The third and arguably best of the Diana Tregarde novels (which have disappointed me on this re-read), this one plays closest to YA, with much of theThe third and arguably best of the Diana Tregarde novels (which have disappointed me on this re-read), this one plays closest to YA, with much of the action surrounding a high school where the son of one of Di's old "Spook Squad" attends.
It's not as romance novelish as "Children of the Night," and it suffers (in spades) from one of the weaknesses of "Burning Water" -- one of the protagonists is under mind control, and so acts erratically and foolishly, usually off screen.
Still, aside from some dated aspects (it's over two decades old now), it remains a fairly interesting and intricate story. I don't regret rereading it, or the series, but I'm unsure at this point when I'll ever do so again....more
I've always preferred the periphery of the Bat-universe to its core titles, but this book (post-death-of-Bruce-Wayne) turned out pretty darned well. MI've always preferred the periphery of the Bat-universe to its core titles, but this book (post-death-of-Bruce-Wayne) turned out pretty darned well. Morrison enjoys playing with the iconic figures, with the Bat-cowl now worn by a Dick Grayson who doesn't want to be the gritty-obsessive crime-buster that Bruce was, and the Robin outfit worn by the arrogant-but-lethal Damian Wayne -- all of which allows some change-ups in the normal Batman and Robin dynamic. Morrison includes some quirky new villains, assisted (for part of the run) by Frank Quitely's art. Though everything going on here has since been rebooted and retconned and obsoleted in a dozen different directions, it's still a fun enough read for me to order the next volumed....more
While I loved the Diana Tregarde series as a younger reader, this one is the weakest of the bunch, with Lackey cranking up the romance novelist bits tWhile I loved the Diana Tregarde series as a younger reader, this one is the weakest of the bunch, with Lackey cranking up the romance novelist bits to 12 (panic attacks! vampire romance! Claremontesque domination body-and-soul!) in a way that drowns out what good bits there are. For the completist only....more
I first read this book more years ago than I care to contemplate, and fell in love with it. The admixture of urban fantasy noir with neopagan dialectiI first read this book more years ago than I care to contemplate, and fell in love with it. The admixture of urban fantasy noir with neopagan dialectic and some cool Meso-American mythmaking was utterly awesome, and I practically wore out my first copy.
I've revisited it a few times in subsequent years, and, alas, it's not aged well. The story dwells a bit too much on the gruesome Aztec sacrifices dotting the Dallas area (and on the sacrificees, almost all of whom are folks who nearly seem to karmically deserve it). The plot wanders hither and thither, showcasing different "real" and "fake" mystic tradition, and hindered by an overt anti-deus ex machina: the protagonist has had her mind confused by the antagonist, sufficient to handwave away any solutions to the mystery that should have been obvious.
The book get downright preachy in places as well. Though its underlying message of tolerance for unorthodox / non-Christian beliefs is a good one, what seemed like a bold statement in the late 80s feels tried and repetitive now.
That said -- there's still some good stuff here, and the underlying mystical plot is a fine one. Di and the supporting cast are nicely drawn. It's enjoyable, not terribly deep, entertainment, and if you can overlook where it takes itself a bit too seriously, worth a read....more
It's been years since I read this book. I recall it as a rollicking grand adventure, a superset of one of my favorite movies, a fantastic expansion ofIt's been years since I read this book. I recall it as a rollicking grand adventure, a superset of one of my favorite movies, a fantastic expansion of the Buttercupverse that ...
Well, like Goldman's fictional first person perspective in the movie, I was wrong.
Now, mind you, I enjoyed the book. The book is good fun. I liked it. Really. And anyone who's looking for a combination of grand adventure, critical metacommentary, and a tale about a writer recalling the writing of his youth could do far worse than this.
But ... really ...
Goldman did an excellent job distilling the book in to a fantastic movie. And he did it by removing all but the core framing sequence -- the grandson being read the tale by his grandfather. And in reading this book once again, I find that, nine out of ten times something was left out in the translation to the screen, it was actually an improvement.
Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps I'm simply so enamoured of the movie that I cannot see the genius of the underlying book. But given my choice of being stuck on a desert island with one or the other ... I'd choose the movie.
But the book is pretty darned good. Four stars = "I really liked it." ...more
More fantasy detective noir fun, though not quite as much of a romp as the previous volume. The addition of TunFaire church politics, and some dire suMore fantasy detective noir fun, though not quite as much of a romp as the previous volume. The addition of TunFaire church politics, and some dire supernatural threats, made the fantasy epic side of the book overwhelm the detective mystery side. Still good stuff, still worth reading ... but I'm taking a break before moving on to the next installment....more
Cook hits his stride with the second Garrett novel, chock-full of bitter noir elements -- betrayed love, destroyed lives, greed and lust and violence,Cook hits his stride with the second Garrett novel, chock-full of bitter noir elements -- betrayed love, destroyed lives, greed and lust and violence, and wheel-within-wheel mysteries. The Hammett/Chandler sensibility runs throughout, and most effectively, while still maintaining a solid fantasy world. Good stuff....more
I’ll confess to a weakness for Peters’ Brother Cadfael mysteries. The twenty novels in the series, telling the tale of a Welsh Benedictine monk — and crime-solver — in 12th Century England — are charming, educational, thought-provoking, exciting, and contemplative. (That they were made a faboo TV series starring Derek Jacobi doesn’t hurt).
I’m rereading this series now, and just finished enjoying this particular twisted tale of marriage, inheritance, parentage, property, poison, and, of course, murder. Triffic stuff, highly recommended....more
If you like Parker’s Spenser novels, you’ll likely enjoy this “Young Spenser” novel, a YA effort which tells, episodically, of the detective’s youth. A thin (widely spaced) 169 pages, it’s an even faster read than his recent novels, but still entertaining for all that, and more of a creative stretch than he’s done with Spenser in a while — though, really, there’s more fleshing out of Spenser’s past than any brilliant or unexpected revelations.
(I recently reread the entire Spenser series, all 30-odd novels. Even while acknowledging that they’ve gone from relatively rich, thoughtful, complicated tales to familiar-as-Fritos simple novellas, they’re still enjoyable, if unchallenging, reading.)...more
I desperately loved this book until the last few chapters. The extensive Afterword indicates this is a not-uncommon reaction, and I understand and even support what Boyett was doing there … but it still feels very abrupt, a major change in tone and direction, and curiously disappointing.
Until then, though, this book — several years after the Change suddenly made Technology stop working and Magic (along with Magical Creatures) start — is a great combo of post-Apocalyptic fiction and quest fantasy. Recommended — and I’m looking forward to reading the new sequel, Elegy Beach. I think....more
Correia claims to be addicted to B-movies and guns, and this incredibly fun romp is overflowing with both, telling the tale of a bar-fighter-gun-nut-turned-accountant who joins up with a company of monster bounty hunters to avert the Apocalypse. A bit like "Aliens", only with more bad jokes (but just as much carnage). It’s a laugh, scare, and explosion a minute, and the enjoyment of reading it seems only matched by the enjoyment the author clearly had in writing it. Waiting for the sequel.
Original Read: 23 Oct 2009 Re-Read: 30 Jan 2012 Re-Read: 5 Jun 2014
Update (2012): Still a lot of fun, even on re-read.
Update (2014): Yup, still fun. Correia's political conservatism sometimes gets a bit wearisome, but it more often comes out with wryness than meanness....more
This book (and its sequels "The Ghost Brigades", "The Last Colony", and "Zoe’s Tale") all owe a lot to Heinlein. In this case, it’s "Starship Troopers" (with large leavening of Haldeman’s "Forever War"); but all with a personalized touch from Scalzi that keep it from being much more than a mere pastiche.
Highly entertaining (and thoughtful) space war/opera — and while I’ve come relatively late to following Scalzi’s work, I’d recommend it to anyone without question....more
The latest “Graywalker” book delves even deeper into Seattle’s past, with zombies, Indian curses, and a strange creature lurking in the ancient city-beneath-the-city. She also makes her detective protagonist, Harper Blaine, and the supporting cast richer and deeper. I’m looking forward to the next installment....more
Overall, Story, Re-Readability, Characters: all Good
This self-subtitled “space opera” is dedicated to Asimov and Heinlein, but it is to the latter that the greater homage lies. Stross takes Friday (one of my Heinlein favorites), barely files the serial numbers off, chunks it up and remixes it into a story of a robot culture (nod Asimov) and a sexy robot geisha/courier (Heinlein) trying to make her way through it amidst threats and double-crosses and identity crises. Heinlein would have admired (and been flattered by) the result, complete with a Heinleinesque weak ending. ...more
Overall: Good Story: Fair Re-Readability: Good Characters: Good
Lovely setting, fabulous concept — turn of the 20th century, in a world where high magic works and is woven neatly into history, where the British still own the unquiet American colonies, and where a self-exiled woman named Garrett is the Detective Crown Investigator in the titular city. The setting and characters are great; the stories somewhat less so (well-written, but not my romantic cuppa)....more
Overall: Fair Story: Fair Characters: Fair Re-Readability: Good
I love their mid-70s "Inferno" (it’s a book I regularly revisit). This sequel rightfully tries to be something different, but muddles it by trying to be too philosophical, too complex, too political, too preachy, too meditative, too many big ideas. The original was a mysterious tapestry; this one becomes one part puzzle box, one part seminary thesis. Worth a read, but I doubt I’ll come back to it again....more
A nice review of the history of Bonita, California, with plenty of historic pictures. Recommended for anyone who lives in the city, just to know a bitA nice review of the history of Bonita, California, with plenty of historic pictures. Recommended for anyone who lives in the city, just to know a bit more about where the place has come from.
(N.B. I am a friend of one of the contributing authors.)...more
Second in the Alexia Tarabotti series, a lovely and elegant and witty and bloodthirsty horror of manners, with werewolves and vampires in the time (and service) of Queen Victoria, and the preternatural Alexia thrust into the middle of all their politics (though she is, in fact, an independent woman who rises to such challenges admirably). Oh, and there are dirigible trips to Scotland, curses from Egypt, aetheric communication devices, and the use of highly unusual parasols. Marvelous....more
Another read and I'm still in love with this book. Even where the technology specifics have moved on, it's still a hoot for an IT gREREAD (March 2015)
Another read and I'm still in love with this book. Even where the technology specifics have moved on, it's still a hoot for an IT guy, and the pseudo-science/magic worldbuilding (and worlddestroying) is superb. The main story in the book is the better of the two, if just for its richness and Nazis-meet-Cthulhu shudderiness, but the second story, on the dangers of magic and office politics, is also a solid entry.
Lovecraft meets The Office meets James Bond meets Dilbert, as we follow the travails of Bob Howard, who works as an IT specialist for an obscure (and politically unpopular) British government agency tasked with making sure that the world isn’t destroyed, either by Nazi demonic conspiracies or by someone publishing a physics paper that can be used to extrapolate highly destructive magic spells — as all the while he has to make sure that his expense reports are properly filled out.
Mordantly witty, alternating with terrifying and intriguing and just plain fun to read. Triffic stuff....more
The fourth Mercy Thompson story, pulling together a number of plot threads set up in earlier novels to set up conflicts both within the Tri-Cities area and beyond. Briggs does a decent job balancing the whole vampire/werewolf thing, with enough fresh twists to the situation to keep it from being a rehash of the rest of the Urban Fantasy genre. Nothing spectacular, but a decently entertaining read. ...more
Unlike the vapid movie based (very) loosely on the book, Goats starts off as a gonzo journalism look at a post-Vietnam military looking for 70s-era “personal transformation” formulae to make super-soldiers, including (in one set of experiments) being able to kill by thought — as tried by the few men who claimed they had actually done so with goats in a secret military base lab.
From there, though, things start getting conspiratorially sinister — including ties to the take-down of Noriega in Panama, the torture of prisoners in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the deaths of the Branch Davidians and the Hale-Bopp suicides. It’s difficult to tell where things begin to fade from silly spending programs at the Pentagon and CIA into seriously warped activities by those same groups, but it’s a fascinating (if increasingly disturbing) tale, and a quick and entertaining read....more
An original Peter Wimsey novel based very loosely on the “Wimsey Papers” war-time correspondence that Sayers wrote during the early years of WWII. Walsh does a serviceable job of fleshing this out in to a 1940-based novel, with Harriet and her children in the countryside during the Blitz, and dealing with a murder during an air raid. Some lovely period detail about live in that time, and Peter does make appropriate appearances when not on mysterious missions overseas.
Not as good as the Real Thing, but far better than nothing at all for Wimsey fans. ...more
I really wanted to like this novel — a fire-elemental owning member of the Detroit Fire Dept. arson unit — but it ultimately became far too whiny, far too angsty, far too “I am all alone, unloved, something dark moving inside of me, everything good that touches me turns to ash, and the only person who I could possibly have hot monkey sex with is a guy who’s trying to destroy the world.” Um … no. Some good Detroit bits, and some of the supporting cast (particularly Sparky the Salamander) are fun, but … no....more
This is the third of his “Old Man’s War” trilogy, focusing as much on daughter Zoe as on the series’ protagonist, John Perry, as we finally learn the secrets behind Earth’s government, the Colonial Union, and why Earth is so isolated. The heroes of the tale clean up the whole situation, natch, in a satisfying if potentially too-neat fashion. This Scalzi novel still has strong hints of Heinlein inspiration in it ("Podkayne of Mars" and "Tunnel in the Sky" most notably), but it’s still quite satisfying. I’d recommend it (and anything else he produces). ...more
Seventh in Vaughn’s tale of a werewolf night-radio show host, this is probably the weakest of the series, as Kitty gets chosen for a “Real World”-style TV show weekend at an isolated cabin with other supernatural characters (and a noted skeptic). Things immediately go south, of course, in Ten Little Indians style.
Not a bad book — entertaining light reading — but a bit less substance than this already casual Urban Fantasy series has shown to date. I’ll be waiting for the next one, though....more