Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Final Post

I've decided to stop posting reviews here, for two reasons: 1) I can't think of anything useful to say about a book half the time, and 2) I started this to make money off the google ads and amazon store, and it hasn't worked.

So, I'll just leave you with one of my favorite webcomics, Unshelved:

If I've done it right, this comic should update whenever they update the strip, so check back often (if you want). And why not buy their books?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

For a Few Demons More, by Kim Harrison

For a Few Demons More is book five of the "The Hollows" series. This is the first book in the series that I haven't been able to get in an omnibus edition, but that doesn't mean I don't like it. I thought it was pretty good. (If you're wondering why I haven't reviewd any of the other books, it's because I've stopped reviewing book club omnibuses.)

I love the main characters in these books: Rachel, the gutsy and tough witch; Ivy, the seriously messed up lesbian vampire; and Jenks the fiesty and funny (male) pixie. Plus there's Trent (the Elf crime lord), Big Al (the demon), Kisten (Rachel's vampire boyfriend), and quite a few more. Besides the interesting characters, there's a lot of action, which I always like in my books.

The only problem I have with this book is the plot. It's all over the place. I really think it would be better off if the plot were divided between to books instead of one. I'll give you a synopsis, so maybe you can see what I mean.

A demon named Newt shows up Rachel's home looking for something. Rachel thinks it might be the cursed statue she picked up in the last book (it allows werewolves to turn humans into werewolves). Meanwhile someone is killing werewolves and Rachel gets involved in the investigation. Trent is getting married and Rachel is asked to provide security. At the wedding practice she sees Big Al (another demon), who she is known to have associated with in the past. Al goes on a rampage. The vampire lord Piscary is released from prison to deal with Al. Piscary kidnaps Ivy. Then ther's still more stuff that I won't reveal because it would be a spoiler.

While it is all tied together, I can't help but think the story would be better if the cursed statue/werewolf killer and Big Al/Piscary plotlines were in two seperate books so the could be fleshed out more. Even so, I don't think it was bad, and in fact I think it was a pretty good book.

I give For a Few Demons More four yo-yos.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

If you haven't at least started reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet, most likely your not a fan of the series of you're on the space station. I'm going to review it anyway, though.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the forces of evil are in ascendance. Voldemort's forces can do pretty much whatever they want, and pretty soon the Ministry of Magic is their puppet. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on a quest to find and destroy the Horcruxes, which ultimately leads to the final battle with Lord Voldemort.

I though this was a very satisfying ending for the series. Most of the plot threads have been tied up. There's lots of good action and some character development. We learn something of the history of Dumbeldore and Snape. We learn what the heck a "Deathly Hallow" is. We find out who dies, and who Hermione hooks up with. We even get to see some of the less pleasant characters in a new light.

The only thing I didn't like was the epilogue. It's set (I believe) nineteen years after the main action, and shows some of the characters sending their children to Hogwarts. I won't get into details (to avoid spoiling it), but it didn't really add much to the story and was boring.

Despite that, this was a great book. I give Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a full five yo-yos.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Blood & rust, by S. A. Swiniarski

Blood and Rust is a nice little omnibus. It contains two vampire dective stories. The first one, Raven, is about a man who is trying to figure out how he was killed and turned into a vampire. The second, The Flesh, the Blood, and the Fire, is about the hunt for the Cleveland Torso Killer.

I thought these books were great. Both of the stories feature vampiric antiheroes, but both avoid all that vampire sex appeal stuff. The vampires are still all to human, though some of them are monsters.

Anyway, I give Blood and Rust five yo-yos, and I'll have to look for some more of his stuff.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Widdershins, by Charles de Lint

I'll admit that I'm a big fan of de Lint's work, especially the Newford stories, and especially especially ones with Jilly Coppercorn in them. So naturally--seeing as how this is a Jilly Coppercorn book--I loved this one.

This is the story of how Jill and Geordie finally get together (and how Jilly is finally healed from the tragic events of The Onion Girl and her own screwed up childhood). It's also a story about responsibility--almost all of the characters have something to learn about taking responsibilty for what they do and about not taking responsibility for what is done to them.

Besides that, it's also exciting. There's a war shaping up between the native Animal People and the Fairies. Unfortunately, this brings up the only problem I have with the book and much of de Lint's recent works. It's not a major problem, but I'll still mention it anyway. He has a need to constantly bring out the "big guns." Lately a lot of the action has focused on the super powerful spirit being like the Animal People and fairies, especially the uber powerful ones like Raven and the Crow Girls. It's not really a bad thing, but if you want a story where a person struggles against adversity, it's probably more realistic if they on't have a bunch of god-like beings as friends.

Still, this is a great book. I give Widdershins a full five yo-yos.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thriller, edited by James Patterson

The main reason I bought the Thriller anthology is because it contains a Repairman Jack short story. As a rule, I don't read a lot of books that would be classified as a thriller. Still, I largely enjoyed this collection.

I won't get into detail on each story, but I will point out some of the high- (and low-)points. I like F. Paul Wilson's "Interlude at Duane's," but then I like most of his Repairman Jack stories. J. A. Konrath's "Epitaph," was pretty damn good, too. I like Heather Graham's "The Face in the Window," because it was suspenseful.There were some vaguely supernatural elements in David Dun's "Spirit Walker," which makes it border-line fantasy. I really liked Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child's "Gone Fishing." The only story I didn't like so much was Dennis Lynds' "Success of Mission," and even that wasn't bad; it just felt out of place, because it was written in the sixties and the other stories were written specifically for this anthology.

Over all, I highly recommend this book. I give Thriller four yo-yos.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Politics of the Imagination, by Colin Bennett

I'm really not sure what to say about Politics of the Imagination: The Life, Work and Ideas of Charles Fort. Despite its title, it's not really a biography of Charles Fort. It's more of an analysis of his ideas and their place in modern society, especially in relation to how science and the moder, consumer culture are trying to destroy imagination (or something). To be honest, I'm not entirely certain that I grasped the book. It kind of confused me, so, despite the fact that I liked it, I'm not actually going to rate it. I'll just say that it was certainly enlightening.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stolen, by Kelly Armstrong

I decided to put off reading the POD book for the time being. I started reading the first chapter, but the writing style put me off. Seriously people, if you're writing a series and you want to include back story in volume two, put it in a prologue, so people can skip over it.

Anyway, the latest book I read is Stolen by Kelly Armstrong. It's volume two of the "Women of the Otherworld" series. As with volume one, it focuses on Elena, the only female werewolf.

In this book, Elena is kidnapped by a billionaire, who is keeping supernaturals prisoner so his pet scientist can study them. The rich dude is also a bit of a psycho and like to hunt and kill the supernaturals for sport.

It's a good book. I like the characters. I like the writing. I love the action. It's a good book, but I can't think of a lot to say about it.

I give Stolen a full five yo-yos.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bitten, by Kelly Armstrong

I started off in reading the middle of the Women of the Otherworld series., mainly because Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic were available in cheap $5 copies. Now I decided to go back and start at the beginning of the series with Bitten . This book tells the story of the only female werewolf. It's also full of action, which I always like.

Elena, the female werewolf, is a member of the Pack, which is sort of the governing body of werewolves. Non-Pack members are called mutts, and are looked down on by the Pack. In this book, one of the mutts shows up in the Pack's territory and starts killing people. Elena, and the rest of the Pack, have to track him down and kill him.

There's quite a bit more to the story too. We get to see Elena trying to fit in to the human world, and not really succeeding as well as she wishes. We also get to see her struggling to finally come to terms with her lycanthropy, and to figure out which man she really loves.

These are great books and are highly recommended. I give Bitten a full five yo-yos. Up next, I'll hopefully get around to reading that POD I got a review copy of, but I might end up reading the seqal to Bitten.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Black Tea Experiments, by Ray Atkinson

I love getting things for free. So, when a publicist offered too send me review copies of two books, I jumped at the chance. Once I got the books, there were some warning signs that the quality might not be too high. One of the books was obviously POD book, and the other (which I'm reviewing today) was published by a "publisher" who's on Writer Beware's "Two Thumbs Down" publisher's list and is strongly not recommended by Preditor's & Editors.

The Black Tea Experiments calls itself an "airplane book," by which the writer means it's intended to be picked up at an airport bookstore, and is short enough to be read during a single flight. If that's what your looking for, then I would recommend this book. It does have an original plot and interesting characters, which can make it a fun read.

The plot goes like this: there's a Russian mad scientist/mob boss who made a serum that turned some kids into super-geniuses and altered their blood. One of these kids gets murdered on a college campus and the hero's girlfriend is blamed. Somehow the hero's super-dooper telescope managed to catch pictures of the crime. It's fairly interesting.

Unfortunately the book has some major style problems. There is way too much extraneous information. It seems like every character (major & minor) gets his own little backstory or side story, which distracts from the main plot. Then there's the fact that the POV keeps shifting from one character to another with no warning. Hell, it shifts from one character in the main plot to another character's back- or side story with no warning. There are also quit a few typos and word misuses like this one:
Your Honor, the defendant has been discovered on a security camera leaving the library with the decendent...

I suspect the author meant deceased. Also, the dialog is pretty bad in spots.

I can only give The Black Tea Experiments three yo-yos. I hope the POD book is better, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher

I've managed to get quite a few books lately, one of which is Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher. It's the eight Dresden Files Book.

I love the Dresden Files books (the show not so much). Since I've reviewed vols. 1-7 in omnibus editions, I can't think of anything new to say about this one that I haven't said about the others, except that I like the way Dresden's character is developing.

It's a good book. I give Proven Guilty five yo-yos.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dominic Deegan Volume Two: Ecstasy and Evil, by Michael "Mookie" Terracciano

I got my copy of Dominic Deegan volume two today. I just love Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire

This volume covers chapters 10 & 11. It's a great story, and it has commentary by the author. The only bad thing is "A Brief History of the Strange Life of Szark Sturtz." In his about the author bio, Mookie says that he's quite bad at prose writing, and now I know why. Still, he's great at writing comics. This is well worth picking up from the Seer's Catalog.

I give Dominic Deegan Volume Two a full five yo-yos.

Shadows Linger, by Glen Cook

I read the first Black Company novel a few months back, and liked it enough to get the second one, Shadows Linger. I didn't like this one quite as much. I didn't think it was bad, but I didn't think it was great either.

For one thing, the chapters are too damn short. There are forty nine chapters, and only 319 pages in the book. That works out to an average of 7.5952381 pages per chapter. This is especially annoying because the viewpoint alternated between two characters from chapter to chapter. So every couple of pages it would switch from one character (Croaker) to the other (Shed).

I also didn't really like the characters that much. They came across as a bunch of thugs. The best one was Shed, and he murdered (and maybe worse than murdered) several people.

On the plus side, there was lots of action. It was good enough for me to give the book three and a half yo-yos.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wizard at Large, by Jim Butcher

Wizard At Large is the third Dresden Files Omnibus put out by the Science Fiction Book Club. It contains Blood Rites and Dead Beat. It is so cool.

Blood Rites is a strange tale involving sex vampires, a porno movie, and a deadly curse. It managed to keep me enthralled. Dead Beat was probably my favorite Dresden novel yet. I just couldn't put the book down. I was up until almost 3 last night reading it. It's got zombies (including a zombie dinosaur), necromancers, a ninja ghoul, a demoness, and other cool stuff. Harry Dresden finally gets some respect from the Whit Council in it, too. I just loved it.

That's why I give this particular omnibus a full five stars.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Industrial Magic, by Kelly Armstrong

Industrial Magic is the sequel to Dime Store Magic, which I just reviewed a few posts back. Like it's predecessor, this is a great book. I will definitely pick up th rest of the books in the Women of the Otherworld Series.

I like the characters. I like the plot. I like the mafia-like Cabals. I like the psychotic killer. I like the mystery elements. I like that I only payed $4.99 for it. What else can I say? Not much really.

So, let's just sum it up by giving Industrial Magic four and a half yo-yos.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Last Aerie, by Brian Lumley

The Last Aerie was a pretty good book. I didn't think it was quite as good as Blood Brothers, but I liked it. I'm not really sure what else to say about it. It was a good continuation of the storyline, and I'll certainly pick up the final volume of the trilogy if I can. So, I'll just sum up my feelings by giving this book four yo-yos.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dime Store Magic, by Kelly Armstrong

I mainly picked up Dime Store Magic and its sequel, Industrial Magic because they were only $4.99. Now that I finally had the chance to read it, I'm glad I did.

I loved this book. The writing style is great. The characters are interesting. The plot is fast paced. There's action and romance. It's a sort of urban fantasy, which is my favorite type of fantasy. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Industrial Magic, and I'll probably pick up the rest of the books in the series.

I'm keeping this review short, because it's late and I'm tired. I'll just finish off by giving Dime Store Magic a full five yo-yos.

Khai of Khem, by Brian Lumley

I got a remaindered hardcover copy of Khai of Khem from Barnes & Noble for only $6. It's a good book, though I found the structure a bit annoying.

It's about a guy named Khai. He's a general of the armies of Khush. He was originally from Khem, but the pharaoh of Khem--who's a psychotic alien/human hybrid--murdered his family. Now Khai seeks revenge. Unfortunately, his soul is separated from his body and is propelled into the modern world. Somehow this enables him to go back to his own time with knowledge of iron weapons (this is set in the bronze age), chariots, and saddles.

The story starts with him getting his soul separated by evil necromancers. Then we see him in the modern world. Then we see his life story n the ancient world (during which time he knows stuff from the future world for no apparent reason). Then the story catches up to the beginning and his soul is drawn back from the future. Then comes the final battle with the pharaoh and his evil necromancers.

I'm really not sure how Khai knows about iron before his soul travels to the future. It just doesn't make any sense to me. It's still a good story though. Good enough for Khai of Khem to get four yo-yos.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Gilfeather, by Glenda Larke

I read The Aware
, volume one of the Isles of Glory, back when I was feeling too lazy to write reviews. I loved it, and now I just finished volume two, Gilfeather.

It's a great book. I love the characters. There's Blaze Halfbreed, a female warrior who has no place in the world because she is a half-breed. There's Flame, the beautiful sylv user who is being slowly tainted by the evil dunmagic. And there's Kelwyn Gilfeather, the naive physician who is thrust into a life of adventure that he doesn't particularly want.

The novel is told entirely in the first person, which is bad if done poorly and great if done well. In this case, it's done well. Most of the story is narrated by Gilfeather, and we see a lot of his inner struggle to come to terms with what he's done (he kills his wife in the first chapter), with the magics that he cannot see and doesn't believe in, and with his own repressed adventurous nature. The rest of the novel is narrated by Blaze who, while less conflicted, is also a very interesting person.

The plot is great too. There's lots of action. There's a great, well-imagined world. I'll definitely read book three as soon as I can get it.

I give Gilfeather a full five yo-yos.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Flight of the Nighthawks, by Raymond E. Feist

I'm not terribly familiar with the works of Raymond E. Feist, which made Flight of the Nighthawks something of a pain to read. I do have one of his other novels in my library (though I can't recall if I actually read it or not) and one of his stories was in Legends II, but I really don't know much of the backstory that would have made Nighthawks more enjoyable. As far as I can make out, about 90% of the characters are from previous books, and the plot revolves around incidents from the previous books. Since I'm not familiar with any of this, the book was awfully confusing in parts, which is very annoying in a book that's part one of a series.

If it wasn't for this, I'd give the book a high rating. The characters were interesting, and the plot was action-packed--both of which are things I love in a book. Feist's writing style is pretty good, and the pacing in excellent. It's probably a good book if you're a fan of his writing.

Since I haven't read his other books, I can't give it a good recommendation. If you've read his other books, go for it. If you haven't, you should probably read his other ones first. Since this is the beginning of a new series, it's annoying that it begins in the middle of a greater story. Because of this, I can only give Flight of the Nighthawks three yo-yos.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Voice of the Gods, by Trudi Canavan

I have now read the final volume of Trudi Canavan's Age of the Five Trilogy, Voice of the Gods. As a whole, it isn't as good as her Black Magician Trilogy, but it's still pretty good.

As far as this book goes, it has it's good points and it's bad points. It does explain how come there is a set of ex-conjoined twins where one's male and one's female (the male had a sex change), though it's only briefly mentioned in passing almost as an afterthought (probably just to explain the blunder from the last book). The plot is pretty fast paced, and I love the characters. It's not particularly deep, but it is a fun read.

One thing I don't like is that the characters are all pretty dumb. Say you're a Circlian. You worship five gods, who killed all of the other gods off a hundred years ago or so. Now suddenly another religion, called the Pentadrians, pops up. They also worship exactly five gods. Everyone wonders where these five new gods come from, but no one (until almost the end of the last book) ever stops to think that maybe their the same gods, just playing some inscrutable godly games. Sheesh. I had that figured out before the end of the first book. I also had it figured out the the reason the gods hated the immortal Wilds is because immortals can become gods, but somehow this came as a shock to the characters.

It's a bit annoying, but it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the story. I give Voice of the Gods four yo-yos.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Blood Brothers, by Brian Lumley

I finally decided to buy a use copy of Brian Lumley's Blood Brothers, which seems to have gone out of print (as far as I can see, none of the other books in the series are). This is the first volume of the Vampire World Trilogy, which chronicles the story of Harry Keogh's twin suns, Nathan and Nestor, in the alternate universe where the vampire menace was spawned.

Both boys take after their father. Unfortunately, Nestor seems to have all of his father's worst qualities and ends up becoming Wamphyri. Nathan's a much better sort and goes around befriending people and learning. I like the characters. I like the plot (it has lots of action). I like the opening, despite its flaws.

The opening is a recap of past events, a mini-biography of Shaitan (the first vampire), and a history of how a vampire colony was founded across the desert from the inhabited parts of the vampire world. Normally, putting that kind of stuff at the beginning of a book would annoy me, but it was so well written that I didn't care.

This is probably the best book in the Necroscope series, except for the original. I give Blood Brothers a full five yo-yos.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Coming of Bill, by P. G. Wodehouse

One of things I really like about LibraryThing is that it enabled me to discover that there was an Overlook Press edition of a P. G. Wodehouse novel I didn't already own: The Coming of Bill. It's not his best book, but it isn't his worst by any means.

It's very different from his usual style. The back cover describes it as "The nearest Wodehouse ever came to writing a serious story," which is essentially true. Two characters die in the story. A couple gets together, gets married, has a baby, nearly gets divorced, and the gets back together again. In many ways, it's a sort of social commentary.

That's not to say that it isn't funny, because it is funny. There were several places where I laughed out loud. There are several of Wodehouse's standard character types: a butler (in this case Keggs who appeared in several other Wodehouse books), a meddling aunt, a boxer, and a business tycoon. This book has much to recommend it.

It's not quite as funny as some of Wodehouse's better known works, but it still is funny. The story is more serious than is typical for Wodehouse, but not detrimentally so. Really, The Coming of Bill deserves four and a halfyo-yos.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Old Man Crow, by Charles de Lint

I've always been a fan of Charles de Lint's books. Unfortunately, a lot of his stuff has (so far) only been released by smaller presses (largely Subterranean Press), which charge way more than the larger publishers. This makes it difficult for poor people like me to get ahold of them. Still, I got a decent sized refund from the IRS and used some of it to get the relatively inexpensive ($18) Old Man Crow.

It's a great story. It's about one of the animal people, who was a crow dreaming that he's a man, but has become a man who dreams that he's a crow. It's a great story. Sadly, it's only 32 pages long.

Normally I'd give a story I liked this much a five, but I think $18 is way too much to pay for a 32 page book even if it is a limited edition by one of my favorite writers. So, I'm only giving it four yo-yos.