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Summer book reviews

I was all inspired by x_h00ine to do some reviews of the books I've recently torn through. My reviews will be much shorter and likely a lot less helpful. I recently got a big shipment of fantasy/sci fi from authors new to me and I thought I'd throw out my impressions.

You Slay me
by Katie MacAlister
Our heroine, Aisling (pronounced ASH-ling but mispronounced by me and then re-pronounced in my head the whole freaking book), is on her first job as a courier for her uncle to deliver an aquamanile to a client in Paris, but things go awry from the beginning as she arrives to find the buyer murdered and hanging above a circle cast to summon a demon. It's at the scene of the crime that she meets Drake, a dragon in human form and antagonist for the book. Aisling unravels who is involved in a series of murders and at the same time learns that she is a Guardian and what her responsibilities are throughout the book.
So murder mystery part - interesting. I wasn't quite sure whodunnit until near the end (but my suspension of disbelief is pretty powerful). Motives were believable. I had a lot of trouble with Aisling's characterization. She first of all flat out doesn't believe in supernatural stuff and keeps insisting that her knowledge of demon lore is based on an old hobby. She finally decides to believe all of this stuff is real, but for a clever woman she bites her nose off to spite her face one too many times. The tension between her and Drake comes off more as squabbling than the smoldery banter I think she was aiming for. Drake seems to be a one trick pony as well as far as his reactions to her go. My favorite characters end up being her demon dog, Jim, and her taxi driver, Rene who gives us many useful French phrases that I'm dying to try out. (My favorite: J'ai une grenoille dans mon bidet - which translates to I have a frog in my bidet. Very useful). There were too many not so steamy but supposed to be hot sex scenes that remind me of everything I've grown to dislike with about Laurell K. Hamilton's pr0n disguised as fantasy but less well written. I have a feeling that most of Ms. MacAlister's novels are going to read about the same.

Wow these read like 6th grade book reports. Go me!

Kitty and the Midnight Hour
by Carrie Vaughn
Set in contemporary Denver. Doesn't use the city much as a familiar background and this could have been set anywhere. Modern day werewolf comes out on her late night radio talk show after starting up a popular on-air call in show about the mythical creatures that go bump in the night, government conspiracies etc. Werewolves and vampires clash and pack dynamics shift and serve as the major plot. I thought the dialog of the call in show and her interactions with her would-be assassin was well done. Her pack relationships were well drawn and I find comparable to works by Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong (both really fun authors), but I was repeatedly irritated by her descriptions of her submissive role. I don't dispute her construct nor do I have trouble with how she eventually changes her role within the pack, but I think the way she illustrates her wolf self as a submissive pack member falls flat. It's just so discordant with her human self that I couldn't reconcile the two. This was a pretty good read and I'll be looking for her next book.

Moon Called
by Patricia Briggs
Quite good. I really liked the main character and the strength she was given despite her relative "weakness" when compared to her vampire and werewolf counterparts. The plot hung together rather well but I had to re-read a couple of motive explanations toward the end. Not stuffed full of useless sex scenes. Briggs gives nice hints to characters we'll get to know better in future books without the heavy handed prep for the next novel. Hmph. It seems the more I like a book, the less I have to say. Says a bit about my whiny complaining nature, eh?

The Decoy Princess
by Dawn Cook
The princess is not really the princess (as we're told already on the back cover of the book). Contessa has been raised to believe she is the princess, but discovers otherwise when evil prince from the kingdom next door tries to overthrow "her" kingdom. Tess is quite clever for most of the book and I appreciated her plotting against the bad guys, even when she bungles (Is bungles straight out of the Hardy Boys?). She doesn't catch on to the identity of her prophesied love interest until the end, which had me rolling my eyes when she finally gets it. Her transformation from shallow shopper to feisty rescuer happens a bit quickly and is a little hard to swallow given her overboard characterization as spoiled and materialistic in the beginning. Her authoritarian posture, however, does serve her well throughout the novel and plays well when she meets up with and eventually aides the "real" princess. I was bothered with the only original/invented part of this alternate/historical/fantasy world which was the use of "chu" as an all purpose swear word roughly equivalent to "shit". Either create a broader set of alternate words/ideas or leave it alone. Throwing in "chu" every page or two doesn't transport me to an alternate reality.
I am looking forward to the next novel to see Tess work on and discover her new powers, but I'm not sure the
character is going to have enough depth to carry more than a few books.

Next up:
Patrica Briggs' Dragon Bones and Jim Butcher's latest Harry Dresden Chronicle: Dead Beat.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I just clikcked idly on your name because x_h00ine was telling funny stories about your crotch, and I find book reviews in an area I enjoy reading in.

Thanks for some new names - there's a pretty shallow pool of good books in this genre at present.
Jun. 7th, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC)
Isn't it though? My favorite authors don't write fast enough, other favorites have gone stale, and I think just about anyone can get published by the tired worn stuff that's getting put out there. Original ideas, people! Don't write a sex scene if you can't pull it off! (teehee)
Jun. 8th, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
You've mentioned most the authors I've read in this genre, but wonder if you've come across Kim Harrison?


I enjoyed this first in her series a lot, the sequel rather less. Still, there's a third one coming that I will try at least. The attractive extra ingredient she's got on a lot of these authors is humour. (Oh, and you may or may not be interested to know that the first book started out as Buffy fanfic.)
Jul. 29th, 2006 11:36 pm (UTC)
Bought, read and wrote an opinion on the Briggs book. I found a lot to criticise, but I enjoyed it:

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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