Tuesday, January 24, 2006

#6 The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

This book wasn't really my cup of tea. It was too abstract and didn't have enough action for my liking. However, I don't think that's a reflection on the book itself, it's simply not the genre I usually like to read from.

The author writes well; her words flow together nicely, and she's able to easily take something ordinary, such as a lightning storm or an orange orchard, or even a dead mole or a pile of flies, and turn it into something extraordinarily beautiful, or sad and repulsive. It was this vivid use of imagery in her words that kept me reading—that and the fact it's a fairly short book at only 211 pages—when I might otherwise have put it aside and went on to something else.

Why did I decide to read this book in the first place then you might wonder. Well, because I've heard this author's name quite a bit and wanted to try out one of her books for myself. I almost hate to give it a numeric rating here though since my rating will be mostly subjective based on how I personally liked the story in relation to the other books I've read. If I look at it objectively though, I'd have to give it kudos for the quality of writing, the wonderful use of imagery, and the fact that underneath it all, there was a poignant and touching story there.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

#5 Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

Haunted by Kelley ArmstrongMy Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I didn’t like this, Kelley’s 5th novel in her Women of the Otherworld series, nearly as much as the first four. This book centers on Eve, and unlike previous stories, has little to do with any of the other characters I’ve grown to know and love.

Eve is Savannah’s mother, and a ghost in the afterlife. She’s unsettled and is having a difficult time leaving her mortal life behind and embracing her new “afterlife” with Kristof Nash, Savannah’s father whom we met in Dime Store Magic. Even though Eve cannot manifest to interact with Savannah, she still obsesses about a way to make that happen, despite Kris’s attempts to convince her to move on.

The afterlife contains various dimensions, with the one inhabited by Eve and Kris specifically for supernaturals. In many cases, these worlds are very much like the world of the living, though they’re often stuck in the time of their heydey, think 1920’s Chicago, etc. The Fates govern this particular dimension, and decide to send Eve on a quest to hunt and banish an evil demi-demon Nix who has been taking up residence in the bodies of various women and inducing them to kill for the last hundred years. The three previous seekers they’ve sent have all failed, in one way or another, and the Fates are hoping that Eve can succeed where they have failed. She’s assigned an angel partner, Trsiel, who can bring the Nix to justice once Eve has found her, and Kris lends a hand as well.

Eve’s quest to find the Nix is the basic premise of the book, and thus very few characters from the previous book are here. Only Paige, Lucas, and Savannah come into play a little, but not nearly enough. Perhaps that’s one of the greatest reasons I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the others. Still, Kelley’s a talented writer, and it was good to find out more about Eve and what makes her tick.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

#4 Beginnings (eBook) by Kelley Armstrong

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Before starting Haunted, Kelley’s latest novel in her Women of the Otherworld series, I wanted to get caught up on her 2004 online novella which I hadn’t yet read. Beginnings fills the gap between the Savage and Ascension e-serials, and her first published novel Bitten.

It’s the story of how Elena met Clay, before he bit her and made her the first and only female werewolf. Elena Michaels is a student at the University of Toronto, working her way through college, when Clayton Danvers joins the college as a visiting professor, teaching an anthropology class. Clay takes an interest in Elena and offers her a job as his TA (Teachers Assistant) as he attempts to break down her walls and get to know her better. In Elena, Clay sees some of the same traits he himself possesses, her unwillingness to allow people to get to close to her for instance. Their slow friendship eventually turns to love, despite cautions Clay has received his entire life from the rest of his Pack against forming close relationships and risking the exposure of their race. But Clay knows he cannot live without Elena and decides to bring her home to Stonehaven for a surprise visit to “meet the family”. While Jeremy, Clay’s stepfather and Pack Leader, is doing his best to try to scare Elena off a relationship with Clay, Clay realizes the only way he’s going to get Jeremy to accept Elena is to make her one of their own. So while in wolf form, he approaches Elena, who simply thinks he’s Jeremy’s big, beautiful dog, and does the job. The actual transformation from human to werewolf is extremely long and painful, something that few humans survive, and Elena’s trials and tribulations in this are documented in memory flashbacks in Bitten, Kelley’s first published novel.

Though this isn’t a required read to enjoy the series, since any of the main points occurring in this eBook are eluded to in other places, it was entertaining nonetheless, and gives the reader a bit more background into Elena and Clay’s relationship. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

#3 Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

A very interesting book. I definitely detected the writing style solely as Pratchett’s though, and wonder where Gaiman’s influence came in. Perhaps in the design of some of the main characters… I suppose I can see a little of Gaiman’s style there.

The ending left me wanting for a sequel. I wonder if there will be one…. After all, Adam (the Antichrist) did divert Armageddon, but at the end, you find the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley talking about a bigger effable Plan, and then the Further Nife and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter: Concerning the Worlde that Is To Com shows up on Anathema’s doorstep, so you’re left wondering what the future holds for these guys, especially since Agnes Nutter found it interesting enough to write about again.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for further reviews and information. See more progress on read 100 books in 2006.

Monday, January 09, 2006

#2 Five Mile House by Karen Novak

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This was a pretty good haunted house book. It took me a while to decide whether I liked the writing style, switching from third to first person as the ghost of Eleanor Bly was the one who actually told the story, especially when, towards the end, it’d switch from one person to another in sections within a single chapter, although at least each section was appropriately marked, which made the switch in person easier to follow.

The story itself was gripping and kept me reading late into the night. Fortunately though, this wasn’t one of those really spooky type of ghost stories that keeps you awake at night. The ghost of Eleanor Bly was not a vengeful ghost, and the house itself was more of a mathematician’s nightmare, or labyrinth, more freaky than scary. :) I don’t feel this detracted from the book at all though, it is what it is, and were the author to concentrate more on the haunting and spooky, something else would’ve been lost in the translation.

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information. See more progress on: read 100 books in 2006.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

#1 The Kitchen Witch by Annette Blair

Restarting count with the new year. My goal will again be to read 100 books this year, and if I don't make it, oh well. If I do, yippee! :) So here goes...

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

It was okay... a little too "happily ever after" for my usual taste. I found myself constantly berating Melody and Logan for their dense headed-ness in denying their feelings for each other. If they're both too stupid to go for the gusto when it's dumped right in their lap, then they deserve to be miserable! Fortunately, like all romances, both realize their true feelings and all is well.

Was Melody really a Witch? Well, they live in Salem, Massachusetts, and Melody has a cooking show named "The Kitchen Witch", a herb garden in her backyard, a purple front door with bright yellow stars, and a friend Kira who's also a Witch. Plus she has her "spells" and incantations she does during her cooking show. So I suspect she probably is, as her zest for life would seem to indicate.

But Melody's character, were she a true Witch, would've embraced the superficial differences she believed existed between herself and Logan, instead of trying to deny and supress the constant electricity between them. A Witch will go for what they want out of life, bring it into manifestation so to speak. So throughout the book, her actions had me doubting she was anything more than a Witch wanna-be. But there was never enough emphasis placed on any of her magickal workings to truly judge one way or another.

Logan's fear of trusting someone who claims to be a witch, while he himself lives in Salem, is pretty laughable. Is she really a Witch? he keeps asking himself. I don't think being a Witch—which is something I openly admit myself to anyone who asks—has the negative connotation it once had long ago, so I didn't care for Logan's inital aversion to Witches given where he lives (and grew up). Truth be told, it kind of made me like his character less.

I know it probably sounds like I'm being fairly harsh on this book, but I must say that despite all the criticism I gave it above, the story held my interest enough to keep me reading. So for those whom romance is their favorite reading genre, and who maybe aren't as critical as I am with regards to Witchcraft stuff, they might like this book better than I did. As it is, I gave it a 6 because to me, anything less than a 5 would indicate I had to struggle through it and almost didn't finish it, which certainly wasn't the case here. With the sole exception of Melody's denying her feelings for Logan, I admired her zest for life, a characteristic I strongly embrace in myself. Live for the moment!

See the BookCrossing journal page for this book for more reviews and information.

Monday, January 02, 2006

#87 The Awakening: A Vampire Huntress Legend (#2) by L. A. Banks

My BookCrossing Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

I found this, the second book of the Vampire Huntress series, slightly better than Minion, the first. However, some of the same things that bothered me about that book came to surface in this one too.

I’m glad I hung onto Minion because The Awakening picked up right where that left off, and I had to reread certain portions of that first book to reacquaint myself with some of the things that went down already. I don’t think the author did a very good job of allowing this book to stand on it’s own. Granted, series such as this are meant to be read in order anyway, but like Laurell K. Hamilton does in her Anita books, if she needs to refer to an incident from a previous book, she’ll usually provide enough additional detail so that new readers can continue reading, albeit with a little less knowledge and detail than someone who’s been reading the series in order. This was not the case here; if you didn’t read the previous book, and remember all of it’s little nuances, you’re going to need to before starting on this one. As it stands, I still had to refer back to things from book one since I’d read it 8 months prior to this one.

The story line is still interesting enough to hold interest, and because Banks doesn’t go into detail on each of the main characters in this book like she did in Minion, we don’t have as many passages that drag on too long like in the first book, though they’re certainly not gone completely. At times while reading, I felt that maybe the writing was done in discrete parts, not necessarily in sequence, since sometimes the scenes didn’t seem to blend transparently as they could’ve. Like maybe she’d forgotten she wrote something in an earlier scene, and then describes or talks about it again in a later scene, which may or may not completely jive with what was stated previously. Again, I noticed this behavior much more prominently in the first book than this one.

I won’t go into a synopsis of the story itself, since you can read that at the BookCrossing journal page for this book. But suffice to say, this series looks like it’s going to get even better going forward.

See more progress on: In 2005 read 100 books.