Dec292009

An Unexpected Review: Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

Research - Tea and BooksSome of you know, Gentle Reader, that I review professionally. That is, I am paid to read children’s books and write about them in 60 words. So I almost never do it here in my blog. These books are chosen for me but always fall within my supposed area of expertise (YA & MG sci-fi/fantasy/historical or non-fiction for younger ages in historical/archaeology/anthropology/social sciences). And, Gail, you might ask, how does one become an expert on such topics? Search me.

Anyway, what this means is that I have from 6 to 12 books to read a month. What that means is I have precious little time to read anything else. However, Jane True and Alexia have been nattering away recently and I thought it might be a good plan for me to set aside some vacation time to read Nicole Peeler’s Tempest Rising.

The Sub-Genre
I like urban fantasy but I am cautious in which urban fantasy I read, as I mostly do not like a modern setting or anything too dark. I enjoyed Patricia Brigg’s werewolf stuff (although she sure does like raping her characters ~ really, not my thing), and ten years or more ago I loved Mercedes Lackey’s Knight of Ghosts & Shadows (AKA elves in LA) and Children of the Night (AKA super sexy French vampire). (I think, sometimes, we do not give Ms. Lackey enough credit for single handedly holding down the sub-genre of urban fantasy well before it was a glimmer in Meyer’s sparkly little eye.) I’ve danced the paranormal polka with a few other authors and been disappointed. Recently, I have added more hopefully to my ever-growing Amazon wish list and ever expanding pile or too-read books, but I’m terribly wary.

The Confession
But, I do like Nicole. We are twitter buddies. She’s a fellow academic. She drinks (a lot). She is hilarious. She has this awesome skull belt. So I read her book, and here, ladies and gentlemen, is my take. You must consider it biased. What can I say? It’s an opinion and it’s mine ~ of course it’s biased!

The Cover

Boy did this cover cause a lot of controversy. There was hate and vitriol spread about the net, then there was love and adoration flowing forth like balm to the wounded soul of the art department. My thoughts? I’m not geeky enough to be an anime fan. Sorry, but there it is. I like me some Ranma ¬Ĺ but that’s about as far as I’ll commit. I find the rabid BOOBS! female objectification thing BOOBS! objectionable and the big eyes eating the face kind of creeps me out in a alien-bug-head way. I should also state that I don’t like the tramp stamp leather crop-top headless stripper motif of most other urban fantasy either. In fact, I don’t like normal straight up fantasy covers much ~ yawn fest. So this cover? Not really my thing. However it is: striking, eye catching, mildly hypnotic, and certainly draws you to pick up the book ~ which is the point. So it’s doing its job.

The Review
(Remember what I said above, 60 words or there about, that’s what I’m trained to do. I’ve never done it for an adult book before, so here it goes.)

Jane lives in a small town that hates her, with lesbian best friends, an abandonment complex, and unexpected heritage swimming her direction. Sometimes she acts dumb, and I wondered if this was realistic (how would I treat a dead body?) or plot artifice. The book’s language is light and comfortable with humorous threads throughout making it a genuinely joyful read.

Notes & More Personal Thoughts
WARNING, SOME VERY MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
I really enjoyed this book but I have some tiny quibbles. A few small town hiccoughs worried me. I grew up in one in California (not Maine), and there is no “police” there’s one or two guys from the next slightly-larger-town-over and they’re called by their names, as in Sheriff Bob. But maybe things are different out on the East Coast. I also found the constant modern-culture references a little distracting. I might not have noticed if I hadn’t read this same objection in someone else’s review. But, see above about my avoiding contemporary settings as a rule.

Here’s what I loved.
1.) Nicole has this awesome casual writing style that just makes the book so darn easy to read (and not it the dumb-down vocabulary kid’s meaning of the term “easy”). There’s no work to reading it and I love love love that. I’m so tired to books that self-consciously remind me I’m reading them. Oh, you know what I mean. This one just moves along, like a movie, no concentration needed, and that is a really good thing. So comfortable was I, in fact, I didn’t even notice until page 94 that it was written in first person, which I normally don’t like.
2.) From knowing Nicole online I wasn’t surprised about this next point, but there’s a metric ton of humor bubbling throughout Tempest Rising. Much chortling resulted.
3.) And she gives us (my personal favorite) some seriously fabulous characters of doom! There’s Grizelda the drag queen trapped in a lesbian’s body (named after a character from Cats?), Anyan the hellhound with a thing for naked half-selkies, Ryu the vampire in tweed and white shoes (hot, but I’m sorry True-honey, so fricking gay), Russ the shape-shifter who’s retired to life as a pet dachshund, Miss Carol who may be some distant progeny of Miss Ivy Hisselpenny’s, and, of course, Jane herself. I found myself getting a little sad when we left the colorful cornucopia behind and had to get on with sex and plot and such. I could read a gossip column from the local paper just about these characters. Blog hint at Nicole. Hint. Hint.

I have only one last thought. And it’s a snarky one. This is what the Meredith Gentry books should have been.

P.S. Screw the vampire, it’s all about them weredoggies.

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
New Years is coming. How about a vampire cocktail?

Your Tisane of Smart:
London 1927

Your Writerly Tinctures:
Conventions & Writing by Mary Robinette Kowal

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don’t have time for it.
Karissa says, “This was a fun read; very creative and fast moving.”
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon and Powell’s have posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don’t read if you haven’t read the first book.
Blameless: Edits are back, that’s what I’ll be doing all day today.

Quote of the Day:
That crafty little minx, I thought, as I realized what was happening. She’s one of them . . . she owes me fried cheese for keeping secrets. In my world, fried cheese is the gold standard.”
~ Jane True (Nicole Peeler)

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