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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Recent Reviews

Given this past months craziness, I'm a bit backed up. The good news: I am never without books to read. The bad news: time is not always my friend. So here's a few reviews to get things moving again. I've got a sci-fi with zombies, a fantasy with romance, an urban fantasy, and a short story.

Feed (Newsflesh #1) by Mira Grant

It's a zombie book, but it's not really about zombies. Action takes place after a whole generation has grown up in a world with zombies. It raises a lot of questions on what you would give up to be "safe" (or at least have the illusion of safety). Also deals with the rise of internet news/bloggers, who people go to for information they trust. This is still a very timely issue - how many folks trust a late night comedian over their 6 o'clock newscaster? Also, I was reading this book when news of Osama Bin Laden's death hit. However, I heard all about it on Twitter before I saw a news report. Issues of truth and reporting, who to trust, and what the costs can be are always relevant. 

Georgia and Shawn Mason have just gotten a big break - they will be covering the campaign of Senator Ryman as he tries to win the Republican nomination for President. Only someone really doesn't want Ryman to survive. In a world where a virus is a deadly weapon, and anyone around you could turn into a zombie, the stakes are high. And the truth is a very dangerous thing to know.

First thought when I finished the book, "Damn."

I thought it had a satisfying ending (note, "satisfying" for me doesn't always mean sunshine, rainbows & puppies). But I got teary in a couple of spots. Okay, more than a couple of spots. When I read book 2 I will have the tissue box handy. There is quite a bit of foreshadowing for some parts, but I was shocked at others.

It took me awhile to read this one. First because I own it, so I didn't have to worry about getting it back to the library, and then because of some pretty serious things going on for me personally (there were a few books that I just thought I shouldn't be reading at the time, that I would enjoy them better if I gave myself a break). I am glad that I got back to it, though. It's dark in spots, emotional, but a very good read.

The book starts a bit slow, but when it gets moving, it MOVES. I liked the characters - they felt very real. All of the decisions they made, I could understand given who they were. That also made so many parts creepy. I could see things happening this way. There was a strong sense of realism throughout (yes, even in a zombie book).

Touch of Power (Healer #1) by Maria V. Snyder

I really liked the Study series. The Glassblowers is a bit meh for me (I read the first one, got stuck in the begininning of the 2nd). This one came closer to recapturing the elements of Study that I liked so much, although with a different story/world/characters.

Avry is a Healer on the run. After a deadly plague swept through the kingdom, healers were rounded up and killed. When she makes the choice to heal a sick, dying child, she is turned in by the "grateful" parents. Right before her execution, a group of what she thinks are mercenaries breaks her out. Turns out that they want her to heal a Very Important Person, but it's a person Avry despises.

Lots of captures, escapes, traveling, arguing, political factions, old enemies, new enemies, betrayals, and even some romance (but I wouldn't call it a Romance, more like a Fantasy with romance). I liked the cast. Avry made sense to me as a character. I might not agree with all of her decisions, but they were true to character throughout. I loved that she refused to give up her right to choose how she used her power. Kerrick is very similar to the male leads in the Study and Glass series: strong, guarded, secretive. These relationships always seem to start out so violently argumentative and bullying, but at the same time, given the situation, it made sense. In other hands I might have banged my head on the wall with the WTF-ery, but Snyder makes it work. That said, there were plenty of times I said to myself that Kerrick was an ass. Luckily Avry said it too, most of the time.

The other companions were very good, especially Belen. The villain was horrific. I wonder where all of this is going to go (with Snyder, I'm never completely sure).

The world was a new one, but still very well done. Study and Glass were set in the same world, but this one is new. There is definitely this apocalyptic, dare I say dystopian sense with the political chaos and dictatorship that sprung from the mass plague outbreak. But it is still also a fantasy, with magic and a unique world. Also, themes of political despotism are common in Snyder's work, so this wasn't really unexpected.

I do wish there wasn't so much bouncing from capture to capture (that seems to be a too common occurrence for me in Snyder's books), but at least this time, with some of Avry's choices (choices that she knew would lead to capture), it made sense, so it didn't bug me overmuch.

I will be reading the next one.

Sins of the Angels (Grigori Legacy #1) by Linda Poitevin

I would say that if you are of a particular religious persuasion and dislike anything that tweaks with certain aspects of the Creator, Lucifer, Angels, then you will have some issues here.

I love that kind of stuff, so those parts were my favorites. Definitely changes the dynamic of the battle between heaven and hell. However, I never felt like I was being preached to, just that there was a different twist to the story.

To be honest, the set-up of the whole world and Heaven/Hell were of more interest than the main characters. Not that they were bad, but they were a bit cold and prickly at first. They grew on me by the end. I did find Alex's reactions to be natural, especially given her family background.

There is a soulmate aspect, but this is not your typical Romance-soulmate book. In fact, it wasn't really romantic at all. Instead you have 2 people who flat out dislike each other, are antagonistic towards each other, and not in a "you know they're going to jump in the sack by chapter 12" way. It was a spin on the concept, and I liked it.

Villain was horrific but by the end you could see how he got that way. There is a lot of violence here (the female lead is a homicide detective on the trail of a serial killer), but nothing I couldn't deal with, and on par with some of the bloodier UF or suspense books I've read.

This is not a standalone at all. The end is an ending of sorts, but I definitely need the next book. 

Dust on the Davenport (Tales from the Ministry) by O.M. Grey

This is a short story set in Ballantine & Morris' Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences world.

I really enjoyed Phoenix Rising, and when I saw this Tales from the Ministry short as a freebie, I grabbed it quick. Here is the thing - I did like where this was all going: liked the characters, the ghost story, I just needed more. I did a bit of searching and I think this was a podcast first. That makes sense to me. I actually think I would have enjoyed it more that way, as an audible ghost story, than reading it as a quick eBook.

I am still really interested in the Ministry tales (the whole idea of seeing other adventures with other agents is so much fun), but I might try the podcasts for some of the others.

No comments:

Post a Comment