April 30, 2009
Posted by Angiegirl
I've been waiting for this book for three years. I loved Terrier--the first book in Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper trilogy and I looked forward to spending more time in her company. I've been a Pierce fan for a long time now and with this series it was literally like coming home being back in Corus, the capital of Tortall. It was also a nice change of pace to have the story set a few hundred years before Alanna's time, and revolve firmly around the lower classes. Unlike Alanna's day, Beka's Tortall is a place where lady knights roam the countryside freely and girls can grow up to be part of the city guard if they want. That is exactly what Beka's always wanted and, thanks to the Lord Provost's benevolence, she's able to escape the city slums and help support her mother and siblings on a Dog's salary.
In Bloodhound Beka finds herself characteristically partnerless. When one of the senior Dogs is laid up after a riot, Beka is temporarily partnered with her idol Goodwin and the two of them are sent to Port Caynn to run down the source behind a forgery ring that's been pouring silver plated copper "coles" into circulation throughout the realm. Transplanted out of her natural habitat, Beka is literally forced to step far, far outside her comfort zone in order to pass herself off as a flighty Dog who slides by on others' coattails and uses her womanly wiles to take credit for others' successes. Pretty much the polar opposite of her reserved, forthright, and honor-bound self. Going about her task with her standard single-mindedness, she doesn't expect to meet a young gambler who takes a romantic interest in her. She doesn't expect a mad Rogue who lets her people suffer and spends their takings. And she doesn't expect to be left alone.
Bloodhound weighs in at over 550 pages and the entire story is told through Beka's painstaking journal entries. This is a very interesting (at times problematic) installment and not at all what I was expecting. The majority of the story simply follows Beka's daily movements as she prowls through Port Caynn, inserts herself into the underworld, and struggles with her growing isolation and strong need for companionship despite her at times overwhelming natural reticence. I missed Beka's circle of friends at home in Corus as they were absent the majority of the time. I missed Rosto and his prickly friendship with Beka, the way they stretch and counter each other. I found myself painfully uneasy as I watched Beka grow closer to the gambler/bank messenger Dale Rowan. In fact, I longed to step in and help Beka throughout this book. She is an amazingly strong character and I love her. I just wish she didn't have to stumble and fall sometimes. And I wish she didn't have to experience some of the pain she did. She deserves better and she can't seem to see a few very important things. Also, Pierce seemed to lose her way a bit and her usual strengths as a writer seemed oddly absent. At the same time I can be grown up about these things (honest I can) and recognize that perhaps they were necessary and be okay with that. I was underwhelmed with this story but remain very excited to read the third and final book in the trilogy--Mastiff--due out sometime next year. Knock on wood.
April 29, 2009
Posted by Angiegirl
I need your advice. I just finished Tamora Pierce's Bloodhound (review forthcoming) and I've got such a lovely stack sitting next to me and no idea where to start. That's where you come in. Here are the options:
So give me your input. Have you read any of these? What's it gonna be?
April 28, 2009
April 27, 2009
Posted by Angiegirl
As you know, I read a lot of urban fantasy. I love the supers, the gritty cities, the strong women, and (in my favorites) the dry sense of humor. And though there are a ton of UF series out there, relatively few of them make it to the upper echelon for me. Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series sits comfortably in the #1 spot. I put Blood Bound down and it was all over. I've got the Mercy's Garage shirt proclaiming my
ubergeek fangirl status. Exactly a year ago I read the first two Kate Daniels books. I enjoyed Magic Bites just fine and Magic Burns even more. But I'm telling you this third volume is the one. I went in with very high expectations and still I was taken by surprise at just how good it was.
Magic Strikes takes place four months after the events of Magic Burns. For four months, Kate has been learning the ropes at her new job with the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid. For four months, she's been supporting Julie--the lost young girl she took under her wing--at a boarding school outside the city. And for four months, she's been doggedly avoiding the Pack and the powerful Beast Lord Curran, who seems to think she ought to come at his beck and call. Her efforts to cruise under the supernatural heavyweights' radar stall when her sometime client Saiman calls her claiming he's holding a werewolf who broke into his apartment. Kate has a soft spot for the young werewolf in question and, in order to spare him Curran's wrath, she agrees to do a favor for Saiman in return for Derek's quiet release. The favor turns out to be more than she bargained for as Saiman draws her into the turmoil that is the Midnight Games--an extremely private, extremely illegal paranormal fight club. When Derek ends up in a coma after infiltrating the games and Curran's chief of security simultaneously goes rogue, Kate gives up any pretence of disinterest and races against the clock to save her friends and exact revenge on Derek's attackers.
I continue to love the subtle humor in this series. By the third book I'm utterly invested in these characters and the complicated give and take of their relationships that so perfectly mirror the ebb and flow of magic and technology in Ilona Andrews' Atlanta. This scene in particular had me snickering with appreciation:
I got out four plates, found silverware, and set the table. Doolittle put a glass of iced tea in front of me. I tasted it. It had so much sugar, if you put a spoon into it, it would stand up all by itself.Jim put a slice on my plate. When I made Beef Wellington, it looked good. His looked perfect.Brenna sat next to me. "Sorry about the thigh."It took me a second to connect the stinging bite on my leg to the quiet woman next to me. "No problem. Sorry about the needle."The scar on her throat had faded, but a thin gray line was still there. "It's okay," she said. "I've had silver in me before.""Where is everybody else?" I asked.Nobody answered. Chatty Cathys, the shapeshifters.I cut into my Beef Wellington and put a small piece in my mouth. It tasted like heaven. Jim cut his meat with the precision of a surgeon."Curran called."The three shapeshifters around me stopped breathing for a moment."I thought I'd mention it before you started eating. I didn't want you to choke.""He say anything?" Jim asked."You have three days to turn yourself in." I imitated Curran's voice. "After that he'll have to find you. And he doesn't want to find you.""Anything else?"
"He mostly cussed after that. I told him you and I were having a hot roll in the hay and he was interrupting."Tea came out of Brenna's nose.Jim struggled with it for a long moment. "I wish you hadn't done that."
I love Kate's motivations in this installment. She's under my skin at this point and she absolutely rocks every page of this action-packed ride. She busts her butt all day long and into the night for days on end trying to manage the supernatural community at large, keep her gradually growing group of friends alive, and keep herself from attracting the attention of anyone too powerful or too in the know. Anyone who, when presented with the reality of who she is, would not be able to go on overlooking her. Meanwhile, she and Curran butt heads continually and, as they spar (physically and verbally), we are treated to a welcome glimpse into their individual pasts. I was hoping for some insight into Kate's history and we get even more than I hoped. (It's gripping, by the way)! But what I wasn't expecting was some revealing backstory on Curran's rise to power in the city and what makes his Furry Majesty tick. The best part, though, is how these insights lead them to treat each other with a bit more care. Sometimes this extra caution goes unvoiced as these two unbelievably strong people are not necessarily built to give up any ground at all. But it is nevertheless there. And it serves to bring the reader that much closer to them and their struggles. Also, the fighting at the Midnight Games was awesome. Freaking awesome. This story built up to an incredible climax and I was riveted the entire time. Really. If you haven't given this series a shot yet, run out and get them now. This is urban fantasy at its most entertaining, at its very best. Magic Strikes knocked my socks off.
April 24, 2009
April 23, 2009
Posted by Angiegirl
First off, Steph is holding a fabulous contest over at Reviewer X this week. Enter to win a complete set of Diana Peterfreund's Ivy League Novels. That's right--all four of them! So if you haven't yet, now is definitely the time to jump into that series. I've made no secret of what a fan I am. You can read me go on about them here, here, here, and over here. Leave Steph a comment and you're entered. Contest runs through next Wednesday. Go check it out.
And in the spirit of matched sets, The Epic Rat (love the name) is giving away a set of all three of Lisa Shearin's Raine Benares books. I've reviewed all three books (here, here, and here) and they really are a hoot. The giveaway ends April 28th so head on over and leave a comment!
Next, I've been the happy recipient of a few awards over the past couple weeks and I wanted to make sure to thank the lovely bloggers who passed on the bloggy love.
Kimberly of Darque Reviews passed on the Let's Be Friends Award.
The Let's be Friends Awards stands for this: These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers.
Thanks so much, Kimberly! It's not every day you get dubbed "exceedingly charming" and I treasure every blogging friend I've made. I'm going to pass this one on to a relatively new blog I've run across that I find delightfully charming: Young Adult Romance Reviews. Reviewer Ana pays specific attention to the romantic relationships in YA novels and her rating system is both thorough and quirky, including such factors as Overall Chemistry, The Bases, and Likelihood of an Eventual HEA. Love it.
Jackie of Literary Escapism gave me the much-coveted Zombie Chicken Award.
The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all...
LOL. Far be it from me to bring down the wrath of the zombie chickens. Fortunately it's a no-brainer coming up with five rave-worthy bloggers.
The Book Smugglers (Ana and Thea are there for all your zombie needs)
Jen Robinson's Book Page (I look forward to Jen's thoughtful comments and love her Reviews that Made Me Want the Book feature)
Lurv a la Mode (KMont devours books and when she gets her reviewer groove on the results are smokin')
Mary Stewart Blog (Jennie runs this site dedicated to one of my all-time favorite writers and the whole thing's a labor of love)
Someone's Read it Already (Stephanie keeps the focus on excellent reviews; she is both prolific and pithy)
You're good people. I'm glad I know you.
April 22, 2009
Posted by Angiegirl
I'm waist deep in spring cleaning here at Angieville and just wanted to take a moment and give a shout out to my sweetheart of a brother-in-law for the new banner, which he hand painted in a fit of spontaneous awesomeness. Clearly, he's a kindred spirit. We love a good story. Yes, we do.
April 21, 2009
Posted by Angiegirl
I fell in love with Lisa Shearin's Raine Benares series at the tail end of last year. Shearin's delightful blend of wry humor, high-speed action, and brief moments of sizzling chemistry make for highly enjoyable reads. The only problem being that they end leaving you thirsty for more. The Trouble with Demons is the third Raine Benares book and has my favorite cover (and title) so far. This girl looks more like the Raine in my head and the title is certainly...apt. There are demons galore in this one. Demons pint-sized, demons ogre-sized, demons every color of the rainbow, oh my!
Raine is tired. Just last week she and her goblin more-than-friend Tam narrowly managed to foil a slew of elven assassins and now this week the demons are coming out of the woodwork. Turns out a Hell Gate has been opened, a demon queen is in search of her husband's captive soul, and the acting archmagus would love to see Raine take the fall for the entire debacle. Meanwhile, the Saghred still has its hooks in Raine's soul and the wards the Guardians have placed on it seem unable to hold its power in check. And, for better or worse, Raine finds herself drawn inexorably closer to both Tam and Mychael as the three of them are forced to combine their respective powers in order to try to stem the flow of demons and close the Hell Gate for good.
I remain amazed at how much punch Lisa Shearin can pack into such a short period of time. Like its predecessors, this story spans barely a week's time. And somehow at the end you feel like the characters have grown and changed and fulfilled your expectations. I am hoping for a little bit larger chunk of time in the next one, as it just seems like the story has grown too large by now for such short installments. But we'll see. I continue to be very fond of Raine and I love the fact that, though they are polar opposites and disagree vehemently over a girl, Mychael and Tam are friends. They understand and respect each other. Tam particulary is able to see beyond himself to make painful decisions for the greater good. That may be the fact that I Am Team Tam All The Way talking, but I categorically refuse to believe he will have a relapse and/or give in to his dark past. Nope. Not gonna happen, my friends. And while he may have his sights set on Raine, he knows how to be her friend. He's good at that.
I do find myself concerned as to how these three heroes (because that's what they are) are going to maintain the uneasy alliance they've formed as tensions only look to be rising for the foreseeable future. And along with that I worry about the triangle drawing out indefinitely. Triangles start to make me twitchy after three books. So sue me. Interestingly, for an author so good at slam-bang action, Shearin proves herself quite adept at crafting a quiet moment or two between her characters. Moments where the banter stops and the pauses are pregnant. In which you as the reader find yourself just aching for them. I cast my vote for a few more of these. Also, more Talon. The kid is pure awesome and never fails to crack me up. These are good characters. I have such hopes for them.