Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow (5/5 stars)

This is the first book in the Danny Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow. Amazon kept recommending this book to me as a great book to read. Guess what? I really did like it!

Danny is a Necromance; that is she communes with the dead. In order to make some extra cash on the side she often takes up bounty hunts. The rumor of her hobby has reached Lucifer, yes the Devil himself, and he has sent one of his demons to bring Danny to hell to offer her a job. A demon is on the loose, a demon that's been granted immunity from hell, and Lucifer needs Danny to take the job. To help keep Danny alive Lucifer sends along his right hand assasin, Japhrimel.

This is a face paced, fun book, with a dark sense of humor. Much of the humor is somewhat cutting and sarcastic. The whole book is very dark and reminds me a little bit of Sin City or Gotham City. The cast of characters is very entertaining and each has their own bits of dark past that gives them great depth. There is a little kung-fu taste to the book, as Danny fights with a katana and has her own specific version of honor. Think Kill-Bill, with more magic and not quite as much revenge.

There is non-stop action, more than a little violence and gore. The thing I liked best though was the creativity of the book. The book takes place in a future earth type setting. As such, there is some bandying about of tech-talk that leaves the reader wondering at times. Yet, the incorporation of magic and demons into this tech world is done seamlessly. I was very impressed.

My only complaint would be that the writing is not as high level as I usually like; but for this book the writing style fits the context. Some of the book reminds me a little of Kim Harrison's "Dead Witch Walking" series. This series has a lot more edge and darkness to it though; I guess if I had to compare it with something I've read before (although it's a very unique book so that is tough) I would compare this series to the Sonya Blue Series by Nancy Collins. Although, Danny is not as screwed up as Sonya was and this is a more comfortable series for me to read than Sonya Blue was.

The main story was tied up nicely at the end of the book. Still, I yearned to know more about Danny after I finished the first book. For instance what horrible things happened at the school she went to? What really happens to the demon? How will Danny deal with her new...physique?

Loved the book. I ran right out and bought the second one as soon as I had finished the first.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mistral's Kiss by Laurell Hamilton (3/5 stars)

This book is the fifth book in the Meredith Gentry series by Laurell Hamilton. I am really not sure why I read this series. I think part of the reason why is that I have always been intrigued by the Unseelie and Seelie fairy courts. This series is one of the best ones for delving deep into traditional-type fairy culture. Unfortunately a lot of this series is also devoted to sex. Lots and lots of sex. Which I guess is okay since the whole point of the series is for Merry to have a heir. I don't think people should still be complaining about their being too much sex in these books. These books made no secret about what they were about from the very beginning and if you don't like the sex you probably shouldn't still be reading them!

This book spends a lot of time dealing with three of the fairy members; Mistral, Abeloec, and King Sholto. With Mistral's entrance to the sex scene there is a little tame S&M introduced into the book. The sithen continues to act oddly in response to Merry's prescence. Merry's guard continues to gain godlike powers by sleeping with her. There is some plot development but oddly the book is very, very short. I think it took maybe 3-4 hours to read it. I agree with some other reviews I have read that this should not have been a stand alone book.

I am strangely intrigued by Merry's guards all turning back into gods. I mean in the end what will that make Merry considering she is not fully sidhe? It continues to be an interesting series, but I have learned not to expect a whole lot from these books. They are fun and quick and at least Merry's character has been fairly consistent throughout the series. When I read the Anita Blake books sometimes I feel like Merry has been creeping into Anita's character and it bothers me.

So all in all, the book was okay. I am glad I waited to buy it used. This book was exactly what I expected, which is to say it wasn't awful but it wasn't anything extraodinary either.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (4/5 stars)

This is the third, and final book, of the Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray. Although this was an excellent book; I think it was the weakest of the series.

This book picks up with the girls back at Spence Academy looking forward to a new school year. Gemma is struggling to use her magic to summon a door to the realms and also finds out that the wing of the school that burnt down is being rebuilt. Gemma has more visions and eventually they lead her to find that there is a door to enter the realms in the old wing of the school. When Felicity, Ann, and Gemma enter the realms they find that things have changed; the creatures from the Winterlands are missing. Gemma is pressured by the forest folk to share the magic that she bound to herself in the last book and is unsure of who to trust throughout the whole book.

There is a lot to say about this book. The book was very long; a bit too long. It is a long time until Kartrik enters the story and initially you are left wondering if you'll ever see him again. Gemma's character became kind of frustrating to read about. She knows that what she does with the magic is really important, yet she seems to spend a lot of time playing with the magic. This seems inconsistent with her character; usually she gets things done. In this book she spends a lot of time using the magic for frivolous purposes. I am not sure if this was supposed to portray Gemma's immaturity or what the purpose was.

This book had some interesting political overtones; which were different from previous books in the series. There was more of a women's rights and worker's rights theme to this book. I thought it was strange that politics enter into the storyline fairly prominently. This was something the girls never worried about much before. Maybe the politics were supposed to show us that the girls were maturing and starting to pay more attention to society outside of their little happy sphere.

I am not surprised at how things ended between Gemma and Kartrik. I am surprised that so many readers were caught off guard by the result of their relationship. Really, to stay at all true with the times, that was probably the best way to handle things. Felicity, Gemma, and Ann are already bolder than I think the society of the time would really allow for; what happens with Gemma and Kartrik brings a bit of realism to the story.

I though Felicity and Ann's storylines were well done and wrapped up nicely. I especially like how Ann's story went; that girl deserved a nice turn in her life. I think Felicity's story ended on a more positive note than it would realistically. As for Gemma's final story; I have to agree with other reviewers that that was totally out of left field. No idea at all where that came from. Gemma's decisions about her future didn't seem to fit with the rest of Gemma's interests and life style. It was odd. I am not sure if the author's sole intention was to surprise and shock but, well, I guess if that was the intention, it worked.

Overall the book was well-written, ended okay, and left the characters in pleasant (almost too pleasant) stages of their lives. I wish the story had been a bit tighter, that Gemma's character had stayed more true to her, well, character, and that things hadn't ended on such an absurdly positive fairytale-ish note. Other than that it was a very satisfying read and a good conclusion to an absolutely wonderful series. It will be interesting to see what Miss Bray writes next!

Mysterious Journey to the North Sea (Part Two) by Hideyuki Kikuchi (5/5 stars)

This is the eighth book in the Vampire Hunter D series by Hideyuki Kikuchi. This book picks up right where the last book left off; in the middle of a fight.

D struggles (as much as he ever struggles) to protect the pearl from the evil people that plot to steal it from him. He also is protecting Win-Lu from all of the people going after the pearl. There are numerous battle and even more evil-doers than ever before. You finally find out what the pearl is and why it is so important.

As I mentioned when reviewing part 1; this book is somewhat different from the other books in the Vampire Hunter D series in that D is more "human" than ever before. D shows emotion and shows that he has faults like everyone else. Win-Lu is a strong character with a dry sense of humor that makes the book fun. You get to spend a lot more time with D's left hand and his hand also has a sense of wit to rival Win-Lu's.

This was a great book with non-stop action. You are actually left wondering at points if D will give up his wandering for a bit and make this town a temporary home. This book gives some nostalgic insight into how things were with the nobility before disaster struck. Of course more mystery is presented regarding who, and what, D is. Some hints are given as to D's origin but nothing is answered for sure.

I look forward to the next book in the series. Although there is a long way to go in this series. I read somewhere that in Japan book 18 was just released. Good thing I like these books because it looks like I will have a lengthy relationship with them :-)