The Hunger by L.J. Smith
This book celebrates its 20th birthday this year. First published in 1994, The Forbidden Game starts my favorite series from L.J. Smith. In fact, this book has a treasured spot on my "all-time favorites" shelf.
In this first installment of the trilogy, we meet Jenny Thornton who is searching for a fun gift to bring to her boyfriend's party. She stumbles upon a store she never knew existed and meets the store's only employee, the oh-so-gorgeous Julian, who sells her a game in a plain, white box. Once she makes it to the party, however, Jenny thinks she may have made a mistake. Her friends decide to give the game a try, however, and in doing so they begin the fight for their lives.
This book is part Labyrinth and part Jumanji. A young David Bowie can easily be imagined as Julian. And a game coming to life and forcing its players to fight for their lives within the constraint of The Game? Well...that's obviously Jumanji (although I think Jumanji came a short while later?)
If you've enjoyed The Vampire Diaries or The Secret Circle, be sure to check out this other gem from L.J. Smith. This is easily my favorite Smith book/series.
Whelp, it's been a pretty slow reading week. Ok, not really...but, I've been re-reading Anne Bishop's Written in Red since the new one in "The Others" series (Murder of Crows) just came out this Tuesday. While I wish Bishop would also revisit her "Black Jewels" series, her new urban fantasy series is setting up to be almost as great. Anyway...on to today's TBT post. Since the weather around here has been crazy these past few months (80+ degrees yesterday...but back down to the 40s today? Gotta be kidding me.(), this seemed like a fitting choice.
ill wind by Rachel Caine
Have you ever looked up at the sky (or shaken your fist at the Weather Channel) wondering what's up with the weather these days? Well, Rachel Caine gives you the explanation you were looking for: a select group of humans (called Wardens) who can control the various elements (like Weather, Fire, and Earth) are embroiled in a battle against themselves and Mother Nature as they try to regulate Nature's wrath upon the earth. Oh, and they harness the power of the aether (where they do their Warden-y stuff) with the help of captive Djinn, of course.
So, what happens when one Weather Warden, Joanne, discovers that she's been corrupted with a Demon Mark (which, as you may have guessed, is bad news for anyone let alone a Warden)? She seeks out the strongest Warden of them all - Lewis - who happens to be the only Warden who can harness all the elements, rather than just one. When her plans go awry, however, Jo stumbles across a mysterious hitchhiker named David and the two of them embark on a journey to not only save Jo from a certain death-by-demon-mark, but to also save the world.
Ok, so that's obviously a hugely generalized summary. I'm writing this review having read several books into the series and I don't want to give any future spoilers, so I will just stop there with the plot.
But, what a fun concept for a book/series. Caine does a great job with the world building...it comes across as the "real world" - especially since the average person doesn't realize that the Wardens are responsible for holding back Nature's wrath. Once she set up the general populace's ignorance, Caine was free to expand the Warden and the Djinn universe and she does so perfectly. From the aether to the Djinn to the crappy politics within the Warden's world, it comes across as just realistic enough to make it believable.
I found the Djinn concept to be really interesting as well. I'm glad Caine stayed away from the stereotypical genie (ie. Aladdin's genie or the like). These Djinn are more forbidding, more dangerous. Their enslavement to their Warden masters is an interesting element and puts a pall on the Wardens actions and will certainly be something Caine will address as the series progresses.
The writing style is a bit light and tad fluffy. If you are looking for an epic urban fantasy, this is probably not going to scratch that itch. This is pure escapist fiction and will probably be a quick read...but sometimes that is just the book you need.
Ever have a huge amount of books you've read, but haven't actually reviewed? Well, I do. I thought I'd try to do at least one per week...more if work gets boring. So, let's kick it off with one of the more interesting covers...
My life as a white trash zombie by Diana Rowland
I really like the back cover blurb for this book, so here it is:
"Angel Crawford is a loser.
Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she's a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who's been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.
That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in a horrible car crash, but she doesn't have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there's a job waiting for her at the parish morgue -- and that's an offer she doesn't dare refuse.
Before she knows it she's dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addition: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey -- just when she's hungriest!
Angel's going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn't, she's dead meat.
This was such a fun, fun read! This book has some fun cover art - after seeing the cover and reading the back blurb, you know you are in for a treat. Is it funny? Well, I guess that depends on your sense of humor. Obviously, with a protagonist who eats brains like she used to pop pills, the humor is going to be very dark. And a lot of the dark humor was (brain?) sandwiched or included in some pretty gross (brain?) matter. With a lead character who throws out lines like: "Why did I have the urge to grab a handful of that pink and grey mass and shove it into my mouth like movie popcorn?" you know you are in for a treat. Well, I think so at any rate. If you don't have a dark sense of humor and/or if you get pretty queasy when it comes to some graphic descriptions of brains/rot/etc...well, then you may want to pass.
If you are up for the challenge, however, you may find (like I did) that the book featured a fun, light mystery (who's the serial killer and why is he/she taking all the heads and depriving Angel of her yummy brains?) with a touch of zombified romance. White Trash Zombie was a lot of fun - largely because it's different than the bulk of its genre. I didn't feel like I was reading the same story with different characters...this story felt fresh and fun.
Oh, and I read it on the pool deck of a cruise ship with one (or two?) mojitos in hand so that may have contributed to my enjoyment of it as well.
Still...whether or not you have a mojito in your mouth and Caribbean music in the background, check this one out. It's an undead gem.