I had a lot of fun with this book. The main character is a nice contrast to the protagonist of the other cozy mystery series I've read recently. He'sI had a lot of fun with this book. The main character is a nice contrast to the protagonist of the other cozy mystery series I've read recently. He's in his early fifties, a widow, and has two adult children, which leads him to be fairly protective of the eighteen year old college student that rooms with him. I really liked that aspect, because it gave him a good reason to be so invested in solving the mystery (the college student is, of course, one of the prime suspects). As with the other series I've read recently, I like that Charlie has a realistic reaction to finding a corpse. I do wish more had been done with his librarian job, however. It feels like he mostly used his social skills and friendships to investigate, and wasn't as much using the sort of research skills a librarian has. Diesel, his cat, was a fun character. He's a Maine Coon, and so a lot is made of how big and heavy he is. Characters are often getting sat on, and while it's comforting for them, it's also kinda uncomfortable, which adds some nice humor. I like that just like his owner, Diesel is a compassionate person and does his best to help others. I do feel like he wasn't as central to solving the mystery as I would have liked, however. The other characters are generally well written, and I look forward to seeing how they evolve over the course of the series.
The mystery itself was fairly well done. There were a number of different potential suspects, and they all had good motivations for committing the murder. The investigation involved digging up a lot of old gossip, which seems appropriate for a mid-sized Southern town. The solution made sense, and the book actually did a good job of tricking me into thinking the wrong person was guilty. In the end, Charlie didn't do as much to confront and solve everything as I would have liked, but to an extent he seems to be involved to satisfy his own curiosity as much as to see justice done. I do hope the sequel spends a little bit of time on the fall out of this murder.
Overall, I had a pretty good time with this book. It's not quite as good as I was hoping for, but it was still a lot of fun. I'm definitely going to read the rest of the series at some point, because there are definitely some exciting adventures in store for cat and librarian, and I want to read about them....more
This was a great book. The premise seems a little goofy, or at least the back cover was a bit jokey about it. However, it's actually handled fairly reThis was a great book. The premise seems a little goofy, or at least the back cover was a bit jokey about it. However, it's actually handled fairly realistically. For example, the protagonist is definitely disturbed and saddened by the murder, especially because she was friends with the victim. The protagonist is a very enjoyable character. She's clever and kind-hearted and I liked her voice - reading the story from her point of view was quite fun. I didn't just care that she solved the mystery - I cared what happened to her friendships and love life. The author has done a good job of making her heroine seem like a real person. Minnie's pet cat, Eddie, was well written and it's no surprise that he's based on one of the author's cats. Furthermore, he's not a gimmick but an essential part of the plot who helps the protagonist out multiple times. The other characters were fun and I look forward to seeing them develop over the course of the series. The setting was also well-written and interesting. I loved all the details of Minnie's job as a librarian, especially the stuff with the bookmobile. In a way, though the mystery is the point of the plot, this felt a bit like a slice of life sort of thing - but I liked this, because the world it shows was a lot of fun for me to explore. The mystery itself was pretty well done. The solution made sense, and though there wasn't any way that I could see to figure it out early, there wasn't any nonsensical twist. I had a huge amount of fun with this book, and my only regret is that it had to end. Fortunately, there's already a sequel, which I'm quite looking forward to reading....more
This was a pretty good collection over all. I've read a few of the stories before, specifically Chivalry and A Bird That Whistles. Both are quite goodThis was a pretty good collection over all. I've read a few of the stories before, specifically Chivalry and A Bird That Whistles. Both are quite good, though I wonder whether a different Neil Gaiman story might have been a better choice. There was a Bordertown story in here, and has generally been the case with stories from that shared world, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It serves as further proof that I need to track down all the Bordertown stuff sooner or later. Jo's Hair was an interesting story, but it didn't really feel like it fit here. I wouldn't really consider it fantasy, though I did still enjoy it. Not All Wolves was pretty clever, and despite the introduction claiming that these stories are up to the reader to interpret, the moral was fairly obvious. Not that that's a bad thing, in this case, since it dealt with prejudice and racism. Stealing God was very fun and I definitely want to find more of the stories featuring its modern day Templar. Mama Gone was a nice vampire story with an interesting twist to it. I'd be curious to read more stories in this world where the supernatural is so readily acknowledge in what seems to be a Wild West era setting. It was funny to see a Charles DeLint story in here so soon after reading a whole book of his work, and as with those other stories, this one did not disappoint. It was another urban mythic Newford story, and in addition to my enjoyment of the story itself, it was nice to see elements from some of the other Newford stories I've read. Liza and the Crazy Water Man was a cute story and also falls into an odd category of fantasy stories I like that mix a fantasy element with a detailed look at a profession or time period I've never given much thought to, something I quite enjoy. Mom and Dad at the Home Front was a brilliant story, exploring an aspect of portal quest stories such as Narnia that I've never given any consideration too. It's an excellent perspective twist on that classic idea. The last two stories were the only ones to really disappoint. The LeGuin story wasn't bad, and it does make me want to revisit Earthsea. In fact, it did have some clever stuff with its magic. It's just that it wasn't anywhere near as good as the others in this book. The Orson Scott Card story was similar. There was an interesting magic system on display, but a lot of the aspects of the plot and setting were uninteresting or distasteful to me. I definitely won't be looking into the fantasy series that follows on from the story. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun reading this anthology, and as with any good anthology, it's pointed me at some new books and authors to explore....more
This was a mixed anthology. There are some very good stories in here. Emma Bull's "A Bird That Whistles" is the exact sort of mix of music and faerieThis was a mixed anthology. There are some very good stories in here. Emma Bull's "A Bird That Whistles" is the exact sort of mix of music and faerie that I'm very into at the moment, and thus it's probably my favorite. Robert Zelazny's story was also an excellent multidimensional adventure that felt like a science fantasy sword and sorcery tale. Terry Pratchett's story was amusing and I really liked how the narrator's voice. The Sky Sea was short but fun. The Walled Garden and True Believer were both clever stories with thought provoking endings. The Vision was fun, and The Sky Sea showed just a hint of a larger world that would be a lot of fun to explore more of. The other stories were rather disappointing, however. Fifty-Fafty really doesn't feel like it fit here and just wasn't good. Ceres Passing was clever but I found the details of the setting too distracting. Dogfaerie was okay but nothing particularly special. The Diann Wynne Jones story was unfortunately confusing and strange, which especially disappointed me. These lackluster stories were packed into the first half of the anthology, which was almost enough to make me want to stop reading. Fortunately, I ended up continuing and was rewarded with a much better second half. Still, this book could have been much improved by having a different order of stories, and I'm annoyed enough about the disappointing ones to have overall only somewhat enjoyed the collection....more
This was...okay. The art is competent but not really that great, and sometimes the way characters are described acting in narration boxes doesn't realThis was...okay. The art is competent but not really that great, and sometimes the way characters are described acting in narration boxes doesn't really match what the reader sees them doing. Mr. Collins was appropriately goofy looking, but that's really the most praise-worthy bit of character design. It's mostly just the more or less standard current Marvel house style, which works for this purpose, but not very well. The covers are much better, and I like the fake women's magazine text - a conceit that sadly has nothing to do with the contents of the issues. The adaptation itself is again competent, but it feels rushed. Characters move from place to place and plot point to plot point far too quickly. In some cases only a page or two separates major events, and this level of condensing really doesn't work very well. There was a lot of text on each page, which is understandable given that the original novel is dialogue heavy, but it never felt as exciting or witty. In general, this feels competent but not particularly stellar. The idea of a graphic adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is a good one, and hopefully somebody else will do an excellent job of it. This book, however, is sadly not that excellent job, and I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a first introduction to the story. Stick to the novel or the Colin Firth miniseries....more
This was an excellent collection of stories. There are stories from DeLint's various major settings and characters, all of which prove to be fairly inThis was an excellent collection of stories. There are stories from DeLint's various major settings and characters, all of which prove to be fairly interesting. The two stories about vampires are especially good. I sought out this collection specifically to read them again and they are just as good as I remember. The Bordertown stuff was good and has reminded me I need to read the early anthologies in that series. The Newford stories were especially enjoyable. The characters were all well written and it was fun to see small references to different people and places show up in different stories. There's a general focus on the magic of music and art and creativity in general here, and that's something I absolutely love. "Ghosts of Wind and Shadow" is one of my favorites from this collection because it has such important things to say about music. There's also a focus on depicting characters who have troubled pasts, and often troubled presents as well. This could feel a little repetitive at times, but all of these characters were well written and felt like real people, and so I was able to tolerate a degree of similarity in general character concepts. This is advertised as a good introduction to DeLint's work and I have to say it admirably succeed for me. I already have four different books by him that I want to read thanks to this collection. This has definitely become a new favorite book, and I'm optimistic that DeLint will prove to become a favorite author....more
I'm a bit torn between three and four stars, so I guess I'll compromise and say 3.5. Although I had assumed this to be more of an audiobook, this is aI'm a bit torn between three and four stars, so I guess I'll compromise and say 3.5. Although I had assumed this to be more of an audiobook, this is actually an adaptation, although that generally ends up working fairly well. I didn't like all the of cuts and abbreviations for time, but I understand why they were necessary, and unlike the recent movies, all the bits I like were still in place, even if some of them did have to be shortened. The voices were generally good, especially Bilbo, and my favorite of the changes was the way he interacted with the narrator and provided a sort of running commentary throughout the adventure. There wasn't much music to speak of, sadly, but what was there was good. It did bother me a little bit that a few of the songs sounded different from what I'm used to from other adaptations, but of course that isn't this version's fault. Overall, this was a faithful and enjoyable adaptation, and it was definitely a fun way to spend a few hours....more
Well, this was better than the second one, though that's not saying much, since all this book needed to do to beat The Gift was have a vaguely coherenWell, this was better than the second one, though that's not saying much, since all this book needed to do to beat The Gift was have a vaguely coherent plot. However, just because it's coherent, doesn't mean the plot is particularly good. There's a sudden introduction of a deadly plague that's killing many of the poor people and resistance members, and it makes it feel as if there's a whole chunk of story missing between this book and the last one, which is not a good way to start out.
Furthermore, the plague aspect fades far into the background fairly quickly. The plot eventually turns into Wisty having to confront the One, while Whit descends into the series' version of the afterlife. Neither of these separate plots are particularly good, as Wisty's plot spends too much time skulking around boringly, while Whit's side has a fair bit of deus ex machina going on. It is at least nice to see the perspective switches finally be used for something moderately interesting. There are a few clever twists here, especially about the meaning of some parts of the prophecy.
However, that's not enough to save the novel from being kinda dull and not very well put together. A new evil henchman of the One is introduced for some reason, but both he and the One continue to basically be evil for the sake of evil. There's a vague attempt to explain the One's motivations, but it really isn't very convincing, and he continues to be barely more than a one dimensional cartoon villain. The main characters continue to be rather uninteresting and bad - Whit still chases after any mention of his dead girlfriend at the cost of whatever he's supposed to be doing, and Wisty still hasn't figured her magic out. In fact, the magic is generally even more weird and inconsistently used than it was in the first book.
Furthermore, the epilogue is incredibly jarring and is far more ridiculous than the epilogue to the last Harry Potter book. That just felt like fan fiction; the epilogue here belongs to a completely different novel that doesn't involve fascist wizards destroying the world.
Which is another complain I've consistently had with this story, and nothing changes here: the One is supposed to be threaten the whole world or even the whole universe, but the story never really moves beyond one or two cities. The scope is trying to be epic, but it really falls flat.
Over all, this was a competent book, but nothing very special. It's better than the second one in the series, but the first still wins out by having the best pacing. I didn't find myself pulled through the story of this book like I had with the first one. If you managed to slog through The Gift and want to know how the story ends, I'd suggest reading this book, since it wraps up the first major story arc of the series (which somehow has two more books in it so far). Otherwise, you really shouldn't bother. If you want to see what the hype is about, check out the first book. That one is actually kinda fun, whereas the sequels really aren't....more
This was a pretty good anthology, with a fair number of great stories in it. Curses was a fun stand alone Dresden Files story and it's reminded me thaThis was a pretty good anthology, with a fair number of great stories in it. Curses was a fun stand alone Dresden Files story and it's reminded me that I really need to get around to reading that series sooner or later. How the Pooka Came to New York City had some nice commentary on the experience of immigrants and made good use of mythology to tell an enjoyable, fairy-tale-esque story. It reminds me of some of the best bits of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. On the Slide was clever, and the main character was quite well written. The Duke of Riverside was enjoyable. I liked that it centered around a gay couple, and it's made me interested in looking into the series it's a part of. Oblivion by Calvin Klein was just kinda weird and uninteresting to me. Probably one of my least favorites. Fairy Gifts was okay. I mostly liked the shifting back and forth between past and present - that's a technique for explaining character backstory that I like. It didn't really get me interested in checking out Briggs' other stuff, though. Picking Up the Pieces was pretty cool. I loved the detailed look at what Berlin right after the fall of the wall was like. The fantasy element was kept fairly mysterious, which worked well here. Underbridge was a lot of fun and pretty clever. Once again, I really liked how the protagonist was written. By the end, I didn't like him much, but he very much felt real. Priced to Sell was great. The idea of real estate for supernatural creatures was really clever, and I hope that Novik writes more about it at some point, because I'd love to explore the concept more. Weston Walks was kinda weird. Some of it reminded me of London Below from Neverwhere. I guess I kinda liked it, but it definitely didn't go where I was expecting. The Projected Girl was okay. Not bad, but it didn't really grab me, and I figured out the main fantasy element relatively early on. Guns for the Dead was really cool and I definitely want to check out the novel it's related to, because the world it shows is really well put together and I want to see more of it. And Go Like This was okay. It didn't really feel like it belonged here, though. Noble Rot was really good and really creepy. It makes me want to read more of Holly Black's work at some point. Daddy Longlegs of the Evening was kinda creepy, but the premise is just a little too odd for me to really get into it. The idea of a man-sized spider is potentially scary, but that it comes from a spider crawling into a kid's brain is just too ridiculous for me to suspend my disbelief. The Skinny Girl was quite weird in a good way. I feel more or less the same about The Colliers' Venus. With both stories, I definitely enjoyed them and the weird stuff that went on, though I am left with a feeling that there might be some hidden meaning that I've managed to miss. King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree was a really fun story. It took me a little while to adjust to the concept of the protagonist being a city (or at least the human version), but once I did, I was hooked. This is another story that reminds me of the better parts of American Gods, and I hope that Bear has written more stuff with the same characters or at least the same concept. (Also, I was once again happy to see a story centered around a gay couple.) Over all, though there were some stories here that I wasn't a big fan of, none of them were really bad, and the good ones were generally excellent. Plus, I discovered some new authors to look into, which is always a good thing....more
This was a pretty good book. It was slow to start, since although the beginning is written well enough, there wasn't very much to really pull me intoThis was a pretty good book. It was slow to start, since although the beginning is written well enough, there wasn't very much to really pull me into the story until Carrie starts practicing her telekinesis. However, once I got about a hundred pages in I was pretty into the book, and it got quite good once it arrived at the prom night portion. The way the book is written is a little odd, since it mixes fictional documents with traditional third-person narratives about various characters. The narratives were fine, but sometimes the documents felt like they didn't add much to the plot. The best example of this is a couple of page long section on the genetics of telekinesis, which really felt unnecessary to me. The characters were generally well done. Switching between a variety of viewpoints allows King to explore the different characters and generally make most of them at least a little sympathetic. By the end, I even found myself sympathizing a bit with Christ, the girl responsible for the worst of Carrie's bullying, though I also ended up hating her boyfriend even more. Carrie herself is an interesting character, and the novel is especially tragic both because I can relate to the bullying and ostracism she experiences and because it's so clear that had things turned out a little different, her life could have become happy. Generally, the book felt like it was tackling issues of school bullying and school shootings, albeit through a horror metaphor, which I appreciated. The level of horribleness that school bullies can rise to, especially when tormenting their long term victims, is an important thing for people to be aware of. Of course, what Carrie does is also horrific and tragic, and so in the end the story shows why bullying needs to be severely dealt with. I can definitely see why this is a fairly popular book, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it....more
This was somewhat different from what I expected, though I admit that now that I've read it I'm not quite sure what I expect it to be like. However, tThis was somewhat different from what I expected, though I admit that now that I've read it I'm not quite sure what I expect it to be like. However, that's okay, since it was definitely a pretty fun book. All of the characters are well-written, and I liked seeing Flora change and develop. Also, the way she constantly thought in terms of comics she'd read was pretty neat. As Flora did, I found William Spiver a bit annoying, but in a way that makes sense for a fairly smart 11 year old kid. Ulysses was a bit flatter, but still fun, and the chapter about what squirrels normally think about was cute and funny. I also appreciated that both of Flora's parents are somewhat complex figures. The plot was smaller in scope than I expected, but I still found myself being invested in it and enjoying it. It was often a bit silly, but that was a good thing. The artwork was generally great, and it was really nice to see the characters depicted in their rather goofy glory. The comic book sections were a bit short and infrequent, and while I understand why they were there, I would have liked to see more of them and a more central place for them in the story. The closest comparison I can think of is Hugo Cabret, and the comics are much less essential to the text than Hugo's illustrations were. The stuff with poetry was a nice surprise, and I like that it was squirrel, not human, poetry. Overall, this was a pretty great book, and I can definitely see why it got a Newbury Medal....more