Just finished reading . . . Swallowing Darkness & Natural Born Charmer

April 23, 2009 at 6:00 am 10 comments

Yesterday, I had so much fun over at DIK Island. There were some wonderful suggestions in the comments for some additions to my fantasy casting post!

I finished a couple of audiobooks over the last couple of days. I already posted about Natural Born Charmer about a week or 2 ago, while I was listening to it, so that review will be a quickie:

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Swallowing Darkness (Merry Gentry series, book 7) by Laurell K Hamilton

This complexly plotted series is definitely one to be read in order. If you are interested in starting this series, it’s worth starting with book 1, A Kiss of Shadows.

Here’s the book description:

I am Meredith, princess of faerie, wielder of the hands of Flesh and Blood, and at long last, I am with child – twins, fathered by my royal guard. Though my uncle, Taranis, King of Light and Illusion, claims that he is the true father since he abducted me from my home, betrayed, and defiled me. And now he has branded my guards as a threat to my unborn children.

Bearing an heir has placed me halfway to my aunt’s throne, that much closer to my reign over the Unseelie Court – and well ahead of her son, my cousin Cel, in this race. Now I must stay alive to see my children born and claim my place as queen.

But not all in faerie are pleased with the news, and conspirators from every court in the realm plot against me and mine. They seek to strip my guards, my lovers, from me by poisoned word or cold steel. But I still have supporters, and even friends, among the goblins and the sluagh, who will stand by me.

I am Meredith Nic Essus, and those who would defy and destroy me are destined to pay a terrible price – for I am truly my father’s daughter. To protect what is mine, I will sacrifice anything–even if it means waging a great battle against my darkest enemies and making the most momentous decision ever made as princess of faerie.

Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton

There is definitely a feeling that this series is coming to an ultimate conclusion. Merry and her men are pretty much a fixed group, now. The men are (mostly) accepting of each other, and tied together by their love and devotion to Merry and their unborn children. The struggle between the Seelie, Unseelie, and Merry’s group has never been more desperate.
There’s something that happens to me when I read this series, where while I’m listening to (or reading) it, I am utterly compelled and find it exciting and interesting.  Yet, later, when I intellectually think about the story, it doesn’t fare as well. It’s like LKH creates this world that is very emotionally satisfying for me on some level, and I’m happy as long as the bubble doesn’t burst. IDK, I’m still struggling to figure this out.

At least as far as the spiritual element of this book, Swallowing Darkness was the best in the series with how she explained the metaphysical connection Merry has with the Goddess, with the world around her, and with her men. It was, for me, the most interesting part of the book.

One thing that had me scratching my head about Swallowing Darkness, was that the 2nd love scene— there were only 2 in the book, which is unusal for this series — felt sort of random, and tacked on as an afterthought.

There was, however, plenty of battle action, which kept the book moving along. So much happens in each book, yet with LKH’s writing style, it always happens in an extremely short period of time. Most books, if they were to take place over the course of 1 night would be excruciating to read. But, time flows so differently in these books, and LKH really makes it work.

Swallowing Darkness was an excellent audiobook production, narrated by Claudia Black. (Stargate, Farscape) Book 8, Divine Misdemeanors, will be released October 2009.

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Natural Born Charmer (Chicago Stars series, book 7) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I had featured this book in a Current Reads post a week or two ago, and it was as much fun as I thought it was going to be!

Here’s the book description:

Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard is the luckiest man in the world: a bona-fide sports superstar and the pride of the NFL with a profitable side career as a buff billboard model for End Zone underwear. But life in the glory lane has started to pale, and Dean has set off on a cross-country trip to figure out what’s gone wrong. When he hits a lonely stretch of Colorado highway, he spies something that will shake up his gilded life in ways he can’t imagine. A young woman . . . dressed in a beaver suit.

Blue Bailey is on a mission to murder her ex. Or at least inflict serious damage. As for the beaver suit she’s wearing . . . Is it her fault that life keeps throwing her curveballs? Witness the expensive black sports car pulling up next to her on the highway and the Greek god stepping out of it.

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Not to be redundant, but this was such a charming book! Tuesday, I finally got to the point where I hated only being able to listen to it from the car, and brought it in the house so I could finish it. I lugged my laptop around with me, like the world’s biggest iPod, and finally stayed up far too late that night, so I could finish it.

As funny and light a book that this was, the characters also had enough depth and complexity to make it really satisfying. An unexpected bonus was, it turned out that few of the characters that I had just read about in What I Did for Love (my post here) were introduced in Natural Born Charmer.

I will definitely be tracking down more of SEP’s books!

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tracy  |  April 23, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I haven’t even thought about the LKH series and I don’t know that I can start another one. I’ve heard mixed thoughts about it – some people love it, some not so much.

    Oh I’m so happy you liked NBC! As I said before it was my first SEP and I loved it. The humor in it was just wonderful and the story as well as the characters were very easy to get into and enjoy.

    Reply
  • 2. Barbara  |  April 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Hey, Renee! You have an award waiting for you at my blog!

    Reply
  • 3. orannia  |  April 23, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you Renee! I have to admit that I’m now reading LKH just to get a resolution. To be honest, the fact that one book can cover a few hours or one night is…frustrating. And I do the same thing – read a book and thing this is fine, then finish it, pick up something else and wonder why I spent time reading it? Nothing really seems to happen…and yet I keep reading.

    As for NBC, like Tracy that was my first SEP book and I loved it! The beginning had me cracking up. I still have a couple ot read – I’ve been saving them but I think I might have to hunt them down at the library :)

    Oh, and mass apologies for not making it over to DIK yesterday!

    Reply
  • 4. Lea  |  April 23, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Renee:

    I haven’t read any of LKH Merry Gentry stories, however I read the Anita Blake series until about 9 or 10, I cannot remember which. Narsissus in Chains was the last one I read. I found it became so distorted I was no longer interested. However, the series continues to hold great appeal for many.

    Your second read sounds like good fun, both in title, cover art and content!

    Thank you for sharing.

    Warm Regards
    L

    Reply
  • 5. Renee  |  April 23, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Tracy: Yeah, I honestly don’t think I can recommend the series without reservation. I’m addicted, but it’s definitely not for everybody.

    I’ve already requested the audiobook for Match Me if You Can from the library! ;-)

    Barbara: Thank you! ((Barbara))

    orannia: It’s the LKH-crack. Sometimes in the middel of the book I pull out of it and think, “What is this?” And, then I go straight back for more. lol
    It’s the same for me with the Anita Blake series, though part of it is that I keep hoping that she’ll start focusing again on the police procedural aspect of the series. I’m ok with the erotic elements (though I wish she didn’t have the no sex between the men rule –it always seems sort of selfish) but I also want more to the story than that.

    I’ve loved the audiobook for NBC, so I think I’ll exhaust my libraries’ SEP collection and then read the rest. Yes, the book’s opening is such a hoot!

    No worries about DIK, I just was excited about some of the casting stuff I did and wanted to see what you thought! :-)

    Reply
  • 6. Renee  |  April 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Lea: Ooh! I missed your comment. (I should have hit refresh before I answered the others’. lol)

    I understand what you mean about the AB series. (See my comment to orannia.) One of my favorites of the series was Obsidian Butterfly, which really seemed to focus on the action again, but unfortunately, that was the exception to the latter books of the series. However, I know I will continue to read both series. LKH-crack, I tell you! :-P

    Reply
  • 7. Mame  |  April 24, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Hey Renee,

    I read Swallowing Darkness back in February and thought LKH finally got her act together again. While it was not without some issues this was a good story. Maybe come over to my blog and checkout my review:http://mamesbooksplotsandwine.blogspot.com/2009/02/laurell-k-hamilton-returns-to-telling.html

    Also, I just added SEP to my TBR list. I haven’t read any of her novels yet but I have a friend who has her on her top 10 authors list right now. Does anyone have a suggestion which novel would be best to start with?
    Have a great weekend! :)
    Mame

    Reply
  • 8. Renee  |  April 24, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Mame: I’ll check out your review! It was definitely a better book than most in the series. I did find the mythological/spiritual part (I’ve tended to skim a bit when I’d come to this stuff in the previous books) really well done. And I LOVE Doyle! :-)

    Well, NBC was so good, but since I’ve only read 2 by her, I’m sure there are others who would have a better idea. Otherwise, try NBC-it was so much fun!

    Reply
  • 9. Dottie Taylor  |  April 24, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Hi Renee

    New to your blog. I have read all of LKH’s books. The Merry Gentry series is my favorite. I felt like the series was coming to an end at the end of Swallowing Darkness. But I know another is being released, Divine Misdemeanors, tentive release date is October 2009 or at least that’s what I’ve seen.

    Thanks for the great review. I really enjoyed it.

    Natural Born Charmer is new to me. It sounds like a really fun read.

    I loved the review and how charming you found it!

    Thanks for sharing

    Dottie :)

    Reply
  • 10. Renee  |  April 24, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Hi Dottie! I’ve seen you over at Lea’s, Barbaras, and AmyC’s, haven’t I? Welcome to my place! :-)
    If you follow this link, you can see the cover art for Divine Misdemeanors. It’s very cool.
    I really like Susan Eliz Phillips writing style. Her books are witty and touching. NBC was really funny and sweet.
    Thanks for coming by!

    Reply

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