This was an interesting historical mystery, and did keep my guessing for quite a while as to the identity of the murderer. However, by setting the events during a fair, we are introduced to a rather large cast of characters, and I occasionally had difficulty remembering who was whom. Still, once I became more used to the writing style and some of the language (the setting is the year 1200, and the names of items and places reflects this), I found this to be a good read.
First of all, allow me to say that I truly enjoyed this book. It moved along at a reasonable pace, neither too quickly nor too slowly. The characters are well-developed, and interesting enough that I want very much to know more about them.
That being said, however, I did not get what I expected from this book. To me, a mystery is synonymous with a whodunit - there has been some crime commited (usually murder, though sometimes theft), and the protagonists must discover the who, or sometimes just the how, of things. That is not what this book is about.
I would classify this as a quest story. That the quest is as much mental & spiritual as it is physical does not diminish this. Yes, there is something that must be discovered, but you will find no crimes here, and the only corpses died of natural causes.
Really, this is much more a story about how much and, sometimes, how little we know about our parents. About how our parents seem to us, at least for a time, to be nearly perfect, and how difficult it is to live up to that. But it is also about love - not only romance, though that is certainly included, but also about the love for family.
So, if you're looking for Miss Marple, move along. But if you're looking for a book that will catch you and hold you until the last page, you've come to the right place.
A collection of short stories that challenge the traditional image of female fighters in the fantasy genre. From the title, this is obviously handled rather tongue-in-cheek.
As with most short story collections, this is a mixed bag. Some good, some indifferent. I didn't feel there were any *bad* stories in the collection, but none of them stood out in my mind, with one exception. "On the Road of Silver," by Mark Bourne struck a note with me, though I'm not sure I could tell you why. Perhaps because I could identify with how all of the little frustrations in life can build up. At any rate, this is a rather fun and quick read, even if parts are somewhat forgettable.
A fun manga version of Feehan's short story. Note, if you are looking for this is novel format, the story was originally published in the anthology Hot Blooded.
That aside, this is a good story for those familiar with the Carpathian series, and not too too racy. However, if you don't know about the Carpathians, this does not offer a lot of background, and may be confusing.
It is very apparent that this is meant to be an introduction to an extended series. This book concerned itself with a great deal of world-building, some development of characters (including rather extended development of what should have been secondary characters), with frequent breaks for sex, and rather occasional breaks for what I almost hesitate to call plot.
If you're looking for cheap thrills without too much actual story getting in the way, this is a good choice. I understand that later books are better, and do intend to give the next book a try - I am hoping that, with all of the development in this book, the author won't retread all of the ground she has already covered.
First published in 1975, the designs in this book are rather dated. A couple of them, such as the Eagle Tapestry and the Irish Crochet Rug have stood the test of time, and could be used with little or no modification. Many others would work well in more modern yarns and colours. It just takes a little imagination to transform these patterns into something fresh.
So, overall, a book with some hits, some near-hits, and some misses.
This is a translation of a Japanese light novel - what we would call a novella. As such, it is rather short, if not sweet. The books is fairly well-written, and the translation does a good job preserving the tone of the interactions between the characters. The plot is far from complex, outlining a high-school romance between the two main characters. The reason I cannot rate it any higher than two stars is how the author treats some of the subject matter. Specifically, this book as sex scenes which involve either dubious levels of consent, or (in one case) active non-consent. I understand this may be a cultural difference in how such subjects are treated, but I personally just cant say I found the book enjoyable.
Quick review: 3.5 stars out of 5. The story was interesting - I was expecting more high fantasy, and this was more urban fantasy. The romance subplot could have been better fleshed-out, as it seemed a little too convoluted for the little amount of attention it received. I also personally found the random switching between referring to characters by first name then last name to get confusing. In dialogue such switches make sense, but in descriptive passages, it is easier to follow if the character is consistently named. However, overall, the story was interesting enough, and it was a nice light read - a little amuse-bouche of a story, with plenty of style, if not substance.
A short YA novel retelling the story of Rapunzel. This is an enjoyable book. Unsuprisingly, it's rather predictable, but has sufficient differences from the well-known fairytale to make it an interesting read. Short and sweet, it doesn't weigh itself down with unnecessary padding, and yet still tells a satisfying story.
This was a very enjoyable start to a series. It is a fully self-contained story - all of the important plot points are wrapped up by the last page. The plot moves along well, and the world-building needed when introducing a new series was handled in a very natualistic manner.
Alex Craft is a strong female character. She's not terribly feminine, but she's also not a woman in name only. She's also a very human character, making occasionally foolish choices or mistakes, but ones that the reader can relate to. Further, while she is a powerful figure, her power has clearly-defined limits, and has some important drawbacks. This makes the overall world more balanced, and keeps the character of Alex interesting.
The plot revolves around a police case involving some ritual murders. Because the story is told from a first-person perspective, it is difficult for the reader to get too far ahead of the protagonist in determining who the culprit is. I found this to be a positive - third-person narratives too often point out clues that the protagonist should not have missed, and thus give less enjoyment as I wait for the characters to catch up with me.
One other important thing Ms. Price does well is setting up the next part of her series. As I mentioned before, the story of Grave Witch is fully self-contained. There's no lingering plot holes to be filled by further stories. But there are consequences from this story that will clearly carry over into future stories in the series. So, there is just enough to know that Alex Craft isn't nearly ready to have a "happily ever after", without preventing the actual story wrap-up.
So, overall, a 5 out of 5 for world-building, character development, and plot execution.
The third book in the Iron Druid chronicles finds our protagonist, Atticus, in quite a quandry. As the story opens, Atticus is heading to Asgard to steal one of the apples of Idun, so that he can fulfill his promise to Laksha. Of course, this doesnt go as smoothly as Atticus hopes.
The plot of this book revolves around Atticus need to fulfill his promises, despite the mounting evidence that doing so would be a very bad idea. I think this book, more than the others, very much highlights how Atticus character was formed in a much earlier time, despite his willingness to modernize his vocabulary and social interactions.
This is not a book that should be read out of sequence. The things that happen in this book are a pretty direct consequence of previous books, and the actions here set up reverberations for future books.
The book was very good overall, and continues the quality of the series. I did have two small complaints, though. The first is how he handled a few of the characters in the climax of the book, most especially Gunnar, the werewolf. However, I recognize this as a valid authorial choice (no matter that it galls me). The other small complaint is that he does not really tie up all of his loose ends. The book ends on a rather significant cliffhanger (that Im sure will be a major plot point in the next book), and there are several smaller threads of the story that are not cleared up (again, it seems likely that he will address these in the next book). I know that its important to set things up for the next story, but I really dislike having a book end with so many things open, as it feels unfinished. For that reason, I have to give this book 4 stars out of 5.
I had started this book with high hopes. The premise seemed like a good spin on the vampire mythos. However, the book drags for much of the time, with the action not picking up until about 3/4th of the way through. The plot seemed barely existant for much of the book, and the charaters' interactions and motivations were mostly incomprehensible. Given that this is the first book in a series, one would normally expect a more thorough introduction to the shared world of these books. All in all, a book I finished only out of an obligation to learning the resolution, such as it was.
The 52 songs lambasted here contain enough pathos to sink a ship (perhaps even the Edmund Fitzgerald). Having to listen to the songs listed in this book would probably send me running for the Prozac. Reading about these songs, on the other hand - well the tears in my eyes were from laughter. Tom Reynolds does a magnificent job breaking down each song with an often caustic wit, giving the breakdown of the plot of the song, as well as what makes it so depressing.
The only complaint I have about the book is his treatment of one of my favorite depressing songs, "Brick," by Ben Folds Five. His opening paragraph about this song admits that everything that follows is based on the mistaken belief that this is a song about a teenage breakup, and that therefore nearly every statement about the song is incorrect. So, even though he admits that the section was written based on incorrect information, he still included it, rather than rewrite based on the actual theme of the song (which loses none of its depressing power). Still, out of 52 songs, having one poorly-written section is hardly a deal-breaker, and I highly recommend this book to music lovers anywhere.
As the back cover says, there is a certain voyeristic appeal in reading someone's private journal. This book is no exception. Presented as a cross between a journal and a scrapbook, the story unfolds bit by bit. The main plot of the book is never presented overtly, but rather implied and hinted at by the many emails and journal entries. Still and all, if I have any complaint it is that the plot seemed rather transparent. Because I went into the book knowing that the narrator would die mysteriously, I became hyper-aware of certain cues and the timing of plot points. This does not mean that the book was not enjoyable, however, merely that it was a very quick read.
A very good addition to the Nightside series. This is not a good jumping-on point for the series, though. The relationships between the characters are too informed by events in past books. This book shows just what an impact the previous events have had on the Nightside, and how things are changing. It sets up a rather significant evolution in how the characters interact, and starts to wrap up the series (there are only three books beyond this). I was pleased, in the the ending did not play out as I expected. All in all, a rather quick and enjoyable read.
I must admit, I was somewhat disappointed in Lost. Maguire made a phenomenal debut with Wicked, turning our understanding of the fantasy-land of Oz on its ear. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister was rewritten as a historical novel, debating on the concept of beauty. In both of these, Maguire kept to familiar framworks, and twisted them to show new facets.
In Lost, however, he seems to overreach himself. He includes elements of Dickens' Chrismas Carol, as well as stories about Jack the Ripper. For my part, the title of the book is appropriate, as the plot left me lost and foundering for my way.
A collection of six short stories of the paranormal romance variety. These stories average about 50 pages each, so they're just long enough to serve as a sort of amuse-bouche. All of the stories are well-written; despite the fact that some of the stories are based on pre-existing settings, all of them feel very self-contained. I never felt like I was missing some of the back story by not having read the author's other works.
The stories range from the lightly humorous to the darkly rich, so there's a little something for most tastes. For my own personal preference, I enjoyed the little bit of lightheartedness that Michele Hauf and Karen Whiddon managed to weave into their stories, "Racing the Moon" and "Mate of the Wolf." The more action-oriented stories of Bonnie Vanak ("Broken Souls") and Lori Devoti ("Captured") were quite good, keeping a good plot while remaining romantic. The plot of Vivi Anna's story, "Mahina's Storm," seemed to be mostly an excuse for the characters to get hot 'n heavy - this is not a complaint, as she writes very well. I think my least favorite was Anna Leonard's "Dreamcatcher." The ending, to me, didn't flow as well as in the other stories.
Still and all, this is a recommended collection of stories for any fans paranormal romances.
Overall, a good collection of stories.
My favorite was the first one, "Mortal in Mysteria," by Susan Grant. It's a fully-realized story, and the main cast was kept to a reasonable size so that the characters could be well fleshed-out.
The second story in the collection, "Alone Wolf," by MaryJanice Davidson, was my least favorite. It appears that this is a short story that falls within a larger framework - i.e. it is part of a larger series or storyline, and thus relies on knowledge of that framework for the story to work. As this was the first thing I'd read by Davidson, the whole story kind of fell flat for me.
The remaining two stories ("The Witches of Mysteria and the Dead Who Love Them," by Gena Showalter and "Candy Cox and the Big Bad (Were)Wolf," by P.C. Cast) are somewhat intertwined, borrowing characters from one another. So, these should be read together. I enjoyed both of them, but I didn't find either of them to be spectacular.
Short version: 2 1/2 stars for the sex - it's not bad, and some of it is quite good. Nothing too too kinky, in my opinion (a very mild bit of bondage in one scene, one scene involving multiple partners, and a little bit of DP), but pushes some boundaries. However, zero additional stars for plot. There was some plot build-up, but it was resolved far too quickly and with too little care. Also, the last chapter tries to throw a plot-twist in, but there's too little time left to actually resolve it. So, just keep in mind that any "plot" is really just an excuse for more sex scenes. I don't think that's a bad or invalid choice, but it's something to be aware of.
I had a lot of trouble getting into this collection. It starts out promsing - in fact, the first story in the collection is my favorite. However, the remaining stories simply didn't engage my interest. They either skimped on characterization, or on plot.
The short story form is often one of the most difficult. It is far from easy to have a fully-realized character as well as a full plot. Sadly, most of these authors, if you'll forgive the pun, fall short.