Monday, December 26, 2011

100 Book Challenge Weeks 8 & 9

Lesson Learned: it's really hard to catch up when you're behind schedule on a demanding challenge like this. I've been reading every spare moment and I've just finished book #19, so I've "only" 7 books to catch up. That's a LOT of reading, you know! Ok, I did work the challenge on a 50-week year so that I had a two-week leeway, but I'm loathe to gobble that up so early in the year. What if I get really busy when my language training kicks in? Oh, lordy, I'm in trouble!

Oh well, the holidays have helped. Perhaps I can catch up and get a little ahead before the studies begin.

Book Review #15: Alex Craft – Grave Witch
Author: Kalayna Price
Genre: Fantasy

   Having read and enjoyed Kalayna Price’s previous novels, I was really excited to get this, her newest offering. However, the sales pitch on it should have been along the lines of: “And now for something completely different…”

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure I liked it, but Price is a brilliant writer and she held me captivated for the whole story. Now, at the end, I can’t wait for the next one in the series.

Alex Craft sees, and talks to, dead people. In fact, she’s on a first name basis with Death. She works for private clients, raising the shades of relatives so that they can ask questions such as “where did you leave the will?” An opportunity arises for her to work with the police, helping them solve cases, which she sees as a source of regular income – but she doesn’t realize it will come with a whole lot of life-threatening situations!

Price writes snappy, intriguing, well-formulated mysteries and you’re kept guessing throughout the book. I had figured out one of the characters (it was a little obvious), but other than that, she kept the thread tight and well-hidden. Brilliant writing, great story, lovely character and fun side-kicks.

More, more!

Book Review #16: Dynasty of Ghosts
Author: P.L. Nunn
Genre: Fantasy

This is one very different book, from an author who not only writes, but also illustrates her own books AND is a sought after illustrator for other author’s books. One talented lady! As if that weren’t enough, she is self-published. Talented and brave!

Dynasty of Ghosts is the tale of Illya, a simple mountain man/boy who joins the army as an alternative to joining the priesthood. He is thought to be fey, due to his fine skin, strange hair and eye coloring, and ability to see, hear, and talk to ghosts.

He meets up with Ashe, Prince of the country, reluctant Heir to the throne, and new companion-in-chains when the two of them are captured by the enemy.

I must admit to being unsure why Ms Nunn included the ghost aspect into her story. It is an excellent piece without them, and I was hooked from virtually the first paragraph. However, the ghosts added a quirky side-tag, and it was not disruptive to include them, so ok.

As a die-hard fantasy fan, this had arrows and horses and battles galore, court intrigue and jealous lovers, mystical lands and fascinating cultures.

Loved it!

Book Review #17: Divide & Conquer
Author: Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux
Genre: Police/Detective Mystery

Yes, I returned to the last book I had in the series. I have it loaded and I figured I may as well read it, or it will hang around my neck like an albatross.

Actually, I’m glad I did. It opened with repartee and jokes in the first chapter that had me laughing out loud, had an action-packed plot, and then built up to an excellent finale. There was a lot of side angles that added to the interest and a development of both characters from “big tough guy” to “real live person”. It was terrific, and would have been an excellent end to the series.

Unfortunately, the authors are caught up in the joy of their writing and ended rather annoyingly. There is a book 5. I shall not be getting it. Maybe if I’d only read books 2 and 4, I’d work through a couple more, but I think I’m done.

Thanks anyway.

UFB – UnFinished Book

Every now and then I get a book I just can’t force myself to read. Once I couldn’t make the end of the first chapter. Most times I’ll give a book 2 or 3 chapters before I finally throw in the towel.

Due to this book challenge, I really have tried to finish books that I may otherwise have put aside. Especially as I’ve taken the time that I could be using to read another book. This challenge is time-sensitive after all. And danged hard work.

Anyway, so as to justify my time, I’m going to include a section for UFBs – UnFinished Books. At the very least so that I can humph about having to quit!

UFB: #1 A Promise Kept
Author: Stormy Glenn
Genre: WTF Knows?

This book proved more than I could bear. The writing is juvenile and the plot, such that I managed to understand, thin. I felt like I was reading a high-school submission. For example, in one paragraph, two short lines ended with “right now”. An idea is explored in one short, three line paragraph, and then repeated immediately after in the next. It was jarring and did not make for a comfortable reading flow.

To the person who recommended it, sorry, but this just didn’t work for me.

Book Review #18: Moon Called – Mercy Thompson Book 1
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Fantasy

There are occasions when you stumble upon an author who thrills you such that you are delighted to discover she writes in series. Patricia Briggs makes this elect, and I loved this, her first book.

Mercedes Thompson, Mercy to her friends, runs a small one-woman garage. Her best friend is a werewolf, one of her best customers is a vampire, and she herself has a few.. interesting.. talents.

A young, injured runaway werewolf appears on Mercy’s doorstep and unwittingly launches her into a world of deadly foes, dangerous players, and hidden motives. Whilst she has some knowledge of werefolk, she is gravely undereducated on other aspects of the preternatural, as well as the extent of her own abilities.

I’m dying to give you more information, but this plot is so well laid out, with snippets being released slowly throughout, that it is difficult to work out what I can give you without giving something away. And it’s just sooo delicious to discover these little tidbits, I wouldn’t deprive you of the fun.

Now, I’m off to book 2. Can’t wait!

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