A work in progress!

Review: No Going Back by Mark L. Van Name

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No Going BackNo Going Back by Mark L. Van Name
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was not as grim as the last book in the series, Children No More, but still continued the more serious bent in Jon's character development that has taken place since the first two rather fluffy (fun) heist stories. Jon is at a point where he can no longer ignore the nightmares from his childhood, and in response he keeps throwing himself, and Lobo, into situations where he has to help people, usually children, even at great personal risk to himself. As Lobo observes, he's spinning out of control. And he won't tell Lobo why and stupidly thinks that it's OK to keep huge secrets from not only his best friend, but his greatest asset; it's hard for them to really protect each other if they can't honestly assess what each can really do. And with Jon's emotions fluctuating so wildly, from the things Lobo has been able to observe about Jon's abilities, he's very concerned about what the consequences of a blowout could mean for the world they're on when it happens. He doesn't know just what Jon can do with his abilities or if he'll care enough for his own safety to control himself. Our boys are a mess, but Jon is determined to see the job through. Even though there's yet another lovely woman involved as well. The job comes first. Because maybe, just maybe Jon may finally find some information about his past in the process and nothing is more important than that.


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Review: Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Prepare to Die!Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Unlike most people, I always thought that being a superhero would be a horrible job. Who wants to fight all of the time and be a target all of the time? So that perspective naturally fed into the approach this author took to projecting a (somewhat) realistic idea of what being a hero would really mean, with a lot of sad and dirty details in the mix. When we meet our hero he's done, beaten, worn down and just done with it all, and then we get to go back and try to figure out how he got to that point. The hero never really matured beyond the point of the sixteen year-old boy that he was at the time of the accident that made him a hero, so there's a lot of crude sexual content that makes the book not for the faint on heart. But it seemed to suit the character, who was swept out of his normal life when he was just a kid, and is still pretty young at only twenty-five at the end of the story.

I found the book to be a great page-turner, I just always wanted to find out what was going to happen/had happened to this kid. It fit into the comic book mythos in a grown-up fashion.


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Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World, #1)Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything about this book was good, these authors just know how to write. They always hit every point - humor, adventure, great characters, heart, plus a nice dose of interesting mythology, it's all here. Fans of the Kate Daniels series will not be disappointed in any way in this book featuring Kate's best friend, Andrea, and her love story with Raphael. I've always liked Andrea and wanted to know more about her and they did a stellar job here in filling filling in her background and completing her story in a satisfying way. And using Roman so much was really smart too. These authors are always clever in their novellas and short stories about fulfilling fans' curiosity about secondary characters who've peaked our interest, so it made sense to use Roman in this novel too. I just love the way they can add just a couple of sentences here and there that add so much depth to secondary characters, they just leap off the page and make them so intriguing that I can't wait to learn more about them too.

I really like that the novel wasn't just a side-story, but it also revealed some important things about a few of the characters along the way. We learned something really key about Curran, there was a lot about Roman that was really intriguing and that I wouldn't be surprised to see come up again in future Kate books, along with the obvious character development for Andrea and Raphael. The fact that the authors called this 5.5 in the Kate Daniels series and not just a separate novel placed in the world indicates that it has an important place in the development of these characters and this series; fans really don't want to miss this, both for the fun of it and for the developments that take place in the overall story arc.

And I saw (either on Twitter or the blog, I can't remember) that some fans are complaining that it's too short, which is crazy, it's a 326 page book! Maybe it just seems short somehow because there's also a really long, 105 page novella included with the book as a bonus, so somehow that makes the novel portion of the book look smaller when you get to the end and realize that you still have so many pages left to read. It isn't logical, but that's all I can think.

As for the novella, Magic Gifts, I originally read it when the authors published it for free on the website for two weeks over Christmas 2011, a truly lovely gift indeed! I said then and I'll repeat now that they always writes solid stories that are really satisfying reads, it's really impressive. The only other author that I can think of that's as consistent with short stories is Jim Butcher. And the fact that they've included this terrific, long, Kate & Curran story in addition to a complete novel is petty cool. The only odd thing is that the novella takes place before the novel and refers to things that happen in the novel (and overlap it slightly), so really you should read Magic Gifts before Gunmetal Magic. If you look the numbering on Goodreads it's even listed as 5.4 and the novel is 5.5. But it also repeats a scene from Kate's viewpoint that might take away a bit from the humor of seeing it from Andrea's viewpoint in the novel, tricky. Either way, both stories are terrific, and stand well on their own, and are even better together.


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Review: Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon

Friday, August 03, 2012

Strangeness and Charm (Courts of the Feyre, #3)Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars. This one was quite disappointing. Not only didn't it fulfill my wish of exploring the mythology and fascinating world and characters that Shebdon created with this world and the Feyre courts, but Niall was just annoying in this book. He didn't do his job well, screwed up at every turn and didn't really seem to care or want to improve. He didn't seem to care about the people he set free or the danger they were in or the danger they posed to the rest of society. He didn't care about protecting the secret of his world at all, he told Katherine about Alex without even thinking about what she would do with the information, didn't even consider the consequences. Really, he didn't seem to care about anything except Alex, which I get, but he was being such a jerk about it. And when it came to making the story interesting, or not as the case may be, he didn't even use his power until p. 192 or really mention that it was void power more than briefly before then. And he barely even used it then. He was just really unlikable this time around, I couldn't root for him at all, he was just some annoying, whiny guy, he didn't relate at all to the guy in the first two books.

Plus there was so little recap of the first two books that I felt almost no connection to the charaters or the situations at all as well. I remembered Niall and Blackbird but I didn't remember much about the courts or what brought them there. And I wasn't reminded almost at all until the end. There was almost no magic in this book other than Blackbird trying to teach Niall to use a few skills better. There was no exploring of the courts or the cool mythology that Shevdon created. It was mostly about Niall not doing his job and about his runaway daughter, Alex.

The most compelling part was about Niall's daughter Alex, I appreciated the coming into her own journey, but it wasn't enough to carry the book.   And Blackbird felt like a nagging wife, there was no sense of the incredible, dynamic woman I vaguely remember her to be. And then it the Big Bad was a couple of kids barely older than Alex, how did they know how to figure all of that stuff out much less pull it off? It was pretty hard to get worked up about them as the bad guys, even if they were mean to Alex, they were hardly compelling after the big mysterious bad guys I vaguely remember from the last books.

There just wasn't enough mystery, mythology, magic or tension in this one. It was mostly a story about a whiny middle-aged guy dealing with his pushy boss and his pushy wife and his wild-child daughter. There was some cool stuff at the end that wrapped the whole thing up, but it was really mostly a set-up for the next book. And now that I think about it, it revealed that this book was really just a transition between the last book and the next book, too. The whole thing was just about showing Niall fighting with his boss, revealing some prophesy, and the set-up at the end, a total transitional book. I'm really sorry to give such a rotten review to a book I was really looking forward to. I really hope the author gets back on stride for the next book.


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Review: Evil Dark (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation, #2) by Justin Gustainis

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Evil Dark (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation, #2)Evil Dark by Justin Gustainis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very enjoyable traditional police procedural with a hardboiled cop, tempered with a nice touch of warmth and wry humor. I always like the tone of this series, it rings very true to me. He just feels very real to me as a detective, from the opening with his curiosity making him stop to help the elf when he knew he shouldn't, to the tension with the FBI agents, to his relationship with his partner, everything just felt right. The mystery was high tension and interesting and held my attention throughout the book. I also enjoyed his relationship with his daughter, both the feeling of genuine love and the sense that he was just such a bewildered dad who just had no idea how to deal with her transformation; it's really relatable even though her transformation is into a vampire and most dads only have to deal with their little girls turning into women. All of the characters in the book pop off the page really well, good guys and bad, it's a very vivid story.

There was one small thing that happened that really made me think a bit. Stan was reading reading a book about a group of scientists who accidentally open a portal to hell and he was really hoping it was just fiction. It made me wonder if reading urban fantasy would be as fun if I knew it all really existed. But what else would I read? I'm a sci-fi/fantasy girl.

Anyway, I liked this book and I definitely recommend it and the first book in the series, Hard Spell, if you like somewhat darker urban fantasy.


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