Saturday, October 3, 2009

Young Adult

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
Fun and fast-paced with an appealing character cast. Didn't realise it followed on from a short story, which I haven't read, and felt it seemed rather like it started partway through the novel. Perhaps the short story could have been incorporated at the beginning? Not as good as the "Hollows" series, but a decent, quick read.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, immersing myself fully into Cashore's well-considered and intriguing kingdom. Katsa, our protagonist, had many depths and a powerful personality and Po, her male companion made the perfect counterpart. The plot moved at a wonderful pace, engaging the reader at every turn of the page. And it was fresh, and different, and impossible to put down. Certainly a skilled first novel.

The Wish Kin by Joss Hedley
For a first novel, this definitely has some promising aspects. However, the plot is somewhat sprawling and clumsy, Hedley has a love of the adjective that swiftly drove me to distraction and the climax was over before it almost began. She could go far, with some very interesting ideas and a well-painted picture of a grim Australian future, however, she needs to add some polish before she will truly shine.

Undine by Penni Russon
Well written and realised coming-of-age story intermingled with a sub-plot of magic. Set in Tasmania, this makes for an engrossing teenage read with strong emphasis on emotional confusion, family ties and friendship.


James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
A fun, fast-paced, far-fetched fantasy adventure about a little boy and some giant insects going on an amazing journey. Immensely fun when read aloud.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton
A charming story with a premise we can all relate to. Where do those missing things go? Whilst a lovely story, and a quick read, one cannot help but feel a little disatisfied at the ending in which nothing is really explained and it is very clearly a tie in to the next instalment in this classic series.


Hangman's Blind by Cassandra Clark
As far as historical novels go, I am not sure how accurate this was. The language was certainly quite poetic, and the descriptions quite vivid - in some places. In others, however, it left a lot to be desired. Some relationships, for example that between the nun heroine and Ulf, could have been further explained. I spent most of the novel thinking they were siblings. And the amount of red herrings meant that the actual conspiracy seemed not particularly well devised. Some parts were predictable, others convuluted and confusing. Not a bad read, but not one I would particularly recommend.

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Another splendidly weaved mystery from Zafon. "Angel's Game" is a dark and lyrically written tale. Rather bizarre, with many disturbing twists, one cannot help but become fully immersed within its rich multitude of layers. The ending was strange, but entirely suitable for the story.


A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison
(Hollows book 4)
The adventures continue in this - the 4th instalment in this addictive series. In this volume, Rachel's relationship with Jinks is resolved, whilst her relationship with Nick faces a distinct hurdle. And as for the tension between Ivy and Rachel... It's about to come to a head... Whilst this series is very addictive, and the characters are interesting and fun, you can indeed have too much of a good thing and thus I think it is time to read something a little more serious.

For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison
(Hollows book 5)
The plot has certainly picked up the pace and there are some interesting twists and surprises in this sixth instalment. With the introduction of new characters and the re-appearance of many old ones, this is not a series you could pick up partway through and expect to understand. I love the way Rachel is growing as a character and find myself discovering a bit of a soft spot for Al the demon, evil b**tard that he is!
Things are starting to look decidingly bad for our heroes! As Rachel is forced again and again to make decisions that blacken her soul, it appears she might have to make a deal with more than just a demon to come out of this one standing. This plot is evolving into an epic, complciated mess where black and white are merging fast into shades of grey.

The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison
(Hollows book 6)
The plot has certainly picked up the pace and there are some interesting twists and surprises in this sixth instalment. With the introduction of new characters and the re-appearance of many old ones, this is not a series you could pick up partway through and expect to understand. I love the way Rachel is growing as a character and find myself discovering a bit of a soft spot for Al the demon, evil b**tard that he is!

White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison
(Hollows bk 7)
To say I am addicted to this series is surely an understatement! It is, in short, the most complex, interwoven, involved, funny, quirky, crazy, exciting and fun "Paranormal" series I have read to date. Yes, that trumps the "Dresden Files" AND "Women of the Underworld" series. The writing style is sometimes a little rough, but it is first-person narrative (and therefore appropriate to the character). And the action scenes can be a bit confusing. But the characters are so well developed and distinctive they become your friends - even the ones you love to hate (like good ol' Al and Trent). For all the humour, funny aspects, Harrison is also capable of writing deeply emotive scenes. Truly she is talented! In this volume, poor Rachel seems to be digging herself deeper and deeper into trouble and making more "black" decisions for "white" reasons. My only fear is that with another five or so books in this series, and already a massive (and colourful) cast, that we may suffer under a personality overload!


When will there be good news? by Kate Atkinson
Entertaining as usual, with a cast of interesting characters. However, the plot seemed oddly disconnected - moreso than usual, and I felt there were a few too many "loose ends". Had to love Reggie though! This book just did not feel as tight and clever as its predecessors.

Friday, August 28, 2009

August Book Dump

Young Adult

by Beth Webb (sequel to Star Dancer)
(YA fantasy/historic)
Nothing particularly remarkable about this, the second in the series. I listened to it on audio book, read by the author, and she seemed to take rather a lot of delight from reading the gruesome bits. Her lisp was a bit distracting, however. Fast-paced plot where the bad guys are too bad and the good guys too good. Felt unconvincing and feel a little flat.

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve (Mortal Engines Prequel bk 1)
(YA Steampunk)
A somewhat disappointing offering from the quirky Philip Reeve. Maybe it's just that this is no longer so fresh and exciting? Either way, it's clever, but it's not "Mortal Engines" and it's not "Larklight". The ending felt rather flat and although the characters were intriguing, it seemed rather lacklustre.

Lament by Maggie Steifvater
Not the best written or most convincing teenager/fey romance novel. Still, this story had its charms. Particularly James, the piper. A number of pop-culture references indicate that this book will date fairly fast and the plot is somewhat choppy. Still, it did build to a satisfying climax, even if the conclusion left a lot to be desired.

~ * ~

Fantasy (Adult)

Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier (Sevenwaters bk 4)
Marillier has the ability to captivate her readers, to entrance them and lure them into a delicious, sometimes frightening, always mysterious otherworld. If you want deep, forbidden - or at least forbidding, love and tangled loyalties, this is the fable for you. Her heroine is courageous and compassionate, her hero dark, brooding and haunted. The villain, cold, calculating and manipulative. It may sound cliched, but Marillier is a skilled story-teller and nothing she tells could ever be considered a cliche.

~ * ~

Paranormal (Adult)

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (Hollows bk 1)
Entertaining and quirky, this is the best Supernatural series I have discovered since the Dresden Files and Kelley Armstrong. The heroine, Rachel Morgan, is an ex-bounty hunter, having left her previous employee, she's now got a bounty on her head. She lives in a refurbished church with a non-practicing vampire and her bodyguard is 4-inches tall. Morgan is sassy, pretty kick-arse and jolly good at surviving. Demons, vampires, weres, fairies, subterfuge, killer tomatoes and random acts of violence and shapeshifting - this story has it all. Seriously addictive. Reminds me of Evanovich meets Buffy on a dark nght. Excitingly enough, a customer informed me this was a great series but the first book wasn't so good. But I read it and totally loved it (even if she does keep calling a mink a rodent - it's a mustelid you fool!) and if it just gets better from herein, I'm in for the long ride!

The Good, the Bad, the Undead by Kim Harrison (Hollows bk 2)
This supernatural Bounty-hunter series has me hooked. With its sassy heroine and a rather unexpected turn of events, it is difficult to put down. Ivy continues to grow as the Most Interesting Vampire I've ever read about. Jinks is still his awesome self and I cannot help but be fascinated by Trent. Plenty of surprises, wry humour and a non-stop-plot make for one highly addictive series

Every Which Way but Dead by Kim Harrison (Hollows bk 3)
With its sassy heroine, her tormented vampire flatmate, a highly-spirited pixie hoard and enough action, excitement and corruption, this series is horrendously addictive. I have made several special trips to libraries around town to pick up the next instalment. The characters are filled with life and personality and the plots barely leave you time to breath. With enough twists, turns and surprises to keep you on your toes. I strongly recommend this series to anyone who loves Janet Evanovich, Kelley Armstrong and Richelle Mead.

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher (Dresden bk 11)
Another enjoyable instalment in this addictive series. There's not much I can add, really, if you're already reading Dresden, you're bound to be hooked. And if you're not, well starting at #11 is a bad idea. Start with "Storm Front". If you like detective noir with supernatural beings, wry humour and a few unexpected twists (and the world's most awesome dog) READ THESE BOOKS! This one adds somewhat to the storyline, although did not prove to be as compulsive reading as some of the earlier volumes.

~ * ~

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Poignant and at times heart-breaking, this is a skillfully penned first novel. Like all Atkinson's work it displays quirk and charm, turning what could be very bleak fare indeed into something bittersweet. The characters are intriguing, with oddball personalities and teh family skeletons well worth unearthing. My one complaint is that a family tree would have been a nice addition, as the flashbacks got me somewhat disorientated on who was related how.

Silver Bough by Lisa Tuttle
(Modern-day "fairy" tale)
An interesting read, and the folklore aspect was intriguing. However, the plot felt disjointed and the relationships unconvincing. Nothing remarkable.

In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld
Although the blurb sounded interesting, this proved to be a rather dull read indeed. Much of the plot occured in retrospections, with the characters coming across as relatively flat and undeveloped, reading more like someone's memoirs then an actual novel. And when I say memoirs, I mean the dull "this happened and then that happened". I felt it was supposed to be about the young woman, Scarlet, discovering more about the mother she barely knew through her diaries, but in actuality some of the facts were things the diary would not have revealed. Addie, the mother, still remains mostly a mysterious and mostly lacking much in the way of personality. the itneresting bits - the bits with the birds, were indispersed with a plot that could have been evocative and rich but failed on all counts.

Welcome to my Blog of Book Reviews

I have two particularly addictive hobbies - reading and drawing. As I already have my Daily Art blog, it has been suggested that I should keep a blog specifically for book reviews. I review everything I read on Facebook, and have been cross-posting it monthly to Livejournal. However, I now have fallen for the prestige of Blogspot. So from here in, I shall be cross-posting monthly my book reviews here.

I also write a lot of dining reviews, but as most of you do not live in the same city as me, that is probably not going to be a great deal of help.

So, if you follow this blog, expect monthly "book dumps". They will be in random order and an eclectic mix of literature. I'm a fairly diverse reader.