Friday Booktalk

It’s been a good book week let me tell you!

First up, Jennifer Ashley’s Immortals: The Calling.

RT was a wonderful experience and one I am still reeling from. One of the best things about it was all the new books I picked up. I met Joy Nash at the Nocturne mixer and spoke with her about her Immortals book and I know Jennifer because we write at EC together so I made it a point to pick up The Calling and I’m so glad I did.

I love paranormal romance. I do. I think there are a lot of fresh voices out there with interesting and exciting takes on the genre and the first book in the Immortals series definitely qualifies.

In Adrian, we get a tortured hero, a wounded warrior with a reason to be tortured. Ashley doesn’t just tell us he is, she gives us the story of a man who carries the guilt of his lost brother on his conscience for millennia. It’s his search for his brother Tain that brings him smack dab into the middle of Amber’s universe.

Amber, a heroine who is refreshingly strong and yet still fragile and human. A witch who is also carrying the guilt of a lost sister. She’s three dimensional. Confused, attracted, scared, angry – and really well drawn.

The meta story of the Coven of Light and the Immortals is fascinating and I can’t wait to read the next offerings in the series. The chemistry between Adrian and Amber is marvelously done. The magic is interesting and fresh and the secondary characters are definitely people I want to read more about.

Another author I discovered at RT? Jennifer Armintrout. I picked up The Turning and The Possession and devoured them both in quick turns.

Once I started reading The Turning I could not put it down.

Armintrout has created a dark and edgy world filled with flawed characters struggling with large issues of humanity, morality, love, connection, evil, belonging, community and the basic nature of what we are.

The Turning was not what I expected at all and I loved it for that. Carrie is not a character I’ve read a million times. She makes mistakes. She doesn’t always do the right thing and she pays for it and others do as well.

The villain isn’t cardboard here. Cyrus is delightfully evil but he has *reason* to be. He’s complicated and I appreciated Armintrout’s skill in making me care about someone so lacking in morality and redeeming qualities.

I tended to want some romance and so I found myself wanting more between Nathan and Carrie but I admire the way Armintrout skates around Carrie’s blood tie with Cyrus and her attraction and later tie to Nathan.

All in all, a compelling read and one I absolutely recommend!

In The Possession – Armintrout is back taking risks again, something I admire so very much.

This time, Carrie is with Nathan, her new sire and Cyrus is dead. Only wait, he’s not and Nathan is possessed and Carrie has to work with assasins to find Nathan before he’s killed.

There’s a lot of external action going on, but again, the focus is the internal world of the characters. Carrie’s struggle to figure out where her place is with a man she loves but she knows can’t let go of another woman and her old tie to Cyrus. There are some characters from The Turning who come back and Armintrout fleshes out like Max (who I hope gets more page time next book!)

Cyrus’ new humanity and his understanding of his actions as a vampire – a seriously messed up, evil dude with major daddy issues – is for me, one of the high points of the story.

None of the characters are perfect. Carrie is a messed up woman but she should be. She was murdered and turned in the first book, assaulted, kidnapped and mindfucked as well. It all continues here but she struggles with caring for a man who cannot let go of his love of a woman long dead. How can you compete with that? And yet, she would die for him and not just because of the blood tie. But Cyrus is back and she’s conflicted. She makes big mistakes with everyone.

I like, so very much, characters who aren’t perfect. It takes a lot to write morally gray people even though most humans are that way. There is much good about Carrie, but she betrays people too.

Anyway, these books are not romances. There are romantic elements but they are dark, moody books without an HEA. I think Armintrout has created a really fascinating world and I will definitely pick up Ashes to Ashes when it comes out later this year.

This book is *different* than The Turning. It’s difficult to compare them but I will say one minor thing that yanked me out of the story over and over was the shift between Carrie’s first person POV and the third person POV of Cyrus and Max. I’m very laid back about POV issues but I will say up front I don’t think it worked. The shifts were extremely confusing and because first is so intimate, you really felt the distance from Carrie’s character when you were in Max’s head or Cyrus’, etc. IMO, it was a risky move, bold even, but the book would have been served better in all third if Carrie was off scene so much (which she is).

Linda Howard’s Raintree: Inferno

I suppose I don’t get why anyone would be surprised at the cliffhanger nature of the book, it’s the first book in a three book series. The whole premise of the series is that – it’s a series!

Unlike some others, I think this is one of my favorite LH books in a very long time. One thing I absolutely admire about her is her ability to write incredibly detailed scenes without using eight words when two will do. When she describes Lorna’s fear when she first meets Dante she had me and I didn’t put the book down until I’d finished.

Dante was an absolute control freak. He did take over her mind and treat her badly. Unlike a lot of other romances where we call that “alpha” and the whiny heroine we’re told is “spunky” eats it up, Lorna fought it the whole time and Dante has a reason. He also knows and ADMITS he was wrong.

I think in Dante and Lorna, Howard has taken some archetypes and fleshed them out. I loved the buildup of sexual tension here, I loved Lorna’s one condition for them to finally have sex. And I loved the meta story about the Raintree and I can’t wait to read more in the series.

This is category – Howard doesn’t have the space to really delve deep into her characters as she normally does and yet, I still walked away with a strong sense of who Dante is and how he got that way and who Lorna is as well. It’s very, very hard to write category with that level of three dimensional story

6 comments to “Friday Booktalk”

  1. Collette
    May 25th, 2007 at 8:56 am · Link

    I loved both of Jennifer Armintrout’s books. (I actually got the 1st one at RT in 2006!) I too am looking forward to the next one. Surprising since I’m all about the happy ending. I suppose that says a lot about the writing.

  2. Cherie J
    May 25th, 2007 at 9:07 am · Link

    I just read Inferno and I agree with you. It was great! Linda Howard is such a talented writer. Have not read the other books but from the way they sound it sounds like I need to.

  3. laurendane
    May 25th, 2007 at 9:48 am · Link

    Collette – I love it when an author takes risks the way Armintrout is doing!

    Cherie – I can’t wait to get the next one but it’s not shipping from amazon yet. The third one is out in July

  4. kris
    May 25th, 2007 at 3:03 pm · Link

    I have not read Armintrout, but she is on my list to pick up. I have Immortals The Calling in my tbr pile, I think i will have to move it up. I also enjoyed Raintree, I thought it was good and I am fine with the cliffhanger as long as the next one comes out soon. 😀

  5. N.J. Walters
    May 26th, 2007 at 11:51 am · Link

    Loved Inferno and can’t wait for the next book in the series.

    As for The Calling…my copy is on order. It should be here this week. I’m really looking forward to this one.

    I’ve looked at the Armintrout books, but where they aren’t a HEA romance, I hesitated. Maybe some day, when I’m in the right mood, I’ll give them a try.

  6. Julie
    June 8th, 2007 at 8:32 am · Link

    I almost threw the book when Linda ended her story with a cliffhanger! I want to know what happened to this couple! And I want it written by Linda Howard. So now I have to buy the other two books by authors that I don’t like and that’s not fair. So I glanced through the second story at B&N and didn’t buy it because I hated the annoying heroine of the second story, plus it didn’t have anything about the couple that Howard created. This sucks!

    Please authors because a heroine is supposed to be “kick ass” don’t make her stupid and annoying which incidentally is what happens in book two of the Raintree series.