All Together Dead is the seventh installment in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire) series.

Is it just me, or does that look like Eric on the cover? I hope we get some more Eric screen time! It seems like we will if the events that occurred in the last book are any indiacator.

This book will be availabe May 2007. You can pre-order from Amazon.

For more information, you can visit Charlaine Harris's website.

So, any Sookie fans? Who are you rooting for? Personally, my favorite is Eric--hot, viking, vampire warrior. Yum! ;-)

The Genre:
Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Dark Elves, Warhammer Universe

The Plot:
From Amazon:

Ambitious dark elf warrior Malus Darkblade learns the location of a powerful relic and decides he wants it for himself. Malus leads an expedition into the dangerous Chaos Wastes in search of it but finds far more than he had bargained for. Possessed by a powerful daemon, he must undertake an epic quest to save his very soul.

The Review:
That blurb doesn't even begin to cover the rollercoaster ride that is this book. Let's just start by saying that this book is NOT for the faint of heart or anyone that wants a Lord of the Ring's type fantasy or some light reading about a hero on a quest.

Malus Darkblade is not a hero. He is not even an anti hero. Malus is a villain and one of the meanest and most evil ones you will come across. He never even pretends to be a hero and the book doesn't try for one minute to convince you of this since it would be completely useless. From the moment we are introduced to Malus he is doing what he does best: torturing, maiming and killing.

After all, he is a dark elf.

Let me backtrack for a little explanation. Malus is a dark elf and, thus, a character in the Warhammer universe. Warhammer is a role playing game like, say, Warcraft, etc. However, lets forget about Warhammer because, in case you are not a fan of RPG or don't care thinking you need to know about this universe I'm here to tell you that you don't need to know squat. The Malus novels are stand alone and can be read by anyone who likes fantasy.

Here is a little info from the ever reliable Wiki to introduce you to the druchii, or dark elves, of this universe:

The dark elves are sworn enemies of the high elves and try incessantly to invade Ulthuan. Dark elves enjoy nothing more than inflicting pain and suffering on others and frequently launch raids throughout the Old World in order to capture more slaves to feed their hunger for cruelty.

You begin to get the idea? The druchii's idea of fun and entertainment consists of torturing their slaves, or just about anyone really, in various ways. What makes this world a bit more interesting is the fact that the druchii are in turn tortured themselves. Even the lords, or highborns as they are called, get treated to the most horrendous tortures as a riual to their god. When you add to that the fact that nobody is safe as families backstab each other for power and to survive, you can see where their thirst for blood comes from. From the moment they are born they are subject to nothing but a world filled with torture, survival of the fittest-type deal and you have to claw your way around regardless of who or what you are.

Malus is the illegitimate son of Lurhan, the Vaulkhar of the city of Hag Graef. Regardless of this the noble family, as seems to be a tradition amongst the druchiis, don't care anything for family or familial ties. In fact, they hate each other and plot ways of destroying one another to inherit their father's fortune, etc. Malus, being the last and illegitimate son, has nothing to look forward to so he tries to make his own fortune but is ambushed and returns to Hag Graef with nothing but debts and the certainty that his enemies will seize this opportunity to murder him.

The only way he sees to get out of this problem is by going after the treasures of the legendary temple of Kul Hadar. The book follows Malus on the treacherous journey were even a black hearted dark elve's courage will be tried once and again.

I have to say that, as evil and despicable as Malus is, well, there are even worse villains here thus giving the reader an innitiative to keep reading. Nobody wants to read about an invincible villain therefore the rest of the characters Malus is forced to interact with keep things balanced and interesting.

From the get go you see just how evil and sick Malus is so you have to wonder what, if anything, will make him at the very least waver in his quest. The book didn't disappoint and kept me entertained from page one. I was also, at times, creeped out by various things, one of which is the yuck factor of Malus incestuous relationship with one of his half-sisters. Not only is the relationship itself creepy but his sister is, I do believe, worse than Malus by a long shot. And that's saying a lot.

Double creepy.

The Verdict:

I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the rest in the series. I recommend it for anyone that loves a good quest mixed with dark fantasy with the gore/ick level turned up a few notches yet well written and not just thrown in for good measure. Not your average fantasy reading, that's for sure, but I loved every minute of it.

I'm giving it a solid 4 out of 5.

Following on from the The Safe-Keeper's Secret, this is the second book in Sharon Shinn's young adult trilogy.

From Amazon:

Eleda sees the world in "all sharp edges and simple lines": she is a Truth-Teller, and she cannot speak a lie or hear one spoken. Her twin, Adele, whose name is a palindrome of Eleda's, is a Safe-Keeper, a listener who never betrays a confidence. Two halves of a whole, the sisters occasionally infuriate each other but frequently find that their complementary gifts prove useful--particularly as they stumble through adolescence, experiencing love and heartache, and sharing everything with their high-spirited friend, Roellyn. The novel's first half follows the girls from early childhood to their teens; the second half focuses on their seventeenth summer, when the arrival of two handsome strangers occasions both swooning romance and enough wild confusion to rival Shakespeare's most outrageous comedies. The rules governing the Truth-Telling and Safe-Keeping gifts sometimes feel too conveniently flexible, and Eleda--a slightly rigid personality, as befitting her Truth-Telling role--may appeal to readers less than her sister and the vivacious Roellyn. But the comforting, fairy-tale rhythms of the girls' stories exert an irresistible pull, and Shinn's numerous fans will welcome a second helping of the refreshing tale spinning and charmingly homespun, village-centered fantasy culture that marked The Safe-Keeper's Secret

I liked this book better than the first one, my main problem with this trilogy is that I always have the secrets figured out by the end of the book, so getting to the end is just a matter of finding out if I was right. We have already learned what it is like to be a secret-keeper in the first book, so this book offers a chance to see the opposite side of the field. Eleda tells the readers everything that she knows, it is only the things that have not been revealed to her that she does not reveal to us. It was a much more informative and happening novel than the book that came before it.

We also get glimpses of another secret-keeper when Eleda explains what her mirror opposite twin, Adele, does in certain situations. That sister is as secretive as they come, even when she hurts herself or is sick she does not reveal it to her family.

I said in the last book that I found these books read like fairy tales. This one is even moreso a fairy tale, but not like a Grimm's tale. This novel shows women getting the job done, and breaks fairy tale conventions to make a different way of looking at the events presented in this novel. So, in fairy tale style, there are princes and knights in shining armour. The twins best friend is supposed to one day marry the prince, but she doesn't want to and the prince does everything in his power to just avoid meeting her. It is safe to say that, even though the prince does not wish to make an appearance, there is plenty of romance present in this novel.

All in all, I enjoyed this read. It was better than book one, but not worthy of a 5 at the same time. So, for lack of something better, I give it a


Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It pays well, there are all sorts of perks and you can set your own hours. However every Evil Overlord I've read about in books or seen in movies invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I've noticed that no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged wizards, mad scientists or alien invaders, they always seem to make the same basic mistakes every single time. With that in mind, allow me to present...

*The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord

1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.

2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

3. My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.

6. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.

7. When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."
8. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

9. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled "Danger: Do Not Push". The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labelled as such.
10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

11. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.
12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

13. All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.
14. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.

15. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.
16. I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there's just one thing I want to know."

17. When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.
18. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.

19. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero's rugged countenance and she'd betray her own father.
20. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.

21. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my Legions of Terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.
22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.

23. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.
24. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)

25. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructible except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.
26. No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.

27. I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.
28. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.

29. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
30. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be preemptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.

31. All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.
32. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.

33. I won't require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.
34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

35. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.
36. I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.

37. If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he's my trusted lieutenant.
38. If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards me in my old age.

39. If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.
40. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.

41. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.
42. When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.

43. I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.
44. I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.

45. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.
46. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.

47. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.
48. I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.

49. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local paper.
50. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.

51. If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the conditions in the beautiful princess' cell, I will immediately transfer him to a less people-oriented position.
52. I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about.

53. If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I'll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well" and kill her.
54. I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.

55. The deformed mutants and odd-ball psychotics will have their place in my Legions of Terror. However before I send them out on important covert missions that require tact and subtlety, I will first see if there is anyone else equally qualified who would attract less attention.
56. My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

57. Before employing any captured artifacts or machinery, I will carefully read the owner's manual.
58. If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.

59. I will never build a sentient computer smarter than I am.
60. My five-year-old child advisor will also be asked to decipher any code I am thinking of using. If he breaks the code in under 30 seconds, it will not be used. Note: this also applies to passwords.

61. If my advisors ask "Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?", I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.
62. I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a firefight.

63. Bulk trash will be disposed of in incinerators, not compactors. And they will be kept hot, with none of that nonsense about flames going through accessible tunnels at predictable intervals.
64. I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.

65. If I must have computer systems with publically available terminals, the maps they display of my complex will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.
66. My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner. Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad for fingerprints then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that sequence will trigger the alarm system.

67. No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency.
68. I will spare someone who saved my life sometime in the past. This is only reasonable as it encourages others to do so. However, the offer is good one time only. If they want me to spare them again, they'd better save my life again.

69. All midwives will be banned from the realm. All babies will be delivered at state-approved hospitals. Orphans will be placed in foster-homes, not abandoned in the woods to be raised by creatures of the wild.
70. When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always travel in groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering around a corner.

71. If I decide to test a lieutenant's loyalty and see if he/she should be made a trusted lieutenant, I will have a crack squad of marksmen standing by in case the answer is no.
72. If all the heroes are standing together around a strange device and begin to taunt me, I will pull out a conventional weapon instead of using my unstoppable superweapon on them.

73. I will not agree to let the heroes go free if they win a rigged contest, even though my advisors assure me it is impossible for them to win.
74. When I create a multimedia presentation of my plan designed so that my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not label the disk "Project Overlord" and leave it lying on top of my desk.

75. I will instruct my Legions of Terror to attack the hero en masse, instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack one or two at a time.
76. If the hero runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and struggle with him in an attempt to push him over the edge. I will also not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the middle of a rope-bridge over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)

77. If I have a fit of temporary insanity and decide to give the hero the chance to reject a job as my trusted lieutentant, I will retain enough sanity to wait until my current trusted lieutenant is out of earshot before making the offer.
78. I will not tell my Legions of Terror "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."

79. If my doomsday device happens to come with a reverse switch, as soon as it has been employed it will be melted down and made into limited-edition commemorative coins.
80. If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress.

81. If I am fighting with the hero atop a moving platform, have disarmed him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find out what he saw.
82. I will not shoot at any of my enemies if they are standing in front of the crucial support beam to a heavy, dangerous, unbalanced structure.

83. If I'm eating dinner with the hero, put poison in his goblet, then have to leave the table for any reason, I will order new drinks for both of us instead of trying to decide whether or not to switch with him.
84. I will not have captives of one sex guarded by members of the opposite sex.

85. I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. "Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse." Instead it will be more along the lines of "Push the button."
86. I will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly grounded.
87. My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them.
88. If a group of henchmen fail miserably at a task, I will not berate them for incompetence then send the same group out to try the task again.

89. After I captures the hero's superweapon, I will not immediately disband my legions and relax my guard because I believe whoever holds the weapon is unstoppable. After all, the hero held the weapon and I took it from him.
90. I will not design my Main Control Room so that every workstation is facing away from the door.

91. I will not ignore the messenger that stumbles in exhausted and obviously agitated until my personal grooming or current entertainment is finished. It might actually be important.
92. If I ever talk to the hero on the phone, I will not taunt him. Instead I will say this his dogged perseverance has given me new insight on the futility of my evil ways and that if he leaves me alone for a few months of quiet contemplation I will likely return to the path of righteousness. (Heroes are incredibly gullible in this regard.)

93. If I decide to hold a double execution of the hero and an underling who failed or betrayed me, I will see to it that the hero is scheduled to go first.
94. When arresting prisoners, my guards will not allow them to stop and grab a useless trinket of purely sentimental value.

95. My dungeon will have its own qualified medical staff complete with bodyguards. That way if a prisoner becomes sick and his cellmate tells the guard it's an emergency, the guard will fetch a trauma team instead of opening up the cell for a look.
96. My door mechanisms will be designed so that blasting the control panel on the outside seals the door and blasting the control panel on the inside opens the door, not vice versa.

97. My dungeon cells will not be furnished with objects that contain reflective surfaces or anything that can be unravelled.
98. If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstance have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution.

99. Any data file of crucial importance will be padded to 1.45Mb in size.
100. Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.

*This Evil Overlord List is Copyright 1996-1997 by Peter Anspach. If you enjoy it, feel free to pass it along or post it anywhere, provided that (1) it is not altered in any way, and (2) this copyright notice is attached.

Okay, like I needed to add another book to the collection, but I got Don't Bet on the Prince by Jake Zipes in the mail the other day, and decided why not just add it in. So, now, I have been trying to read at least one fairy tale per night. The other night at work, I managed to read one from each book. I tried that again last night, but I only got one fairy tale read, and it was from Don't Bet on the Prince. I think, though, that this evens things out. While I am reading books put together by three men and only one by a woman, the Jack Zipes one is about "Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England".

Don't Bet on the Prince
The Princess That Stood on Her Own Two Feet
by Jeanne Desy
This fairy tale takes a spin on the common ideas held in fairy tales that princesses are meant to be shorter than the prince, only speak when spoken to, and behave in a very lady-like fashion. The princess in this story has had a very hard time finding a man to marry her, so when she finds a possible choice, she does everything she can to get him to marry her. But, she learns an important lesson in this story, because there really is only one thing in the world that loves her for who she is, and it takes a loss for her to understand what she is giving up for what she thinks is love.

Prince Amilec
by Tanith Lee
Tanith Lee is actually a very proliferic fantasy author. One of the ones that I would like to read a lot of, so I was happy to see that she was included in this collection. Her short story goes along with the idea that the thing that truly matters might be the think that is right in front of your face. The Prince has come to offer a princess his hand in marriage, but she does not wish to be married and fights him at every turn. He thinks he loves her, though, so he continues to do nearly impossible things in the name of love. He does not do it alone, a witch, that breaks all the witch stereotypes, lends him a hand.

Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters
The Three Sisters and Their Husbands, Three Brothers
I had actually read this folktale before. I am not sure when or where, but it was very familiar to me. It is about three sisters that marry three brothers, obviously. It shows the idea that women are smart, and men are not always as smart as they would like people to think that they are. In the story, the three sisters end up dining with their landlord, he will give free rent for ten years and money to the sister that can embarass their husband the most. You really have to laugh at the things that happen in this tale.

The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales
Faithful John
In a way, this is a rather disturbing story. But then, it is the Grimm's, so what else should you expect. In the story, a King dies and leaves his son the crown. On his death bed he asks his faithful servant, John, to look out for the young king. This leads to some problems for John when the prince finds the woman that he intends to marry. John learns that the marriage may not be as simply as they thought, and has to do things that will put his faithfulness to the test.

The Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales
Little Ida's Flowers
I have always thought that this fairy tale is one of the cutest ones written. It is about the magic of flowers and one little girls kind heart. You see, a man tells young Ida that her flowers look so horrible because they had been out dancing the night before and were tired. Ida believes this man when he tells her that there are balls for flowers all over the kingdom when the humanfolk are not watching. He tells her a wonderful tale of how it all comes to happen, and though she is told not to believe him, she does anyways. In this way, the magic is able to come alive for Ida.

I have seen this book making the blog rounds in the last few months, and decided that I was going to eventually read it. I was trying to decide which blog to put it on, though, but since it is a fairy tale, I decided to put it here.

From Amazon:

Kate DiCamillo, author of the Newbery Honor book Because of Winn-Dixie, spins a tidy tale of mice and men where she explores the "powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous" nature of love, hope, and forgiveness. Her old-fashioned, somewhat dark story, narrated "Dear Reader"-style, begins "within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse." Despereaux Tilling, the new baby mouse, is different from all other mice. Sadly, the romantic, unmouselike spirit that leads the unusually tiny, large-eared mouse to the foot of the human king and the beautiful Princess Pea ultimately causes him to be banished by his own father to the foul, rat-filled dungeon.

The first book of four tells Despereaux's sad story, where he falls deeply in love with Princess Pea and meets his cruel fate. The second book introduces another creature who differs from his peers--Chiaroscuro, a rat who instead of loving the darkness of his home in the dungeon, loves the light so much he ends up in the castle in the queen's soup. The third book describes young Miggery Sow, a girl who has been "clouted" so many times that she has cauliflower ears. Still, all the slow-witted, hard-of-hearing Mig dreams of is wearing the crown of Princess Pea. The fourth book returns to the dungeon-bound Despereaux and connects the lives of mouse, rat, girl, and princess in a dramatic denouement.

Children whose hopes and dreams burn secretly within their hearts will relate to this cast of outsiders who desire what is said to be out of their reach and dare to break "never-to-be-broken rules of conduct." Timothy Basil Ering's pencil illustrations are stunning, reflecting DiCamillo's extensive light and darkness imagery as well as the sweet, fragile nature of the tiny mouse hero who lives happily ever after.

I thought that this was a very well done young reader novel. So well done that I enjoyed it probably as much as any young reader. It is just cute, with a very likeable cast of characters. I think the Amazon quote sums the story up nicely, so I will just say that I very much enjoyed this book. I had read Because of Winn-Dixie by her, so this is not the first time that I have enjoyed one of her books.


I bought this graphic novel as a gift for my boyfriend, and then ended up giving it to him, but then borrowing it back to read.

From the back of the book:

The Sandman is the most acclaimed and award-winning comic series of the 1990s for good reason: a smart and deeply brooding epic, elegantly penned by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by a rotating cast of comics' most sought-after artists, it is a rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama, and legend are seamlessly interwoven. The saga of THE SANDMAN encommpasses a series of tales unique in graphic literature and is a story you will never forget.

PRELUDES & NOCTURNES introduces readers to a dark and enchanting world of dreams and nightmares - the home of The Sandman, Master of Dreams, and his kin, The Endless. This first collection of Neil Gaiman's multi-award-winning title introduces key themes and characters, combining myth, magic, and black humor.

I thought this book was so cool. I read it on a Friday the 13th, and it was totally creepy enough to count. The drawing and story work together to tell the story of The Sandman, who has been captured by mortals that were attempting to capture Death. While he is under their care, people of the world suffer from sleeplessness and bad dreams, because the Sandman is not there to aid them in their rest. It is not until his freedom is won and he goes looking to recapture his life that the world, and all the people that were having sleepless nights, can recapture their good nights rest. A very dark, scary, adventure story.

For someone that had never read Neil Gaiman before this year, I think I am doing pretty good in reading him, as this is the third time in two months. I thought I would share the correct order that The Sandman is meant to be read in:


A very enjoyable first look at THE SANDMAN series, I look forward to eventually reading the other 10 books in the series.


Like two books were not enough, I added a third book to this last night. Why? Well, because Grimm's and Andersen are not exactly models for feminist readings. They pretty much leave strong, cool women characters out. Now, I am more of the feminist aspect, and while I have learned to forgive the Grimm's and Andersen because of the time frame that they live in, I needed some strong women! So, I went digging, and found my copy of Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines from Folktales Around the World edited by Kathleen Ragan last night.

It always amazes me, you know. Obviously, when the Grimm's and Andersen were collecting together these fairy tales, women were viewed as subordinate. That shouldn't mean people shouldn't read them. They just reflect the times that they were written in. I read fairy tales with women characters too, it is all about balance. This all came about because of a post on a message board that I visit. Someone said that they didn't read Mark Twain because of the way he portrayed the South. Alright, so they were prejudice, but that was then, and this is now. The best way to make important changes in the future is by knowing where you come from and changing it, not censoring or avoiding.

On with my fairy tales.

First up, Kathleen Ragan.

The Stolen Bairn and the Sidh
This is a folk tale from Scotland. The Sidh are the fairy folk, and one day while they are out, they spot a baby (bairn) on the side of the road. Looking around, they see no one that owns the baby, and so they decide that the baby is their's and take it home with them. In the meantime, the mother was actually collecting water and fell in. Dazed and confused, some fishermen come to her rescue. All she can think about, though, is her bairn. During this story, even when everyone thinks it cannot be done, she uses her brain and resources around her to rescue her baby back from the Sidh.

Then, from Andersen.

Little Tiny or Thumbelina
I was amazed how much the movie version of this holds to the basic ideas of this story. When Disney makes a movie, they change everything around. Disney didn't make this one, and they held very closely to the true story. Most people know this story, at least, I hope you do. It is the story of an older woman that very much wants a child, and ends up with Thumbelina, who she loves dearly. Only, sadly, one night an evil frog mother steals Thumbelina for her son to have as his wife. Thus begins Thumbelina's adventures. I must say, I think that Thumbelina is a good feminist character, because she gets herself out of a lot of messes.

The Brave Tin Soldier
This story annoys me. I mean, it is so male! This soldier ends up being burned in a fire, because instead of asking for help, he decides to be a male and do nothing so that people don't think he is weak. There is a line between being brave and being passive! Of course, things work out for the soldier, up until the fire, because it is a story. It is just so annoying, it tries to say that if you do nothing, you will be saved. That is really not the case at all. Good to see I hate this story as much now as I did when I was little.

The Ugly Duckling
This is another one of those stories that people generally know. And much less annoying than "The Brave Tin Soldier". It is about a duck that is very ugly, and everyone teases the poor little thing. He is forced to leave and spends a very miserable winter the bunt of everyone's jokes. But then the spring comes and he is actually a very beautiful swan, something that he can appreciate more because he was teased so much when he was little. Good little story, much better image than the stupid soldier.

Last up, the Grimm's.

Our Lady's Child
This is a rather religious story. It is about a little girl that when her parents can no longer afford to feed her, The Virgin Mary comes and offers her a place in heaven. She lives there happily until she breaks a very important rule that Mary has, and then lies about it. When she refuses to tell the truth, she is sent back to earth to live in a grove of trees until a King comes along, falls in love with her, and takes her back to his castle. The problem is that she is unable to talk, and each time she has a child the Virgin Mary comes and asks if she is going to tell the truth about what she does. Each time the girl does not, and Mary takes the child with her to heaven. Without being able to talk, the girl is thought to be eating her children, and has no way to tell the truth. This leads to some adventures, and talks about the ideas of sinning and forgiveness.

The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was
This story has always been fun to me. It is about a boy, who is not the smartest person in the world. His desire is to learned what it means to shudder, because he is rather stupid, not so much fearless, and doesn't understand that the things that are happening to him are meant to scare him. Instead, he does rather stupid things in an attempt to fix these people. It's a funny story. He does some very interesting things in the course of it.

The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids
This is a story about a wolf and some sheep. Now, to many, it looks just like that, but it actually is a story about not opening the door to strangers and being careful even if it is someone you know, because it could still be a stranger, but they are pretending to be someone you know.

This concludes the second edition of Fairy Tales Revisited.


Ragan: here.
Grimm's: here.
Andersen: here.

Last year, I read The Light Princess by this same author. His books are rather interesting fairy tales, and I felt that I should read another one by him. So, I read the one that I had heard of, The Princess and the Goblin.

From the back of the book:

The Ageless story of mystery and magic, good and evil.

Princess Irene's discovery of a secret stair to the top turret of the castle leads to a wonderful revelation. At the same time, the miner's son Curdie overhears a fiendish plot by the goblins who love below the mountain. But it will take all their wit and courage, and the help of Irene's magic ring, to make sense of their separate knowledge and foil the goblins' schemes.

This is the story of Princess Irene and Curdie. The castle is located around a goblin underground home, and because of that, Irene is not allowed out after dark. One night, though, her and her nurse lose track of time and find that they are not going to make it back to the castle in time. That is where Curdie enters the story. He knows the tricks to make the goblins leave him alone, and helps the princess and her nurse back to the castle. Then, Irene thinks that she will have little reason to see him again.

In the meantime, she discovers that her many great grandmother is living in a turret room in the castle. No one believes that she is truly there, but Irene knows. She has many adventures that her grandmother play a part in. It is her grandmother that gives her the magic ring, that aids her when bad things happen. Curdie is very brave, and gets down in the thick of things by spying on the goblins to learn their plan. Irene, on the other hand, is not your damsel in distress, she gets herself out of situations either on her own or with the help of her grandmother. This is not the Grimm's fairy tales, it is truly a modern look at princesses.

I think that this is a good read. Irene is a cute character and their adventures will keep you turning the pages.


I had recently been reading Shinn's Samaria series. I have The Alleluia Files on the go, but after reading Archangel and Jovah's Angel, I felt I needed to give myself a break and read something else. So, for my birthday, I bought myself this trilogy. The Safe-Keeper's Secret is book one in this young adult trilogy.

From Amazon:

When she grows up, Fiona plans to be her village's Safe-Keeper, just like her mother, Damiana, who listens to, but cannot repeat, her neighbors' most troubling stories. Fiona's own family has plenty of secrets: Fiona doesn't know her father's identity, and on the night of her birth, the king's messenger left a mysterious baby with Damiana, asking her to keep and protect the child. The boy, Reed, and Fiona grow up in a bucolic setting as best friends, surrounded by a loving, extended family of magical adults. When Damiana falls ill, Reed and Fiona leave their childhood behind as they care for their mother and make startling discoveries about their respective parents. Shinn, whose fantasy titles for adults have earned her a wide teen following, heavily foreshadows a romance between Reed and Fiona, an element that may disturb some readers, particularly those in blended families. The romance is only hinted at, however, and teens will connect with Shinn's vividly drawn fantasy world as well as her provocative questions about truth, justice, and individual destiny

This was a relatively quick, cute, read, that you could almost say, reads like a fairy tale. Damania is the village safe-keeper. People come from all over to tell her things that they do not want others to know. Sometimes it is a meaningless piece of information, while at other times it is a big thing that if she wasn't the safe-keeper of that secret, you would have to tell someone. Then, late at night, a safe-keeper from another village comes and delivers a baby to Damania that she choses to raise as her own.

This means that she has two children, her daughter, Fiona, and this child from the night, Reed. Fiona is a quiet sort, who can sit around for hours and do nothing, while Reed can't sit still for more than ten seconds. Most of the story is told from Fiona's point of view. It is when these two are older that we enter the story, on the beginning pages they are just turning 10, and the story continues into their late teens.

I thought that this book was very enjoyable. Fiona could annoy me sometimes, but I think that was the point. The Truth-Teller, who I will be exploring more in the second book of this trilogy, told Fiona that she will never be a safe-keeper like her mother before, and she gets pretty resentful. This candid remark from this older man dictates most of Fiona's actions as the novel carries on.

Some people didn't like the ending. I did, because I was expecting it. It is a wonderful twist at the end, and maybe I am alone, but something didn't add up for me throughout the novel. It was great to learn that I was right.


Mailyn says...

The Genre

Sword & Sorcery/Heroic Fantasy

The Plot

From Amazon:
"Gilded Chain follows the career of Durendal, one of the King's magical and deadly swordsmen, who's compelled to serve his ward until death with single-minded purpose. Bound to a conniving, sniveling courtier and apparently doomed to a boring--or worse, compromising--existence, Durendal must find a way to fulfill both his potential and his duty.

Events quickly hurl him halfway across the world to investigate the grisly secret behind a brotherhood of immortal swordmasters. This quest fuels the plot for the remainder of the book, which is nearly impossible to put down after the halfway point (just about the time a side story involving a Lord Roland cleverly dovetails with the main narrative). An inventive, intelligent exploration of duty and honor, and just a corking good adventure besides, The Gilded Chain is swords-and-sorcery at its best."

The Review

I actually read this book a while back but it has taken me forever to write this review because I don't think I can do it justice. This books is one of the best I have read and Mr. Duncan's writing is simply exquisite. I think this is a modern-day masterpiece along the lines of Dumas and Sabatini blended flawlessly with fantasy.

There was nothing I found lacking in Duncan's writing or in the plot itself. Durendal is an excellent hero and he quiclky became one of my favorite. In short, I wish I could say more but this book is better experienced than talked about. Or maybe it's just me and I can't come up with enough praises for this!

This is a great example of quality fantasy as Duncan doesn't sacrifice language, characterization, or plot unlike a lot of modern day fantasy authors that write as if their readers where teenagers or pre-teens.

As a side note I should say that this book should appeal to Temeraire fans. The concept of a bond between master and Blade is similar to the dragon and rider bond in that series. A bond that cannot be broken without terrible consequences and the choices they must make because of it.

The Verdict

Run to your local bookseller and get your hands on this. I don't think there is anything left to say except I'm giving it a solid 5 out of 5!

This novel, which I had never heard of before, was a present from my boyfriend. Why did I have to read it pretty much right away? Fairy tale retelling!

From Amazon:

In Lickiss' charming, clever, and surprisingly substantial slice of fictional cake, Princess Vevila, having had enough of dancing with doltish prospective husbands, would rather seek out adventure. Meanwhile her cousin, Prince Althelstan, has fought through yards of brambles into a somnolent castle to discover three sleeping princes instead of one spellbound princess. "It has to have been a transcription error," he muses, just as he notices a slender beauty dozing near the throne. Captivated, Althelstan decides to inveigle his cousin into waking the princes, which, he hopes, will simultaneously free the object of his affection. Aiding Althelstan are three recent graduates of magical Recondite University, all gearing up to confront the witch who, claiming to be protecting the innocent princes, cast the sleeping spell. Figure in a mysterious little man with mismatched clothing and handfuls of gold, and an insecure princess with two sallow stepsisters, and, well, you see where we're headed. A welcome addition to the fractured fairy tale genre and perfect reading for the beach or an air-conditioned castle bedroom.

In the sub-script to the title, it says "Not just another frog-meets-girl story". And it was rather different. Some of the fairy tales present in the novel are Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Frog Prince (which I just read for Fairy Tales Revisited), Rumplestilskin (I am going to have to look that word up), and more. The story goes that a prince has been informed that he can only marry a princess, but the only princess available is 2-years-old, and thus not right for him. He hears of a sleeping castle, though, and a princess that needs to be awoken by a kiss. He sets off to search the castle in the hopes that he will find the woman that he is meant to marry. The problem is that an "s" was added, because there is not a princess waiting for him, but not one, but three princes. This presents a problem.

The young prince, though, has a solution. There is a woman in the castle that he is sure is a princess, so he goes and gets his cousin to wake the princes so that the castle will awake and he can marry the young princess. Along the way he collects three wizards, that really add to the story. Unfortunately for our young prince, the fairy godmother that locked the princes up in the first place does not want them to have to face the cruel world, so she tries to put a stop to it. The princes cousin, Vevila, also proves to be a problem when she is forced into a dark chamber and told to make straw into gold. Sound familiar? Unlike the original tale, though, Vevila tries to escape several times. She is not interested in getting married, she is there for the adventure.

While all of this is going on, 4 more young girls enter the story. One other is put to the princess test, where we witness a girl who has to sleep on a great pile of mattresses. Can we guess what the goal is? Then, there is a large ball in order for an older woman to find husbands for her daughters. The ball is crashed, though, by a mysterious young woman. Know what fairy tale that is?

All in all, I thought this book was a very refreshing retelling of some of my favourite fairy tales. It is a relatively short read, but enjoyable. I suggest it if you are into fairy tales, you will not be disappointed.


I must thank Dance Chica for this book, not because she has read it, but because she was the reason I read Moon Called by Briggs. I liked that book so much, I thought I would read more from her. She is an author I had always meant to read, and now I am very glad I got the push in her direction.

This is what Briggs has to say about it on her website:

I like to stretch my skills on each book I write both to keep me from getting stale and to keep myself from writing the same book over and over. With five books under my belt (including the unpublished sequel to Masques) I felt up to the challenge of writing a male viewpoint. I tried third person, knowing that this story was going to require multiple viewpoints, but Ward insisted on telling this story himself.

From the beginning Ward had a very strong voice, but I never knew from one day's writing to the next, exactly what he was going to be up to. I don't write from an outline, but Ward's story was extreme even for me. When he decided to go to war, I read ever mediaeval war book I could find as well as Sun Tsu's The Art of War. Then I had to research a whole slew of things...only to find that Ward had a few more tricks up his sleeve. I can remember the icy chill of dread that hit me when Ward and Oreg are on board ship and I realized how I had to end the book. To my surprise, when I began the first rewrite, Dragon Bones felt as if I'd planned it scene by scene and I only had to do a very little work to knit it together.

Dragon Bones is the only book I've written that wasn't a romance. I've always found love to be a very strong motivation for characters, making for interesting books. Dragon Bones though had so much emotion to work out between my major characters that there simply wasn't enough space for a good romance, so I left the romance for its sequel Dragon Blood.

From Amazon:

Ward of Hurog has tried all his life to convince people he is just a simple, harmless fool...And it's worked. But now, to regain his kingdom, he must ride into war-and convince them otherwise.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought that Briggs did a very good job of writing from the male viewpoint. Ward, who has pretended to be an idiot in an attempt to protect himself from his angry father, suddenly finds his plans destroyed when his father dies suddenly. Everyone thinks that he is an idiot, and now he has to prove to them that he is not. This starts himself on an adventure that proves to both show the world what he is made of, but also to find himself. He has lived behind a mask for so long, he has forgotten who he truly is.

Briggs writes this in an interesting way. Ward is the main character, most of the book is from his viewpoint, but every few chapters she gives the other characters in the book a chance to offer their thoughts on what is going on in the course of the novel. That way it is not only Ward speaking. It is a relatively short novel, but it packs a good story. I pretty much read it in one sitting, and the best thing about it, no cliff-hanger ending! So, while I plan to read the sequel, Dragon's Blood, I don't have to in order to figure out what happened next. I love that in a book.


The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason (January 2007)

You can visit Colleen's website here.

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs (January 2007)

This is the second book in the Mercedes Thompson series featuring Mercy, an auto mechanic and a coyote "walker". I really enjoyed Briggs's first in the series, Moon Called, and am highly anticipating this sequel. Click here for Brigg's website.

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris (May 2007) - 7th in the Sookie Stackhouse, Southern Vampire series.

Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale by Holly Black (May 2007) - I hear this book is supposed to continue Kaye and Roiben's story from Tithe.

I've also got my eye out for:

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian (May 2007)

In present day Boston, trouble is brewing. Vampires are going Rogue, feeding without discretion, killing humans in the streets. For Lucan Thorne, a Breed warrior of the first generation and the Order's fearsome leader, the battles are just a taste of the carnage to come. A blood war is set to ignite, and he is determined to put it to a swift end. But when a beautiful young photographer gets caught in the crosshairs, her pictures threatening to expose the entire vampire race, Lucan has no choice except to bring her into the dark world he commands.

Lara's website here.

What new books or series are you looking forward to?

I noticed the other day that I was wrong. I have not read all of the Han's Christian Andersen fairy tales. I was thinking of Charles Perrault, so by exploring fairy tales, I am actually getting to read ones that I have never read before!

The Fir-Tree - Hans Christian Andersen
When I began this story, I immediately thought of another children's story that I read. I might even still have it around the house somewhere, but it is about a Christmas tree that wants to be big like the trees around it, so it stretches itself and winds up with a large bump in it that makes it not as beautiful. This Andersen story is likely the story that this one is based off of. In the Andersen one, the tree is impatient. It wants what it can't have, and is miserable until it gets it. This story has the moral, though, that while it is good to dream, you should appreciate what you have when you have it, because you might miss it when you get the thing you want more than anything. It's a sad fairy tale, but the tree gets what it deserves.

The Frog-King, or Iron Henry - Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Many people likely know the story about the frog that turns into a prince, but many people believe that it happened by the young lady kissing the frog and it becomeing a prince. Urban legend, that is not what happens at all! Want to find out how he magically changes? Read the story, you might be surprised. This is the story of a spoiled princess that is used to getting whatever she wants. She loses her ball in a well and promises the frog that he can be her companion if he rescues it for her. The princess does not think she will actually have to keep her promise, but she gets a rude awakening!

Cat and Mouse in Partnership - Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
This might seem like a strange title, as cats and mice are normally enemies, not friends. It is a rather humourous story in its unorthodox friendships, but also in just how shifty the cat is. I had read it before, and forgotten how funny I found the relationship. Cats are sly creatures, though, and the mouse finds out just how much so too late to do anything about it!

Want to read these fairy tales over again?
Click here for Grimm's: here
Click here for Andersen: here

No, I didn't read another novel yet. Instead, since it was the beginning of the month, I visited Kelley Armstrong's website. It seems that many among us are already fans of her work, but for those who are not familiar with her, she is the author of the Women of the Otherworld series. This series is about women who are paranormal creatures and their adventures :D

In addition of writing very good books, Kelley Armstrong also maintains a very good website, which I think is really a plus. At the beginning of each month, there is an update with some treats for the readers :D Also, on her website, you'll find some novellas which are all related to the Women of the Otherworld series.

**There is no spoilers of the series, so feel free to read on and participate to the discussion even if you haven't read the series.

So what I wanted to talk about in this post was her next book, which is No Human Involved, or perhaps, more specifically, the love relationship that might occur. In this book, the narrator is going to be Jaime, a forty-something years old necromancer, who first appeared in Industrial Magic and since then, had have steady appearance in all other books. As everyone who has read the books know, Jaime has a crush on Jeremy. Jeremy is the alpha male of the werewolves clan. So, a necromancer and a werewolf... is there a future to this relationship? So far in the books, Jaime has a crush on Jeremy and Jeremy is quite oblivious... actually, he's quite absent-minded and I wonder if he ever felt love for a woman... In No Human Involved, Jaime is the main character and Jeremy is part of the novel. I can't really imagine Jaime falling in love with another character, but at the same time, I don't know if Jaime and Jeremy have a future together.

Basically, here is what might keep them apart:

- Jaime is a necromancer... Starting from their 60's, very few still are still sane.
- Jeremy is a 55 years old werewolf who look like in his late 30's. As a werewolf, he has prolonged youth...

I bet that right now, Jaime and Jeremy look really good as a couple, but what about in 10-15 years? Also, in the last novel Broken, Jaime met another necromancer who has lost her sanity and this has shaken up Jaime a lot. She've known a long time ago that her future wasn't looking good, as she also has seen her grandmother becoming crazy, but I think that this time, it was really a shock. So I wonder... possible or not possible? I mean, Jaime is not vain, but still... she's going to age and at one point, she's going to look older than Jeremy... is she going to be able to accept it? Or is this going to become a drift between the two?

I know that actually, lots of fans are not in favor for this couple. Personally, I'd really like Jaime and Jeremy to get together... I guess I'll have to wait till May to find out...

Oh, and again, what do you think of the timeline of the whole series? It seems that the timeline of the series is advancing quite fast... I mean, from book 1, Bitten, to Broken, how much time has passed already? 5 - 6 years? Savannah was first 13 years old... and now, she's going to college... I think it's going a bit fast to my taste, but this is particularly because I'm not fond of having the characters of a series grow "old." I mean, it doesn't matter for the werewolves and vampires of this series, but the sorcerers, witches, necro and even demons all age as normal rate and so... I don't reallywant to see a book featuring Paige and Lucas in their 50's ^^; So what do you think?

ps. if I'm not wrong, Kelley Armstrong has extended her contract and they'll be at least 10 books in the series. Book 7 is No Human Involved which features Jaime. Book 8 will have Hope, a chaos demon, as the narrator... Book 9 should be about Cassandra, a vampire and finally, Book 10 is still undecided... I'm hoping Savannah, a witch...

Here are some book releases to look for this month!

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways -- and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better . . .

Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magic training -- especially as she's been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince -- and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.
If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies . . .

My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding by P. N. Elrod (Editor)

Werewolves, vampires, witches, voodoo, Elvis---and weddings

An “ordinary” wedding can get crazy enough, so can you imagine what happens when otherworldly creatures are involved? Nine of the hottest authors of paranormal fiction answer that question in this delightful collection of supernatural wedding stories. What’s the seating plan when rival clans of werewolves and vampires meet under the same roof? How can a couple in the throes of love overcome traps set by feuding relatives---who are experts at voodoo? Will you have a good marriage if your high-seas wedding is held on a cursed ship? How do you deal with a wedding singer who’s just a little too good at impersonating Elvis?

    • L. A. Banks
    • Jim Butcher
    • Rachel Caine
    • P. N. Elrod
    • Esther M. Friesner
    • Lori Handeland
    • Charlaine Harris
    • Sherrilyn Kenyon
    • Susan Krinard

Shape-shifters, wizards, and magic, oh my!

Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton

Known for her darkly violent, stunningly erotic Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels, New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton reveals new dimensions of her talent in these fantastical fairy tales and lush parables as she welcomes readers to the far corners of her fertile imagination.

From a woman who marries into a family of volatile wizards to a couple fleeing a gang of love-hungry cupids, from a girl who seeks sanctuary in the form of a graceful goose to the disgruntled superhero Captain Housework, readers will revel in the many twists and turns of fortune in these unique, sometimes surreal visions. Hardened vampire hunter and zombie animator Anita Blake gets blindsided by the disturbing motives of her clients in the never-before-published "Those Who Seek Forgiveness" and in "The Girl Who Was Infatuated with Death."

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

From the author of the popular Weather Warden series. Welcome to Morganville, Texas.

Just don't stay out after dark.

College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero.

When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

Shattered Dance Caitlin Brennan

Once again the Aurelian Empire is in danger, and once again Valeria must risk more than her life to save it. With threats from without, including sorcerous attacks against the soon-to-be empress, and pressures from within -- the need to continue the dynasty and Kerrec, the father of Valeria's child, the first choice to do so -- Valeria must overcome plots and perils as she struggles to find a place in this world she's helped to heal.

But her greatest foes have not been vanquished. And they won't be forgotten or ignored. Nor will the restless roil of magic within Valeria herself. Soon the threat of Unmaking, a danger to all the empire, begins to arise in Valeria's soul once more. It is subtle, it is powerful, and this time it might win out!

Hell With the Ladies
by Julie Kenner, Kathleen O'Reilly, Dee Davis

Three all-new stories of sinfully sexy men-and the women who change their wicked ways.

One is a hotshot corporate raider. One is an infamous artist. One is a high-class thief with a taste for danger.

Meet the sons of Satan.

Jack, Nick, and Marcus are on a quest to win their father's throne-and rule the underworld. But if it's up to three strong-minded, seductive women, they'll achieve their goal when Hell freezes over. All-new stories by Julie Kenner, Kathleen O'Reilly, and Dee Davis.

Greywalker by Kat Richardson

Harper Blaine was slogging along as a small-time P.I. when a two-bit perp's savage assault left her dead. For two minutes, to be precise.

When Harper comes to in the hospital, she begins to feel a bit ...strange. She sees things that can only be described as weird-shapes emerging from a foggy grey mist, snarling teeth, creatures roaring.

But Harper's not crazy. Her "death" has made her a Greywalker-able to move between our world and the mysterious, cross-over zone where things that go bump in the night exist. And her new gift (or curse) is about to drag her into that world of vampires and ghosts, magic and witches, necromancers and sinister artifacts. Whether she likes it or not.

Once Upon a Spring Morn - Dennis McKiernan
The fairy Princess Céleste of Springwood finds a lover in the chevalier Roél after he rescues her from brigands in McKiernan's entertaining fourth and final "seasonal" fantasy (after Once Upon an Autumn Eve), which takes its inspiration from the Childe Roland fairy tale. The feisty princess joins Roél on his quest to rescue his virginal sister, Avélaine, from the Lord of the Changelings before the evil ruler can defile the girl, impregnate her and steal her soul. On their travels through exotic kingdoms, Céleste and Roél must solve the Fates' riddles, outwit an Ogre, navigate past the Sirènes, best Greek mythical figures in Elysian Fields and pass through the Egyptian Underworld. Though McKiernan's characters have no depth and inconsistent sexual mores, the relentless, fantastical action will satisfy series fans.

Partners in Necessity - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Whether you love Bujold's A Civil Campaign, McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, or classics like The Prisoner of Zenda, you owe it to yourself to grab Partners in Necessity. You'll see why Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have gained devoted fans since the first three Liaden novels (collected here) first appeared; they helped bring the series back with the publication of Plan B 11 years after its debut. This is swashbuckling space opera at its finest, a blend of adventure, romance, humor, and terrific world building.

Meet Priscilla Delacroix y Mendoza, betrayed and stranded on a backward world by the Liaden trader she served as cargo master. Fortunately, another Liaden ship, Dutiful Passage, makes orbit and she applies for work. The captain, Shan yos'Galen, also has accounts to settle with Priscilla's former employers, and "among Liadens, revenge is something of an art form." Conflict of Honors is their story. In Agent of Change, Val Con yos'Phelium, Shan's cousin and foster brother, comes to the aid of Miri Robertson, former mercenary and bodyguard, who's being hunted by an interstellar crime cartel. Once a First-in Scout, he's become a spy for Liad, programmed to play the odds ruthlessly. He's just committed a murder. They flee together, aided by Edger, an alien shaped like a turtle. His "four-hundred pound bottle-green frame" is impressive to the Clans of Men, as are the beautiful, deadly knives of his people. He's considered a bit hasty by colleagues, but his appreciation of music is keen and he regards Val Con as a brother. In Carpe Diem, the stories of Val Con and Miri, and Shan and Priscilla come together and the story of Clan Korval, to which Shan and Val Con belong, unfolds further.

Retrieval by Jeanie London

Nina is dead and must make amends.In life she refused to use her unique ability to see whether a soul ascends to Heaven or descends into Hell. Now, as a guide through the Passage between the living and the dead, she steers departing souls to Purgatory. But peace is hard to come by, even in the afterlife. Good and evil are fighting for control over the Passage--and Nina is determined not to let Hell take over. Roman breaks the dead guy rules.With his devilish charm and angelic looks, the newly-dead Roman can rally souls to fight-but on which side? His new Soul Retrieval Unit sounds like a good idea, but even in death, temptation lures Nina farther from salvation . . . or is she choosing Heaven by placing her soul in her lover's care?

Dark Moon Defender - Sharon Shinn
In Shinn's intrigue-filled third Twelve Houses fantasy (after The Thirteenth House and Mystic and Rider), Justin, one of the elite King's Riders who serve King Baryn of Gillengaria, finds plenty to be concerned about after going undercover as a stableman to learn about threats to Baryn's rule. Noblewoman Coralinda Gisseltess, head of the Lumanen Convent of the Daughters of the Pale Mother (a moon goddess), has begun her own campaign against mystics, preaching that their magic is an abomination to the goddess. Then Justin meets Ellynor Alowa of Lirren, a young novice from the convent, and loses his heart to her. Things get complicated when Ellynor is denounced as a mystic because of her healing abilities. Rescuing Ellynor from being burned at the stake won't be easy, but if Justin succeeds, he'll then have to deal with the taboo against Lirren women marrying outside their clans. Once again Shinn expertly mixes romance with traditional fantasy for a satisfying read.

Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts

Second in the new paranormal Circle Trilogy.

With one vampire determined to rule the earth, the Circle of Six prepares to battle for their lives-and their hearts.

Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn

Meet the D'Artigo sisters: half-human, half-faerie, they're savvy-and sexy-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But their mixed-blood heritage short-circuits their talents at all the wrong times. Delilah shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she's stressed. Menolly's a vampire who's still trying to get the hang of being undead. And Camille is a wicked-good witch, except her magic's as unpredictable as the weather, as her enemies are about to find out-the hard way.

In the mail today I got shiny new copies of The Complete Hans Christian Andersen and The Comple Grimm's Fairy Tales. I am not the sort that is going to sit down and reading these books in one sitting, so here is what I chose to do. I will read at least one Grimm's Tale and one Andersen tale each week until I have both books completed. I love fairy tales, and I own both of these books already, but they are old and I can't read them anymore without worrying about them falling apart. I should be careful saying that old, they might have belonged to my parents... Also, The Grimm's version of mine is missing its book jacket. These are shinny new books to explore. Some I reread recently, others I haven't read in years. So, even if no one else looks forward to it, I look forward to reading these tales all over again.

I don't do poetry very often. Even when a favourite author of mine decides to put out a poetry book, I rarely ever read it. But, this collection of poems is very fantasy-like, so I have to admit, I enjoyed reading it.

From the back of the book:

An important and often-quoted literary figure, the English poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) wrote some of the most beautiful and voluptuous poetry in the English language. Like Emily Dickinson, she lived in self-imposed isolation, writing of God and lose love with a sensuality and passion that seemed to emanate from the soul.

This edition of 53 works combines a number of her best-known sonnets, ballads, and shorter lyrics with her long masterpiece, the narrative fable GOBLIN MARKET. A haunting fairy tale in verse, GOBLIN MARKET was once labeled a children's poem, yet its intricate symbolism and themes of temptation, sin, and redemption mark in for an adult audience. Among other works included in this choice collection are "The Convent Threshold," "Up-hill," "Cousin Kate," "Winter: My Secret," Maude Clare," "No, Thank You, John" and "After Death."

I don't really know how to review poetry, because it is not something I read very often, so this is just another post acknowledging that I read it, and enjoyed it! What are some of your favourite poets? They do not have to be fantasy.

From the back of the book:

Weary of her storybook, one "without pictures or conversations," the young and imaginative Alice follows a hasty hare underground-to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature. The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat--each more eccentric than the last--could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll. In farcical satire of rigid Victorian society, this arresting parody of the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up, Carroll was one of the few adult writers to enter successfully the children's world of make-believe, where the impossible becomes possible, the unreal, real, and where the heights of adventure are limited only by the depths of imagination.

I read these for one of my university classes. I have never been able to get into either novel by Carroll, althought this is the second time I have read both of them. I am just going to acknowledge I read them. And open the doors for discussion. What do you guys think of Carroll's works? Have you seen the Disney movie? Have you seen any other movie version of the works?

From Chapters/Indigo:

Meet the D'Artigo sisters: half-human, half-faerie, they're savvy-and sexy-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But their mixed-blood heritage short-circuits their talents at all the wrong times. Delilah shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she's stressed. Menolly's a vampire who's still trying to get the hang of being undead. And Camille is a wicked-good witch, except her magic's as unpredictable as the weather, as her enemies are about to find out-the hard way.

Blurb at the back of the book:

At the Wayfarer Inn, a portal to Otherworld and the local hangout for humans and beasties alike, a fellow operative, Jocko, has been murdered. Every clue points to Shadow Wing, the soul-munching badass leader of the 'Subterranean Realms'. He's made it clear that he aims to raze humankind to the ground, turning both Earth and Otherworld into his private playground. Our assignment: Keep Shadow Wing and his minions from creeping into Earth via the Wayfarer. The demons figure they're in like Flynn. After all, with only my bumbling sisters and me standing in the way, how can they miss? But we've got a secret for them: Faulty wiring or not, nobody kicks ass like the D'Artigo girls...

First book in the trilogy, Witchling has been an utter disappointment for me T_T I've been anticipating this book every since I've read the synopsis and seen the cover, which was probably at the beginning of the summer 2006. The blurb sounds good, the cover is awesome, unfortunately, the storyline is another story. This trilogy is told in the first-person and the first book features Camille. I won't give a synopsis, because the book blurb basically sums up the story well and because this book was for me a Did Not Finish. Yes, a DNF... I can't even remember when was my last DNF...

So what was wrong? Let starts with the world building. So you have three Realms: the Otherworld which I guess is the Feary world in which you find all kind of paranormal creatures: shiftshapers, witches, sorcerers, fearies, elves, unicorns, gargoyles, vampires and etc. This realm is governed by the Queen; however, the aristo/government is pretty useless as it is corrupted and addicted to opium. There are portals which allow these creatures to go to the Earthside where humans live. The last Realm is the Subterranean Realm where demons and "not very good" creatures live. I thought the fantasy world in this book sucked. First, the Otherworld is so corrupted, it doesn't seem to have order at all... frankly, why would the Sisters miss home when it is soooo mess up? In addition, I don't even know if there's some hierarchy or does every type of paranormal creatures are equal... I mean, the Queen is a Faery, so are Faeries superior to say witch? Are vampires welcomed? How can three sisters who are born from the same parents can be witch, werecat and 'psychic'? By the way, Menolly wasn't born a vampire... she had some acrobatic and climbing powers (?!?), that's why I call her a 'psychic'... although it seems her powers have completey vanished since she became a vampire. Anyway, back to the topic, are the powers inherited genetically or what? But then, maybe it's my limited knowledge of Faeries... Anyhow, I didn't like the Earthside either. Humans are aware of the Faeries (and other paranormal creatures?), some wants to get rid of them and some creates fanclub to worship them. It was totally ridiculous the Faeries Watchers Club! Basically, Faeries are considered as special attraction, ^^;, almost a bit like some celebrities. You get news of them in gossip papers, you have fanclubs which are very possessive and you even get tourists who want their picture. Urgh. So the D'Artigo sisters don't hide the fact that they are Faeries, but they hide the fact that they are Otherworld Intelligence Agency (OIA) agents. To sum it up, I didn't like the world: too many creatures scattered everywhere with no order and not enough explanation of how the worlds were functioning.

Then, the characters... I guess the sisters are supposed to be gutsy and strong, but it came out all wrong. Instead, I felt that the D'Artigo sisters were weak, scared and stupid. I didn't even read a witty reply from any of the characters. It was sad... I mean, as they investigate the murder and learn that it's the work of demons, they get scared at every turn. In fact, think a bit of the Halliwell sisters from 'Charmed,' you know, always scared and nervous. But the worst came when Camille was like: I wish Father was here. What? You're this supernatural creature, surrounded with your two sisters... you three have considerable amount of power, even if you don't have much control over it and you want your Father?!? It said that the D'Artigo sisters kicked ass... I didn't see that at all. At all. As for the male characters, you have basically three: Chase which is a human working also for OIA. He is freaking annoying. You've been working with the OIA for a considerable amount of time already... so much that you've even create a unit that sounds like CSI... but at every turn of the story, you're surprised to learn that X being exists and how the Otherworld functions. Basically, the way he was introduced in the story, he was to be an ass. As an ass, I had every right to dislike him and think he wouldn't really be important... but then, he became Delilah's lover... and that's supposed to make me suddenly like him better? I don't think so, sorreh. Then, you have Trillian which is a Svartan (some sort of Dark Faery) and Camille's lover. It seems that Svartan are known to get bored of their lovers and throw them away... that's why Camille put an end to their relationship. Anyway, Trillian is perhaps the only character that I enjoyed. Only he wasn't really important, except to have sex with Camille... and finally, Morio who is Japanese and a fox-demon... He wasn't bad either, but I also think he doesn't have much purpose in the story than play third-party in Camille's relationship with Trillian.

The romance... urgh. I actually don't think that this book has an ounce of romance... oh actually, yes, a tiny bit that involves Menolly, but that's it. Camille and Trillian's relationship is a heavy dose of lust. LUST, not romance. I don't get Camille: she loves Trillian, but she doesn't like him. Hello? You can't love someone if you don't like him. You love having sex with Trillian, okay. You lusts after Trillian, true, but in any case, you DON'T LOVE HIM. Ever since her break-up with Trillian, she hasn't find a man to be with, well that's not because you LOVE Trillian... it's just that you find the others unsatisfying. There's a HUGE difference between love and lust and I'm astounded that the author is not making it. There's a saying in their world that say: Once you've bedded a Svartan, you'll never go back. But that still only explain the lusting part, not the loving part. Basically, Camille keeps saying that sleeping with Trillian is a mistake, but she keeps going back for more. Anyway, I don't see the love between the two... I don't even see chemistry. Usually, in a romance... making love can be a mistake at first, but then, feelings develop, story develop and at the end, it is no longer a mistake, it's right... well, this is not happening in this book. Worse. Worse. Camille sleeps with Morio. Okay, it was under a spell, but STILL... she goes back for more with Morio. This is just so screwed up! Morio might bethe first guy Camille's been attracted since Trillian... but this doesn't bode well with me at all. You might want to break thing off with Trillian in that case, Camille... oh but no, the author comes up with the terrific idea that: Faeries are not monogamous, so basically, all Trillian has to say is: You can sleep with him as long as it doesn't affect us. Well, it affects me, the reader because I don't like it. I'm old-fashioned... I don't like the H/H to be unfaithful to each other, is that too much asking? This is why I've almost give up on the Stephanie Plum series... this is why I'll never touch LKH books... did the author think that readers actually enjoy this? Not knowing who the heroine would choose? Oh, but there's worse... Delilah and Chase. Delilah's never had sex... at least not in human form. Sorry, but does this mean what I think it means? Because yuck, in that case, I don't want to know more. But what flaggerblast me the most is that Delilah and Camille are in a dangerous situation, with three demons to catch, an artifact to find before Shadow Wing, and saving the world... Camille is discussing the situation with Trillian and Morio, who are at each other's throat for Camille's attention. Delilah comes back... Camille immediately guesses that she'd had sex with Chase, so she drops everything and wants to have a talk with Delilah to see what she thought of it. My jaws dropped at that moment. I swear. I just thought this was the most inappropriate moment!

Anyway, last thing... the tone of the narration. I thought there wasn't much emotion in it... It didn't catch my attention, didn't grip my feelings, didn't even entice me. I thought it was bland, relating what was happening, giving explanations when the author thought it needed some. Not enough opinion/pov from Camille... or at least, no concrete opinion/pov... Yeah, if I had to describe the book, I'd say bland and frustrating. Didn't even crack a smile and that's telling.

Grade: DNF

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About Me

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Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with books. Early photos show me with a book in hand, even if it was not exactly my reading level... My first word was a made-up word meaning 'book', actually. I suppose I had my priorities at an early age... Over the years my interest in books has become one of the defining features of who I am as a person. You can probably call me a bookworm. While I have other interests, reading will always be the one I talk about the most, even if I am not focusing on it as much as I used to.