Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lady Friday by Garth Nix (4/5 stars)

The fifth book in the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix did not disappoint me.

Leaf wakes up in a strange room in the hospital with a bunch of other sleeping people. The people are transported by Dr. Friday to somewhere in the secondary realms. Meanwhile Arthur gets a message that Lady Friday has abdicated her position as the Keeper of the Fifth Key. When he goes to touch the message he finds out it is a trap. He is immediately transported to somewhere, that he can only assume, is in the middle house.

Leaf struggles to figure out a way to save all of the humans from Lady Friday, while Arthur tries desperately to find the 5th part of the Will as well as the Fifth Key. Things are getting desperate in the house and you can't help but wonder if Arthur will be able to fix things and still remain human, or will he become a Denizen and be doomed to live forever in the House?

This was one of the best books in this series so far. Arthur has finally let up on his whining and seems to be maturing. He takes control of situations with only a touch of his former uncertainty. Fred and Suzie are again along for the ride and some other interesting characters are introduced.

Overall this was a fast-paced book, it was fun, exciting, and easy to read. I actually listened to it on audio book and the audio book was very well done. I can't wait for the next book in the series to be released.

On a side note, does anyone else notice these books seem to be following the Seven Deadly Sins? Mister Monday = Sloth, Grim Tuesday = Greed, Lady Wednesday = Gluttony, Sir Thursday = Pride or maybe Wrath, Lady Friday = Envy (of human desires)
That would leave Lust and either Pride or Wrath...we'll have to see how Saturday turns out.

Threads of Malice by Tamara Siler Jones (4/5 stars)

This is the second book by Jones that features Dubric Byerly as the lead investigator. All in all these books are much more heavy on the horror than the fantasy.

In this book Dubric and crew end up going to the Reaches to investigate the disappearance of a number of young men/boys. The residents of the area are convinced that "the dark" is stealing the boys and that there is nothing to be done. Dubric believes that the disappearances are a simple case of a serial killer being on the loose. Things end up being more complicated than Dubric could have guessed.

I thought this book was much better than the first book of the series. Dubric and Lars are great characters. The story is well written and well put together. There is a lot of action, lots of plot twists and turns, and the characters have a lot of depth and are interesting. This really is a well-written series, it's just not my type of series.

I have trouble reading these books because they go outside my areas of comfort regarding the blood, gore, and torture in them. This book crosses into uncomfortable, hard to read about areas for me. They are also very scary and I am not big into scary books, they tend to creep me out and give me nightmares. The only reason this book is considered fantasy is because it takes place in a fantasy type realm (castles, pages, etc.) and it touches lightly on dealing with magic. The book is definitely more of a horror/crime type novel.

So, while this book is superbly writing, the characters are very unique, and the plot is deftly twisted...I won't be reading any more of these books because they are too scary for me. Laugh if you like, but my husband was getting sick of me turning all the lights on in the house at night, so no more of these scary books for me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Marked by PC Cast, Kristin Cast (3/5 stars)

This is the first book in the House of Night series by PC and Kirstin Cast. I was interested in this series because it was recommended for people who liked the Twilight series.

Zoey Redbird is leading a fairly normal life, when during school she is Marked. Being Marked means she is one of the Chosen who are meant to undergo a change into a vampyre. Her mom and born-again-Christian-like step-father do not take kindly to this and see it as Zoey's fault that she has been Marked.

Zoey flees her house to move into the House of Night; which is an academy that helps people deal with the Change into vampyre. Unfortunately Zoey even finds herself an outcast here when her mark mysteriously fills in, which it is not supposed to do until she is a full-fledged vampyre.

I'll start out by saying I think a 5 year old could've written this book. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration; but it is not high quality writing. There is a lot of slang, a lot of teenage angsty stuffy, and a lot of fluff. There are also a lot of stereotypical characters. I also found Damien's use of words (and then the constant explanation of what those words meant) to be very silly. That is really talking down to your readers and assuming they are not intelligent people. I mean, if someone doesn't know a word, they can go and look it up online.

All the negatives aside. I found the story to be entertaining and the book was an easy (even if it was excessively easy) read. I liked the idea of vampyrism being fate, I like the idea that some people don't survive the change, and I liked the inclusion of the Goddness Nix. I also found some of the Cherokee folklore that was thrown in the mix to be creative and interesting.

Despite the horrible writing and fluffiness of the characters I am sad to say that I actually did enjoy this book some. I found Zoey to be interesting and am interested in what will happen to her in the next book. So, since I didn't stop half way through the book in disgust and throw it out, there must be something good and engaging here.

I will probably read the next book, but I will try not to buy it new but rather wait until I can get it used somewhere. This level of writing just isn't worth spending my money on. I think the Vampire Acedemy series by Richelle Mead is much more well-written and more interesting and I would strongly recommend reading that series in place of this one. I have also heard good things about Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series.

Hex and the City by Simon Green (4/5 stars)

This is the 4th book in the Nightside series by Simon Green.

John Taylor is commissioned by the Lady Luck herself to find something near and dear to John's own heart. Lady Luck wishes to know the origins of the Nightside, John suspects that his own mother is linked to the Nightside's origins. John joins up with Madman (who has seen things no human should and, as such, randomly changes the reality around himself) and Sinner (who has been rejected by both heaven and hell and as such cannot be killed) to venture into deeper and darker places beneath the Nightside than have ever been breached; at least ever been breached by people who later lived to tell about.

This book was fast-paced, fun, and very creative. I loved Madman, Sinner, and Pretty Poison. They are wonderful characters with a lot of depth and creativity in their personas.

This book answers some questions about Walker, the Authorities, the Nightside, and John's mother. It was nice to get come closure around these questions. That being said this was a departure from the previous stories in that it is not a self-contained story and adventure. The end of this book leaves you desperately waiting for the next book to find out what happens.

On one hand I kind of liked the transition of this series to something that is larger than one book; on the other hand I miss the self-contained detective story with a mysterious over-arcing storyline. This story was just structured differently from previous ones and whether that is good or bad...well, only the next book will tell.

That being said I really liked this book. I found it extremely amusing, as well as extremely disturbing. I can't wait to get my hands on the next one.

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

This is the second book in the trilogy that takes place in the same world as Phedre's trilogy, but this time from Imriel's point of view.

In this book Imriel makes good on his promise to marry Dorelei and try to solidify a peace between their two realms. The story is epic in proportions and a lot happens to Imri in the course of this book.

This book was again well-written and the story was thoughtfully progressed. I was a little disappointed at how little Sidonie was actually in the story. I constantly felt bad for Dorelei and I wearied of Imri's constant "trying".

I did not find this book to be as engaging as the last one and kind of had to force myself to finish the end of it. There is just a lot here again. Either too much took place for one book or some of it didn't need to be there, I don't know which. I actually didn't think the book picked up pace until Imri returned home.

I am not sure if the story is just lacking or maybe if I am just not as engaged with Imri as a lead character as I was with Phedre; but for some reason I have been finding this trilogy of books somewhat tedious and slow to get through.

So in summary, beautiful writing, lovely story, but somehow I am finding it a bit tedious and lengthy to get through. I don't find myself quickly turning pages but instead looking ahead to find where the end of the chapter is so that I can stop reading. It's hard to say anything bad about this series because, in general, I love it so much. I'll read the next book and hope that it is faster paced than this one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer (3/5 stars)

This looks to be the first in a new series by Eoin Colfer. I am not actually sure if a new series is planned but the way the book ends would lead you to believe the potential is there.

Fletcher Moon is a certified detective that is pulled into a case where he ends up being one of the main culprits. I could take more time to describe the storyline but I think it would bore you because in general I found this book to be pretty boring.

This is nothing fantastical about this book, it is a straight detective story. While Moon is occasionally clever; he more often stumbles upon things than he actually conceives them. In fact I thought Fletcher himself was one of the less interesting characters in the book. Fletcher's older sister and Red were by far more interesting than Fletcher.

The book was well-written and an easy read. I did not find the storyline especially creative or surprising; I figured out who the criminal was early on in the book and was very disappointed when I was right...I had been hoping for some fun twists.

The only other Colfer books that I have previously read are the Artemis Fowl books. The Artemis Fowl series is leagues more interesting and creative than this series. Artemis Fowl himself is a much more intriguing character; the supporting cast of that series is also much more fun.

I won't be reading any more books in this series. I am curious as to whether or not other Colfer books (outside of Artemis Fowl) are more interesting than this book. I *do* eagerly await the next Fowl book.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Frostbite by Richelle Mead (5/5 stars)

This is the second book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It was just as engrossing and griping as the first book. This is another one of those series that I just can't put down, yet I am not sure why.

In this book a violent Strigoi attack on a noble Moroi family leaves St. Valdimar's academy in a state of panic as the Christmas holidays approach. An elegant solution is presented that will allow the students of the academy to mingle with their parents for the holidays. The whole school is put up in a ski resort for the holiday season; with the highest security measures taken. Lissa is forced to mingle with her noble kindred and much of her time is spent in the company of Christian. Rose finds herself in a lonely situation. Dimitry is doing his best to ignore her and Lissa is otherwise occupied. Rose's life is even further complicated when her famous guardian mother shows up to help with security. As Strigoi attacks continue to get more violent and more frequent, many questions are brought up; among them are whether the Moroi should learn to protect themselves and use their magic to harm others.

This book was well-written, the characters have a lot of depth, and the world is creative and interesting. The action scenes are well-written. The love scenes are sweet without being overly explicit. The binding between Rose and Lissa is interesting. The inclusion of both Adrian and a new love interest for Dimitri made for wonderful new character additions. Throughout the whole book is a overlying sense of urgency and doom as if the Moroi are being marched toward their extinction. The next book promises to have even more dire situations and more interesting character development.

I could not put this book down. I had to blink back tears at the ending for a number of reasons, it was sad and yet hopeful. It takes a good author to drag a reader into a story that thoroughly. The only thing that has bothered me about this series is that I think the book titles are a bit corny and the book covers could also use some help. That is a small quip though based on how much I have loved this series!

I was sad to finish this book and can't wait for the next one to come out. I would put this series right up there with the Twilight series given how much I love it.

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs (3/5 stars)

This is the third book in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. I think this is the strongest book in the series so far; although it still didn't blow me away with its quality and creativity.

In this book Mercy is contacted by Zee to see if she can come to the fairy reservation to help sniff out a serial killer that is on the loose there. As the mystery unravels, Mercy finds that she is not only putting her own life in grave danger with her involvement in the case but also the lives of her friends.

The writing for this book follows the first two books in the series. The book is decently written, if nothing special. There were a couple typos in the book which I found distracting. I was happy that Briggs made progress in the Mercy, Adam, Samuel deal; I was worried that she was going to string that out forever. Hopefully the issue is not continually visited in future books.

I thought that this book had more action than the previous books and put the characters in more dire situations, especially Mercy. What happened to her was horrible but should serve to add some much needed depth to her character. It was again a quick read and a fun read, if not a very involved read.

Having Mercy deal with the fairy folk made the book more interesting. Although I was disappointed at the lack in creativity when dealing with the fairy-folks special powers. Mercy made some slight progress in finding out what a walker is, but not as much as I would have liked to see.

So while this book was, in my opinion, the best of the series; the series is still mediocre. It is not horrible and I get some enjoyment from the books; I still don't see anything all that special here. I am not sure if I will continue to read this series or not, we will see.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nightingale's Lament by Simon Green (5/5 stars)

This is the third book in the Nightside series by Simon Green. It was an excellent and very creative story.

John Taylor is contacted by Charles Chabron to find out the whereabouts of his daughter Rossingol. Rossingol came to the Nightside to hit it big as a singer. She has signed up with some new managers, the Cavendishes, and is selling out all of her shows. Her success is coming with a strange side effect; after hearing her sing many of her fans commit suicide. As Taylor struggles to figure out what has been done to Rossingol, he finds out her managers are more dangerous than he ever imagined.

This series just seems to be getting better and better. The cast of characters is creative, amusing, and very colorful. I loved Julien Advent and Dead Boy. Dead Boy in particular added a lot of wry humor and fun to the book. The Nightside continues to be a surprising and darkly amusing environment. I don't know how Green thinks up all of this stuff but the surprises and creative environment flies at you from all sides. The writing is action packed, descriptive, and moves along at a fast clip. The story is, once again, fairly self-contained.

The overlying doom of what John Taylor is and who his mother is still hovers over the overall story arc. So far I have just absolutely loved this series. I want to go out right away and buy all of the books!

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs (3/5 stars)

This is the second book in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. It was about on par with the first book. It was okay but nothing special.

In this book Mercy is contacted by Stefen who calls in a favor that Mercy owes him and asks her to accompany him on a short trip. Stefen is supposed to check in on a vampire who entered the area unannounced. Stefen is nervous about the encounter and wants Mercy to come along because her Walker abilities should make her immune to any magic effects that this vampire has. Well, the vampire is more than he initially seems to be and the remainder of the book is dedicated to hunting him down and destroying him.

The story is straight forward and is a quick, fun read. I am still having trouble really liking any of the characters. The tension in the relationship between Mercy, Samuel and Adam is getting old. The vampires seemed kind of boring and predictable. The writing is still nothing special. Mercy's walker abilities are also nothing really interesting so far. The bright spots in this book for me were Mercy's dealings with the fey and the interesting weapons they gave her. I also though that the Wizard was an interesting character and I hope we see more of him in the future.

All the above being said, I'll read the next book because I already have it. Hopefully the next book will really draw me in. If not that's it for this series and I won't read anymore.