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2010 Book Review

May 4, 2010

8. The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison

Aaand…  this is why I need to be better about reviewing my books right after I finish them.  I had completely forgotten that I read this book until I went to review book 10 and realized that I couldn’t remember why I’d picked up book 10 in the first place.  Oh yeah!  I was looking for this book!  I’m a little behind in The Hollows books, but I’m working on it.  This was a pretty typical Rachael Morgan book, which is to say a good bit of book candy.  The characters which make the series great were all in attendance, and the plot clipped along nicely.  Kim Harrison writes witty dialog and does a great job of making a huge mess of her main characters’ lives, and then neatly resolving everything in the end, though not always in the way you’d expect.  If you’re looking for something new to read in the Urban Fantasy genre, I highly recommend this series.

9. Soulless by Gail Carriger

I read this book like it was on fire.  If I had picked this book up on a Friday afternoon instead of a Thursday, I probably would have finished it in a single day.  I’m currently watching Doctor Who while I workout, but the morning after I picked this up, I decided to read instead.  It’s been a while since I have so thoroughly enjoyed a book.  It was like reading Jane Austen with Vampires, something that one Amazon reviewer marked as a bad thing, but which was a definite plus in my opinion.  It’s slightly less flowery than Jane Austen, for those who aren’t fond of the style, and there is a great deal more nudity than Our Jane would dare, but it’s no romance novel.  Oh, there are a couple of awkward moments, and one scene at the very end which more delicate readers will probably skim.  But all in all, it’s funny, clever, and absolutely fabulous.  Some of the Victorian social strictures as described were a tad over the top, but I think I can forgive a little exaggeration in a book with supernatural critters.

10. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kid

I was originally looking for book 8 (as mentioned above), hoping that I could find the next few books in that series as well.  No luck, just the one was on the shelf.  So I look around at the surrounding shelves to see if anything else would catch my eye.  And there was “The Secret Life of Bees.”  Since that book is on my “To Read” list, I picked it up, along with this one.  I originally intend to read “The Secret Life of Bees” first, but “The Mermaid Chair” was on top of the pile when I grabbed my next book to read.  From the very beginning, I completely understood why this book was so popular with women’s book clubs.  I imagine that its story of rediscovering oneself after long years in the routine of marriage echoed strongly with a lot of women.  It’s beautiful, a whimsical, and heart breaking.  Not surprisingly, it turns out that Lifetime made a movie based on this book, which may give y’all an idea of the sort of story this is.  Read it anyways.

11.  My Own Kind of Freedom by Steven Brust

I am generally not a fan of fanfic.  It is very rare that a fanfic author can quite capture the same tone of the original, and many, many authors have a terrible habit of cramming sexin’ into the story where sexin’ is uncalled for (or even specifically in opposition to canon).  And don’t get me started on fanfic whose number one sin is the terrible writing and dialog.  This story, however, is well beyond the level of fanfic.  Yes, it is set in the Firefly universe.  Yes, it uses all of the characters who live and love aboard the Serenity.  But with a little tweaking and a rubber stamp of approval from Joss, this could easily be an official novel in the Firefly continuity.  I, like a few other reviewers, take some issue with one of the major driving plot points, but I think the author does a good job getting everyone and everything to fit neatly between the TV series and the movie.  The tone is sometimes a little forced, but otherwise captures the sort of irreverently obvious conversational style of the characters which can only be described as Whedonesque.  Besides the above mentioned plot point, my only complaint is that the book wasn’t quite long enough.  But I suppose that’s rather Whedonesque too, isn’t it?

A4.  First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher

A review I read of this book complained that new readers were “tossed into a complex plot without any explanation of the considerable backstory.”  Clearly, this is a reviewer who wants a chapter long summary of the five books that went before this one.  And to those sorts of people, I say “Read the other damn books, they’re awesome.”  There is enough exposition of the backstory to remind readers who have faithfully read all of the previous books, but not so much that it bogs down the flow of the story.  What it does not do is explain what happened in all the previous books, which I personally am usually grateful for in a story.  I hate books that spend half the story reminding readers how the previous story went.  First Lord’s Fury is packed chock full of action, adventure, intrigue, and fighting.  Lots, and lots of fighting.  I can’t really complain about the amount of fighting because it is, after all, the last book and the culmination of the battle of Hope and Light against Destruction and Darkness.  I can, however, complain about the occasional moments of “Really?  Did you just have your character invent a common battle tactic in our word and call it amazing in yours?”  Those are fairly infrequent, though, so aren’t really a negative.  I think every author does it sometimes, especially when having theoretically “primitive” cultures fighting against an enemy of astounding odds.  The witty banter is sometimes a little excessive, but still enjoyable.

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