Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm so far Behind these are the Books I Read in July

See?  I told you I would get those reviews out.  I will behave like an adult.  I think I can; I think I can; I think I can.  Right.  Less positive self reinforcement, more book ratings!

Rhiannon Held

As we’ve learned, I love new things.  I am a frequent victim of “New! Shiny!”  I’ll own it.  And when it comes to books, I adore anything that isn’t like the rest of the mass produced crap I often, nevertheless, read.  So why am I giving an A+ to a WEREWOLF book?  Because this is functionally a reboot of the lore.  Because it involves a genuinely crazy person, with valid reasons for being crazy—and it never ever not once, tries to magic her out of crazytown.  It embraces crazytown with the same spare elegance that it rewrites werewolf tropes.  The language is effective, clear and kept me engaged.  I was not planning to pay 15$ for this slim little gem, but once I’d read the first chapter, I literally couldn’t put it down.  I walked up to a total stranger I saw reading it in a café the next week and said “good choice,” it’s that fab.  An enforcer w/ a shady past, a mysterious threat, a damsel in distress—and yet somehow all of these things felt fresh and immediate.  Pick it up; it’s worth it.

Kate Griffin

Oh Matthew Swift, how I have missed you.  I have missed your full page descriptions of London minutia, your fabulously wrongheaded assumptions, your magic system and certainly your electric blue angels.  Nothing else in Urban Fantasy is quite like this.  If you haven’t already fallen head over heels in love with these books about how the Tube is its own form of magic and traffic wardens having the mystical power of the “Stop!” sign, do yourself a big favour and buy the first one.  They are grrrr-reat.  This time it’s more drugs, weirder drugs whose concept is so much fun, a heaping serving of violence, and plenty of folks who’d like to see our Midnight Mayor deposed or dead, though not necessarily in that order.  Also, the new assistant is fun.  Hell, it’s all fun.  Get thee to a bookstore near you!

Amanda Downum

I really like this series.  It’s twists unfold a little like the kind of origami that I just can’t quit figure out how to do, the characters grow up, wise up, and fuck up without being shamed for it, and events impact their emotional lives as well as the plot in believable ways.  The minus is mostly due to the slow start and what feels like a couple of random dead ends at the front.  But after the ½ way point it rapidly picks up pace and finishes in a muddy, morally dubious finale that is absolutely fabulous.  Because the reason I champion these books is that from the very first, the bad guys have never really been bad and the good guys have never been all that good.  Just people, trying to do the best they can in face of very large events.  This go round, the events are the world ending kind of big, rather than just political disaster type big, and our heroes are still reeling from the events of previous books—so start with the previous books!  :P

Steve Rasnic Tem

Oh, this book.  I wanted so much for this book to be a thing that it was not.  What it is is creepy, and atmospheric, and quite good.  But.  It was so self-consciously post-modern and self aware and literary that I just wanted to smack the pretension out of it.  Look, we get it, little girls growing up is scary for dads-look, a metaphor!  We get the importance of blood-look a metaphor!  We have stood under the deluge of werewolf imagery—look, a metaphor--for a while now.  It took me a long time to read this because I don’t love slogging through that sort of obviousness, but honestly, I somehow still ended up liking it.  I wouldn’t pay full cover again for it, though I’d say to buy it used.  It’s no Overlook, but the Deadfall does have some fun/creepy surprises and set pieces up its sleeve.

Kady Cross

This is a fun concept.  In steampunk England--are there any other locales for steampunk to be set in?--a girl with a split personality has a tendency to misbehave.  In the course of this, she runs into a motley group—are there any other kinds of groups?—who share many of the same issues.  Though, to be fair, the explanation of “magic” made me giggle a little and think of midiclorians.  I liked the characters, but I felt many weren’t given enough screen time, and the plot felt a bit sloppy with the villains easy to spot.  But my biggest complaint was how the “dark” half of our split heroine was portrayed: strong; quick witted; able to hold her own; funny; and someone the most enjoyable characters in the book wanted to know better.  Yet this was the evil side she had to suppress/control?  Because the good side was everything I find irritating in girls: simpering.; weak-willed; self-effacing, and nervous.  Yuck.  I get not wanting to black out; I’m on boardl with that. I just wish that the coolest part of our lead wasn’t portrayed as naughty.  But the ending was fun, and set up the next in what seems like a series nicely.  Will I pick up said sequel? Sure--used.

Jordan Summers

Ah.  And then there is this one.  In some futuristic half-assed post-apocalypse American southwest, a sexy werewolf sheriff and a cold army soldier track a serial killer while lusting after each other.  The plot is bad.  The prose is bad.  And yet, somehow, Tor published this.  A legitimate publishing house--and there are sequels.  I got nothing, except the hope that anyone can get anything published.  I tried--twice--to get through this.  I made it maybe 50 pages into bad villain POV, sloppy characterization, hackneyed plots and sketchy world building and then I just gave up.  Gave up.  It was so, so bad, that I just said I have better ways to waste my life and gave it back to the used bookstore from whence it came.  Which is how a book earns an F.  I don’t even finish.  Yeesh.  Save yourself some time and irritation and just skip this.

A note on Grading: on my Scale A=I might buy the hardback; B=pay trade cover price; C=get it used or from the bargain bin; D=used if you’re in to self flagellation; F=what, are you stupid?

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