18. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Elizabeth, Fantasy, Fiction

Hunted by Kevin Hearne, read by Elizabeth, on 07/16/2013

I just finished Hunted by Kevin Hearne, the sixth in the Iron Druid Chronicles. It was, like the previous books in the series, absolutely fantastic. This is urban fantasy at its best.
Hearne’s series tells the story of Atticus O’Sullivan (an alias for Siodhachan O Suileabhain), a 2100-year-old Druid who finally stands up to one bully only to find himself in deeper and deeper trouble. Atticus has a faithful companion in his Irish Wolfhound Oberon, whose hilarious comments provide much-needed comic relief in the midst of Atticus’s life running from one disaster to the next. Atticus and Oberon also have a new companion, a newly minted Druid named Granuaile with whom Atticus is in love. In Hunted, Atticus, Oberon and Granuaile find themselves in the familiar position of running, this time from angry Olympians out for blood.
The story is action-packed, full of twists and turns, smart and funny. I absolutely loved it. My only complaint is that now that I’ve finished it, I have to wait for the next Iron Druid story.

18. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Elizabeth, Fiction, Science Fiction

Old Man's War by John Scalzi, read by Elizabeth, on 07/15/2013

 

I’ve been reading John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, the first in the series by the same name. It is, as expected, fantastic. Fans of hard sci fi and character-driven sci fi are sure to love it.
Scalzi, the mind behind Star Gate Universe, successfully blends the cold logic of military science fiction with the emotionally driven character drama he brought to SGU. This is a mix that could go horribly wrong, but Scalzi gets it right. The only thing I would change is the long build-up, but even that isn’t terrible.
Old Man’s War is a fantastic story. It combines action, adventure, war, friendship, exploration and even love. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

26. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Award Winner, Elizabeth, Fiction, Food, Mystery

The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames, read by Elizabeth, on 06/22/2013

The Long Quiche Goodbye

Sometimes after I finish a particularly dark or weighty book, I like to add something light to my reading diet. The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames, which won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 2010, was just the sort of dessert course I needed. It is no masterpiece of beautiful writing nor is it innovative in its plot – it is simply a fun, relaxing cozy mystery.
Cheese seller and amateur sleuth Charlotte Bessette has just expanded the family cheese business. But on the night of her grand reopening, her landlord is murdered just outside of her store – and her grandmother is the prime suspect. Charlotte works to find the guilty party to save her grandmother from prison.
The Long Quiche Goodbye is an enjoyable read. If you’re in the mood for a light, quick cozy mystery, this book is for you.

26. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Elizabeth, Horror

London Falling by Paul Cornell, read by Elizabeth, on 06/16/2013

London Falling

I was excited when I picked up a copy of Paul Cornell’s London Falling. The book has been widely described as urban fantasy, a genre that I really enjoy. I knew of Cornell from his work on the television program Doctor Who. I immensely enjoyed London Falling, but I do not consider it to be a wholly urban fantasy novel.

London Falling tells the story of a group of police officers who have worked to find enough evidence against a local gang leader to put him behind bars. When the suspect is gruesomely killed in a locked room, the police are baffled. Their investigation leads them to discover another London, one filled with magic, witchcraft and evil.

While I understand why the novel is being described as urban fantasy, I disagree with that assessment. Perhaps it has some elements of the genre, but I would describe London Falling as a police procedural supernatural horror with a very British sense of humor. The result is a horrifyingly exciting story that I would recommend to fans of supernatural horror, police procedurals and English football (soccer) humor.

 

 

16. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Children's Books, Elizabeth, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by Elizabeth, on 06/10/2013

I recently had the great pleasure to listen to the audiobook version of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. This audiobook won the 2009 Audie Award for Best Audiobook. The story itself won a plethora of awards including the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 2009 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel and even more award nominations. This whimsical audiobook, narrated by the author, is sure to delight older children, young adults and adults.
I had read the print version of The Graveyard Book before. It tells the story of Nobody Owens, who was left in the care of the ghosts and other creatures of a very old graveyard after his parents’ murder. The murderer spends years searching for Nobody, who is protected by his new family of ghosts, vampires and other graveyard creatures. Nobody eventually faces down his parents’ murderer. This is a story of family, friendship and, ultimately, growing up.
The audiobook, narrated by Gaiman himself, is delightful. Gaiman’s performance is (predictably) perfect. I highly recommend The Graveyard Book in any format, but the audiobook is superb.

02. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Elizabeth, Fantasy, Fiction, Reviewer · Tags: ,

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs, read by Elizabeth, on 05/21/2013

Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series is one of my favorite urban fantasy series. Mercy, the series protagonist tough chick who shape shifts into a coyote, is entertaining, relatable and is still, at times, surprising. Too often, urban fantasy heroines are too obvious. Mercy has some of those too-tough attributes common to the genre – she’s an auto mechanic, she runs with werewolves and vampires, she gets a little beat up. But Mercy will also throw readers a curve ball now and then – her motivations and vulnerabilities are realistically human. Mercy, unlike some stereotypical urban fantasy heroines,  does not have to be a superwoman all of the time.
Frost Burned, the seventh in the Mercy Thompson series, is as entertaining and enjoyable as the rest of the series. I read the book in a day. I was absorbed in it, I loved it – but when I put it down, it ended for me. Mercy did not surprise me this time. The story was fun and exciting, but I can’t say it did much more. Perhaps Ms. Briggs has spoiled me, but I hope the next one gives me a little more to think about.

02. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Elizabeth, Fantasy, Fiction, Reviewer · Tags:

Blood Trade by Faith Hunter, read by Elizabeth, on 05/28/2013

I have nothing but praise for Blood Trade, the sixth in Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series. As always, Ms. Hunter gives readers action, adventure, mystery and – perhaps most importantly – heart. We rejoin Jane after the treacherous master vampire Leo (perhaps unknowingly) bound Beast. She is depressed, unable to shift into Beast for fear of being inextricably tied to Leo and unbearable to her new roomates. A new job out of town gives Jane and Beast the escape they need, at least temporarily.
What follows is a fantastic, exciting and surprisingly touching read. I could not ask for more. I anxiously await the next installment of Jane’s story.

02. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Elizabeth, Fiction, Science Fiction

Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld by Larry Niven, read by Elizabeth, on 05/31/2013

I’m going to admit right up front that I have a bit of a soft spot for Larry Niven’s Known Space books. When I was 13 years old, I found Protector on a dusty shelf in a library, and thus discovered my love of science fiction. Niven opened universes to me.

Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld (reportedly) wraps up Niven’s classic Ringworld series and Niven and Lerner’s Fleet of Worlds series, which functioned as a sort of sister series to the Ringworld series. The Fleet of Worlds books never quite achieved what the Ringworld managed. They were a bit too clever for their own good, required too much back story and lacked the straightforwardness of the Ringworld books. Perhaps that was Lerner’s influence, or perhaps both Niven and Lerner were a bit too ambitious in their plotting, but Fleet of Worlds never lived up to the brilliance of the Ringworld series.
With that said, they were required reading for Known Space junkies like myself. The treachery of the Puppeteers, the surprising variety of aliens caught in the Puppeteers’ plans and the fantastic exploration of space kept me reading. Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld had all of the brilliance I expected of it and yet suffered from the same ills of the rest of the Fleet of Worlds series. The first half of the book is largely back story. To call it a slow burner would be generous, but with 40-some years between the first Ringworld book and this (apparent) end to the series, there was a lot of back story to cover. That said, once the story was sufficiently set up, it progressed quickly. This was a coming together of the many characters who spanned the series. Even those long-dead got a cameo appearance. And when the story ended, I had a tear in my eye.
Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld will not have wide appeal. Those new to the series would be quite lost. But for Known Space fans, it is sure to be required reading. With a wink and a nod to all that came before, Niven and Lerner have wrapped up 40-some-odd years of stories in fan-pleasing style.