Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review of Hounded by Kevin Hearne

"Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil."
Ahhhh.... The start of a new series. Some readers cringe, others cross their arms and shake their bloody gords with the expression that says, "NO! I will not start another series, I just... can't." Piss on that, I say and quit your whining sissy! Cause, this new series I got here, folks, this be the stuff of master storytellin'. This stuff right here... Is the Irish car bomb-diggity of story openers. Being of Irish descent could have been a teensy reason this novel meshed so well with me, but that definitely was not all it was. Part of it was the familiarity this book made me feel for the stories I was told and read about as a kid. The book puts a modern twist on some of the oldest stories in Irish folklore. I like books that get me excited in a nonchalant way about finding new stories and information about the stuff I am reading. Like how only after a nights worth of reading Hounded I was consciously scrolling the hinterweb for stuff on Druid myth, legend, religion, beliefs and countless other things that just kept popping up and I just kept on clicking away, filling my head with just goads of  words and background to fuel my reading of the novel that started it. I guess that is what inspiration is and this book gave it to me. Hold on, let me just tone this little fan girl squeee down with a swig of Jameson. There's real life stuff in here too people, the town, the bar / restaurant, the store our hero works in... Well, that's really just a comic book store, but it is owned by a close relative of our very own author. Let's talk about the story shall we?

Atticus O'Sullivan is an honest to Pan, freakin' Druid. A very old Druid no doubt but to the human eye Atticus looks like he is twenty-one. The dude is just badass. Firstly, he is a Druid, second he has celtic tattoos that start at his ankle and wind the length of him and end down his arm to his wrist. I cannot even begin to say how cool that would be. He owns an awesome little occult book shop that he also has his own little apothecary set up in, where he makes teas and the like for customers. But, I won't give too much away. Just know that his character is a rockstar. Atticus, also has a dog Oberon, an Irish wolfhound to be specific. And just to add a thought to that... I don't think I have ever read a book with a dog in it that I liked more than Oberon. The scenes with this dog (and there are MANY of them) are just awesome even laugh out loud at times. Along with these two there are a host of several, and I mean several, awesome characters that I just can't wait to read more about. You've got demons, witches, Tuatha De Danann and gods. Everyone of which I cannot wait to read more about in the entries following this one. The book, for me anyway, moved super quick and before I knew it I was nearing the end. The story in Hounded builds to an epic conclusion of its very own and leaves you with about 20 different directions to look forward to in the upcoming installments.

Writing this review I am battling in my own head whether or not just to start the next book "Hexed" or draw out the anticipation. Wish I had Fragarach to answer for me. If it's anything like this one, and I am betting on it being so,  I just might sink my teeth into it tonight. Thanks Kevin for yet another great new series for me to follow.

5 / 5 Pints of Guinness, because when it comes to beer, nobody does it better than the Irish.

Éirinn go brách!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review of Vampire Empire Book One: The Greyfriar

Vampire predators run wild in this exciting steampunk adventure, the first in an alternate history trilogy that is already attracting attention. In 1870, monsters rise up and conquer the northern lands, As great cities are swallowed up by carnage and disease, landowners and other elite flee south to escape their blood-thirsty wrath.

One hundred fifty years later, the great divide still exists; fangs on one side of the border, worried defenders on the other. This fragile equilibrium is threatened, then crumbles after a single young princess becomes almost hopelessly lost in the hostile territory. At first, she has only one defender—a mysterious Greyfriar who roams freely in dangerous vampire regions.
For me personally, this book deserves an award. Small cut scene for back story to fill you in so you all have a better understanding of some things. You see, somehow over the last two months or so, my mind (and body for that matter) has entered what I can only describe as a time warp, a wormhole that goes forward and backward and stays still all at the same time, a flux in the time space continuum maybe. As a long time fan of Star Trek, I have boldly gone where no man has gone before. Honestly, after about a week of recovery (and some seriously good vegetable soup) I am only now coming to grips with what I have just experienced. I tell you folks, the longer I take to digest the issue the less pretty it looks. I am going to take a brief minute to talk to you all about.... Skyrim. The developers of this game have exceeded hard core hypnosis. I am talking about serious brain and body function manipulation here. In fact, if Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (sorry Mr. Thompson) were a video game set in the Nordic age... it could be called Skyrim. And in conclusion, a warning to those thinking of tempting the hills, plains, mountains and dungeons of Skyrim, tread lightly young lords, you may never come back! MUAHHHAHAHAHAHA, MUAHAHAHAHAHA! LAAS! YAH! NIR! Holy @*#^! Where was I? Yeah, yeah... books BOOOKS BOOOOOOKS, Book review. OK.

The point of all that is this. I was on the verge of full body and social comatose, and it was Vampire Empire Book One: The Greyfriar that slapped me in the face and said, "Travis!! SNAP OUT OF IT, LAD! YOU... LOVE.... BOOKS!!!! Come back to us, we beg of you!". Clay and Susan Griffith have created quite a gem here that has everything that I look for in a good series starter. From the very beginning it immersed me in this new / old age where our planet has seemingly been divided in half. In the north, Vampires. Ruthless monsters, once held back  to the depths of the earth. Now they have taken over whole cities with their rage and total animal instinct to rise in power to dominate the humans very existence. And then my fellow man, forced to abandon their homes. Whole villages, cities evacuated to find shelter in the warmer south where the vamps are more bothered by the heat. The writing in the novel was very well paced, equal parts fast and... well not slow per say, but.. toned down to a brisk walk. The Griffiths also paint a vivid picture where I could imagine almost every scene of the book laying out in front of me as I turned the pages. The world is a vibrant one where the characters told about flourish with a life you can totally imagine. At least that was the case for me. So, let me tell you a little of what I liked about the characters. Adele, our princess of the story blew away my initial expectations I had for her. I really don't like the prissy princess's who can't take a punch in the face every now and again. No, Adele really surprised me in that she knows her duties as a princess and she understands what is expected of her, because one day she will run an entire nation. I like that you could tell by some of the scenes that she has been trained for this. That her life before hand has not just been some silver spoon living.  And although she has her reservations about going into some pretty shady things, she finds her backbone and gets on with it! Splendidly, I may add. Another thing that kept me reading was the sneaky little trick the Griffith's played me with, using the lovely heroine as bait. The more you read, the more hints are dropped that our princess is much more than even she knows about.... dun, dun, duuuuuun! I kept feeling like I was a horse with a carrot being fishin' poled in front of me. I kept expecting this pinnacle moment where Adele swings into action with her jeweled special blade a' flashin, and then  opens her mouth and........... FUS! RO! DAH!!! Oh Snap! Wrong fu*&^ng story. Sorry, sorry! But, that is what I felt like. I REALLY hope she develops more as the series progresses. I could really snuggle into some bad ass princess snnaz. Alright, lets talk about the Greyfriar a little bit here.. Superhero persona, check. Cool as hell superhero steam punk costume, check. Solid sword wielding skills that slice the suckers to smithereens, check and check. So, we have man on the right, woman on the left... and BLAMO!  Bad Romance. And what does Lady Gaga say about Bad Romance... yeah, " I want it " And so do I Gaga, so do I. Pause for brief musical interlude... 

I don't own the rights to the video of course... Hope they don't mind I just put it up here. I don't care who you are... You gotta love some freakin' Gaga. So do it... ROCK THE GAGA!

Ok. After some awesome moves and some lip syncing we maybe good to go, lets finish this review, shall we?  I really dug the whole thing between Greyfriar and Adele. Like a steampunk, Victorian-style fairy tale, lalalalala la, la. I cannot help myself today... 

"Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends

Just a little change
Small, to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared

I didn't make that up... I think it was Disney or someone. Come on! If Celine Dion can sing it... So can.... Well, maybe not. Alright... I am done, I promise. I am not giving ANYTHING AWAY, I TELL YOU, NOTHING. NOT ANOTHER WORD! Bottom line here is, I loved this book. Is it a little young adult ish'? Maybe. Is it maybe geared more toward the teenage swoon type girly girls? Meh, maybe. But who cares about stereo-types? I don't, and you shouldn't either. Because this book told an awesome story and kept me turning pages. Engaging characters that I want to know more about that drove my mind to the bookstore already to buy the second book. That is what makes it for me. It inspired something in me and I may not know exactly what that something was. But I like it. So what if it isn't your cup of tea. But ya gotta read it, if ya wanna find out. On an end note too... I am a HUGE Buffy fan and I was totally fan crazed salivating when I found out that James Marsters is doing the Unabridged audio of this first book and HOPEFULLY (fingers crossed) doing the rest as well. Hope to get my hands on a copy of that too!

As always, Thanks to the wonderful authors Clay and Susan Griffith. whose words walked me ever so carefully down from the mountain sanctuary of High Hrothgar. I think Vampire Empire will be a gem that shines for you for a very long time.

Until next time,
Stay on the grass.

4.75 / 5 peaches cause there awesome!