What am I reading now?
The Hunted by L.A. Banks. I am two chapters from the end, and dragging it out because none of the books I've ordered have come in yet.
firecat, The Awakening and The Hunted (the first and second sequels to Minion) are both awesome. Oddly, The Awakening is half the size of The Hunted, only 300 pages to the latter's 576. But it doesn't leave you feeling short-changed.
So far, I really recommend this series - about a black female vampire hunter, her multi-racial team, and her Hispanic vampire lover - to anyone who's looking for modern urban fantasy featuring kick-ass women. Its basic premise is that God and the Devil are both real, and that our world is locked in a literal struggle between Heaven and Hell. Vampires rule in Hell second only to "the Boss", and they visit the "topside" to corrupt humans. Every thousand years, a Neteru is born, and this person will either become the strongest vampire hunter of their era, or the most powerful vampire lover whose children will be vampires who can walk in daylight.
Its over-the-top fantastical elements are played tongue-in-cheek, while it layers on details of different cultures and religions to feel inclusive without being tokenistic. In The Hunted, they go to Brazil to hunt demons, and Brazilian history and culture is explained clearly and lovingly for the book's predominantly American audience. I've ordered the next four books in the series. Honestly, the thing I'm most sad about is that the author died a few years ago, so there won't be any more.
Also, BABIES!!!!11! have not yet featured in the plot, and I don't think they're likely to until several books further on. Phew.
What have I read recently?
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs. If I said it's another one of the Mercedes Thompson series and it's pretty much the same as all the others, that would sound dismissive. What I mean is that if you're a fan of this sort of modern urban fantasy, you'll love it - if you're not, I don't know that this book would be the one to convince you. Personally, I absolutely love the series - Mercy is what Anita Blake used to be like, before she became a raving sex maniac. The characters are sweet and funny and very human even though they're werewolves and vampires and faeries.
A whole load of books of short stories:
Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner. Okay. The first thing I want to say about this is that you should only read it if (a) you're a person who really likes Christmas or (b) it is almost Christmas, so you're in the mood. I read it in September and it was just Wrong. The second thing is that a lot of the stories are written in strange styles ("zany" is the word that springs to mind), and enough of the authors have made links between Santa Claus and werewolves that I'm actually wondering whether this is A Thing that I just didn't know about before. None of the stories are terrible, but there were a few that frustrated the hell out of me because they could have been perfect and then just... weren't. The best story of the collection is Fresh Meat by Alan Gordon, which has precisely the right mixture of sweetness and horror.
Home Improvement: Undead Edition, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner. This book is supposed to be short stories about D.I.Y. with a paranormal twist, but the theme is stretched rather - one of the stories is about a restaurant, another is a detective story, while another is about a monk, a mountain, a museum, and a statue of Buddha. That last story, The Path by S.J. Rozan, is by far the best in the book, and has never failed to make me cry on the five occasions I've read it. I love it enough to consider buying the whole book just to own that one story, unless it happens to be published elsewhere.
Other stand-out stories are Gray by Patricia Briggs, The Strength Inside by Melissa Marr, Through This House by Seanan McGuire, It's All In the Rendering by Simon R. Green, and In Brightest Day by Toni L.P. Kelner. Although all of the stories are good and none are frustrating.
Strange Brew edited by P.N. Elrod. The theme of this collection is "powerful witches and dark magic". Again, all of the stories are good, though I think Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter is the best. I also very much like Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs (which introduces Moira and Tom, characters in the Alpha and Omega series), Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine (which is an unashamed paranormal romance), and Vegas Odds by Karen Chance.
Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow. I can't pick out a favourite story. Curses by Jim Butcher is about faeries and baseball (and should be read by all my baseball-loving friends), The Duke of Riverside by Ellen Kushner is a love story between two men, Priced to Sell by Naomi Novik is about estate agents who sell flats in New York City to non-human people, Noble Rot by Holly Black is about a dying rock star.
What am I going to read next?
Not sure. Given that none of my reservations have arrived, it'll be whatever I randomly pick up from the library. Although looking at my bookshelves tonight, my eyes were drawn to The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, and it's been a while since I last read that series, so it's tempting. Oh, I just love Cazaril, and the five gods of their religion! Especially as I have a character in my head who would be a priest of the Bastard if he lived in that universe :)