Thank goodness I knew beforehand that the Vlad Taltos books aren't written in order of the timeline, or else I would have been really confused. This iThank goodness I knew beforehand that the Vlad Taltos books aren't written in order of the timeline, or else I would have been really confused. This is the second book in the series to be published, but actually takes place before the first book, to the time when Vlad first meets his wife Cawti.
I really liked Cawti's character in Jhereg, and I was excited to find out she was going to have a much bigger role in this novel, based on its synopsis. So I was slightly let down when a third of the book breezed by and she still hadn't shown up; I think I was waiting with bated breath the whole time for that to happen. Eventually, amidst the Jhereg war that Vlad has started with rival Laris, she does make her appearance along with her partner-in-crime Norathar.
It was the high point for me, even though from the previous book we were told Vlad met Cawti while the latter was trying to assassinate him, so I knew what to expect. Despite that, it didn't diminish the scene in any way. A quote Vlad made from Jhereg still resonates with me, about how couples typically fall in love first then get married and spend the rest of their lives trying to kill each other, while with the two of them had it the other way around. I still chuckle when I think of it.
Still, the process of the two of them falling in love was really awkward, but somehow due to the book's style I suspect it was meant to be. It happened so quickly, with hardly any build up at all -- it seemed to me Vlad and Cawti literally jumped into bed after "Hello". Readers looking for elements of romance would be sorely disappointed, but then again Vlad doesn't seem like the type to be sentimental!
The story of the Jhereg war that started all this was very entertaining, at least, though there's a lot more the mystery angle in this book than the last. The breakneck pace of these novels means that sometimes the clues and the conclusions they lead to are sometimes hard to follow, especially since there are so much history and so many names thrown around. I think Yendi would have been more suspenseful if it hadn't been a "prequel" and we didn't already know how certain events played out, but this was another good read all in all, fast and fun....more
I thought this was the best Dresden Files book in the series so far. Once again, Harry's life is plagued with a thousand things happening all at once.I thought this was the best Dresden Files book in the series so far. Once again, Harry's life is plagued with a thousand things happening all at once. Gotta admire Jim Butcher's ability to establish all the action within the first few chapters and throw the reader right into it.
I'm really starting to like Harry. He was okay before, but frankly I was getting a little sick of him blaming himself all the time for every single little unfortunate event that befalls his friends. I'm glad he's finally letting Murphy in, and realizing Susan can take care of herself. Less emo-Harry equals good.
Oh, and speaking of Susan...she is awesome. That is all. ...more
Better than the last book, but not by a whole lot. It's a little difficult to watch characters I've previously loved start to unravel like this.
I'm nBetter than the last book, but not by a whole lot. It's a little difficult to watch characters I've previously loved start to unravel like this.
I'm not sure I like the person Anita is becoming. I've always known from the start that she was aggressive, confident, and strong-willed. I used to admire that about her in the first couple books of this series. More and more, however, I feel those qualities are getting away from her. They're no longer admirable; they're annoying. She's become obnoxious and arrogant, and I don't know why the men in her life put up with her.
Especially Richard. Poor Richard. Why he takes Anita's crap is beyond me. It felt a little surreal reading some parts of The Killing Dance, like watching a bunch of bickering children playing high school romance games, except of course the themes of this book are very mature. It's hard to even enjoy the story anymore, when so much of it is taken by this drama.
Hooray! From now on, whenever someone asks me if I have read any Ilona Andrews, no longer do I have to look down shame-facedly at my shoes and admit, “No, but I’ve been meaning to for the longest time, I swear!”
Of course, when it comes to the authors’ books and the question of where to start, for me it had to be the quintessential Kate Daniels series. In a world where technology has progressed too much and too fast, the volatile forces of magic have struck back with a vengeance. While magic feeds on technology, everything is unpredictable – machinery, vehicles or electrically powered objects can fail at any time, making it a pretty screwed up world of ruined streets lined with shells of crumbling skyscrapers.
And that’s not all. The way it works, magic rises and falls with no warning, and when the precarious balance between the magical and the technological is thrown out of whack, weird things happen – peculiar magical effects and paranormal monsters wreaking havoc on the world, and what have you. In the middle of it all, a tenacious and headstrong mercenary makes her living attempting to clean up all the resulting messes of this magical apocalypse. Kate’s just another human with a bit of magic blood in her, trying to make ends meet in this crazy messed up milieu, while dodging vampires, shapeshifters, and other nasties. But when her guardian is brutally murdered, Kate’s making it her personal mission to hunt down the one responsible.
So, wow, great setting and premise for an urban fantasy, amirite? But I do have a confession to make. I honestly couldn’t make heads or tails of this world from the explanation provided by the book as I was reading. Afterwards, I had to cheat and had to look up on wikis and other reviews to understand how the whole magic vs. technology process actually worked because what I was given didn’t feel like it was enough at all. Did that take away from my enjoyment of the story? Not really. Technically, you don’t need to understand how and why everything in this world is the way it is, but in some ways, I felt like I was thrown into the middle of a movie that had already started. I got by okay, but if you don’t like feeling like that, then this first book might be a struggle.
As for the main character herself, I liked her. Kate Daniels is smart, resourceful, a bit of a wisecracker and comes in at a hundred percent on the kickass meter – admittedly, much like a lot of other female protagonists in the urban fantasy genre. There’s really not much else I can say, but that’s not really a negative. While I can’t pin down anything that would make her stand out in particular from the rest, archetypal UF characters like Kate are what make this genre great and so fun to read.
I think I approach urban fantasy as a whole with a similar attitude. Arguably, there are a handful of requisite tropes in this genre that will probably never go out of style, and you know what? I wouldn’t want it any other way. These days, I’m happy enough diving into a good UF, and if it happens to do something wildly different and amazing, that’s just gravy. Magic Bites probably isn’t exceptional when it comes to characters and its light-on-plot story, but it does have a pretty cool setting (if only it was explained better).
Regardless, I love tackling books like this especially after a string of heavier reads, because sometimes you just want to sit back and relax with a light, entertaining read, and I have to say it filled that need perfectly. To be honest, you really can’t screw up with me when it comes to this genre, unless you’re doing something terribly, terribly wrong – and I didn’t doubt for second that a series like Kate Daniels, which has been going strong for so many years, would have garnered so many fans if it hadn’t been delivering the right stuff.
So yep, you’ll see me continuing on with this series for sure....more
4.5 stars. My husband and I like to have discussions about books sometimes, and since I just started reading this the other night, we talked about Joh4.5 stars. My husband and I like to have discussions about books sometimes, and since I just started reading this the other night, we talked about John Scalzi and his works. Apparently, on the one hand my husband likes his books, but at the same time thinks they "wrap up too nicely" for his tastes. That is, he thinks they are without real trials and tribulations, and that they always seem to end with perfect outcomes, tied up neatly in a pretty little bow.
Okay, so he might be on to something. In this book, main protagonist John Perry goes through a lot in his career as an old man in a young, genetically enhanced body fighting a war against hostile aliens in space. Still, let's just say things generally end up pretty good for him by the final chapter. My husband has also read more Scalzi books than me, while the only other book I've read by him before this is Fuzzy Nation, and I guess that had a neat and tidy ending as well.
But dammit, I've come to the conclusion that that's what I LIKE about his books! I LIKE it when things end well for the protagonist. I LIKE warm, fuzzy happy endings.
Sure, sometimes I enjoy darker reads as well, and like the on-edge, suspenseful feeling I get whenever a story's ending or a character's fate is unclear. But that's not why I pick up a John Scalzi book. When I do, I do it to be entertained and to know that I'll be feeling good at the end.
And entertained I was, and feel good I do after reading this. Old Man's War did not disappoint, and my rating for this book is a reflection of my enjoyment. JS may not be the the science-fiction world's best writer or best storyteller, but he sure is funny. This book made me laugh out loud, and that typically never happens when I'm reading, even if I recognize something as humorous. But this book had me laughing big time. Hell, even when someone is dying a gruesome death, it's hilarious.
Second time around, I definitely like this book better, especially now that I've had more fantasy novels under my belt and can appreciate the genre moSecond time around, I definitely like this book better, especially now that I've had more fantasy novels under my belt and can appreciate the genre more.
It is a mistake, however, tackling this series again after having read The Way of Kings, which rekindled my interest in Sanderson in the first place. It's obvious his writing has come a long way, and while he is a fantastic world builder and an amazing creator of magic systems as always, Mistborn now feels less polished to me, and its characters and world less defined. It is still an incredible story, but I've clearly been spoiled by his newer stuff....more
This was really good for an urban fantasy, with a very strong female protagonist (one I actually didn't find annoying, surprisingly). It's a relativelThis was really good for an urban fantasy, with a very strong female protagonist (one I actually didn't find annoying, surprisingly). It's a relatively short book but filled with great world building, not to mention quite a few unique ideas.
I gotta say, I haven't had this much fun with an urban fantasy since the first Dresden Files. My interest in the genre is kindled again.
A few times, this reminded me a little bit of the Anita Blake series. The earlier books, that is, back when that series was still decent... before it went to hell in a sex-filled hand basket. ...more
3.5 stars. Probably the best book in the New Jedi Order series for me so far. I was surprised I enjoyed it so much, given how I was so disappointed wi3.5 stars. Probably the best book in the New Jedi Order series for me so far. I was surprised I enjoyed it so much, given how I was so disappointed with the one that came before, which was the first half of the Edge of Victory story line.
"Rebirth" goes back to focusing more on both the Solo and Skywalker families. That was basically what I wanted, and what I was missing from the "Conquest", which was Anakin Solo-centric. In this book, I found there was a lot more going on in the story that I was interested in....more
George R. R. Martin once wrote in a blog post that if you love his A Song of Ice and Fire series and are looking for "something like it", then you reaGeorge R. R. Martin once wrote in a blog post that if you love his A Song of Ice and Fire series and are looking for "something like it", then you really need to check out The Iron King by Maurice Druon. In the newest edition of the book's foreword, he calls it the "original game of thrones" and credits it for being one of the great historical novels that inspired his own epic series.
Even if I hadn't known all this, the parallels are clear; this is only the first book of The Accursed Kings series and already it has it all, just without the fantasy elements -- conspiracies, assassinations, illicit affairs, royal scandals, rivaling families, public executions, lies, sex, betrayals and torture and poisonings and death curses, oh my.
Originally written in French and published in the mid-1950s, the books in this series were long out of print and apparently quite difficult to get your hands on, until now. Fortunately, the English translation of the first book recently made it back into print (with the rest to follow, I hear), thus resulting in yours truly just about tripping over her own feet rushing to press the "buy" button for the Kindle version. Even without GRRM's glowing recommendation, I'm always up for good historical fiction, especially books involving European monarchies and the Middle Ages.
The Iron King is a fascinating take on the events which preceded and led up to arguably one of the most significant conflicts of the medieval period, The Hundred Years' War. King Philip IV of France, called "The Iron King" because of his aloof nature and severe rule, sentences the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar Jacques de Molay to burn at the stake. Upon his death, the Templar maintains his innocence and publicly curses the three men whom he feels has unjustly put him there: Pope Clement, King Philip, and Guillaume de Nogaret, Keeper of the Seals.
Meanwhile, all is not well in Philip's family. Two of his sons, Louis and Charles are being cuckolded by their wives, cousins Marguerite and Blanche of Burgundy. If that wasn't bad enough, his third son's wife, Jeanne of Burgundy, is also privy to these affairs, even if she doesn't cheat herself. When Philip's only daughter Isabella discovers what the Burgundy women are doing to her three brothers, she begins scheming to expose them, and Robert III of Artois, who harbors a deep hatred for the Burgundys, is only all too happy to help.
The scandal is blown wide open, of course, as we know from the events of the Tour de Nesle Affair. The king and his family recall the the last words uttered by Grand Master Jacques de Molay: "Pope Clement, Chevalier Guillaume de Nogaret, King Philip, I summon you to the Tribunal of Heaven before the year is out, to receive your just punishment! Accursed! Accursed! You shall be accursed to the thirteenth generation of your lines!" Are the troubles involving the unfaithful wives part of the curse? Or is the worst yet to come?
I have to say, I liked this book a lot. The story takes quite a bit of time to get get set up, but then so much of the history and the characters have to be detailed and introduced. As the reader, I felt I needed the ramp-up time to refresh myself on the historical facts and get all those "Philip"s, "Charles"s and "Louis"s sorted out anyway. As always, trying to keep names in order is a common occupational hazard when reading historical fiction about European kings and queens. However, all the people and events Druon decided to include and write about in his storytelling are there for a reason, building up and forming a cogent picture by the end of the book.
Also, fair warning: the writing can be a little hard on the eyes. As with many books translated from their original language, it's not always pretty. I'm not sure this can be helped, and I certainly don't hold that against the author or the translator; sometimes, that's just the way things are. I admit I've had better times with other translated-to-English books, but then again, I've also had worse. The experience was definitely not as rough as I expected after seeing other reviews talking about the same topic, and to me the book was still very readable and easy to get into.
Wow, shocker, a Warcraft book by Richard A. Knaak that got more than a one star rating from me. Seriously, I'm floored. Like, really. After sufferingWow, shocker, a Warcraft book by Richard A. Knaak that got more than a one star rating from me. Seriously, I'm floored. Like, really. After suffering through his last couple WoW novels Wolfheart and Stormrage, I was starting to think I might just be a glutton for punishment when I picked up Day of the Dragon, but to my surprise, it wasn't that bad at all.
Granted, that might not mean much since I'm using my special video game tie-in novel scale to rate and review this book, so take my praise with a grain of salt. Still, speaking as someone who'd pretty much given up on Knaak, I couldn't believe how much I actually enjoyed this! And that's despite his extremely annoying obsession with always referring to his characters by their hair color/profession/relationship to another character/anything else other than using that character's damn name like a normal person. Honestly, if I had to read something along the lines of "flame-tressed wizard" one more time, I was going to /facedesk myself into a coma.
Krasus and Rhonin are far from being my favorite characters, but it was nice to finally read the book that introduced them. I was also hoping to see more of how the romance first blossomed between Rhonin and his beloved wife Vereesa Windrunner, but apart from touching upon the attraction they felt for each other, they didn't really "get close" until the very end and it was practically a footnote. I think that was my biggest disappointment, whereas everything else in the story was pretty much par for the course because I was already familiar with that part of Warcraft history.
Anyway, I think I read somewhere that this was the first ever Warcraft novel, though somehow the writing in it seemed far better than some of Knaak's newer stuff. Its publication date as well as its place in the lore of the game world is what mostly drove me to pick this one up, and even now I'm still slightly amazed that I don't regret it....more
I actually hovered between giving this book 3.5 or 4 stars. I'm pretty picky when it comes to choosing my urban fantasy, considering how bloated the gI actually hovered between giving this book 3.5 or 4 stars. I'm pretty picky when it comes to choosing my urban fantasy, considering how bloated the genre is these days. The good things I've heard about this series made me try it out.
There are a couple of things I loved about this book; mainly the world building and the narrator's voice. That said, the main character Mac is bit of a flake and not my type when it comes to favorite heroines, but the way the author writes her makes her quite believable, and I'm hoping her personality will evolve with the series.
I'm also not too fond of cliffhangers, but I liked this book enough to want to read the next one anyway, even without the abrupt ending....more
With the New Jedi Order series being one that comprises about 20 books, I guess I can't be too surprised when I hit a slump or two. Jedi Eclipse wrapsWith the New Jedi Order series being one that comprises about 20 books, I guess I can't be too surprised when I hit a slump or two. Jedi Eclipse wraps up the Agents of Chaos story, and while I liked it better than Hero's Trial, I can't say I really enjoyed these two books. Many of the subplots were too dry, and the one involving the Ryn felt more like a gimmick than something actually meant to draw you in. At times I really felt like I had to force myself to finish the novel.
I would have given up and never looked back if I didn't know better stories are in store for me in this series. ...more