The first 375 pages of the book were...basically character development. Nothing much really happens. It's all about getting to know Bella (even thoughThe first 375 pages of the book were...basically character development. Nothing much really happens. It's all about getting to know Bella (even though she's most certainly an unreliable narrator; see below) and setting up the action to come.
When the action finally starts at around page 375, it becomes far more interesting. Bella claims to undersand that Edward and his "family" are vampires and dangerous, but finally gets concrete proof of just how dangerous they can be.
I guess the only thing that really bothered me was the constant harping on how perfectly wonderful and wonderfully perfect Edward is. By page 100, I was already tired of it, and there were 400 more pages left to go.
I'm so very NOT the intended audience of this, but I can see why it's popular. This is why I know she's an unreliable narrator: throughout the book, Bella is down on herself. We only have her POV to go on, and she thinks she's ugly and graceless. But she goes into this new town and suddenly the head geek, the head jock, another boy (I can't recall his clique), a vampire, and a werewolf are all infatuated with her. Who wouldn't, after all, want to go into a new town and have five disparate members of their preferred gender suddenly go completely ga-ga over them, especially if two of them turn out to be a vampire and a werewolf?
So yeah. I did enjoy it up to a point. That point being that I'm male, in my forties, and not much into paranormal romance. :)
Also, I have to say this: While I was reading this and updating my status, which was then copied to Facebook, I had to put up with a barrage of people saying "Why? Why are you reading that dreck?" (And not-so-nice synonyms for "dreck.") It got so bad that I finally wrote a blog post about the attitude. If you'd like to read that blog post (which I consider to be part of my review), please do so here....more
This is a collection of fourteen of Chuck's short stories, all of which have one thing in common: They're strange. :)
I certainly don't mean that in aThis is a collection of fourteen of Chuck's short stories, all of which have one thing in common: They're strange. :)
I certainly don't mean that in a bad way, either. What's neat about these stories is that whether they be science fiction, fantasy, or straight-up horror, they're all really strange. The world depicted in Chuck's stories is just a little off-kilter. From "The Death Gerbil," which has all the earmarks of a horror story, but with a quirky ending that brought a chuckle; "The Wizard Lottery," which is a straight-up fantasy with all the earmarks of the genre; "Freshly Ghost," which tantalizes the reader with a huge world of which we see only a tiny slice; "In the Closet," which has a very creepy premise and a logical ending, something that most horror stories lack, in my humble opinion; to "Memory Fades," which is a heartwarming, touching story with a supernatural twist.
I enjoyed all fourteen stories. I read about a third of them before on Chuck's website, but seeing them all combined into one volume like this really brings that strangeness to light.
An intriguingly different approach to urban fantasy that mixes a lot more fantasy into the urban instead of the other way around. Mixes geek with GreeAn intriguingly different approach to urban fantasy that mixes a lot more fantasy into the urban instead of the other way around. Mixes geek with Greek.
Geek: the main character is a hacker who belongs to a long line of hackers and computer developers from way back. Way, WAY back.
Greek: because his great-to-the-nth-grandmother is Lachesis. You know, the second incarnation of the goddess(es) of Fate. The one that measures the threads of mortal lives. That Lachesis.
Ravirn has stumbled onto a dastardly plot that will pit him against his own extended family, and thanks to a Cassandra spell, no one will believe him when he tries to explain. With a discarded webtroll (think webserver, but demony), a laptop-cum-familiar-cum-demon of his own devising, and his distant-to-the-nth cousin who also happens to be his girlfriend as his only true allies, he has to find a way to stay alive while the Fates do everything in their power to exterminate his life-thread.
If you like cyberpunk, Greek mythology, urban fantasy, smart-ass narrators, strong female characters, magic, smart-mouthed laptops, and defying Fate, this is the book for you....more
Note: The summary below is for less than the first hundred pages of a 300-page book. I don't consider them spoilers, but if you're a stickler, don't rNote: The summary below is for less than the first hundred pages of a 300-page book. I don't consider them spoilers, but if you're a stickler, don't read beyond this.
There's quite a lot to like about this book. The author, Stuart Jaffe, was unknown to me before I attended a small science fiction/fantasy con in Chattanooga, TN, in June of 2013. My friends and I met the author, spent some time with him, liked him, and I ended up buying two of his books because they sounded interesting. This is the first I have read. Note: The other author, Cameron Francis, is a magician, and all of the card "tricks" in the book are his. Jaffe and Cameron do a good job of showing card tricks without the use of cards. :)
The main character, Duncan Rose, starts out not very likable. He learned all about magic — especially card-handling techniques — from his great-grandfather, Pappy. But instead of using his skills to make an honest living as a stage magician, he cheats at cards. This backfires on him one night, and his partner in crime, Pancake, who also knows a little about cheating at cards, cheats the wrong people and nothing Duncan does to try to defuse the situation helps. Minor spoiler: (view spoiler)[Pancake ends up losing his hand to the Russian mob, and the men are told they have to come up with $20,000 before morning or worse things are going to befall them. (hide spoiler)]
Desperate, Duncan turns to his estranged family and gets no help. They're all tired of his dishonest lifestyle. As a last-ditch effort, he goes to the one person he can trust: Pappy.
Who turns him down.
In despair, Duncan decides that he is going to have to do the unthinkable: steal from Pappy. Pappy has kept a mysterious, elaborately decorated door closed in his apartment for years, warning Duncan again and again never to open it. But suddenly, whatever might be behind that door sounds like the solution to Duncan's problems. He opens the door and steps through.
And winds up outside a house in a small city in Pennsylvania. In 1934. He's wearing different clothes and finds less than five dollars in his pockets. He tries to convince himself it's all an elaborate illusion set up by Pappy, but quickly realizes that it's real. For whatever reason, the door is magic — the real thing — and he really is in 1934. His goal: to get back to 2013 and fix things.
He immediately falls back on his one real skill and finds a card game he can cheat at. He discovers he's not the only one pulling the same scam. He and the other magician, Vincent, team up and cheat some mobsters out of $100, which is a large sum of money in 1934.
Unfortunately, their boss figures it out and comes for Duncan. And makes him a deal: Duncan is to get himself into the local magic club (of which Vincent is the head honcho) and find out their secrets and relay everything he discovers to the mob boss "or else."
He soon discovers that everyone is after the same thing: a mysterious Vanishing Door act performed by a magician near the turn of the century. An act during which several people actually disappeared. Lucy has drawn a picture of the door, and it looks strangely familiar: a lot like the door in Pappy's apartment.
Vincent wants the door because he wants the secret of the trick. Duncan wants it because he believes it to be his ticket home to 2013. The mob boss wants it for the power he believes it will give him.
To complicate things, Duncan finds himself head over heels in love with Vincent's sister, Lucy, and is torn between leaving her in 1934 or bringing her with him back to 2013.
I won't give away the ending. Suffice it to say that the resolution was refreshing to me. Time travel stories generally have a number of problems, but Jaffe manages to thread that particular needle nicely, and finds a solution that didn't make me groan and roll my eyes.
The tension is kept high as Duncan must satisfy the mob boss while simultaneously gain the trust of Vincent and the other magicians in the magic club and not betray his growing love for Lucy, and hers for him. The pacing is fast, and you will be kept turning the pages not only to find out how — or whether — Duncan manages to find a solution to all of his problems, but how the love story between Lucy and Duncan turns out.
I enjoyed watching Duncan grow from a not-very-likable character to one that finds true love and tries to do the right thing.
The characters are believable, the time travel is nicely handled (although never explained, which I'm fine with), and the resolution is satisfying. Although I did (eventually) see the end coming, it has a certain elegance that I wasn't expecting from the trope used. (Is that mysterious enough?)
I would recommend the book to those who enjoy magic, time travel, "period pieces," mysteries, and love stories. It has aspects of all of them, and yet isn't purely any of them.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Dead Mann Walking is an urban fantasy that manages to break free from the pack of most of the other urban fantasies I've read. Most of those others inDead Mann Walking is an urban fantasy that manages to break free from the pack of most of the other urban fantasies I've read. Most of those others involve sexy vampires, sexy werewolves, wizards, or other...well, romantic figures. Ghosts. Fairies. Elves. That kind of thing.
Hessius Mann is a zombie. But they don't call them that. They call them chakz, after the Spanish word for "jerky," or "dried meat."
Mann, who was a policeman in life, was accused of murdering his wife (for good reason), and found guilty. He was executed for the crime. And then exonerated. To give him a "second chance" of sorts, he was revived. The hell of it is, he doesn't remember whether he actually did it or not. It's all lost in a haze. Chakz' memories aren't what they were in life. Mann doesn't like to think about it too much. What if he remembers...and it turns out he did kill her? Could he "live" with himself, knowing that?
Unlike most chakz, Mann is pretty lucky. He's in one piece with few nicks and cuts, although the injuries he's received since his raising are easy enough for his assistant Misty to fix with an exacto knife, needle, thread, and super glue.
He's running a mostly unsuccessful private investigation business. Chakz are universally reviled. Not only are they outcast, they have to deal with the constant threat of harassment by Hakkers, gangs of young thugs who think it's fun to torture and/or destroy the undead. And even though most chakz are able to hold things together pretty well, mentally...occasionally one slips and turns feral, becoming like those Romero-type zombies that mindlessly kill and eat any living humans--Livebloods--they come across. That doesn't make chakz any more loved.
A lawyer visits Mann at his office one day to offer him a substantial sum of cash to find his client's heir--who is a chak--and bring him home into the loving arms of his family so he can inherit the family fortune. Mann doesn't look a gift horse in the mouth, and takes the money--and the case. But then, several chakz are discovered in pieces. Minus their heads.
Mann soon realizes that the cases are related, and once he starts investigating it, he stirs up all kinds of trouble in the community, and uncovers a plot that will endanger his unlife several times over. But the police are no help--they all think he killed his wife, after all, and it's just chakz who are being disposed of, not real people--and the only liveblood who'll help is Misty, who has her own demons.
What I really liked about this novel is that not only does it have the requisite Mystery That Must Be Solved™, there's quite a few things in there that hold a bright light up to how society tends to treat those it values least. The people it chooses not to notice. The people it wishes would just go away. A chakz' existence is pretty bleak, and most of them didn't ask for it. It's not really life they're living so much as it is mere existence. They don't have any of the animal drives of the living--sleep, food, water, air, sex--and they aren't welcome anywhere. What's left to them?
The book doesn't shy away from these questions, either. It addresses them head on. At the end of the book, the legal status of chakz comes under scrutiny and undergoes a drastic change, which should provide a very interesting backdrop for subsequent books in the series.
Make no doubt about it: In many ways, this is a bleak story. With bleak characters. Living in a bleak world. It is not light-hearted and fluffy. It is probably not going to uplift your soul or make you shed tears of happiness and joy. There are no wise-cracking heroes who always get the girl, here. In fact, even the good guys aren't always so great. But I think that makes them more interesting to read.
And it is a very good read. The plot makes sense. The pacing is good. The characters are not just flat caricatures of movie monsters, but have some actual depth. There are some very interesting secondary characters that I look forward to seeing come back in later volumes. There are a few places where you'll laugh, and there are a few places where you'll squirm. And there's at least one scene that should give you the heebie-jeebies. (Heh-heh!)
But you'll keep turning the page because you want to know what happens next.
And isn't that the hallmark of a good book?
I'll definitely be looking for the subsequent volumes....more
While I liked the book quite a bit and definitely enjoyed reading it--it was literally a page-turner, and I kept reading it long past when I should haWhile I liked the book quite a bit and definitely enjoyed reading it--it was literally a page-turner, and I kept reading it long past when I should have gone to bed--it had some problems that kept it from a perfect five-star rating.
I do like urban fantasy as a genre. But this was published in 2006 and it felt like a throwback to an earlier time. Characters had PAGERS, for Pete's sake, instead of cell phones. It didn't HURT the plot, but it did cause me to wonder, every once in a while, when it had been originally published. It had a bit of a retro Sue Grafton feel. (Her Kinsey Milhone books take place in the late 80s, so the lack of cell phones makes sense. It didn't in this.)
Also, vampires. I know that urban fantasy is replete with them, and there are plenty of UF series in which the main character can't swing an exsanguinated cat without hitting at least three of them, but the trope is getting tired to me. Sure, there were witches and necromancers and hints at much worse/more interesting things, but...
But those are minor problems. Ones I can dismiss as being a matter of taste on my part. The part of the book that lost a star for me was how much of the time poor Harper spent either nauseated, vomiting, dizzy, with a headache, confused, in pain, etc. It frankly just wore me out. I do get that the Grey caused her to have this reaction, and that it ended when it did was a very welcome, believable moment in part BECAUSE she was so sick throughout.
But it went on for so long and so persistently that I wondered whether I should even read any of the other books for fear that she would spend it sick and retching and out of kilter....more
In this universe, magic is language. So if you are unable to spell, all your magic is likely to be miscast, and who knows what kind of havoc that coulIn this universe, magic is language. So if you are unable to spell, all your magic is likely to be miscast, and who knows what kind of havoc that could wreak? Poor Nicodemus Weal is a cacographer (by touching a written spell, he causes it to misspell), which means that unless he concentrates very hard on correct spelling, his magical spells don't always work as intended. From that simple premise, Charlton constructed a world, a magic system, and a plot that keeps the reader wanting more from the first page to the last. I found myself reading long past the time I should have gone to bed, and wishing I had bought the electronic version so I could read it surreptitiously on my phone at work instead of having to wait until I was at lunch or home to haul out the hardcover.
That being said, the writing itself has a few rough edges, but I'm not sure there's a debut novel around that doesn't have a few. Some of the exposition has a little bit of an "As you know, Bob..." feel, and more than once I was a little too aware that the author was telling me, the reader, what he wanted me to know when it didn't make perfect sense in the story for one character to tell another. But since two of the main characters are an instructor (Magister) and his student (apprentice), I was more than willing to forgive that because what I was learning was interesting. And honestly, if that's the only negative thing I can find to say about the book, it's ahead of a good number of others.
I appreciated the many language and writing puns scattered throughout the book while at the same time groaning at them. (See 'spelling' and 'misspelling' above.) Purple prose being the most egregious (literally purple), but others reared their heads from time to time. I do appreciate a good pun, but your mileage may vary. :)
As an aside, I was amused by the character agonizing over misspellings that he had caused and obsessing over the fact that "conscience" just had to be misspelled because it has letters that don't make sense. It is a funny scene, and intended to sort of lighten the mood. But then I realized. . .that must be what it's like for a person with dyslexia pretty much every day. It's nice when an author can make you laugh and teach you something at the same time.
The characters were nicely developed and didn't seem flat or cookie-cutter at all, in spite of the fact that for a 350-page novel, he has quite a few characters with not only speaking parts (who didn't all sound like each other or the author speaking by proxy), but POV chapters, as well. His villains are villainous without being Snidely Whiplash: mustache-twirling evil for the sake of being evil. Everyone has agendas, and all the agendas made sense, at least within the context of the story. Not everything was revealed about every character, but this is a good thing because it makes me eager to start the second book. The world itself...has me a bit confused, but I think I'm supposed to be at this point in the saga, so I don't find that frustrating. I just want to read more.
One thing I enjoyed in particular: In too many fantasy novels, the young protagonist who is Destined to Save the World or who is The One Who Is Prophesied is disbelieving or reluctant. "I can't possibly be He Who! I'm just a nobody!" Not Nicodemus. He's quite eager to be the One Who or the Destined because he seizes on a goal as soon as he realizes what it means if he is actually somebody instead of a nobody. I suspect that will not end well for him, but I'll wait patiently to find out.
There were some nice surprises as well, which I won't go into in detail so I don't have to mark this review as containing spoilers. Suffice it to say that the nature of Dierdre's problems, Simple John's backstory, and the nature of the Prime Language all surprised me, but shouldn't have, meaning that all the clues were right there on the page and as soon as I read the revelations, I thought, "Oh, right! That makes sense!" No doubt many readers picked up on some of it before I did, but for me, I felt the pacing and the timing of those revelations (and others) were very well done.
In summary, this is a good, solid debut novel, and I look forward to reading more by Blake Charlton....more