Monday, February 20, 2012

A Sword for His Women, 6/60 towards goal

A Sword for His Women by A. Jacob Sweeny is an episode in the Pulse Historia series. These are shorter pieces of fiction relating to his trilogy The Pulse Myths.

I picked this up because it recieved excellent reviews. I should know better by now, "The Gargoyle" by Andrew Davidson also recieved excellent reviews and I couldn't get past the first couple chapters. A Sword for His Women involves immortals, war, bloodshed, and a blood drinking Vlad. It should have been good. Better than this anyway...

My biggest concern is that it makes no attempt to engage the reader at all, it covers events in a very removed kind of way. They engaged the enemy, there were boats, it looked bad. Two years later... I was reading a list of events (one that didn't actually tell me what happened most of the time) and not reading a story. It was like being in History class, except that in class I got more of a feel for who Napoleon was than I did for any of these characters.

This is a book I should have passed up, and I recommend you look elsewhere too.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare 5/60 towards goal

I had honestly never heard of this book until a writer's group meeting with the Cape Coral Creative Writers. A couple of the girls were chatting excitedly about the release of "Clockwork Prince". I decided to look into the novels, and on Christmas I ordered "Clockwork Angel." It would be over a month until I started it because, frankly, I was somewhat concerned that the book might be more chick-lit-ish. Considering the girls in my writing group I should have known better.

Now yes, there is some juvenile romance in the novel, but that is certainly in the background. The novel is about... Nephilim. My spell checker on this computer doesn't like the word, which is a horrible shame. Considering what I write, this is a word that comes up often.

Nephilim are angel/human hybrids. In Genesis angels left heaven to procreate with human women. Nephilim are their children. Different books treat them differently, speculating on what they might be like. Alivia Andder's book, Illumine, reveals that the main character is a nephilim, and that they are powerful weapons. In Clockwork Angel the nephilim are "shadow hunters" that maintain a kind of balance between humans (they call them "mundanes") and things not-so-human.

When Tessa is kidnapped by a pair of warlock sisters known as the Dark Sisters she learns that she has a mysterious power. The Dark Sisters planned on teaching her how to use it and then giving her to the secretive "Magister."

Tessa is rescued by Will, a shadow hunter, just before the Magister can take possession of her. Tessa is brought to "the Institute" where she learns that her entire life was little more than a dream, and she has only just awoken to the reality of who she is and how the world works.

Clockwork Angel was an amazing novel. Highly enjoyable. My only complaint is that on the Kindle version the formatting is a little off. On occasion the text of the story will be interrupted with the title of the book or the chapter. The first time that happened I was very confused.

I highly recommend this novel, and I am looking forward to reading Clockwork Prince.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher. Goal 4/60

Incarceron is a YA novel by Catherine Fisher that I discovered while looking through a list of books that my friend wanted to read. It looked interesting, a story about a living prison. The premise seemed so pregnant with potential.

So I read the book, and I was not disappointed. While I would have liked a lot more on the prison itself, the story focused on two primary main characters:

Finn, a prisoner within Incarceron that believes that he came from outside. He is trying to find answers to who he is and what makes him different from others.

And Claudia Arlex, the daughter of the warden of Incarceron. Her father was always distant, and she sought to learn his secrets. She is in a prison herself, being trapped in a betrothal to the prince, Caspar, whom she dislikes. She had been betrothed to his half-brother, Giles, until he met a riding accident and died.

When Finn finds a key that can offer him salvation from the hell that is Incarceron he sets out on an adventure to find his escape. Meanwhile Claudia comes upon a key of her own and discovers that there are many more secrets hidden in Incarceron than she could have guessed.

Parts of the story were highly predictable, this is a YA novel after all, but parts were surprising. I was shocked as to some of the developments, mostly surrounding John Arlex, the Warden of Incarceron.

The storyline was tight, the plot entertaining. I am looking forward to the next part of the story.

"Only the man that has known freedom can define his prison."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Illumine, by Alivia Anders Goal 3/60

And the book that brings me to a whopping 5% of my goal is Illumine, the debut offering by a talented, young new author, Alivia Anders.

Illumine tells the story of Essallie Hanley. Essallie was a typical teenage girl living in New York City; she went shopping with her friends, had a boyfriend, liked to party... but something was nagging at her this time. She didn't really want to go to this party at her boyfriend's place. She was getting tired of showing up only to find him drunk. Reluctantly she shows up at the party anyway, lured in part by her friend Cassie Knight's promise that Essallie's boyfriend, Chase, had a "wicked good" surprise for her.

Essallie had no way of knowing that the surprise would be all wicked, and no good.

Betrayed by her boyfriend Chase and her 'friend' Cassie, Essallie learns that she might not be so normal after all. Unfortunately this realization comes as her boyfriend is murdered right in front of her and devoured by the very demon that he intended to give Essallie to.

Now, months later, Essallie has to deal with the emotional trauma of what happened at the party. And as she learns that the demons aren't just in her head she has to race against the clock to figure out just what she really is-- and what that all means.

The story was fast paced and had plenty of twists to keep my interest. Demons and the supernatural usually make for good reading in my opinion anyway, and I liked the take on nephilim. There are some books, like the Hunger Games, that left me content to read the first in the series and not worry about the next part, but I will definately be looking to read the next in this series.

There were some threads that seemed undeveloped, but that may be resolved in other installments. I would have been more fulfilled with a little more story on some things. Cassie being revealed as a necromancer without any justification or development, the subtle but completely unexpected and well, out-of-nowhere romance between Essallie and Kayden.

The lack of deveopment of these threads does not, however, diminish from the story itself. And I found the story enjoyable, and worthy of my time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Proven Guilty, The Dresden Files. Goal 2/60

Book Eight of the Dresden Files, Dead Beat continues the series without slowing down. On the contrary, as the novel progresses new developments and relevations about what has gone before promise a strong, vibrant story yet to come.

While I have tackled series of multiple books like this in the past I have often found that they begin to slow and give less and less satisfaction as the story progresses. I got no further than book 8 of the Sword of Truth series despite enjoying it.

Proven Guilty did not slow me down. I am anxious to get to the next book to see how the story proceedes.

Lots of strings from previous books were developed. Harry's relationship with Murphy, Thomas, Michael, Molly and even the likes of Charity and Morgan all shift to a certain degree. And there continue to be promises of something developing between Harry and Karrin Murphey.

The book starts with the execution of a warlock-- someone that employees black magic and breaks the laws of magic-- by the White Council. The only sentence for breaking any of the laws is death. Harry is forced to witness the bloody execution despite his oppostition to it. The whole ordeal is simply too close to his past for him to accept it as correct.

Things quickly become complicated for Harry when Molly, eldest daughter of Michael and Charity Carpenter, comes to him looking for help. The story takes on many unexpected twists and sees Harry up against powerful forces of the Fae again.

An excellent read, keeping pace with an amazing series.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dead Beat, by Jim Butcher. Finished books goal: 1/60

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series has long appealed to me. A wizard living in Chicago making his -meager- living taaking cases and working with the police. Book seven of the series, Dead Beat, kept my interest at least as well as the six before it. The story was interesting and fast paced, plot twists surprising and not disappointing.

In this instalment we learn that a certain blampire (yes, blampire) is in a position to seriously damage the career and life of Harry Dresden's friend, the chief of Special Investigations, Karrin Murphey. Harry is blackmailed into helping the undead sorcerous and told to retrieve a book written by a powerful necromancer.

As it would turn out Harry is not the only one seeking the book. His quest to find it pits him against forces much more powerful than he has encountered in the past.

Many important threads from previous books are developed and explored, and memorable characters from previous novels make appearences. Harry gets into troubles that only someone like him could manage, but he is simply too stubborn to die. And polka, polka will never die.


This new year instead of making resolutions I decided to simply set goals. I am not going to resolve to do things differently or to make significant changes in my life, I am going to write a list of things I need to accomplish this year and go at it.

One of my goals is to finish over 60 books this year. That breaks down to five books a month. This is a very achievable goal. So the best way to keep track of this is right here on this blog. And just after midnight I completed my first novel of the new year, Dead Beat by Jim Butcher. The book was excellent, as his entire series has been, and it is a great way to start the year.

So here's to reading a lot in the new year! I am on my way!