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Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance v. 3.0

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Picked up The Last Sun and Anno Draculi and looking forward to getting into them.

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On 9/13/2018 at 8:25 AM, C.T. Phipps said:

Anyone here watch VAMPIRE REVIEWS on Youtube? It's a great series where the host (who pretends to be a Goth girl who doesn't quite 'get it') reviews movies, books, and other vampire related media.

She did a great review of GUILTY PLEASURES which highlights how feminism, urban fantasy, and other elements have changed its reception as a series.

 

Lol.  That lady is kind of hilarious.  Her accent is so annoying, but kind of funny. 

I would say that the Anita Blake books were pretty good, up until about book 7ish.  But a lot of that reviewers' comments are correct, and I would point out I did read them back in the nineties!  And the writing does reflect where the cultural views were back then. I've not been reading the series and didn't realise it was still going. 

I would point out the review spoils the entire book, if anyone wants to read it. 

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Read the latest (two) October Daye books, biting the bullet that they won't come out on Kindle and purchasing the physical books.  In my view the series continues to be strong, with further development of the characters and hints at a deeper over-arching plot they may capture Toby in the future.  Plus a few curve balls.  They were a lot of fun.  

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My review of the Labyrinth Index, the latest Laundry books:

3,5/5

THE LABYRINTH INDEX is probably the book which is the most like a James Bond pastiche after a long period of the series poo-pooing on the very concept. It stars an arrogant sexist protagonist who fights against a sinsiter cartel with a world-ending scheme that doens't actually make a whole lot of sense. The big difference being that Mhari is a woman sexist against men (referring to her boyfriend and partner as "****boy" for most of the novel) plus she has a team of minor Laundry characters accompanying her on a mission. In that respect, it's more like the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movies.

I can't be too hard on Charles Stross because he's reversed one of his earlier decrees of the Laundry when he declared that everything from Howard Phillips Lovecraft was true(ish) other than the existence of Cthulhu, who he calls Old Bat Wings. Charles said that was the one element of the series which wasn't true--and is apparently now like vampires in that he was totally lying. Cthulhu's presence is revealed early on and he is also revealed to be the master of a longtime group of petty antagonists for the Laundry in the Black Chamber.

In this book, Mhari is dispatched by the Prime Minister (Mr. Everyman who is basically Johm Simm's Master with godlike power and a hatred for all Jews--which include Christians and Muslims BTW) to the Americas. Someone has wiped the President of the United States from its 300 million citizens' memories and this is probably the prelude to something bad. Much gunplay, shoggoth summoning, and character growth for Mhari occurs. We also get snapshots into other characters views on events.

Charles Stross has been struggling to keep the Laundry relevant with the cataclysmic weirdness in politics these past few years and this is the book he finally gives up on. Brexit, Trump, and other contemporary issues flat out don't exist in the Laundryverse now with a fictional new heroic President taking their place while the U.K. has bigger issues than its withdrawal from the EU. It's probably for the best but costs the series some of its meticulously researched realism. Then again, I suppose that went out the window with K-syndrome superheroes and PHANGS.

The short version is this book is...okay. I give props for the use of the Black Chamber, Cthulhu, American military history, and the return of characters I like such as Peter. However, the fact Stross writes his heroes as overtly evil (siding with Nyarlathotep versus Cthulhu is even namechecked as "Stalin over Hitler" but that's not exactly reassuring). A bit like Mo in The Annihilation Score, Mhari is a deeply unpleasant person. While she undergoes some character growth, it seems consistent Stross prefers to write his men as nardy and devoted to their partners while the women are overtly dismissive to them when not doing "necessary" evils. It showed up in The Nightmare Stacks as
well.

So, it was okay, I guess? I think the series has lost a lot of its charm without Bob Howard and none of the other protagonists really work well. I liked Mhari more than Mo and she's probably the second best protagonist but this feels like the kind of fiction which Charles Stross used to mock in earlier books and that's a bit odd to now have to take completely straight.

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Well I have not read it yet but I just received my copy of the newest Rivers of London novel, Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch.  I like the get the British hardcover edition so had to wait for it to cross the ocean to get here.  Very much looking forward to reading it soon!

I was looking at the cover and thinking how much I have enjoyed the covers for this series what with loving maps and maps of London at that.  I looked up the person who is credited with the cover illustration - Stephen Walter - and learned he isn't drawing these images for these covers.  He is an artist whose pictures are being edited and cropped for the covers.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/may/10/stephen-walter-artist-map-maker-london-interview

I generally enjoy examining the details in the cover as much as I do reading the story so a shout out to the artist so others can know about him as well (if you didn't already).

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19 hours ago, lady narcissa said:

I was looking at the cover and thinking how much I have enjoyed the covers for this series what with loving maps and maps of London at that.  I looked up the person who is credited with the cover illustration - Stephen Walter - and learned he isn't drawing these images for these covers.  He is an artist whose pictures are being edited and cropped for the covers.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/may/10/stephen-walter-artist-map-maker-london-interview

I generally enjoy examining the details in the cover as much as I do reading the story so a shout out to the artist so others can know about him as well (if you didn't already).

They are great covers. They may not be designed specifically for the series, but they fit perfectly with it.

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Fun present for my birthday. One of my readers requested a review of my book...on the vampire lady site!

 
Edited by C.T. Phipps

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On 12/20/2018 at 8:11 AM, C.T. Phipps said:

Fun present for my birthday. One of my readers requested a review of my book...on the vampire lady site!

 

Which book, and does it spoil it like the Anita Blake did for Guilty Pleasures? 

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Recently reread the little miss misery series.  Quite a good series and I really enjoyed it (again).  Is complete now, which many consider a bonus.

And this week I read the first three Alice Worth books.  Despite having a very stereotyped Vampire/Werewolf love interest competition, the books are very good and the relationship is overall pretty mature.  Alice has a pretty broken childhood which influences a lot of what she does, but it feels realistic and the books are a lot of fun.  They also have some long term planning - in the first scene a ghost appears to help out Alice who has cabal ties and yet is free.  Books later you find out a very good reason for that.  I like that type of forward planning.  

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Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers Of London gets TV adaptation

Quote

EXCLUSIVE: Stolen Picture, the production company set up by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, is to adapt Ben Aaronovitch’s epic fantasy drama Rivers of London.

Pegg, Frost, Aaronovitch and Stolen Picture Miles Ketley tell Deadline how the deal came about, outlined their long-term plans for the adaptation and how it fits into their strategy for the Sony-backed scripted company.

The Rivers of London series follows Peter Grant, no relation to the infamous Led Zeppelin manager, an ordinary police constable turned magician’s apprentice as he solves crimes across the British capital with a blend of urban fantasy, mystery thriller and fantasy caper. The franchise has sold over 2.5M copies worldwide.

 

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On 5/3/2019 at 5:49 AM, AncalagonTheBlack said:

I am somewhat indifferent about this.  I love the book series but if I love a book series I tend to not like/not be into the tv version of it.  (I'm looking at you The Magicians!) And then frequently I won't like a book series but will enjoy a tv version of it!  (See next paragraph below.)  I honestly would just be happier with more books in the series because I'm pretty content with just reading them and picturing everything in my head.

That being said, I recently re-read the first two books in the Discovery of Witches series.  I categorize them as Paranormal Romance because they are more about the romantic relationship between the two main characters than anything else.  I was inspired to do so after somewhat enjoying the tv series of the first book that is currently on AMC and BBC America.  I forgot how much I hated the first two books!  It is such a shame because they contain so many elements that I would normally love....Academics in libraries! Manor houses! Castles! Elizabeth I! Vampires! Witches! Time travel! History! Mysterious books!  London! Venice!   But really even all the best elements in the world don't add up when you've got two stupid main characters who make dumb decisions.  And this despite the fact that one of them has been around for a 1,000 years and really should know better by this point.  It's amazing he has survived as long as he has with that kind of stupid.

Anyway I'm sorry to say that I got distracted from Lies Sleeping to reread those.  So now I'm going to cleanse my palate by jumping back to that.

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On 1/2/2019 at 10:35 PM, ants said:

Which book, and does it spoil it like the Anita Blake did for Guilty Pleasures? 

No, thankfully very few spoilers.

It's also STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON.

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Reading the Aileen Travers books, up to starting the third.  So far they have been very well done.  Although the monsters are your standard stereotypes, and there is some stuff that by modern standards is pretty terrible behaviour.  But the main character deals with this in as realistic way as possible given the circumstances.  A lot of fun.    

On 5/9/2019 at 12:47 PM, lady narcissa said:

I am somewhat indifferent about this.  I love the book series but if I love a book series I tend to not like/not be into the tv version of it.  (I'm looking at you The Magicians!) And then frequently I won't like a book series but will enjoy a tv version of it!  (See next paragraph below.)  I honestly would just be happier with more books in the series because I'm pretty content with just reading them and picturing everything in my head.

That being said, I recently re-read the first two books in the Discovery of Witches series.  I categorize them as Paranormal Romance because they are more about the romantic relationship between the two main characters than anything else.  I was inspired to do so after somewhat enjoying the tv series of the first book that is currently on AMC and BBC America.  I forgot how much I hated the first two books!  It is such a shame because they contain so many elements that I would normally love....Academics in libraries! Manor houses! Castles! Elizabeth I! Vampires! Witches! Time travel! History! Mysterious books!  London! Venice!   But really even all the best elements in the world don't add up when you've got two stupid main characters who make dumb decisions.  And this despite the fact that one of them has been around for a 1,000 years and really should know better by this point.  It's amazing he has survived as long as he has with that kind of stupid.

Anyway I'm sorry to say that I got distracted from Lies Sleeping to reread those.  So now I'm going to cleanse my palate by jumping back to that.

Agreed.  I like to keep my TV stories and the imaginations in my head separate.  About the only time I think they've matched each other is the Day of the Jackal.  

I'm not too bad going from TV to books, but I hate going books to TV.  

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I picked up my copy of STORM CURSED today.

Really enjoying it.

Love the political angle.

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Summoning @kairparavel, can we giggle about this here?

https://ew.com/books/2019/05/29/sarah-j-maas-house-of-earth-and-blood-first-look/

I'm guessing it will be heavily fantasy ROMANCE with a bit of Urban on the side.  And very influenced by Moning's Fever series.  I know I will read this but the description is a bit cringe worthy and the names...omg the names!  Hunt?  Really????  ROTF!  Glad to see it is being emphasized that this is Adult, not YA although its listed as #5 in Teens on amazon right now.

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3 hours ago, lady narcissa said:

Summoning @kairparavel, can we giggle about this here?

https://ew.com/books/2019/05/29/sarah-j-maas-house-of-earth-and-blood-first-look/

I'm guessing it will be heavily fantasy ROMANCE with a bit of Urban on the side.  And very influenced by Moning's Fever series.  I know I will read this but the description is a bit cringe worthy and the names...omg the names!  Hunt?  Really????  ROTF!  Glad to see it is being emphasized that this is Adult, not YA although its listed as #5 in Teens on amazon right now.

The cover looks great...

YA/NA/Adult, it's basically all the same as far as her writing style is concerned. More huffing laughs and cringey sex scenes I suppose. But I too will probably read it. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/10/2019 at 4:02 PM, ants said:

Reading the Aileen Travers books, up to starting the third.  So far they have been very well done.  Although the monsters are your standard stereotypes, and there is some stuff that by modern standards is pretty terrible behaviour.  But the main character deals with this in as realistic way as possible given the circumstances.  A lot of fun.    

........

Ok, I'd like to, uh, retract my endorsement of the Aileen Travers books.  The first two were good, and the actual main mystery/plot of three and four were also good.  But the love interest (cringes).  Ouch.  I've put below a list of events that occur in Dawn's Envoy (minor spoilers), and frankly, it reads like the list of "is my partner a psychological abuser?", with most questions ticked yes.  It is very sad, because the main character was originally very much breaking the status quo and standing on her own feet.  Which was a lot of the fun.  The author has then systematically cut the feet out from her protagonist, creating a book where you're literally going "girl, get outta there!!!".  Its actually not nice to read.  

What is possibly even more disturbing is the reviews on Amazon.  Although a handful are similar to my views (and I wrote a review), the number of people who give it 4/5 stars and go on about a "strong heroine", "independent", etc.  Did they not read the book, or do they not understand what healthy relationship looks like? How twisted is there view of what romantic is?  Heaps are saying "love the relationship/slow burn of the relationship/that they're finally together".  I just don't get this.  

List of things the main love interest (Liam) does in the book (spoilers): 

  • Liam tries to make her break off any friendships she has that aren’t with people he controls (happens with three friends/quasi-friends). This includes attacking one quasi-friend.
  • He even orders a friend of Aileen to leave Aileen’s house while in Aileen’s home with Aileen. Doesn’t ask Aileen’s permission, just orders her friend to leave.
  • Anytime she spends time alone with other males he demands to know if she slept with them.
  • He is secretive about his own movements.
  • He doesn’t trust her/won’t let her go out by herself unless accompanied by himself or one of his men. 
  • He manipulates her to control her decisions.
  • When she introduces him to her contacts (because he won't let her do her job on her own), he attacks and/or tortured every one.
  • When Aileen sleeps with him he immediately informs everyone (without her consent) that it has happened and warns everyone else off.
  • In the last book he forced her to lose her job by forcing her to move to the vampires' main HQ, now he uses the job he offered to force her to do things she doesn’t wish to do, to manipulate her, and to overrule choices she makes (and does so).  Oh, and does he actually let her do her job like his other enforcers?  Hell no.  
  • He stands by while she is mind raped into doing something against her nature because he thinks it’s good for her.

For a side helping, Liam also tortures people when it suits his goals, and in the past may have been a bit of a murdurer/torture/sadist in team with one of the evil characters.  And we're meant to like him????

Edited by ants

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Yikes.

Reminds me of all the reviews that call Outlander a feminist masterwork. But I will digress from my long and now copyrighted Outlander rant. :P

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4 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Yikes.

Reminds me of all the reviews that call Outlander a feminist masterwork. But I will digress from my long and now copyrighted Outlander rant. :P

Never watched it so it would be wasted on me at least anyway!

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