February 17th, 2010

_First Drop of Crimson_, Jeaniene Frost (kindle)

Published by Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins (one of the big 6), a publishing division of News Corp.

Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series was recommended by the SBTB, despite their disliking of series books. It looks like Frost's intention with the Night Huntress World spinoff is to create single-entry romances for side characters from the Night Huntress world. This first outing stars Spade, Bones' fellow convict from New South Wales (formerly courtesy-title Baron whatsis, son of Earl of somesuch, who racked up a lot of debt and enemies, hence, his son winding up transported), and Denise, human best friend of Cat, the Night Huntress. The end matter on this entry includes a note from the author describing who will be in the next entry in this series (Mencheres, Spade's sire, and a newly created character, Kira). Frost apparently is also continuing the Night Huntress series.

Could you read this as a standalone book? Maybe. There would be comments that would make no sense at all (who's Rodney?), but meh. It should mostly work. This novel supplies backstory for characters present in the main series, which is potentially interesting to followers of the Night Huntress series. Is it necessary to read this to follow events in the main series? Meh. We won't _really_ know until the next entry comes out, but nothing that happened in this book seemed likely to introduce a discontinuity in the other series and very little new was introduced in terms of powers and so forth of the main characters.

What happens? Denise goes drinking with a cousin, who is killed by a shapeshifting demon in the parking lot that night -- after Denise tries to mace and then silver-nitrate-spray the demon, with no particular effect that she can see. The demon thinks this whole silver thing is interesting, and comes after her with an offer she can't refuse: find your ancestor (I figure he must mean collateral relative up the tree, because there's no indication Nathaniel reproduced) who made a deal with me and then left without paying up his soul, or I keep killing your relatives. After attempting to call the few supernaturals she knows well (Cat, Bones) but has cut ties with since the New Years Eve of Teh Awful that killed her husband Randy and gave her the never-get-over-PTSD-flashbacks-whenever-around-vampires, she calls the last vamp she has contact info for: Spade. Spade's skeptical about her story, because he knows werewolves don't exist (hmmmm), but when he comes to visit, he smells sulfur and knows a demon has been visiting. Uh oh.

They both have motives for keeping Cat and Bones out of it (also relevant, the author is highly motivated to keep Cat and Bones out of it), but figure Nathaniel must be hanging around vamps or he would be dead by now. It turns out Nathaniel _is_ hanging around vamps, but he wouldn't be dead either way; everyone has been seriously underestimating the effects of the demon marks er, brands, that Denise now has as Nathaniel has, and will continue to do so (mysteriously so, in fact) for the rest of the story. Denise and Spade gradually come to accept their attraction for each other as they meander about the globe visiting gambling hot spots in search of the dealer of Red Dragon, vampire happy juice. Which it turns out is another effect of the demon brands.

The backstory about Griselda helps, marginally, the reader accept Denise's perpetual craziness -- apparently Spade picks women like this. They run when they should stay put. They think they can take care of themselves when any dumbass could see they were way out of their depth. They both strenuously resist Spade's efforts to turn them into a vampire in an effort to make them slightly more death resistant. Denise's survival is no thanks to her -- really, it was the demon Raum making her so damn unkillable and then sending her after the one guy who could explain to her how to kill Raum. D'oh. That demon is too stupid to live. It makes a lot of sense that Spade would pick women who don't want to become vampires and have a stupid desire to sacrifice for others: that's basically exactly the kind of person his backstory says he is.

The story moves along at a good clip. The characters are at least somewhat appealing (altho definitely IQ challenged and not _nearly_ inquisitive enough). The depiction of the sexual attraction is adequate.

If this were the first book in a series, I'd mark it down as, well, I guess I'll read more of it, if I've got nothing more compelling to read. Given that a new Kresley Cole novel is also sitting on my kindle, and I started it first, abandoned it, and read this one all the way through in under 24 hours, I will almost certainly continue to buy everything Jeaniene Frost puts out.

I guess if this is the kind of thing you like, you'll like this. Oh, and I did kinda like that the form Denise keeps almost shifting into, and then uses to kill Raum, is the nightmare that has been haunting her since that fateful New Year's Eve. Really Jungian.

Will February vacation week ever end?

Let me count the ways that this vacation week has turned out far, far nastier than I would ever have anticipated. And I was expecting disaster.

(1) On Friday night and Saturday morning prior to vacation week, youngest throws up, requiring both parents to change clothes and one change of sheets.
(2) On Sunday night, mama throws up everything she ate after around 2 p.m. This is followed by diarrhea over the next dayish and a lot of time spent on the couch. I'm extremely vague on how I survived the day, so I think I have to give all the credit to B. and B. for taking care of both kids (A. seemed better by Monday), and to R. for taking off part of the afternoon to nap with A. when the B.'s returned her home.
(3) On Tuesday, I was feeling marginally better, but T.'s ongoing respiratory stuff had gotten bad enough that we got him a same day at Milford Family Practice, where we finally received the asthma medication that we have suspected he needed for quite some time, but were in no rush to get because we were hoping other things would work. But before the medication could be retrieved from the pharmacy, B., B. and T. were T-boned headed back to the house in Brookline. Jeep needs repair; everyone inside the Jeep seems to be okay. Did I mention a snowstorm? Fortunately, A. slept. A lot. Unfortunately, it turns out this means she wasn't as well as I thought she was. Also, B. (husband of B.) got the sad (altho expected) news that his father had passed. And B. got the completely unexpected news that her mother was in the emergency room for surgery. Bad Tuesday. I want a do over.
(4) On Wednesday, I was feeling a lot better, but my period started. Ugh. A. threw up on B. as they were all headed out to breakfast. She had diarrhea a little later. In good news: the snow was mostly plowed so the roads weren't too bad. And apparently R. is having some trouble with his computer at work.

I shudder to think what Thursday and Friday have planned for us. I've got news for them, tho. Come Monday, there's school again.

don't file this under, duh

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/02/17/us/AP-US-Marijuana-Research.html

On one level, duh: pot relaxes you. I know, tempting to just leave it at that.

More interesting, however, is what this is an indication of. California legalized pot for medical purposes, and that actually made it possible to study marijuana and its effects in a Real Scientific = Randomized Double Blindy kinda way. Expect a _lot_ more studies like this to roll out over the next few years, rising in crescendo and actually getting interesting once the ones that started this last year (after the Feds said, f*ck it, we don't feel like arguing with you any more) are done and published.

The first few, however, will be painfully obvious.

picking on editors

If you want a good example of how to pick on copyeditors (or lack thereof):

http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/Notes_From_the_Bookroom/27281-Calling_All_Editors_Is_Anybody_Home_.php

These are reasonable things to complain about.

ETA: I mean the main article, which I recognize has some typos (e.g. ddid). Some of the idiots in the comments thread pointing out problems with the article are correcting non-errors (e.g. mvg at the end of the thread when I read it corrects bas mitvah to bat mitvah).

If you feel compelled to doubt me, here:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bas+mitzvah

I just do not understand why I am supposed to take anyone seriously on the subject of bad copyediting. Seriously. Okay, maybe I'll take this woman seriously:

http://susannajsturgis.com/bloggery.php

ETAYA: Contemplating that article and thread (the one in the PW blog), it occurs to me that _none_ of the commenters addressed the substantive issue raised by the writer. Reviewers of forthcoming books are working off an ARC or similar. Yes, some of the mistakes are going to be fixed by the time it hits B&N's tables. But when there are errors of fact -- and errors of fact have made it through the process in the author's previous work -- the reviewer has a short list of awful choices. (1) Include the error in the review as a negative. What if it is fixed by publication? Very sad! (2) Do not include the error in the review. What if it is not fixed in publication? And readers will then be "learning" substantively wrong stuff that the reviewer did not warn them about, altho she could have. (3) Insert herself into the editing process -- not a place a reviewer really ever wants to be!

Instead, the peanut gallery got wrapped up in "ddid" and "com-poser". Exactly like that middle school English teacher we hated then and have nothing but contempt for now. Helpful. Not.

My (Current) Trash

A lot of the trash I read could be described as follows:

Big scary badness is after Our Hero/Heroine/their friends and family/the entire world. Our Hero/Heroine/their friends and family/the entire world are like little hamsters, running in screaming fear from the Big Scary Badness. As they are running, hero/heroine/etc. develop a bond and acquire weapons/skills/magical artifacts. At some point, they turn around, confront the Big Scary Badness and shred it. Like whoa and like damn, seriously, not messing around here.

I like my trash to be connected to more trash: for secondary characters in one novel to show up in later novels. For our hero/heroine/etc. to have to deal with Big Scary Even Worse Badness in later installments. And so forth. Partly, I like this because I Want to Know What Happens Next. Partly, I like this because I need regular fixes, and this is a slightly more reliable way to get them than picking something brand new and standalone. Partly, I've bothered to learn the ins and outs of the world and am lazy and would like to reuse that knowledge.

Part of what I am not (yet) finding in my ebook endeavors is...this. Which is okay. I'm not finding my trash, but I'm finding stuff I'm enjoying reading. Why do I even want this? Do I want this because this is what the big 6 have been serving under the heading of Strong, Capable Women? Because I _sure_ liked the sheriff in _Too Good to Be True_. And I sure liked Lacey in _Liberating Lacey_ (no scary badness, even!). Of course, I also like women who rescue other people, and not in some kind of sappy, enabling sense, but in the snatched-you-from-the-jaws-of-death sense, and that happens a lot in my trash. Hmmm.