Oct 162013
 

A Perfect Blood
A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Synopsis:

Thought dead by the demon collective, cut off from her magical heritage, Rachel must face a new, purely human threat. But this threat is potentially more dangerous to Inderlanders as a whole than any threat previously faced. As if the world has not suffered enough from the plague that wiped out a good chunk of humanity, a human supremacist hate group is targeting witches in search of a perfect blood. A blood they can use to wipe out all Interlanders, once and for all.

Kim Harrison does a good job with A Perfect Blood; not the best in the series but far from the worst, and still farther from a poor showing. In A Perfect Blood, Rachel Morgan is cut off from demon magic by a Wild Magic charm given to her by Trent Kalamack in the previous book, Pale Demon. Ku’Sox, the dysfunctional demon experiment in genetic manipulation to purge the Elven curse, nearly killed several key members in the series.

At the conclusion of Pale Demon, Rachel is saved. Being saved is not quite as fulfilling as saving yourself. Part of the “cost” associated with being saved is being put in a bottle (at least her soul is, her body is rushed to intensive care by Trent– putting his otherwise dirty money to good use.) Then, he binds her demon magic with a Wild Magic/Elf Magic charm. Again, sort of saving her. It’s also weird that being saved is more common when the protagonist is female, and less common when the protag is male. Societal influences, ya think?

What I dislike most in this story is that Rachel seems rife with contradictions, and contradictions that I cannot easily stomach– she wants to believe she’s a good person, and in a previous book even went out of her way to “do the right thing” even when it was stupid– but as part of her “growing up” story arc, Rachel no longer does stupid things that are morally and objectively “right”, and with her newfound adult approach to life, she doesn’t even beat herself up about not doing the right thing.

Case in point, Pierce gets mentioned a whopping 13 times in 438 pages– the man was abused by Algelierept (sp?), potentially killed and towards the end we find out he was handed over to Newt, the semi-insane, sole-remaining female demon in the Ever After. Yet while Rachel makes many plans, she never once entertains the notion of rescuing Pierce from his fate– not even to say “he was dumb enough to have sold himself to Al, so I’m not going to rescue him.” The absence of such thoughts from a stream of consciousness (i.e., first person narrative) says loads about a person.

Rachel spent most of the book “running” from her problems, and only towards the end does she change direction– and that, seemingly, because of her infatuation with Trent. Rachel seems less strong around Trent than she has around other boyfriends. Trent is an extremely strong and central character to the series, and twinning Rachel’s path with his is, imho, a huge mistake. They were more entertaining as nemesis than ally.

HAPA, sometimes cleverly mispronounced by Jenks to sound like HAPPY (as in not-so-happy anymore), is a human supremacist hate group bent on utilizing any means (including demon magic kindled by the blood of witches) to eliminate the inderlanders (a funny word that basically means the supernatural.)

All signs quickly point to HAPA being funded by highly secret, highly influential illuminati types– and so, after bungling one capture attempt, Rachel getting caught by HAPA instead of the other way around in the second capture attempt, and then getting rescued (sorta– she had mostly rescued herself) and bungling yet a third capture attempt– Rachel finally gets her dynamic duo of dastardly devotees to demonic destruction (read: the two head HAPA conspirators– at least in this story.)

Through the story, Rachel makes a number of mistakes, is healed by the one person (Al) who was voted most likely to kill her, then utilizes wild magic to accidentally save her ass which turns into someone else saving her ass yet again.

There’s also this weird fifth wheel (bodyguard from parents who is inept beyond belief, despite all arguments to the contrary) who sticks around despite actually threatening to quit unless Rachel agreed to treat him like he knew what he was doing and follow instructions– she never does, he never leaves.

OK, so I guess the more I think about it, the less fantastic the book was. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but there are so many plot points building up that make me go “wait, what?!” Still, the series has been good enough that I will finish it out (knowing that there are only going to be 12-14 books in the series, and I’m in the home stretch.)

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Sep 272013
 

For a Few Demons More
For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve enjoyed this series– and I would liken it to the female-protagonist version of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. There are some things that annoy, but not so much that I will stop reading.

Annoyances:
1. Why is it that Rachel Morgan is constantly randy, hot-n-bothered, turned-on by almost every man in her life? While I certainly get that it adds word count to the novel, and it tells us something about the character, how has it really surfaced in the story? Why is it necessary for the story to be moved forward? My concern is more that the book will take a nose dive in story content and become another Anita Blake. #retch

2. Why kill Kistin (sp?). I guess I’ll have to keep reading to see how this pans out. It’s shocking, and sad, and a bit unresolved in this book. Unresolved plot hooks definitely keep the story moving forward so that another book can be sold– but this writing style would be inexcusable in any other story format.

3. As the stories have continued there are more continuity errors– in the first book it was a huge plot point that Rachel didn’t mix her own charms. She bought them all. In this book she expresses the concern over buying someone else’s charms because “she doesn’t trust anyone else to mix charms for her.” — This is a 180 reversal from the foundation of the story. Change is OK, but I think there needed to be a paragraph or three more to explain the transition from Book 1 to Book 5.

Likes:
1. I enjoy the 1st person narrative.
2. Rachel Morgan has an interesting internal monologue.
3. Kim Harrison’s authorial voice is compelling and funny.
4. The story arc is irresistible.
5. The backstory is fascinating.

Although this book was my least favorite by far and some of the story conclusions made no sense from the start of the story, I still enjoyed it enough to read into the next series. Spinner (sp) appears at the start of the story and essentially threatens Rachel– this is completely expected and welcome– but when the story hints several times that someone worked a deal between the Master Vampire Piscari (sp) and the Demon Aljaleerep (sp), the implication is that it is Spinner; It is her job, as his lawyer, to free Piscari from prison. Instead, the intermediate between Piscari and Al remains off screen for the entire story– even going so far as to kill Kistin (sp) off screen. In fact, most (all?) of the deaths happened off screen except for Piscari’s at the end of the book. And while I agree he needed to die, eventually, I can’t help but feel a little robbed that Rachel ends up being rescued by first Ivy and then Spinner. (Granted, Spinner was saving Ivy and Rachel being saved was a byproduct.)

Like Piscari’s story arc being abruptly curtailed, the denouement of The Focus, Al and Kistin felt short and uninspired. If Ms Harrison was going to wrap up the book and leave things unresolved– like who killed Kistin– then I would have preferred for more things to be left unresolved and fully resolve one of those story items.

Lastly, I’ve been following this series through Audible’s audiobook version narrated by Margaurite Gavin, who does a fantastic job of narrating this character. The next book (#6) is narrated by someone else, so I’ll be reading it via print/ebook instead of in audio.

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Aug 022013
 

This morning was an interesting chain of events:

  • Contacted by a coworker who was wanting to use one of the parser tools I’ve put up (http://www.datarave.net/meridian/dch.php), but said my website was down.
  • Investigated and confirmed.
  • Attempted to access the host provider (hostmonster.com), website did no resolve DNS, or ping, or return a webpage.
  • Looked up phone number from old email (hosting plan renewal notification). Called. Line connects to silence. After extended silence, the line rings 4 times, then goes silent again. After a bit more silence the call is disconnected. Retested several times, always the same results.
  • Googled
  • Found http://iidrn.com/hostmonster.com.html said that the site is really down. Comments on site indicate that this is one of many outages this last week.
  • Checked twitter https://twitter.com/search?q=hostmonster&src=typd&mode=realtime found multiple people complaining about hostmonster and affiliate outages
  • Checked @hostmonster and @hostmonsterhelp, no updates

Site is up right now, but I expect it to not be stable.

Apr 092013
 

While I have been tempted, from time to time, to go back to school and obtain a degree… my previous academic experience always prevents me from doing so.

This is why I stopped going to college. (This is not me, but it’s a similar experience to mine.)

I got into an argument with a teacher about the content of a class. The presented information was wrong and I could point to a real world source for information. The instructor was more concerned about “blatant disregard for authority” than accuracy of the course material.

When I had a discussion with the Dean of Education (or whatever the title was, it was a while ago) they said “if the instructor says the war of 1812 happened in 1813, then you are expected to answer 1813 on all tests.”

Reality doesn’t matter in school. So I didn’t see a reason to continue. =(

PS, by the time I had this experience in college, I was mature enough to know not to contradict the instructor in front of the class… but even privately they weren’t interested in being corrected “by a student.”