Thursday, June 26, 2008

Agents of Light and Darkness by Simon Green (4/5 stars)

This is the second book in the Nightside series by Simon Green. This was a great book; much in par with the first book.

John Taylor is good at finding things; anything. When he is contacted by the Vatican to find the Unholy Grail, the most vile and evil of artifacts, he knows he is in trouble. The Unholy Grail is somewhere in the Nightside and everyone who is anyone is trying to get their hands on it. With the assistance of Shotgun Suzie, John starts the long dangerous quest to find the Unholy grail. Meanwhile the angels of heaven and hell want the Unholy Grail for themselves and will stop at nothing to get it.

This is another fast-paced, fun novel. Written in a very noir style, with great action scenes, and grisly details it's a quick (and sometimes slightly disturbing) read. It was great to get more background on Shotgun Suzie. It was also fun to meet some of the other interesting characters in the Nightside. You learn more about the Collector and get to meet Nasty Jack Starshine, along with a slew of other badies. I really enjoyed this book. My only complaint is that, again, it is such a short book.

The story is fairly self-contained with an over-arcing story that deals with the mystery behind John's mother and the mystery of why the Nightside itself exists. I look forward to reading the next book. These are well-written, easy to read, fun to read novels. They are very creative in their own way.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (3/5 stars)

This is another new series that I picked up to read. I have read a lot of preternatural series and I was hoping this would be a good one. I know Patricia Briggs has written a lot of fantasy in the past and I was curious about what she would write for this alternative reality-type series.

This is the first book in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy is an auto mechanic who is also a walker. As a walker she can change into coyote shape. She was raised by werewolves and does a lot of auto mechanic work for the preternatural community. When a boy shows up on her doorstep looking for work at the garage, Mercy finds out he is a new unclaimed werewolf. From there on everything gets complicated and dangerous.

There were somethings I liked about this book but more things I disliked. I liked the fact that it is hinted that Mercy's walker powers are not yet fully discovered. I liked Mercy's honest character and her tough girl facade. I also liked that Mercy knew where to draw the line most of the time. If she knew a situation was out of her league she usually admitted it. I also like the addition of fae into the novel and I especially enjoyed Mercy's old teacher Zee. I liked that the novel was fast-paced and fun; it was easy to read too.

Unfortunately there was a lot I didn't like. The whole situation between Mercy and Samuel echoes the situation between Anita Blake and Richard a bit too much for my comfort. I found that I didn't really like any of the main characters all that much; most of them fell flat for me. There wasn't anything all that special about the writing either. For the most part the book was written in a straightforward style with little description; the book never really grabbed me and made me desperately want to finish it.

All in all I liked this book better than the recent Anita Blake books but I liked it a lot less than the Kim Harrison Hallows books or the Jim Butcher Dresden books. The book was okay, just nothing special to me. I already bought the next two books in the series (I found then for cheap used) so I will probably read the next one and see if I get more into this world and the characters. I was a bit disappointed that this wasn't something a bit more special.

Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey (4/5 stars)

When I heard that the new trilogy in the Kushiel's Series by Jacqueline Carey was not going to be from Phedre's view but from her foster son, Imriel's, view I was a bit worried. Would the story be the same without Phedre leading it? I shouldn't have worried this is a very good book.

As soon as I started it I gave a sigh of relief. This book is again beautifully written and does justice to the three previous books that take place in the same world. This book is entirely about Imriel, Phedre's foster son. It is basically a coming of age story and there is a lot of character development. Imriel changes a lot from the beginning of the book to the end. There is a lot of intrigue as in the previous books. Although this book is less about ordinary people doing extraordinary things and more about the importance of ordinary people doing ordinary things.

All the above being said this book could have almost been broken down into maybe two books and I think it would have been better. If the book would have ended when Imri set off on his voyage to the University, that would have been perfect. As it stands the last third of the book started to drag on for me. Once they started with the siege, I was bored and hard pressed to even finish the book. This usually isn't a problem for me as I love these books. The end of the book didn't really deal with Imri that much and I thought that most of the siege was unnecessary. I understand that the siege had both some plot development points and was supposed to drive home the fact that you don't have to be *the* hero to be important. Still, I found it boring and laborious to get through.

If it hadn't been for the slow last third of the book I would have given this book 6 stars if I could. But the last part really hurt my opinion of the book. I am still excited to read the next book, but I will need a break before I delve into that book.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Something from the Nightside by Simon Green (4/5 stars)

This is the first book of the Nightside novels by Simon Green. I think as of now there are 12 planned books for this series. The most recent book is book 7 "Hell to Pay".

I read somewhere that this is Simon Green's homage to the detective stories of old. I suppose that is a good description of this book but with a lot of twists.

The main character John Taylor is a finder, he can find things, anything. When Joanna Barett shows up requesting that John help find her daughter Catharine, John accepts the job. The only twist is that rumors are Catharine has been seen in the Nightside; the twisted evil center of London. John fled from the Nightside 5 years ago to save his own life. For some reason though the return back there feels like home to John.

This book was a fun and quick read. I liked the character of John Taylor; he has a lot of depth and some interesting abilities. There is a lot of history hinted at in John's past that will make some interesting fodder as the series continues. The descriptions of Nightside are very dark and horror-like. I would classify this book maybe more as a horror novel; although it still is part of the alternate reality fantasy genre. Some parts of this book reminded me of the Sonya Blue series; although this book was quite as vicious as those books were.

There was a ton of well written action, some fun twists and surprises. This book is not for the faint of heart though as all the gore in the action scenes is visited in ...well...gory detail.

My only complaints with this book would be that 1)It was a really short book and 2) sometimes descriptions got a bit wordy and kind of took over the story. Otherwise it was a great book and I look forward to reading the next one in the series.

You Don't Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But it Helps by Tom Holt (3/5 stars)

I picked this book up on a whim because it looked funny. I have heard of Tom Holt before but have never read any books by him. This book was okay.

I guess you could think of this book as Office Space meets Hell...or something like that. If you throw in a dash of star-crossed lovers and interfering angels and demons then you have this book. Does that help explain it? Probably not. The plotline was convoluted to say the least.

So you have Colin whose dad is selling his soul to the Devil to get cheap workers for his factory so that the family business can compete with Chinese imports. You have Cassie who is the magical go between; you know the person who draws up and explains the contracts that Colin's father needs to sign with the devil(standard procedure obviously). Then you have a rift in space time that's been created because of a couple of star-crossed lovers who can't quite seem to get it right - even though they've been reincarnated numerous times to figure it all out. There is the case of mistaken identity as the powers that be try to fix the star-crossed lovers problem. Also what's up with the tree growing in Colin's parents' house?

If the above sounds convoluted; well it is. This book was not an easy read, it was also not especially fun to read. There were some interested concepts and the writing style was matter of fact, with a British twist to it, and a forced sense of humor. Some parts of this book were mildly funny. I didn't find any of the characters especially interesting. Although the world that Holt created was interesting; everything was just too complicated and the story seemed to chase itself in circles.

I almost didn't get through this book. I had to force myself to finish it. That being said it gets 3 stars (instead of 2) because I got a grand chuckle at the ending . It looks like Tom Holt has a number of books out there that are better than this one. I don't think I will be reading anymore of his books anytime soon. Guess that's what I get for reading something on a whim.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. In an interview I read with her supposedly she is on contract for 6 books (so far) for this series. This was a great book.

The book starts with Rose and Lissa who have escaped from the "Vampire Academy" because of reasons initially unknown. Shortly after the start of the book they are captured and taken back to the Academy. Lissa is a Moroi, or a living vampire. Rose is her guardian, a dhampir. The Moroi need gaurdians to protect then from the Strigoi; immortal or undead vampires. Upon returning to school Rose resumes her training while Lissa fights to regain her social status as a Moroi Princess. The events that led to their initial flight from the school as well as the source of Lissa's emotional instability are revealed as the story continues.

This book was a fun and quick read. The characters are likable and the plotline is fast-paced and keeps you involved. I read this book in a couple days. I really liked the characters of Rose, Lissa, and Christian. The world that was developed for this story is also very complex and complete. Overall the book is an interesting take on vampires; the Moroi have very unique powers and the fact that they are threatened with extinction because of the Strigoi really propels the story forward.

The book was well-written and fun. Exactly the kind of book I was hoping it would be. I am excited to read the next book in the series.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bloodlist by P. N. Elrod (3/5 stars)

Bloodlist is the first book on the Vampire Files series by P.N. Elrod. They all feature newly turned vampire Jack Flemming. This book was okay. A bit different from what I was expecting based on the few short stories I've read featuring Jack Flemming. I listened to this on audio book; and the audio book was very well done.

Jack Flemming wakes up dead on a beach, or should I say undead. Someone has murdered him and, because of his association with a female vampire in his past, instead of dying Jack has turned into a vampire. With the help of the ever-curious private investigator Charles Escott; Jack and Charles try to track down Jack's history to find out who murdered Jack and why. This whole book takes place in Chicago in the 1930's and deals a lot with the gangs that were big during that time and with the Depression.

This book is written in a horror/mystery style. The book itself is very much a mystery/crime story. The writing is gory and fairly dark. There was a lot of action in the story; which was fun to read. Although I found Jack's vampiric powers to be pretty basic, traditional, and uninteresting. Although Jack makes good use of his powers some of the time, there are many times though where he doesn't use his powers and this lack of use doesn't really make sense. I didn't really like Jack much as a character. In the short story I read about Jack, Jack was much lighter and funnier than in this book. Charles is a hoot though and I really liked him.

I was waiting for some twists in the story or *something* to surprise me. Nothing really did though. This is a solid crime novel involving a vampire with slightly special powers. There is a lot of violence and dealing with gangsters. If that's your thing you would really like this book. Unfortunately I was looking for something a little more fantasy/sci fi and this book was surprisingly mundane in that area. The writing is fine, nothing special but nothing horrible either. I do not know if I will read any more books in this series or not. It will depend on what else I have to read.