Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Demons are a Girl's best Friend by Linda Wisdom

Plot:  Maggie is a 700 year old witch who works for the Guard. A group of top secret supernatural cops. The original Men in Black.  Declan is a half demon of the fire breed who just wants to run a good old fashioned night club.  One single mission puts Maggie in the line of his fire, for all the wrong reasons. The two find themselves partnered up to take care of a human teenager who holds the key to the ultimate portal. One that when opened will bring death and torture to all the worlds. Can they work together without letting their emotions get the better of them, or will they have to smolder the spark between them in order to save the world?

Witches, Shapeshifters, Demons, Vampires, Gnomes, Elves, an evil cult  and talking jewellery.  What more could you ask for.

This was a beautifully done character driven romance.  The sex scenes were not too overpowering nor did they feel out of place.
In fact, there was a very quirky underscore in this romance, and that was finding not the perfect man, but one who was perfect enough with all his faults.  As we see Elle, a magickal spider who wants nothing but to find a way to keep her lovers alive beyond one sex act.  And Sybil, the Elf who is looking for someone who is more then just pretty.

Maggie's character, is a richly written woman, who's verbal wit could match anything Joss Whedon could have put into the mouth of his blonde heroine.  And just as tough.  Giving Maggie a back story of loss in the form of a dead sister, was a delicate balance to give some depth to her combat ready style.

Declan's character, at times leaned very much towards that of an incubus (of which the author cleverly added in the form of another relative) then the fire controlling demon he was designed to be.  His back story is one that would be interesting to explore more of.

The beginning of the sub-story between Maggie and her human charge, played out as would be expected, giving her normal teenaged issues in the form of bad boyfriends and school bullies.  But there were moments when the character of Courtney felt like a plot device that took on a mind of its own.  I would have liked to have been given just a tad more on the character's upbringing before she joined the story.
Too often, paranormal/supernatural novels come off as stuck up,  this thankfully is very casual in it's approach to the topics.  The characters are developed enough to be relatable, yet the subject matter is still fantastic enough to be entertaining.

We are introduced to so many characters who easily could branch off into their own novels, which might be a delightful thing to see, as I have been told this is the first book in a series. (I hope they were not teasing) Though it does lend itself to "past history"  that makes me wonder if it's part of a series, and not the first chapter?

It had a very Buffy meets McMillan and Wife feel. I thought this was the perfect balance between romance/dramatic  and supernatural genres.  The vampiric overtones (Succubus, Vampires, manipulation by the priests and the higher demons, the scene with the bully's dad at the school)  that you find throughout leads me to add this book more to the vampire genre then to just a straight forward witchcraft genre.  Which coming from a long time vamp fan, is a wonderful thing.  I can not remember the last time I read a vamp book with that much interest.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Merely Magic by Patricia Rice

 Plot: Ninian Malcolm is a country witch who has been taking care of the local villagers for the last few years. The job of midwife handed down to her by her now dead grandmother.
Drogo Ives is an earl who's only private time is hunting the skies for new planets, when he's not providing for his brothers and their children.
Legends say that Malcolms and Ives are meant to keep apart or else the curse that flows through both families will destroy everyone in their path.
Drogo does not believe in curses or witches. He does however believe it's nearly time to settle down and produce an heir of his own instead of feeding all of his brother's. It just so happens that he's got his eye on Ninian, the only thing is she's not your typical Victorian Lady.

It's rare that I pick up a book in the morning and spend a full 8 hours reading.  But that's what I did.  I literally could not put this one down.

Set at the end of the Regency /beginning of the Victorian eras, this is a romance that rings out with a spark of truth.  Playing back and forth with the idea that men and women learn differently (the men are all of a science background and the women all of a earth based background) and therefore express themselves in different spheres, it leans to a perfect romantic set up.
You could neatly ask "what would happen if a group of female Druids landed in the middle of London?" Which must have been one of the things the author asked herself.

The core of the story is trust. The Ives family have been tricked into wedlock a few times, and no longer trust their wives, where as the Malcolm family have been treated like outcasts for generations.  I thought the brilliant move on the author's part was in making the Ives only able to produce sons, and the Malcolms only able to produce daughters.  Proving balance is always needed.
This is an element (no pun intended) that is repeated throughout the story, with Ninian referring to herself as the earth and Drogo as the air and how when they meet they create storms.  The idea that romantic longings are as basic as electricity was a strong one.

The farther along the story continued, the softer the character of Drogo became. It hinted a bit at Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as well as reminding me of Jane Eyre. Half set in an eerie gothic castle complete with a ghost and in London proper. Drogo is a man who can not turn anyone away who needs his help, nor can Ninian which makes them both a perfect pair and the most unlikely of rivals.

The opening scene sets up the story's baseline, as we see Ninian lingering on the edge of a May's Eve festival, longing for a simple dance knowing that none of the men in the area are brave enough to see past her family rumours. While a few yards away Drogo is watching Ninian from the shadows, not understanding who or what she is, but admiring her for the simple fact she's a beautiful woman. He ends up saving her from one of the local drunks thinking that she is yet another responsibility. He soon learns Ninian is far stronger then even he is.

The author has pitted two very different family rituals against each other in a simple way that shows tolerance and compromise are always one and the same.

This story is fully delicious in its understanding of Paganism. Which is a rarity all its own.

There were a few minor characters, like Adonis and Sarah (both Ives) that I would have liked to learned more about, as well as a story within the story that Ninian was reading from their family history.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Jamie's America Easy Twists on Great American Classics and More

I was beyond excited when I heard I was getting a copy of Jamie Oliver's cookbook.
It's been sitting sort of in my living room since the middle of January.  I say sort of because like the last cookbook I was to review, this one got snatched up by my mother.  I had to wrestle it back (Jay Lethal would have been impressed)

It's laid out like a scrapbook, filled with photos of the trip and personal stories on how he came across each and every recipe.
What a true cookbook should be like.

I was disappointed by the lack of vegetarian offerings in this. Don't get me wrong, there are a number of them, but sadly, like many of the recipes, they're ingredients lists contain things that are difficult to find at times where I live.
I'm still trying to figure out what to replace the alligator meat with for even a basic switch off, let alone turning something into a vegetarian version.

The book is extremely region specific, and really only appeals as a "theme" to anyone not in the U.S. or here in Canada.  But even that said, there are items in these recipes that can not be found in Canada.

I did find the paring of wines with each recipe to be a bonus.

This is one cookbook I will be coming back to and trying to figure out a few ways around some of the more interesting recipes, but over all, I was just not impressed.