This is such a hard book to talk about. Cory and Kathie will know exactly what I mean. But usually when you talk about books you discuss the setting (...moreThis is such a hard book to talk about. Cory and Kathie will know exactly what I mean. But usually when you talk about books you discuss the setting (especially in fantasy), the characters, the plot. With all of the Vlad Taltos books, though, you open your mouth to say something and you find that you have to stop. Two reasons:
1) The world-building in these books is so intricate and detailed that it's insane. It's also done so very subtly that you never feel like you're in the midst of an info-dump. But everything's important. EVERYTHING. Maybe not so much in this book, but seven books from now, you will think to yourself, "Son of a bitch! So THAT'S what that meant!" But if you say something meaningful to someone who has not read the books, you'll likely confuse yourself, them, and end up not doing the concept justice AT ALL. 2) The plot is so intricately woven that you can't say much about much or you end up spoiling things. And the payoff with the plot is just... breathtaking. Brust twists and turns and builds like a mammoth corkscrew roller-coaster. And trust me, you will want to HURT anyone who spoils these books for you.
So, okay, something about the books, something about the books... I know! Firstly, they're fairly short. About 235 pages, they're quick reads. Brust doesn't go in for flowery language and lush descriptions (but he gives you enough that you don't feel lost). That's a good thing, in my opinion. They're paced well. Chapters are usually pretty short so the books are great if you're trying to squeeze reading in while waiting on a prescription or similar. I will say, though... there is a point in every Vlad novel that I call the point of no return. Usually it's the last two to three chapters, the last fifty pages. You will stay up until dawn if you hit the sweet spot late at night. You just will.
The books are also laced with humor, but here's a quick example. Vlad is talking about his friend Morollan, a sorcerer of some skill, who happens to have a floating castle. Apparently before a catastrophic failure of magic, floating castles were all the rage. But then the magic did fail. Just poof. Just like that. So Vlad cracks wise about how since then nobody has really done the castle-in-the-air bit, but you can still find the wreckage from them dotted all around the countryside. Vlad himself is also a wise-ass (see my status updates for some examples). You pretty much have a grin on your face the whole way through.
Quick synopsis that I CAN share--Vlad is an assassin, he's got a good-sized territory in a criminal organization. While he's not the biggest boss, he's no slouch. Watching him try to puzzle out a mystery and also set up his target is pure joy. The supporting cast is filled with other strong characters from his wife to his assistant, all the way down to his smart-assed familiar, a miniature dragon. But what's refreshing to me? Vlad doesn't really care about saving the world. He wants to make money and protect his friends. If you're NOT a friend (or someone he feels responsible for)--Vlad's a cold-hearted SOB. Just sayin'.
If you like fantasy, give these books a try. I don't think you'll regret it. Couple of caveats: The series is still live (next book is due out in 2014), but the first book, Jhereg, is about thirty years old. It's out of print as a single title and no eBook is available until you get to book 8. The first 7 books are available in omnibuses (1-3, 4-5, 6-7) for about $15 for each omni. Somewhat inconvenient, but it's surmountable.
The next issue: chronological order vs. publishing order. The publishing order is not the order in which events take place, but do not fall prey to the misconception that you should read them in chronological order. Remember all that world-building? Remember that they're short? That means Brust doesn't spend a lot of time doing remedial world-building. If you read the books out of order, you probably won't be hopelessly lost, but still... don't do it. Make it easy on yourself and stick to the published order. Brust is one of those authors whom I trust implicitly--he has a plan. All will make sense before it's done :-)
I think that's most everything. Oh--while the series is ongoing and things are somewhat unresolved, each book is a standalone. There aren't really any cliffhangers that leave you thinking WTF. There are mentions such as, "Oh, there was this one time... but that's a different story." And it is, and he'll get to it at some point, but the story he's telling now will be finished, I promise.
Final summation: Steven Brust's books, especially the Vlad Taltos series, are like this awesome restaurant downtown that nobody really knows about. I'm not really sure how that happened, but go ahead and give them a try. I promise you'll become a regular :-) (less)
This was my first "indie" book and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. The Weight of Blood is well written, the story engaging. Following t...moreThis was my first "indie" book and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. The Weight of Blood is well written, the story engaging. Following the story of two half-orc brothers, it's an interesting tale. The fighting scenes were some of the best written I've seen. Characterization could have been a bit better, but it was still good. I enjoyed this story so much I immediately bought books 2 & 3 and also A Dance of Cloaks. I think this series is going to be one of the "greats" in the Fantasy genre. (less)
Whatever else I say about Jenny Schwartz, first and fore-most: This author knows how to write a love scene. In THE PRICE OF FREEDOM, she turns up the...moreWhatever else I say about Jenny Schwartz, first and fore-most: This author knows how to write a love scene. In THE PRICE OF FREEDOM, she turns up the heat and leaves it simmering throughout the book.
Mischa is a guardian angel. Her charge: A man who is essential to achieving peace in the Middle East. The problem: A djinni, enslaved to the terrorist who is set on destroying the man under her protection. The djinni, Rafe, has no choice but to obey the wishes of his master, and Mischa cannot abandon her duty.
Rafe has been a slave for millennia. Cursed into a bottle, the only way he can experience any freedom is to "steal time" by manipulating his masters and twisting their wishes. After meeting Mischa, Rafe tricks his owner into wishing for Mischa to be removed from the situation, thus allowing him to kill is enemy. Rafe immediately whisks Mischa way to an isolated oasis where they learn to love each other, but eventually he realizes that he cannot keep her caged and so he sacrifices his freedom for hers, thus becoming imprisoned again. Grief-stricken, Mischa is determined to find a way to free him.
Much as in my review of ANGEL THIEF, my only real complaint with THE PRICE OF FREEDOM is that I wanted it longer. Because of the short length, Ms. Schwartz had a lot of ground to cover in not much time. She does it admirably, but it left me wanting more. Specifically, it seemed like Rafe and Mischa went from zero to love in 5 seconds flat. I think that if the characters had held off on the "L word" a little longer it would have been just right. As it was, I was still able to get a sense of time passing and the couple getting to know each other - it just seemed like the love came before the growth of the relationship.
The plus side of the column for this book is pretty long: a good story that's fast-paced, a sexy hero and strong heroine, and steamy love scenes all make for an engaging book. It was quick, yes, but it makes the most of its page count. If I had my own djinni, I think I'd wish for Book 3 of the Out of the Bottle series to be about 300 pages. Then I'd wish him his freedom and hope he decided to stick around...(less)
Remix is an awesome read. A contemporary suspense romance, it kept me turning the pages to find out what was next. There weren't really any plot twist...moreRemix is an awesome read. A contemporary suspense romance, it kept me turning the pages to find out what was next. There weren't really any plot twists - the bad guys were pretty identifiable as the bad guys from the beginning. Even still, though, the story was compelling and exciting enough to keep me solidly entertained. Ms. Revellian is going on my Favorite Authors list and I'll definitely get any future works of hers. (less)
SPELL OF THE CAT combines blazing action and lots of hot sex into a small package. While I do have a gripe with it (which I'll explain below), the sto...moreSPELL OF THE CAT combines blazing action and lots of hot sex into a small package. While I do have a gripe with it (which I'll explain below), the story was awesome and I couldn't wait to find out what happened. The book definitely grabbed my interest from the beginning and didn't let go until the last page.
Keth is a member of a race of cat shifters, the Baashi. The Baashi have had a symbiotic relationship with humans since ancient times, drawing on human energy for strength and healing and in return strengthening the human's emotional well-being. In more recent times, the Baashi have gone into secrecy to avoid the greed and malice of mankind. When Keth returns home, he finds out that other members of his family have been captured and nobody knows why, just that those who have been caught have never been seen again. The pack has staged a scouting raid the same evening as Keth's homecoming. When he is injured during the foray, they leave him on the doorstep of a human in order to speed his healing. Coincidentally, the human works at the same building where Keth's pack-mates have been taken.
Jenna doesn't know what to think when one of the large cats her employer has been experimenting with shows up wounded on her doorstep. She's been having second and third thoughts about her work at the lab. Even though she doesn't work directly with the cats, anybody can see that they are dying in captivity. Unsure what to do, she decides for the time being to shelter the animal and say nothing to Dr. Phillips, the lead researcher.
I'm a sucker for suspense and animals, even shifter-type animals. The premise of this book was tantalizing, and I immediately wanted to know what happened. I'll say this-the story was great. Fantastic, well-written and full of action, the pacing was perfect.
The only gripe that I had was with the characters. I love short stories and novellas, but it seems like usually there's some aspect of the story that gets short shrift. In this book, it's the characters. Keth and Jenna are both pretty one-dimensional, and their "love story" is, too. Rather than grow the relationship, Jenna and Keth are magically "right for each other". Of course, the great sex probably helped that along.
Despite the flat hero and heroine, SPELL OF THE CAT was still a fun book. Don't go in expecting some moving love story-you're not going to get it. If, on the other hand, you want something short and action-packed with plenty of eroticism mixed in, this one is worth reading.(less)
NoHeart is a great story. Charlotte Roote is trying to follow the steps of her mother who was a practitioner of hoodoo. Her first "conjure" made me la...moreNoHeart is a great story. Charlotte Roote is trying to follow the steps of her mother who was a practitioner of hoodoo. Her first "conjure" made me laugh out loud. She forgot half of her ingredients and tried to bluff her way through. Her mentor was on to her, but still, her attempts to not seem ill-prepared reminded me of the scene from Army of Darkness where Ash is saying the words "Klaatu, verata, necktie!" "I said the words, I did!"
Even though it started on such a promising note, I ended up disappointed with the book. Charlotte came across as too passive to me, in a lot of ways. It seemed like half the time she dealt with things via the ostrich method - stick your head in the sand, ignore it, and it will go away. Infuriating, but still, that's a personal reaction to the character. Far worse was the lack of editing. NoHeart was rife with typos, misspellings, and in a couple of spots I was confused as to what the author was trying to convey. Just as an example, in one place one of the villains, Maria, had her name spelled as "Maris". That's the sort of thing I'd expect even rudimentary proof-reading (not necessarily a full edit) to catch.
Another issue, and this was purely technical - for some reason the text was a gray color on my Kindle. I know it wasn't my Kindle, either. Locations were a crisp black. The chapter names and the the symbol drawn at the start of each chapter were very crisp and dark, but the actual text was just very light. As an aside, I really liked the hand-drawn art at the start of each chapter - it was a nice touch.
Despite its flaws, I still enjoyed NoHeart, and I will probably read future books in the series. I just think that with a little more attention to detail it could have gone from three stars to four and a half.(less)
This is a fantastic introduction to a new Paranormal Romance (PNR) series. The hero and heroine are both strong characters with lively personalities....moreThis is a fantastic introduction to a new Paranormal Romance (PNR) series. The hero and heroine are both strong characters with lively personalities. You really are pulling for them to get together. There's one explicit sex scene in the book, follow-up scenes are more quickly depicted, and honestly, that's just the way I like it. Just right. I also love the setting - there aren't that many PNRs that I can think of that have an "Arabian Nights" feel, but this one does and it was fantastic. Definitely check out Cate Rowan - she's a rising star!(less)
I enjoyed the story quite a bit - Carolyn and Brody were a great couple, and the fact that Tricia and Conner were part of the cast just added to it.
Th...moreI enjoyed the story quite a bit - Carolyn and Brody were a great couple, and the fact that Tricia and Conner were part of the cast just added to it.
The problems I had with the story were at a technical level - missing words, a couple of misplaced words, and, most annoying of all: words with random spaces in them. The last item is probably just with the Kindle version, but it wasn't uncommon to see something like this: vers ion, unc ommon, som ething, etc.
Still, a good read. Worth the $6? Probably not.(less)