Claire Hansen is a Keeper who's job and birthright is to keep the universe secure. She's in for quite a shock when she's summoned to a run down hotel,Claire Hansen is a Keeper who's job and birthright is to keep the universe secure. She's in for quite a shock when she's summoned to a run down hotel, and then wakes up the next morning as it's new owner. When Claire finds a hole to hell in the basement, and a woman frozen in a magical sleep state in one of the rooms, she quickly discovers that there's more going on in Elysian Fields Guesthouse than the previous owner revealed. Now, it's her job to clean things up.
Summon the Keeper is the first book in trilogy. It's also the July selection for a book club I'm in. I've had it sitting on my bookshelf for years, but for whatever reason, I've never picked it up. Now that I have, I can't help but have mixed feelings over the book. On one hand, there is plenty in this book to enjoy. It has all the usual elements found in a typical paranormal fantasy book, which is pretty impressive considering when this was published (1998) “typical” hadn't been fully established yet for the genre. At times, reading it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the concept of a hotel where the supernatural come to stay. I also found Austin, the talking snarky cat, to be an enjoyable character. Oftentimes, the chapters feel like their own self-contained stories, and some of these stories really did work, such as the Halloween chapter, and the one focusing on the Greek Gods. Some of the moments in the later chapters can be pretty exciting too.
On the other hand, I had some serious issues with the overarching character storylines. Claire could be a really interesting heroine, but at times she really got on my nerves. Her habit of keeping information from Dean as some form of protection seemed logical at first, but as the story continued and she continued this habit, it began to get really irritating. As for Dean, I liked his habit of cleaning everything and felt as if was, for the most part, a nice guy, but he could be a little dull. The character of Jacques, a ghost that haunts the hotel, was supposed to be all sexy and tempting to Claire, but I just found him to be irritating. As a result, the Dean/Claire/Jacques love triangle never really worked for me. Another major thing I had issues with was the humor, a very important part of this book. There were a few times when the jokes had me smiling, bur for the most part, the humor wasn't for me (especially the ones involving Hell talking to itself in the basement, which happened ALL THE TIME- IN ALL CAPS!).
While reading this book, I often found myself thinking “well I like this but....” As I said before, there was some interesting concepts and enjoyable moments in this book, but my issues with aspects like the characters and the ineffective humor prevented me from fully enjoying this book. I wouldn't call Summon the Keeper a bad book exactly, but it really wasn't for me. I don't think I will be continuing the series....more
Bree Tanner's second life began three months ago. Tricked into becoming a vampire by a beautiful boy, Bree now spends her days craving human blood andBree Tanner's second life began three months ago. Tricked into becoming a vampire by a beautiful boy, Bree now spends her days craving human blood and trying to stay out of trouble with her fellow vampires. Then she becomes friends with Diego, a fellow newborn that's begun to question some of the “rules” they've been told about being vampires. As the two dig deeper, they begin to discover what their new lives mean, and the dark plan their creator has for them.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a novella that takes place during Eclipse, the third book in The Twilight Saga. While reading this book, I couldn't help but compare Bree's journey to Bella's. Both are teenage girls that get drawn into the world of vampires after meeting a boy they find to be “beautiful.” But where Bella gets a happy ending after becoming a vampire, Bree is not so lucky. Bree has no family of friendly vegetarian vampires to teach her the rules. Instead, she is thrust into a violent community of bloodthirsty, meat-headed thugs whose entire lives revolve around violence. She is fed lies about what it means to be a vampire, and has to work out the real details either with the help of Diego, or by herself. The predator that opens the door to the vampire world does not turn out to be the love of Bree's life, but a manipulative monster. Any happy romance that Bree experiences is brief and far from the epic love story of Edward and Bella. Bree does not have the freaky, poorly explained immunity to blood lust that Bella has. Although she has more of a sense of self preservation than some of the other newborns, she craves blood just as strongly as any three month old vampire.
I had a complex relationship with Bella while reading The Twilight Saga. Although I did not despise her in the way that some readers have, there were some instances where I couldn't really understand her. I was surprised that I got along much better than Bree. I liked the fact that she was pretty smart, and enjoyed watching her discover more about the vampire world. At the same time, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is somewhat flawed. There is no wonky message shoved down your throat about settling down and making babies. Instead it seems to be poorly edited, as if it was released in a rush. There were several small incidents that just don't make much sense (for example, Bree and Diego hide out in a cave the size of a VW Beetle, but for some reason Diego is able to stand up straight in it, despite the fact that it would be too small for him). These weren't a huge problem, but it did frustrate me a little.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is an interesting glimpse into the life of another girl drawn into the vampire world. The novella, which can be read for free online, feels to me like a gift from Stephenie Meyer to her fans. I would only recommend this novella to existing fans of the Twilight Saga. To be honest, I don't really think that new readers would find it all that interesting, and may even be a little confused with the end. As someone that has enjoyed the Twilight Saga as a whole, I'm glad I picked up the audiobook....more
Coyote shapeshifter Mercy Thompson has recently become the mate of Adam, the local werewolf Alpha. Although Mercy has friends among the local werewolfCoyote shapeshifter Mercy Thompson has recently become the mate of Adam, the local werewolf Alpha. Although Mercy has friends among the local werewolf pack, there are plenty who don't see a coyote as a proper partner for their leader. Mercy doesn't realize the extent of this dislike until someone manipulates the pack bonds that tie together all the wolves, and Mercy herself through Adam, to control Mercy's actions. Then Mercy learns that something has gone terribly wrong with her good friend Samuel, and that there's more to the powerful fae book she borrowed than she realized. Once again, Mercy has a lot of her plate to deal with.
Silver Borne is a fifth book in the Mercy Thompson series. I would argue that it's also one of the more complex volumes. Much like the fourth book, Bone Crossed, Silver Borne should not be read unless you are already familiar with the series. Much of Silver Borne is concerned with tying up loose ends from the past few books. One of those loose ends is the mate bond between Adam and Mercy, and what that means for the pack. As a result, a big chunk of this book is concerned with pack politics. The second plot thread is concerned with the growing depression we've seen striking Samuel. The third would be the secret behind the fae book. As you can tell from this description, there's a lot going on in this relatively short book. At times, the novel can feel a little disorganized, but when Briggs really focuses on a single storyline, boy can this book be exciting.
Much like Bone Crossed, I don't think that Silver Borne was quite as good as some of the previous books in the series (more specifically, Blood Bound and Iron Kissed). In Silver Borne, there can be a sloppiness to Brigg's usual tight prose that kind of alarmed me. Fortunately, this does not happen very often. Another issue I had was that the resolution to Samuel's story. I, just as much as anyone, want Samuel to be happy, but the way that his storyline was dealt with feels a little too convenient for me. Beyond that, I found I liked this book. I loved the section that dealt with Adam's wolf pack. There's a fight for dominance right in the middle of the book that had me literally gasping aloud. The fae storyline has a really attractive Tam Lin element that had me pretty excited. I also really enjoyed the fact that Briggs is completely aware that just because you're writing a fantasy, doesn't mean you have to abandon the reality that all actions have consequences. Mercy and Adam becoming mated last book was a very important step for the two of them, but Adam's position as Alpha means that there's serious consequences for his pack. I love that Briggs addresses that.
Silver Borne is a nice addition to the Mercy Thompson Series. Admittedly, it doesn't shine quite as bright as the earlier volumes in the series, but I had a good time reading it. Briggs is working on a sixth book, River Marked, which will be released in January (Note: for Anna and Charles Fans, there will be no Alpha and Omega book this year)....more
To be honest, I don't always get along very well with paranormal short story anthologies. Oftentimes, I pick them up due to an interest in a few of thTo be honest, I don't always get along very well with paranormal short story anthologies. Oftentimes, I pick them up due to an interest in a few of the contributing authors, but find the collection on a whole to be very uneven. This was not the case at all with Ekatrina Sedia's latest anthology, Running with the Pack, which focuses on werewolves. I picked it up due to interest in the stories by Carrie Vaughn, Marie Brennan, and Maria Snyder. What I got was a treasure trove of fantastically written stories that draw their inspiration not just from the paranormal genre, but from humor, science fiction, and horror among other genres. All stories focus on the stories of werewolves, regular humans encountering werewolves, or a human becoming a werewolf. The narrators range from children to the very old, and I was happy to see we even got a few gay and lesbian protagonists as well. Here are short reviews for each of the stories
Wild Ride by Carrie Vaughn. This story seems like a nice gift to fans of the Kitty Norville Series. It gives us background information on the character of TJ, showing how he became a werewolf. I like the parallel it draws between being in the closet in regards to being gay, and keeping your werewolf identity a secret. Reading this made me very excited for the upcoming Kitty book, Kitty Goes to War.
Side Effects May Include by Steve Duffy. A man travels to China on business, and fractures a wisdom tooth very shortly after the start of his trip. After a few days of immense pain, he finds himself begging for a secret “miracle cure.” Unfortunately. this cure has a few side effects that he wasn't planning on. “Side Effects May Include” was at times slow moving, but I found that I enjoyed this quirky story and really appreciated the twist at the end.
Comparison of Efficacy Rates for Seven Antipathetics as Employed Against Lycanthropes by Marie Brennan. Marie Brennan's contribution really stands out from the rest of the anthology due to the fact that it's written in the form of a scholarly article. Inspired by Mike Briggs (urban fantasy author Patricia Brigg's husband), experiment with casting silver bullets, it follows the work of a researcher attempting to find the best way to kill werewolves. I couldn't help but laugh at some of the humorous developments, and really enjoyed how well Brennan inserts a story into the unconventional format of a research paper.
The Beautiful Gelreesh by Jeffrey Ford. I believe this is my second time encountering Jeffrey Ford. Once again, I found myself enjoying his contribution quite a bit. His story is about a mysterious creature called the Gelreesh that kindly and compassionately talks people into suicide. The writing here is quite lovely and the end left me really curious.
Skin in the Game by Samantha Henderson. Sandy is excited when she's invited to play bunco with a group of coworkers. When she gets too greedy with her cheating, there's no way she could predict the deadly outcome. While reading, “Skin in the Game,” it doesn't take too long for the reader to suspect what the ending is going to be. Still, it's a lot of fun getting there. Perhaps it's a cruel thing for me to say, but I didn't end up feeling all that bad for Sandy.
Blended by C.E. Murphy. I was quite nervous about reading “Blended,” after having a very negative experience with one of Murphy's novels, Urban Shaman. Little did I know, “Blended” would become one of my favorite stories of the collection. It tells the story of a young werewolf on a mission of revenge. Although it's never quite clear if this story takes place in the past, or an fantasy setting designed to look like the past, I enjoyed the change of setting and found myself really sympathizing with the main character. I also enjoyed the romantic elements.
Locked Doors by Stephanie Burgis. Tyler is an expert liar at a young age. After all, his father is a werewolf and he often has to spin falsehoods to explain his absences around the full moon. “Locked Doors” is an interesting little story that makes you think about child abuse. It's not Tyler's father's fault that he's a werewolf, but I couldn't help feeling awful for Tyler and the adult responsibilities he has to take on at too young an age due to his father's “condition.” “Locked Doors” is a sad story, with quite an ending.
Werelove by Laura Anne Gilman. “Werelove” tells about an old alpha female who gives advice to young werewolves. Although the story at times feels overly vague, it gives the reader a new perspective on the idea of werewolf love.
In Sheep's Clothing by Molly Tanzer. “In Sheep's Clothing” is a sci-fi/dystopian short story about the downfall of our society, and what happens after that. Reading this story reminded me a lot of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. The werewolf aspect is not obvious at first, but it's done quite well. Tanzer has created a fantastic voice in “In Sheep's Clothing,” and the twist at the end is really well done. If you're going to only read one story in this collection, read this one. I think it's my favorite.
Royal Bloodlines by Mike Resnick. “Royal Bloodlines” tells this story of a shifty preacher who accidentally makes friends with a werewolf, with hilarious results. This is the second short story I've read by Mike Resnick. Although I was less than fond of the first one, I found I really enjoyed “Royal Bloodlines.” I like how he creates s humorous story where other authors would make horror. The protagonist, Lucifer Jones, was also quite amusing.
The Dire Wolf by Genevieve Valentine. “The Dire Wolf” tells this story of a werewolf named Velia. Her day job is to inspect suspicious looking wolf bones, and draw away attention from the fact that they look like werewolf remains. “The Dire Wolf” is an interesting story about one woman's struggle with her inner wolf, and with romance as well. Rather solid story.
Take Back the Night by Lawrence Schimel. This is a story about a woman who owns an all night feminist bookstore. One day, what looks like a large dog wanders in. Of course it's not really a dog, but a werewolf. “Take Back the Nigh” is an interesting story about a woman trying to reclaim her feminist fury from her youth, as well as being a story about werewolf love. Although a couple elements didn't quite ring true, I found I enjoyed the story.
Mongrel by Maria V. Snyder. “Mongrel” tells the story of a young homeless woman who adopts stray dogs. One day, she takes in an injured dog, only there's more to him than she realizes. Although this story is rather different than Snyder's full length fiction, I found it to be very enjoyable. Mongrel is a fully fleshed out character with an interesting past and understandable motivations. The story ends with an open door for a possible follow up story, if Snyder so chooses. I hope she does.
Deadfall by Karen Everson. “Deadfall” is the second story (after “Blended”) in this anthology that focuses on revenge. It tells the story of a teenage werewolf named Olwen. One day Olwen and a close friend are attacked by a school bully, and Olwen is determined to get back at him for this vicious attack. It took me a little while to get into this story, but once I did I couldn't help but cheer Olwen on as she worked towards her revenge. I see that this author is planning on writing a full length novel on this character, and I'd be interested in reading more.
Red Riding Hood's Child by N.K Jemsin. “Red Riding Hood's Child” tells the story about a young orphan changing from a boy to a man. He's grown up hearing stories about his supposed wanton mother, and has a fascination for the night. There's always been something sexual about the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. Jemsin's story just makes the sexual aspects more obvious. It's a very well put together little story about predators, and prey.
Are You a Vampire or a Goblin? by Geoffrey H. Goodwin. This story takes place in a strange alternate universe where people randomly start to turn into vampires or goblins. To help them in this process, they're sent to special institute where they have to decide which group they want to turn into. Yvette is a patient in The Institute only she doesn't want to be either, she wants to be a werewolf. The dreamlike, stream of conscious style of writing of this story reminded me of Kelly Link, strangely beautiful and fascinating. It can be a little tricky to follow at times, but I ended up enjoying it.
The Pack and The Pick-Up Artist by Mike Brotherton. Prime is a pick up artist, with a knack for charming beautiful women. Then he meets Anastasia, who attracts him like no other woman. “The Pack and the Pick-Up Artist” does a great job of telling us a story about predators. I had a hard time with connecting to the scumbag character of Prime, but I really liked the ending.
The Garden, The Moon, the Wall by Amanda Downum. There are two things about Sephie that are a little strange. 1. She's haunted by ghosts. 2. She eats people. The Garden, The Moon, the Wall is the story I struggled with the most with in this anthology. Although beautifully written, I could never really connect with the characters, and as a result don't have too much of a memory for it.
Blamed for Trying to Live by Jesse Bullington. After his mother dies, Charles, a young black teenager, moves to a bad neighborhood and becomes obsessed with becoming a werewolf. I really felt for Charles in this story, and enjoyed the little twist in the end.
The Barony at Rodal by Peter Bell. The Barony at Rodall tells the story about a father/daughter team traveling in Norway. I really appreciated the Dracula-esque atmosphere of this story, and found that it was written quite well. I think it falls short of some of the other stories in the anthology. I can't put my finger on it but I felt as if something was missing. Still, it was an interesting story that I ended up liking in the end.
Inside Out by Erzebet Yellowboy. This story tells about a werewolf named Gretchen, who lives with her two sisters. Gretchen despises her werewolf nature, and the limits it puts on her and her family's lives. This all changes when one full moon, she finds a woman locked in a cage. This tale of sisterhood really drew me in from the start, and I liked how well developed all three women were. I also enjoyed the concept of sort of a reverse werewolf that was introduced here.
Gestella by Susan Palwick. I actually had heard about this story on a podcast before reading it. It tells about a young werewolf who falls in love with a human man. In the beginning of the story, the werewolf is still a teenager, but because she ages in dog years, she quickly catches up and surpasses her human mate. This is my second favorite story in the anthology. I love how it examines the impact a beautiful young woman has on the men and women around her. The relationship between Gestella (werewolf) and Jonathan (the human mate) is highly disturbing and abusive, especially as she ages as becomes less appealing to him. The story ends on a terrifying note that will probably give me nightmares. Very well done.
Typically, werewolves play second fiddle to the more popular/sexy vampires, but Running with the Pack shows that werewolves can stand on their own very well. Often breaking the horror movie tradition of a wild uncontrollable wolf, Running with the Pack gives us twenty-two stories that examine our darker natures and more violent urges. I would highly recommend this to werewolf fans....more
It would be interesting to go back to the days when a book was just a book and nothing else. The twenty-first century goal appears to be to take a stoIt would be interesting to go back to the days when a book was just a book and nothing else. The twenty-first century goal appears to be to take a story and make it accessible to the maximum amount of people by presenting it on as many platforms as possible. Sure, there have been movie adaptations of books for a long time, and television series as well, but now the trend is to bring the story over to a comic/graphic format. The Twilight Saga is the latest series to jump onto this trend with the release of Twilight: A Graphic Novel. As one can tell from the title, Twilight: The Graphic Novel is a straight retelling of the first book in the Twilight Saga.
Unlike other paranormal titles that have recently made the jump to sequential art, Twilight is not presented in an American comic book style, but is clearly inspired by Japanese shoujo manga/Korean manhwa. This seems like an wise choice from a marketing standpoint, as plenty of teenage girls, Twilight's main fan group, are likely to already have jumped on the manga train. As a reader, it makes a lot of sense to me considering the Twilight Series often read like a text-only shoujo series, with it's over the top drama/romance, and emphasis on good looking guys. In this adaptation, Young Kim does a really good job with the artwork, which comes off as very flowing and romantic. The illustrations are presented in mostly black and white with the occasional splash of color to either assist with storytelling or enhance Bella's surroundings. The character designs are obviously not based off of their movie counterparts, and feel truer to their descriptions in the book than the movie cast.
Admittedly, it's been a long time since I've read the novel Twilight, but the graphic novel seems to do a solid job at adapting the story. While I was reading it, I couldn't help but compare it to the recent movie adaptations, which have been pretty faithful the source material, but ultimately lack the charm and magic of the novels. This is less of an issue here. There are a few pages that feel too dialogue heavy, but for the most part the story flows really well from page to page. The graphic novel reads impossibly fast, a little too fast if you ask me. Price at a hefty twenty dollars, the graphic novel only covers a portion of the actual novel, focusing on the early development of Bella and Edward's relationship, and ending soon after Edward's big reveal in the sunlight. I know that it takes a long time for the artist to adapt a work to this detailed style, but I couldn't help but wished that we had gotten to see the entire novel. Still, I can't really complain as I got this book off of paperbackswap, and technically didn't pay anything for it, but I can only imagine that may bother people who have paid full price.
The first volume of Twilight: The Graphic Novel is sure to appeal to fans of the Twilight Saga, and manga/manhwa inspired artwork. Obviously, they are planning on at least finishing up adapting the novel Twilight. If they chose to continue the series, I'm curious to see how Kim's pretty artwork will handle some of the more violent moments later in the series. ...more
Tales of the Otherworld is the second collection of short fiction which takes place in the Otherworld universe. The first collection, Men of the OtherTales of the Otherworld is the second collection of short fiction which takes place in the Otherworld universe. The first collection, Men of the Otherworld, was unique as it almost read like a novel, telling us the history of the werewolf pack, while focusing on the characters of Clay and Jeremy. Tales of the Otherworld is a little closer to what you’d expect from such a collection, delivering us the stories that couldn’t fit in the Otherworld novels. Like Men of the Otherworld, the short stories and novellas are arranged chronologically. Five are prequels to the Otherworld series, while remaining three take place during the actual series. The stories cover a wide amount of territory, giving us stories featuring major characters (such as Elena, Lucas and Clay) and characters that have so far played only supporting roles (such as Aaron, Logan, and Sean).
"Rebirth" is Aaron’s history story, telling us how he became a vampire and the first year of his vampire existence. This story is unique, as Armstrong doesn’t tend to focus on her vampire characters too much. Although there were places where I wish this story had been expanded upon a little it’s a well written short story that I enjoyed reading.
Bewitched tells us the story about how black witch Eve Levine met and fell in love with the sorcerer Kristof Nast. This novella was particularly interesting as we got to see Eve when she was just starting off, and didn’t have the fearsome reputation that she ended up with in Haunted. Bewitched is a very character based story, and I really enjoyed watching the ways that Armstrong developed the relationship with Eve and Kris. This is the second novella featuring Eve to be published in the past year (the first being the stand alone, Angelic) and I find I like this one the best.
"Birthright" features the character Logan, and shows how he discovered his werewolf heritage. "Birthright" is a relatively straightforward short story that it features a character that we don’t know too much about, although it lacks a bit in originality. Overall, it’s an enjoyable short piece.
Beginnings is probably my favorite piece of the enter collection. The novella tells how us how Elena and Clay met while Elena was still in college. It follows their relationship as it grows from friendship to love, and the ends on the event that leads to where Elena ultimately ends up in Bitten. It was particularly interesting to read this after the most recent Otherworld novel, Frostbitten, which features the same characters roughly twenty years later, but in very different emotional states. Beginnings, like Men of the Otherworld, also shows how Clay has a hard time being human, and how the results can be interpreted as awkward or rude. It also results in the relationship between Elena and Clay being somewhat unhealthy. I loved how instead of writing this off as “true love,” the novella explores this unhealthy aspect of the relationships. This is especially interesting when compared to the character of Jason, Elena’s foster brother who is more outwardly starkerish and abusive.
"Expectations" is a short story about a very young Lucas encountering Eve Levine. This story was interesting to read after Bewitched, as you get to see how Eve’s character had grown. Unfortunately, Lucas’s voice doesn’t really seem to be suited for the short story format, which occasionally marred my enjoyment of the story.
"Ghosts" is a short story taken from Jeremy’s perspective, as he reflects on his decisions at the end of Beginnings. On one hand, it’s really interesting to see Jeremy’s views, but the story doesn’t have the ability to stand well on its own. I suspect someone picking the story up without having read Beginnings would be very confused. Those who have not read Bitten, may find themselves scratching their heads as well.
"Wedding Bell Hell" is my favorite short story of the collection, and the only one that can be classified as humor. It tells the story of Paige and Lucas’s somewhat tumultuous roads to marriage. As someone who is planning on getting married in a year or two, I found this story to be equally amusing and terrifying, but was very happy that things ended well for my favorite couple of the series.
The Case of El Chupacabra is the final novella in the collection, and tells the story of Paige and Lucas trying to track down a killer known as “El Chupacabra.” What I liked about this novella is the more character based moments, such as Lucas struggling with the fact that he feels that he’s not committing enough financially to family. I also enjoyed the exploration of the prejudice against vampires in the supernatural community. What I thought was somewhat lacking was the actual mystery itself, which wasn’t necessary bad, but not nearly as engrossing as the previous novellas in the collection.
Although Tales of the Otherworld is not as consistent as Men of the Otherworld, it still delivers us a nice batch of short fiction. What I enjoy the most about the fiction displayed here is that Armstrong never seems to view the short story or novella format as a way to merely deliver cheap filler. Each story is filled with character development, or gives us a deeper view into the Otherworld universe. I hope that Armstrong will one day release a third volume in this series. I would love to see more short fiction and novellas in print....more
At the beginning of Changes, the twelfth novel of The Dresden Files, Harry picks up his phone to hear his ex-lover, Susan Rodriguez, on the other end.At the beginning of Changes, the twelfth novel of The Dresden Files, Harry picks up his phone to hear his ex-lover, Susan Rodriguez, on the other end. And what she has to tell him will change everything. They have a daughter, and she's been kidnapped by the Red Court. To save her, Harry must cross lines he’d swore he’d never cross, and make sacrifices he never thought he would have to make. For all of the magical peril he's faced, no challenge will be as great as saving the little girl he never knew he had. It's time for some changes.
I remember picking up Storm Front during my last year of college. At the time, I thought it was a flawed, but overall fun book, and eventually got around to reading the next two books in the series, which I felt pretty much the same way about. Then I picked up book four, Summer Knight, and saw that the first three books were just practice rounds. This was what the series had the potential to be. With Changes, I discovered that I was wrong. For all of the excitement of the previous novels, it's nothing compared to when Butcher throws all caution to the wind and decides to really shake things up. During this novel, changes occur; some which I'm sure will not sit well with every fan. For me, they worked.
Changes has an intense plot filled with plenty of action sequences and twist and turns. Even though you might see some of the twists coming (or, if you're like me, get spoiled. Thank you Jim Butcher's twitter), it's safe to say you probably won't see them all. Butcher's skillfully foreshadows these upcoming twists, mostly in the form of dialogue (the last page twist in particular is heavily foreshadowed). On top of the story involving Harry's daughter, we also get the resolution of one of the biggest dangling plot lines of the series, and some development of two other big ones. This made me happy, as I'm always upset with authors that just leave story lines dangling from book to book, and never take the time to develop them further or resolve them. I was also happy to see that despite being such an intense book, Butcher still makes room for Harry's trademark humor. I enjoy the fact that even as Harry's stories become more and more serious, that Butcher doesn't make the mistake of taking things too seriously.
Changes draws heavily upon the established arsenal of characters in The Dresden Files. Most of the big names either play a starring role or at least make a cameo (with the exception of Michael Carpenter). One of the characters I was happiest to see was Sanya, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in the series (I have a weakness for Knights of the Cross apparently). I also enjoyed seeing Molly given a more active role in the story. Despite the fact that she has no where near the amount of power that many of the other characters (especially Harry) have in the series, it's nice to see her take a more active role.
Like Summer Knight, Changes brings The Dresden Files to another level. It does end on a cliffhanger that will make you want to tear you hair out (or not, depending how you feel about cliffhangers. This one is a little different than you'd expect). It reads like the season finale of a television show, filled with an epic showdown, painful sacrifices, and plenty to make you eager for next season. I'm looking forward to Side Jobs, the collection of Dresden Files short stories coming out later in this year, and the future novels of the Dresden Files. ...more
Chloe Saunders and her friends have escaped the Edison Group and are hiding in a safe house owned by Andrew, a friend of Simon and Derek’s father. HerChloe Saunders and her friends have escaped the Edison Group and are hiding in a safe house owned by Andrew, a friend of Simon and Derek’s father. Here they hope to gain some control of their abilities and convince the adults at the house to go back and save their friend Rae, and Chloe’s Aunt Lauren. Only the adults don’t seem to take them very seriously. They’re convinced that the teens are lying about the Edison Group and their powers, or just have “overactive imaginations.” Will Chloe manage to save her friends, make peace with her necromancy, and sort out her romantic feelings involving a werewolf and his sorcerer brother?
Reading this book made me really glad that I’m not a teenager anymore. Think about it. To have gone through weeks of hell where you find out that you’re a genetic experiment, be betrayed by a good friend, and spend a week on the run where you’re being followed by gun-toting bad guys, only to have someone chalk up this experience to “an overactive imagination.” Talk about the ultimate insult. I also really found myself feeling for Chloe, who has to go through all of the supernatural drama, on top of her own confused feelings for Simon and Derek. I think that’s part of what makes Chloe such a relatable character. Despite the fact that she has to go through these traumatic events that are very out of this world, the way she emotionally reacts to everything, from first love to first zombie, feels very true to life. I really enjoyed having her as a protagonist. The other characters, Simon, Derek, and even Tori, are also quite likable this time around. Despite my misgivings about Tori in the first couple books, I found that I warmed up to her considerably in this volume.
The Reckoning, as the final book in the Darkest Powers Trilogy, does a great job of wrapping up Chloe’s story. Will Chloe ever figure out a way to use her abilities to defend herself? Will Chloe choose to be with Derek or Simon? Will they ever be free of Dr. Davidoff? All these questions are answered in a satisfying way. I particularly like the way the love triangle was handled. Both Simon and Derek are really likable guys. Although after The Awakening, I think it should be obvious who Chloe picks, but that doesn’t make her decision any easier. One thing reader may be surprised to discover is although this is the last book in Chloe’s trilogy, it’s not the last in the Darkest Powers universe. There are a few threads left dangling that will be picked up again in a follow up trilogy called Darkness Rising (first book, The Gathering), which will apparently feature a new cast of characters. I’m curious to see how Armstrong will deal with more books involving the Edision Group, without rehashing old themes and storylines.
All and all The Reckoning was a very satisfying end to the trilogy and I think the strongest volume in the series. It was consistently enjoyable from beginning to end, and I’m really happy for the time I got to spend with these characters. Bring on The Gathering!...more
After attending her mother's funeral, Joanne Walker hops on a plane to her home city, Seattle. As the plane is landing she notices something strange dAfter attending her mother's funeral, Joanne Walker hops on a plane to her home city, Seattle. As the plane is landing she notices something strange down below, a man with a knife, and a woman being followed by a pack of dogs. Once the plane touches down, Joanne rushes to the rescue with the help of an elderly cab driver, an act that tangles her life up in a world of dangerous gods, and and give her access to powerful shamanic magic she didn't know she had.
One of the things that drew me to Urban Shaman (despite the great cover) was it's unique premise that didn't involve the typical paranormal elements (vampires, werewolves, witches, etc). Murphy's mix of Celtic and Native American mythology is certainly a change from the norm. It's nice that in a genre that seems to require a minimum of one sex scene per novel, to have a book that focuses more on character growth, leaving romance behind. I also enjoyed the positive portrayal of older individuals in this book, and the fact that the male-female friendships didn't all feel like set ups to future romantic entanglements.
Unfortunately, despite it's original premise, the execution is sloppy. There's just too much going on at once here. We have a protagonist who's a mechanic but also a cop, two big bads to follow, multiple murders on top of a spiritual journey, and a plethora of side characters that often feel underdeveloped. I also found that I had a bit of a problem with the protagonist, who just seems to be a bundle of extremes. She spends the entire novel tripping over herself, cracking jokes, and acting like an all around space shot. It was impossible for me to comprehend how this woman, who didn't even seem to know basic police procedure, graduating in the top three at the police academy.
This brings us to the biggest problem I had with this novel: plausibility. I had a very hard accepting the initial set up of the exhausted Joanne being able to see a man with a knife, a pack of dogs, and a woman all on one street corner from the vantage point a commercial jetliner coming in for a landing. That did not seem physically possible without some sort of supernatural explanation, for which there is none. I also found the idea of the Seattle police department supporting Joanne's position as a cop to be a little unlikely, given how she acts like a crazy person for much of the book. The speed in which most characters accept the concept of the supernatural seems alarmingly fast to me. This only scratches the surface. This lack of plausibility really tainted my enjoyment Urban Shaman, constantly bringing me out of my reading experience and making me pause to over analyze many scenes. It also caused me to view the book with a bitter level of skepticism instead of the normally open and curious state I usually approach fiction with. This, as a result, probably made me dislike the book more than it deserved.
Urban Shaman was a frustrating read. I love how it's not afraid to take the less conventional route. As someone of Irish heritage, I was really looking forward to the Celtic elements. Unfortunately I just couldn't warm up to either the protagonist, or the plot, which despite it's occasional moments, ultimately proved to be overstuffed and unrealistic. I suspect most of these problems arise from the fact that this is Murphy's debut novel. Unfortunately, there's just not enough in here for me to give her further work another shot. I will be posting this book back on paperbackswap and hope that it finds a home with someone that will appreciate it more....more