Review: Glory in Death by J.D. Robb

Glory in DeathGlory in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death #2)
Read: April 29 – May 1, 2013
Personal read.

Goodreads Book Blurb: It is 2058, New York City. In a world where technology can reveal the darkest of secrets, there’s only one place to hide a crime of passion-in the heart.

Even in the mid-twenty-first century, during a time when genetic testing usually weeds out any violent hereditary traits before they can take over, murder still happens. The first victim is found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second is murdered in her own apartment building. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas has no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provide Eve with a long list of suspects.

My Opinion: This second installment in the crime procedural/romance is even better than the first. Robb/Roberts has gotten her feet under her, and she is running.

I found the characters were much more accessible this time around when I dipped into the world of Eve Dallas. They are still developing, which is fantastic, but they were also so much more present. And of course, this book introduces one of my favorite characters.

I didn’t see who the killer was right away, but I did get it before the reveal, which I liked.

Once again, the sex scenes in Glory in Death are overdone, but I kind of expected that. It doesn’t really add much to the story to know exactly how the characters are boinking each other, but I don’t feel like it took anything away, either.

The futuristic setting is almost an afterthought in this book, but since it just seems to be getting better, I am eager to see how Robb/Roberts tackles it in upcoming books.

Bottom Line: Another great romp through crime and sex. What more could you ask for?

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Review: Saints Astray by Jacqueline Carey

Saints AstraySaints Astray by Jacqueline Carey (Santa Olivia #2)
Read: January 28 – February 3, 2013
Format: Paperback (library book), 356 pages
ISBN: 978-0-446-57142-5

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing/Hatchette Book Group, 2011

Book Blurb: Fellow orphans, amateur vigilantes, and members of the Santitos, Loup Garron – the fugitive daughter of a genetically engineered “wolf man” – and Pilar Ecchevarria grew up in the military zone of Outpost 12, formerly known as Santa Olivia. But now they’re free, and they want to help the rest of the Santitos escape. During a series of escapades, they discover that Miguel, Loup’s former sparring partner and reprobate surrogate brother, has escaped from Outpost 12 and is testifying on behalf of its forgotten citizens – at least until he disappears from protective custody. Honor drives Loup to rescue Miguel, even though entering the U.S could mean losing her liberty. Pilar vows to help her.

It will take a daring and absurd caper to extricate Miguel from the mess he’s created but Loup is prepared to risk everything… and this time she has help.

My Opinion: This book took me so long to read. I was not invested in it at all, and I was waiting for it to be over. If it wasn’t such a short book, I would have given up on it.

It shares nothing with the first book except for the flaws. There is gratuitous sex, profanity and overuse of the word “baby”. I was so tired of all of the fade-outs on Pilar and Loup having sexy-times by page 50. It felt like every 5-10 pages there was some mention of it. We get it. The two of them are in love. They like having sex. I have no issues with sex in books, but it was overkill.

In my review of book one, I was very happy with  Jacqueline Carey’s character development. The selfishness, the anguish. Even though we never got a really good look in Loup’s head, the characters still felt solid. That aspect was severely lacking in Saints Astray. None of the characters had any substance to them, Loup especially. I know that being fearless would make her different, but for someone who is supposed to be essentially human, she was exceptionally blank.

Then we have the story. I think rather than Saints Astray, the title should have been “Saints Adrift”. Loup and Pilar set off on an adventure as bodyguards. Technically, the writing is great, but story-wise… the writing was severely lacking. Their being bodyguards was so unrelated to Outpost that it just made me sit and stare at the book for a minute. Then when Outpost-related things happened, they happened so fast. The worldbuilding remains thin, and even when Loup and Pilar are asked to explain their exploits, they respond with “That is a bit of a weird story”. If your characters don’t even know why they did what they did… it probably wasn’t a good choice. Overall, not worth the ending and having everything tied up for the series.

Also, for people being one-in-a-hundred to find Loup appealing rather than repulsive… there sure seemed to be a lot of them in the book.

Bottom Line: Jacqueline Carey remains strong technically, but Saints Astray is so glaringly different from book one that I found it to be jarring and unsatisfying, not to mention a little boring.

Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Spoiler Free)

Howl's Moving CastleHowl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Read: November 28 – December 3, 2012
Format: Paperback (owned book), 212 pages
ISBN: 0-7497-0903-0

Publisher: Mandarin Paperbacks, 1991

Personal read.

Book Blurb: Sophie lived in the town of Market Chipping, which was in Ingary, a land in which anything could happen, and often did – especially when the Witch of the Waste got her dander up. Which was often.

As her younger sisters set out to seek their fortunes, Sophie stayed in her father’s hat shop. Which proved most unadventurous, until the Witch of the Waste came in to buy a bonnet, but was not pleased. Which is why she turned Sophie into an old lady. Which was spiteful witchery.

Now Sophie must seek her own fortune. Which means striking a bargain with the lecherous Wizard Howl. Which means entering his ever-moving castle, taming a blue fire-demon, and meeting the Witch of the Waste head-on. Which was more than Sophie bargained for…

My Opinion:Unlike most people I have encountered, I did not see the movie before picking up the book of Howl’s Moving Castle. Though I had heard of it. So I had no preconceived notions of what the story would be. I like that better… I would rather go into a movie with the preconceived notions than a book, personally. But I digress.

This was a delightful book. If I didn’t have so much going on, I probably would have read it all in one sitting. The story flowed fairly well, though the writing style took some getting used to for me. Diana Wynne Jones has taken on a particular tone with her writing in this book that I have labeled as “detached third person”. While all third person is detached, I can just imagine this entire book being done as a voice-over, probably in a delightful British accent. It lacked warmth and familiarity with the characters. While I liked the characters and the setting, I never felt supremely attached to any of them.

The plot of Howl’s Moving Castle is really quite intriguing. I keep picking up these small books, expecting small stories. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Things kept happening, and yet, nothing really happened. Some of the twists I saw coming a mile away, and some I only got partially right. And some blind-sided me completely.

The characters in Howl’s Moving Castle were really interesting, and I wish the book had been longer so they could have been explored more. In a book of just over two hundred words, the author has to make a choice between characters and back story and the plot moving forward. Any author worth their salt (which Diana Wynne Jones clearly is) will make the choice to keep the plot moving and sacrifice a bit in the way of characters. I want to know more about The Witch of the Waste, and Howl, and Sophie. We get glimmers, but I want the whole damn light bulb!

I am interested to see how the rest of the series goes, because everything did tie up pretty nicely at the end. The big climactic moment was not all that climactic, thus earning it a lower star rating on Goodreads. But overall, enjoyable.

Bottom Line: Enjoyable fantasy book that will keep you engaged with its twisty plot. Be warned though, it is a short book, and the end will come all too soon.

Review: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (Spoiler Free)

The Colour Of MagicThe Colour Of Magic by Terry Pratchett (Discworld #1)
Read: November 21 – November 27, 2012
Format: Paperback (owned book), 253 pages
ISBN: 0-451-45112-0

Publisher: ROC (The Penguin Group), 1985

Personal read.

Book Blurb: Discworld – perched on the backs of four cosmically gargantuan elephants (who themselves are traveling through the intergalactic void atop a giant sea turtle) – is a place where anything can happen.

And it does when Twoflower, a naive insurance salesman turned tourist, makes the mistake of selling fire insurance to an arson-prone innkeeper. One burning town later, Twoflower and his amazing, sentient Luggage – which follows him everywhere on its hundreds of little feet – find themselves rescued by the inept wizard Rincewind, who is only too happy to turn tour guide as long as the gold flows free. And off this mismatched threesome go on an incredible adventure in the wildest realms of fantasy!

My Opinion: I have been meaning to read The Colour of Magic for so long. It always seemed like my kind of book. However, my library doesn’t have it, and I was trying to curb my new book buying. But, when the annual book sale rolled around, I couldn’t resist picking it up used for a fantastic price.

I am glad I did.

The Colour of Magic has been compared to The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and I can see why. Both Pratchett and Adams share this way of writing that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The prose itself is extremely well written, if deceptively dense for such a little book. The humor is exceptional, light-hearted and fitting the setting perfectly. I found it to be almost an exact replica of the style found in The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. That said, it is definitely the kind of writing I had to be in the right mood for.

The story is meandering, with bursts of action here and there. The Colour of Magic never felt like it was dragging, though there were periods where I wondered what the point was, and I can’t really say I ever got completely sucked into the story.

Rincewind and Twoflower are delightful characters. They have flaws, they are unconventional… just really enjoyable to read about.

It is a short book, so this is a short review.

Bottom Line: Quirky fantasy parody, not unlike The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is to the science fiction genre. Delightfully written, but sometimes wanders a little too much.

Literary Moments #6234

That moment when you are reading a book and thoroughly enjoying it. You may even be laughing.

Then the realization strikes.

This is the last book in the series.

And you die a little inside.

(Currently reading Timeless by Gail Carriger and I am so sad that it is the last book in the series. I love these characters.)