Friday, 15 May 2009
Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand
- Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: US – Grand Central Publishing
Why I picked it up: I’ve been following Kitty’s adventures over the last year and this the latest one I hadn’t read yet
Back Blurb: Kitty Norville, the country's only celebrity werewolf, thinks she's finally got her life sorted. Her radio show is as popular as ever, and she and her cute lawyer boyfriend are the alpha pair of Denver's werewolf pack. Now she and Ben plan to tie the knot human-style - by eloping to Vegas. And just to make things more fun, she's going to do her midnight radio show live from Vegas - and on television. In between getting wed and going live on TV, she's also planning on sipping fru-fru drinks by the pool while she works on her tan. So what can possibly go wrong? Well, their hotel is the venue for a werewolf-hating bounty hunter convention. Elsewhere on the Strip, an old-school magician might just be wielding the real thing. The vampire community is harbouring a dark secret . . . and the irresistibly sexy star of a deeply suspicious animal act is determined to seduce Kitty. Sin City has never been so wild, and Kitty has never had to fight harder - to save not only her wedding, but her very life.
What I thought: What I’ve always liked about the Kitty books is just how ordinary Kitty is. In comparison to a number of other heroines in the Urban Fantasy genre she has no big over-arching storyline. She has no mysterious past to repent off and no secret destiny to prepare. She’s not the only one who can save the world – again and again and again. She’s just happens to be a werewolf and a radio host. Kitty is breathe of fresh air in the crowded fantasy genre and Carrie Vaughn makes it seem how ordinary it can be to be a werewolf. That ordinariness both works for and against the series at times. In Dead Man’s Hand – Kitty and Ben run off to Las Vegas to get married and end up tangled with magicians, lycanthrope stage shows and rigged poker matches. Considering the number of extra-ordinary things they find in Vegas, it’s amazing how ordinary the book is. Not much happens and there is little to connect the threads unless you include Kitty herself. However, some interesting things are brought up and it ends on a bit of cliff hanger. And as ever the most ordinary Kitty book is still miles better than the best book of some other authors.
Recommended for: Kitty & Kelley Armstrong fans. Fans of Patricia Brigg would also enjoy it.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Monday, 4 May 2009
Warrior (Book 2 of Wolfblade Trilogy)
- Jennifer Fallon
Publisher: UK - Orbit
Why I picked it up: It was actually the first Jennifer Fallon book I picked as it was in a second book store and in good condition. Wasn’t till I got it home I realised it was the middle book of a trilogy.
Back Blurb: It's been eight long years since Marla Wolfblade buried her husband and claimed royal power - and its responsibilities - for herself. Now she must teach her son, Damin, the skills he needs to survive as warring factions at Court manoeuvre for power, and ultimately for the throne itself. Damin proves an apt pupil as his mother's advisor teaches him the Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power. However, as he nears the age when he will take the throne, his position becomes increasingly dangerous. The head of the Sorcerers' Collective, a powerful and influential faction, decides to either turn the young ruler into a puppet or tear the throne away from him. Damin must decide whom it is safe to trust - and how to claim his birthright.
What I thought: Most trilogies do drag a little in the middle book – carrying on the story and unable to wrap it up. This book does have some of that aspect. The first half continues the story of Marla Wolfblade and her fight for her family and paving the way for her son to take the High Prince throne in the future. The story then jumps forward in time again to Damin’s early twenties and a threat to the country form the neighbouring kingdom. Both parts are strong as Fallon characterisation is her strong point and each character seems to jump out of the page fully formed. Although I liked the political intrigue, the large cast of characters made it difficult to keep everyone in mind at times – especially with the number of stepchildren, cousins, foster sisters and all the other family relations that are cramped into the book. The first book in the trilogy was a perfect introduction to Marla and how she learns to take up the reigns of power. This book, while I enjoyed it immensely seemed to lack that clarity of focus and the telling of one complete story. It ends on a cliff hanger but it is still a marvellous journey and I can’t wait for the next one.
Recommended for: Fans of Karen Miller and Fiona McIntosh
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Ghosts and Lightning
- Trevor Byrne
Publisher: UK – Canongate Books
Why I picked it up: I very kindly received an advanced copy prior to release.
Back Blurb: Happy or unhappy, all families are a mystery. None more than the Cullens. Having escaped their clutches and moved across the water, Denny is just beginning to make a life for himself when a call from his sister brings him back to Dublin, city of his birth. Back to square one. As if squabbling siblings and unhelpful childhood friends weren't trouble enough, a ghost starts making appearances in the family home and Denny's life starts to get a lot more complicated.
What I thought: The story is written as if it’s all dictated through the main character completely with speaking prose – yiz knaw? I fond this a struggle to read as I was continually trying to translate it into ‘proper English’ but it did add an air of authenticity to the story. It’s set in Dublin in a family that has recently lost their mother and are struggling to cope – while none of the characters are children, they are still young and not used to the full responsibilities of adult life. They do drugs, have loud parties, drink too much and struggle to work, to live. However, I struggled to identify with any of them – I spent half the time wanting to yell at them to get off their backsides and just make an effort. It’s not a world I felt comfortable reading about and I hope that’s what the author was trying to convey. Nether-the-less I’m not sure I would read anything else by the author again.
Recommended for: Realising that their are people out there worse off than you!
Rating: 4 out of 10
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Magic Strikes (Book 3 of Kate Daniels/Magic Series)
- Ilona Andrews
Publisher: US – Ace Fantasy
Why I picked it up: I was intrigued with the first 2 books so I’m continuing to follow Kate Daniels adventures.
Back Blurb: Drafted to work for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems these days than she knows what to do with. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot. But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games – an invitation only, no hold barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament – she and Curran, the Beast Lord, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shape shifting community...
What I thought: In the past two books Kate Daniels has dropped hints and hidden from her past, who her father was and what she was born for. This book starts to answer these questions while giving a completely self-contained story and continuing to set the scene. I loved that Kate’s relationship with the Pack, particularly its leader – their relationship is one of the best love/hate relationships I’ve read about and I’m glad to see them both growing closer here – while still continuing to fight and bicker. While the main story here – about an underground fight club style competition isn’t my usual sort of thing (I never understand why every long running American SF series always has a boxing/wrestling episode – if it’s left to run long enough! I’m just not a boxing fan and I find these episodes boring to watch.), but here the fight scenes are done well – tense and exciting. I love than Ilona Andrews can cram a lot of story into a short number of pages without compromising the world building. And this world is different from other urban fantasy world. There are periods when Magic rules the world and the ‘Tech’ hits and it’s all electricity and science in control again. This makes it hard for anyone to make any long term arrangements and makes the world stand out from others. I very enjoyable read.
Recommended for: Fan’s of Patricia Briggs and Jennifer Rardin
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Director: Gareth Carrivick
Staring: Chris O’Dowd, Marc Wootton, Dean Lennox Kelly, Anna Faris
What it’s about: 3 loser friends stumble into a time leak in their local pub’s loos and spend the rest of evening jumping in to the past, future and present to find out why they’re either famous or dead or possibly both in the future.
What I Thought: I loved it! It was great to see a British comedy on the screen with some real intelligent thoughts about time travel – and the obvious bathroom jokes. Chris O’Dows, Dean Lennox Kelly and Marc Wootton were perfectly cast as friends who all have dead end jobs in the local amusement park and spend their time day dreaming about writing a film script or time travel. Then one night in their local they accidentally discover a rift in time in the men’s and spend the rest of the night trying not to screw with the time line and trying to avoid being killed. This is time travel with real people – people who when realising they are 30 minutes in the past spend the time hiding in a cupboard to avoid ‘stepping on a any butterflies’ or ‘touching themselves’. Any self confessed geek or ‘imagineer’ will recognise a lot of the references (everything from Firefly to Back To the Future) but that won’t matter to non-fans as it doesn’t feel like a geek- reference fest. The special effects used are limited but used to good effect – and felt in keeping with the film. This film really deserves a wider audience – I doubt it will be a big crowd puller at the cinema (there were 3 other people in the cinema when I was there) but I hope it does well on DVD and becomes a cult hit. But if you get the chance – see at the cinema! And I hope they make the sequel!
Recommended for: Fans of British Comedy and SF – Shaun of the Dead meets Back To Future.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
- Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: UK - Sphere
Why I picked it up: A long time Kelley Armstrong fan, this non-otherworld book was just waiting to be read.
Back Blurb: To the outside world Nadia Stafford is a smart, good-looking, law-abiding citizen. Well, two out of three's not bad...An ex-cop with a legal code all her own, Nadia has a secret life as a world-class assassin. She works only for one New York crime family, who pay her handsomely to bump off traitors. But when a troubled teenager and her baby vanish in the woods near her home, Nadia's old detective instincts - and the memory of a past loss - compel her to investigate. With her enigmatic mentor Jack to support her, Nadia unearths sinister clues that point to an increasingly dark and deadly mystery. As her obsession over the case deepens, Nadia realises that the only way she can right the wrongs of the present is to face her own painful ghosts - or die trying. And so she sets off on the trail of a young woman no one else cares about - and a killer who is bound to strike again...
What I thought: I wasn’t overly impressed with the first Nadia Stafford book. Perhpas I had been expecting something different even though I knew it wasn’t an Otherworld book, but I struggled to relate to the main character. A cop turned vigilante hit woman doesn’t make for a sympathetic heroine – even written in first person. However, I glad to say this second book in the series is much better. The story line is more simplistic and much more compelling. It also allows Nadia and her motivations to come to the fore. The book is in essence a two handed between Nadia and her mentor – Jack, with cameos by potential love interest Quinn thrown in. This allows both characters to shine as differences and similarities are contrasted and I honestly felt as conflicted as Nadia at times between her choices. The storyline about a missing employee of Nadia’s and her baby, while not the earth- shattering event that a lot of authors focus on – had personal reference for Nadia and was engaging enough. The real joy though was the character interaction and I really enjoyed taking a few hours to peer into the professional hit woman’s life.
Recommended for: Thriller readers with a little mystery thrown in
Rating: 7 out of 10
Sunday, 19 April 2009
This is a fun questionnaire I've copied off facebook about my reading habits. I've tried not to repeat myself too much in my answers!
1. What author do you own the most books by?
Hmm, probably Dean Koontz because he’s written so many over the years and I started reading them in my teens.
2. What book do you own the most copies of?
I’ve been trying to cut down on my repeat books. As most of friends know I’m frequently giving away copies of books I somehow manage to get 2 copies off. At the moment I have 2 copies of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer but only because I have’t got round to posting it to the right person yet!
3. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Probably the Vampire, Lestat from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles – loved him since I was 16! I’m also fond of Harry Dresden and Brian Alexander from the Ancient Future trilogy.
4. What book have you read more than any other?
Watership Down has been read so many times I can’t count - as has the Vampire Chronicles. Vampires and rabbits – strange mix!
5. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Probably the Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell – loved that book so much! No wonder I like being on my own so much...
6. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
The Anvil of Ice by Michael Scott Rohan – really slow, boring fantasy. I’ve blocked it from my mind that I can’t even remember if anything happened in it.
7. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The one I most enjoyed reading at the time is probably The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, but the book I can’t get out my head is The Ancient Future by Traci Harding.
8. If you could tell everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – but I’ve already forced lots of people to read it!
9. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Knowing I will be hated as most people love it but I have to say, The Lord of Rings – Just can’t seem to get past the first book. It takes 200 to leave the bloody shire!
10. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
Sadly I’ve never read either but I would have to lean towards French as I loved the musical Les Miserables. Actually, I’ve readu all the Musketeer book by Dumas so definitely French
11. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?
Shakespeare – but it was meant to be seen not studied to death!
12. Austen or Eliot?
I’ve never read any Austen but I was forced to read Silas Marner by Eliot for GCSE and pretty much hated the book so I’ll say Austen
13. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I lack a lot on the classics such as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and I’ve never read a single Dickens novel...
14. What is your favorite novel?
Watership Down – Richard Adams – brilliant despite my general hatred of rabbits.
Woman in Black – scary!
The Listeners by Walter De La Mere
Uh...don’t really read any.
18. Short Story?
Strange Highways by Dean Koontz – all about second chances
19. Non Fiction
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but one I enjoyed was The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir
20. Graphic Novel?
Again not a big graphic novel reader but I did read the death of Superman when I used to work at the library and things were slow.
21. Science Fiction?
Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
22. Who is your favorite writer?
Kelley Armstrong but I still love Jasper Fforde, Jim Butcher, Isobelle Carmody and Traci Harding.
23. Who is the most over rated writer alive today?
Dan Brown probably – he’s books were ok but I’ve read lots with similar stories before he came along
24. What are you reading right now?
Made to Be Broken by Kelley Armstrong
25. Best Memoir?
Yes Man by Danny Wallace. Forget the film (that’s just Jim Carey pulling faces) – the book is great fun and inspiring!
26. Best History?
Alison Weir’s Elizabeth the Queen
27. Best mystery or Noir?
Jeffery Deavers Licoln Rhyme series – CSI before CSI started!
28. Best fantasy?
The Live Ships by Robin Hobb
29. Best Horror?
Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice or It by Stephen King
30. Best Fiction?
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Wolfblade (book 1 of Wolfblade Trilogy)
- Jennifer Fallon
Publisher: UK - Orbit
Why I picked it up: I spent 6 months travelling around Australia and gazing longingly at all the fantasy authors they have down under that I couldn’t bring back with me (I did manage to smuggle some Traci Harding home and think those books are brilliant!). So when I got home and realised Orbit was publishing Jennifer Fallon in the UK I snapped up a copy.
Back Blurb: Marla Wolfblade of Hythria is determined to restore her family's great name, but conspirators surround her: the Sorcerers' Collective, the Patriots - even members of her own family. She must make sure her son Damin lives to be old enough to restore the Wolfblade name to its former glory. Elezaar the Dwarf is a small man with big secrets - but that doesn't matter to Marla Wolfblade. Her brother is the High Prince of Hythria, and, in this fiercely patriarchal society, her fate will be decided on his whim. She needs someone politically astute to guide her through the maze of court politics - and Elezaar knows more than he is willing to admit. As Elezaar teaches Marla the Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power, Marla starts on the road to becoming a tactician and a wily diplomat - but will that be enough to keep her son alive?
What I thought: This is the first book of a prequel trilogy to Fallon’s Demon Child trilogy and I made the mistake of reading some of the reviews on Amazon before starting the book. These reviews implied that I wouldn’t be able to follow the story unless I’d read the Demon child series first so I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the book (especially as it’s another doorstop book – over 700 pages!) but it just goes to show that you should never listen to critics! I loved the book – all the political wrangling over succession and hints at the use of magic and the ‘hidden’ race of Harshini made for a convincing world. This is a world that has existed for hundred of years and will go on even without the characters. Marla, nominally the ‘main’ character makes enormous strides to grow up throughout the book – and by the end comes of ages. But all the other characters are superbly written as well and there are one or two shocks when some characters are killed off. This is a world where the good guys don’t always win – in fact the good guys don’t always do good and the bad guys aren’t all bad – everyone is a shade of grey and their actions can go either way. I was able to follow the story without reading the Demon Child and I think it surprised me when the story took a certain as I didn’t know how it was going to end. I enjoyed this so much – I can’t wait for the middle book of the trilogy to arrive – Warrior.
Recommended for: Political fantasy fans and people who like fantasy sagas
Rating: 9 out of 10
Friday, 17 April 2009
Kitty and the Silver Bullet
- Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: UK - Gallancz
Why I picked it up: I’ve been following the Kitty series for a while and always look forward to the next one.
Back Blurb: Kitty's radio show, Kitty's Midnight Hour, is as popular as ever, and now she has a boyfriend who actually seems to understand her. Can she finally settle down to a normal life? Not if this is just the calm before the storm. When her mother falls ill, Kitty rushes back to Denver -- and right back to the abusive pack of werewolves she escaped a year ago. To make matters worse, a war is brewing in the vampire community as Denver's two oldest vampires vie for the city, threatening the whole supernatural community. Though she wants to stay neutral, Kitty is once again drawn into a world of politics and violence. To protect her family, her lover, and herself, she'll have to choose sides . . . and maybe become what she hates most about her kind: a killer.
What I thought: I loved it! The last Kitty book (Kitty Takes a Holiday), while adding to the main character’s growth and responsibilities seemed to end without a denouement – it just ended. This book is far richer as Kitty returns home to Denver and confronts the Alphas who killed her best friend in the first book and exiled her from Denver. It really showed how much Kitty has grown since the start of the series and there were some great revelations regarding vampires, werewolf pack dynamics and interestingly Kitty’s relationship with her human family. This had a lot of action in as well as enough intelligent plot to make you want more and I galloped through the book in a couple of days. The only thing missing was a focus on Kitty’s relationship with Ben, her mate but this was simmering in the background and I jumped for joy towards the end as it was resolved.
Recommended for: Werewolf fans everywhere
Rating: 9 out of 10
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
- Tom Knox
Publisher: UK - Harper
Why I picked it up: Another random purchase while waiting for the train at Victoria. I liked the back and I always read the first couple o f pages before purchase in a bookshop.
Back Blurb: In the sunburnt deserts of eastern Turkey, archaeologists are unearthing a stone temple, the world's most ancient building. When Journalist Rob Luttrell is sent to report on the dig, he is intrigued to learn that someone deliberately buried the site 10,000 years ago. Why? Meanwhile, in London, a bizarre attack is baffling the police. When a weird killing takes place on the Isle of Man, followed by another in rural Dorset, DC Mark Forrester begins to discern a curious pattern in these apparently random murders. What weaves together these two stories is the Genesis Secret: a revelation so shocking it may threaten the social structure of the world. Only one man knows the secret, and he is intent on destroying the evidence before it can be uncovered. Spanning the globe from the ruined castles of Ireland to the desolate wastes of Kurdistan, Tom Knox's intense and compelling thriller weaves together genuine historical evidence, scientific insights and Biblical mysteries into an electrifying tale that grips the reader mercilessly from beginning to end.
What I thought: I’ve long been a fan of the ancient mystery genre (pre-Da Vinci code when everyone else jumped on the bandwagon) and the idea of a hidden temple revealing lost mysteries was intriguing but to me the ancient mystery was a little lacking. What kept me hooked was the modern mystery in England with a gang recreating sacrificial offering around the country and the police detective tracking them down. Told in short chapters in parallel to the dig in Kurdistan, it was this story that was far more gripping. At the end when the two merged I felt that Knox was writing to his strengths. The writing was top notch throughout but in the end the actual Genesis Secret to me just wasn’t worth all the trouble the characters went to, to either reveal or hide and that’s what let it down. I will definitely be looking out for more of Knox’s writing though and fingers crossed that he’ll move into crime and straight thrillers as I think he’ll stand out better than among the numerous Dan Brown style books.
Recommended for: James Rollins fans who want a touch of Jeffery Deaver thrown in.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Saturday, 11 April 2009
- Nina Harper
Publisher: UK - Piatkus
Why I picked it up: I’m a fan of Richelle Mead’s Succubus series so this seemed like a different take on the Succubus myth.
Back Blurb: Lily has what looks like the perfect life: a fabulous day job at a fashion magazine; a killer figure she can literally never lose; and a great group of girlfriends who are always there for her. Oh, and she also just-so-happens to be a succubus: an immortal demon who draws her power from other men's pleasure. Although working for the Devil does have it's perks, Lily's realising that serving up bad boys to the fiery pits of Hell is just getting ...well, lonely. Just once, Lily would like to wake up in the morning to something more than a pile of ashes but, contractually bound to Satan, she will only be released if someone truly loves her. Then the devilishly handsome PI Nathan Coleman enters her life and Lily begins to wonder if he might be the man she's been waiting for. He wants to ask Lily a few questions about a missing man, but suddenly someone - or something - wants Lily and her demon friends dead, and Nathan seems to know more than he'll admit to. Can a sweet-talking mortal and a girl from Hell ever really find true love?
What I thought: The best thing about being a Succubus in Nina Harper’s book seems to be the ability to eat as much ice-cream, big breakfasts, large meals and take-away’s and still fit into your Jimmy Choos without needing to spend hours in the gym. Sounds like heaven. Or hell, depending on your point of view. The books strength is in dealing with how Satan’s chosen deal with life on earth by following the latest trends and fashions and driving temptations from there. The sub-plot about the latest incarnation of ‘The Burning Men’ targeting Lily and her friends seems to have been dropped by the end of book (possibly to be picked up by the sequel?) and there is no resolution here. In fact while I very much enjoyed the Urban fantasy take on the Sex and the City theme, I was slightly disappointed at the ending as it seemed to merely fizzle out when it should have popped. However, Lily and her friends seemed like fully rounded characters (especially Sybil & Satan) and it’s nice to see some Urban Fantasy that has more than one girl in. Usually UF has a ‘strong but troubled’ heroine who is continually surrounded by men offering variously to seduce her, help her or kill her. It’s nice to see that there are authors out there trying to have multiple strong women who have different personalities (Kelley Armstrong is brilliant at this and for TV shows Farscape was great – by the end there were more female cast members than male and each had a unique personality), so I will be looking forward to the sequel, Succubus Take Manhattan.
Recommended for: Sex and the City fans who want a touch of Urban Fantasy
Rating: 7 out of 10
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
- Julia Williams
Publisher: UK – Avon (HarperCollins)
Why I picked it up: It was actually a Christmas present for my Mum (who’s almost as big a reader as I am but leans towards historical fiction and chick-lit) and she passed it on to me when she finished. All books should be passed around to spread the word (pen intended!).
Back Blurb: Lawyer Emily promised her late father that she'd devote her life to good causes. So how comes she spends her days defending Z-listers, desperate to prolong their 15 minutes of fame? Katie is obsessed with being the perfect wife and mother - unlike her own one. In which case, why is husband Charlie permanently AWOL these days? Dentist Mark is licking his wounds after his wife walked out on him and desperately missing his kids. Can he cope with becoming a singleton again - on top of a devastating legal case against him? Meanwhile, happy-go-lucky Jack the Lad Rob is hiding a secret tragedy! Isabella's dance classes give the four the perfect opportunity to forget their troubles and re-invent themselves. They can be whoever they want to be - they'll just let their feet do the talking. Over the weeks, as they foxtrot, tango, waltz and cha-cha-cha their way into each other's lives, they discover the truth about each other - and themselves. But will they like what they learn?
What I thought: Being a late comer and now dedicated fan to the Saturday night crazy that is Strictly Come Dancing, I was looking to forward to some fun, dancing, and the usual comedic situation that dominate chick-lit. However, there is little dancing in this book despite the promise and I found very little fun. A lot of this book deals with situations that the characters find themselves in and how they deal the twists and turns of life. There was little fun and games to be had and the dancing only seemed to be used as an excuse for the girls to meet the guys near the start of the book and is hardly mentioned afterwards – dancing certainly didn’t have a big impact on the characters life’s apart from the initial meeting. Some issues concerning the will-they-won’t-they romance seemed a little forced as well (and morally ambiguous). That said (or written!) it’s not a badly written book and it did entertain for two days on the commute to work. What disappointed me was it was more a serious bend on the chick-lit genre and I wasn’t expecting it.
Recommended for: Pride & Prejudice fans
Rating: 5 out of 10
Monday, 6 April 2009
Magic to the Bone
- Devon Monk
Publisher: US - ROC
Why I picked it up: It was one of the recommendations Amazon had for me based on my past purchases. Thought I’d give it a go as the back sounded interesting and it was cheaper than some other books I was looking at!
Back Blurb: Using magic means it uses you back - and every spell exacts a price from the user. Some people, however, get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent, then Allison Beckstrom's job is to identify the spell-caster. Allie would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence than accept the family fortune and the strings that come with it, but when she finds a boy dying from a magical Offload that has her father's signature all over it she is thrown back into the world of his black magic.
What I thought: I like the premised that magic use isn’t free – you use magic and you could end up with a migraine, sore throat, stomach aches of memory loss. And with magic being freely available for anyone to use the world Devon sets up has possibilities. However, I didn’t quite take to the main character Allie. She spends a lot of this book reacting to things and not necessarily sensible (Heading to a clients to spend the night because her apartment smelled?)I didn’t feel she drove the action much – indeed after the confrontation with her father near the start of the book she doesn’t really initiate any further actions, just spends her time being chased and running away. Having said that the ride was enjoyable – I liked the love interest and how he remains as much of a mystery at the end as he did at the beginning. In fact he’s even more mysterious and intriguing. The best friend, Nola was also good and I would have liked more on her. Overall, the book was a good introduction to the world and I think I will be looking out for the sequel ‘Magic in the Blood’...but I probably won’t rush out for it.
Recommended for: Fans of Carrie Vaughan’s Kitty series and Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels books should enjoy this.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Saturday, 4 April 2009
Men of the Otherworld (Otherworld Series – Book 10)
- Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: UK - Orbit
Why I picked it up: I loved Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series. They were the book s that first got me into the ‘Urban Fantasy’ style books. She writes a different twist on the traditional werewolves/witches/demons/vampire world that is accessible and lots of action. This is the first Otherworld book narrated entirely by the men of that world (hence the title) and for follower of her website (www.kelleyarmsrong.com ) some of these stories are familiar. They used to be free on the site but now published in book format with proceeds going to Kelley’s favourite charity (World Literacy of Canada). Not being a fan of reading on-line (it hurts my eyes and there’s nothing like the feel of book in your hands!) I’d only browsed the stories in the past so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. Plus one of the four stories is brand new for the book.
Back Blurb: I don't remember the first time I changed into a wolf. One night I passed out, and awoke to find my body covered in yellow fur. My brain was beyond reacting. It took this in its stride, as it had everything else in my new life. I got to my feet and went in search of food.
As a curious and independent six-year-old, Clayton didn't resist the bite - he asked for it. But as a lone child werewolf his life is under constant threat. So when enigmatic Pack member Jeremy Danvers saves him, Clayton is determined to protect his adoptive father, no matter what the cost. So begins this gripping collection of four tales chronicling the bloody feuds of the American Pack, and the coming of age of Clay Danvers, a very powerful - and very singular - werewolf.
What I thought: Being a fan I loved getting some back ground into the werewolf pack and Clay’s upbringing. What Kelley always seems to do with her stories is remind you that this story you’re reading is just an episode of those characters lives – they have a past (that doesn’t necessarily impact on the present unlike some characters), plans for the future – they have a life. This book covers some of that past only mentioned in passing before in other books concentrating especially on the life of Jeremy Danvers & his adopted son, Clayton. It’s written in 4 stories covering Jeremy’s conception written in third person but focusing on his father Malcolm, Jeremy’s discovery and ‘taming’ of Clay from Clay’s point of view and leading into the third,, Jeremy’s rise to Alpha of the pack. The final story (and the new one for the book) focuses on a weekend with Jeremy and his girlfriend in New York, which just shows that eh past never stays buried. I liked all the stories especially the Clay ones not because he’s one of my favourite characters but it answers a lot of question on how a pack of American werewolves is run and the moral dilemmas between wolf and human.
Recommended for: Fans of the otherworld and urban fantasy series. If you’re new to the world you could do worse than start here but I’d recommend you start at the beginning with Bitten
Rating: 9 out of 10
The Accidental Sorcerer (Rogue Agent – Book 1)
- K.E. Mills
Publisher: UK - Orbit
Why I picked it up: I was browsing my local Waterstones and already had 3 books from their 3 for 2 range and needed a third. I’d heard a lot of thing about Karen Miller’s straight fantasy series and as KE Mills is her pseudonym for a more comedic series, thought I’d give it a try. It’s been on my to be read pile since January (not a long time compared to some of the others sitting there!) so thought I’d give it a go...
Back Blurb: Gerald Dunwoody is a wizard. Just not a particularly good one. He's blown up a factory, lost his job, and there's a chance that he's not really a Third Grade wizard after all. Career disaster strikes again. Luckily, an influential friend manages to get him a posting. So it's off to New Ottosland to be the new Court Wizard for King Lional. His back-up, an ensorcelled bird with a mysterious past, seems dubious. But it's New Ottosland, or nothing. Unfortunately, King Lional isn't the vain, self-centred young man he appeared to be. With a Princess in danger, a bird-brained back-up, and a kingdom to save, Gerald soon suspects he might be out of his depth. And if he can't keep this job, how can he become the wizard he was destined to be ...
What I thought: The first couple of chapters were a bit a struggle to read as it seemed to blend high fantasy concepts such as Magic and Wizard staffs with a modern setting (Bureaucratic safety checks), while a disaster is occurring but after that I got to grips with the world. The hero was not an anti-hero, nor was he heroic, but he has a moral core and won’t run away when people need help and really suffers when he makes the wrong choices. The world seemed real – much closer to the real world than most fantasy worlds. And while not Terry Prachett funny the frumpy princess, the know-it-all bird and the butterfly mad prince where all strong characters that raised a wry chuckle or two. Looking forward to the next book in the series.
Recommended for: Readers who want something different from their fantasy or an entertaining few hours escapism into Ottosland.
Rating: 8 of 10