I've looked forward to reading MR. REAL for months, and enjoyed it even more than I expected (and I love Carolyn's Disillusionists series). The develoI've looked forward to reading MR. REAL for months, and enjoyed it even more than I expected (and I love Carolyn's Disillusionists series). The development of the three main characters is handled deftly, and I love what she did with the character arcs. A complete delight, with touches of laugh-out-loud humor and a skillfully executed narrative. ...more
Queen of the World was very charming and enjoyable and easily held my attention. Hennessy is an adept, natural writer. The characters -- especially S Queen of the World was very charming and enjoyable and easily held my attention. Hennessy is an adept, natural writer. The characters -- especially Sarene and her gruff and loyal guardian Kanderil -- are people you want to be with, and they have strong, believable arcs. I don't want to give anything away, but the monster assassin Spasmodic is a fun character, built for violence and wielding a smart mouth.
The Four, a corrupt, all-powerful faction who have not been seen for five hundred years, are a daunting foe. They're after Sarene because she -- a mute, pure-hearted girl -- presents a major threat to them. There are various bands of assassins after Sarene, a young girl who has relied on her brother and Kanderil to fight on her behalf. She acts admirably leading up to her act three resolve to stop hiding behind others. Kanderil is a near-giant of a man and no fan of bustling towns. He has an intriguing past, and is a formidable protector. "composure was one of his strong points."
There are touches of humor throughout, mostly from Spasmodic (who speaks in British slang), but also from other characters, e.g.:
One arm came to his first chin, tapping his finger against the firmest point. "If I *were* to have a tunnel, then where would I put it…"
"If you're tricking me," Jared said, "I'll send you back to the pit you came from." "Actually came from a table," replied Spasmodic.
"Even so, I dislike having vital information concerning Sarene's whereabouts tied to a pigeon."
I enjoyed the descriptions of the homey interiors and of life on the road. Hennessy has a lot of nice worldbuilding detail and sharp descriptions that really make this setting seem real, e.g.:
The two horses had been unharnessed and were creeping at the ground with broad, flat teeth, hunting the slim pickings of grass.
A few of the character names were a bit too similar to the group they aligned with (or used to align with) and there was a brief part in the last quarter of the book involving ancillary characters where I didn't feel as connected, but maybe a second read would be different. Also, my ebook version had some minor formatting problems, which the publisher fixed in an update, though it wasn't bothersome enough for me to get it. Overall, this book was very enjoyable and well-written, with strong characters. I look forward to the continuance of this as a series, and highly recommend it for adults and young adults. ...more
A lyrical, unusual, engrossing book with similarities to The Iliad. The Black God's War deserves attention, and his follow-up is a must-read for me. YA lyrical, unusual, engrossing book with similarities to The Iliad. The Black God's War deserves attention, and his follow-up is a must-read for me. You can read more thorough synopses elsewhere, but one side of a war believes in gods; the other is a Buddhist-like culture that believes in karma, and the characters in conflict are fascinating and relatable. The scenes of battle are beautifully done (though his characters are the strong point) and remind me of the Punic Wars and Hannibal. Well-written and edited, with a lovely note to the reader at the end.
The Troupe by Robert J Bennett is a beautifully wrought coming-of-age story about what it means to have a life well lived. It's about the pain and theThe Troupe by Robert J Bennett is a beautifully wrought coming-of-age story about what it means to have a life well lived. It's about the pain and the glory of existence. It's about the connections we have to other people: the lengths to which we'll go to keep someone around out of selfishness; the yearning of wanting to connect but letting duty (and maybe cowardice) stand in your way; the sorrow and regret of knowing that you mistreated someone, didn't get to love them, and have it be too late; the hard-won wisdom of going where others will accept you the way you are. It is about the sins of vanity and pride, and how we can overcome them. It is a love story between father and son. And underlying all of it is a well-formed structure.
I read Gifts of the Blood months ago and thought I had written a review. It turns out that I didn't post it, but I still remember 'Gifts' vividly.
'GiI read Gifts of the Blood months ago and thought I had written a review. It turns out that I didn't post it, but I still remember 'Gifts' vividly.
'Gifts' was so enjoyable -- you're in assured hands with Vicki Keire. Caspia is a wonderful heroine. She's vulnerable but strong. She's running herself ragged and just wants to feel safe -- but she's kind to people. She's intelligent and emotional. She's also an artist, so her descriptions come out of that perspective. I loved this, and thought it was done beautifully.
"The lines of his features demanded pencil rather than coarse graphite or charcoal."
"I would paint him this way, lost and murderous and hurt and stunning, in blood red leather and shadows."
Keire draws you into this world completely with her immersive and finely-drawn sensory details, especially with Caspia's heightened sense of touch since she meets Ethan. "A soft chill like ice and mint brushed my neck".
I also loved the small southern town of Whitfield. It will remind you of Star's Hollow (a small fictional northern town). Though Caspia doesn't think the town has any secrets, there is much more behind the surface than she realizes. "Most people my age were desperate to escape to bigger cities and faster lives. Instead, I loved my strange little town with its eclectic businesses open all kinds of odd hours".
There is some wry humor throughout 'Gifts', e.g. "But cats. That's too much, somehow. It's just…wrong. Bad enough they can think and reason. But if they can communicate? Next they'll want things. Special treatment, a voice in government. Where does it end?"
Highly recommended, certainly for YA (though this is definitely a cut above similar books). Another reviewer said it was 'eloquent' and 'vivid.' I agree. And writers who want to incorporate more sensory description in their own work could take some tips from 'Gifts.'
"How could a stupid boring bureaucratic government job have turned so quickly into a life of supernatural weirdness and crime?"
Department of Magic' wa"How could a stupid boring bureaucratic government job have turned so quickly into a life of supernatural weirdness and crime?"
Department of Magic' was very enjoyable and quite funny, with great details, memorable characters, and fun set pieces. I recommend it for urban fantasy readers who want something a little different; also fantasy readers who are politics wonks and don't mind reading about a reanimated George Washington. You should also check out Kierkegaard's terrific Family Cursemas, a contemporary takeoff on the traditional Agatha Christie-esque house mystery.
The Color of Magic is the first Discworld book, and though I prefer his later works like Mort or Hogfather, 'Magic' was delightful and certainly had iThe Color of Magic is the first Discworld book, and though I prefer his later works like Mort or Hogfather, 'Magic' was delightful and certainly had its moments. An awkward wizard must serve as guide to a cheerful subject of the Emperor, the first Discworld tourist, who wishes to see exciting Morporkian life, e.g. the Whore Pits and a real tavern brawl. At stake is the fate of the city of Ankh-Morpork itself, and Rincewind's own life ("otherwise you will die. In an interesting fashion".)
Death, my favorite Discworld character, makes a number of appearances, speaking in "tones as deep and heavy as the slamming of leaden doors, far underground". Together, the fretful wizard and the unconcerned tourist have a series of adventures, including a pirate ship that came precariously close to a chasm that was so reputedly evil that "even the krakens went there fearfully, and in pairs". ...more
We can all relate to Lovecraftian themes of human powerlessness in an indifferent, possibly malevolent universe -- where we fight to keep even a feeblWe can all relate to Lovecraftian themes of human powerlessness in an indifferent, possibly malevolent universe -- where we fight to keep even a feeble grip on our sanity in the face of unutterable cosmic horrors. In 'Chasing the Moon,' Martinez's eighth book, we're not alone in this. Humans may be a "clueless race of cosmic microbes," but the eldritch horrors are no less lost and confused. It is empathy that helps us all survive and even thrive in a world beyond our understanding.
Diana Malone gets a jaw-dropping good deal of an apartment. The building, however, is multidimensional, and comes with a monster, Vom the Hungering, who wants to devour her. Attendant to her new status as a beacon to interdimensional beings, Diana acquires a number of eldritch hop-ons (Michael Bluth: "You're gonna get hop-ons"). These include Unending Smorgaz, a rubber hedgehog who spawns clones of himself; and Zap, a tentacled eyeball who sees the secrets of the universe.
Humans are not that different from Vom the Hungering (as Graham Elliot has said on MasterChef: "I wish I had two mouths to eat this") or any other eldritch horror. We struggle against our limbic drives and primal natures every day (as Danny Trejo has said: "Here's a fact: The bottom line to any argument is murder"). No one in 'Moon' -- not humans nor those who eat galaxies nor those who eat civilizations nor the incomprehensible universe itself -- has any control over their fate.
Though 'Moon' sets itself apart with its exploration of keeping equanimity in a universe beyond your control, it's fun, imaginative, humane, and packed with endearing and credible characters like his other novels. But what it comes down to is this: If you like discussions of Hanna-Barbera cartoons and the idea of fixing the boiler to keep the insect apocalypse at bay, you'll like this book....more