hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Magic's Promise, by Mercedes Lackey. This is definitely the strongest book out of the trilogy. It's more plot and less character driven compared to the others, making for a much tighter story, without the major plot elements crammed in at beginning, middle, and end, as the other two books in the trilogy did. You definitely get a sense of the magic and politics of the wider world of Valdemar, which is great, but sadly the momentum won't last.

If I were to edit this, now, I'd lop out most of the first book, keep this one largely intact, trim out about the first half of the third and expand on the last quarter, and print it as a single novel.

Hunter of Demons, by Jordan L. Hawk. I got this as a free book after I signed up for the author's mailing list. (Seems a fair exchange for a couple of emails a month, yes?) You can also download it for free from Smashwords via the link. I liked it well enough - though not as well as Whyborne & Griffin *g* - and will probably pick up the omnibus edition of the 1st series at some point. 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.) Per Smashwords:


When Caleb is possessed by a vampire spirit named Gray, his only hope lies with hotshot federal exorcist John Starkweather. The only problem? If Caleb can't keep Gray from giving into Bloodlust, Starkweather will have no choice but to kill them both.


There also seems to be an underlying conspiracy theory that's no doubt spread through the rest of the series, and we also Gray's thoughts as he experiences life in a living body (previously he only possessed the dead), two things that honestly interested me more than the story itself.

Magic's Price, by Mercedes Lackey. I wanted to like this much more than I did. I should have, because there are a lot of elements in it that I like, just...Vanyel's moodiness and uncertainties and 'woe is me!' attitude just wore on me. It didn't help that the actual crisis of the novel - of the trilogy - was just kind of crammed into the last few pages and then - fizzled.

I was definitely not happy to have Rape As Drama gratuitously dumped in there. There were at least three ways to avoid Vanyel's capture period and there are just some things I do not like to see dropped in a story purely for shock value, and that's one of the big ones.

Overall the entire series felt like a fanfic - and that's not a shot, god knows that would be hypocritical - where the author wants to explore the characters away from the main storyline and so just uses the main storyline as background. That's not bad: I've read some wonderful stories that do that. It just doesn't work here.

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black, by E.B. Hudspeth. Would you like a beautifully illustrated horror story that sends cold tendrils creeping up your spine ever so slowly? May I suggest the above. This was amazing! Very impressive, especially considering a powerful story is delivered in roughly 50 pages - the 2nd half of the book is anatomical drawings of mythical creatures - and is one of the best examples of Nothing Is Scarier I've ever encountered. You have just enough information your imagination fills in the rest. Very definitely recommended!

Academ's Fury, by Jim Butcher. I did like this better than Furies of Calderon, though not enough that I'm rushing through the series. It's still in 'fill in the last allotted space of library books I can check out' territory. It didn't feel as unfinished as the first book, but where the first felt like it had more pages than story, this one almost feels like there's too much pressed into it. [livejournal.com profile] hamsterwoman suggested it would pick up around book #4, and I'm willing to give it at least that long. I might check out a wiki or TVTropes for info on #3 and just push ahead to 4, even.

Restless Spirits, by Jordan L. Hawk. And this is the book i got in exchange for signing up for the author's mailing list. Spiritualists and debunkers in a haunted castle? I can get behind that. It's set in roughly the same time period as Whyborne & Griffin (late 19th/early 20th century, during the Spiritualist craze) and has a few similarities. Vincent and Henry are distinctly different characters, however. Henry tends to be an ass at times and did a few things I didn't like. (Don't out people. Don't.) He can recognize or be brought to recognize his mistakes, though, so there's a promise of growth. I do like the steampunk-y feel to the book, which actually is in line with the time period. Think Edison's Spirit Phone.

My favorite character in the book would have to be Jo. Technically inclined women? Yes please! :D

What I'm Reading Now: The King of Elfland's Daughter, by Lord Dunsany. Trying to read, anyway. When you keep glancing at the page numbers to see how much further you have to go it's not a good sign. I don't know if it's the language or just that I had higher expectations but this is seriously heading toward the 'abandoned' shelf. Which I don't have, but am thinking of creating, just for this.

What I'm Reading Next: Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel, by Seanan McGuire. I've seen mixed review for this, but I read part of the sample for book #2 in the series and found it hard to tear away, so I'll give it a shot. The blurb on Goodreads doesn't sound terribly original, but you never know.
hoursgoneby: (hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: The Last Wish, by Andrej Sapkowski. I thought it got a little bit awkward and stretched with what it was trying to do near the end, but I also liked Geralt a lot better at the end of the book than the beginning. You could see more of his personality beyond 'silent deadly merc sorceror'. I'm interested in seeing what the other two books are like.

Magic's Pawn, by Mercedes Lackey. I got partway through this and thought, "okay, so it's a coming-of-age story, about a kid escaping from his family that doesn't understand him and finding out who he really is." It certainly is that, but the crisis of it was a lot more dramatic and shocking than I expected it to be. I didn't really get into it until about halfway through, and it picked up after that. I did get a little impatient with the teenage drama and Vanyel sulking like, well, a teenager, and yet another fantasy land with anti-LGBT+ prejudice - though I recognize that that may not have been such a trope when the book was written and there are people who can use a fictional character with their problems to identify with. I would have adored this when I was a teenager, and god knows I still empathize with Vanyel on the 'not having a name for what you are' front even though those days are thankfully long past. Still, it interested me enough to read the 2nd book in the trilogy which so far seems to be a lot less teen drama and angst.

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. I meant to read the above trilogy all in a row and not be a literary magpie this time, really I did, but my ereader ran out of battery power and shut itself off, so I had to go to physical books and this will always be one of my immediate fallbacks. :) Maia's such a good character, and so kind. I'd hug him, but while Kiru might just haul me off by my ear, Beshelar would gut me first and say it was his job immediately after. (Anyway, a glance at TGE fanfic gives one the impression Maia goes on to have impressive amounts of sex with pretty much everyone, so I'd say he's OK on the physical contact front. :P)

What I'm Reading Now: Magic's Promise (Valdemar: The Last Herald-Mage #2), by Mercedes Lackey. This takes place well after the first book, which I found a little jarring. I see from Goodreads that it's The Last Herald-Mage #2 but Valdemar #5, chronologically, which accounts for it, though that sort of thing is something I associate with comics rather than novels. It's not that events aren't referenced, but they're referenced sort of offhandedly and while the characters understand what's going on, the readers could have used a bit more explanation. Vanyel's much older, and calmer, and less prone to drama (so far, I have a feeling drama is incoming) and it talks more about magic and creatures, which I like.

What I'm Reading Next: Magic's Price (Valdemar: The Last Herald-Mage #3), by Mercedes Lackey. Apparently we're saving the world?

Academ's Fury (Codex Alera #2) by Jim Butcher. Well, it took me a couple of books to get into The Dresden Files too, so I'll give Codex Alera another shot or two. Thank goodness for libraries.

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black, by E.B. Hudspeth. I can't remember who recommended this to me, or if it was recommended to me, or if I just happened to like the cover. I borrowed the ebook from the library so it could even be a recommendation algorithm tossed it my way. I'm really hoping the illustrations show up well in my ereader.

Here's the blurb from Goodreads: Philadelphia, the late 1870s. A city of gas lamps, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriages—and home to the controversial surgeon Dr. Spencer Black. The son of a grave robber, young Dr. Black studies at Philadelphia’s esteemed Academy of Medicine, where he develops an unconventional hypothesis: What if the world’s most celebrated mythological beasts—mermaids, minotaurs, and satyrs—were in fact the evolutionary ancestors of humankind?
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Remnant: A Caldwell & Feximal/Whyborne & Griffin Mystery (The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, #3; Whyborne & Griffin, #3.5) by by K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk. The bright young things of London are being murdured by magic, and the only clues available are written in Egyptian hieratic. This takes place during W&G's London stopover on their way to Egypt in Necropolis. I did enjoy this, even though I'm not sure how I feel about Caldwell & Feximal yet. Probably because I read it for W&G, and am used to seeing them as the focus of the stories, and I'm not familiar with C&F there was a bit of 'yes, yes, you're very nifty, can we get back to my guys now please?' Perhaps I shall simply have to add a new series to The Stack. Though if The Stack gains a virtual component I may be lost.

Send tea and kittens.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley. Have you ever had a dream where everything in the dream is completely normal while you dream it, but just as you wake up you realize there are things that should be odd but aren't, like the way you're holding a casual conversation with a fictional character, or no one finds it odd that the short man in the bowler hat follows you everywhere? The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is like that, but the thing that should be odd but isn't is a clockwork octopus.

Look, I'm making a hash of this, but the point is that it's wonderful, and dreamlike, and I read it in a sitting and you should too.

Harmony: Whyborne & Griffin #5.5 by Jordan L. Hawk. I know, I thought I was finished everything too! But as I was reading the author's page on Goodreads, I tripped across a link for a W&G Christmas story (available free on her site, the link will take you there - contains spoilers for Bloodlines) so of course I clicked. Griffin sets up a scavenger hunt for Whyborne as part of a Christmas surprise. Now, sometimes I get a touch annoyed with Whyborne's tendancy towards petulance but I damn well sympathized here because I don't like surprise hunts and I don't like being made to guess things.

Case in point, two years ago my husband surprised me with a Valentine's present by getting up on the titular day and exclaiming, "oh, what's this by the bed?" I'm also not a morning person so my first reaction wasn't anything Valentine's related but: "how the fuck should I know? It's on your side!" He thought it was funny, though I felt bad afterwards, but he ought not to surprise me before coffee, really.

Still, it's a nice slice-of-life story overall.

The Chrome Borne (SERRAted Edge #1&4) by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon. You can read this omnibus edition without having read 2&3 and still understand what's going on, have no fear. There are elves who drive race cars and I can't think of a more compelling reason you should read this. (Though I'll admit to having a bias toward long-haired pretties with magic. There, there would really be no point in denying it.)

What I'm Reading Now: The Last Wish (The Witcher #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski. I haven't played the video games based on this, at least not yet, but the book looked very interesting, and it is! This is labeled #1, but it's actually a collection of short stories with what appears to be (I'm halfway through) an underlying narrative somewhat connecting them. It's rather like a grim version of Fractured Fairy Tales, but I like it.

Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: The Last Herald-Mage) by Mercedes Lackey. It's the library's fault. It distracted me. I really really truly this time did mean to work down The Stack but as I said to [personal profile] lucifuge5 the other day, I'm a literary magpie and easily distracted by shiny new books. Oh, and I borrowed the rest in the series too because, well, you can take out up to 5 ebooks at a time, why would I leave with slots empty? I'm not very far in but so far I have a lot of sympathy for Vanyel.

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