Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Some Recent Reviews...

Here's the next batch of quick reviews. I've got 3 middle school/YA books, 1 steampunk magic adventure, and 5 adult UF books. Yep - I've been running a bit behind.

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

I received an advance reader's copy of this book to review for Amazon Vine [link goes to Vine review].

Kenneth Oppel's This Dark Endeavor tells of the education of Victor Frankenstein in the dark alchemical arts that will later come to tragic fruition in Shelley's Frankenstein.

Victor, his elder twin Konrad, their parents, younger brothers, cousin Elizabeth, and friend Henry Clerval live a good life. They are all highly educated, living in a modern-thinking home, with loving parents and doting servants. There is sibling rivalry, but nothing too dark has entered their lives. Then a mysterious disease strikes Konrad, the best doctors can't seem to help, and Victor begins to think that the forbidden alchemical texts hidden below the library might hold the key. This leads to contact with a mysterious alchemist, life-threatening adventures, and the revelation of many family secrets.

I have to admit, Victor Frankenstein is not my "favorite" character, more one I love to hate, and I'm very glad that Oppel didn't stray from his arrogance, or turn Victor into a "good guy". That isn't to say that Victor is one-sided, like all tragic characters he is balanced by love, honor, a thirst for knowledge and understanding. The drive though, to succeed at all costs, lies underneath it all, as well as a real question as to whether Victor wants to find The Elixir of Life for altruistic purposes, to save his brother, or for his own need to prove himself better than his twin. It is easy to see where the Victor at the end of this novel would go on to undertake the events in Frankenstein.

I enjoyed the other characters, Elizabeth and Henry, as well as the mysterious Polidori. Konrad is almost too good to be true, which given that the book is told in first person with Victor as the narrator, could be more an effect of Victor's insecurities.

Altogether I found it an excellent read, recommended for readers who enjoy older middle school age/teen books.

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Really fun read. Agnes loves the work of A Lady (especially Pride & Prejudice). She wants something more than the marriage mart, but her mother is set on her making her debut and landing a good match.

She's rather be exploring and traveling than going to parties and card games. Napoleon is a threat to the British Empire and Agnes knows more than a normal girl thanks to eavesdropping on her father (a prominent Minister).

She happens into the search for an Egyptian relic that Napoleon wants, teams up with a handsome young man from the museum, fights spies and tries to figure out the mystery.

Really quick and easy read, and I enjoyed it. I hope there will be more adventures with Agnes & Caedmon.

Starstruck by Cyn Balog

A YA romance with a paranormal element.

I liked that this was the first book I've read with an overweight heroine where she doesn't have to lose weight or change herself to win the guy - she starts out the book already winning him just as she is. She just has to realize it.

Gwendolyn, "Dough", is overweight, from the wrong side of the tracks, works in her mom's bakery (where it's easy to grab a white cream donut or 2 or more), has a stick-thin twig of a younger sister, lots of snark, and no friends other than her long distance boyfriend. She's known Wish forever, and now he's coming back to town, a gorgeous specimen of the male species. But maybe he's just a little too perfect.

I found Gwen to be a believable heroine and enjoyed her coming into her own. There is a bit of a makeover part, where she starts wearing clothes that fit her and projecting confidence, but all of that is to benefit her - there's no "All of a sudden the gorgeous guy notices her" now that she looks different.

The supernatural side was interesting (there are no sparkly vampires, and the magic system was pretty unique), but I wish it had been explored more. Also, there was an alarming lack of consequence for the users of the magic - bad stuff happened and they felt regret, but I think they got off too easy.

Dead Iron by Devon Monk

I've been waiting for this steampunk adventure for months and I was not disappointed. Really liked the characters. Lots of setup, but also a good story. Liked the worldbuilding and the magic system and the gadgets (gotta have the gadgets!). You've got a man cursed by an Indian god, Strange beings that stalk humans, witches, a zombie, and a girl who is more than she seems.
It's in 3rd person following a handful of characters (both heroes and villains). I've read some books where this effect leads to too many threads and an inability to connect to the characters, but this book did not have that problem. The different POVs propelled the action along, gave me a greater sense of the scope of the world and the magic system, and let me get to know several characters better than I would have in a 1st person narrative. It was a tight story that still leaves a lot of room for more adventures.

I think my favorite character is Rose - hope she'll play an even bigger role next time.

Dead Reckoning (Sookie #11) by Charlaine Harris

Favorite book since #4. It feels more like Sookie is settling into her new skin. She's been through a lot, has changed a lot, and it feels like she is taking control of her life. She's definitely got a harder edge now, but she's earned it.

We get more answers on Sookie's grandfather and her own powers. A lot of happenings on the relationship front too. If you haven't read this series, look away now...

Eric 'shippers might not be happy, but I can't see Eric as her HEA, so I'm fine with it. I hope she finds someone with a pulse, who she can have a normal relationship with, at least as normal as she can.

Hexed (Iron Druid #2) by Kevin Hearne

This series just makes me happy - I have a lot of fun reading it, it's funny, I like the characters, and there's lots of kick-butt action.

In Hounded, Atticus had been living in secret, hiding from his enemies, barely attaching himself to humans (lots of defensive mechanisms here), but after 2000 years of running, he makes a stand, and book 2 starts with the consequences of his actions. He's spent a long time on the outside, keeping a low profile, but soon he's making deals, getting deeper in debt, and finding that several enemies escaped the showdown in book 1. He's also been banned from his favorite bar since he's taken on the lovely barmaid as his druid apprentice. (The horror!)

A couple of new faces pop in and we get to know a few others better. I'm really getting into this world.

Lots of action, lots of magic, and lots of events set in motion that will undoubtedly come back to bite Atticus later. And I can't wait to read all about it.

Lots of hoodoo, voodoo, magic and revenge set in Louisiana. I think it's a great start and the world is pretty cool, but the story was unfinished. I really need to read the next one. Luckily for me, it's out now.

Another 3rd person following a few different characters - rare for UF as most are 1st person. I liked it, and think it was the right choice for this story, although I don't feel as though I know the main character, Kallie, as well as I would in a 1st person book. Also contains the most indestructible underwear I've ever read in a UF with romantic elements. Victoria's Secret should totally get in on that.

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

First novel with a zombie as a main character that I could read and enjoy (I've read a couple with zombie love scenes that I had to put down, but this one had no missing body parts, and also no explicit scenes, so I could deal). A novel where a zombie could be the hero, even with the gross dietary restrictions.
I liked that the character grew and changed - Angel starts out a drug addict and works hard to change her life, even as she finds out about her new existence.  I liked Rowland's take on zombies and it will b interesting to see where this goes. It was light on action, except for the last chapter, and some things felt too rushed in the end, but overall I liked it. I'll read the next one.

Chicks Kick Butt by Rachel Caine (et al)

I really liked this one - I believe it's the first anthology I've read where every story is good, with several great ones. I have some authors to check out too, and there's several that I'm hoping will spawn either full books or at least more shorts.

If you've read any of my reviews you already know I love ass-kicking heroines, so no big surprise that I had to read this one. There were a lot that belonged to series I haven't read, but I wasn't lost at all.

Shiny by Rachel Caine: a Weather Wardens story. I've only read book 1 in that series, but I wasn't lost. Fun start to the anthology. Action, humor, and really fast cars.

In Vino Veritas by Karen Chance: From the Dorina Basarab series. I haven't read that one, but I really think I should. Fun story of how a tough chick kicks ass even when she's sitting down.

Hunt by Rachel Vincent: Probably the most serious out of all of the stories. Murder, hunters, and a werecat facing her demons. I haven't read Vincent's Shifters series yet, but I've got it on the list.

Monsters by Lilith Saintcrow: Where the vampire must avenge the death of her family by going after the human vamp slayers. Very interesting take on vampires. Hoping to get more in this world.

Vampires Prefer BLondes by PN Elrod: I first read PN Elrod in the 90s. I need to go back and reread them. Good short with Jack's girlfriend Bobbi helping out a fellow chorus girl who married the wrong vampire.

Nine Tenths of the Law by Jenna Black: Set in the Morgan Kinsley series. Haven't read this one, but I plan to soon. Good story.

Double Dead by Cheyenne McCray: Another series I need to look into. Looks like a really cool world, lots of paranormal creatures.

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Still Be Red by Elizabeth A. Vaughn: This one had more of a fantasy feel, vs UF, but still lots of action as a mercenary goes after some slavers. Really liked it.

Superman by Jeanne C. Stein: Part of the Anna Strong series, another one I want to read. Ex's and killer vamps are always an interesting combo.

Monster Mash by Carole Nelson Douglas: Part of the Delilah Street series, and I really want to read more. Loved the Vegas scene with the classic movie creations reanimated for tourists enjoyment, even if they do take on a life of their own.

Wanted: Dead or Alive by LA Banks: How a new vamp comes to terms with who she is, what she can do, and how to fight off her enemies.

Mist by Susan Krinard: Norse mythology, a Valkyrie living in San Fran thinking she's one of the few to escape Ragnarok and live a "normal" life, but nothing's ever really what it seems.

Beyond the Pale by Nancy Holder: Interesting set up that I would want to read more of. A band of knights with magic powers who patrol the Border and try to keep the Wild Hunt at bay, but is everything as it appears?

1 comment:

  1. The sookie series lost me a long time ago with all the changing relationships. I can't get interested in sixty different boyfriends and EVERY male character being a big sookie fan...