Book Reviews by Lori, Events, Giveaways and Promotions, The Crooked Halo Series, The Crooked Halo Series

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The Crooked Halo Series

Event: Podcast Live Release Date for Desmin’s First Assignment March 03, 2017 6 pm CST

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The Crooked Halo Series

Even Halos Can Be Crooked

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Book Reviews by Lori, Laurell K Hamilton

Bullet, Anita Blake Series Book 19 – Laurell K. Hamilton book review

Okay, I had high hopes for the next book, Bullet, in the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton. Well, to be honest, not that high but lets just say – hopeful. I was really hoping LKH would get back to the style of writing I fell in love with in the first Anita Blake books. The wonderful mystery, the sexual tension, plot not centric on sex and characters that didn’t constantly mope or fall into Emo fugues – the basics that really drew me into Anita’s world. Gone are her friends like Dolph, Zerbrowski and what happened to Larry Kirkland? We rarely hear anything anymore that has to do with these peripheral characters that supported Anitas’ world.

book cover for Bullet, the nintenth book in the Anita Blake series by LKH
Book cover for Bullet, the 19th book in the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton

I guess the answer to these missing characters is that Anita’s world has greatly changed and for the reader that means either you have to move with these changes or essentially mourn the loss of our Anita, as we knew her, because this is the direction Laurell K. Hamilton is going. She has fully embraced the sexual side of Anita, even if Anita still sometimes struggles with her growing harem of men.

This book could have had a 70’s porno theme track to go with it for the amount of sex we, the reader are treated to. And not just the straight Vanilla sex the average romance reader expects. Oh no, LKH and Anita are falling into a ‘try-anything’ catergory and she’s getting her freak-on like nobodies business, because, let’s face it, there’s always someones life depending on it.

I’m not a prude mind you. A tastefully done sex scene works in most romances, paranormal, historical or otherwise but I don’t normally sign on for what has gone far beyond Erotica to Porn. Maybe its shock value, maybe its Laurell sharing the world she lives in vicariously through Anita but I don’t want to know about Anita having sex with women or Anita have sex with 2 or 3 men having sex with each other in that kind of detail. I get the whole Succubi angle but I think the phrase ‘less is more’ actually would work better for this series because right now the plot is suffering terribly for Anita to get her jollies on to save a life. Even though we lose some semi-key characters in this novel of the series, I can barely remember the story line for this book because the main thing that stood out was sex, sex and more sex.

Not to mention the ridiculously docile and complacent switch we have with the oh-so-troubled Richard. It is like he had a lobotomy or else was body-snatched when we weren’t looking. He’s done a complete 180 and have miraculously come to terms with almost every one of his annoying hangups. I know, I said annoying, so I should be happy with this turn-about but the way it was done was so out there I kept waiting for it to be a weird dream sequence or some vampire power messing with him and it wasn’t. He really is a new man – just what Anita’s been asking for. Isn’t it nice how the ardeur keeps fulfilling all of Anita’s wishes and fixing her life so it works?

In the mist of Anita’s sexual revolution, we’ve got the return of Mommie Dearest and she’s not playing around now. She’s out for a new body and she’s looking for Anita to be her chassis. Marme Noir is using other master vampires of her line to feed and amass enough power to take over Anita. Some masters are scared. Some masters are willing to run free under Marme’s rule. And this is where our miniscule mystery comes in, such as it is, since we know the whole who-what-when-where-and-why of it almost from the first mention of the murders. See, that’s about all I can mention of it because that’s almost all that LKH devoted to the mystery. Oh, and some assassins were hired to take out Anita, Jean-Claude and Richard.

On top of all this, Anita is supposed to be meeting the other tigers that her little queen called. Obviously this means, yea, more men for Anita and more working through the issues the new men could come with, no pun intended. The masters who are running scared offer themselves up to Jean-Claudes triumvirate. Apparently, there are rumors going around that Anita may be the new Master of Beasts. That all she needs is the last tiger color of gold to move up to that power level. This meeting cumulates into so many things that if you do read this next installment of the series, I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Would I recommend this book for die-hard Anita fans?

For something to read, sure. For entertainment value, not so much, unless reading hardcore porn scenes is what you are looking for.

Will I read the next Anita Blake book?

The jury is still out on that…

Book Reviews by Lori, Laurell K Hamilton

Flirt – by Laurell K Hamilton, Book 18 in the Anita Blake series – book review

Flirt by LKH Anita Blake book 18
We're all flirts at heart.

Okay, so I read the most recent Anita Blake novella, Flirt , by Laurell K.  Hamilton, a while ago. I have to say, it failed to ‘wow’ me. It’s definitely a filler book and,  if you plan to follow the Anita Blake series, not one you can really skip because we wind up with a new member to Anita’s ever-growing harem of men.  The novel focuses more on Anita’s moral standards with reasons why she’ll raise a zombie and what reasons she won’t raise a zombie for and its centered around a little luncheon flirtation after Anita is asked in two different client meetings by two very different people to raise two zombies for reasons that Anita can’t, won’t and isn’t willing to do for no amount of money.  One of those clients doesn’t take Anitas’  no for the answer it is and, having throughly researched her, hires some not so friendly werelions to persuade Anita to change her mind. The lions, Jacob and Nick, corner Anita back at the cafe she had her friendly flirtatious lunch at and Anita picks up on their ‘bad news’ mojo right away. Her lion also perks up and through a series of conversational foibles, Anita finds out her Regina is in heat and sending up the red flags for ‘Come and get me’. While fighting for control over her Regina, Anita finds out her client went to some very big extremes in order to ensure her cooperation with the raising of the zombie and now her lovers are in danger.  Skip a few pages of big font and Anita finds herself cut off from her men and in need of a feeding and normal food won’t cut it. Anita has to choose between the two lions that first accosted her and settles on Nick since he seems the most drawn to her and the most willing of the two to share her with other men. Lions are extremely territorial wereanimals and sharing is just not in their natural makeup. The other lions feel Anita and Nick hopping on the aurder feeding wagon and try to stop them but wind up losing one of their own badies. The power of a wereanimal death gives Anita what she needs to free herself, break the spell the werelion witch had cast that blocked her from her men and, oh yea, raise an cementary to take care of her pesky client.

This story was brief, filler fodder and seemed only to answer the Cookie/Haven dilema Anita has been struggling with. The cartoon at the back was almost not necessary but Laurell seemed to want to share the background for her idea as much as tell a story. Would I recommend this? For something to read while waiting for better, yes. And I guess, I’d almost have to recommend it for anyone following the series otherwise we’d be missing some important pieces when Bullet comes out. Do I wish it had more of the first Anita novels? Hell yea. I don’t mind Anita becoming more comfortable with the life she has and the gift she has but I miss the mystery. I miss  the suspense and the tension of sexual possibility. Now its just an inevitable occurance and a rather graphic one at that. I am happy though that Hamilton has toned down a smidgeon the sex machine that Anita has become over the last couple of novels. Here’s hoping Bullet brings back some of what I fell in love with in the first novels.

Pick up a copy of Flirt and the first  six Anita Blake novels by clicking on the images below and ordering one from Amazon.com:

   

Make it or Break it, TV Reviews

Make it or Break it – Season 1 EP 17 – TV series review

Make It or Break It - Mondays  on ABC Family
Make It or Break It team

Okay, this update will be short and brief since I haven’t finished watching the whole episode but this is when I finally figured out who the Doctor that might be able to fix Payson’s back is – DEANNA TROI from STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION! OMG! Her looks have changed so much and having not seen her in her Blue STNG uniform made it a little harder for me to recognize her in episode 16 – Save the last Dance. What finally made me realize she’s Deanna Troi was her voice! Make it or Break has some really amazing stars from other TV series – Candance Cameron Bure , DJ on Full House, Peri Gilpin , Roz from Frasier and now Marina Sirtis, Deanna Troi from Star Trek Next Generation – its awesome! If you haven’t had a chance to watch this gymnastic drama, try to catch up on the episodes either on HULU or ABC Family.com. Okay, going to finish watching episode 17 now…

**UPDATE**

Finished watching Hope and Faith, Season 1 EP 17 and I was RIVETED! It was one of the most dramatic episodes yet. Watching Payson’s mom deal with the guilt of Payson being injured while on her watch was heart wrenching and it finally revealed why this one last hope was something she was so afraid to believe in – Kim, Payson’s mom, didn’t want to risk her daughter getting injured again on her watch if something should go wrong with the surgery.

Kelly Parker in the bathroom after listening in on Lauren and Emily.
A smug Kelly Parker armed with new gossip to hurt team Rock.

To top it all off, we watched our 3 National Team Members, Emily, Kaylie and Lauren deal with trying to get back into the US Olympic team committees good graces after they performed so badly when they had to work with Marty as their National Team coach for the first time. The drama comes to a peak when Kelly Parker, who by the way – the actress is doing an amazing job of making me hate her character – found out about the affair between Kaylies mom and their coach, Marty. She uses this information to strip away at each Rock team members confidence and it works all too well. When Kaylie fails to perform her Double Arabian in the National’s practice meeting and Marty instructs her to take it out of the routine, Kaylie rightfully balks. Marty’s telling her she’s not consistent and has to go with the lower scoring move just moments after Kelly ripped her emotions out from under her by spewing her venom with the knowledge she knows about Kaylies’ mom’s affair. Kelly went one better and implied that Kaylies friends told her all about the affair and, well, truthfully, Kaylie should know better than to trust them because no one really wants to be her friend. So you can bet that Kaylie laid into Marty and let him know she knows about the affair and then Kaylie stormed out of the practice. Sasha tried to go after Kaylie, with Summer following on his heels, but both just missed Kaylie as she pealed out of the parking lot. Sasha turned to Summer and asked her if all of this was just because Marty abandoned the team when they needed him the most and Summer tries to prep Sasha by asking him to keep calm and then she explains it is not because Marty left but why he left. Cut to Sasha storming into the gym and slugging Marty in the kisser. Yea, Sasha.

While all this drama is going on, Lauren is still stewing about Emily’s mom dating her dad. In a stellar Lauren move, Lauren visits Emily’s mom and starts to spin this tale about how Scott, her dad, is a sex addict. It’s amazing how many people underestimate Emily’s mom, Chloe. Lauren didn’t pull any wool over Chloe’s eyes with her tale. Lauren only succeeded in letting Chloe know she knew that Scott and Chloe are seeing each other. Chloe tries to reach Scott right away and of course only gets a call back from him as Chloe’s walking into the Rock on the day of the Nationals practice. While Scott and Chloe are discussing the fact that Lauren knows about them seeing each other and how Chloe had to tell Emily right away because Emily couldn’t find out Lauren knew before Emily did – Emily stormed out of the Rock and overheard the whole conversation.

Angered, Emily huff’s back into the gym and confronts Lauren – more angry that Lauren didn’t tell her about it and that Lauren was fishing around for information. Lauren strikes back with some vicious words about Emily’s mom, her mom’s fashion sense and how strapped for money Emily’s family is and the two girls start shoving each and come pretty close to blows. The argument is broken up by Marty who tells Emily to do her vault and Lauren to chalk up. Emily goes to do her vault routine and misses.

Kelly moves over to the chalk and starts chipping away at Lauren by bringing up that 2 were down and there was one more to go. She gets rather vicious and hits Lauren hard by striking at Lauren’s abandonment by her mother. Lauren’s cool exterior breaks and she flings chalk into Kelly’s eyes. This is when Summer must have finished telling Sasha about Marty and Kaylie’s mom because he comes in swinging. All this drama happens with in the first half hour of the show.

That night Sasha calls the girls back to the gym and assures them the disaster practice will be kept private and that they need to bring their fighting game face the next day for the Committee practice. And the girls do. They hit all their moves and stick their landings but when the time comes to call the National Team Members going to compete in China, Kaylie, the National Champion, and Emily are left home. Lauren is somehow invited. Sasha is stunned. His team performed skills at higher levels than the other girls and they performed them better than the other girls. He confronts the committee woman and finds out it was a rigged practice from the get go. The committee has made up their mind and determined that Sasha’s girls are rouge. She even reveals the committee is well-informed of the fuss that went on at the practice the night before – a practice the committee should know nothing about and blatantly says, the girls didn’t really stand a chance.

Kaylie and Emily are stunned and left wondering why? They worked so hard, performed so well, proven themselves and they were still snubbed. Moments after the revealing conversation with the committee member – read evil witch – Sasha approaches the girls, and to be cliché, he had steam coming out of his ears. The girls ask why and Sasha doesn’t hold back in telling them its a political move and that they were deemed rogue. The girls ask, well what do we next? Sasha tells them, “They think we’re rogue now, they haven’t seen anything yet.”

Payson going in to surgery
Payson moments before she is wheeled into back surgery

The episode ends with Payson being wheeled into surgery after her parents struggled for days with just telling Payson about it and then after telling her, dealing with the potential risks of the surgery and as mentioned earlier, the guilt. We are left wondering how the surgery goes and what the Rock plans next in their bid to compete in China. I am really looking forward to the next new episode. I hope it’s as packed as this one.

Amazing Race 16, TV Reviews

Amazing Race 16 – its Here!

Amazing Race 16 - first road block

So caught most of Amazing Race Sunday 02-14-10 – night and finished it up this Monday, 02-15-10, afternoon. Amazing Race seems to be trying to up their viewership polls because these are not just your average people from Wisconsin running the race this year. We’ve got people from Big Brother, Rodeo brothers, Miss America pageant contestant, Caite Upton, a grandmother that runs marathons, undercover officers mixed in with posh not so rough-and-tough lesbians, a couple of high school sweethearts, and attorney moms along with a few others.

The race starts off with the teams trying to find their way to LAX via public transportation. I found the posh lesbian’s comments rather funny – apparently buses are not the way they roll, lol. The incentive for getting to LAX first was getting on the earlier flight and while the lesbian couple, Brandy and Carol, made it on the faster form of public transportation, they were beat out by 3 other couples once they got to LAX. Those couples were:  Newly dating couple Jordan & Jeff, sweethearts Dana & Adrian and Mom attorneys Monique & Shawne. Brandy and Carol began to hope something delayed the earlier flight- be it Weather or mechanical maintenance and it seems the airline gods were listening  to the couple because the first flight was indeed delayed.

 Thinking they were getting ahead of the pack, cowboys Jet & Cord attempted to exchange their money for Chile dough and was given Brazilian cash. Now all the teams were on the 2 nd flight to Santiago, Chile. Once they get to Santiago, Chile, the teams had to travel to Valparaiso and find Ascensor Villaseca by buses. Jet and Cord tried to get on the bus and found out that Brazilian money does not spend the same as Chilean dough.  As one of the cowboy’s ironically commented, “Apparently, American money spends better in Chile than Brazilian.”

Once the teams arrived at Villaseca, they had to do a revamped version of the high wire act by crossing a 120 ft in the air above a valley  the length of football field on a rather thin clothes-line  wire while hanging on to another clothes-line parallel to the one they stood on. Some teams took to this task and made quick work of it – others had some major difficulty. Once the teams crossed the high wires, they had to take one of Valparaiso’s 120-year old funiculars, the Ascensor Artilleria, down the hillside.  

After that, the teams had to paint the town. Apparently, the salt is so bad in the town that the town actually pays to repair the worn paint to restore the houses. The teams had to select a color of paint and find a matching colored house and fill in a small section with their paint to receive their next clue. A number of the teams had trouble figuring out the houses they were supposed to paint, which were pretty much right on the street near where they collected the paint cans and ladders. Most missed the street because they took the less steeper route in search of their houses. One team even got so lost, they wound up in a residences home that was being renovated and wasn’t even part of the race.  The father and daughter team,  Steve and Allie, provided some humor when they started to paint this persons house and the people actually working in the house showed up and said in the native tongue,  “Look, I don’t even know what they are doing here.” Steve and Allie quickly realized they had the wrong house for painting. Another team, brothers Dan and Jordan, lost a paint brush. So for those of us sitting at home – it’s not as easy as it looks to haul paint cans, brushes and ladders to a house with matching paint and paint the house.

Jordan and Jeff from Big Brother
Jordan and Jeff were the first team to make it to the pit stop

Jordan  and Jeff , Big Brother contestants, were the first to complete the paint the town task and were told by the next clue to:  make their way on foot to the Pit Stop at Palacio Baburizza, a 90-year old chalet.  Jordan and Jeff reached the Pit stop first. Brent and Caite were next but they incurred a 30 minute penalty because they failed to take the funicular down the hillside. Brent and Caite had the unpleasant wait of watching the following five teams come in before their penalty was up:

2.    Monique & Shawne – attorney moms
3.    Jet & Cord – cowboys
4.    Steve & Allie – professional baseball coach and daughter
5.    Joe & Heidi – married couple
6.    Carol & Brandy – lesbians

While team Dan and Jordan would have come in fourth, they did find out that losing the paint brush would incur a penalty and had a 15 minute wait that dropped them down to 8th place.  While all this is going on and team after team after was coming in to the pit stop for this leg of the race – Adrian, poor Adrian, was still trying to cross the high wires. As the final teams arrived, Brent and Caite’s penalty ran out and they snuck in just behind Dan and Jordan in 7th place. As the last 2 teams made it in, it became quite apparent that Adrian and Dana were going to be the first team eliminated from the race. Here is a list of the order the teams as reached the final pit stop for the first leg of the race:

1.    Jordan & Jeff – Big Brother contestants

Dana and Adrain - childhood sweethearts
Dana and Adrian were the first team eliminated

2.    Monique & Shawne – – attorney moms
3.    Jet & Cord – cowboys
4.    Steve & Allie –  professional baseball coach and daughter
5.    Joe & Heidi – married couple
6.    Carol & Brandy – lesbians
7.    Brent & Caite –  Miss America contestant and model
8.    Dan & Jordan – brothers
9.    Michael & Louie – Undercover detectives
10.    Jody & Shannon – marathon grandmother and her granddaughter
11.    Dana & Adrian  – childhood sweethearts  – eliminated

Contestants that have completed 1 roadblock:

CAITE, JORDAN,  DAN, BRANDY, ADRIAN,LOUIE,ALLIE, SHANNON, JOE, SHAWNE, CORD

Looks like this race is setting up to be tougher and I know, sitting on my couch at home it looks really easy – especially when the camera man is pointing out exactly where the clue is and I haven’t just spent the last 10 hours on a bus or plane – but I hope it pays off and is truly a bit more challenging. Some of these tasks in the past have made me wonder – really? And you’re having trouble with this? Although if there was ever a food challenge where I had to eat star fish – the game would be over for me, lol. So the next race is on – and I am looking forward to it – hope you are too.