T. Kingfisher: The Seventh Bride

•May 31, 2017 • Leave a Comment

30294288The Seventh Bride
by T. Kingfisher
narrated by Kaylin Heath
(YA, fantasy)

First off, this is a review of the AUDIO VERSION. I don’t know how reading the paper version would impact my enjoyment of the book.

I have heard other reviewers say that this is intended for adults, and not YA. However, I can’t accept it as anything other than a YA novel. There is too much that seems aimed at a teen’s (even an older teen’s) sensibilities and experiences. Yes, that could be the author trying to make sure her narrator is believable as a 15-year-old. But it comes across to me as being written for teens in addition to being about one. (Your mileage may vary. And the narration may be partly to blame for said YA impression.)

I enjoyed the story. It has a very fairy-tale inspired plot without being an obvious retelling of any one story that I have heard or read. (Yes, yes, Bluebeard, I know. It’s still not a retelling of that story.) It has fun characters, fun magic twists, and character growth in unexpected places.

However, I only enjoyed the narrator’s voice for a few of the characters. Even some of the things she said in the main character’s voice bugged me – I think it was too much of an attempt to sound young, but it still hindered my enjoyment.

Is the story worth reading? Yes. But if you are going to listen to the audio version make sure to listen to a sample of the book before you buy it (I didn’t).

On the other hand, there is a magical hedgehog familiar. That right there makes the story worth reading.

Seanan McGuire: Half-Off Ragnarok

•May 30, 2017 • Leave a Comment

51riRDIHt9L._AC_UL320_SR198,320_.jpgHalf-Off Ragnarok: InCryptid #3
by Seanan McGuire
(urban paranormal fantasy)

It was great to see cryptid life from a new POV. I mean, I love Verity, but the narrator change to Alex was refreshing. Both because his voice is a little different than hers (not completely alien; they are still siblings) and because they’re in completely different settings. She’s in New York City; his story starts out in the swamps of Ohio.

There were a lot fewer instances of the Aeslin mice showing up and hailing things, though. That made me sad. I’m curious to continue with the series and see what they decide to call Shelby. On the other hand, since Alex’s assistant in this book is a gorgon, I suppose it makes perfect sense that we don’t see as much of the mice. The whole snakes + mice = bad idea thing.

The humor in this book is great, too. I’ve gotten used to good humor from Ms. McGuire, but I love how Alex’s sarcasm is subtly different than Verity’s humor. There are a lot of great one-liners that I should have made a note of while reading in order to be able to quote them here.

And I’ve been told by an Australian friend that Shelby (the Aussie love interest in the story) is written very accurately. This is great to know! You always hope that your favorite authors do their homework and research the different nationalities of their characters, but unless you can get input from someone in that country it can be hard to tell. Shelby seems realistic to me, but since I’ve never been to Australia I had to guess until I read my friend’s review. It makes me even more interested in reading the rest of the series, and I hope that what I’ve heard is true, and book 4 is a fun romp set in Australia. (EDIT: I just checked Goodreads, and yes, they go Down Under in book 4.)

Anyway. Do I like Alex as a narrator better than I like Verity? No. Do I still enjoy the POV switch? Yes. Is this my favorite book in the series? No, probably not, though it is still fun. It’s worth reading for the enjoyment, and for meeting more of the Healy/Price/etc clan.

Seanan McGuire: Midnight Blue-Light Special

•May 30, 2017 • Leave a Comment

download.jpgMidnight Blue-Light Special: InCryptid #2
by Seanan McGuire
(urban paranormal fantasy)

This second book in the series was a lot of fun, and showed more of Dominic’s personality than I remember from the first one. (Maybe we get more of Dominic, or maybe we just get something closer to his true self. I’m not sure on that.) It also involves a lot more of Sarah, which I like because I really enjoy Sarah.

In general, I like this book better than the first in the series (though I did also like that one a lot). Now that we’ve been introduced to the cryptid world, it seems like there’s a lot more mayhem that the characters can get up to.

Plus. The MICE. While the first book introduced the Aeslin mice and gave us a nice glimpse at their religion, this second book uses them more and in a thoroughly endearing way. I could easily keep reading this series for the mice alone, even though the human(oid)s are also enjoyable characters.

All told, this story – and series – are worth a read. If the genre is at all your cup of tea, you should give it a shot.

Lilian Jackson Braun: The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern

•May 30, 2017 • 2 Comments

7735951The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern: Cat Who #2
by Lilian Jackson Braun
(cozy cat mystery)

I enjoyed this book, but I did have a hard time taking parts of it seriously. Yes, being a cat mystery, I’ve suspended disbelief when it comes to the super-smart cat helping with the murder investigation. But I can’t easily get past the out-dated gender stereotypes, and the mustache getting credit for the main character’s intuition is getting annoying instead of charming.

On the other hand, I do enjoy the wide range of colorful characters portrayed in the novel (and the series), and the cats are wonderful. (Especially since we have now met Yum-Yum. The cats are the reason I first picked dup this series long ago – I’m a G&S fan, so having cats named Koko and Yum0Yum was irresistible.)

But, I did know who did it before it was revealed. (I just realized, though, one of the mystery aspects was only kinda explained. Hmm.) At least, I knew who did part of it. The other part wasn’t really related, but I was expecting it to be in order to tie things up neatly. (Instead things were tied up neatly on one front and quickly – therefore without much explanation – on the other front.) (Yikes, discussing the resolution of a murder mystery without spoilers is difficult!)

Anyway, it’s a solid story, though a bit dated, and it has awesome cats. It’s a solid three stars, but I don’t think I can give it more than that in the modern era.

Jules Verne: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

•May 26, 2017 • 2 Comments

I can understand why Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is considered a classic novel. It has that feel to it, and there’s no doubt that Jules Verne was an accomplished and imaginative author. However, can I just say how ANNOYING I find Professor Aronnax? He is supposedly a marine biologist, and yet asks some STUPID questions of Captain Nemo, things that a marine biologist should know! Yes, I realize that there are science facts and theories which I take for granted yet were not common (or known at all) at the time of this book’s writing. However, I can’t believe that a marine biologist would be so completely clueless about some aspects of his specific field of study.

Also, I think that an abridged version of this story would have been more enjoyable. It’s great knowing that the marine biologist and his assistant know all about the different classifications of fish. I DON’T NEED TO KNOW THEM when I’m reading a FICTION NOVEL. If I wanted to read about fish classifications, I’d read a non-fiction book.

This novel is nowhere near as enjoyable to read as Journey to the Center of the Earth was. (Though I did also have issues with that POV character.) Parts of it are enjoyable and fun. Other parts are tedious. And it’s a long enough book that the tedious parts really bog down my enjoyment of the story.

This one was a DNF. I’m only finishing the review here in order to keep a record of it.

Lazette Gifford: Kat Among the Pigeons

•May 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

10791483Kat Among the Pigeons
by Lazette Gifford
(contemporary fantasy)

This is a highly entertaining story about a fae (aka faerie) border guard and how she deals with trouble using less magical power than she thinks she needs. It also happens that this particular fae can speak with animals, but only some animals. Only cats and birds, to be precise.

I found the book to be a very amusing romp in Gifford’s fantasy version of Estes Park, Colorado. I’ve never been there, but the location presented in this book makes it seem like a lovely place to visit. In the summer. Without the snow.

The plot in a nutshell is that Kat (said fae border guard) lives in and protects the human side of Estes Park from anything which would try to break through from the fae lands and cause trouble here. You know, trolls, evil spirits, that kind of thing. During the course of this book, she has to deal with trouble breaking through from the fae lands, relationship troubles with a human (though this is not a romance book), a bird who only speaks in poetry, a pretty snarky cat, and family drama.

I enjoyed the book a lot, and in a sense I liked it more than I can justify. It’s not a “you can’t put it down!!” kind of book. It’s not a story with twists I never would have seen coming. BUT, it was a lot of fun, and at a point when I needed a FUN read, and it had very happy and silly moments mixed in with the action and drama. It was, in a sense, a “cozy fantasy” novel, and fulfilled the same needs that a cozy mystery fills, except in a fantasy setting instead of a mystery one. I definitely recommend this one.

Neil Gaiman: Norse Mythology

•April 27, 2017 • 2 Comments

downloadNorse Mythology
by Neil Gaiman
narrated by Neil Gaiman
(mythology, non-fiction)

I really enjoyed this book. It was great to hear the Norse myths presented in the way I grew up hearing the Greek and Roman myths. I wish I had had this book when I was younger to broaden my experience of mythology. (I knew the Greek myths well, and the (stolen) Roman ones only slightly less well (since they’re only slightly different). But I knew little to nothing about any other culture’s mythology.)

To be clear: my review is on the Audible audio version of this book. I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it as much had I been reading it myself, because I would have likely gotten distracted by looking up the pronunciation of the various names. Having Mr. Gaiman read the names to me was much more enjoyable than struggling through them on my own. (Names like Thor and Odin would be no problem. It’s the ones like Yggdrasil and Fjorgynn and einherjar which would have given me trouble.)

I do appreciate the way the information is presented here, too. It feels more similar to how the tales would have been told originally (especially when enjoyed in the audio book format), AKA verbally. It feels like stories that would be told around the fire at night before bed. It’s not as dry as some mythology books are. (I have never understood how mythology tales can be made dull, but some authors have done just that.)

This is well worth the read if you’re interested in Norse mythology. Just remember that, as in most mythology, that the classic gods are not as sanitized as the tales we are often told about them now. Thor and Odin are not always “good” in the sense that we are used to thinking of “good”. They do selfish things. Don’t expect to see the Marvel version of Thor in this book, because what you get is a truer, more real Thor.