being confronted by a strange man who claims to have bitten her. As a result, she is now a werewolf. Whack job, Marty thinks, as her mind plays back the events of the past few days. She was on cloud nine, having finally achieved her goal of Lavender for Bobbie Sue Cosmetics. Think Mary Kay with the pink Cadillac, only with Bobbie Sue, it's a lavender suit. With eyes on her ultimate goal, a sky blue convertible, Marty was having a hard time holding on to her "high" as she tried to bolster the morale of her newest -- and only -- recruits, Nina and Wanda, but of whom liken Bobbie Sue, with her peppy and constantly sunny disposition, to a cult. They are walking the street with Marty's poodle, Muffin, when the ball of fluff goes all pit bull on a large black shepherd. In an attempt to rescue her beloved pet, Marty is nipped by the larger dog. Nothing major, but it did break the skin. In the days that passed, Marty does find herself undergoing changes that she can't explain -- a darkening of her hair, the need to constantly shave her legs, and a craving for meat (and she's a vegan). But surely there must be some other explanation, a scientific explanation, for what is happening to her other than the Twilight Zone-ish explanation Keegan Flaherty is offering because plain and simple, werewolves do not exist.

As Marty struggles to come to terms with what is happening, and her attraction for the loony who thinks he goes all furry when the moon is full, she is kidnapped -- and forced to come to terms with the truth. She has, indeed, become a werewolf -- or a poor excuse for one. As she lays locked in a trunk, her anger at her kidnappers rages out of control and triggers a shift. But poor Marty, the only thing, other than superhuman strength that allows her to kick her way out of the trunk, that manifests during her shift is a poor excuse of a tail. Unable to call the police because of her condition, she calls the only person she can -- Keegan Flaherty, the man who left her in this predicament.

While trying to figure out who kidnapped her, Marty has to deal with Pack politics, a jealous she-wolf who wants Keegan for herself, her rapidly growing feelings for Keegan, and her pathetic excuse for a tail and mounting frustration at the inability to shift completely.

Cassidy's style is light-hearted and fun, which makes for a fast read. She doesn't get overly bogged down in descriptive details that sometimes tend to grind a story to a halt, choosing to provide only the bare minimum to establish a feel for the surroundings, which helps to move the character-driven story along. The almost flippant attitude the book is written with helps to establish the characters, who you grow to care about. I often found myself in Keegan's shoes, rolling my eyes (in a good way) and smiling as Marty rambled on with her incessant questions, her eccentricities, and her sarcasm.

There was only one problem I had with the book. There are explicit sex scenes, and while I am far from being a prude, I found them to be a stark contrast to the rest of the book, and I was left with the distinct feeling that the book was written by two different people. One person wrote the majority of the story and another person wrote the sex scenes. This is not the case (at least I don't think it is), but it was the feeling I was left with. It would have been interesting, and less jolting, if the same light-hearted style that carried the majority of the book was applied to the sex scenes. This does not reflect badly on the author, and it will not stop me from reading more of her work. In fact, I've already bought the next one and will be tackling that shortly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Has Rachel Finally Met Her Match? White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison


CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Welcome to The Hollows, a dark corner of Cincinnati where the creatures of the night live, hide, prowl, and eat. It is also the home of Vampiric Charms, an independent runner service owned by Rachel Morgan, Ivy Tamwood, and Jenks. For those not familiar with the series (this is Book 7), Rachel is a witch who dabbles with demons, Ivy is a living vampire with demons of her own, and Jenks is a sassy pixie.

While Rachel deals with recent discoveries regarding her true nature, the investigation in her Kisten's death continues. She struggles against a memory loss spell which left her remembering nothing of the night her boyfriend, another living vamp, was killed. While visiting the scene of the crime, some memories are triggered, but not enough to to name the killer. As she makes for home, she receives a message that her friend Glenn was injured while investigating a crime for the FIB, a human offshoot of the police department responsible for investigating supernatural crimes that the IS (the supernatural equivalent of the FIB, but answers to no one) deems not worth their attention, and is in the hospital. It turns out his aura has been stripped and has left him in a compromised state. Edden, Glenn's father and head of the FIB, asks Rachel for her help in tracking down the responsible parties who left his son for dead.

Rachel, Ivy, and Jenks head out to the crime scene and find evidence that the guilty parties are psychotic mortal and a banshee, a supernatural uber-predator that feeds of emotion and has the ability to kill by stripping a person of their aura. Once the aura is gone, the soul has nothing left to cling to, it flees the body. To make matters worse, this Bonnie and Clyde from Hell have a baby, and they will do anything to protect her, not that the little tyke needs it. She turns out to be just as lethal as Mom, only worse because she has no control. In a confrontation, Rachel finds out just how lethal the supernatural child can be when she is all but stripped of her aura and left hospitalized.

With all of this going on, Rachel is trying to work out the problems with her social life. Not having dated anybody since Kisten's death, she is drawn to Marshall, a friend and fellow witch. They have a great friendship and decide to take it to the next level. To complicate matters, our trio of investigators has had an unknown resident living with them for the past year, a ghost named Pierce, whom Rachel had temporarily given substance when she was 18 in order to help save a young girl. In that one night, feelings developed, which she dismissed as a girlish crush, but now she finds those feelings resurfacing. Is it possible to carry on a relationship with a ghost? To complicate matters even further, Rachel's past comes back to bite her in the ass and she is labeled a black witch by the coven.

Want to know how everything turns out? You'll have to pick up the book. And if you haven't read anything in the Rachel Morgan series, you'll have lots of reading to do before you find out what happens.

Kim Harrison's books, like so many books I've been reading lately, are so out of character for me. At one time I was die-hard fantasy, then a twist in the road lead me to horror, and for the longest time that was all I read. Thanks to my neighborhood Barnes and Noble doing away with their horror section, I was forced to browse through the Sci-Fi/Fantasy and regular fiction titles to find the horror titles I was looking for, as they had merged the horror section into those two sections. The title of the first book in the series, Dead Witch Walking, jumped out at me. Having grown disillusioned with the Anita Blake series and how it had devolved into something bordering on porn with minimal story, I was looking for something to fill the void left by Blake, I decided to take a chance. I have not regretted it. Rachel, even though she's a witch, is not all powerful. She has her insecurities and her weaknesses. Ivy, a living vamp, has been abused and is so emotionally screwed up, you can't help but feel for her. And as dysfunctional as they are, they compliment each other and make a good team. There is some sexual tension, as Ivy is admittedly bisexual and is interested in Rachel in that way. Despite Rachel's claims that she is not wired that way, does want to be able to provide Ivy with what she needs. She wants to be able to provide Ivy with the blood she at time craves, but draws the line at sex, but Ivy, thanks to the abuse at the hands of her master, has trouble separating blood lust, sex, and/or pain. To her, they are interwined. But the truth of the matter, and what hooked me on the series, is Jenks. He may not be big, being a pixie, but his character is larger than life. He's sassy, smart-mouthed, and caring.

The only problem I had with this adventure into The Hollows is that it has been five months since the death of Kisten. For two people who claimed to have loved him (yes, Kisten and Ivy were involved at one time), to only now be putting any effort into find out who killed him is a little unbelievable. Other than that, the story moves at a quick pace. I'm looking forward to the next in the series, Black Magic Sanction (due out soon), with a combination of anticipation and trepidation. I am eager to find out how Rachel deals with the label of black witch, but the bookclub I belong to has an Explicit Sex disclaimer. I'm hoping the series is not going to follow in the footsteps of another popular series.