Ang Sutonga is the one person who can find her way from the depths of the Drowning's misery to the top of Bar-Selehm's city spires and solve the mysteAng Sutonga is the one person who can find her way from the depths of the Drowning's misery to the top of Bar-Selehm's city spires and solve the mysteries of a young boy's death and the theft of the city's greatest treasure.
What I liked "The last person up here never made it down alive, but there was no point thinking about that." What a terrific first line! This is great storytelling. A.J.'s use of language is smooth and expansive, poetic and philosophical by turns, and yet completely draws the reader in to the physical world and Ang's thoughts as she finds herself and her city in increasingly desperate situations. The mystery and danger feel very real, as Ang uncovers piece after piece of the puzzle.
I particularly appreciated A.J.'s subtle inclusion of the natural world throughout the story. Ang is a city girl and says herself that she is uncomfortable around large animals, which are seen and heard throughout the story as she moves through the city and countryside. A real and imagined menagerie, including hippos and giraffes in the wild, and jackals and mongoose living in the old city, as well as weancats and pink rollers (birds) that are deftly described usually in passing, an integral part of life in and around Bar-Selehm.
What I didn’t like To be honest, although I loved the worldbuilding, especially the descriptions of the natural world and the cultures, there are a lot of storylines weaving together, and sometimes I had a hard time keeping the cast of characters straight. And the one storyline that felt dissatisfying to me was around Ang's newborn niece, Kalla, which is the only part of the story that felt unrealistic from the beginning. However, it included several key elements of storytelling and character development, and was emotionally important to Ang's narrative.
Summary I thoroughly enjoyed Steeplejack and look forward to the next Alternative Detective story from A.J. Hartley, whether it tells more of Ang's story or others. This is a fast-paced, engaging read, with a satisfying mystery and lots of cultural and personal narratives woven together in a fascinating tapestry.
I give Steeplejack 4-1/2 out of five stars....more
Terrific storytelling! Mark Watney is a flat-out great character. One of the rare instances where the movie is absolutely as good as the book, and MatTerrific storytelling! Mark Watney is a flat-out great character. One of the rare instances where the movie is absolutely as good as the book, and Matt Damon *is* Mark Watney. I'd already seen previews, so I read the book in his voice. Wonderful "nerd" jokes throughout. Enough science to feel incredibly real, but not so much it bogs down the story (though it does slow down in a few areas). And what a huge success story for Andy Weir. You'll cheer for everybody -- don't hesitate to pick up this book!...more
Welcome to Crosspointe. Where if you don’t control the majick, it may control you…
What I liked
I think the strongest elements in Francis’ writing are hWelcome to Crosspointe. Where if you don’t control the majick, it may control you…
What I liked
I think the strongest elements in Francis’ writing are her terrific world-building and her characters.
The world-building is rich and complex. Francis uses a lot of her own words within the story, which may sometimes get confusing. But they are well-placed in context. The visual descriptions are very well done. I had no trouble visualizing the scenes—places, people, and action—as I was reading. I particularly liked the complex majick and how it is both used and feared by the society in general and our characters in specific.
I genuinely liked the narrative voices of both Lucy and Marten, the two POV characters, despite the fact that these are both flawed people—more antihero than hero. Lucy starts off kind of stand-offish and selfish, although I liked that she was a strong, dedicated professional woman. Marten’s a would-be hero with a gambling addiction that leads to his ruin and contributes to Lucy’s and many other people’s difficulties (even deaths).
Francis writes them in such a way that I *wanted* them to overcome their many obstacles. I *wanted* them to succeed in their quest, and I wanted them to work things out together. They both grow throughout their journey. There’s a touching reunion with a friend near the end of the novel that highlights this point.
I liked many of the secondary characters as well, and they had enough to do in the story that I felt like I got to know them through the eyes of the main POVs. The villains were sufficiently nasty, if sometimes one-dimensional, and Francis did an excellent job with Marten’s conflicted relationship with his brother.
What I didn’t like
The storytelling bogged down in places, but never enough to make me really give up. It was a combination of too much description and not enough action or forward momentum. But overall, I enjoyed the narrative language and the storytelling very much.
I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending. Pretty much *everything* happens in the last three or four chapters, so it felt too abrupt at times, after so much struggle to get there. And the actual ending felt limp after the tension of the dramatic action right up to it. I appreciate the circular nature of the beginning and ending, but it made me wrinkle my nose nonetheless.
The foreign Jutras were given very vivid physical descriptions, and Lucy even has sympathy for some of them at times. But we don’t get to interact with them at all, to see them as real and complex characters in their own right. Their final scene is pretty horrific, and it will be a challenge for Francis to build any reader connection with them in future books. I hope she will do so, and give us a more fully realized culture to provide a context for their actions in The Cipher.
Caveats (potential triggers)
There is some sex, some threatening sexual language, and fairly detailed graphic violence.
I found this book on NetGalley and requested a review copy. I enjoyed the story very much and plan to continue Francis’ series of Crosspointe novels. I give it four out of five stars....more
Jane Yellowrock is the incarnation of courage: she feels plenty of fear, but does not let it stop her from doing what she believes is necessary and riJane Yellowrock is the incarnation of courage: she feels plenty of fear, but does not let it stop her from doing what she believes is necessary and right.
What I liked The characters. Jane Yellowrock is one of my favorite heroines out there. She is tough *and* vulnerable. She is, for me, the incarnation of courage: she feels plenty of fear, but does not let it stop her from doing what she believes is necessary and right. She’s uncomfortable in relationships of any kind, friendship to romance, because she has been hurt and abandoned by family and friends and lovers in the past, and yet she continues to find and forge those relationships, often in unexpected ways. And it’s not just Jane. Hunter brings a rich cast of characters to life in these stories. Good guys, bad guys, monsters. Sometimes all three at once.
The action. In addition to simply terrific storytelling, Hunter describes the action so vividly that you can easily picture it. She pays the same attention to describing all the senses, as Jane and Beast use sight, sound, taste, and touch to determine the mysteries surrounding them. Some readers may complain of Hunter’s detailed descriptions of clothing, hair, and weapons, but I find them all integral to Jane’s worldview.
I did mention terrific storytelling. Hunter gives us a multi-layered world, bringing together elements of European, Christian, native American, and meso-American mythology, as well as military tactics, strategy, fighting, and technology, sword fighting and physics. There’s also time for a few memorable meals, some scorching sex, and always a carefully brewed cuppa tea.
This is the 8th Jane Yellowrock novel, which means we have a pretty rich backstory already well developed. Hunter can give brief mention of characters who don’t even have page-time in this book, like Jane’s best friend, the witch Molly, and her family, or Jane’s former boyfriend Ricky and their complicated, broken relationship, and fans of the series will fill in with memories from the previous novels.
What I didn’t like To be honest, I felt like I was stumbling a little in the first couple of scenes. It’s absolutely in Jane’s voice and character, dropping us right into the action with her, in the pell-mell pace that is Jane’s everyday life. I wondered if a reader who wasn’t familiar with the previous novels would be lost. Was I reading with a too-critical eye before I relaxed and let the story take over? Perhaps so, but soon enough, I was swept up and into the story and left those concerns behind.
Caveats (potential triggers) Frankly, if you don’t enjoy reading sex and violence, then dark urban fantasy isn’t probably a good genre for you. There is reference to a previous…let’s call it an intimate assault (not a rape, and not a fight scene), during a sex scene. There’s a fair amount of blood and gore and graphic descriptions of fighting, and some more explicit sex than has been in most of the previous Jane Yellowrock stories.
Summary Hunter has created a rich and complex story with genuine characters, and I plan to continue reading as long as she keeps writing. Jane Yellowrock is a modern heroine with unexpected depths, and she will do whatever it takes, including great sacrifice to protect the people she loves and to do what she believes is right.
I was given an ARC via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I plan to buy a paperback copy on the release date. I give Broken Soul 4.5 out of five stars. ...more
Friday Woodcutter is as simple and as complicated as her infamous patchwork skirt. She loves truly, feels deeply, and cares passionately--and these arFriday Woodcutter is as simple and as complicated as her infamous patchwork skirt. She loves truly, feels deeply, and cares passionately--and these are all very different things. And she may be the key to saving the bespelled princess and her seven brothers, including Friday's dearest…
What I liked
I really love the characters in the Woodcutter family tales! Not just the sisters, although every one of them is wonderful, and I cannot wait for all their stories. But their mother and father, their brothers Trix and mysterious Jack, and so many secondary characters -- Alethea does a terrific job of bringing them to life in quick, vivid ways. And the weaving of so many classic fairy tale elements throughout the stories themselves. Friday is the most unlikely "hero" of the sisters so far, and her own self-doubt and discovery make the story feel personal and meaningful.
One of my favorite scenes is when Friday falls off the tower…
The descriptions and characterizations of the brothers as swans are wonderful, bringing them to life in a way the fairy tales never do.
What I didn’t like
To be honest, this story didn't have the depth of Enchanted or Hero, but it is also much shorter book. You have to pay attention to the quickly-swapping POV characters, or you can lose track of what's happening. There are a lot of threads being woven into this tapestry!
If you already know (and love) the Woodcutter family, then Dearest will be another charming adventure with them. I would advise picking up Enchanted or Hero before this one, though, so you don't get lost in the cast of characters. I've already continued with Trix, and I cannot wait for more Woodcutter tales!
My daughter (13yo avid reader) really enjoyed this book and insisted I should read it. I liked the premise of the odd photos, and thought Riggs did aMy daughter (13yo avid reader) really enjoyed this book and insisted I should read it. I liked the premise of the odd photos, and thought Riggs did a good job of weaving them throughout the story. Strong characters and good action throughout. The storytelling slows down a little in the last third or so, but it kept me engaged through the end - enough to make me want to read the sequel when it comes out. Definitely a good strong choice for avid YA readers....more
At Mysticon, I kept passing a halltable with this book on displays that fairly leaped out at me, calling me to pick it up, admire the beautiful coverAt Mysticon, I kept passing a halltable with this book on displays that fairly leaped out at me, calling me to pick it up, admire the beautiful cover art, read the inside flap as it whispered "Take me home and read me". But I was feeling poor, and the author was never there, so I resisted again and again. Until the last day, the last time I walked by, and there Alethea was, all smiles and sunshine. We chatted for a moment and she signed and personalized my book with charming art and words. Once home, I slipped it on the shelf of my tallest bookcase, full of unread books.
Yesterday, I pulled it off the shelf, saying "This will be a fast read." Indeed. Is there anything better on a rainy day than curling up on the couch with a good book, a warm blanket, a cup of coffee, and a sleepy dog?
Enchanted is indeed enchanting. I loved all the fairy tales woven into the story of this large, loud, messy family. I loved the threads of relationships that wove in and out to create this wild, magical tale. I loved Sunday and Grumble's fast and easy friendship, and Sunday and Rumbold's challenging one. It should be easier to love a frog than a man, perhaps.
One scene that I treasured is Sunday and Trix affirming/reaffirming their sister-brother bond. I hope to learn more of Trix's story later.
The story built to a madcap and frightening (but not too frightening) climax, and a thoroughly satisfying ending.
Well done, Alethea, well done! I'll be looking for you at another con to sign Hero for me, and I won't wait even a few weeks to read it!...more