Books! Every book is a trilogy #cbr5

I seem to start every Cannonball Read review with an apology or a lament. I have yet to hit 52 books and 2013 is looking no different. But the year isn’t over yet!

A while back I finished Fuse by Julianna Baggott, #2 in the excellent Pure series. The story is set in a post-

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apocalyptic world in which a series of large explosions destroy much of the earth and leave it a wasteland. A select few escaped to a sterile world in a dome (think Logan’s Run). Those who survived the explosions became disfigured (many of them fusing with their surroundings or nearby objects/creatures) and had to learn to live in the harsh new world.

My favorite part of Baggott’s writing is her world and creature creation. The fusings of man and surroundings are quite surreal and fun to imagine. The main character’s hand, for instance, is fused with the doll she was holding at the time of the explosions. Her love interest was outside near a flock of birds and has several birds fused to his back. While it sounds grotesque, Baggott describes these beautifully but leaves room for the reader to imagine the exact look of the world. I expect that the series will be made into a movie(s) and I can’t wait to see how this world is realized.

If I have any criticism, it is only that I wish this wasn’t a trilogy. I hate waiting for each installment. When I started Fuse I had some difficulty getting into it because I couldn’t remember what had happened in the first book, Pure. I know this is the new trend of publishing and sometimes it can be a good thing–the story is much more developed and intricate in this case– but sometimes it is just an excuse for bad editing (or not editing as in The Discovery of Witches). While Baggott does not fall into that last category, as a reader you sometimes just want a good story that ends.

To close, this is a beautiful series. If you like post-apocalyptic sci-fi, this is a great addition, but it is also a solid story with engaging characters. If you are impatient like me, wait until next year and read them all at once. You won’t regret it.

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Books! The Neverending Saga of Nicholas Flamel #cbr5

I’m ahead of the game for Cannonball Read this year! Go me. The Sorceress

First off, a warning. Even if you find The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel’s storyline frustrating or don’t like the writing, it is very easy to get sucked in to the series and keep reading. And there are six books. Approach with caution.

I came across Michael Scott’s series while trolling our public library eBook website for something new to read. Granted the series had very mixed reviews but the story sounded, well, bearable and light. Good my-brain-is-fried end-of-the-semester reading.

I just finished book #3, The Sorceress, and the truth is I have to find out what happens! And I’m starting to hate myself for that. Luckily the series has ended (at #6), so at least I don’t have to play the waiting game as with almost every other book known to modern publishing (I’m looking at you Julianna Baggott). But, anyway.

This is the story of twins who fall unwittingly into an evil plot to end the world by bringing back the “Dark Elders” who once ruled what we call Atlantis. The twins are protected by an alchemist named Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenelle, a famous sorceress. They are pursued by, well, every baddie on earth, but mostly a magician named Dee, Machiavelli (who strangely still goes by Machiavelli), the crow goddess, the cat goddess, and a guy with antlers on his head. In each book they run into a new group of good guys and gals including (but not limited to) Joan of Arc, a ninja chick named The Shadow, and Shakespeare. As you can imagine madness ensues including the destruction of Notre Dame’s gargoyles.

bunny!

bunny!

I can’t really pinpoint anything I liked or hated about The Sorceress because everything is starting to run together. Literally the story just keeps on going like everyone’s favorite pink bunny. I also don’t want to give too much away in case you decide to go down this rabbit hole. Overall the writing isn’t great, the story is hella convoluted, and Edith Hamilton is probably rolling in her grave when it comes to the abuse of mythology. But, honestly, I can’t put it down.

Before you run out and read #1, it is my duty to warn you that the series has absolutely no connection to Harry Potter (Nicholas Flamel is mentioned at some point as Dumbledore’s friend). Nicholas Flamel was a real person who just happened to be used by both authors. Scott never meant to capitalize on the success of Harry Potter, I’m sure. 😉 And all of those disappointed HP fans on Goodreads should probably read a book summary before going all rabid in their reviews. I’m just saying.

Overall reading this series is like buying white fudge covered Oreos. I can’t stop eating them, but I will hate myself in the morning for it.

Books! a new meaning of getting lost in a book #cbr4

I’m going to finish this freaking Cannonball if it kills me. Or if I have to read YA. Not such a bad thing, but I have a lot of reviews to write. So here is review #26.

A friend described The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde as a detective novel with a crime solver who can jump into great books. Intriguing idea, definitely. Execution? Well …

This will be the hardest teaser summary to write because the plot was all over the place. Basically, we are in England of 1985 where the country is in a perennial war with Russia over the Crimea, Wales has seceded to become a (sort of?) communist state, and the English populace is freaking mad about great authors, especially Shakespeare. Our main character, Thursday Next, is a Special Operations detective for the LiteraTech department that seems to focus mainly on great book forgeries. She gets involved in the investigation of a really bad dude named Hades. Why does she get involved? Well, because she’s special, of course. And chaos ensues, which includes worm holes (I think), time bending, dodo birds, and Thursday jumping into the plot of Jane Eyre … WTF?

As you can see from the Goodreads reviews, people seem to either adore these books (it is a series) or hate them with a passion. I enjoyed the world the author created, but felt like there were too many holes in the story, too many plot points that didn’t make a bit of sense. Plus, Thursday as she became more and more gooey about her long lost love really lost my attention. I just wanted her to get married and stop the whining. Nevertheless, if I don’t think too hard about it, the book was admittedly fun to read and honestly I might read another. I really liked the dodo birds.

Looking for an alternate reality detective story that involves great books, but goes by quickly? Thursday Next just might be the gal for you.

Books! Dude needs a new fairy godmother stat #cbr4

I’m not going to finish my full Cannonball Run, but I think I’ve done pretty well for the first time. I’ve read 38 books this year, which is the highest number I’ve read since I was like 12. I’ve only done 23 reviews so far, but I will try to push out some over the break, maybe. Next year I might be more strategic in the types of books I read. I tend toward the long and dense. More YA might need to be in my future.

My parents introduced me to the Dresden Novels by Jim Butcher about a year ago. I was looking for easy and fun novels to read during the summer vacation. They had just finished reading the entire series together (AW! Yes, it is sickly sweet, but the family that reads together!)  and thought I would enjoy it. So, I’ve been making my way through the novels since then. I definitely wouldn’t be able to read these one after another like the rents. They are, let’s say, too similar in style from one to the next for me to read them all in a row. I would seriously get bored. However, if you are looking for a quick and fun fantasy series these fit the bill nicely.

The Summer Knight is the fourth in the series. To give you a bit of background, Dresden is a perpetually down on his luck wizard turned detective who fights a bunch of fantasy realm characters on the mean streets of Chicago. But these aren’t your childhood fantasy characters, of course. There are some mean baddies. He is so down on his luck that even the people who supposedly like him, seem to, well, not really like him. And he gets beat up A LOT. I wonder sometimes if Jim Butcher takes sadistic delight in imagining his main character demoralized, tossed about, and mostly ineffective (until the end at least). Anyway, I digress.

This installment finds Dresden dealing with an emotional breakdown after the third novel (I’ll save you specifics) and trying to keep himself alive after his world has started falling apart (mostly his fault). He is hired by a queen of the Winter Faeries to figure out who killed off the Summer Knight. It is too much to explain, but basically there are Winter Faeries and Summer Faeries and they trade off control of the year. They have knights and when one gets killed there is a disturbance in the force. And all hell breaks loose. Or at least Dresden must figure out what the heck is going on.

Like I said, the Dresden novels are fun, but repetitive. I’ve love Jim Butcher’s imagination and he sets a solid scene for the reader. I don’t like how much of the novel is focused on Dresden being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting the crap beat out of him until finally he doesn’t anymore. I know the purpose is to create suspense, but I find it hard to believe half the time that this loser will accomplish anything. I’ve started skimming the middle a bit just to get to the final scene where, yes, Dresden’s awesome powers shine through, and yes, Dresden makes it all (or, well, mostly) right.

The good thing about these novels is that the main character doesn’t always set everything to right. Someone always gets killed or turned into a vampire. But again we are reading about a down on his luck wizard.

Great vacation reading. Even I can finish them in two or three days (I’m a SLOOOOW reader). Solid fantasy detective stories with a bit of the pulp.

Books! The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss

I doubt I’ll make my 52 books for Cannonball Read, but I’ve read more this year than last already. Woohoo! So, in the spirit of completion I have a backlog of reviews.

The Twelfth Enchantment was recommended to me by a friend and I am thankful for that. I had never heard of David Liss and now I want to read more of his works. If you have recommendations, let me know.

It is about a soon-to-be destitute young woman in early nineteenth century England who discovers through a random string of circumstances, and a run in with Lord Byron, that she is capable of much more. Magic, secret societies, fairies are all present but with unique twists.

I was a bit skeptical, especially after the Discovery of Witches, but it was quite entertaining. It was one of the few books this year that I couldn’t wait to return home to. Great read if you are looking for a well-written adult historical fantasy-romance.

Witches, vampires, daemons, oh my! #cbr4

My twelfth Cannonball Read was A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I found it in a random browse through Overdrive and it sounded pretty decent. Hey, I like witches and books. And it is decent. It could have been so much better though.

A Discovery of Witches is about a 30-something academic who represses her witchy abilities because of her parents’ tragic death when she was was seven. She lives in a world populated by four types of creatures who are not really allowed to co-mingle: humans, witches, vampires, and daemons. After meeting a mysterious stranger, hijinks ensue including almost getting killed twice and a possible war between the creatures.

The things I like about this book:

  1. The main character, Diana, starts out strong and intelligent putting Bella and all of her ilk to shame.
  2. The house in which the witches live is the coolest thing ever. It is probably the most clever part of the whole book. I really hope the supposed upcoming movie takes the house seriously because the movie will suck if not.
  3. It has a cat.
  4. Daemons are awesome.
  5. One of the funniest moments involves the cat trying to give a vampire a mouse offering. Good times.

The things I hate about this book:

  1. After discovering the mysterious stranger, Diana turns into a lovesick moron. She becomes dumb. And she does dumb things to move the plot along. I hate when female characters do this!
  2. The mysterious stranger remarks so much about Diana’s bravery that I start to wonder if it is mockery.
  3. The writing can be good and then suddenly it becomes wretched. Here is an example: “When the last of the water left me, I felt scooped out like a pumpkin, and freezing cold, too.” So maybe that’s not the worst of it, but it can get much worse.
  4. GET A FREAKING EDITOR! Why the snausages is this book over 500 pages long? It makes no sense. Edit this baby.
  5. It needs more daemons. I got a fever, and the only prescription is more daemons. And cats.

If you like fantasy, this is a decent summertime read. It has some really slow moments (hence the need for an editor) and certainly is not a high-paced member of the fantasy genre. Keep in mind it is the first of a trilogy (gugh) that has not been published yet (more gughs). It also reads more like a romance fantasy than a mystery fantasy. But I was engaged enough with the story to keep going through 500 pages and I could read it while doing laundry. Hey, reading is what matters!

It is available through the GSO PL’s Overdrive.