The thing that makes this book really stand out is its language. I feel like I got to know Philip Marlowe more from the descriptions he uses and the c...moreThe thing that makes this book really stand out is its language. I feel like I got to know Philip Marlowe more from the descriptions he uses and the connections he makes than from his actions.
The "wayward heiress" plot is seedy and convoluted, but that's not really why you should be reading this book in the first place. It's all atmosphere and attitude, and if this is representative of Chandler's books then I'm looking forward to reading more from him.
I was surprised at how much I loved the clipped, descriptive tone. The other stories I've read that seemed to be reaching for a similar style come off as intolerably cheesy, but it feels natural here for the investigator to be homing in on small details and making comparisons. And when the author's using a lot of short, declarative sentences to set a scene, it feels like the way movies sometimes show a crime's aftermath by having the flash of a camera reveal little slices of wrongness before giving us the full picture.
When a kidnapping threatens to spark a war between the land fae and their dangerous cousins from the sea, everyone that October Daye cares about is in...moreWhen a kidnapping threatens to spark a war between the land fae and their dangerous cousins from the sea, everyone that October Daye cares about is in the line of fire.
We get to explore a new area of faerie this time, one that Toby doesn’t know much about. A couple of the established characters have connections to the Undersea, though, which brings up some interesting complications. There are plenty of twists that involve purely land-based drama as well, including several major shocks to both Toby’s surroundings and her personal life.
Toby’s had a lot of roles over the course of these books, and we see her move through most of them here. She often seems to feel out of her depth, but she compensates for that by really putting thought into how to act like the mentor or the countess or the friend that the people around her deserve. It’s nice to see a heroine making that level of effort towards caring for other characters, because sometimes novels get so caught up in saving everyone that the actual relationships fall through the cracks. I read too many books where I’m told how the characters feel about each other without really getting it on a gut level. But in this book, it’s easy to understand why Sylvester would be concerned about Toby even while he’s sick with worry over his daughter. It’s easy to understand why Tybalt is willing to stand up for her.
I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: this is the best urban fantasy series going. The mix of episodic action and ongoing story is spot on, and best of all, the longer-term arcs are really starting to pay off. It’s rare for me to find books that match my ideal pace so consistently. The stakes keep getting raised for Toby, but it happens in a smooth, natural way that doesn’t feel like the author’s just shaking things up without purpose.
This book has some really great emotional moments. It answers some questions and closes the door on a few chapters in October’s life. And like my very favorite series books, it leaves me immediately wanting more.
Justin Caryll, after being raised by a vengeful guardian, travels to England to destroy his birth father for the crime of dishonoring and abandoning h...moreJustin Caryll, after being raised by a vengeful guardian, travels to England to destroy his birth father for the crime of dishonoring and abandoning his late mother.
This is one of my favorite Sabatini books yet. It may be because of my growing addiction to his style, but it's also partly because the female lead in this book is better than I'd expected.
When we first meet Hortensia, she responds to a cruel trick by beating a villain with his own sword. It's awesome. Justin's mixed feelings on what to do about his absent father are still the main focus of the novel, but it's nice to see him falling for a woman that's worth his time.
The story has plenty of excitement, including some interesting social maneuvering and a first-rate duel scene. The twist at the end is predictable, but Justin reveals his newly-discovered information in such an entertaining way that having my suspicions confirmed just made me feel like I was in on the joke.(less)
Late Eclipses hits the ground running with a few shocking developments for our favorite changeling, October Daye, but then Toby’s immediately called t...moreLate Eclipses hits the ground running with a few shocking developments for our favorite changeling, October Daye, but then Toby’s immediately called to see a friend with a suspicious illness. As more fae fall victim to similar complaints, Toby fends off accusations and works to track down an old enemy. She’s caught up in a plot involving revenge, political power, and family intrigue, and not even her most formidable allies can help her with the difficult choice she’ll have to make.
These books keep getting better. I’d say this is the best-paced one of the series, with a solid mix of investigation and action that kept things moving. The world-building continues to be great, it gave good detail about the setting without resorting to tedious info-dumps. One slow-burn subplot took a well-timed turn for the awesome, which, as usual, has me impatient for the next book.
Toby’s grown a lot as a character, but it’s all backed up – unlike some series that seem to change just for change’s sake. Foreshadowing from previous books comes into play here, and while I will say that I suspected something similar to one of the reveals, I didn’t guess it exactly. Considering how predictable urban fantasy has become these days (yes, even among the ones that I like), that makes me a happy reader.
If I have one small complaint, it’s that I’d have liked more reaction, especially more personal reaction, to a particular piece of news from the beginning of the story. I know that Toby got busy pretty damn quick after that, and it’s not as if that part of plot was ignored for the rest of the book. But it was a fairly big deal and I kept expecting to hear more freaking out over it.
Those who are already fans of October Daye will love this one, because it has everything we’ve come to expect. There’s badassery against all odds, sharp humor, tricky fae politics, and unpredictable magic. Also, there’s Tybalt.
Before the Village of the Damned or the Children of the Corn, there was Rhoda Penmark. Rhoda seems like a perfect young lady, but those that get to kn...moreBefore the Village of the Damned or the Children of the Corn, there was Rhoda Penmark. Rhoda seems like a perfect young lady, but those that get to know her well enough eventually start to notice something off about her behavior.
I love that rather than setting things up as a mystery, the reader is left with little doubt about Rhoda's true nature. The story here is more about Rhoda's troubled mother, Christine, and her struggle to both accept the truth and to decide what to do about it.
The other people around Rhoda were also interesting. They were characterized fairly tightly, but each had some significance that made them more than flat "sulky janitor" or "drunken mourner" types. The gossipy neighbor, for example, entertained me because she took pride in her analysis-fueled perceptions of others, but she overlooked everything of importance.
As the original (and still the best) killer child story, this book was influential on the horror genre, but don't expect fast-paced thrills. It's that older kind of scary, the better kind, where everything builds towards inevitable plot points that, even though you see them ahead, you hope won't come to pass.(less)
When Miles Vorkosigan, still dealing with the medical after-effects of his previous adventure, is ordered back to Barrayar, he wonders what type of mi...moreWhen Miles Vorkosigan, still dealing with the medical after-effects of his previous adventure, is ordered back to Barrayar, he wonders what type of mission would be significant enough to recall him home from the Dendarii fleet. The answer tests his dual identity like never before, especially when he's forced to deal with a threat to his mentor, Simon Illyan, as Lord Vorkosigan rather than Admiral Naismith.
Miles thinks back to many of his previous adventures during the story, some things from Borders of Infinity are especially significant. He considers the events and relationships that made him who he is while he struggles with his identity.
Memory is a major theme here, but an even bigger one is change. Nearly every character is dealing with large-scale changes in their circumstances, their relationships, or their aspirations. These changes, especially a major one for Miles, have certainly raised my interest in a series that I was starting to worry might be getting stale.
Somehow, in the middle of all this drama, there's a satisfying intrigue plot as well. If the bare details had been laid out for me, I'd probably have called them predictable. But my suspects were all well-characterized, and the book was also enough of a page-turner to keep me from guessing ahead. That's a rare treat for me when it comes to the mystery aspects of a story, which makes this possibly my favorite Vorkosigan book so far (aside from maybe Shards of Honour, which I love in a different way).(less)
Feed is a near-future thriller about zombies, politics, the internet, viruses, and the news. It takes place in a world where fear and paranoia can be...moreFeed is a near-future thriller about zombies, politics, the internet, viruses, and the news. It takes place in a world where fear and paranoia can be valid survival strategies, because a social gathering, a family pet, or a trip outside of carefully controlled safe zones can lead to disaster. If any of this sounds even a little interesting to you, give it a try.
The main characters are Georgia and Shaun Mason, adoptive siblings who, along with their friend Buffy, are news bloggers hoping to make the big time by covering a presidential campaign. When traveling with the candidate threatens to make Georgia and Shaun part of the story, they're forced to decide if their push for the truth is worth risking it all.
The world-building in Feed really shines. Both the zombies and the way that people have learned to live with them are well thought out. There are a lot of little details that will be especially fun to horror fans, and I enjoyed learning about the rules and conventions that had developed to help keep people safe. I found Georgia easy to sympathize with, Shaun was a little less so but he was a fun character. Things moved along at a page-turning pace, and there were a lot of surprises in store, both in terms of action and emotion.
There were times when I got a little weary of the constant infection testing. I totally get why it was important and some of those scenes were beautifully tense, but it became repetitive to read about. I was left wishing that one quiet but interesting character had played a little more of a definitive role during the end of the book. The wrap-up felt too abrupt, though that could have been because I wanted the book to keep going.
I've seen a few reviews claiming that the book has a misogynistic angle, thanks to one skeezy female politician. I'm a feminist, but I think that the misogyny callout is off the mark here. There are many women present that show various types of strength and power. Georgia is in charge of the team as a whole in addition to managing the hard news section their website. Buffy is a poet but she also runs their equipment, and she's the best technical expert in the entire book. Emily Ryman is an important advocate for what she cares about, and Georgia and Shaun's mother is a badass but publicity-savvy adventurer. The book also has female bodyguards, scientists, and political activists. Yes, there's a stripper politician. But to me that character was a representation of how occasionally ridiculous their media-drenched society had become, and maybe a playful reference to attempted and even successful porn star candidates of our own time.
Underneath the action and the drama and the political circus of the plot there's a solid story that deals with fear and power and sacrifice, and just how much people are willing to take for safety - or at least the illusion of it. Like in all the best zombie movies, the characters here learn that their fellow humans can be even more dangerous than zombies. This is a point that a lot of zombie novels don't express nearly so well, which makes Feed stand out in the genre.(less)
This is a beautiful story about a long-term love affair between an American woman and an English bookshop. I'm not happy at the idea of having to take...moreThis is a beautiful story about a long-term love affair between an American woman and an English bookshop. I'm not happy at the idea of having to take it back to the library.
I love books about books, I love the epistolary style, and I love short, focused memoirs. So I'm a bit shocked that I hadn't heard about this until one of my GR friends reviewed it.
I can tell that I really loved a nonfiction book when it makes me want to do something as a reaction to reading it. This one makes me want to write letters. But the day any of my far away friends got a letter from me, they'd probably just call or email me back.(less)
Monza Murcatto, the infamous mercenary, loses everything after she's double crossed by her employer. Her health, her followers, and the person closest...moreMonza Murcatto, the infamous mercenary, loses everything after she's double crossed by her employer. Her health, her followers, and the person closest to her are all gone. She swears revenge, and begins painfully rebuilding her life based on that one goal. Her drive for vengeance brings unintended consequences, and the chaos caused by her choices eventually takes on a life of its own.
This is a very, very good book, probably my favorite Abercrombie so far. His style may be too harsh for some, but reading something so unapologetically dark is a breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre. The vengeance theme carries through many aspects of character and story, and it's interesting to see the ways that it changes both the people involved and their situations.
There are some good twists here, and even the ones that were a bit obvious were still handled skillfully enough to be interesting. The ending wraps things up in a way that's more solid and satisfying than Last Argument of Kings.
It's set in the same world as the author's earlier books, and some minor characters from those reappear here. But it holds up just fine as a standalone work. Reading this before the trilogy that starts with The Blade Itself will result in some minor spoilers, but nothing serious enough to ruin your enjoyment if you read this before the other three. (less)
With the large cast and a lot of twisty plots, this book could easily have become muddy. It's not uncommon for me to hate novels that jump around so o...moreWith the large cast and a lot of twisty plots, this book could easily have become muddy. It's not uncommon for me to hate novels that jump around so often between so many characters. But thankfully Joe Abercrombie is a strong writer when it comes to perspective. This book could shift from one viewpoint character to another person in the same group, and the change was instantly recognizable.
The reader is starting to get a sense of how the war and various other schemes are related, and I'm loving that. I also liked how the book continued to surprise me, even when I thought I understood the way that things were going.(less)