I thought it was funny that the few reviews I glanced at seem to be all about the Martin/Westeros story. Which for big fans I do get, especially becau...moreI thought it was funny that the few reviews I glanced at seem to be all about the Martin/Westeros story. Which for big fans I do get, especially because the guy can't do anything small, it's an 82 page story in small print in a hardback book, so it really does deserve the term novella, as the advertising claimed. Sometimes I see novellas that seem pretty short story sized to me, though I'm sure there's a technical word count definition somewhere I'm not aware of. But anyway, although I am a Westeros fan, the stories I was most looking forward to were from Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, and Diana Rowland. I was quite interested in a few others and looking forward to trying the authors I didn't know or didn't know well, it seemed like a good mix for once for my desire to read a few familiar authors I'd be sure to love and get introduced to a few new authors that I might like to add to my to-read lists. The anthology system at it's best. Unfortunately, the mix of stories didn't work out so well. The mixed genre anthology was a good idea, but the editors need to be really careful to balance the mix. This was way too heavy on the historical fiction for me. Way. Maybe the editors thought that epic fantasy fans would just go for epic history as a matter of course, but it doesn't necessarily translate. And it seemed to have much more history instead of fantasy.
I was also disappointed in many of the author's ideas what their dangerous women were. I thought this was going to be about strong, cool women and very often it wasn't. Some of the stories weren't really about women at all, just about men who were influenced somehow by women. Some of the stories were just more subtle in their definition of dangerous. I get that the authors were trying to stretch the definition and keep it interesting, but it meant that they were so busy dancing around the obvious idea that only a few actually did the obvious idea, which is a fun idea.
I did like having the author intros at beginning of chapters. But it should have said if the story was part of one of the author's series or not, so we know if we like it that we should get the other books. The point of anthologies is to sell more books. Don't make it hard on me. They listed every book and story the author every wrote but didn't tell me which stories were part of an author's established worlds, it was annoying. And sometimes confusing. It was in the first story...
Abercrombie - I didn't get at all that this was part of one of his series until I saw someone else's review. I found the setting very confusing, I couldn't tell if if was our Old West or another world, the references to the Union sword or the her savage Ghost heritage were just confusing. But it was well told and fast-paced. Fantasy.
Abbott - Good story, seems obvious but isn't entirely and is well done either way. Mystery/Crime, very dark.
Holland - I'm really not into "historical novels" these days. I used to love books like Désirée (about the woman Napoleon was engaged to before Josephine, she became Queen of Sweden) and Katherine (Swynford, who became a matriarch of the Tudor dynasty), they're among my childhood favorites. But they haven't been my cup of tea for a while. Plus it's such a pretentious name. Every historical romance is a historical novel. So is every Western. My mood has just been firmly in the present or future unless it's a good streampunk. This story was almost pretty good. It was a decent history lesson, and not hard to get through. It had the same dramatized feeling as those '60s novels, just soap operas set down among the few facts we actually know, not too different from actual operas. But that was the problem with this, too few facts, too much supposition. And the end stunk. "She waited to disappear. But she didn't." Huh? Dumb. The whole thing was too cheesy, too '60s really.
Snodgrass - A very good story. It presented a complete world and social dynamic in a short period of time to support an interesting story. I've liked all of her stories that I've read in different anthologies. I'll get to those books someday! They keep getting bumped higher on the to-read list. Sci-fi.
Butcher - This was definitely what I'd call a novella, at around 70 pages. Butcher is one of a handful of authors that I know of who always writes good short stories. This was about what apprentice magician Molly was up to while her boss Harry was, um, unavailable. (It also has a big spoiler for fans who haven't read books 12 and 13 yet, if you're working your way through the series you may want to wait until after 12 to read it.) It took me a while to figure out that it also explains why she had some sort of deal in place with dark elves when we saw her new apartment in the last book. Was that the last book? Or 13? I have a terrible memory. Anyway, it was a really good story, he always captures the humor, heart and excitement that make a story sing and balances the elements really well whether the story 20 pages or 400. And he writes stories that always seem to me that would be totally fine as stand alone stories for readers who are unfamiliar with the series, though it's hard for me to judge that. Urban fantasy.
Vaughn - I've found her work outside of the Kitty Norville series to be very hit or miss (and Kitty has been very downhill lately) but this was better than some. A bit dull but the history was interesting. More historical fiction, though the main characters weren't historical figures this time.
Lansdale - A fun story with a dose of heart and a dash of wickedness. It wasn't really about the woman, but I guess she was the motivation. He's been on my to-read list forever and this really reminds me to bump him up (which is the point of anthologies, to sell more books). I'm not sure how to classify it, maybe just plain old fun fiction? I really like Andreas's review and he called it weird fiction. It wasn't really supernatural at all, or horror, I don't know how to categorize it.
Lindholm - I'm not a Robin Hobb fan, for some reason that I can't remember I just didn't love the Assassin's books. And Sarah was only 67, she and Linda were hardly old women, it seemed really odd. If they'd been a decade older it would have been easier to get behind. Hobb is 62, is this what her friends are going through? Because my dad is 73 and his friends aren't. Way too much cancer, heart disease, cancer, cancer, but memory issues in their mid-60s are still pretty rare and and their kids aren't trying to kick them out of their homes. As far as I know. Maybe I'm totally wrong. Though I do understand the sandwich generation issue that Sarah's son was dealing with, my dad had those issues and my friends are seeing it now too. But it did have a lot to say about what single, older women go through, I don't want to disparage that. I'm facing some of those issues now, two decades earlier, without losing my memory, but with failing health. On the other hand, she didn't look for the dog? Unforgivable. And I wasn't so sure the women in this story fit the term dangerous. So I guess my review is pretty mixed, huh? That's how I ended up feeling about it, very mixed. It was a dark, kind of urban fantasy story, not paranormal. Is this weird fiction? Heck if I know.
Block - I know I've read a few of his Bernie Rhodenbarr and Matt Scudder books a long time ago and liked them, but this was barely OK. It didn't suit the rest of the book, it was very explicit and violent. I guess it was crime fiction.
Sanderson - A very good story. It's 50 pages, so it's probably novella length as well. It was impossible not to like this fierce single mom fighting to take care of her daughter and adopted daughter and remain independent in a very challenging land. Fantasy.
Penman - More historical fiction. Maybe the editors think that because there's so much politics in A Game of Thrones that fans will go for this, and I like the idea of cross-genre anthologies, but it's a little much with the history lessons. And when the author had to try to justify with a note in the end whether the woman was dangerous or not because she knows the readers are all thinking that the answer is probably not, it means to me that the story just wasn't right for this anthology, even if it would have been a decent story for another collection.
Grossman - An OK story, but the girl didn't seem dangerous. The ghost was pretty dangerous, but I'm not sure she could be classified as a woman. And the hints about the girl's past were as much annoyingly as intriguing, I want a story that makes me want to read more of the author's books, but I also want it to feel complete. I don't like to be left hanging. Tricky. I was hoping to get excited to finally start the books in this series. It helped by introducing me to the world, but only a little. Urban fantasy.
Kress - Dystopian/Sci-fi. Good story.
Rowland - Dark. She always knows the South and the police mentality perfectly, though seeing the police from the dark side was a bit creepy. It was an odd crime drama, not really sci-fi, only a few years in the future, post-apocalyptic I guess, though the apocalypse seemed primarily localized.
Gabaldon - More historical fiction, romance this time and pure fiction except the historical setting. It's a prequel to her Outlander series about a character named Jamie Fraser. I've only read the first book, so I'm not a fan. It was another novella, which kinda sucked for me, but is probably great for fans of the series. It was 25 pages before a woman even showed up. It should have been good, I like stories about Scots, Jews, heists. But it was way too long, way too slow, way too much about men and just really boring. It was the only story in the book that I didn't want to finish. I almost stopped half way through but it seemed like it was picking up. I was wrong, I should have skipped it. It was a really disappointing story from an author I've heard so much about.
Kenyon - A decent ghost story. Not as fun as I expected from another author that I've heard so much about. It didn't make me want to pick up her books. But it was fine.
Stirling - A bit too preachy and it was hard to buy into the premise that that many people would be convinced to follow that religion and society after eighteen months. Just telling me that they did bit because it worked doesn't convince me that this country full of Christians, atheists and agnostics would even be able to remember all of those new words, much less want to in a crisis. A small "Clan" maybe, but that many that quickly was hard to believe. But what do I know about what the world will be like after the collapse? But the point was good, putting up with bullies shouldn't be the answer. Waiting until a person is actually raped or killed really shouldn't be the answer. I just read a really important article about this issue and why women aren't welcome on the Internet, it's very disturbing and relevant to this story, you should check it out. What's being done to transgender and gay kids every day, the way they're pushed and pushed until they are in fear for their lives, but if they respond they're the criminals, that's criminal. We just have to find a way to protect people before they're actually raped or assaulted when there's evidence that they're in danger. Anyway, the story is alternate history, I guess. Or maybe sci-fi only a few years into the future.
Sykes - I wasn't smart enough to understand it. It was probably a really cool story. But I really didn't get it. Traditional fantasy, I think.
Spector - The end was weak but the rest of it was good, fun and it had heart. It definitely made me want to read the Wild Cards books. And it was about what I thought the book was going to be about, strong, smart, dangerous women. Urban fantasy.
Martin - I think it would be incredibly tedious for non-fans. If I wasn't familiar with some of the names I'd have hated it. As it was my eyes glazed over a lot and skimmed past a lot. Talk, talk, talk, list, list, list, almost no action. And actually, using so many of the same first names that are used in the main series, while is made sense that they're family names and would have been handed down, it also made it even more confusing to remember who was who. No one felt unique, especially when several people in the generation in this story had the same name too. Realistic, sure, that's what happens in families, especially royal families, but confusing. And I wasn't particularly convinced on who the dangerous woman was. Yeah, there was more than one. But the story wasn't about the main "queen". It was about war and all of the players were equally culpable. She wasn't more dangerous or driving the story. She certainly wasn't more of a driver of the story than her brother who she was fighting against. Martin edited the book, but his story wasn't really about a dangerous woman. And the whole story had a very distant feeling, like reading a history book, which makes some sense since it is a historical tale compared to "present day" in this world, but there was no way to connect with any if the characters or care about them. Without more action and also without personal connections it was just too dry. Fantasy. (less)
I forgot that the last one was so bad that I didn't even want to finish it. I had a vague memory that it had been better than the last few books, but...moreI forgot that the last one was so bad that I didn't even want to finish it. I had a vague memory that it had been better than the last few books, but it turns out that that was eighteen. This was really just awful.
For one thing, the relationship thing isn't cute in any way anymore. She's in a serious relationship with Joe, they're practically engaged. They're having sex. And she's still having hot and heavy make-out sessions with Ranger. I get a woman being attracted to two guys at a time. And having cold feet about settling down. But at what point does a woman become a total bitch for leading a man on when she's still into another guy? It isn't cute or funny anymore, Stephanie is becoming completely unlikable. She had sex with and spends the night with Morelli, got rescued by Ranger, Morelli rushed home to tell her how scary it was to hear about the woman he loves almost dying again, then she was back snogging Ranger again a few minutes later. And I was yelling, "Slut!" She doesn't show any remorse. Or signs of ever changing. There isn't any excitement or anticipation about if she'll get together with Ranger, she did that, and we know he's no good for her long term, so it's enough already. She knows that too. And if she won't settle down with Joe then end it. But mostly the scenes are all just repeats of things that we've seen so many times before that there's no anticipation of excitement to any of it. It's boring. Cut and paste, been there, done that. None of it is any fun anymore. As she's turned into an unlikable character because of it.
And what about all of the gun violence? It was bad enough when Lula was shooting off her gun and never getting caught once per book. But now by page ninety several people had shot weapons and no one cared at all. Including a little old lady in a senior center. No one cared. And of course several bullets into Stephanie's car, but who'd care about that. By the end of the book I lost track of the number of gunshots that were never reported to the police, even when people were wounded. Is this still funny in this country? Seriously? It's like Evanovich is some vaudeville performer with a formula, she figures if it was funny once, it'll be funny if she repeats it dozens of times. But vaudeville is dead. And the same joke dozens of times later isn't funny. Get some new material. Be at least a tiny bit aware that gun violence isn't a joke in this country. This is really her best material?
And the giraffe was just stupid. We're supposed to believe that someone posted a video of the guy running over someone without fear of reprisal, but no one posted a video of a giraffe running around a downtown neighborhood for days on end? It wouldn't last long enough for the word to get out before dozens of videos were posted, it's just idiotic.
And how can people who paid more than $20 for the book not feel totally ripped off when they compare the double spaced text of the main book with the normal text of the sample at the back of the book? It's another novella being sold for hardback prices.
A lot of romance authors fall into writing books according to a successful formula. But their books at least feature a different couple each time and vary the facts and settings a bit. Evanovich can't do that so she just keeps adding more gunshots and destroying more cars. (A fire truck ran over Stephanie's loaner for Ranger while it was in a parking lot. Ha ha. Because firemen are such bad drivers, and usually go into lots instead of parking on the street where the hydrants are.) if she had just had Stephanie dump one or both guys a long time ago and let her meet new people, these books wouldn't be so awful now. I get that she doesn't want her to be settled down and a married housewife any more than Stephanie wants that. But Evanovich is an author, she should have some creativity and write herself out of this disgusting mess instead of spiraling down into this really embarrassing mess that she's created. If it was just the stupid relationship thing then it would be bad enough, it's pandering to fans who love a love triangle and caring more about making money than writing something decent. Fine, publishing is about making money. It's better if you can do both than just one, but whatever. But she should be embarrassed to write something that makes such a joke out of gun violence in 2013. I used to love these books. I loved Lula and Grandma Mazur and the banter and the fun of it all. But this is just appalling on every level. (less)
I think after reading a couple of reviews saying that it was slow to start, or confusing in the beginning, I was over-prepared to give it time, so I w...moreI think after reading a couple of reviews saying that it was slow to start, or confusing in the beginning, I was over-prepared to give it time, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it pretty intriguing from the beginning. Though I might have been a bit frustrated at the slow roll-out of information at times if I hadn't been warned. But I did kind of like the realistic investigation pace, cops almost always take a long time to do things in real life, it's only on TV and on movies that they break big cases in a few days. And there were enough interesting elements early on that kept me happily intrigued. I liked the characters right away, definitely the main Mead staple that carries through all of her series (except the men in her Dark Swan series, they were questionable and major fail). I was curious about the post-apocalyptic world and how it got that way, and what the details of it's structure would turn out to be as they were slowly being revealed. I actually liked the slow reveal vs. major infodumps, even if it was frustrating to want to know more, it also kept me turning the pages to figure things out; infodumps are so boring. And I was really interested to see how Justin's invisible raven companions with the pretty spoilery H and M beginning names in a book about the gods fit into everything. I just liked the way everything slowly unraveled. Why was Justin exiled? Why did Mae join the military? Who is she looking for? Why was Kavi so slow? Each reveal wasn't mind-shattering in and of itself, but it all wove together and kept creating something bigger and more solid and interesting to see and follow and watch and understand.
I saw some complaints about the lack of explanation, even by the end of the book, of a complete history and description of how the government operates. A lot of post-apocalyptic books are vague about the history that got them to this point and the specifics of the current government. Some make it work, others just fail. Think about The Hunger Games, for example, that series is vague, vague, vague, but it works fine. Or I just read Lauren DeStafano's first book, it's world building is certainly a huge weak point, and what she does spell out isn't rooted in reality at all. It is more common in young adult books than in adult series but it isn't that surprising to me that every detail isn't spelled out here. It wasn't relevant to the story at this point. I expect we'll find out more as the series goes on, just like we continued to get more information spooled out slowly about the characters and their individual histories throughout this book. It's a common technique, further layers about the world building are revealed as each book is released as it relates to each novel, delving deeper and deeper into the world. Actually, Hunger Games is a good example of that, each book revealed deeper layers to the story and the world building. I could be wrong, but since the end of the book indicates that the politics of the world are pretty important to who the pieces on the board are going to be, I think that we're going to see more about the big picture in the next book.
The only thing that wasn't explained that really annoyed me was Mae's implant, because it was relevant to this story. What the heck was it, what did it control, or let her do, or limit, or whatever? The extreme vagueness of the implant and what the Praetorians actually were was very annoying.
(view spoiler)[My other big complaint was how dumb Justin was about the ravens and their boss. Really, it took until the very end to think to look up who the guy who saved him might be? He had two huge clues in his head every minute of every day for the last four years. The guy who questions everything wasn't driven mad by curiosity? How many supernatural figures were associated with two ravens, that would have been a place to start. The H and M would have cinched it for him. Making him need to figure out the name as a major reveal at the end of the book was pretty lame. I get that these things weren't commonly known in his time anymore, but he was familiar with a lot of the major pantheons from doing his job, and he obviously had access to resources to look it up. It made a man who is supposed to be the smartest guy around look really dumb. (hide spoiler)]
I did think that the central plot of the book, the murder mystery, limited the story a bit. It was more a tool to showcase the character development and world building, and the central idea that the author was trying to slowly reveal, than a great story in and of itself. The secondary characters were a bit weak too, they just sort of wander in and out and reveal things about the main characters when it's convenient for the author, more than being significant themselves.
Some people complained that it was confusing, dense, complex, etc. and I really didn't find it to be that way. Maybe it's because some of them are used to reading primarily urban fantasy or paranormal romance? I'm not judging, that's most of what I read these days. And one of the reasons I read them is because it's easier, I don't have to absorb new worlds and their histories, languages, cultures, geographies, my brain just isn't always up to it these days. Which is not to say that their brains aren't up to it!!! No comments, please. But just that maybe they didn't enjoy the style. I like urban fantasy because I can open the book and instantly be immersed, so ramp up, no effort, I know what Chicago or Atlanta look like, I get it, easy peasy. And this one definitely took a bit more patience to let the it all absorb, to just see where it was going. It wasn't actually a ton of information, I just had to let it unfold. So granted, it wasn't a huge page turner, it took a bit more attention than some books, but I was constantly engaged and eager to get back to it, and finished it in three days. Compared to George R.R. Martin, this was a walk in the park! Which is not to say that I don't understand some of the complaints. The slow pace of the reveals could be very frustrating, depending both on your personality and on your expectations.
And I definitely think expectations play a big part of what's going into who's reading and reviewing and how they're reading and reviewing this book so far from what I'm seeing. Mead's core audience isn't necessarily the right audience for this book. Or at least them coming in expecting a "Richelle Mead" book isn't necessarily the right mindset for enjoying the book. For the first time I'm seeing why authors who want to try a new genre use a pen name. What would have happened to Seanan McGuire if she'd release Feed under that name instead of as Mira Grant? I'm not saying that the frustrations that people had with the pacing of the book should be solely attributed to their expectation by any means. The author made some choices and took some big risks and has to live with the fall-out. It just seems like a lot of the disappointment I'm seeing in this book is coming from people who expected it to be something different than what it is, not necessarily because it isn't good in and of itself. I guess we'll never know what fresh eyes would have made of it. But without Mead's name who knows if it would have gotten many readers at all. It's always a gamble.
Anyway, it had some issues for sure, but overall I thought it was intriguing and an interesting new direction for Mead. I'm looking forward to seeing where she takes it in book two, I hope she juggle all of the balls she left up in the air and develop it into something special. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This anthology was a bit of an embarrassment of riches in the author department. It featured eight of my favorite authors (out of fourteen) and only o...moreThis anthology was a bit of an embarrassment of riches in the author department. It featured eight of my favorite authors (out of fourteen) and only one that I was familiar with but not a fan of. Which was great in making the book high on my to-read list, but not as successful in helping me find new authors to read, which is one of the concepts behind anthologies like this. They're not only supposed to sell this book, but then to keep selling books as readers discover authors that they now want to read more from their portfolio. But I'm sure that some of the authors that are automatic to-read names to me and who I think of as big names are unfamiliar to other readers. I hope this book introduces them to new audiences; they all had good stories.
It was more carnie than punk overall. Other than one of two with some tattoos, the authors pretty much stuck to the carnival theme. If you have a fear of clowns there might be one or two stories to avoid, as a couple veered into circus territory as well.
Thurman - Clever concept, it was something familiar yet totally original and it also kept me guessing trying to figure it out until it was revealed. It was also very true to the theme.
I also always love her bio and the way that she uses her two paragraphs in every book she's published in to tell people about her rescued dogs and how important she thinks it is to adopt. With humor, the best way to get her point across and have it be remembered.
Dawson - I loved her creepy and seductive carnival and I gathered that it's a regular part of the world that her books are based in, so I get why she was really appropriate to include in this book. It was a good story, but it didn't make me want to read the stories. The end made it seem like the world wasn't real after all, so it didn't open up the world of the novels. To me it closed it off instead, like if it wasn't real then why would I want to read more books about other characters there? And I was already leaning against it, from the reviews I read it just doesn't seem like my cup of tea from the romance angle, I think it's going to really annoy me. But it was a pretty good story and the carnival was cool.
Hearne - Very good story, as usual. "Dogs make everything better." Can't argue with that. Especially Oberon. This is still my favorite urban fantasy series. Iron Druid fans will want to read the story, but it isn't critical to the story arc if you miss it, not like some of the other of his novellas or shorts. But if you aren't a fan yet, why not? Smart, funny, exciting, clever, fast-paced super fun books with the bravest, funniest dog in literature as a side kick. What are you waiting for?
Henry - It was only eh.
Wells - A solid story. I liked that it was different than anything I'd read from her before. And the character motivations were interesting.
Caine - Very good. It's the second time that I remember her writing a story in an anthology that had nothing to do with any of her books and felt totally different and fresh, like I'd have no idea that it was her writing it if it didn't have her name on it. But in a good way. When someone's done several long series, it's nice to see that they have other ideas too and can execute them and be so versatile. And I'm actually not such a fan of her YA series so it was nice to see younger people that I related to from her.
Pang - It was a good story. And it reminded me that her books have been on my tentative to-read list for a long time. Some friends rave about them, but I've been wishy-washy on the heavy romance described in the reviews (just because romance hasn't been my taste lately) and the wishy-washy heroine as well. And the hero from the novels is a very unattractive minor character in this story. The story was good advertising for her writing but not so much for his character, that was a questionable choice of portrayal. We'll see. I do want to read about that little unicorn some day (featured in the novels).
On the other hand, I did check out her Fox & Willow online graphic novel and it's very cute, and fits right into my current reading pattern perfectly. I'll have to try to catch up on that soon. http://sadsausagedogs.com/
On a separate note, I see from Pang's website that she suffers from chronic pain, back pain and maybe fibromyalgia. I wish her all the best in managing this very real specter.
Jacques - Her Regan Summers books sound good but they're only out as ebooks so unfortunately I can't get them from the library. And I liked this story quite a lot. It kept me guessing and it had a sense of darkness and tragedy within the mystery, without being too heavy. It really kept me interested and guessing. Until she lost me right at the end when Thalia, the muse of comedy and poetry, needed to distract a guy for a moment, so she pulled up her shirt because she wasn't wearing anything underneath and flashed him. Women are too often just as guilty of writing things that cheapen women as men are. We don't have to be serious all of the time (God forbid!!) but I just didn't get that at all, it totally didn't fit the tone of the story or the characters, and it just cheapened the whole thing.
Estep - It was a good story. But it didn't make me reevaluate the series. I read the first book and just didn't want to read any more. On top of the drinking games that could be played of repeating phrases (I still remember, "my gray eyes," years later), the real problem was that the woman is a murderer with no regrets, as is still apparent in this story. I just can't root for her. Assassins can be anti-heroes, but it's a fine line that doesn't work for me here.
Meding - Good story! It's subtitled, "A Strays Short Story" Is it the beginning of a series or maybe a world she'll use for stories in anthologies again? Either way, I'm definitely hoping for more. She's one of my favorites, I'll read anything she writes. I'll even pay for it, which I may have to since some dumb publisher decided to stop putting out her Dreg City series, another series that kept getting better and better. If/when she self-pubs that one, I'll buy it. Her MetaWars books are good, too.
Peeler - Good story. Except for another boob flash comment, it's apparently one of the women's favorite investigation technique, ha ha.. It wasn't a muse at least and it fit the tone of the story. But it made me wonder what Dr. Peeler was thinking. But her Jane True series is among my favorites as well. I bought them, which knowing my budget says a lot. Hearne and Peeler, and McCaffrey and Riordan, that's pretty much my auto-buy list. Sadly shorter now.
Kessler - Very good advertising for the series, it was a good story and it totally seemed to represent what the series was about. Some reviews made the books seem sillier than this but the writing in this story was solid with a somewhat light but not too fluffy tone. And it reminded me that some of her other books had been on my to-read list for too long as well. A win for the anthology model, it made me want to read more of her work.
Gay - Ah ha, this is what Rex and Emma were up to while Charlie was in Elysia. I like in-between stories like this, I feel like I'm in on a secret. But then I feel bad for fans who didn't get to read the story. They all need to buy this book or get it from the library, too. They aren't actually missing anything in the main story arc, but they'll want to have the fun of reading the story. The second aspect of the anthology model. Fans of the novels buy this book and new fans who liked this story go buy the novels. This story was a really was a good intro to her work without being necessary to the series because it's about secondary characters. And it was so sweet, seeing how much the former Revenant, Rex, cares about his new sort-of daughter, Emma. And it's definitely a, "ye reap what ye sow," story. That girl is Charlie's kid through and through, doing what she thinks is right no matter how risky or scary it is. This series really grew on me, the first book was pretty good, but it had some issues for me. Then they kept getting better and better after that. I'd definitely recommend it. And not just for the hellhound, he's a pretty minor character. Not like Oberon!
McGuire - As much as I loved the short storynovelette that I just read from her October Daye series (Sea-Salt Tears, look on her website, it was nominated for a Hugo award and it really is terrific) it's fun to read something totally different from her as well. Well, it wasn't exactly fun, it's not a lighthearted story. But it was a very good story, as usual. She's one of the few authors who seems to be consistently able to write both great books and short stories. Jim Butcher consistently writes good short stories, but they are always about the same world as his novel, McGuire seems to have more range. I love her October Daye series, and really like the InCryptid as well. I really want to get to the writing posted on her website as well. And yes, I do know that she also writes as Mira Grant and that everyone loves her many-time nominated books as well, but I'm not so into the post-apocalyptic thing. Maybe I'll get to them eventually. But I love the Toby series, even if the mysteries were really shaky in the first two books, the series has become one of the best around. And I'm looking forward to reading Rat-Catcher, despite the unfortunate name, which is also from the Toby series and about a fan-favorite character (which explains the title), and was also nominated for the Hugo for best novelette. Though the distinction between short story and novelette is really beyond me, they both seem really short to me. Sea-Salt Tears was 24 pages I think. Whatever. Anyway, this story was great, no surprise there. (less)
It was a good book. Jude Watson is definitely one of the, if not the best, authors in the series. She really understands these characters and conveys...moreIt was a good book. Jude Watson is definitely one of the, if not the best, authors in the series. She really understands these characters and conveys them as complex people that I can't help but care about. She gets the balance of adventure and danger with those moments of genuine emotion just right, and even gets a few laughs in there. Like in this book, Dan's regret and Ian's loneliness were really touching. And Atticus thinking better when he brushes his teeth was silly but worked for the little genius. Everything worked, it was exciting and scary and a great start to a new series, if a little bit familiar in formula.
But it just makes me kind of dread having the series get passed off to another writer now, and another one after that... It was a fun idea at the beginning of the first book in the first series, but now I'm really tired of the unevenness of it. I doubt any of the writers want to take it on full-time, the four book a year release schedule is too intense and they all have their own projects, but I wish the publisher would narrow it down to a few of the more successful authors (within the series, not overall, David Baldacci is a very successful author but was a huge disaster as a Vespers series author) to ensure consistency and quality. The kids who are the mainstay buyers for the series don't care about big-name authors (like Baldacci who'd never written for children before! And who was terrible at doing it, did they even see a sample of what he was offering or just hire a name? At least all of the other authors have been YA or children's authors) joining the series at the end of a run so I don't understand the strategy of that anyway, why pay a large fee to someone who can't drive sales? Are adults going to suddenly start reading the series to see what the last book is about? And why, oh why, would you give the final and long-awaited book in a mystery series to an untried author? Why wouldn't you schedule it so that one of your tried and true authors could wrap up the series with a sure-fire success instead of what turned into a huge, huge disappointment for many of the fans. In the future, Dear Publishers, please stick to authors who know how to write for tweens and teens appropriately and with respect. And if possible, narrow the field or stick to authors who know the characters to avoid the whiplash we feel when the tone and quality changes so much every book. I'm reluctant to get on another roller coaster of inconsistency, as much as I like the characters and being able to get a new book four times a year. I'm glad that this one was so good, it was just what I'd hoped it would be. But what's the point of getting sucked into another series that could just get messed up in the end again by the it being put in the hands of the wrong author? So please, Dear Publishers, remember that the last book is as important as the first one. If I do decide to go on this journey with you, please don't disappoint me again.(less)
I want to write a longer review, and hope I get to it soon, but for now I'll say that it was well-done and fun. I liked the mystery and the chemistry...moreI want to write a longer review, and hope I get to it soon, but for now I'll say that it was well-done and fun. I liked the mystery and the chemistry between the inspectors. The world building was a little confusing, it's a hodgepodge of a lot of different mythologies and stories, some work but some seem shoehorned in and a bit odd (Phantom?). But overall it was detailed, really interesting and the characters were just terrific.(less)
People who are looking for a whole lot of paranormal activity are going to be disappointed in this. It isn't the urban fantasy that many fans might be...morePeople who are looking for a whole lot of paranormal activity are going to be disappointed in this. It isn't the urban fantasy that many fans might be expecting. it's more of a mystery with some paranormal elements than anything else. Which was actually really cool because it kept me guessing. The paranormal elements, whatever they may be, are part of the unfolding mystery. They're subtle and fascinating and I loved the way the author kept me guessing. I also liked the type of elements that seemed to be included, it's a genre that I really enjoy. I'm excited to see how this all unfolds.
I saw several reviews that called it a page turner, which surprised me because my notes said severe times that it wasn't; although I finished the book quickly, it had a slow and steady pace, a subtle, gradual building and layering of the story that created anticipation but not frantic excitement. It's just a nice, atmospheric story that kept my attention throughout. There's an odd and fascinating eerieness mixed in with the peaceful little town. The mix of chapters about Liv and her investigation randomly alternating with the chapters from the perspectives of different members of the town that either further intrigued or slowly revealed pieces of the puzzle kept my curiously at a constant level, if not at a fever pitch.
Olivia was a great character, strong enough for me to respect her, but not so much that she felt unreasonably heroic or brave. She struggled with her choices and the circumstances that she found herself in but did her best to adapt and move forward.
There's such a journey here as Olivia was learning to trust herself as an independent woman, which she was longing for in even in the beginning before she was thrown out of the nest. And then she has to learn to trust what she's seeing and experiencing on the second level, the omens and sight that is above and beyond the norm. There is some good character development in the book, addition to the mysteries of her parents and what happened, what's going on in the town, and the truth of her abilities as well.
And I liked all of the quirky and mysterious characters in the town, it's fun trying to figure out what their agendas are. Especially the cat. He's quite the little mystery. My favorite little touch about the town was the gargoyles. Among other things, they protect the town from organized religion so there are no churches in town. Love it. Bet that helps keep the peace. Small towns can get such crazy rivalries over churches. The mysterious moving gargoyles are one of the little fascinating aspects of the Cainsville that I'm very curious to find out more about.
It was a good read, easy to move through with a nice atmosphere and interesting characters. I wasn't totally thrilled with the solution to this particular mystery, I'm not sure that I like the escalation of the situation, it's gone in a direction that I totally didn't expect from the tone of the book. But I'm definitely intrigued to see where the author takes it next. (less)
Oh how I love and hate last books in a series. It's always exciting to see how the author wraps things up, but bittersweet to say goodbye and see the...moreOh how I love and hate last books in a series. It's always exciting to see how the author wraps things up, but bittersweet to say goodbye and see the characters I've grown fond of move on to other stages of their lives. This was a very satisfying conclusion to a really lovely series. The mystery was fair to middling with a few too many coincidences thrown in again for my taste, Enola often depends on happening to have run into people in the past or pure luck for major leads. But the emotional components were right on target. The Holmes family story reached a conclusion that suited this group of clever eccentrics, not too sweet, not too perfect, but right for them. And maybe we'll get lucky and Springer will write some stories someday about what an older Enola chooses to do with herself. I would certainly be on board for that.(less)
Very satisfying, it was fun to see Enola both working with and sparring against Sherlock more in this one. She's so lonely, it's easy to identify with...moreVery satisfying, it was fun to see Enola both working with and sparring against Sherlock more in this one. She's so lonely, it's easy to identify with her longing to know this brother that she admires so much, yet fears so deeply and justifiably, knowing that her freedom is at risk every time she encounters either of her brothers.(less)
Is it OK to use your son as a weapon if you're trying to save the world? More questions than answers in the continuing story about how stories shape e...moreIs it OK to use your son as a weapon if you're trying to save the world? More questions than answers in the continuing story about how stories shape everything we know and are. Plus a fun choose-your-own-adventure style section about Lizzie to boot.(less)
It was horrible, so incredibly disappointing. I can't even begin to list the incredibly stupid lines or stupid scenarios. It was just so, so bad. Bald...moreIt was horrible, so incredibly disappointing. I can't even begin to list the incredibly stupid lines or stupid scenarios. It was just so, so bad. Baldacci may be a bestselling adult author, but he has no idea how to write for kids, he was condescending and obnoxious. All of the scary people turned into buffoons and the smart kids started acting like idiots. There was no suspense and the plotting was so weak; if I typed up a list of the things I noticed that made no sense this review would be screens long, and I'm terrible at noticing that stuff. And did the author even read the rest of the series? This 2nd series about the battle with the Vespers has a very dark tone and a lot of emotional layers. The kids are older, worn down by the constant fight and questioning their ability to continue on. This perky rah-rah nonsense and the constant and unrelenting lovey-dovey crap between Amy and Jake was just horrible. The editors made a huge mistake by giving this final book in the Vespers series to an author who has no idea about how to write for kids. The quality in the series has been uneven, but nothing as bad as this before.
Just to give one example from early on in the book, "Amy found herself gazing longingly at Jake and felt her heart beating faster. He was so hot! And smart! And hot!" Seriously? Who is this girl? Certainly not Amy Cahill.(less)
3.5 stars. Still a very charming series, all the more so because of it's dark edge. It always works that Enola is successful despite the large age dif...more3.5 stars. Still a very charming series, all the more so because of it's dark edge. It always works that Enola is successful despite the large age difference between her and Sherlock because Sherlock overlooks the female arts. Would the "real" Sherlock have done that? Who knows? But this Sherlock is clearly characterized and consistent and it works that he wouldn't notice or take seriously things like the flowers in a bouquet, or the corset and bustle in the first book, etc. It gives Enola an advantage and makes the willing suspense of disbelief work.
But... solving this one relied entirely too much on coincidence. Yes, she kept her eyes open, was bold and brave, and used her advantages, but a big part of it came from the huge head start of coincidence. What if she'd chosen to do her shopping at another store? I'd have liked to see a plot that Enola could have deduced beginning to end.
Just as a side note, I felt bad for her when she couldn't sleep at night. She used to wander around and help people, but Sherlock caught on to her disguise. Now she just had to lie awake in bed worrying. She had no library full of books full of entertaining mysteries to keep her busy all night like I have. She thought it was a luxury to be in an apartment for a change that had gas to read her newspaper after dark. This author always does a great job of setting the tone of what London was really like in the 1880's. Unlike a lot of historical fiction, these books actually convey poor lighting, bad smells, and poverty, not just high society and elegant fashions. And even when Enola wears the latest fashions, the discomfort of the crazy styles are clearly pointed out so that a reader can really imagine what it might have felt like to walk in those shoes or be squished into that corset.
Despite a bit of weakness in the plotting of this one, I still really like this series. It's great to see a smart, brave female hero who is interested in things other than boys and who isn't doesn't need anyone to save her, who in fact does all of the saving. (less)