Tag Archives: Werewolves

“Hey, it’s Randy. We’ve got until tomorrow morning to sacrifice Stephen to the devil.”

71. Living with the Dead – Kelley Armstrong

You know, I’m not sure that Hope and Karl can really carry a story. Hope’s a demon who has a hard time controlling her massive powers and Karl is a werewolf slash jewel thief (sometimes) that loves that demon. Karl didn’t really pop out much to me in the other werewolf stories, so his whole near-redemption situation wasn’t all that intriguing. I think maybe Armstrong knows that not all the characters really deserve their own book length work, but still wanted to use these two, and so she stuck them in with some other narrators in Living with the Dead. The result is a bit of a mess. The plot’s fine, a little involved considering that this is book nine in the Otherworld series and the reader is only familiar with a couple of the characters already – and vaguely familiar at that. Robyn, Hope’s friend that doesn’t know she’s a demon, who also has a dead husband who was – surprise! – a necromancer, starts finding lots of dead people around her. And not in a Sixth Sense way, in a “you must be the killer, you’re around” way. Oh, those supernatural crimes inspire the best police work. Well, this one kind of does once Robyn’s dead husband starts helping Finn, another new narrator.

Sometimes you read books in a series to have read the whole series…and if Armstrong’s writing wasn’t so easy to glide through, I might’ve skipped this one.

Ozma looks for a story with more dynamic narrators on the other side of the couch. The cooler werewolves are not back there, little Oz, I’m sorry.

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There are an awful lot of stakes raised here for a book that didn’t involve many vampires.

65. Wolfman Confidential – Justin Robinson

Things are getting a lot darker in the City of Devils. It would stand to reason that any story involving more of the mobster and cop elements of the adventures of Nick Moss would be on the more serious side – even if those mobsters are a sidhe, the girl version of Krang from Ninja Turtles, and a germaphobe.

At first I was a little nervous about the amount of new characters that continued to pop up and have things resolved throughout the novel. That nerviness turned out to be unfounded by the end, thankfully, as the characters circled back around or their involvement in the main plot became clear. It’s so important in a series with a world as unusual and detailed as this one to not just mention some new person or location or thing solely for its own sake and Robinson manages to keep the newness and revealed relevance fun throughout. There are a lot of weird and wonderful set pieces with a ghost gang’s lair, goblins, a phantom and his young protégé, and – unexpectedly – people.

I have to say, though, my favorite scene involved the familiar monsters who hang out at Nick’s house every night trying to get him to let them turn him. Nick basically giving story-time to Sam, Mira, and Lurkimer made for a good moment of grounding in a very action packed story.

Ozma is waiting for Pere to tell her stories about her own version of the Night War.

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“Do you cry over a guinea pig? This boy is a free police case. “

29. Blood and Chocolate – Annette Curtis Klause

Werewolves have more weaknesses than silver. The teenage werewolf at the center of this novel goes weak in the knees for poetry. One hippie kid writes a wolfy poem and she’s gone. Trying to fit in. Trying to out-flirt the human girls. Trying to prove herself through the overconfidence of being a supernatural beast creature. It doesn’t really work out how she wanted. They’re never ready to know the truth, the ones who say they are lied. Vivian finds out the hard way (the “Did I murder someone last night?” way) that she has to stay with her own kind and marry some older dude with a motorcycle that also almost dated her mom.

“One’s place in the hierarchy of any group is earned, and not through messing around with humans.” Pammy was queen of my herd for quite a while, she accepted her place with dignity and didn’t rebel…but she was like three years old at that time, an age of certain wisdom for a guinea pig. Also, we cry over all the guinea pigs if we need to in this house.

Mixtape:

1. “Until the Night Is Over” – Timber Timbre
2. “Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird” – All Them Witches
3. “Dog Inside Your Body” – Butthole Surfers
4. “Under Tva Runor (Under Two Runes)” – Finntroll
5. “Offering” – Chelsea Wolfe
6. “Birthed into a Grave They Made for You” – MAKE
7. “Bottomless Pit” – King Dude
8. “Girl” – Suicide
9. “Past Lives” – BORNS
10. “Four Teeth” – True Widow
11. “Kiss of Steel” – Samhain
12. “Hallucinatoria” – Wolfmen of Mars
13. “Midnattens Widunder” – Finntroll
14. “Ghost Dance” – The Bright Light Social Hour
15. “Killer Wolf” – Danzig

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“Is that a guy following us with a knife? Maybe it’s a chupacabra.” (Kyle Kinane)

83. Tales of the Otherworld – Kelley Armstrong

In the introduction to this collection, Armstrong mentions that although she put these stories up on her website for free essentially as a thank you to her readers, they were still consistently pursuing her to publish them traditionally…which is one fun aspect of the great ebook debate. Currently at the university I work for, they mention repeatedly that the ebooks they’ve bought are being used. In the department I work for, if you let a patron know we already own a book in eform, they send you an email saying they want a copy they can hold in their hands. It’s an ouroboros. Armstrong’s solution to feeling like she had to sell something she was trying to give away on purpose was to make it a charitable endeavor and to add a new story – a lovely compromise. Tales is the second volume of previously free tales and although the other collection dealt exclusively with the male werewolves in her oeuvre, this volume still deals with some of werewolves, thankfully.

My “reward” for my readers involves these adorable photos of my guinea pigs. Look how free and adorable Ozma is. Freely enjoy

“Bewitched” – After Elena, my second favorite character of Armstrong’s Otherworld is Eve Levine. She’s a witch, so my favor surprised me because I really enjoy her werewolf stories more than any others, but she’s an ornery witch. “Bewitched” is the new, non-already free story in this collection and it’s about her relationship with Kristof Nast, the before-time of Savannah’s story. Yay!

“Birthright” – Logan’s introduction to his pack, of course, he didn’t even know he was a werewolf…oh, those absentee dads. He comes to Stonehaven and tells Clay he looks like he’s in a frat. I like Logan, he was much more levelheaded than some of the other wolves and so it’s nice to get a few more snippets of his character.

Ozma is pretty sure her birthright involves not being stuck on a couch with Horace and Peregrine. She’s not wrong.

“Beginnings” – I thought this was also the title of that two part Buffy finale where she has sex with Angel and he goes evil-Angelus. That’s “Becomings,” but in Googling to double check myself, I found that there’s some Buffy fan-fiction called “Beginnings;” I forget about fan-fiction sometimes… Moving on, it would have been a nice coincidence that both this story of Elena and Clay meeting and Buffy and Angel falling apart would be called the same thing, but they’re not, so… Moving on again. Elena struggling for money in college and being underestimated and antagonized by Clay at first is quite fun to read. It also really grounds Clay in his anthropological background, which always seems like it might be a put-on when reading some of the books. It’s there, mentioned randomly, but as someone who has studied both art and anthropology sometimes it feels like when they make Tara Reid a scientist in a horror movie. The words are there, but do they understand them? Having Clay act like that toward Elena proved to me that he is a solid visiting faculty member at a university. Throw in a scene of finding a book they said they lost a year ago in their office and calling the library to ask that they be reimbursed for the bill and it would be complete.

“Just bring your books back, Finny!” Ozma, as a librarian.

“Wedding Bell Hell” – Paige and Lucas get married. It’s like a reunion of all kinds of fun characters and a little mixed up but positive and that’s how Paige always seems to me anyway.

“The Case of El Chupacabra” – I never really expected Armstrong to branch into mentioning Chupacabras. Ever. They seem far too far south for her Canadian characters, but then again, there’s some stories in Miami, but it’s still weird to see Mexican goat suckers involved in one of her stories. I mean, it’s not really there, but, still. Weird. This one is a case for Paige and Lucas and of course gets in to all the Cortez Cabal intrigue and those aspects of the Otherworld have always bored me. I’m just not super into corporate/mobster/overly powerful dudes in suits doing shitty things or Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate-ing. I would’ve been happier if a real Chupacabra was in charge, which is why I keep capitalizing that word when I don’t think I need to.

Ozma escapes the plastic alligator skull, the closest thing I have to a chupacabra.

 

 

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Climate change is making it a little harder to get frostbite in many areas. That’s not good though.

73. Frostbitten – Kelley Armstrong

Werewolves in the snow! Whee!

Elena and Clay tracking mutts in Alaska and running into the kind of criminal stuff that characters in urban fantasy stories always seem to run into no matter where they take place. I’m in the middle of nowhere – oh look! Crime! Supernaturals committing crimes! Sigh.

It’s a quick read, but does manage to expand Armstrong’s werewolves nicely with a werewolf that actually lives with wolves. It was brisk and I’m always happy to read when Armstrong focuses on Elena. She’s definitely her strongest character.

Ozma approves of fellow blonde (well, Ozma’s golden and Hershey Kiss-faced), strong character Elena as well. One day, Ozma will also fight supernatural crime.

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Face Your Demons – Supernatural starts now, on TNT

36. Skin of the Soul – Lisa Tuttle, ed.

This beautifully titled short story collection is subtitled “New horror stories by women” and was published by The Women’s Press, London, in 1990. It features some familiar writers like Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Carol Oates, Tuttle herself, and Joan Aiken (who I mainly know from her Edward Gorey illustrated Wolves of Willoughby Chase and other wolf books); it also features several writers I’ve never heard of and two of those are from Texas and their stories in the anthology are some of their earliest professional publications. That’s pretty cool.

Peregrine is basically a professional model for paintings and photos. That’s also pretty cool. Muse pigs are cool.

Here are some of my thoughts about the stories that stood out to me:

Melanie Tem – “Lightning Rod” – A literally horrific exploration of that martyr complex women are societally bred to have. Oh, I’ll do this thing that hurts – No, I will! And so on and so on until someone collapses under the weight of trying to please everyone. This story was both scary and exhausting.

Suzy McKee Charnas – “Boobs” – A very fun little werewolf story.

Karen Joy Fowler – “The Night Wolf” – Different kind of wolf. Not fun.

This is as close to howling at the moon as Pere’s going to get.

Ann Walsh – “Getting Away From It All” – Very reminiscent of Jack Torrance at the bar in The Shining, except, in this story, the mom isn’t blaming everyone else for her own issues. It’s vague and surreal and also quite grounded in that “I was trying to do something nice!” feeling that can exhaust and overwhelm us.

There are quite a few pieces in this collection that really pick at parts of me and so for once I’m reviewing a horror collection that actually got under my skin. Nice work/Damn it, ladies.

Lisa Tuttle – “Mr. Elphinstone’s Hands” – So much mucus in this story. SO much. It’s slimy and sticky and evokes the shame of hyperhidrosis and living in the spiritualist times and paranoia and, well, yuck.

Peregrine knows which dead piggies she’d like to conjure with mucus hands but…no one in this house has ectoplasmic abilities. Sorry, Pere.

G.K. Sprinkle – “Serena Sees” – Quite the tense evening over the psychic lines. The anger that people use as an excuse to hurt other who haven’t actually done anything to them comes through in this story – especially the anger of an entitled dude who didn’t get what he wanted. A smile. A correct psychic prediction. A date. All resulting in some dude who thinks he has the right to hurt women.

Melissa Mia Hall – “Listening” – The earring tells her things. Things that no one will listen to…like the many times I have correctly predicted something bad happening (a broken window, for instance) that wouldn’t have happened if the persons involved had just listened to me. I don’t even have a magic earring. My ears aren’t even pierced. Still no one listens.

Anne Goring – “Hantu-Hantu” – A Barb and Nancy for 1990. Except in this story, Nancy gets the roaches. She goes after the guy, gets “chosen” in the swampy tropics, and gets the roaches. Barb…well, she still basically gets to go the Upside Down and she kinda gets the roaches too.

You just go ahead and try to give Pere the roaches. She’ll come out of the log tunnel and cut you. With her mind. Also maybe her very sharp incisors.

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If only we could do something about those wacky billionaires.

46. Stolen – Kelley Armstrong

Adding witches, vampires, demons, a mad scientist, and a sadistic billionaire to her urban fantasy (but this one’s mainly set in an isolated compound) series may have seemed like a good idea at the time for Kelley Armstrong. Second book in the series, throw in everything. And in fact, the Otherworld books are usually fun to read regardless of how many types of supernatural characters have been thrown in – besides, Charlaine Harris did the same thing and it happened on Buffy and Monster Squad and there are so many, many more. If one supernatural thing is real, they all must be! Here’s a kitchen sink for your trouble! It does get tiresome having to learn everyone’s powers over and over – oh you’re not all demon, you’re just half demon and a jerk- okay. On something else, you’d be super tortured and whining about not being able to find love or something…

In the context of Stolen, which came directly after Bitten – a novel dealing entirely with werewolves – it’s quite the expansion on what I thought was going to be a series dealing with the issues of one main species. And in the setting it has – some jerk billionaire uses his resources to capture and hunt different supernatural species, it makes it work. Armstrong’s female characters are very strong and very capable and I appreciate that. Even the imprisoned witches and Elena the werewolf are resourceful and making the effort to make do with their circumstances while finding a way out. It’s far more realistic than panicking and waiting for male characters to help them out…and sometimes it seems like stories have to be set in a fully supernatural universe for that to be truly understood.

Ozma, planning her escape from the couch full of pumpkins.

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Full moon’s coming.

13. The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group – Catherine Jinks

The previous novel in this series was excellent – except for the eating of guinea pigs…I’ve tried to make it clear to people that guinea pigs, based on their gestation period alone, are not the best choice for vampires – or the stupid hospital people on The Walking Dead (All the guinea pigs would have been dead already unless there were already some in the constantly air conditioned hospital and no one stressed them out during the initial stages of the zombie apocalypse…unlikely. Rabbits and rats already have wilderness experience, breed way faster, and rabbits are bigger! Ahhh! I will never get over these bad choices!) – partly because of how it altered the perception that vampires are so strong and full of stolen vigor. Jinks’ vampires are creaky and full of sloth, probably because they eat relatively inactive domesticated animals (see photographic evidence provided by Pammy and Twiglet below).

The werewolf sequel does not suffer from a lack of action, and thankfully some of the vampires do show up to slow it down a touch. It’s much more of a kidnapping story than a werewolf story. I’m not entirely sure that it was a good choice to speed the sequel up so much and throw it completely into action-territory as I ended up feeling like I didn’t really know the major characters. I was just following along to see what happened without any real stake in the outcome.

Pammy and Twiglet being relatively inactive. They were champion synchronized nappers and loungers. Eyes on the prize, ladies.

Pammy and Twiglet being relatively inactive. They were champion synchronized nappers and loungers. Eyes on the prize, ladies.

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Fire in the Hole

5. Sinner – Maggie Stiefvater

As soon as I saw that companion books were being written for the less-than-honorable characters in the Beautiful Creatures and Wolves of Mercy Falls series I was excited to read them. I often like the villain, well, “villain” as in, “not involved in the annoying teen romance that is the purpose of this series” and therefore allowed to not strain their heart strings – or mine –  characters better than the main characters in young adult series. Also, writing a decent contrary perspective is something that cool writers like Elmore Leonard do, and YA could use some more Elmore Leonard-ness. I cannot believe the last season of Justified is happening, I just love Boyd and Raylan so much… Okay, bad Elmore Leonard for TV digression, sorry. I really love Boyd and Raylan. No joke. Super sad to see Justified go.

Anyway, Sinner. Cole St. Clair was definitely the most interesting character in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and even though I know he’s from New York state, I constantly picture him as Ian the English guy from Lonely Planet with JNCOs and a black t-shirt. I know that image does not suit what anyone would be going for with a former rock star junkie werewolf, but, he’s no Trent Reznor and I don’t know enough about Andrew Eldritch’s personality and despite my usually reliable musical knowledge I can’t think of anyone else (maybe Al Jourgenson) who would be in a band named Narkotika on purpose. Maybe dude from Psychotica, but I didn’t listen to them and it seems to on the nose. Anyhoo, more digressions, I always liked Ian’s semi-maniacal enthusiasm for traveling, he seemed just as willing to please his audience by eating whatever was on offer, like that time in Mongolia he ate marmot – and then ate a sheep’s eyeball in a yurt because he was the honored guest. That’s crowd pleasing. He also had a clearly impressive sweater collection. Cole’s behavior was all over the place in this book and while I still like him, I don’t quite believe him as a character after this story. Occasionally, his behavior seemed too conscientious for a real man in his position and I kept wondering how old he is. I can’t remember it being mentioned. And I know he’s in a YA book, but this one straddled the line a bit in terms of him seeming more like a teen in terms of how he deals with relationships and yearning. Oh, the yearning for Isabel, who I no longer like that much.

Isabel now seems much more like a garden variety bitch model outside of Minnesota, but I guess that’s one type that dates rock stars and does not apologize to their cousins for constantly sending a stream of vitriol at them. Seriously, Isabel felt bad feelings for basically never saying anything nice to her cousin Sofia, but she never really apologized. She needs to apologize. Fictional character, apologize to your fictional cousin, NOW. Shoe shopping is not a sufficient apology for the emotional trauma you caused a young girl who clearly had experienced enough previous, divorce-based emotional trauma to use OCD-style living as a coping mechanism. I lost all my sympathy for Isabel through her treatment of others. And I’ve had relationships where I walked in on things that I misinterpreted because I was dating a suspicious character, so, we could have related. But she chose down and I chose slightly less down.

Anyway, both of them engaged in more adult behaviors than I would expect in YA while seeming like they hadn’t grown as characters…perhaps that is because this book is set in L.A. The secondary characters, as apparently writing those is one of Stiefvater’s strengths, were nicely drawn and enjoyable, although now I feel like I know better than to ask for their full stories. Unless they involve a scene where Isabel apologizes to Sofia.

Danger Crumples is expressing that Horace has something to apologize for if he ever turns around. Also, meet Horace. Maybe at some point you’ll see his face. He has one.

Danger Crumples is expressing that Horace has something to apologize for if he ever turns around. Also, meet Horace. Maybe at some point you’ll see his face. He has one.

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Punch a higher floor

  1. Forever – Maggie Stiefvater

This is the first entry in what I have declared “The Year of the Ladies.” All my reviews in 2015 will be for books written by women, in honor of my last year’s reading experiment to try to read more books written by women than men. I read about 30 more books by women than I did by men and considering that I am not the most voracious of readers and that most of the books I read were written with adults as their intended audience I’m quite pleased with that result. I found out that I don’t like the work of one horror author I was told I would enjoy and a new series that I really do like from someone in a pretty bestselling writing group – I’m being so vague, just a preview of things I will surely mention in future posts.

For now, I’m starting with a blast from the relatively recent past. The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy has some of the best book design I’ve seen in ages (the first edition hardbacks anyway) – the cut paper, the color choices, the interior ink color choices, it’s a seriously well put together package. I would have read it just because of the design, even if I hadn’t been aware it was about werewolves, and I probably would have enjoyed it about the same amount. I’m not much for romance and Sam and Grace and the poetry and longing glances and the maudlin language they share were never very intriguing or satisfying for me as a reader; probably because I’m a cynical and bitter adult and not a teenager wistfully lusting after the possibility that someone will write a song for me and then turn me into a supernatural creature. So! I was very happy when the last installment in the trilogy included a lot more from some of the more acidic characters, Cole and Isabel. For me it was a pretty fitting end to the story, the action was finally moving at a better clip, and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the wilderness.

Side note – I recently picked up Sinner, the “villain” perspective book from this series (Beautiful Creatures has Dangerous Creatures, so far these are the only two villain or “dark side to the love story that mostly annoyed me” perspectives on established series that I’ve seen) and as I finished Forever in 2011, I’m looking forward to seeing more from the cranky Cole St. Clair.

Murderface, scratching that itch to be the first lady pig to be featured in my year of the ladies. The Queen always comes first, so first she is.

Murderface, scratching that itch to be the first lady pig to be featured in my year of the ladies. The Queen always comes first, so first she is.

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