Chelsea Quinn Yarbro might the best historical writer around who doesn’t get the props she deserves because her historiDisclaimer: Arc via Netgalley.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro might the best historical writer around who doesn’t get the props she deserves because her historical fictional has a supernatural twist to. There’s her Count St. Germain series, whose title character is a vampire, though the series emphasis is always on the time period. There’s the one about the nuns and the devil. The one about the werewolf Spanish prince.
This book concerns a news reporter Poppy after WW I. She is trying to follow in her father’s footsteps, which is somewhat difficult because, let’s be frank, there are certain views about the female gender at this time. Poppy’s bucking of tradition does get ground work not only by her father’s being a reporter, but also because her aunt is a woman who bucks tradition. It’s telling that this character that is never really on stage is such a powerful force.
Poppy is the best thing going for this book. Her reporting of a murder is aided by a ghost, and while her acceptance of such a state of affairs might be too quick, the interaction between these Miss Holmes and Mr. Watson is enjoyable reading.
The mystery itself is functional if not all that mysterious – the real charm of the book being Poppy herself. In some ways, the book would have been better if Poppy hadn’t been surrounded and added by so many men. It sounds strange, I know, especially considering the time period, but the book falls into that Poppy is the only truly good woman at times chapter. Even her closest friend isn’t supportive. The only woman who doesn't fit this pattern is her aunt with whom she lives, but that is more of an older/younger relationship. While the time period might constrict on this somewhat, there are other (two) female reporters mentioned in passing. Would it have been so hard to have Poppy have tea with them for advice or aid at one point?
Charles de Lint has been one of those writers that I have been lukewarm about. I’m not sure why, but there it is. I can say that the odds of my pickinCharles de Lint has been one of those writers that I have been lukewarm about. I’m not sure why, but there it is. I can say that the odds of my picking this book up at a reminder sale would have been close to non-existent if it hadn’t been for two Goodreads friends and their absolute, but critical, love for de Lint. He owes them drinks, dinner, a free book, an autograph.
According to the book blurb, de Lint published this in the early 90s under a pseudonym because it was darker than this other work, in particular the Newford novels. It is darker than the other de Lint books, and it runs closer to a feel of a Sonja Blue novel, though it is less violent. The crime is sexual in nature, but not graphically described.
The two main characters of the book – the policeman Tom and the photographer Jim - are not equal. Despite the back blurb, the story is more Tom’s than Jim’s. There are two drawbacks to this. The first is that Tom is a better drawn character and his marriage is shown better than Jim’s romantic connection. The second is the character of Tom, who despite being drawn pretty well runs the risk of being a cliché for some readers. Tom is a Native American who has disappointed his father being going to live off the reserve and in the city of Newford. He’s disappointed his brother by becoming a cop. This book was written before the establishment of Nunavut, and I don’t know if de Lint was tapping into issues in addition to the question of land ownership and society. But the plot runs dangerously close to Tom having to embrace his Native American heritage type of story.
I say close because for me it doesn’t cross over to that realm, though I have no doubt for some readers it might. It is balanced by Tom’s wife and his partner. My criticism is that the book’s length doesn’t allow de Lint to really explore the issues he raises – does one join the culture and change it that way or does one separate one’s self.
My other criticism of the novel is the women. De Lint does write good women, and he doesn’t write damsels in distress. The women in this novel, however, felt underdeveloped and while one of them is central to the resolution (and how this is done was strength of the book); they lacked the presence of Jim and of Tom. In fact, if I had to hear one more time how Tom and Meg were just friends, I was going to smack someone. (De Lint, my brother thanks you for not mentioning it again). It seems feels like an excuse to have a rather weak romance in bloom sub-plot between Jim and Cindy, who allows de Lint to bring music into the book, the soul, in part, of most of his story telling.
Criticisms aside, however, the plot is tight and believable. The pacing is good. The last 50-100 pages are gripping. You believable that the characters are at risk, that there is indeed danger in the air. The ending is not one of those pull it out of the hats and everyone is great types. It is a satisfying read if not a great one.
Disclaimer: Gotten as an Audible freebie. David Suchet reading M. R. James great combo. I’m not really sure how this qualifieCrossposted at Booklikes.
Disclaimer: Gotten as an Audible freebie. David Suchet reading M. R. James great combo. I’m not really sure how this qualifies as a Christmas ghost story, but nice and spooky. Don’t listen to it in a bedroom. ...more
Disclaimer: This was offered free for Audible members.
I suppose if I really wanted, I could write an essay length review aboCrossposted at Booklikes.
Disclaimer: This was offered free for Audible members.
I suppose if I really wanted, I could write an essay length review about how great yet unrated this Dickens novella is. It is most likely Dickens best known work, and he hated it. Yet, there is very much here besides embracing the spirit of the season.
However, let’s cut straight to the point, okay?
Why don’t you want to listen to Rocky Horror perform a Christmas Carol?
Disclaimer: Copy via Netgalley in return for a fair review.
This is hyped as a mash-up of a ghost story and Ocean’s Eleven. AndCrossposted at Booklikes
Disclaimer: Copy via Netgalley in return for a fair review.
This is hyped as a mash-up of a ghost story and Ocean’s Eleven. And it is. But the Ocean Eleven is the George Clooney version and not the Old Blue Eyes version.
This is not intended as a criticism, but it needed to be said.
Ghosted is about con, Winters, who is hired to steal a ghost. He gets together a crew, there is violence and betrayal. It is a solid if not outstanding read.
It also is more in the tradition of Noir then something like Ocean’s Eleven, either one. It reminds me more of the mini-series Mob City on TNT – gritty, dark, templates rather than characters. And while Ghosted is not as good or compelling as Mob City, it isn’t a waste of trees either.
The heist story is gripping enough to keep the reader’s attention, and this makes up for the fact that the characters are not as real as they could be – they are very much types. The plot twists are well done and not insulting, and while a woman reader could wish for better female characters, they are not bad or weak characters – just women in the tradition of noir. This makes the criticism genre driven as opposed to the comic driven.
There is some humor, mostly of a sexual banter between Winters and Anderson; however, there is a rather funny Harry Potter reference. It should be noted that despite the humor this is a story for teens and adults and not children.
The ending actually does transcend noir and humanizes the villain. This is done rather well, and much better than certain villains who become stars of their own and then heroes (cough Magneto cough). It is wonderful to see storytellers who can make a bad guy human without making the bad guy into a good guy. The end is also thought provoking, a good bonus that makes up for the lack of Ocean’s cool.
The artwork ties in very well to the story and is very noir like in its own right. ...more
There is always a risk when a writer uses a real person or a beloved literary character in a book outside of straight forward historical fiction – theThere is always a risk when a writer uses a real person or a beloved literary character in a book outside of straight forward historical fiction – the historical fiction that follows the basic outline. There is a Jane Austen who solves mysteries among other famous people who do the same. There is always a risk that a reader will get upset that the person (or character) has been perverted or changed too radically – like say making Charlotte Bronte the killer of her entire family. Then there are books like this one. This book made me raise an eyebrow, but since it was being offered free, I thought might as well, though I didn’t have high hopes for it. Yet, I found myself being pleasantly surprised. The conceit is interesting, each chapter, written by one of the authors, is the author meeting a famous (dead) writer for drinks (or in the case of the Brontes, three writers). The nice thing is that it works. There is a large amount of history in the interviews, and while it is impossible to say if the writers nail the “characters” of the famous women, the caricatures are very funny and very poignant in some cases. Look at it this way, the Plath chapter was really good and considering it is about Plath that’s saying something. While the book might not have new facts for those well versed in the background of the writers “interviewed”, the writing is good and the humor makes up for the already know information. If you are new to the writers being interviewed, both in terms of their work or lives, the chapters do have information and there is a reading list for each author at the end of the book. The writers seem to do a good job of raising interest in the women and encouraging further reading. ...more
I found the writing at times in this book to be a little heavy and not as smooth as it could be in terms of story. There were, however, several thingsI found the writing at times in this book to be a little heavy and not as smooth as it could be in terms of story. There were, however, several things I liked about this story. The fact that Catherine can realize she is being silly and snapped herself out of it, the fact that the woman are not competing aganist each other. I picked this up for free and will try the next....more
What is it about Maine that invites horror stories? Scratch that. There is something about those cold places –Disclaimer: Recieved copy via Netgalley
What is it about Maine that invites horror stories? Scratch that. There is something about those cold places – Maine, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia and so forth – that leads to dark tales, be it horror or personal demons. Maybe it’s the long nights. But at least you know why it has the title it does. This graphic novel is very, very good. The only question is whether the art work or the story is better. The answer is that the art and story are tied. The story concerns Salamandra, a young girl whose parents have gone missing, maybe. Salamandra is a tough girl, though she isn’t a Goth. She acts like a loner, but it seems that this trait is more learned than bred. And she isn’t a witch, though she isn’t quite human either. She has a teddy bear and a crow. In some ways, Salamandra might be the offspring of those tough loner chicks that you see in all the urban fantasy novels right now. Yet she’s not. She is far more human. She loves her teddy bear. The book is good in so many ways. From the double meaning of the title – there is more than one demon here – to the stunning artwork, a cross between Rackham and Anime. The story works because it can be read on more than one level and while Salamandra might not win our sympathy, the reader likes her because she is believable, because she grows and changes. More importantly, unlike some other heroines I can think of she knows when to ask for help. Salamandra is not a darker version of Harry Potter. She is more like a mutant from the Marvel Universe, albeit one without the triple D bra size. Yet even that comparison is flawed. The stories are far more adult, though it seems this graphic novel is marketed for young adults. It’s great that smaller publishers are coming out with more female oriented comic books, and make the heroines real instead of fashion models with powers. ...more
This is really a story about loss and the human condition.
Told in six parts, this story relates the journey of a family trying to get over the lost ofThis is really a story about loss and the human condition.
Told in six parts, this story relates the journey of a family trying to get over the lost of a mother. Tem has a dark tone, but it is a different dark tone than that which is usually found in horror. It is gothic, but somehow, in someway, humane. It is an understanding mirror....more
**spoiler alert** I'm not entirely sure what the point of this novel was considering it really doesn't advance Dresden's story all that much.
I like Dr**spoiler alert** I'm not entirely sure what the point of this novel was considering it really doesn't advance Dresden's story all that much.
I like Dresden. I do, but the series was never get in hardcover for me. I gladly pick them up in paperbacks, so I was not one of those screaming at the end of Changes (apparently, many people were). This book which is to resolve the cliffhangerish (yes, Butcher it was one, own up to it. Geez.) I found to be incredibly disappointing. It is the first book I've skimmed in the series.
Here are my problems.
1. Using the It's a Wonderful Life idea is fine. No problem. But it's A Wonderful Life only in the present just re-enforces the image of Harry as the god of the universe who is needed for everything to go right.
2. The idea of the power vaccum caused by the Red Court death is good, but is not explored intelligently.
3. The backcover is false advertising. Harry has magic.
4. Harry as God of the universe totally ruins this series for me. This has been happening over the course of the books, and it isn't just the power creeps. What made the Dresden files stand out among all the other UF books was the fact that Harry was an every man. He was smart, he had power, he was nice - but he wasn't the best at everything. Harry is now the best at everything. His ghost is better at dealing with problems than his friends. The charm of the series has been totally ruined for me. You can have characters grow without them gaining power - like Butters for example or even Thomas, as examples in this series. Vaughn and Armstrong do similar things with some of there characters. But Harry is too special, too unique. He's the best at everything. He is no longer an every man or even an every wizard. That change has ruined this series for me. This idea of Harry as best of everything is hammered in early in the series when he points out for several paragraphs how weak the wards on Murphy's house are, far weaker than his, and a half baked job is implied. Then we find out that it was Abby and co who did it (and didn't do a good job). Thank you for showing us weak female magic users here, Butcher.
5. Thank you, for showing us weak women, Butcher. Because of all of Harry's female friends seem to be losing it, but the guys are doing just fine.
6. If you want Molly to disintegrate and become Darth Vader - do it and do not shy away from it. That, at least, would've been interesting. Making her broken but still a good person just simply makes her a person having a melt down. While this is understandable, why do you have to do the same to Murphy? It's sad when the toughest woman in the book is Justine. (BTW - Molly is still hot even after living on the streets with no proper food or shower for weeks? Plz.)
7. Nothing happens for pages and pages, except for Harry telling the reader things, the reader knows.
8. Harry keeps thinking about the mistakes he made in rescuing his novel. This includes killing Susan as well as making a deal with Mab and his treatment of his friends. Harry also reflects on his "rush in" behavior and says he is going to change it. The example of this is Harry helping Fitz, a young boy who with a gang tried to kill Molly and ended up killing an old man and wounding Abbi (whose status we are never told after being told she was shot). So Harry decides, again, that his morality takes first place over any one else's. Yes, Fitz was in a bad sitution, but why does Harry get to decide. What about the family of the old guy who died, don't they deserve justice? How is this any different from Harry deciding his daughter's life is worth everyone else's? He is still judge.
9. And let's talk about Maggie. I love how Harry is a great dad because he killed his child's mother to save her. So Harry is a dad with none of the responisblity. I would've loved to see Harry as father. This would've been a change for the character, but Butcher sets it up that if this change occurs, it won't be for books. It's like a non-change in that way. Maggie is now just a plot device.
10. The whole Thomas/Justine solution doesn't make sense to me. Not to mention, it felt like guy wish fulfillment porn, especially annoying after seeing NBC's Bodies in Motion Porn (aka Olympic ad featuring women). I know the timing isn't your fault Mr. Butcher, but well. (Interesting how the unattractive women always get physical harmed, isn't it?)
11. Harry as god. It annoys me. At this point, I much rather read about the Butters and Bob show.
I still like Mr Butcher's writing. I most likely will give the next novel a chance before giving up on the series. I've got Butcher's first Codex book in TBR line. But this book seems like a waste of Butcher's talent....more
Disclaimer: I picked up this book because I read a blog post by Ms Kane (Empress Kane) where she strongly expressed views that I agree with. This pickDisclaimer: I picked up this book because I read a blog post by Ms Kane (Empress Kane) where she strongly expressed views that I agree with. This picking up books because I liked the blog tends to work out well for me. The only expectation was the Court of the Air, but that book was stalking me.
There is too much urban/paranormal fantasy out there that features a tough as nails heroine who has a unique ability and solves crime. The covers of the books are even similar. It is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff when determining whether or not to start a new series. Thankfully Stacia Kane’s book is wheat and not chafe. It doesn’t look that way at first glance, I’ll admit. It has what is now the standard urban fantasy heroine – tragic past, chip on shoulder, heart of gold (perhaps tarnished), unique power, every man in the book lusts after her, and the only capable female in the bunch. Seriously, must urban fantasy heroines are interchangeable. But despite appearance, Chess isn’t the cliché, not entirely. While she has power, she isn’t totally unique; there are others like her. She has a tragic past, but acknowledges that some people might have it harder. Oh, and she’s addicted to drugs, a habit which gets her into a teeny bit of trouble. In many ways, Chess reminds of Nurse Jackie (though less funny) and characters from the Wire. In much UF, the tragic past functions to make the reader feel sorry for the heroine and thereby like the heroine. The heroine acts like this isn’t the case, but look at the way the story is told – the poor me if not directly said is always implied. If the character is someone you might not like in real life, the past allows a window to likening. But think of Nurse Jackie and characters on the Wire. They don’t ask to be liked, they don’t excuse. They just are. They just are honest and so while in many cases you wouldn’t like to meet them in real life, you like the characters on the television. Chess is like that. She’s honest. She doesn’t ask to be liked. She just is; she doesn’t want pity – she wants money. It’s refreshing. In many ways, the fact that Kane makes Chess this way makes up for a slight weakness in plot and the cliché men chasing after her. To be fair, the men aren’t the cliché; the chasing is. It also makes up for the lack of all female characters. All supporting characters of any note are male in this first installment. Forced by her dealer (a man who doesn’t lust after her the way the others do) to solve a mystery surrounding an airport, Chess finds herself caught up in a plot that might destroy the city, if not the world, she lives in. The world building in this novel, while not entirely unique (you can find variations and similarities in other books) is well thought out, and the brief bits of “quotes” from various books are the start of each chapter are interesting. What I particularly liked was the fact that magic has a cost and a risk. Too often that aspect in UF is forgotten, brushed over, or our heroine doesn’t have deal with it. Nice to see it here. The supporting characters are over all well drawn, and the attraction that Chess feels to them is transmitted to the read without copious amounts of description. Kane has an ability to make that attraction exist in the character and not via the heroine. Though I must admit, I wondered if the sister was real. And that’s why I am giving this book four stars. I would’ve liked to see some more female characters. At times, Chess feels like the sole woman in a man’s world. I would’ve liked to see another woman who in some way was Chess’ equal and not simply a librarian who appears in absences or a street hooker. ...more
Supposedly for children, both the artwork and the stories will appeal to Edward Gorey. As an adult, I can't say that I found the stories truly horrifySupposedly for children, both the artwork and the stories will appeal to Edward Gorey. As an adult, I can't say that I found the stories truly horrifying, but it was an enjoyable read nonetheless. Of more interst than the stories was the question of Uncle Montague himself....more
This volumne focues more on love stories. The best story, to my mind, being Valention's retelling of "Beauty and the Beast". The stories are ones thatThis volumne focues more on love stories. The best story, to my mind, being Valention's retelling of "Beauty and the Beast". The stories are ones that Annabelle tells to Gwen, her newest owner, but also includes one about Gwen herself. Totally enjoyable. I know everyone raves about the Fables series, but so far, at least in the two volumes I've read, I enjoy this series far more. It's darker and more true....more
In fairness, I'm older than the target audience for this book. It's really a 3.5 btw.
Entwined is a fairly good retelling of the 12 Dancing Princess faIn fairness, I'm older than the target audience for this book. It's really a 3.5 btw.
Entwined is a fairly good retelling of the 12 Dancing Princess fairy tale. 12 sisters, each named after flowers and in alphabetical sequence, loss their mother, deal with their father's grief, and have to deal with a mysterious Keeper.
Part Disney inspired, part dark fantasy, part dance, Entwined has several things to reccomend it despite it's flaws.
The first is that this tale is told from the viewpoint of the eldest princess, making it a nice change of pace from those stories where the elder gives way to the younger. Dixon touches on the job of being the eldest. The second is that the sisters are sisters. They might fight, but they truly love each other and work together. That's nice to see. Dixon also has some wonderful phrasing in places, and I liked the incorparation of dance. The book is also about love and grief.
These strengths out weigh the flaws - the weak characterization of the father and sudden romance between two secondary characters....more
The thing with having a Kindle is the slew of free or discounted books that are avaible. It's quite amazing really, until you get burned one too manyThe thing with having a Kindle is the slew of free or discounted books that are avaible. It's quite amazing really, until you get burned one too many times.
So I was somewhat sceptical about picking this one. But hey, it was free.
Ms. (or Mrs, or Dr.) Burgess, I'm so sorry. This book is really good. The stories are very creepy.
The style is very much old time gothic (think Poe) but with some very modern, and timely, twists. The first story, "The Dancing Water" takes place in the USSR during a certain famous accident. The second "Breaths in Winter" is perhaps the weakest of the three, weakest here being a relative term. It plays with the idea of work and pressure. The last, "Ghost Song" is the most horrific and engrossing.
The tales are well written (and well edited). The most likely won't make any of the year's best collections, but they should....more