Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison


So the fantasy world has been abuzz about this book for the past few months and I was lucky enough to win a copy - a hardcover copy, no less - from My Bookish Ways. Katherine Addison is the pen name of an author I had previously read and enjoyed by the name of Sarah Monette, so I was sufficiently intrigued and at the same time reassured.

I haven't seen The Goblin Emperor referred to as YA book, but YA it is. I don't usually read YA, finding them a little to 'easy' and 'black & white' in their problem solving and outcomes and I did indeed get that feel here. It is definitely a good read though, despite my possible bias or antipathy towards YA in general.

I had one HUGE problem though, and it kept me from giving this book 4 stars or even 4.5.

Let me begin by saying that the worldbuilding was EXCELLENT. The blurb indicates that we are going to get steampunk elves and that sounded delightful to me. The steampunk elements, however, were somewhat sparse although very important. The airship that explodes and crashes, setting our story in motion, the bridge that is a very important point of contention, the pneumatic message system in the sprawling 'castle' of the emperor, this was about it but it was enough to give the tale a steampunkish flavour.

So, be that as it may, the thing that caused me trouble were the names! The character names, the family names, the faction names, the department names, the place names. I'm all for things being different to give the story a foreign air, but when I can't remember who is who and if they belong to that family or that clan or maybe that's just the name of their family estate and damn, I can't even tell if this is a woman or a man. I STILL can't recall the name of Maia's eventual betrothed! There is A Listing of Persons, Places, Things and Gods in the back of the book, but half the names or words that I looked up thinking they were names, weren't there. (Maybe it's easier for a Young Adult than an Old Lady like me.) At any rate, I don't like having to interrupt the flow of my reading to look up things like that.

But that being said, I enjoyed the tale of Maia and he became the emperor of The Elflands in name and then in fact. I liked his inner dialogue a lot and found it quite reasonable that a boy brought up as he was would be that thoughtful and reflective. I liked him. I also liked the people that surrounded him, his guards, his secretary, his valets and the friends he began to make along the way. (My favourite was Beshelar, the proper, stoic, soldierly half of Maia's first set of guards.)

Katherine's writing kept me turning the pages - just a bit more, just a bit more, just a bit more... you know how that goes. :) The mystery of who was behind the murder of Maia's father and brothers probably should have been obvious to me, but it wasn't. I can't say that I was surprised, but at the 'reveal' I was all head-nodding and "of coursing" under my breath. Oh, I also got a kick out of Maia's grandfather.

So it was a fun read. Interesting. Not as intricate as I was expecting (all the intricacy got used up in the naming conventions, I think!) but I enjoyed it.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson


Repairman Jack - Book 1

So a bunch of my buddies recommended the Repairman Jack novels to me and I finally decided to take the plunge. This was so not what I was expecting. *LOL* And that's not a bad thing, really! :)

So Repairman Jack is the guy that fixes things for a price. He lives off the radar, far off the radar and only his best friend Abe knows what he's really about. He's broken up with his girlfriend, Gia.. or should I say, she broke up with him when he confessed some of what he does to her. He misses Gia and her little girl Vicky very, very much. Vicky, by the way, is a Westphalen through her father, and either her grandfather or great-grandfather did something that set in motion a sequence of vengeance-filled events that are meant to culminate in her murder. And thereby hangs the tale

You know what this felt like? And Indiana Jones type adventure. :) There are monsters and rituals and myths and talismans and non-western gods... all the things that are necessary for a good pulpy horror-adventure. There are fires, explosions, guns, daggers, poisons and all kinds of things including eyes that glow in the dark.

Once I got past the first couple of chapters, I began to get more invested in the character of Jack and the book began to move along quite nicely. Was it 'scary'? Nope. Suspenseful? Some, yeah. Mystery? There is some, but to be honest, there were no surprises for me, I had sussed it all out from the beginning, but then again, maybe I'm supposed to. :) There were some flashes of humour that I quite enjoyed, especially concerning Jack's friend, Abe. Very, very quirky and I like him.

The ending? Well, it was a bit teeth-gnashing because I know there are more stories of Repairman Jack to come and it sort of leaves you suspended. But if I didn't know there were others? I'd be impressed by the almost ambiguous finality of it.

My friend, Ginette, wanted me to fall in love with Jack. I'm not there yet, but I did come to like him a helluva lot, especially in the final chapters. Will I read more? I most certainly will. It was a fun, Saturday afternoon matinee type of read and those are always enjoyable. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood


Phryne Fisher Mysteries - Book 1

I had started this book last summer and then set it aside when something else arrived that I had to read Right This Instant. I can't remember what that other one was, but it's really too bad of me that I didn't get back to Cocaine Blues before now because I really, really enjoyed it.

The book is set in 1920's Australia, not your everyday setting, but an era that I especially find fascinating. And the heroine, Miss Phryne (pronounced as Fry-knee) Fisher is a bright, liberated, funny woman of independent means. She's off to Australia as a favour to a friend, checking on the friend's daughter who he fears is being poisoned, or something equally as heinous, by her husband. We get to meet all kinds of wonderful characters; Dot, Phryne's maid who is as proper as Phryne is not, Bert and Cec who supply friendly muscle, Sasha, the Russian dancer and Phryne's sometime lover, and many more who are each more colourful than the last.

The mystery is full of twists and turns and the author doesn't give anything away. When the main villain was ultimately unmasked, I was all, "Oh really? Well, of course it was!" Very satisfying. :)

When people speak of a book being a romp, they're speaking of books like this. Cocaine Blues is indeed a romp and I will indeed be reading more of this series.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Daylight Again by SE Jakes


Hell or High Water - Book 3

I love this series. Even the times I find myself confused and wondering if I missed something along the way, I still love this series. :)

In this installment of the adventures of Prophet and Tommy and their merry gang of tough nuts, we move ever closer to the ultimate showdown between Prophet and John, his onetime best friend and lover, although I tend to think that it's going to be more of showdown between John and Tommy. Both men, Proph and Tom, have continued to grow into their relationship, but it's by no means an easy fit a lot of the time.

I love Prophet to bits, with all his quirks and moodiness and prickliness and orneriness although I do wish that he'd be a wee bit more open with Tommy if ONLY so that I get a clue of what's going on sometimes. *LOL* I think there's a shorthand in this series that I'm not quite fluent in, but oddly enough it doesn't hamper my enjoyment. I have the trust that all will become clear at some point. My confusion is more about the missions and the backgrounds of the missions, I think, and I wonder if that's a result of there being a plot arc that spans all the books and maybe I'm not getting enough 'refresher' information in the current book to recall the details from books 1 or 2 or one of the novellas. That's the main reason that I didn't give this book an extra half star.

The sex is hot, the banter between the men is fun and the situations tense - all in all a very good read. I do find myself chuckling over the idea of the whole top-drawer team being comprised of gay members - and who are getting all partnered up - but hey, it's fiction. :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Threshold by Jordan L. Hawk


Whyborne and Griffin - Book 2

is the second book of the Whyborne and Griffin series and it sees our heroes travelling to the mining town of Threshold at the behest (sort of) of Whyborne's father. They take the indomitable Christine with them. Once at the town, we meet, among others, Elliot, an old friend of Griffin from his Pinkerton days who Whyborne eyes with a very jealous eye.

There are myths and monsters galore in this volume, along with some puzzling cave writings and missing people. There are also some wonderful intimate scenes between our heroes as well as some rather immature arguments. I realise that since the book is written from the first person POV of Whyborne, we are going to be seeing things his way... that is naive and emotionally immature, I guess, but I wasn't fond of the way both he and Griffin sometimes sounded like 12 year old girls. After the events of the first book of the series I would have thought them beyond some of it.

I wasn't thrilled with the choice of monsters. It came across as 1950's bad sci-fi/horror tropish to me. Plan 9 from Outer Space or something along those lines. *LOL* I did however, enjoy the climax of the book and the 'disposal' of the monsters. I loved how Whyborne came into his own, for a while at least, and took charge of things and I appreciated how he used his burgeoning power/spells to help. I did feel that Christine got better shrift in this novel than Griffin did, to be honest. The secrets that Elliot spilled about Griffin's past were intriguing and I would have hoped for more in depth about that, but I notice that the third book seems to delve into Griffin's family and past, so maybe I'll get that then. (I never read free chapters or excerpts, all I allow myself is the official blurb, so...)

So, all in all, I am very fond of these characters and while the plot of this book could have been better IMO, I still enjoyed my read.

Ah... Marketing

So it looks like there is a reissue of the Mistborn trilogy with new cover art... so the tweens will buy it? 

I'm guessing anyone over the age of 18 doesn't matter anymore.

I'm a browser in a bookstore and I wander about looking at the books, picking up the ones with intersting covers and I have to say, these covers would make me walk right by.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Heidi Says It Best

So... Big news in the romance publishing world today and it's been reported in fashions from the ridiculous to the well, not actually close to sublime. Heidi Cullinan posted her thoughts about it and as always, it's a terrific post.

I admire, appreciate, adore this woman.