Saturday, 12 July 2014

A Shiver of Light

Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy> Faeries
Obtained: Public Library
Reviewed By: Maggie W.

I dislike everything about this cover. I get that the color chosen is supposed to fit with the fact that Light is in the title but it makes my eyes hurt. It looks like someone is staring at a half naked man through the sweaty mug of beer they're nursing at a strip club. I liked the less eye searing colors of the other books in the series, and this book doesn't match with those in any way. It also bugs me that the letters of the titles aren't uniform. I get that it's a design choice but it took much for my dyslexic brain to handle. I've got a hard enough time with letters drifting, turning and looking all together strange sometimes and this font doesn't help. 

About the Book:
A Shiver of Light is book number 9 in the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Normally I would want to review the other books in a series rather than starting 9 books in but I couldn't bring myself to reading most of the other books in the series over again. I really enjoyed the first 6 or so books in this series, and although I didn't really care for the last book, number 8, I decided I would give this series one last chance since the author hadn't released in this series in around 5 years.

Rating: 2/10
As I was reading this book I had every intention of writing a review afterwards. After finally finishing, blinking into the screen of my ebook reader, I realized that my brain had been reduced to pudding and I couldn't find anything to say. 
Words can't really express how truly terrible this book is. Fans had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Merry's babies and when she finally goes into labor, the birth happens off screen. That probably could have been forgiven except through the whole book Merry shows little to no interest in her children and spends almost no time with them. The majority of the babies' care falls to many of Merry's numerous lovers. The oly time Merry seems to show any type of interest or concern for any of the babies is when one of them shows signs of powerful glamour magic that seems to work on even pure sidhe. 
The vast majority of the book is spent with Merry and assorted other characters standing around in various locations, having mind-numbingly boring conversations in which they repeat the same things that have been said in other books in the series, earlier on in this book, or just repeating what other people have just said. 
When the book finally gets around to any kind of action, 4 chapters from the end of the book, the events happen off screen while Merry and Co. stand around having a conversation about what happened. 
This book was the literary equivalent of watching pain dry. 

I enjoyed the fact that Andais seemed to have more motivations that that of a cartoon evil villain. In the past she's only been shown to be a crazy, evil sadist who enjoys hobbies like murder and kicking puppies. In this book she seems more complex when she talks about missing her brother and wanting to have a relationship with her grand nieces and nephew. 

I also liked that finally she added a little realism into the books by killing off one of the many fathers of Merry's babies, Sholto. By the end of the book she didn't pull a, just kidding, we saved him with magic card, but I'm not putting it past Hamilton to do so in the next book.

The endless descriptions of clothing and people's personal appearances, and along with that, the intense need Hamilton seems to have with constantly insisting that Merry is the prettiest, awesomest, most perfect fae around and everyone else either wants in her pants or is totally jealous and is hiding the fact that they want in her pants. Hamilton doesn't seem to understand the concept that everyone has different types of people that they are attracted to, and that not every person is going to be attracting to you, and that's perfectly fine and doesn't in any way mean there's something wrong with them.
The fact that there was such a huge build up in the series to the importance of Merry getting pregnant and having a child, and when she finally has the babies everything dealing with them seems to be a few throw away pages, and then they're pretty much out of the picture. In the very small bits we get of the babies and Merry interacting with them, they just read terribly like they were written by someone who hated everything about being pregnant and having a baby.
The endless whining about having to wait so long to get to have sex because of Merry first being on bed rest and then because she gave birth to 3 babies. Sex is an important part of most healthy relationships(though you can have a great relationship without it), but with not 1, not 2 but 3 new babies in a house, even with lots of help you'll still be too busy and exhausted trying to adjust to all the babies schedules for sex to be on the table. It seemed like Merry and all the men were bitter that the babies seemed to cut into all the sexy fun times. I just pictured them all stamping their feet at their favorite toy being taken away.
Everyone in the book was stupid. Everything, and I mean everything seemed to be spelled out completely and they still weren't getting it. Not only that, but Doyle seemed to be purposely keeping information from Merry, who is supposed to be their queen, so as not to upset her, but all it was doing was keeping her stupidly uninformed and depended on him.

What I'm Reading Next:

Etiquette & Espionage

Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy> Steam Punk
Obtained: Barnes and Noble
Reviewed by: Maggie W.

I'm a bit so-so on the cover for this novel. One the one hand I really love the background color/pattern, and the font design of the title but I really dislike the model on the cover. I think my main irritation is that her one arm is in an extremely uncomfortable looking post while the other seems to have disappeared, and her head seems oddly proportioned to her body. 

About the Book:
After reading and really enjoying my last book, The Clockwork Scarab, I went seeking more Steam Punk novels. This book and it's sequel came up on a lot of lists of go to Steam Punk novel lists. From the summary for the book it seemed to be just the thing I was looking for, Victorian Period- check, Finishing School- check, Girls working as assassins- check. Just from the premise of it being a book all about girls attending a finishing school that's actually a secret training school for female assassins seemed like a brilliant idea for a book. Boy was I wrong. 

Rating: 3/10
Where do I even start with this book? The book begins like a lot YA books I've read, teenage female protagonist is misunderstood/unappreciated by her family, so her family decides to send her away somewhere. Sophronia(literally every time I read that name it made me stumble over it in my head and cringe) is the exact opposite of what her mother would like her to be. She's forever causing trouble, making messes and is all-in-all a bane and embarrassment to her mother. In order to make her less troublesome, her mother decides that she's going to send her off to finishing school so Sophronia can learn all the skills she needs to be a proper, polite, finished young lady of breeding.
What her mother doesn't realize is that instead of sending her to a school where she'll learn how to curtsy and needle point, she's leaning ways to use those types of skills for disguise her skills as a spy and possible assassin. 
So far so good. 
Early on in the book, after arriving at her new finishing school that's apparently located on a series of blimps that are all tied together(how this works, I don't know), Sophronia learns that an important, mysterious item has been stolen from the school and the instructors at the school are desperate to have it back before it gets into the hands of, well, they're never super clear as to who exactly they want to keep it from specifically. 

I absolutely loved the idea of taking the common concept of a Finishing School and turning it on its head. I've always loved the kind of books where girls get to be something besides just something pretty to look at and that have the skills to take care of themselves. 
Bumbersnoot! At one point in the book, Sophronia acquires a mechanimal dog which she names Bumbersnoot. I could have read a book all about Bumbersnoot doing adorable coal-powered robot puppy things. She has to feet him bits of coal every day to keep him powered and he hilariously leaves little piles of robot puppy poop that are piles of coal ash. 
I also enjoyed that the author took time to make the other characters that were in Sophronia's group of classmates all have personalities of their own. 

I wanted so badly to like this book and just couldn't. It had a great concept idea for the story and the writing was pretty good, but this book was just flat out boring! I couldn't count the number of times I set the book aside to do other things and nearly chucked it into the DNF pile. The only thing that kept me reading til the end was that I kept thinking, the next chapter we're going to get to the main plot, and it just never happened. The book sort of just plunked along for 17 chapters until I was left staring at the last page wondering if I'd somehow missed a large chunk of text with the action of the book happened. 

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Monday, 23 June 2014

We've Been Quiet

So all five of you have probably noticed that we haven't been posting any reviews lately. Well, although I have added two new reviewers, they have yet to post and will mainly be focusing on fan fiction and graphic novels. Speaking of the latter, that is the reason why yours truly has been absent since I decided to take some time to reread The Sandman comics from Neil Gaiman (which I highly recommend). Now that I have finished, I plan on trying my hand at snarking, starting with the infamous My Immortal. Pray for my sanity. I also plan on reading more of The Hobbit so that I can do another film vs book review. However, I will admit that I have been postponing this as I really dislike the films.

As for Maggie, well, she has become extremely busy and who knows when she will be able to return. She sends her apologies. However, if you are interested in becoming a reviewer, let me know. I would love to get this blog more active and more diverse in the reviews it covers.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Clockwork Scarab

Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy> Steam Punk
Obtained: Barnes and Noble
Reviewed By: Maggie W


I actually like this cover a lot. It's not too much detail or too busy overall. The majority of the detail seems to be on the scarab. It gives the cover a nice focal point. The font for the title is also artistic without making it almost impossible to read. 

About the Book:

This is the first book in a new series, Stoker and Holmes by Colleen Gleason. I knew just by the name of the series this book would either be really good or really terrible. For anyone not familiar with steam punk it's equal parts sci-fi/fantasy and alternate history. It's sort of the what if in the Victorian Era instead of advances in electrical technologies they made technical advances with coal, water and natural gas power instead. It's a lot of cogs, steam powered inventions, etc.  Something important to note about this book is that it has 2 lead character PoV so the chapters alternate between the 2, so it may be hard for some readers to adjust to. Luckily the author names the person who's PoV the chapter is though it the title to help keep things straight. 

Rating: 8/10

Mina Holmes is the daughter of Mycroft Holmes, and the niece of Sherlock Holmes. As smart as her father and uncle, and just as curious and observant as her uncle, she's spent most of her 17 years fending for herself and conducting experiments while her father is at work, until she receives a hand written message with no identity as to who it's from other than the writer being a woman of wealth. 

Your assistance is requested in a most pressing matter.
If you are willing to follow in the footsteps of your family, 
Please present yourself at the British Museum tonight at
midnight. Further direction will be provided at that time. 

She arrives at the museum early and meets another girl who received the same mysterious message. Evaline Stoker is the sister of writer Bram Stoker, though he hasn't written his famous novel yet, and the latest in a long line of women born to be vampire hunters.

The person who called them to the museum is Miss Irene Adler who under orders from a member of the royal family is investigating the disappearance and later murder of girls from titled families. In order to be better able to investigate and solve the murders, she decided to bring in Mina and Evaline, who will be able to blend in with the social group that the girls disappeared from.

Towards the end of the meeting, Mina, Evaline and Miss Adler hear the noise of one of the museum's large doors and they go to investigate because at the late hour the museum should be empty. In one of the unused rooms they find a boy, holding a knife, kneeling next to the body of a girl.

The boy claims to be part of the janitorial staff of the museum. While examining the scene and body, Mina decides that the girl couldn't have been killed at the scene because of the lack of blood where she lay even though she has a large cut on one arm. She also seems to have what appear to be burns all over her arms and she has a faint scent of opium on her.

The athorities are called but before the can aprehend the boy a device he has starts playing loud music, providing enough of a distraction that he's able to get away.

The two police inspectors that showed up at the museum question Mina, Evaline and Miss Adler about why they were there so late at night and how they came upon the body. Mina informs Inspector Grayling that she's already started a preliminary inspection of the body and he seems reluctant to listen to her findings even after being informed of her more well known relations. Mina and Grayling go back and forth trying to outdo each other on what they can tell from the victim as far as time of death, cause, etc.

After finally being allowed to leave, Evaline watches as Mina leaves in a cab and is startled by a man hiding near the building. Somehow he seems to know that Evaline is a vampire hunter and tells her that if she's ever in trouble that she should just say that she knows Pix. Before she leaves Pix tells her about the some men he'd seen loading a very large crate into a wagon from one of the doors to the museum even though there wasn't supposed to be anyone else there.

It turns out that the dead girl from the museum was part of a secret society that had ties to an Egyptian mythology based cult. In order to keep any more bodies from turning up Mina and Evaline must some how gain access to the society in order to find out who has been killing the girls. And that starts the main plot of the book. Mina and Evaline's attempts to infiltrate the Society of Sekhmet.


I really loved that Mina and Evaline both had strengths that complimented each other while at the same time neither was presented as being weak. It was really refreshing to read a book that while both the female leads had other characters they had a mutual romantic interest in, it wasn't presented as the be all end all of the whole plot, a plot point there seems to be a shortage of lately in teen fiction.


The boy that showed up in the museum, Dylan, didn't really seem to have a point in the story. Towards the end of the story he does help out with an escape plan but other than that he seems to serve no purpose other than being there. I also wasn't really a fan of the fact that at first Mina and Evaline seemed to really dislike each other even though they'd never met before. I've had enough of the stereotype that teen girls are automatically catty to each other.

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