Feb. 10th, 2016

hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Sparrow Hill Road, by Seanan McGuire. I enjoyed this much, much more than Rosemary and Rue. The ending did not disappoint the way R&R did, and I found myself genuinely liking Rose and concerned with what would happen to her. The world, one of the dead, of bean sidhes and roadwitches, and the power of roadside diners, was fascinating and I found myself wishing I could see more of it when the book was done.

Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. I had high hopes for this after Sparrow Hill Road, and while it wasn't bad the best I can come up with for it is 'eh, 's alright'. I wanted to like it more, it just sort of felt like the protagonist was trying too hard. (Competition ballroom dancer/cocktail waitress/parkour expert/cryptozoologist/priestess. Alright, priestess to sapient mice, but still.) The romance felt tacked on and predictable, and the mice were - weird. I mean, things in a book about cryptids should be weird but not 'reminds me of the space mice from Voltron' weird. I would have liked to see more non-humanoid cryptids as well, though part of that might be because the book takes place in New York City and the really weird stuff might not flourish there. There also wasn't an armageddon, discount or otherwise. Has anyone read more of the series? Is it worth trying to push on?

I did get to introduce the concept of cryptids to my husband, though. He knew about Sasquatch, chupacabra and so on, just not the term.

Butterflies (The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal #2), by K.J. Charles. So having encountered Simon and Robert in Remnant, the crossover with Whyborne & Griffin (link to that entry here) I wanted to know more about them. Butterflies tells the story of their second encounter, but gives you enough information you're not lost. I liked it: it was decently creepy and the plot is very weird. (I like weird horror.) The story is available for free, so you can go ahead and check it out here if you're curious. The #2 comes from it being the second story: if you read The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal it's the 2nd story in the book anyway.

I went ahead and looked up more by Charles, quite surprised to find some of her books available online at the provincial library. (I can borrow books to my ereader, I don't even have to leave the house! I love the future.) I live in one of the more conservative provinces, let's put it that way.

The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies #1), by K.J. Charles. After the deaths of his father and brother, Lucien Vaudrey returns home from China after twenty years to take up the earldom. Inexplicably, he begins to suffer from blackouts during which he makes attempts at suicide. Summoning a practitioner of magic, Stephen Day, after the most recent blackout he learns that he's not only inherited the family title, but a family curse as well. Vaudrey and Day must travel to Vaudrey's family home to unravel the curse and the web of plots surrounding Vaudrey.

I quite liked it, for characters, plot, and atmosphere all. You really feel you're surrounded by the inexplicable in a decaying mansion in the English countryside. Charles also uses the technique, in a few places, of giving just enough description that you can imagine something really horrible.

A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies #2), by K.J. Charles. I liked this one better than The Magpie Lord, overall. It gets more into the practice of magic in England, and how that magic is regulated. There's a larger cast and we see more of Stephen's fellow practitioners/coworkers. Unfortunately, events stemming from the first book mean that his fellows have cause to suspect he's turned warlock, and in Victorian England he can't explain why he hasn't without revealing his relationship with Vaudrey. And there's a plague of giant rats closing in on London, endangering Vaudrey's friends and acquantainces as well as his lover.

Interlude with Tattoos (A Charm of Magpies 1.5), by K.J. Charles. A playful, NC-17, short story about Vaudrey and Day, without anything trying to possess or kill them. You'd need to read The Magpie Lord for this to make sense, though. If you have, or if you're OK with a bit of confusion, you can read it free here.

A Case of Spirits (A Charm of Magpies 2.5), by K.J. Charles. The last short story was playful? Yeah, not this one. (Which is also free, but only through Amazon. Kindle software for your computer/tablet/phone is free too, though, which is good because I would certainly never suggest removing the DRM and converting it to epub.) This one is pure horror. You will definitely need to read at least the 2nd book in the series to understand this, or you won't know who 2/3 of the players are.

The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, by K.J. Charles. As the title suggests, this is a series of short stories, which cover the life of Simon Feximal and Robert Caldwell after their first meeting till the end of WWI. I felt this was more unevenly done than A Charm of Magpies and that at times the story felt rushed, especially when Robert refers to stories we don't see. In-universe they were published in the not-secret casebooks, but we don't have those. The story needed more time and development: it would have worked better as a longer book, or as a series that would let the author flesh out the characters and their stories a little more. So, OK but not great.

What I'm Reading Now: Accidentally rereading Hunter of Demons, by Jordan L. Hawk. I say accidentally because my ereader has a habit of taking longer to move from the last page of a book back to the home screen, and I forget this, tap twice, and end up opening whatever it's showing/suggesting where my thumb lands. So I just went with it. Hunter of Demons takes place in a version of our world where the paranormal isn't hiding behind a masquerade and there's a government branch (SPECTR) in charge of hunting down demons etc. and watching over normal humans with paranormal talents. (Think Mutant Registration Act, here.) Sadly my library has no books by Hawk available, so, while I'll probably pick up the omnibus of this series sometime, learning more about the conspiracy theory that promises to weave through the series will have to wait.

What I'm Reading Next: Flight of Magpies, by K.J. Charles. The library alerted me that the copy I'd put on hold was now available. (How this works with ebooks I'm not sure - there must be a limit on how often a copy can be checked out simultaneously, or maybe they do have to purchase multiple copies as with paper books?) I like to read series in sequence, as I'm quite sure everyone's noticed by now. ^_~ Then, I think I shall take a day, put on a pot of tea, curl up in a quilt, and reread The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. <3

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