pushing 60 reads a year; i'll try not to cheat

Archive for November 2008

darkfever by karen marie moning

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I discovered Karen Marie Moning’s DARKFEVER in Saigon of all places. Bought it, now reading it as I crash after days of high energy being a tourist, really enjoying it! the heroine starts out shallow but gutsy–which is not a minus in my book. The adventure is so much more intense if everything is bewildering at first, experienced by someone who has a lot of growing up to do to survive.

The story – pretty and sheltered, mackayla or mac only worries about her makeup, pink outfits, and earning enough college units to keep her parents happy. But her pretty little world shatters when her older sister gets killed in Dublin.


But before her sister dies, she calls mac on her cellphone, leaving a voice message about having to find the Sinsar Dubh. For the first time, she leaves her southern hometown and travels to Dublin to get the cops to reopen the case. But in dublin, she starts seeing shadows that move on their own and runs into menacing bookstore owner barrons, who tells her she is a sidhe seer, one who can see through fae glamor and thus a prime target for the light and dark fae.

Mac is scornful, suspicious; her modern sensibilities affronted by tales of fairies coming to get her. Then she sees more of the dark fae… and they definitely were out to get her!

So she reluctantly joins Barrons in a search for objects of power (oops, as Mac irreverently calls them). The Sinsar Dubh, it turns out, is a million-year old book containing the darkest and most powerful spells in the world. They must find it even as they discover the walls between fae and humans are falling down–more and more of the dark fae, abominations all of them, are pouring into our world, seeking life and beauty so they can steal them or destroy them…

Mac starts out as insipid, but as things become complicated we see her changing, motivated by grief, a desire to find her sister’s killer and avenge her, and maybe discovering a concern for something outside her small world defined by herself and family as she witnesses what the fae can do to people… Even the light fae destroys by sex; humans who have intercourse with the fae becomes addicted to sex, wasting away until they die of despair.

I rarely finish a book in record time these days because of so many distractions, but i did this one. The plot is gripping, the characters enigmatic (good guys aren’t really good; V’lane, the light fae prince, keeps trying to subjugate mac into acquiescing to rape by force of his sex magic), the setting exquisite (the foggy streets of Dublin, heels tapping on cobblestone roads, pubs and bookstores as beacons in a city being overrun by monsters), and there is enough tension between mac and Barrons to keep me wondering whether these two could be an item in future volumes.

Barrons is also sufficiently mysterious. Who is he really?

Tomorrow, i’m going to scour the bookstores for the sequels, else i won’t be able to sleep!

servant: the awakening by LL foster

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this book reads like a graphic novel: gritty, edgy very violent, and very big on atmosphere. i can see the splatters of lurid colors and inky textures as blood and gore mix with heaps of trash among the alleys and desolate structures of an urban neighborhood populated by hookers, the lost, the innocent, predators, and modern saviors.

servant-awakeningthe rather simplistic plot is perfect for the comic book, in fact. gabrielle cody is a 21-year old part-time author of an underground graphic novel series about an avenging angel on earth who saves the innocents but destroys the wicked.

a creative outlet, a way to earn money, cody’s writing is but a dim reflection of what cody has encountered and done over the years–for she has an ability to see auras and extreme malevolence at work. at certain times, a terrible pain will come over her, her reflexes speed up, and she will know that she is summoned to destroy evil.

she, as well as the priest who trained her in the use of her talent, believes she is God’s paladin, given a mission to seek out demons.

an orphan and loner, cody lives above a comic book store and her only friend its owner and her landlord–until detective luther cross comes along, investigating the death of a severely mutilated and cancer-riddled man. the detective is drawn to cody, appalled by her tough-as-nails attitude yet more so by her crusader-like attitude towards danger.

so what we have here are most of the great ingredients of an urban paranormal story: edgy plot, interesting characters, a rather desolate setting of a city, a geeky sidekick, and chemistry. What’s missing is brisk dialogue: the drawn out conversations that keep going in circles or stilted exchanges could get annoying.

there’s also a disorienting feel to Servant. she sees and destroys malevolence, cody says–but she could very well be just psychotic, and we the readers inside her mind are swept up by her delusions and fanaticism.

pity this is a text novel, because as it is, i just like it. but if it were a graphic one, i’d love it…. sometimes, it’s not the story that’s off, it’s the medium.

breath of magic by teresa madeiros

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Puritan Arian Whitewood rides a broomstick to the climate-controlled existence of Software magnate Tristan Lennox. Lots of funny scenes as Arian attempts to make sense of elevators, flush toilets, and helicopters. Sparks of attraction fly between the two of course.

breath of magicTristan is at first suspicious then ecstatic as he gets solid proof of the existence of magic then ruthless as he finds out that Arian may be related to the man, who years ago, stole his Warlock Program, a software so powerful it bends reality. The answer to their dilemma lies in the amulet Arian wears around her neck….

This book had me laughing then had me reading out of duty as the two play out the dance I’ve seen in countless other books in the genre: He is skeptical but attracted, he pursues then recoils as he gets more than he bargained for; she dislikes him on sight, she realizes she is lying to herself as she gives in EACH TIME he grabs her. After they hurt one another terribly, they are suddenly filled with remorse and goes running back to the beloved. Usually, the beloved is forcibly in the arms of a villain (who has had terrible designs on the heroine all this time or had just been bidding time until he can take revenge on the hero).

In this case, the villain is Arian’s father, trapped in the past for over 20 years.

lord of the fading lands by cl wilson

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Rain Tairen Soul, king of the immortal Fey, claims a woodcarver’s daughter as his mate. A thousand years ago, he scorched half the world from rage and grief after the woman he loved was slain by Eld mages. Ellysetta, a simple girl, grew up on these tales but was scared out of her wits when the powerful king swooped out of the sky as a giant winged cat and declared her his queen…

Nice beginning! Intriguing world. Interestinlord of the fading landsg back story. Promising courtship.

But Ellysetta proved to be too nice and passive to do more than give a token resistance to being ordered around–she is pure of heart, the book glibly cops out. Rain has tunnel vision when it comes to humans and what he wants. He doesn’t even seem that intelligent or ferocious–when a Rogue Fey tries to kill Ellysetta he plummets to the ground and breaks his legs (because he was rushing to save her, you know!). He’s a rather blah character, actually (the Fey assassin was way more interesting!).

Despite these shortcomings, i still devoured every word, every page, every detail. A victim to the craze over the fierce Romance-Fantasy hogging the shelves these past years (in which a magical being can only truly love/connect with one woman in his lifetime. If he doesn’t find her he will slowly go mad from the terrible weight of his immortality. If he does find her he will still go mad or die if she doesn’t accept him… so he’d rather just carry her off by force if necessary. The woman resists in vain.)

The problem with it is that authors are usually more exuberant about painting repeating passionate scenes between hero and heroine and gloss over other important story-telling elements. In this series, CL Wilson forgot to add depth to the characters.

So we Romance-Fantasy enthusiasts keep reading, hoping for more, waiting in vain, but still hoping because the premise of an immortal creature waiting for just one person is truly interesting. I’ve only encountered a few Fantasy writers who are good enough to deliver the goods as well as the mush, and among them are Sharon Shinn and Robin Mckinley.

Anyway, the second book, ‘Lady of Light’ reveals more plot but effectively kills the suspense in the romance.

Written by artseblis

November 5, 2008 at 2:40 pm

shadows of myth by rachel lee

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There’s a thread of sorrow binding memory away throughout this series, a high fantasy that follows in the tradition popularized by Tolkien, of epic quests and lost loves and ancient evil that cannot rest.

There’s also the sense of age, especially in Archer Blackcloak and Tess Birdsong. the first is a vagabond warrior, no home, no obvious history; the latter is a woman with no memory, the only survivor of a massacre.
shadows of myth
In this world, the First Born was as if cursed by the gods for waging a cataclysmic war in the name of love. According to legends, the powerful sons of the Firstborn king had loved an Ilduin, a race of women with magical powers, so much that they brought chaos to the world just so one could have her.

One son was bright and beautiful; the other dark and chiseled. The bright prince became the chained god of chaos, bent by despair into an evil entity; the dark prince forgot most of his greatness and continued to live… and love.. despite his terrible guilt.

Maybe this stain of guilt that’s present in all the characters, whether hero or not, is what made me return to reading another epic-type high fantasy I thought I had gotten fed up with.

It made the characters more complex than if they were purely innocent capable of challenging evil without being corrupted (an often used device in epic fantasies).

Not that writing, pacing, plotting, and characterization are exemplary in Shadows of Myth. I found it difficult to visualize the Anari warriors Ratha and Giri, much less distinguish them from one another. At times, Tess and Sara Deepwell, another young woman with strange powers, sound so much alike.

At best, the pacing is elegant; at worst, it dragged.

I was hooked, nonetheless – because of the spark of recognition in each as Tess, Archer, Sarah, and the others in the group felt when they found each other. I recognized it as the continuation of a story, one that has been left unfinished for thousands of years.

And one thing I cannot resist is letting loose threads hanging. if Ichance upon them, I simply must do my best to wrap them up. So here I am, about to begin reading the sequel, Shadows of Prophecy.

Written by artseblis

November 2, 2008 at 2:51 pm


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