Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison (5/5 stars)

This is the sixth book in Kim Harrison's Hallows series. It was a great book that kept me turning the pages and it was very hard to put down. I am so relived that Harrison continues to write awesome books.

Rachel is prepping for the huge Halloween holiday with her mother when she is assaulted by an unexpected guest; Al is somehow out of demon jail and he is bent on killing Rachel once and for all. Rachel has to figure out what is going on and save her friends and her family.

It was wonderful to read more about Rachel's mother and about Al. Trent also goes through a lot of character development in this story. I was happy that Harrison put Rachel on a "relationship hiatus" in this book. After Kisten's death, it was nice to see Rachel do what a real person would do...which is take some time get herself back together. I would have been sorely disappointed if she followed the path of another female character we all know and has Rachel sleep with everything that moved.

I was a little surprised that the main plot wasn't tracking down Kisten's murderer but rather dealing with Al. It was great to find out who Rachel's real father was; and it was good to find out about Rachel's true genetic makeup and abilities.

Like usual the book was fast-paced, action-packed, and hard to put down. Jenks was his usual self and it was nice to see Rachel and Ivy make some progress in their friendship. I do hope that the blood-balance thing between Rachel and Ivy isn't revived in the next book; enough is enough on that topic.

Overall, this was an awesome book. This book ended well leaving me feeling like the next book will be entering a fresh new chapter of Rachel's life. Can't wait for the next book!

BTW, I was reading an interview with Kim Harrison where she says that her contract has been extended part 6 books to 9 books. So, it looks like we have at least three more books in the series to go!

The High King's Tomb by Kristen Britain (3/5 stars)

This is the third book in the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain. I honestly think it was the weakest of the three books.

In this book Karigan is struggling with the King's wedding to Lady Estora and, when the Captain Mapstone askes her to go on a seemingly boring mission, Karigan is thrilled to leave the castle. The only downer is that she has to bring along a new Green Rider (Fergal) and train him in on the mission. The D'Yer wall continues to crumble and Alton struggles to find a way to repair it. Of course all is not what it seems to be and Karigan's simple mission goes awry.

The beginning of this book was slow and meandering. The only excitement was Karigan's duel with Amberhill in the museum before she left on her mission. I thought Karigan was strangely morose and immature in the beginning of the book; especially with how she treated Lady Estora.

I don't think that Fergal really added much to the book; I started getting flashbacks to Mercedes Lackey's Valedmar series when I read about Fergal. The introduction of Amberhill as the destitute noble/rogue was fun. Amberhill is an entertaining character but I struggled to get him to fit into the story. His role in the story seemed forced and a bit unnatural; althought I think this character has promise for the future. Unfortunately I was getting the feeling that Amberhill's only purpose in this novel is to set him up as a future love interest for Karigan (I guess time will tell).

Damien and Lady Frost were very interesting characters that didn't get enough page space. It was also nice to see the Berry sisters again; although the role they played was tiny.

The story overall was disappointing. Both Karigan and Alton did a lot of hemming and hawing. There were a lot of issues brought up in the book that were left unresolved (Karigan's problem with her father trying to foist her off for marriage, etc). I think people who have previously reviewed this book and described it as a transition novel are right. There was a lot of shuffling people around and setting up stuff but not a lot of meaningful action taking place.

At the end of this book I had more questions than answers. I also started to despair that this is going to be a long un-ending series. I think it would have been good as a trilogy; I am worried that it will drag itself down if too many books are slapped onto this series.

So in summary, it was okay. I read it at a pretty good clip for a while and then had trouble finishing it. Hopefully the next book is more meaningful and hopefully it concludes this series!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Update of Chart of Book Series I am Reading

Hi everyone! Below is pasted the chart that I have been updating with book series I am in the middle of. Series are listed that I've stopped reading and series are also listed that I have finished reading. There are now updates on upcoming books and any information I could find on the length of each series. Keep in mind that series length are based on "rumors" or author interviews that I found online. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sir Thursday by Garth Nix (4/5 stars)

This is the fourth book in the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. I think this is easily the best book in the series so far.

Arthur is anxious to return back to his own world when he finds out about the presence of the Skinless Boy. He finds he is unable to return to his world and has been drafted into Sir Thursday's Army. Arthur is also very concerned about the magical contamination he has received from using the keys. If he gets too much magical contamination he will turn into a Denizen and never be able to return home. As if this all wasn't complicated enough someone has started killing the former Days. Arthur needs to disable the skinless boy and get the 4th part of the will along with Sir Thursday's key but how will he do all of this from the Army's ranks?

This was a great book. Arthur is finally starting to grow up. At least in this book he only spent 20% of the time whining instead of 60%. I am glad the Suzi Blue was in the book more and even more glad that Leaf played a larger role in this book too. The book was a little slow in the middle but the end was full of non-stop action. I thought the role of the Piper was interesting. Also the mention of Lady Friday at the end of the book was very ominous.

My only real complaint in this book is (again) Arthur's whining. Also there are points in the book where he seems to be helpless and then suddenly he takes action; it seems a bit inconsistent. This book is still the best of the four so far. I am interested to see what happens in Lady Friday (the next book). I have found it interesting how the personality of the Will changes as more and more parts of it are found. This book does end with a bit of a cliff hanger that will have you wishing for the next book.

The Rose Princess by Hideyuki Kikuchi (5/5 stars)

It is hard to believe that this is the 9th book in the Vampire Hunter D series from Hideyuki Kikuchi. These books never seem to be a burden to read and are nice because they each tell a self-contained story with D and his world being the connecting thread between books. This was a great book and the illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano were, as usual, stunning.

The citizens of the village of Sakuri make an exceptionally good living. Their crops are plentiful and their weather is pleasant, they are protected from the evil outside of their village. That is, as long as they make the occasional sacrifice to the Rose Princess. The Rose Princess and her knights protect the village in return for the occasional young villager to be the Princess's meal. One of the villager's sons tries to rescue the most recent sacrifice; upsetting this careful balance. The villagers are put under "village arrest" until the young man who caused all the trouble is found. Enter D into this disturbed village where he promises to carry out his mission to destroy all Nobility which in this case, is the Rose Princess herself.

Once again, the characters in the book have more depth than some of the earlier books. The book is fast paced and the fight scenes are creative. I love the addition of the four knights. The Rose Princess is an interesting character and it is nice to have a feisty female lead.

I have liked most of the Vampire Hunter D books but this one was especially good. I had trouble putting it down and read through it in just a couple nights. I am excited for the next one. I love the unique fighting abilities and the slow unveiling of D as a character that happens in this series in general.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Specials by Scott Westerfeld (4/5 stars)

This is the third, and final, book in the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. I think that this book was the best of the series.

In this book Tally is a Special. She is part of a Special group that Shay leads called the Cutters. Zane is strangely absent in the beginning and Tally sometimes wonders about him but not as much as you would think. The Cutters are on a Special assignment to find out where all of the Pretty curing pills are coming from and eliminate the source of them. The Cutters (as the name suggests) cut themselves to stay "icy"; it helps them to see the world in perfect clarity. The Cutters are finding out that the Pretty cure is something that is much bigger than their own city.

Once again it was interesting how the Specials operation changed many aspects of Tally's personality. All of the neat abilities of the Specials were really fun to read about. This book was the fastest paced of the three; still a really fast and easy read. There was a ton interesting technology introduced in this book. I also think that a lot of the characters grew up some in this book.

This book was the most fun of the three books to read. It was also the most significant as far as discussing more worldly issues. I was still a little disappointed in how the author dumbed things down. I also though the final manifesto was a bit over the top, unnecessary, and cheesy; it was a very juvenile statement from a character who seemed older than that by the end of the book.

Overall this was a good conclusion to a mediocre series. This wasn't a bad series, but I don't think it really deserved all the acclaim that it got. There are other young adult sci-fi series out there that are more deserving of praise. There is now an additional book out to this series called Extras that deals with the same world but different characters. I don't think I will be reading Extraas; it bothers me when an author commits to a trilogy and then extends the series because of good sales.

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld (3.5/5 stars)

This is the second book in the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfield. This book was much better than the first novel of the series but still feel a little flat for me.

At the beginning of this book we meet Tally (who has been turned into a Pretty) and Shay getting ready for a costume party. At the party Tally has a strange encounter with someone dressed like Special Circumstances. Tally is trying to get accepted into a group of Pretties called the Crims. Who, as their name suggests, all committed "criminal" acts as Uglies. Zane, the leader of the Crims, suspects that more is just changed during the Pretty operation than their faces. Zane and the other Crims make it a goal to pull off daring stunts in order to "stay bubbly" and be able to see through the Pretty induced mental haze.

This was a much faster paced novel than the previous one. It was very interesting how different Tally's personality was as a Pretty and how she fought internally with the Prettiness. Zane is an interesting character and a good addition to the series. It was fun to read about the exploits of the Crims. In general this was a decent book; full of action and interesting personality changes.

That being said, for me, there was still something a little off about this book. I wasn't that attached to the characters and the action scenes didn't really come alive for me. I am not sure what it is but there is something that stops this novel from becoming wonderful; I think it may be that the writing style is a bit unpolished and simplistic for me. I also think that the author is still dumbing down things too much for his audience.

I will definitely read the next book because this book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger much like the first one.