Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready

Bad to the Bone
Jeri Smith-Ready
This is the second book in the WVMP series by Jeri Smith-Ready. The main character is college student and reformed con-artist, Ciara Griffen, who finds out that the DJs at the radio station she’s doing PR for are all real vampires. Ciara, being the enterprising marketing student that she is, uses the truth to sell the station – no one believes it anyway and think its a great gimmick – all the DJs are vampires, trapped in the time period they died so that’s the music they specialize in! Of course while this solves the problem of losing the station, it seems to paint a big target at WVMP. Unhappy campers range from local vampires afraid of their secret becoming public, to fundamental christian groups who are convinced that eliminating the vampires will save humanity.

Wicked Game, the first book in the series was one of my favorites of last year. My review of book 1 is here: vox / livejournal

Insert whine:

You know, I’m re-reading my review of Wicked Game and maybe it’s just the time of the year, but I keep getting interrupted when I read this series. It has been driving me UP THE WALL! I need to hole up and turn off all phones for the next book. I’d read and then Life would interrupt and then it would take me days to be able to get back into it, so the reading experience became disjointed 😦

/end whine

*** minor spoilers for the first book from this point ***

Bad to the Bone starts out not too far off from the events ended in Wicked Game. Ciara has managed to stop the radio station from being sold to a media conglomerate and thus all the vampires in it (including her now boyfriend Shane) are safe for now. Not is resolved however – her con-artist father has disappeared, and Ciara’s relationship with Shane is the longest and most serious she’s ever had, so while Ciara and Shane are happy, the idea of commitment frightens her. These become minor issues however when at the station’s Halloween bash, their signal is suddenly hijacked by a fundamental christian radio station, and a reporter from Rolling Stone who happens to be doing a piece on WVMP becomes a bit too nosey about the vampires.

Excerpt of Chapter 1

My thoughts: There is something about Jeri Smith-Ready’s writing that just works for me. It’s simple, not flowery, but it flows well from one scene to the next. You would think that the first person *present* tense would be odd, but I didn’t have a problem with it. When I think about what happened in this book – it seems like a lot, but I never felt overwhelmed with the information or that the pacing was too fast. It’s just that the relationships evolve along with the story at an appropriate pace: so while Ciara is dealing with figuring out who it was who took over their airwaves and what is the meaning of the ominous “YOUR GOING TO HELL” sign at the Smoking Pig, she’s also dealing with her own personal issues. That means – going to school and writing papers, deciding if she wants to make the next step with Shane, and worrying about her best friend Lori’s taste in men.

Ciara’s big flaw seems to be more about trusting people and making commitments because of this fear than anything else. Despite this fear she also has a huge amount of loyalty and common sense. So I knew she was sometimes a little overwhelmed by committing to Shane but I was a little surprised at how this manifested as in this book! I can’t really go into it because it would be a spoiler, but whoa, it’s interesting! I’m not sure I quite *liked* it, but Ciara really never betrays anyone, I think her panicked brain was considering escape plans, so that’s why I could accept it. Also whoa is Ciara and Shane’s sex scenes. This book is urban fantasy so romance is not a focus, the sex seemed more of a fact of being a “normal couple”, but I think Katiebabs should peer at them to consider them for her sex positions post. They are evolving as a couple and I’m very interested in seeing how it goes. Shane is still a bit mysterious though – he seems quite perfect, but we’re only seeing him through Ciara. I wonder how he really feels sometimes because with Ciara he seems very sure about the two of them – he has to have worries that he has to work through too.

Again I am going to say that if you like Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series, you will like this one. Not because it combines supernatural plus radio (and they both do this in very different ways), but because the main character is a woman who isn’t particularly badass or a hunter/killer, they are women who use their own wits to solve problems and help others. Things have a feeling of “realness” to them because of the characters and relationships, and also the world is ours – the same time, the same geography, just with a supernatural element.

Random bullet time:

  • Every chapter is named after a song. I would see the song name and immediately this song would be in my head. Sigh, I wish my brain wouldn’t do that!
  • There is a dog in this story which I think you may have guessed from the cover. I love this dog, he is cute and he advances the plot. I am apparently a sucker for this type of thing.
  • As with Wicked Game, Ciara is quick to think on her feet and uses her talents as a grifter to get inside information about the people who have been targeting the station. She also brings in her best friend Lori. I like their relationship and what happens when they team up. There’s a scene after Lori and Ciara infiltrate a support group for people who have been bitten by vampires, which had me cracking up out loud.
  • The older a vampire is, the more they lose their humanity and become more “stuck” in their own era and more obsessive compulsive traits pop up. Knowing people with OCD myself, this is particularly tragic to me, and a reason for Ciara to worry about Shane and her future. There is also something monstrous in all of them which shows up from time to time, in some vampires more than others. It’s interesting to see how this is dealt with and I am wondering how Ciara and Shane will fare later on. I’m also wondering what Ciara is going to do when she and Shane can no longer rein in a certain vampire DJ’s baser instincts. I sense it could be a problem later.
  • We do get some back story on Shane and Regina which explains some of Regina’s over protectiveness.
  • There are I think 6 vampire DJs in WVMP, but probably 4 of them have more face time than others, so sometimes I get a bit confused about who certain people are because they aren’t mentioned as much and my brain is a little fuzzy on the details of book 1. I think my memory is getting bad. I should probably have read the free short stories about each one of the vampires and how they were turned that Jeri Smith-Ready put up online (4 of the 6 are up):

Overall: I really like this author, and this is my favorite series of hers so I think I’m already predisposed to like this book (um, full disclosure: I may have hugged my ARC when it arrived). Compared to book 1, I prefered Wicked Game slightly more because of the sweet romance in it that begins there, and it worked for me almost like a stand-alone, but it would be impossible to replicate that in the second book, so other than that, both books are equally well-written for the reasons I described in “my thoughts” above. Bad to the Bone ends in a good place but it more strings are left untied which make me want to read book 3 (Ciara’s uniquiness, the Control, Ciara’s family). I also am most curious to see what is going to happen with Ciara and Shane. Is Ciara just going to have to accept that she will lose Shane to time (which will bring her aging and his fading?) or is there some other solution for them? I am dying to know.

Bad to the Bone is out in stores May19th

Reviews elsewhere:

Tez Says (as a music aficionado, Tez would like to have words with Shane! :D)
Brooke reviews (I think her opinion matches mine)
Scooper Speaks (points out a bittersweet aspect I didn’t cover)
Angieville (also a good review)

Other links:

Jeri Smith-Ready has a Spread the Word contest going on NOW (prizes are gift cards and goodies from the WVMP store)
Jeri Smith-Ready has a feature at Bitten by Books also going on now (with a contest for books)
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