Kitty Norville is a radio DJ that hosts a late night talk show about various paranormal topics. She often gets strange calls from the very subjects shKitty Norville is a radio DJ that hosts a late night talk show about various paranormal topics. She often gets strange calls from the very subjects she talks about. She usually ends up giving out advice to these callers since they have very few options for advice available to them. As a werewolf herself, Kitty is in a unique position to dispense helpful information to those that need it. Her show became popular and that did not sit too well with some key players in her life. Her own pack was made jealous of her success and that created tension in the ranks that she is forced to deal with. Not to mention the vampires, werewolf hunters, and other denizens of the night she has managed to irritate with her openness of sensitive topics. All of these things make Kitty Norville’s life complicated and scary.
I’m a big fan of the Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, and it was too easy for me to draw comparisons between Kitty and Mercedes. Both series have a strong “werewolf” female protagonists, and both use inter-pack politics as significant plot points. Their characters in both series make it a point to defy their stereotypical societal roles as both werewolves and women. As similar as they seem on the surface, the surface is where the similarities end. To put in simply, there is a lot less magic in Kitty’s world, and the overall tone of the book is heavier.
Kitty and the Midnight Hour is a much darker book than I was expecting. While still a fun read, it had an edge to it. Nothing overly graphic, but it certainly didn’t shy away from a little gore, sex, and violence. I viewed this as a good thing. Werewolves and vampires are supposed to be gritty, dangerous, and violent. I liked the world Carrie Vaughn created, and must say that I wished I had found it before I had already been overexposed to sparkling vampires, hunky werewolves, and other Urban Fantasy tropes that are so prevalent now.
The Kitty Norville books draw their inspiration from your typical werewolf Urban Fantasy stories, and at this point I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone who is a fan of the genre and is desperate for something different. However, I would recommend it to anyone looking for an introduction into werewolf-themed fantasy, or you simply can’t get enough ass-kicking werewolves. The books are well written, intense, and chock full of great characters. I may not be running to the bookstore to pick up the sequel tomorrow, but Kitty Norville has definitely found a permanent home on my To-Be-Read list.
I listened to Kitty and the Midnight Hour on audio. The audio book is published by Tantor Audio and read by Marguerite Gavin. Marguerite is a professional narrator, and has read tons of books and received many awards for her work. Marguerite was such an awesome choice for reading Kitty Norville because she sounds exactly how you would imagine Kitty would sound. The Kitty Norville character is a professional DJ who talks down some very scary creatures. Marguerite’s power of voice lends great credibility to the character. Not to mention that, when I pulled up her bio on the Tantor site, she is a dead ringer for Kitty as well. A really good audio experience from Marguerite and Tantor.
Red Country is technically a stand-alone novel, but like Joe Abercrombie‘s other stand-alones (Best Served Cold and The Heroes), it draws heavily fromRed Country is technically a stand-alone novel, but like Joe Abercrombie‘s other stand-alones (Best Served Cold and The Heroes), it draws heavily from events that transpired in his FIRST LAW series. Reading Red Country before FIRST LAW will spoil things for you and you will lose out on a lot of the fun surprises and mystery characters that Abercrombie has set up for fans of the previous books.
The events in Red Country take place in a location west of the setting of the other books. The story draws heavily from Old West themes that are prevalent in American Western movies and folklore. The mud, dust, cattle, wagons, and scruffy adventurers are all here. Abercrombie unapologetically paints the scene with the brush of an old Clint Eastwood movie. I was even expecting those ominous whistled notes followed by a tumbleweed rolling through a dusty ghost town. Firearms do not really exist in this world yet, so everyone is still carrying swords. You can picture it like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly with swords. There was a very specific feel Abercrombie was going for, and he nailed it.
Fans of medieval fantasy that are unwilling to accept departures from that mold may find themselves feeling a little out of sorts with Red Country. My response to them is “too bad.” You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You loved Abercrombie for spitting in the eye of modern fantasy tropes only up until the point he decides to mess with your own particular beloved trope. There is nothing wrong with the setting Abercrombie created for Red Country, and it meshes perfectly well with the world he already established in previous stories. I thought the Western elements were brilliantly executed, and it provided yet another refreshing angle from Joe Abercrombie. The story itself is fairly straightforward in its premise. A plains farming family already familiar with tragedy is victimized by bandits, and their children are stolen. The remaining adult sister named Shy, and their stepfather called Lamb are determined to get them back. The journey to save the children gets increasingly difficult, complicated, and violent as the story progresses. Everyone has a past that seems to hang over them. The decisions they made years ago suddenly have significant ramifications in the present. As with any Abercrombie tale, it is often hard to tell who the good guys are, but the characters are easy to sympathize with even if they’re rotten bastards.
The gore and violence is ever-present, and the main cast is in constant peril. It’s a given from the start that a lot of the cast will not make it to the end of the book. Every Abercrombie novel I’ve read so far has had certain moments that really made me react strongly, usually to some terrible plot event. In Best Served Cold there was a moment where a character was tortured to the point of breaking. It was so real, and visceral — it stuck with me, maybe even disturbed me a bit. The Heroes had one or two of those moments as well — moments I will never forget. Moments that changed how I perceive fantasy fiction and its place in literature.
Red Country did not have those moments for me. There were plenty of great moments, but at no point did I feel like I got sucker punched. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Justin, why on earth would I want to be punched… unexpectedly even?” Well, because good writing should make you feel something, and great writing will make you feel something more. Brilliant writing will make you cry yourself to sleep that night. In some of my favorite Abercrombie books there are moments of brilliant writing. Red Country was very good; it just seemed to be missing a hard hitting moment.
I know that seems like a pretty hollow complaint. Sorry Joe, but your book didn’t “change me” so I won’t give it 5 stars. As unfair as it is, it’s my reason for a half-star deduction. Abercrombie has set the bar so high that not keeping me awake at night becomes a half-point deduction. Red Country is fun, nail baiting, and brutal. All the gritty elements I have come to expect from an Abercrombie story are there. It challenged me in philosophical and moral ways, and it continues to push the boundaries on what we expect to see in the fantasy genre. Any fantasy fan that loves to see the genre bent and tested in creative ways should read Red Country....more
I liked this one as much as I did the first. I felt it continued the suspenseful pace the first book had. My biggest concern going in was how would itI liked this one as much as I did the first. I felt it continued the suspenseful pace the first book had. My biggest concern going in was how would it keep the story exciting and fresh after seemingly playing all the "Teenagers Fighting to the Death" cards in the first book. The story in book 2 was as good or better than the first. The action was more intense, and the story took some heartbreaking turns, but nothing that didn't seem out of place or overwhelming in the story. ...more
I'm going to keep this one pithy. I didn't care much for Mockingjay. In fact I needed to let it settle in my mind for a week or so before writing thisI'm going to keep this one pithy. I didn't care much for Mockingjay. In fact I needed to let it settle in my mind for a week or so before writing this short review. I figured I'd think about it some before being too harsh. I'm glad I did, because Mockingjay is not a bad book. I don't think it held up to the standards set by the previous two novels. It felt like it lacked focus. The first two books there some very well done character development. Emotion was sharp and events were vivid. As the characters in Mockingjay became numb to the tragedy around them, so did I. Too be honest, the intensity levels of the first two books were so high that a slow down in pace may have been unavoidable. The series as a whole was excellent, but the ending left me a little wanting.
I’m not going to bother summarizing this book for you, everyone knows what its basic premise is. I am likely the last person on Earth to have not readI’m not going to bother summarizing this book for you, everyone knows what its basic premise is. I am likely the last person on Earth to have not read this series, or watched the movies. I didn’t want to watch the movies because I knew that I would someday get around to reading the books, and the books are always better than the movies. I had so much pre-hype and built up expectations surrounding this book. There was no way a YA Novel with this much attention and popularity was going to meet my hardened Fantasy Nerd expectations. I went into the book expecting it to fall short.
I was wrong, and it was an amazing and exceptionally dark story. It went way beyond my expectations. I was enjoying the book so much that I even went to the library to get the audio version so I could listen on my commute to work. The thought of not knowing what was next in the story while in the boredom of traffic was not an option.
I was really taken by surprise at the level of storytelling Suzanne Collins brought to the table in The Hunger Games. It was action packed, highly suspenseful, and utterly heartbreaking. Suzanne paints the picture of her dark world with a very vivid brush. The movie makers should have had no issues getting the feel for the world of The Hunger Games.
I did wonder after finishing if the themes and events described in the book might be a bit much for the YA audience. Ultimately I decided that it wasn’t. The Hunger Games isn’t violence and death for the sake of it, although that might be the impression we have gotten through the media. The Hunger Games carries with it a basket of important life lessons. Lessons of sacrifice, family, freedom, and helping those in need.
I knew I had just read something special when I began drawing comparisons to John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Yes, you read that right. Steinbeck’s classic novel drew on many of the same themes Collins did in The Hunger Games. Of Mice and Men was about dreams, loneliness, helplessness, and making hard choice for those you love most. Characters in both stories find themselves in situations where they were powerless, abused, and oppressed. In my mind it was an easy comparison. I am looking forward to read the rest.
Wanted to add a quick note about the audio book since that’s how I consumed a large portion of the story. The audio book was published by Scholastic Audio. This may have been my first Scholastic Audio book. Carolyn McCormick was the narrator/voice talent, and she did an excellent job. It’s such a dark book with so many tragic moments that need special attention from a narrator. Carolyn manages to capture the emotional ups and downs very nicely. I will be listening to the rest of the series on audio also. ...more
In a flooded 15th century Holland there are very few opportunities available.review by Justin Blazier posted originally on www.fantasyliterature.com
In a flooded 15th century Holland there are very few opportunities available. Jan may have an amazing opportunity at a life full of riches, but it’s hidden somewhere at the bottom of a flooded town. To reach his greedy goal in the dark moldy depths, Jan enlists the help of a wild young girl with a knack for swimming. Add Jan’s slightly psychotic but ever-faithful partner Sander to the mix and you have yourself a watery adventure with a cast to remember.
In both of his previous books, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart and The Enterprise of Death, Jesse Bullington went to great lengths to defy our expectations in every way. His characters were immoral, his language was foul, his violence was graphic, and his subject matter was often nauseating.
His fans will be pleased to know that The Folly of the World is full of the same decadence, degeneration, and gut-wrenching twists and turns we’ve come to know and love. The Folly of the World proudly carries the Bullington torch of depravity, but it’s applied in a more focused, less liberal manner — like using guided missiles instead of napalm.
The characters in The Folly of the World are as you would expect from Jesse Bullington — flawed, violent, and disturbed — but this time he has taken extra care to build a backstory that lets us understand why they turned out that way. Empathy can be a cruel tool for an author to wield. This was done so well that I was horrified to find myself actually feeling sorry for these despicable people. Readers who didn’t like The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart because of the characters may feel differently about this novel.
But as usual, Bullington still takes delight in making his readers very uncomfortable — The Folly of the World is filled with sexual tension, unwelcome surprises, and short lifespans, all of it weaved with masterful wordplay and dark humor. Bullington has perfected his voice in this novel. He’s taken the elements that his fans loved from his previous work and incorporated them in a manner that addresses the critiques of those who didn't appreciate his earlier work. I think this demonstrates a sense of self awareness and growth as a writer. He was scary good before, and he just keeps getting better.
The Folly of the World is Bullington’s best work to date. I love his previous work, but this is something special. When I recommend his work to others, I’ll suggest this book first. Thanks, Mr. Bullington, for an excellent piece of fiction. And if you’re one of the readers who were grossed out by the Brothers Grossbart, try The Folly of the World....more