The Dead of Winter was one of those books I don't really remember buying but must have picked it up when it was on sale at some point - I also noticedThe Dead of Winter was one of those books I don't really remember buying but must have picked it up when it was on sale at some point - I also noticed that my local library branch has the sequel (She Returns From War) on its shelves so that also helped me get on with reading this one.
I'm always a bit underwhelmed by some of the blurbs used to sell books, particularly the 'X meets Y' type and to be honest, the one for The Dead of Winter (True Grit meets True Blood) was a classic example of one that made me go 'no, seriously?'. It's true, this is a Western and also has vampires, but it still sounds like the laziest possible version of an elevator pitch you could think of while also trying to be clever about it.
Our story is set in and around a small mining town which has a big problem, with something killing the locals - the local law enforcement recognise they're out of their depth and reluctantly engage Cora Oglesby to deal with the problem when she rides into town. Cora has some experience in these kind of things, after all, even if she does insist that her husband (who nobody can ever remember meeting) is around here somewhere and also on drinking and gambling with the rest of the town's inhabitants. Anyway, various monsters ensue and get killed, including a sub-plot around Cora's own past.
It's an entertaining enough book and I finished it, which is always a good sign, but to my mind this is a clear example of what a female protagonist often looks like when written by a man. Being female, like having different coloured skin, is not something you get to put on and take off when it suits and society never lets you forget it, with the society of that time and place being even more that way than now. Cora is supposed to have been brought up in the South, middling poor with pretensions by the sound of it, yet all of her own experiences and background only pop up when it suits to push forward the plot.
So, all in all not the worst thing I've ever read and I'll probably read She Returns From War if only because it's easily available and to see if matters improve any, but I'm not massively disappointed (at the moment anyway) that the series doesn't seem to continue beyond these two books......more
**spoiler alert** I think it's always a good sign when the first thing that you think after reading a book that's part of a series is this: when is th**spoiler alert** I think it's always a good sign when the first thing that you think after reading a book that's part of a series is this: when is the next one out? And that was basically my response to the ending of A Gathering of Shadows, which finishes with a massive cliffhanger and one of the main characters in big, life-threatening trouble. The answer, apparently, is some (as yet unspecified) time in 2017!
Anyway, this is the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, which I read and reviewed at the end of last year, so when I was in my local library recently and saw they had a copy of A Gathering of Shadows, I grabbed it immediately. The storyline pretty much carries on from where the previous book left off - Lila has now found herself a place on a ship, which is what she wanted, and meanwhile back in Red London, Kell and Rhy are trying to deal with the aftermath of the magic Kell used to save his brother's life but which also bound their life forces together.
A Gathering of Shadows also introduces another major character, Alucard Emery, who is the captain of the ship where Lila ends up and who also turns out to be a talented magician in his own right. Both Alucard and Lila have secrets and Lila discovers she also has a talent for magic, to the point where she impulsively decides that she wants to enter the impending tournament for magic users back in Red London. Kell has also hatched a plan to enter, under an assumed identity, a plan which Rhy encourages since he's concerned that Kell is now too worried about his own welfare because of the direct impact any harm he suffers has on his brother. Meanwhile, things are also happening in the other cities linked to Red London, some of which are directly related to decisions made and actions taken by Kell in the previous book - yes, the chickens really are coming home to roost!
One of the things I think is most interesting about this book is the way that Lila is very much written as an anti-hero, which is quite unusual for a female character. Lila does some pretty bad things in this book, particularly in terms of violent acts towards people who have wronged her in some way, but no excuses are made for this by reference to her childhood, for example. Likewise, the author is still steering clear of YA-style insta-love, which always annoys me immensely - there's clearly a growing relationship between Lila and Kell, but it's not developed in a way which is out of character for either of them. ...more
I have to admit, I bumped this book up my TBR list because I discovered my local library branch has the second and third books of the trilogy, which mI have to admit, I bumped this book up my TBR list because I discovered my local library branch has the second and third books of the trilogy, which meant if I liked this one then I could finish the whole thing off quite easily and quickly. Alas, I don't think I will be carrying on with this series - it wasn't bad but it also wasn't quite my thing.
The City's Son is about Beth, who is a teenage girl living in London with her father - after the death of her mother, her father has retreated into himself and left Beth to pretty much fend for herself. She only has one friend and they entertain themselves out of school hours by tagging places with graffiti. This one relationship on which Beth is relying falls apart when they graffiti their own school with a caricature of one of the teachers and Beth's friend turns her in (for reasons which we know, but which Beth doesn't). As a result, Beth effectively goes on the run and meets an odd young man called Filius Viae, who is waging a battle against the forces that threaten to overwhelm the city.
I struggled with this book for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the choice by the author of first person for Filius (and at least one other character, whose point of view we also get later on) and third person for Beth. Even after a couple of chapters of this, I was finding this affected my engagement with the story and I couldn't really see why this had been done. Secondly, I found some of the writing unnecessarily florid, to the point where it felt at times like the author was sacrificing clarity over what was actually happening for the sake of descriptive prose which again didn't really work for me.
That's just how it goes, sometimes... Anyway, the series continues with The Glass Republic but I won't be carrying on with it....more
**spoiler alert** I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book via a giveaway on Goodreads, however the views expressed in this review about the book**spoiler alert** I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book via a giveaway on Goodreads, however the views expressed in this review about the book are my own.
Okay, so let's start with the basics: The House of Shattered Wings is one of the best books I've read this year. The world-building is absolutely fantastic, with the book being set in a Paris which has been devastated by a war involving magic and the involvement of the Fallen, essentially angels who have been cast out of heaven. What is left of Paris is now ruled by various Houses, most of which have a Fallen as their Head, and which are engaged in rivalries that go back years. The focus of the book is House Silverspires, which is centred on Notre Dame and was led by Morningstar, one of the most powerful of the Fallen, but who had disappeared twenty years before this book is set.
Because the Fallen are imbued with magic, there is a healthy trade in their body parts and it's because of this we first meet Philippe, who was drafted into the war from his native Annam and subsequently abandoned in Paris by the House he'd once served. Philippe finds himself linked with one of the Fallen and also kept within Silverspires against his will, though he would also admit he doesn't really have anywhere else to go. As The House of Shattered Wings goes on, we discover that Philippe is much more than he appears and that he is also the catalyst for a disaster involving Silverspires that has been years in the making.
One of the main themes of the book is about belonging, from Philippe who believes that he no longer belongs anywhere through to Madeleine who discovers that one of her core beliefs about her place in the world is a lie. Silverspires is being destroyed by the aftermath of an act on the part of Morningstar, at times literally ripped apart by one person's quest for vengeance against a group of people to whom they had thought they belonged.
I understand there's a sequel in the works but The House of Shattered Wings also works perfectly well as a standalone novel, so don't let the possibility of more stories in this setting put you off picking it up - highly recommended!...more
**spoiler alert** Way Down Dark is a book I picked up at a convention last year, partly attracted by the cover and my decision cemented by hearing the**spoiler alert** Way Down Dark is a book I picked up at a convention last year, partly attracted by the cover and my decision cemented by hearing the author speak on a couple of panels, even though I don't particularly 'do' YA dystopia novels. The premise sounded interesting enough though, given that it's set on a spaceship rather than (as seems par for the course) the ruins of a destroyed USA, that I thought I'd give it a go...
The main character is Chan, just turned seventeen, whose parents and grandparents have never known a life other than the one they have on the spaceship Australia - they've been told all about how Earth was ruined and ships sent off in search of a new home but have no way of knowing how long they've travelled. Inside the ship itself, life is hard and many of the inhabitants have joined different factions with very much a 'kill or be killed' mentality ruling over their daily lives. To protect Chan, her dying mother insists Chan kills her so that the kudos from this act will enhance her reputation and the aftermath of this act affects the rest of the storyline.
The ship is pretty much at a tipping point when the story starts, with one particular factor beginning to expand into all of the available space and destroying everyone in their way. Initially Chan doesn't resist, following her mother's admonition to 'be selfish', but she is finally pushed too far and begins to react to what's going on but without any particular plan. When things go wrong, her mother's friend offers Chan a lifeline which she then turns into something of a crusade and which sets up the rest of the trilogy (which continues in Long Dark Dusk). As we discover, things are not quite what they seem where the Australia is concerned and the stories Chan has been told about why they're on-board are barely even true.
I have to say, this is not YA dystopia with a heavy sauce of teen romance poured over it. There is a main male character, Jonah, whose fate we're left uncertain about at the end of the book though I won't be at all surprised if he pops up again in the next book, but there's really only a tiny spark of interest between the two of them from Chan's perspective. In the end, I think what stopped me giving this book 5 stars was that it backs away from the more physical nature of what being a 17 year old girl is like - it could be due to their insufficient diet but Chan doesn't apparently have periods. There also seems to be minimal sexual activity going on around her despite the large number of children of various ages running around the ship. I may be the only person who thinks about things like this, but these kind of things are enough to bug me into dropping a star. ...more
Unclean Spirits - Chuck Wendig I picked this one up by chance in the local library (along with a couple of other books which looked good on the coverUnclean Spirits - Chuck Wendig I picked this one up by chance in the local library (along with a couple of other books which looked good on the cover blurb but which I couldn't be bothered to finish) and while it wasn't the best thing I've ever read, or even recently, it was strong enough that I wanted to see how it would all work out and that's saying something...
This is urban fantasy, but not the first-person-feisty-female-in-a-world-whose-rules-apply-to-everyone-except-her kind, of which I've more than had my fill. The world our protagonist (Case) lives in is peopled by gods and monsters, all of whom ended up living alongside human beings and interfering with their lives to their hearts' content. Five years earlier Case made a deal with one of them, promising his service as a bodyguard in exchange for the life of his wife and son - the kicker on the deal was that they hate him now and both want to kill him on sight.
When Case's 'employer' gets killed, one of the other gods blames him and essentially tells him to find out who was responsible or face the consequences. The result, and the associates Case picks up along the way - we can't really call them friends, all things considered - is pretty gory if you have a low tolerance for that kind of thing. Likewise the pseudo-explanation towards the end of the book about the current situation leaves much to be desired, as it doesn't really answer any of the questions I had on reading it (and was probably not meant to, I guess?).
I liked the fact that it wasn't first person, that it was set in a world that wasn't just filled with white people, with the gods and monsters being from all over - I'm always happy when Coyote makes an appearance, for some reason - but it definitely had the feel of a book in a shared universe not the first in a series. That could be good or bad, depending on your perspective. Either way, I didn't really care enough about the overall set-up that I'm going to go looking for more set in this universe, though I already had another of Chuck Wendig's books on my TBR....more
**spoiler alert** I really wish Goodreads would make it possible to give half-stars. I would have given this book 3 and a half - 3 felt mean but 4 fee**spoiler alert** I really wish Goodreads would make it possible to give half-stars. I would have given this book 3 and a half - 3 felt mean but 4 feels like I'm saying I like it more than I actually did.
What I liked:
- the relationship between Mercy and Adam - sorting out the pack dynamics a little
What I wasn't so keen on:
- the resolution felt a bit rushed, suddenly there was a magical way of fixing things and rescuing Mercy - Samuel has a problem and of course, an old flame turning up can give him a reason to live again
Yes, I am a jaded cynic of the first order, why do you ask?
Not that any of the above will stop me reading the rest of the series, for as long as Patricia Briggs wants to carry on writing them, assuming it doesn't all fall apart completely at some unspecified point in the future......more
To be perfectly honest, there are not that many urban fantasy series that I am still reading - I went through a phase a while back of starting a numbeTo be perfectly honest, there are not that many urban fantasy series that I am still reading - I went through a phase a while back of starting a number of them and the vast majority have fallen by the metaphorical wayside for a variety of reasons, usually having to do with how TSTL (too stupid to live) the characters are. This series, featuring Mercy Thompson, is one of the exceptions but it's very easy to fall behind and I realised recently that while I had books 7 and 8, book 9 is also due out this year!
I found the previous book in the series, River Marked, a bit of a disappointment though it still wasn't bad enough to stop me carrying on with the series, so I was pleased to see that I enjoyed Frost Burned much more. While the previous book was all about Mercy's honeymoon with her new husband, local alpha werewolf Adam, this book sees them separated some of the time since Adam and the rest of the pack have been kidnapped by rogue government agents. They want to force Adam to kill a politician, in the hope that this will cause outrage and shift public opinion against the werewolves, thus allowing more force to be used against them.
Since Mercy isn't at home when the mass kidnapping takes place, she ends up relying on the other relationships she has forged outside of the pack in order to help rescue Adam and the others. In general terms, this works out quite well though I think the overall storyline goes a little astray in about the last 20% of the book when the mastermind behind the plan is revealed. The overall body-count (dead and undead) in this book is quite high so if that's an issue for you, then maybe this isn't a series that will appeal.
The next book in the series is Night Broken, which I already have, so that means I'm then only one book behind! ...more