GreyWarden

Review: Chronicles of Steele- Raven by Pauline Creeden

Human life has value.
The poor living in the gutter are as valuable as the rich living in a manor.
The scoundrel is no less valuable than the saint.
Because of this, every life a reaper takes must be redeemed.


Raven has lived by this first tenet since she was trained by her father to become a reaper. But since his death, she’s been spending years redeeming the lives she’s taken. By her count, she’s even and it’s time for that life to end. If she settles down and becomes a wife, she might just feel human again. But on the way to the life she thinks she wants, the baron of New Haven asks her to complete a task which she cannot ignore… Just when Raven decides to give up on her life as an assassin, she’s pulled right back in.

 

***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

We're introduced to Raven as she's saving the duke's youngest son from drowning, only to be arrested once her identity is revealed. Seems Reapers have been outlawed for about a half a generation, but the duke's eldest son has need of her services. She's to protect his nine year old younger brother, who may or may not be possessed by a demon, from their father who wants the boy dead. Hot on the trail of Raven and young Darius are the very guards who arrested her after rescuing the boy, led by Captain Jack Grant- who's grudging respect for Raven's skills and his own innate decency clash with his duty to the duke. Along the way they'll both discover more layers to their respective missions than they imagined and things aren't always what they seem.

Reapers aren't magical warriors- just highly trained and disciplined ones usually able to find something within any situation to turn to an advantage. In order to avoid descending into sociopathy they've adopted a mantra that all life is sacred and whenever they take one they must then save another, redeeming themselves by striking a balance- much like the axiom 'the life you save will be your own'. I also liked how the author weaved bits of personality and characterization into things- such as a reaper lamenting the lack of discipline in this new generation of wannabes who abandon the training once it becomes difficult. Art imitating Life.

Raven's past is a bit mysterious, of course, and remained so at the end of the book. Bits and pieces of her history were doled out during the story, revealing her character and her motivations. Jack Grant wasn't as developed as he could've been and the romance seemed forced as suddenly they're in love with each other. Whatever happened to liking someone/being interested and just wanting to see where it goes?

There's plenty of action and angst to feed your head, but the world needs fleshing out in order to get a clearer grasp of what's going on. The main problem I had was the sudden switches of POV. One moment Raven's upstairs about to confront a witch, next sentence Jack's charging up the steps and finding Raven laid out due to the witch's magic. Things like this kept happening so much I had to re-read several passages a couple times to make sure I had things straight before continuing.

The extras included are an excerpt about young Darius- whom will soon receive his own story- some pointers about writing from the author and the author's thoughts on what Steampunk is and why it should appeal to female readers.

This is a fast, fun read with a couple of twists to it. Pauline Creeden's crafted a nifty tale that teases you with future potential but needs fleshing out and more backstory. Enjoy.

SPOILER ALERT!

DNF- So Much Wangst, So Little Action and Immersion

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

 

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I tried to get into this one and struggled for literally months to finish it, but I give up. This book doesn't hold my attention at all.

 

What intrigued me to pick it up forces me to put it down. Tying the Guy Fawkes legend into an urban fantasy Victorian/Gregorian English setting is an appealing idea, but the lack of urgency in the story, the endless inner monologues and piecemeal explanation for what Color Magic is all about and why there's such trouble between the differing factions will have you losing interest fast.

 

A big letdown for me was the characterization, especially Emma. While the whiny, emo protagonist Thomas was bad enough- granted he had a sense of urgency with his condition, but that only seemed to come whenever the author arbitrarily decided she needed to insert some drama- Emma almost felt like a betrayal. Maybe I missed something, but the sudden reveal of Emma as a black woman killed any further interest I had. It felt cheap & forced, especially when there was not even a hint to this beforehand, so why the deception? To make Thomas seem more sympathetic and juxtapose the rivals/bad guys as more eeeevil. When you club your readers upside the head with cheap tricks to try and make them feel for the characters, you've lost.

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: Bum Fight- an Unlikely Journey from Hopeless to Humanitarian by Rufus Hannah & Barry Soper

 

 
'A Bum Deal: A Memoir' is the story of the man who was the face of the infamous website BumFights, Rufus Hannah, aka Rufus the Stunt Bum. It chronicles his journey from early alcoholism and social misfit into a symbol of unrestrained greed and disregard for human life and finally a voice for others with similar troubles. It's a story that sounds clichéd in our times but still occurs all too often. And as is often the case, a human face and voice are what's needed to drive the issues home.

It almost seems Rufus was doomed from the start. Coming from southern working class parents with alcohol problems, he was born jaundiced due to his mother's drinking. Even so, they often resorted to the old southern remedy of lacing the baby bottle with vodka to keep the child quiet. Yet the parents instilled a work ethic into all of their children that served him well when little else did.

His journey takes him through failed marriages and jobs lost due to alcoholism across country and finally to San Diego where he meets Donnie, a fellow vet with similar problems. They migrate to Donnie's hometown of La Mesa where they manage an existence as the only homeless men in the town and are somewhat absorbed into the community. At the insistence of another resident they're hired on as handymen by Barry Soper, a local businessman. The three men are mistrustful of each other but over time they develop a real friendship- especially Rufus and Barry.

A chance encounter with a HS student with a video camera- Ryan McPherson- sets them on the path to notoriety together. Ryan's callousness towards the two men is apparent to Rufus from the start but as he supplies them with the necessities, namely booze, they feel obligated to go along. Heat from the cops forces Ryan to move operations to Vegas, where things start to spiral out of control. Rufus and Donnie realize the danger they're in and contact their friend Barry, who helps spring them and gets Rufus on the road to recovery.

This reads as a complete stream of consciousness work, as if Rufus simply talked about his life and the notes were sorted out. Events leap around a few times, especially in the beginning, as people and events are suddenly thrust upon you with little preamble. There's also some gaps left open towards the ending- especially his attempt to repair his relationship with his children, that's never followed up and leaves you wondering.

'A Bum Deal' is not exceptional but intriguing at times and insightful into the mindset of an alcoholic. Rufus' emotions are raw and unfiltered, underscoring his helplessness, frustration and acceptance of his situation as well as his struggle to get them under control to save himself. It also provides a few details about the BumFight phenomenon, but more importantly, it's about the redemption of a man who fell too many times to pick himself up without the help of someone who cared enough to do so. And who doesn't need a helping hand once in a while?

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: The King's Mistress by Emma Campion

 

 

 

 

"When had I a choice to be other than I was?"

This quote foreshadows the constant barrage of wangst in store for you when reading The King's Mistress by Emma Campion. This is a historical fiction of the life of Alice Perrers, who's regarded as one of the more infamous ladies ever to keep royal company. She was the longtime companion of Edward III, whose rule was once considered glorious but was later encompassed in fiscal and political scandal. The above statement is inserted at the start of each section of the book, reminding you how poor Alice was ever a victim of powers beyond her reckoning. Might as well have been Gwen Stefani singing, "I'm just a girl... in the world..." It would have been interesting to see her as she's been portrayed: a woman surviving by her wiles in the shark-infested waters of the royal court, instead of as a helpless leaf blown in the storm winds.

Our heroine was born Alice Salisbury, simply the bestest daughter ever. She's pious, humble, loves her father, honors her mother, cherishes her family, rescues kittens, feeds the homeless, cures the sick, negotiates peace treaties... and blossoms into such a flower that of course, her own mother is utterly jealous of her. This thing wasn't written in ink, it was High Fructose Corn Syrup.

This fairy tale is delivered in four purple-tinted segments:
 
Part I/An Innocent Encounters The World- Where Alice comes of age and her father arranges a marriage for her to a widowed merchant, Janyn Perrers, whom its discovered has complicated ties to the scandalized Queen Mother Isabella, who helped overthrow her husband the king and set her son, Richard III, upon the throne. The Perrers family fortunes are intricately bound to the royals, but with privilege comes peril, so much so that Janyn ensures her safety by placing her in the Queen's service. What choice does she have? Her husband wills it!

Part II/The Queen's Handmaid- Alice becomes established in Queen Philippa's retinue and comes to be noticed by Edward III, king of England. As Philippa's health declines, the queen is driven to seek an amiable companion for her husband, someone she can trust... What choice does she have? The King & Queen desire it!

Part III/The King's Mistress- Alice and Edward form a deep, abiding relationship, and she even bears him children and he bestows lavish gifts of land, jewels and whatnot upon her. What choice does she have- the king made her take them! Yet the more she becomes a fixture in Edward's life, the more she is targeted by the differing factions at court. What choice does she have? She's but a commoner at court!

Part IV/Phoenix- In the wake of the king's passing, the nation is left in some difficulty from Edward's excesses and a scapegoat is needed. What choice does she have? She's but a woman alone who's blamed for leading their beloved king astray, taking the realm down with him! Yet Alice manages to rise somewhat from the ashes of her ruination.

There are two overwhelming problems with this story. One, the character of Alice is an uber MarySue- an embodiment of author's wish fulfillment whom every man must possess and every woman either admires or despises, and of course any characters that dislike this person are obviously up to no good. Alice is so much this she could almost be her own trope. The author has clearly fallen prey to what seems to be a trend in historical fiction- falling completely in love with the character and somehow trying to redeem them through fantasy instead of simply telling their story. Alice is so overflowing with compassion that at the end of the book she can even forgive everyone who's ever wronged her. Campion even goes so far as to give Alice a new life with another man while admitting to having no evidence that they ever did anything more than conduct business together- can't have a fairy tale without a happy ending, right?

Two, nothing much happens. For a person so embroiled in political scandal and panned by history Alice is spectacularly uninvolved in events; Campion always keeps Alice on the periphery, supplying the true love and support her man needs until she's swept along by the tides of fate simply because she's there. Beginning with her own arranged marriage to Janyn, we're given exposition-delivered intrigues filtered through Alice's limited perspective, all making for very dull reading. For someone constantly in the eye of the storm, she's often caught unawares despite constantly being warned about what's happening (But what choice does she have? She is unused to such manipulations, even after living at the palace for almost twenty years!). Yet with every step you're expected to cry with her pain and laugh with her joy, except you won't. You'll just want it to be over with. Despite a few insights into the social mores of the times, I suggest you don't even start.
 
1.5/5 Stars

Review: Pagan- an MPRD Novel by Andrew Chapman

***Disclosure: Andrew's an ex-pat Brit who's been an online friend of mine for several years.***

 

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PAGAN: An MPRD novel is the anti-emo of the Vampire/Urban Fantasy genre... and its about damn time! If I gotta hear about one more curly-haired, hemoglobin-challenged, eternally tortured soul who can seduce anything that breathes but somehow still can't find true love while wearing his religion-revealing ballet pants... I just had to get that out.

 

The premise is straight forward: vamps have been playing humans for the past 20+ years with all the Twilight/Interview crap, softening us up for the worldwide sucker punch known as Black Tuesday. Five years later, there's still some disparity as to how to deal with being at the top of the menu instead of the food chain, but not so much that governments aren't swinging back. Enter the Ministry of Paranormal Research & Defense and their best bloke- Jack 'Pagan' Henderson- a former SAS turned fangbuster who also possesses a unique trait that prevents him from being controlled by vampires. The other fearless vampire killers comprise his team- as both comrades in arms and friends for life. Two are a bit of a surprise: Anna, who was turned into a vampire after she'd been a hunter, and Marie- a full-blooded werewolf who also doubles as Jack's sweetie.

 

The antagonists are cruel, nasty, vicious and bloodthirsty- in short, they're vampires! This one adds new flavor to the stale recipe of vampires and werewolves, introducing some intriguing sub-classes into each group. And in this world the lycanthropes are out in the open and siding with humanity, making for a nice twist. And there are a few vamps working for the Ministry itself, setting the stage for current and future intrigues. After our boys and girls finish clearing out a rural area, Pagan is brought to HQ for a Special Ops assignment: a hit on one of the most powerful vampires in England. Though it struck me as a little too easily accomplished, the aftermath of the mission leads to some unexpected developments whose ripples are felt all the way into the finale.

 

There's a wealth of detail- maybe a little too much- about guns and ammo; someone else joking referred to it as 'gun porn'. Ordnance fetishes aside, it's a fun read with lots of depth and humor. Jack's a likable enough guy but I kinda found myself more interested in the other team members as things progressed. Being former military I appreciated the jabs and snaps aimed at the upper ranks and bureaucratic types, as well as the crude and crass tension-breakers just before a fight.

 

PAGAN is a worthy first effort, nicely crafted with a few dull spots; the ending was too neat and pat, and there were parts of it I'd already seen coming. But I'm expecting the spit shine in the sequel.

 

3.5/5 stars

SPOILER ALERT!

Author's Agendas Overwhelm an Interesting Tale (Review: Boudica #1- Dreaming the Eagle)

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(This review also contains an overview of the entire quadrilogy.)
 
As a fan of historical fiction I have no problems with creative license and exploring ideas, especially when there is a shortage of reference material on a topic- in this case regarding the woman known as Boudica, who led a rebel campaign against the Roman legions in Brittania in the 1st century AD. Though we know the eventual outcome, as the saying goes: it's the journey that matters, not the destination.
 
This journey feels like a family vacation you're forced to go on with your new step-parent/siblings, so you brought your stash...
 
There's not a lot of factual info on Boudica herself so author Manda Scott flexes her worldbuilding muscles admirably and fashions a layered Celtic society that starts out exploring themes but quickly turns into pure propaganda. Which is a shame, `cause it coulda been a contender.
 
It's easy to see why Manda Scott is considered one of the better crime drama authors in the UK: multiple story threads weave together creating at times a compelling drama but at others can be obtuse, but not overly so.
 
Real characters and events get submerged beneath the author's iron-willed agenda. There's a clear metaphor of Rome as the Great Western Male-Dominated Ordered Society trying to bring the Celts as the Groovy Bisexual Spiritually-Free Goddess-Loving Individuals to heel. Given that the author is openly lesbian and an advocate of Dream Interpretation, you understand why you're being hit over the head.
 
Instead of Druids and Bards we're treated to Dreamers and Singers- and Dreamers never seem to be wrong... about anything. Along with this comes page after page of spiritual mumbo jumbo centered on animal symbolism, mystic interpretations, moonlight reflections on water, hair in every imaginable hue of yellow- pass the bong, please.
 
The main problem I had with the Dreamers is the lack of explanation for their skills. Yeah- there's some divine power at work here, but for three plus books they're infallible, and only at the end when you know things go wrong do their interpretations suddenly become ambiguous- it's like being at the George Lucas School of Revisionism.
 
**SPOILER ALERTS**
 
There's also the subject of sexuality. Lots of evidence has surfaced regarding Celts and their casual attitudes towards homosexuality, and while I expected it as a sub-theme and incidental to the story it almost overshadows it. Boudica herself is bisexual: her first love is her best friend Airmid, whom she's already having sex with when they're both in their early teens. After endless passages about their longing gazes and vows of eternal devotion there's a teenage breakup spat after which she starts to notice boys, especially Caradoc, son of Cunobelin, the most powerful king. Skip to young adulthood and we suddenly meet Ardacos, who becomes a prominent supporting character and happens to be her first male lover, except that she's already kicked him to the curb... No need to bother with all that messy `coming of age character development' crap while your girlfriend is still hanging around!
 
Marriages are deliberately replaced with sexually open relationships regardless of how many children a couple has- it's entirely up to the woman as to what happens. If it weren't for the historical fact that Boudica did have children, I seriously doubt she would have been given any male lovers in this story. The fate of the children's father shows this- the aforementioned Caradoc- another historical figure whose true final fate is uncertain. His removal from the story, while factually based up to a point, honestly felt like the author didn't know what else to do with him, but needed him to leave. You can hardly run back to the arms of your one true gay love with the father of your children hanging around, now can you?
 
'Tagos, a member of the Eceni (read: Iceni) tribe who grows up with Boudica, turns coward in battle and eventually loses his sword arm and the respect of his peers. His emasculation is forgettable until you realize that he's actually Prasutagos, who is historically known to be the Roman client king of their tribe and whom Boudica is known to be married to (here they only shack up for political purposes) and whose death triggers events that lead to the final assaults against the legions. This ham-handed hack job and attempt to shade his identity from readers is a clear author manipulation to facilitate Boudica's rise to power later in the story: no more weak male rulers, here's a real woman to lead us! 
 
Then there's Cartimandua, a queen who likes to play both sides and another pivotal historical figure who's mentioned and never seen. Needing her support the rebels send emissaries, firstly Caradoc, whom she holds captive for the winter. Caradoc never elaborates about his captivity, though there's lots of innuendo. Venutios tries to use his influence to sway her and marries her to cement ties to the rebels, though she still does as she pleases. Given the significance of these events, it would've helped to see them unfold instead of being referred to in passing... but that would've been heterosexual.
 
I read through the entire series and can't recall one single healthy, nurturing straight relationship that survived the story- if someone doesn't die, it just plain ends badly. Whereas every gay/lesbian pairing is of soul-friends and soul-mates and... well, you get the idea. Case in point: Dubornos, an old friend and rival, likes Airmid, Boudica's lifelong lover. After that disaster there's Cygfa- Caradoc's daughter from another woman- who wants him, yet he doesn't reciprocate. When Dubornos finally develops deep, abiding, lifelong feelings for her, she's long over him and well into... wait for it... a lesbian relationship! You can't make this stuff up... but Manda Scott did!
 
The characterization of children of this story had them so far beyond precocious, I had to laugh. Repeatedly. As another reviewer pointed out- are these kids five or forty-five? A pre-teen boy defeats a grown man at a chess-like game like he's a master strategist instead of playing against one. Boudica herself displaces Venutios, a man over twice her age, as the pre-eminent warrior of the times... because she had a good day of hunting. Boudica's young daughter at the tender age of eight is so wise and prescient that the legendary warrior princess actually defers to her judgment on multiple occasions! Trees died for this shit!
 
The final battle was very poorly handled: in the book the Celts outnumber the Romans by about five to one, and have them hemmed in a valley... and they still lose?!? Even though the Romans had to win, this fight simply made no sense!
 
Lastly, there's the death scene that wasn't. Boudica's final fate is open to conjecture- Roman historians claim she poisoned herself to avoid capture (the author argues that this could be a conceit, as that's what a proper Roman woman would do). Here we get another all-too confusing battle scene to save her daughter's life resulting in a fatal, self-inflicted injury(!). After all, no true heroine could ever be beaten in honorable combat by the male enemy, oh no- far better that they die stupidly! We're not even given the payoff of a final scene: after a hell-ride to reach a final resting place for her all we get is another vision where Boudica bequeaths her legacy to her young daughter before crossing over. Pfft!
 
I know it doesn't seem like it, but there's a lot to recommend here. There's a wealth of detail, flavor and feeling to the story and I always enjoy a different take on a subject. And there's times when the imagery is amazing: in the final book there's a symbolic moment involving a hare that was simply a stroke of genius! I just wished there were more moments like that- less propaganda and proselytizing, and more prose.
 
2.5/5 Stars

So Many Books, So Little Time... Early October 2018 Edition

I think I need an intervention.

 

I love books & reading- always have.  Reviewing is a bonus and the advent of ebooks was a mixed blessing.  As of this moment I have about 30gb of ebooks sitting on an external drive...

 

Not a typo: 30 Gigabytes. And I'm always acquiring more.  

 

Between purchases, giveaways, ARCs, freebies, NetGalley, Kindle listings & promos I've got a TBR pile that would make Sisyphus shake his head and wonder what the fuck was wrong with me.  It's only Wednesday and check out what this week's haul already looks like:

 

37792766

38136877

33898873


AlS
42036782

36995589

7066033
37503259

 

Oh, and did I mention I'm getting ready for NaNoWriMo?

 

...send help... or at least a shitload of coffee.

Review: Read & Riot- a Pussy Riot Guide to Activism

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Written as a stream of consciousness, Nadya shares her experiences and thoughts on the state of things and how we as individuals can still have our say and try to make a difference in the world.

 

It's a fast read and easy to digest, with each chapter (aka Rules) broken into three segments: Words, Deeds & Heroes.

 

Words covers various topics like Questioning the Status Quo, the Prison Industrial Complex and What Putin Has to Do with Trump.

 

Deeds encompasses things we can all do- Dadaism, If the Kids are United, Art in Action and Pussy Riot Church (a Russian church that was more like a mini-mart or a venue hall).

 

Heroes explores the figures who've influenced Nadya's life and outlook- King, the Berrigan Brothers, Bell Hooks, Emmeline Pankhurst and Aleksandra Kollontai.

 

Equally intriguing is the recommended reading list at the end of the book, which offers up some pretty good stuff to feed your head and free your mind.  If nothing else, you'll end up with a crash course on activist ideas and a view from the front lines delivered by a person who's still there.

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: Anita Blake- Serpentine

A brief note: I submitted this to Amazon literally at 3:12 AM this morning and it just went through 10 minutes ago- obviously to give all the Verified Purchase reviews exposure first. So, if you're of a mind, I'd appreciate a little voting help to push it up the list.  Thanks.

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RDTQTS4X0K36U/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0425255689

 

 

 

 

I hadn’t read the last two books… actually I stopped reading the last two books about 20% in because I completely lost interest in them that fast- so when the chance arose at an early copy of this one I figured: what the hell, maybe there’s been some changes and improvement.  Maybe there’s been some actual developments, revelations and repercussions from these character choices and events.

 

Let’s put it this way: No.

 

Remember all the buildup for the plot of Bullet?  That assassins were gunning for Anita and the crew, and even Belle Morte was high-tailing it as fast as she could, only for the book to be about everything else but assassins?  How a story featuring cold blooded killers only dedicated about 19 PAGES right smack in the middle to said murderers? How the synopsis ended up getting revised because turns out there were virtually no assassins in the book, and would’ve been false advertising to keep saying it was all about them?   Well, if that was your gold standard for storytelling, if that muck thrilled you to the stars and back- boy, has Laurell got a story for you now!

 

I’ll give her credit; it took some serious gall to write this.  She had a lotta nerve pulling this again.   In a 500 page book about cursed snake people, they get mentioned in the beginning, referred to in the middle-ish and never brought up again until the finale.  Take one guess what’s on the rest of the dead trees sacrificed for this drek.  You got it: relationships and all the baggage they come with!

 

*** Mini-Spoilers Ahead***

 

There ain’t a K-Drama in the world that can hold a candle to this!  It’s everything all the other Anita Blake books have given you the past fifteen years, yet somehow less.  The paint by numbers scenes of gratuitous boob/crotch flashing, jellus haterz who deep down want to be just like Anita, hawt zexxy zex with the sweeties, fifty pages to leave town, forty pages to get to the hotel from the airport, recycled & rehashed pissing contests with cops, identifying friends from enemies by their boob size and curves, bad guys who suddenly can’t function without literally giving themselves away, rushed & compressed ending with tons of exposition in order to get back to the real story- troo wuv with the boyz.  It’s all there, y’all!  Knock yourselves out… or at least get a friend to do it.  Not so messy that way.

 

The one real surprise is the return of a character we hadn’t seen in a while- Olaf.  And despite being as boring and repetitive as everyone else, still manages to be creepy and somehow able to sneak a bit into Anita’s good graces.  In hindsight, an appearance from him is overdue but under the circumstances you wouldn’t expect him to be there, which makes the reason for his being there utterly contrived.  But given the implausibility of everything else, why the heck not?  Toss in Bernardo Spotted-Horse and it makes for a reunion of the Four Horsemen, which could’ve been a tour de force, but instead plays like an investigation by Scooby-Doo & the gang. Because, yeah- the baddie would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling U.S. Marshals and their were-buddies.

 

By the time Hamilton returns to the supposed mystery/curse to solve, you flat out won’t give a flip because it hasn’t mattered in so long you forgot all about it.  Far more important are the sudden appearance of Donna’s jellusy about Anita’s special bond with Edward, Donna’s BFF Dixie’s seething jellusy about the wedding, the cadre of bimbos jellus about Anita’s men, Olaf’s jellusy about Anita boitois… you might be sensing a theme here.  Jellusy even has a place in the motives of the bad guy- go figure!

 

Another theme is Hamilton’s ridiculous fixation with superhero metaphors.  Man, did she just love comparing Edward/Ted to Batman/Bruce Wayne; even Superman/Clark Kent a few times just to mix things up a bit.

 

No LKH novel would be complete without the sheer idiocy that’s Anita & Co- in both the classic and contemporary sense of the word.  Early on they ask a particular character if they know anything about the snake curse; they deny it, only to discover in the end just how much they did know.  Why such pertinent info was withheld is neither explained nor explored- just tossed in to avoid thinking something else up.

 

In the midst of an investigation into some missing women, Anita & co. come in contact with someone who’s obviously tied to the disappearances, but just plain fail to alert anyone about this in time to prevent other problems.  Why?  Why ask why.

 

There’s really not a lot to say about Serpentine-all the endless inanity, vapidity, vulgarity, insanity, mendacity, fragility…  It’s just plain bad, lazy, dull, self-indulgent, writing.  The usual, but somehow worse. 

 

Sorry for the lack of snark.  But I got nothing for this thing.

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Flog- Anita Blake: Serpentine, Chapters 47-50 (79% AND FINALLY A DEAD BODY)

 

Crapter 47:

 

Capt. Tyburn’s a pretty big guy; big enough to get Anita’s attention… know what I mean?  Rankin’s still trying to catch Dalton’s eye but Anita stumbles against him, breaking his concentration.

 

They run into Olaf in the lobby, and he wrangles himself into tagging along for the meeting.  All they needed was Bernardo and it’s the Four Horsemen again! 

They go into side room barely big enough for all of them and Tyburn unloads on Rankin, demanding answers.  They’re connected to the missing women and Nate’s background makes him a suspect.  Good answer; what do you have to say, Blake? 

 

Nate was a victim, not a perp; he was a child and we got him help.  Pffft!- of course he’d say that; he bats his pretty little eyes and tells a sob story and you all fall for it.  Whoa- did you just slut-shame a child victim of pedophiles just because he was a pretty little boy?  Uh-no?  Sounds to me like you damn sure did!  Tedward asks if Rankin has any connection to Nate.  Lots of non-denials before he finally just says no.

 

Anita remarks it’s pretty bad when a cop slut-shames an adult rape victim, but attacking a child…? WTF?  Nice try, Blake; you’re just trying to make trouble for me.

 

Olaf comments that lots of men say stuff like that would be rapists if they thought they wouldn’t get caught… so I gotta wonder what you’d do if you thought you wouldn’t?  You accusing me of being a pedophile?  Nope; just accusing you of thinking like one.   Anita figures that Olaf would know a thing or two about that.

 

Rankin shoves Olaf against the wall, and it’s on.  373 pages.

 

Crapter 48:

 

Olaf open hand slaps Rankin, staggering him.  Rankin tries to fight back; Tyburn opens the door so the rest of them can escape.  Next thing Rankin goes flying and crashing into the hallway.  Olaf lands an elbow to the temple and that’s it.  Anita now realizes she *never* wants to mix it up with Olaf.  375 pages.

 

Crapter 49:

 

Rankin gets sent to the hospital (still without anyone knowing about his powers- nice job breaking it, heroes) and Tyburn treats Anita & co. like co-workers instead of busybodies.  Dalton comes into the lobby, trailed by Micah, Nate, Rodina, Ru, Nicky, Bram; she needs to talk to Tyburn.  Tyburn tells a cop to escort the Four Horsemen to the crime scene.  While calling Bernardo, Micah explains Dalton thought she was in love with Rankin; he had his claws deep in her.

 

Bernardo struts in, with his zexxy self and it’s time to go.  Anita’s brain (such as it is) finally engages and she realizes Rankin’s gonna be at the hospital with Peter and Donna; she sends Rodina & Ru to check on things, keeping the main boitois with her.  Bernardo is bemused that starting a fight with Olaf got them a look at the crime scene; so is the cop escorting them.  380 pages.

 

Crapter 50:

 

It’s Anita’s first crime scene by the ocean- yay!  Tyburn’s given them the go-ahead; just want to know what they find out.  It’s officially Bettina; she’d been gutted like a melon, skin peeled back and hollowed out.  No spatter along the beach, no smell of decay or offal from the bowels and no marks they can recognize- human or otherwise.   How was this done and why?

 

There’s a bite mark along the ribcage- possibly a were did this.  Maybe, but looks more like human teeth; real question is how’d they get the organs out so skillfully.  Need a lot of practice for that.  Olaf doesn’t even detect the scent of a were- as far as he can tell in human form.  So what the hell?  390 pages.

 

 

79%, 50 chapters, 390 pages and I honestly can't remember the last time I saw or heard anything about a fucking snake person.  

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Flog- Anita Blake: Serpentine, Chapters 44-46 (74% AND ALL WE'RE GETTING IS MIND-FUCKED!!!))

 

 

Crapter 44:

 

They catch Tedward up on the situation; he automatically believes Rankin isn’t human simply because Anita says so- she’s cool like dat.  They spot Rankin outside; looks like he’s waiting for someone.  Tedward notes he looks like he’d fit in with Anita’s crew.  Anita’s kinda meh, but Nate likes what he sees.  Micah says it’s the first time Nate talked about another man in front of him. 

 

Rankin is slender, like Micah (since when?) and everyone notes that he kind of looks like Mike, too.  Lots of cops around now, so it looks like they found something.  So much activity helps Nate focus on the missing woman, Bettina, and not on Rankin and what he said to him.  Huh?  Soon as he saw Rankin, Nate wanted to get closer, and Rankin wanted Nate to tell him what he’d done, to confess.  Micah could tell Rankin was mind-fucking them, but he couldn’t fight it.  Rankin’s power is like a promise, a tease- being near you guys and touching you is real. 

 

Using Undue Magical Influence or Magical Malfeasance, especially if someone dies, gets you the Death Penalty in every state.   But if he does it in a state without the Death Penalty, he might not get fully charged under the law, so he might not get Death Row. (is it me or this utterly nonsensical?)  They don’t mess around with weres & paranormals; trial & execution are so fast, your head’ll spin.

 

A cop comes over; Anita and Ted flash their badges, so the cop confirms they’ve got something, and it’s pretty bad- sounds like it’s Bettina.  (which would be consistent with none of Anita’s people getting hurt since they all know Denny)

 

Det. Rankin spots them and chews out the cop for talking to them as only Anita & Ted have badges.  Micah observes Rankin wants to attract attention to them.  Tedward steps up to talk to him and the hissy fit continues- in front of the press and everyone with a smartphone. 

 

Rankin turns his attention to Nate, telling him he should confess what he did.  Nate, dazed & confused, agrees.  Anita moves to intervene, touching Rankin’s shoulder, and ends up just as mind-fucked as Nate (sic).   357 pages.

 

(LKH *really* likes using the term “mind-fucked” for some reason.)

 

Crapter 45:

 

Anita panics, but JC helps her break free by letting him through her shields and she feels a kiss- it’s Ru, as her Bride, serving her needs.  Now everyone’s got pics of Ru kissing Anita Blake.  Tedwards arguing with a group of cops, so maybe Anita should go help out.  Problem is explaining what just happened.  361 pages. 

 

Crapter 46:

 

The female cop, Dalton, arguing with Tedward is the local psychic- the only one in the area.  She has enough curves to not look like a boy in a polo and slacks.  Dalton felt the mojo, and not knowing about Rankin thinks it’s Anita’s fault for bespelling people (well, of course, but LKH makes it seem like she’s a dipstick for it).  Anita decides to correct her terminology, calling it a mind-fuck (there it is again!).  Dalton concedes it felt pretty strong, so maybe…  mind-rape?  NO!  No maybe; it was MIND-RAPE!1!  So how can you be so calm about mind-raping an officer, Blake?  NO!  Not me- him; HE MIND-RAPED ME! 

 

Rankin shows up to chime in- yeah, it wuz Anita.  Anita asks Dalton if she’s felt this power before- yeah.  Then it couldn’t have been me since I just got to town!  Hmmm…

 

Rankin slides over to touch Dalton… (to MIND-FUCK HER!!!) and her eyes glaze over.  Anita steps in, moving Rankin away, and keeps talking to Dalton.  Tedward comes to help out, repeating Anita’s point and asking her to check out the boys in the car to see that it’s not them.

 

Anita and Rankin square off; Anita focusing on his chest.  If someone’s gonna attack you, they have to move their center mass first.  That’s where their arms are attached- think about it (sic).  (The More You Know)

 

Rankin tries calling out to Dalton but Anita cuts him off.  She pulls his card, raising her voice loud enough to be overheard that this won’t help them find the other missing woman.  Rankin gets desperate, tries to push past Anita to get to Dalton but she blocks him.

 

It’s already too late for your friend, Blake!  Dammit!- it was Denny!  Nope; but that’s all you’re getting from me!  I’m a Fed!  And your buddies are suspects! 

 

Suddenly, another cop- Capt. Tyburn- shows up, demanding answers from Rankin.  Tyburn’s wife sent him a video- from the INTERNET!- of Rankin yelling at Blake and co., and it looks like you’re playing up to the cameras.  (Damn, that was fast!)   So you and I are gonna have a talk- now!  367 pages.

(Don’t know about y’all, but I’m feeling pretty MIND-FUCKED myself right now)

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Flog- Anita Blake: Serpentine, Chapters 38-43 (70% AND WE HAVE A VILLAIN... KINDA)

 

 

Crapter 38:

 

Aunty Anita has some quality time with Becca.  Anita wonders if Olaf had something to do with the missing woman.  307 pages.

 

Crapter 39:

 

Anita calls Bernardo to let him know Olaf’s here.   Bernardo tells Anita that Peter’s healing faster than normal, and the medical team is asking about his weretiger scars- people who get vaccinated after an attack have a few enhanced abilities, even if their blood tests normally.  Except Peter wasn’t vaccinated… but one of the wererats, Cisco, died in that attack and he bled all over Peter.  The vaccine, like any other, is just a different form of lycanthropy to cancel the other one out.  Yep.  So, maybe his blood acted like a vaccine?- could be.   313 pages.

 

Crapter 40:

 

Anita, Olaf & Becca head back to the elevator and the local sheriff, Rufous Martinez, bumps into them.  Rufous seems ready for trouble.  In the lobby, they run into Nicky; turns out the cops ran Nate’s name and up came his entire record, including juvenile convictions.  The mist of another urine spray reveals Nate’s history concerns the cops, as sexual assault victims can turn into predators.  Plus he’s a Were.  How’d you know that?  Google, dumbass- he’s all over the Guilty Pleasures website.  Olaf notices Rodina & Ru and their new closeness to Anita.  Anita wants to talk to Detective Rankin that Nate’s not the guy.  329 pages.

 

(Now I’ll confess to skimming, but I don’t recall seeing Rankin’s name before, so for it to pop up like this outta nowhere just says lazy writing/lack of editing to me.  I’m not going back to check, but if I’m wrong I’ll be happy to admit it)

 

Crapter 41:

 

Detective Rankin is questioning Nate and the cops won’t let Anita in to see him, so she texts Micah.  They’re not being officially held, but Rankin’s making things difficult.   He doesn’t have a warrant; lawyer up or walk out.  Ok… um, we can’t leave.  WTF?  Dunno- we keep trying to leave… but don’t. 

 

Anita lowers her shields to get in contact with her guyz… but forgets she’s standing near Ru, so as one of her Brides he gets some kind of blowback. 

 

Micah emerges from the room, leading Nate by the arm.  Nate’s not himself, dazed.  Detective Rankin steps into view, and he seems… zexxier than before, though nothing’s different.  He’s got some kind of persuasion or seduction power; Anita runs through a mess of descriptors about him.  They stare each other down.  He knows they know… and they know he knows… and he knows they know he knows… ok, but- what is he?  335 pages.

 

Crapter 42:

Tedward calls to check in, since they’re also still watching Becca.  Topic shift to kids- no way, not now!  Musing about what Rankin is all about.  339 pages.

 

Crapter 43:

They go to the hospital to see Peter.  Wedding plans have to change, which royally pisses Nate off with all the work he put into it.  Speaking of wedding planning, anyone seen Denny lately?  Uh oh.  Someone’s gotta call Det. Rankin, magic or not, since it’s his case.  How ‘bout calling someone else to go check her room?  Great idea; hey- why do we always assume the worst?  Because it’s us, that’s why.  Tru dat.  Guess what?- she ain’t in her room and doesn’t look like she’s been there for awhile.  Crap.  346 pages.

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Flog- Anita Blake: Serpentine, Chapters 33-37 (61%- PLEASE MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN!!!)

 

Crapter 33:

 

Donna’s all pissed that they now have a case on her wedding trip- even though it’s really not theirs- so much that she gives Tedward the full name treatment: Theodore Magnus Forrester.  She’s surprised Anita didn’t know it; Tedward explains even the therapists explained that was the point of having different lives- sharing them with different people.  Who’d a’ thunk it?

 

Anita has a KEEN INSIGHT that while they love each other, both of them are starting to get tired of this kinda crap.  Donna’s lashing out at everyone, even Bernardo, since if he hadn’t fucked the girl this might not have landed in their lap.  Bernardo reminds Donna that’s none of her business, and Tedward agrees, which shocks her.  Then he goes Edward (or Batman, depending on your POV) on her and asks why’d she have to tell Dixie about him and Anita after making him swear not to tell anyone.  Well… I’m a woman… and I had to talk to another woman about it- right, Anita?  Nate chimes in that Anita don’t do that shit.

 

Tedward reminds Donna that Dixie’s still threatening to tell Becca.  Well, she promised she wouldn’t.  Yeah, like she promised before- you know what that could do to how they see me? 

 

Everyone else, including Anita, takes this as their cue to leave but… since Anita always has to be the focus, Tedward piles on with Anita won’t be Aunty anymore, either.  Now it’s time to pile on Donna for not thinking things through- does she put the kids or her own feelings first?  That’s it- Dixie can’t be in the wedding.  260 pages.

 

 

Crapter 34:

 

Back at the pool Peter and Dixie seem to have been involved in some kind of tussle.  He’s got her in a hold while she’s screaming and carrying on & he’s got deep scratches on his hand and thigh.  Nicky & Bernardo pin her down, and of course, it’s all because Dixie was gonna go tell Becca about the kind of Daddy she was getting.  Peter’s pissed- all the girls were playing together and looking so happy (cue rainbows, My Little Ponies and Care Bears).

 

The kid deserves the truth-how could you do that to me-blahblahblah

 

To grind Donna down even further, her own son steps up to chastise her for telling Dixie about this.  How dare you!  If you don’t like it, then do better.   Now Donna starts wangsting again about Tedward not sharing some things with her, only Anita; even Peter knows better than this shit.  Micah (!) asks if Anita were a guy would you think he was cheating with her?  No!- but it’s always ‘Anita this, Anita that’ with him whenever he gets home.

 

Once again, Anita has a KEEN INSIGHT into the situation: the danger, excitement, horror and thrill of the job are the things they share, and what he keeps separate.  (In short, all the common sense shit any soldier, cop, etc, would)

 

Donna echoes that KEEN INSIGHT- because that’s exactly what Tedward told her.  Micah asks why she didn’t believe him?  Because it’s bullshit- they protect people; violence is just necessary to do it.  Wow, Tedward- you did tell her truth.  Wouldn’t have asked you all to lie if I hadn’t tried the truth first.

 

Donna wants to know if they’re still gonna work the case; we’re not working- we got questioned, is all.  But if they ask you to work, you will. 

 

I love ya, babe, but I’m getting tired of this crap all the time.  This is a no-win scenario.  I always win- except when it comes to you.  I let you win, a lot.  I want to be there for you and the kids.  You say you believe that I’m not physically cheating, but now I’m emotionally cheating and I’ll give in if you push hard enough.  Not this time.

 

Peter and Donna start crying.  Tedward touches Peter’s shoulder; Peter grabs his arm to keep him from pulling away.  Tedward asks Donna how she wants him to look at her.  Like you still love me, like we’re a family.  We are, but Anita and I are BFFs- that’s what being BFFs means: an emotional connection.  (Duh!)

 

Ok, you win- I won’t be insecure about Anita and you can help on the case if you want to.  Tedward, Donna & Peter are standing together now; Dixie complains Donna can’t ignore the affair just because she loves him.

 

Ru asks what’s wrong with this woman?  Micah moves closer to Anita; Bernardo maneuvers himself between Dixie and the family.  Something’s wrong about the look on Dixie’s face, and she keeps saying Donna can’t take him back.  Lucy steps up to get her attention and manages to steer her back to the hotel.

 

Everyone wonders what the fuck just happened.  Peter says maybe it has to do with her hubby, Ray, who cheats.  He’s friends with their son, and kids know what’s going on.  Donna notices Peter’s leg wound; Dixie stabbed him with a fountain pen and a piece broke off in his leg.  It’s bleeding pretty good (wonder why no one noticed that this whole time?).

 

Peter wonders if his mom asked Tedward to give up Anita (wasn’t this kid paying attention?) and why.  Donna confesses that part of the reason she wanted Tedward to split from Anita is, of course, because she’s soo purty and bootiful and zexxy and she looks like she knows how to have hawt zexx. 

 

(I’m exhausted from reading all this shit) 281 pages.

 

 

Crapter 35:

 

Before going in the ambulance with Peter, Tedward tells Anita to keep Dixie away from Becca.  Dixie, btw, is hysterical that she hurt Peter.  Cops come to investigate the matter; urine all over the place.  289 pages.

 

 

Crapter 36:

 

Tedward informs everyone Peter’s in surgery.  Anita’s looking after Becca- and a little irked that the kid’ll soon be way taller than she is- who managed to hear some of the shit Dixie was saying.  Aunty Anita actually has to supply definitions about monogamous  and polyamorous to an eleven-year old girl. 

 

Anita takes Becca back to the room to change; Becca wants to wear her pink dress and asks Anita why she doesn’t wear pink.  Not really my color.

 

A deep voice from behind says he’d love to see Anita in pink.  Anita pushes Becca into the room and turns to see Olaf standing there… and Becca greets him as Uncle Otto!!!  293 pages.

 

(Have to admit- didn’t see that one coming.)

 

 

Crapter 37:

 

Turns out ol’ Uncle Otto got invited to the wedding.  Becca notices the tension, asks if they’re gonna fight.  Olaf promises not to if Anita does. 

 

Does Tedward know you’re here?  Nope; got invited by the bride- she wants us guys to mend our friendship. (So how’d she know how to find him?)  Anita has another KEEN INSIGHT that when you can’t be Batman to your fiancée, you can’t explain the Joker to her.  The look on her face makes Olaf laugh- a deep, rumbling sound that would’ve been zexxy on anyone else.

 

Last I heard from you, you said you were gonna stay far away from me.  Nope; it said only until I could handle being a werelion so your zexxy vampire ways wouldn’t affect me.  How long you been here?  Not long but long enough.  You waited for everyone to leave!  Well, duh. 

 

They rehash the pool scenario; Anita finds herself agreeing with Olaf that if Peter doesn’t survive, neither should Dixie.  Olaf is surprised Anita would help him kill her.  I never said that- I know her.  WTF difference does that make- does it make it harder?  Nah, not really; just she’s got kids and all- she’s a person to me.  Meh- for me, the more I know makes things easier; more damage in less time.  Strangers can be cool when all you want is blood and pain, but sometimes ya just gotta make them feel it on all levels.   Now see- we were having a moment, and you ruined it.  Sorry Anita- you always knew what’s up; I gotta be me.  Only because Tedward told me all about you before we met… and then you wanted to kill me when we did.  That was because, well- you’re a woman; what’s a woman doing working with us?  Plus Tedward would’ve killed me if I killed you- doesn’t mean I didn’t wanna bang you, tho.

 

So Tedward’s what stopped you?  Yep; now I read Sherlock Holmes.  …uh, what…?  Means I like the way he treats women.  You’re the only girl for me, Anita- no one else makes me NOT wanna get… carried away like I usually do.  I’m flattered (seriously- whatever it took to keep him in check).  You should be- you’re my Irene Adler.  So do I call you Sherlock now?  Cool- pet names; like a real couple!  303 pages.

 

61 % in and still no movement towards the plot.  This is worse than Bullet!  All I can say is I’m damn glad I have to get ready for work.  I don’t even have any words for this shitshow.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Flog- Anita Blake: Serpentine, Chapters 25-32 (51% and... NOTHING!!!)

 

 

Crapter 25:

 

Heading back to the room, Nicky feels the need to mention that every Master who had Brides fucked them; he asked all the Harlequin about it once they got back from Ireland. Just saying.

 

Donna comes rushing towards them, crying.  Nate tries to give her a hug, but fuck that- all men are fucking liars! (What now?)  Did Donna find out about more of Tedward’s Batman side?

 

(I guess LKH wrote a lot this when the Justice League movie was out because she keeps referring to Tedward personas as Batman/Bruce Wayne.)

 

Once alone, Donna asks Anita if she knew Tedward had been married before. Turns out that back when  Tedward was a young buck in the Army he hooked up with some woman who only wanted the security and benefits attached to a military spouse.  (As a vet, I can say it happens all the time).  Carol, the aforementioned Frankie’s wife, said she was glad for Tedward’s improved taste in women from when he was eighteen.   She referred to these types as… "dependatpotamus".  (oh, so that explains their presence in the book!)

 

Anita soothes; it was decades ago and Older Tedward would simply put it down as a mistake by Younger Tedward and add to the list of things not worth mentioning.   List of things?- what list, there’s more?  Oops- it’s compartmentalization; you separate the stuff in your mind so it doesn’t affect anything.  So that’s how you guy roll?  Yeah- we’re cool like dat.

 

Donna asks Anita if she’s mad about not knowing.  Nah, he’s my BFF.  But I’d tell my BFF about something like that.  You’re BFFs are all women; it’s different with men.  Yeah, but you’re his work-wife.  Yeah, but you’re his real wife; you and the kids are his real family- that’s what makes him happy.  So if you knew Tedward wanted a family would have gone after him harder?  Huh?  Sure, you guys aren’t having an affair, but something’s there.  Nope; I’m not a homebody- once I used to be, but not anymore. 

Now it’s all about Nicky, JC, Micah, Nate… blahblahblah. 

 

Tedward shows up and suddenly Donna’s completely over the whole thing.    Anita muses that Tedward does look pretty good, all buff and lean, but they should just stay friends.  She thought Carol was being mean about the first wife’s weight (how that overshadows his being married in the first place, I don’t know…)  Hey, I was eighteen, it lasted six months and she took everything; forget it- I did.  Crisis averted.  206 pages.

 

Crapter 26:

 

Anita steps into the hall into a battle of bridesmaids- Denny & Dixie.  Denny- who’s on Team Anita- is still trim, athletic, keeps in shape and looks great.  Dixie- who’s not- is slim, but doesn’t work at it so she looks ten years older.

 

Lucy, Donna’s friend and business partner, tells Dixie to stop being a bitch and asks Anita if she knew about the first marriage.  Dixie, natch, doesn’t believe her since men always tell their mistresses everything.  Cut that shit out.  Why?- I see the way you two look at each other!  Tedward admires and respects Anita, that’s all.  No man respects or admires a woman until he fucks her! 

 

Denny reveals Dixie’s looking to tell Peter and Becca that Anita & Tedward are zexxing.  Peter knows but Becca doesn’t, so leave her alone.  I’m trying to save my friend from a big mistake; she won’t forgive him lying about the first marriage so the wedding’s off anyways.  Nope- they’re off having makeup sex right now.  Anita notes how much this pisses Dixie off and adds why should she lie when the truth hurts Dixie more?

 

I’m gonna tell Becca- then there won’t be a wedding!  Leave the kid alone!  Well, Donna thought Anita would be ok as long as she had other dick here so she’d at least leave Tedward alone for the week!  (This goes on and on)

 

Anita slips back to Justice League references that all Dixie knows of Tedward is Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent.  She didn’t want to see Batman/Superman.  212 pages.

 

Crapter 27:

 

Bernardo’s still down by the pool, trying to pick a bimbo for the night.  Anita tells him about the first marriage and what Dixie’s trying to do.  He’ll be the one to tell him once they come back down.  219 pages.

 

Crapter 28:

 

Anita finally runs into Peter, Donna’s son, who’s fast approaching Cynric territory.  Anita notes that Peter looks so much like his real father, whose photo Donna keeps in the living room, and it must be creepy seeing that.  Rodina starts flirting with Peter, who goes through lots of odd responses to it.  Turns out she was doing it to make Peter feel better, which would make Anita happy… (oh For Fuck’s Sake- really?)  226 pages.

 

Crapters 29-31:

 

Wangst.  Sex.  Wangst & Sex.  Anita *might* be open to the possibility of anal sex.  Tee hee.  240 pages.

 

Crapter 32:

 

Someone’s at the door, disrupting the afterglow.  It’s a cop.  In the midst of the usual pissing contest it’s revealed that one of the bimbos, Bettina- whom Nate decided to become FB friends with and Bernardo ending up banging, has suddenly gone missing.  254 pages.

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Flog- Anita Blake: Serpentine, Chapters 20-24 (TAKE ONE FUCKING GUESS!!!)

 

Crapter 20:

 

Four pages of wangst.  161 pages.

 

Crapter 21:

 

Anita observes that the dockhand, Roberto, looks more like a Chad or a Ken to go with a Malibu Barbie; Hispanics come in more colors than people realize. (The More You Know)

 

(Since LKH literally can’t think of shit else, she drops a ridiculous contrivance out of the sky to try and kickstart things.)

 

Micah gets a call from Christy, the wife of one of the snake guys in the pics, that he’s pissy drunk in some bar and trying not to shift (Raise your hand if this makes no fucking sense to you, either).  Even Nate remarks on how stupid this is (but not so stupid it didn’t get written into the story, anyway).  Plus Christy’s pregnant and on bed rest, but called everyone else who could get to him then remembered they were all arriving today, so…

 

Micah adds that Andy- guess that’s his name- was drinking as a form of self-medicating; a good buzz can help keep them from shifting.  Doesn’t work for any other shifters, but seems to help these guys; just that Andy got shit-faced.  He’s gone from functional alcoholic to full blown.  And in case this wasn’t contrived enough, the snakes they shift into are poisonous yet not indigenous to the island, so there’s no anti-venom handy. (Why these people don’t have their own ready supply, I’ve no idea)

 

A few goodbye kisses and Anita, Micah, Bernardo, Nicky and Bram are off to the rescue.  166 pages.

 

Crapter 22:

 

Barely noon and the bar’s already full, which somehow surprises Anita.  She takes a moment to remind everyone that JC’s marks make her poison-proof, so she’ll do the heavy lifting if need be.   Bernardo doesn’t like snakes, so- whatever.

 

They get Andy to stagger out and into the SUV without incident; Anita sitting next to him.  Halfway into the ride Andy snaps up, dazed & confused, wanting out and reaching for the door.  Bram pins one of his arms on one side and Anita gets the other- next thing you know it’s like a bunch of snake cans from Let’s Make a Deal!  Even Anita gets freaked out! 

 

The snakes seem independent of each other, each focusing on different targets.  Anita punches Andy out- Nicky observes that if he’d been human she’d have broken his neck- and the snakes retreated back into his body. 

 

They dump him onto the boat; Bernardo remarks that the guy they all just met has burned his bridges with them.  Too bad Christy can’t see Andy for what he is.  173 pages.

 

Crapter 23:

 

They pass Andy off to his pissed off cousins; Nate texts he’s already lounging by the pool at the hotel, but they can tell he’s upset about work interrupting their vacation.  Funny how Christy reached out to friends & family and they all left her hanging about Andy.  Rather take the risk of all getting exposed than keep going after him (again, am I the only one here?).  Bernardo thinks they shouldn’t keep running off to save people from themselves all the time and concentrate more on their own happiness.  Maybe; let’s go talk to Nate.  178 pages.

 

Crapter 24:

 

Everyone’s at the pool, including Tedward- who’s been working out and now has rock-hard abs.  Micah doesn’t think most of the dancers at GP have abs like that. *oy vey*

Tedward and some guy named Paul dive into the pool and begin swimming.  Rodina snaps that Anita, Donna and all left the men unsupervised for too long, so now they’re having a swim meet against the young bucks.  Tedward pops out of the pool and quips it was either this or a Fight Club.  Besides, swimming’s one the few things that negates a Were’s strength & speed (The More You Know!).  Anita notices that Tedward’s accent keeps slipping in and out, which isn’t like him.

 

On the other side, Nathaniel & Ru emerge in speedos, surrounded by a bevy of beauties.  They hit the water, to the delight of many, and race to the other end where a tall, lean man with the skin color of black coffee- so dark it was hard to see the muscle tone, but it was there (sic).  Meet Lt. Col. Muhamad Franklin, aka Frankie- one of Tedward’s oldest friends.  He declares Nate the winner; the boys emerge and are immediately claimed by bouncing bikinis.

 

Rodina points out that Ru’s good at playing off of whomever he’s with, but he’s doing it too well with Nate, so someone’s gotta claim him soon or she’ll be forced to do it.  Micah ain’t gonna do it; Anita’s stubborn, but it’s either that or incest squick.

 

So Anita goes over, and intuits that Nate’s upped his flirting because he’s mad at them for leaving him.  Anita’s not sure what to do; Micah steps up and sticks his tongue down Nate’s throat.  The bikinis don’t know how to respond to that.

 

Rodina tells Ru to kiss Anita; he says she has to want him to.  The bikinis are still clinging onto him; they’re here for their friend’s wedding, too.

 

Pffft- this is taking too long: basically, a pissing contest between Anita & her menz vs the other wedding party as to who’s gonna kiss who, blahblahblah.  Anita tongues down Ru, then almost forces the bikini clinging to him who’s not into girls into a lezbean kiss, which pisses her off.  Anita’s Ardeur starts to rise and Micah has to step in to calm things down.  196 pages.

 

 

 

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Flog- Anita Blake: Serpentine, Chapters 14-19 (STILL NOTHING!!!)

 

 

Crapter 14:

Anita’s feeling all jellus and betrayed by Nate’s affection for Melanie; as a Bride, Rodina feels it and blows up Anita’s spot. Bram decides to get them some privacy to deal with this, so they step into a side room with a bunch of guards hanging out.

Roll Call: Pepita, aka Peppy- butch Latina. Roger Parks- some guy. Claudia. Pride. Anita wonders why all the new faces keep popping up; Claudia explains each animal group gets to bring in whomever they want, and lately they’ve been bringing in people who can help out in a fight. (Ok, but that doesn’t mean they get hired, just that they’re part of the clan. And just because they’re Weres doesn’t mean they’re up to the challenge. This is more stupidity).

Hey- Anita actually makes that point…

(I don’t know how to feel about that)

According to Claudia, JC doesn’t really care so long as there’s money to pay them, and there is. They just don’t really have anything to do. And yeah, it doesn’t mean they’re all that.

Claudia didn’t push back too hard because, well… Nate informs Anita that since Ireland when she absorbed whatsherface Anita’s leveled up… and so has everyone bonded to her. Now JC’s sooper-dooper zexxier than he’s ever been and, well- Claudia wasn’t inclined to upset him. Even Pride doesn’t want to be alone with JC- he can’t trust himself.

(For the love of Cthulhu, I need a fucking drink!!!)

This doesn’t bother Anita too much, since it’s the hoodoo that’s got them thinking so much about JC; she’s ok with folks not lusting after her because of magic.

(Wait, what? The lack of self-awareness here is staggering.)

They decide not to tell JC about it unless it becomes a problem. Anita, Micah & Nate tumble off to bed; just before dawn, JC comes to join them in a puppy pile. 128 pages.

Crapter 15:

Time to fly to Florida for the wedding! But a last minute dispute between two furry groups means Jake & Kazzim get to take JC’s private jet to go deal with it (…why…?), so Anita & Co. have to take a commercial flight to Key West and limit the number of bodyguards they bring (...why…?).

Roll Call: Anita, JC, Micah, Nate, Nicky, Bram, Rodina & Ru. (Again- WHY? Apparently any other bodyguards that have been with them for years and might even have some connection to Edward are mysteriously unavailable.)

Seems the nearest airport to Key West can’t handle big planes so the bucket they all have to squeeze into triggers Anita’s aviophobia- that’s a Fear of Flying to you- and a joke about having to be drugged like Mr.T on the A-Team (FYI- the character was called B.A. Barracus.). Screw it- I’m Anita Blake! 134 pages.

(None of this bullshit makes any fucking sense! JC can’t just rent a private plane to accommodate them?!? What am I saying?- I’m sure this shit’ll be shoehorned into affecting the plot at some point.)

Crapter 16:

Welcome to the Conch Republic, aka Key West. Everyone’s so laid back here that there’s a good chance someone blew off work to go fishing or something, so just relax everybody. In an off-hand remark, Micah lets out that the snake people live on Kirke (which I’m gonna presume is close by). And surprise!- Bernardo Spotted-Horse is here to pick them up! 139 pages.

Crapter 17:

Bernardo- tall, dark & handsome- and dressed in a loose shirt and shorts so Anita immediately knows he’s carrying two guns. So cool, this Anita person. Plus the only way JC would slack on the bodyguards is because folks like Bernardo, Edward and others would be around. (This is what a lack of editing does for you).
Nate gives him a bro hug that says,”see- we’re not Gay!” *headdesk*

Here we get a clumsy, unedited Four Horsemen reference (Anita= War, Edward= Death, Bernardo= Hunger) that someone forgot to re-edit, and he’s formally introduced to Micah. Rodina and Ru try to pass as younger folks but Bernardo wasn’t buying it, so now they’re both academics. 143 pages.

Crapter 18:

Kirke is officially Kirke Key, so they have to take a boat over… once everyone except Nate gets their guns & knives strapped on, that is.

Anita speaks to Rodina & Ru about that weird act they just put on. They’d spent so many years as spies, it was natural for them to find a part to play. Screw that crap- you’re bodyguards! Yeah- but we have the advantage if we keep up the act. So you’re just being annoying? Nope- we really have doctorates; once we spent a lot of time in this one city and got our degrees; so long as everyone thinks we’re weaklings, we have the edge. Fine- we’ll do it your way. 148 pages.

Crapter 19:

Driving along in Kirke Key, the water looks ssoooooooo blue! Too bad JC can’t see like this. More relationship wangst. Bernardo finds out R&R are Anita’s Brides, asks if they’re in the rotation. Nope, but we would if she said so. More moping about their being Brides and missing Rodrigo; this makes Anita unhappy which is almost physical to them… but to Rodina it hurts sooo good! Helps to soothe the loss.

Anita doesn’t like all the kinky talk in the car. Why?- Bernardo’s hot; doesn’t he know how you get down? Anita avoids the question, so we’re stuck with more rehashing of the whole Rodrigo/Domino thing. *sigh* 157 pages.

(Literally a third of the way in AND STILL NOTHING HAS FUCKING HAPPENED YET!!!)