annathepiper: (Book Geek)
The latest book in the Sarah Brandt series unfortunately was a bit of a disappointment for me. Eight books in and I've grown impatient with the prolonging of the whole "Malloy is going to investigate who killed Sarah's husband" subplot, which has gotten only token attention for the last few books. And, there's the whole idea that Malloy can never have Sarah since they're from two completely different social worlds... which is all well and good, except it's also meant that there's been pretty much no chemistry whatsoever between them for the last few books.

All of which would be forgivable if the plot had more substance--but in this particular case, I called the killer far too early in the book. And the political ramifications of this particular murder, which set off a chain of riots between the Irish and Italian immigrants in the city, didn't have near enough impact to me as it should have.

I may have to bail on this series, I think. Two stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
This post is out of date at this point, since I actually read this book several days ago--but I wanted to go ahead and get it in so it still counts as part of the 2007 Book Log. ;)

Innocent in Death is the mumble-mumbleth entry (I lost count ages ago) in the "In Death" series, which even a long-time fan like me has to admit is pretty formulaic at this point. That said, this particular installment wasn't half-bad at all. We get another round of a genuine fight between Eve and Roarke, which for me helps add some interest and conflict to their relationship long-term. Sure, they always make up in the end, demonstrating their commitment to stay together--but real couples do have fights and misunderstandings. And one thing I'll say for Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, she's done a good job at making the fights Eve and Roarke have had not be for stupid reasons.

Meanwhile, we have a murder plot at hand that gives the reader a good run for the money with the red herrings through the first part of the book. I won't say much more about that because I don't want to spoil it; I'll just say that the perpetrator this time around was an unusual choice, and occasionally genuinely creepy.

So all in all, a good quick read. Three stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
I was talking with [livejournal.com profile] kisanthe the other day online about how she'd just finished reading It, and how I hadn't read all that much of Stephen King's work myself--just It, Cujo, and The Shining. Out of general curiosity, and since I saw the recently released edition that ties in with the movie that's come out, I decided to tackle The Mist.

It's official: this is a tight little story, and pretty creepy as well. The prose is very spare and very clean, which is exactly right for the overall atmosphere of the plot. There's just enough setup to give you an idea of the protagonist, his wife, and his son, and how they've got an ongoing conflict with a neighbor about boundary disputes between their properties. Then a savage band of storms flattens their quiet community, and in its wake comes something even stranger: a mist filled with horrific monsters. The protagonist, his son, their neighbor, and dozens of others are trapped in a supermarket. Death, doom, and destruction ensue.

What really makes this tale work for me, I think, is the ambiguity of what the characters are facing. There's speculation about what causes the mist and its monsters--but nothing is ever proven. And yeah, the comparison of the monsters against the chilling behavior of some of the survivors is effective. My only quibble is that the ending feels a little rushed and weak to me. But then, I think that's also my automatic looking for resolution in a plot kicking in there. That there isn't any resolution to speak of, in this particular instance, is all part of the point. So: four stars!
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
The blurb copy on What Angels Fear, the first of C.S. Harris' Sebastian St. Cyr series, says that if you are a fan of the Julian Kestrel series, then you'll like this one too. And it's really rather on the money. I do like me some Regency-era mystery, and like the redoubtable Julian Kestrel, Sebastian St. Cyr is a nobleman of dubious reputation and a mysterious history. He's got the obligatory relationship with a woman of equally dubious reputation, and the plucky young sidekick off the streets. And this book has your basic "nobleman must clear his name when he's accused of a murder he didn't commit" plot, which, along with politics and duels of honor and chases through grubby London streets, is generally all around fun.

The book's not without flaws. Harris' prose doesn't quite have the same elan as Kate Ross', so St. Cyr doesn't quite manage Kestrel for handsome-and-dashingness, and there's a bit too many 21st-century mores coming out of 19th-century mouths. But it's good for an engaging middle-weight read nonetheless. Three stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
It took me a few days to finish it off, since I had to read it a few bits at a time, but as of tonight I've also finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. An erratic read for me, all in all. It had a good strong start for me, a middle that was frequently leaden and seemingly pointless, and an ending that, on the heels of the aforementioned leaden middle, was robbed of some of the darkness and grit it should have maintained.

Which is not to say I didn't like the darkness and grit of this ending--because oh my yes, it was quite effective. And I'll cheerfully say that the final funeral bit did bring active tears to my eyes, and any book that can do that gets extra points. The ending, also, was a decent enough followup to the good stuff at the beginning. But that middle stretch... guh. A lot of it read for me as if Ms. Rowling suddenly found herself realizing holy crap the series is almost done Lassie's still in the well and I haven't paired everybody off yet AIGH!

Don't get me wrong--I don't mind that a lot of pairings get set up in this book, on general principle. And with the main younger members of the cast getting old enough that they're starting to get interested in such things, it's totally plausible. But my gold standard for "high school romance"--which this essentially is, even if it's in a magical setting--is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and hey, what can I say, ol' Joss brought a lot more Funny to the whole thing. And, more importantly, integrated it better into the overall plot. In this particular book, especially in regards to Harry, it felt forced.

In fairness though I shall also say that there are very good points to this book: backstory on Voldemort makes it worth the time spent for the reading all by itself. Watching the older Harry and Ron and Hermione react to younger students is occasionally quite snicker-worthy. The most notable of the older-character romances that crops up actually interests me enough that I wouldn't mind seeing decent fic on that, just because I like the characters involved. (The other older-character romance, the one that drives everyone batshit, also was kind of fun but for different reasons--I like how the tension there finally got resolved.) And, for the first time in the entire series, Draco actually, finally got interesting. ;)

All in all, though, I find this the most uneven of the series. Two and a half stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
"But Anna," I hear you cry, "What happened to Harry Potter?" Fret not--this is simply the result of not wanting to take [livejournal.com profile] spazzkat's hardbacks out of the house, while at the same time not wanting to go without something to read on the bus, either. Rest assured I'm still working on finishing the Potter series. It'll just be that Deathly Hallows won't be book #100. Oh well. ;)

And as it happens, Linnea Sinclair's The Down Home Zombie Blues was actually a bit of a welcome break after the Harry Potter read-a-thon I've been on. It calls itself a romance on the spine--but don't hold that against it. For me, it read like a good solid love story as well as a halfway decent little skiffy one, and I think I actually like it better than the previous Sinclair I've read this year.

We have your basic covert First Contact plot here, in which Earth or at least a tiny fraction of the population thereof discovers that holy shit there's an entire spacefaring civilization out there, and not only that, but part of it's sending killer critters down onto the planet. Florida police sergeant Theo Petrakos meets up with Guardian Force Commander Jorie Mikkalah, and I'm tellin' ya, it was a refreshing change of pace to see a romance in which the involved parties never have hugely stupid misunderstandings that leave them snarky at one another for half the book. There's no time for that crap here--Theo and Jorie, after all, have a planet to save. Creatures called zombies--not to be confused with the shambling, brain-consuming undead, but rather, critters that were originally engineered to guard the transit Hatches used by the aforementioned spacefaring civilization but which have now gone horribly, horribly wrong--are on the loose. Worse yet, they may have been hijacked by the enemies of Jorie's people, who are themselves at large on the planet.

Critter hunting ensues. Things go splody. Theo swears a lot in Greek, and both he and Jorie have snarky things to say about their exes, and in between laser battles and some surprisingly well-handled bringing in of Theo's superiors on the crisis at hand, we also get smooching and sexx0rs. All in all the romance was in just about the exact right balance for me with the bigger story, and all in all I enjoyed it quite a bit. Four stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
With this post, I'm finally caught up through what I'd already known from the movies--and whoof, it was a long slog through Order of the Phoenix, 800+ pages in the hardback edition. Overall I quite enjoyed this read, and it was a lot of fun to get details that were skimmed over or in some cases left out entirely in the movie filled out a lot more here.

The biggest fault I found with it was the Harry Rage. Wow. From a whole page of all-caps screaming at Ron and Hermione to his wanting to tear the hell out of Dumbledore's office, it got awfully wearisome after a while. I can't say it was entirely unjustified--after all, Harry has gotten a lot of crap slung at him throughout the course of this series--but the boy spends way more time in this book sulking than he does anything else. As a result, he was frequently actively annoying, and I was quite glad that Hermione and Ron regularly told him to stop being a prat.

On the other hand, there's a lot in this story to like as well. Tonks and Luna were quite a bit more fleshed out and therefore more interesting. Dolores Umbridge, while not quite as teeth-gratingly repulsive here as I found her in the movie (just because the actress who played her on screen did such a beautiful job), was still a highly effective antagonist for the school--and plus, we got a lot more detail here about how the teachers were giving her constant shit while adhering to the letter of the laws she was laying down. Harry's Aunt Petunia gets a surprising little bit of character development, which makes her suddenly almost sympathetic. The sub-plot with Percy Weasley caught me completely by surprise and was therefore quite gripping. And, while the scenes between Harry and Snape weren't a surprise, they were nevertheless good strong reading. I'm still not jumping on the Snapefen Bandwagon, but I definitely found his character development some of the strongest stuff in the book.

All in all I think I'll give this one three and a half stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
Four books in, and I'm finally into territory I hadn't read before--though not entirely new story yet, since I'm farther ahead with the movies than I am with the books. Still, though, it was good to get the entire, full-length book version of the Goblet of Fire story. The biggest fun I had with this entire thing was the raising of the stakes with the return of Voldemort, and the expansion of what the reader gets to know about the world past what goes on at Hogwarts. The opening chapter being entirely outside Harry's point of view was a refreshing switch. Also, points to Dumbledore for finally doing a bit of badassery on camera, and showing something of why he has such a rep of being Most Awesome Wizard Around.

Favorite side details: the leprechauns at the Quidditch World Cup forming giant messages like HA HA in the air. Hagrid and Madame Maxime, whose love is apparently very, ah, large. ;) Seeing the older Weasley brothers, Bill and Charlie, on camera--and oh look, finally, somebody in this cast I might actually find kind of hot, since Bill and Charlie both sound rather cool. Hermione's little moment of glory at the Yuletide dance, which has rather more impact in the book than it does on film. And ah yes, the joy of seeng Malfoy being turned into a ferret.

('Cause I still ain't feeling the Malfoy love, or for that matter, the Snape love. Though I will grant that it's also cool to finally see some more reason why Snape is interesting. I don't find him the slightest bit swoonable, but I definitely find him interesting. Malfoy, on the other hand, remains an annoying little twatwaffle. Comparing the two, I find my desire to see some sign of Slytherin characters with actual morals increasing. It gets kind of tiresome for all the Slytherins to be twatwaffles all of the time, after all.)

Also, not to be repetitive or anything, but GAH, the ellipses! Rowling only seems to whip them out in Big Important Plot Point Moments, but this time around, it was particularly painful to read. Especially in the big Voldemort Explains His Devious Plan Chapter, where we got ellipses all over the place in his dialogue and in the narrative. For me, the ultimate effect of this was that Voldemort's dialogue read like either a) he kept wandering off his train of thought, or b) he was doing a very bad William Shatner impersonation. Neither of these possibilities added to his overall intimidation factor, I'm tellin' ya.

So, long story (and this was quite the long story) short, on the one hand I have very cool expansion of what the reader knows balanced against what should have been a way more intimidating Villain Reveal sequence than it actually was. I'm giving this installment three stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
One of the few advantages of leaving work early today due to having a cold is that this gave me extra reading time, since I had little brain for anything else. And since I was reading Prisoner of Azkaban, it was a pretty enjoyable read, over all.

Now we're up to Harry's third year at Hogwarts, and as we're moving along, so far I'm liking each book better than the last, plot-wise. I really like Lupin as a character; I liked him in the movie and I like him in the book, too. It's a crying shame that Hogwarts couldn't keep a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who actually knew what he was doing. The Dementors, suitably creepy. Hogsmeade, suitably nifty, especially the candy shop. And I love the Marauder's Map and the expansion of what the reader knows about Harry's parents' background--as well as some more backstory on Snape. Also full of much love for the sub-plot with how Hermione tries to cram in more classes than humanly possible. That's my girl. ^_^

My only beef with the writing is more of those ellipses and all-caps screaming coming back. For whatever reason I didn't notice it at all in the second book, but it leapt out again at me in this one. This made for the one thing that kept me from enjoying this book on the same level as Book Two. Three and a half stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
After reading the very beginning of the second Harry Potter over the weekend, I blazed through the rest of it on the bus to and from work today. Like the first book, it was a quick read for me; unlike the first book, I think I actually liked the prose better in it. Rowling was a bit more sparing with the ellipses and all-caps; in fact, I can't remember a single place anywhere in the prose where either of those quibbles leapt out at me. For that matter, I like this plot better than Philosopher's Stone as well. Harry's introductory backstory is out of the way, the major characters are all established, and we're free to expand our knowledge of the universe and what's going on in it just a bit.

Plus, this book has Gilderoy Lockhart, and I can't read that character without thinking of Kenneth Brannagh's delightful performance in the movie. Nor, I must admit, can I read Snape without thinking of Alan Rickman--and I really do like that entire dueling scene where Snape's withering contempt of Lockhart is a palpable weight in the air. Draco Malfoy is still an obnoxious little git, and his father's an obnoxious big one; I'm hoping we'll get some character development here to round the Malfoys out some, because they're annoyingly single-noted against the better-rounded other characters. (And no, all you HP fans on my Friends list, I don't want to know what's coming re: the Malfoys in the later books; I'm aware of one or two spoilers, and I want to stay otherwise surprised. ;) ) Harry's still likeable, Ron and Hermione are cool, and I'm looking forward to burning through Prisoner of Azkaban tomorrow. For this one, four stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
With this post, I hereby commence my charging through the entire Harry Potter series. Today was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, since my housemate [livejournal.com profile] risu owns the UK editions of books 1-4, and I wanted to read those; got in the reading today on the bus to and from going to a movie.

Once I got into the story I started remembering the various plot details, most of which I'd recalled from the film version, with one or two smaller exceptions. So there weren't any real surprises here for me. Prose-wise, I found it mostly a quite accessible read, though Rowling's propensity for ellipses and all-caps screaming towards the very end got a little over the top. Plot-wise, it's a nice little story, with just enough dark adventure to it that I can see why everyone went agog over it when it came out.

What really makes the book for me, though, are the smaller details: the various strange things that happen to Harry before he gets the word to come to Hogwarts, the wave of endless letters and their changing addresses, all the little touches and descriptions of the layout of Hogwarts (like the staircases that go different places on Fridays), the Weasley family's accountant cousin that they don't talk about, the individual crafting of every student's wand, and more. It's all these things that not only put the story on a real-seeming foundation, but also give it not just a sense of wonder, but an outright rush of it. All these details are the things that make a magical world magic. Three and a half stars.
annathepiper: (Tenth Doctor)
Having tried unsuccessfully to read my way through two entirely unrelated novels (about which I will not post yet, unless I actually decide to finish them properly, since they don't count for Book Log purposes), I finally settled today on succumbing to the siren call of the Doctor. ([livejournal.com profile] spazzkat, when I said as much on the Murkworks MUSH: "It's saying 'Would you like a jelly baby?'") With all the delightful Doctor fandom things that have been going around LJ lately, this is probably to be expected of me. ;)

Mike Tucker's The Nightmare of Black Island is a Tenth Doctor book, one of the new hardback series, and this one's Ten and Rose. It's a pretty standard-type Doctor adventure: you got your spooky remote locale (including an abandoned lighthouse), you got your townsfolk all scared of spooky things going on, you got your mysterious recluse up to mysterious doings. And oh yeah, there's also aliens! But it's also a fairly kid-friendly adventure, too; nothing terribly scary, and nothing unusual in the way of character development for either Rose or the Doctor (modulo an amusing throwaway line the Doctor has about how he never sleeps, because he'd tried it once and didn't like it). There's also a Torchwood joke that made me grin.

Very fast read, though, so a bit less substantial than I'd have liked; the prose was pretty lightweight and one or two places where I wanted another comma or two. Two and a half stars.

Special bonus Book Log note: As I now have seven books left before I hit 100 books read this year, I hereby announce that those seven books are going to be the entire Harry Potter series. I've already read books 1-3, but I don't remember a lick of 'em past what plot points are in the movies, so I might as well re-read 'em. This should be interesting.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
As I've often posted about before, I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series. And as y'all might guess with my recent post about finishing up Queen of Souls, I dig me some Greek mythology. So when I happened across The Tomb of Zeus on the new releases shelf in the Mystery section at Barnes & Noble the other night, I couldn't help but be interested: a period novel set in the 1920's, a woman doing archaeology, and moreover, doing it on the isle of Crete. Bitchin'. Sign me up.

Overall this was a fun read, and I must give Ms. Cleverly points for some quite unconventional decisions about her heroine's backstory in a period mystery novel. First and foremost: she's actually met her love interest before, with all sorts of references to prior occurrences that sounded quite interesting and which I'm a little sorry we didn't actually get to see on camera. Second: she's actually not a virgin, which rather raised my eyebrows when I read it, but which also made perfect sense as soon as young Laetitia defended herself to William, the aforementioned love interest, about how entirely unfair it was that his sex was perfectly willing to overlook one of their own having affairs while holding the same behavior against hers. Plot-wise, we get quite the knotted little mess surrounding the death of the wife of Laetitia's host--which in turn leads to the discovery of all sorts of tasty family intrigue going on. There's plenty of lush descriptions of Crete and the people Letty meets, as well as references galore to the gods.

The only beefs I had with it, really, were that I found the pacing and arrangement of scenes occasionally strange and clunky... and that for a novel that was supposed to be about a young woman trying to launch a career as an archaeologist, the story actually took forever to get her doing some actual archaeological work. But those were minor beefs indeed and I may well have to keep an eye out for the next one in this series. Three and a half stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
There are a few mixed reviews of Magic Bites up on Amazon, commenting that the heroine, Kate Daniels, has a humongous chip on her shoulder and mouths off to everyone she meets. Because of this, one can conclude that the reviewers in question did not care for Ms. Daniels as a character. And after I'd read those reviews, I was pre-disposed to not like her once I started the book. Don't get me wrong: Kate does have a huge chip on her shoulder and does indeed mouth off to everyone she meets, even a handsome doctor who asks her out. It does get a little tiresome on occasion.

But then I thought, would people be complaining nearly as much about this character if she was otherwise the same, only a man? And I thought that no, no they wouldn't, most likely. Also, especially after seeing the BSG Razor sneak preview last night, I was reminded that her thermonuclear smartassedness is one of the very things I love about Starbuck. Once I remembered that, I could hardly hold a similar attitude against Kate. ^_^

The book's got other things going for it, too. Andrews has an interesting setting that's both urban fantasy and futuristic, at some indeterminately "future" point in our world's timeline when magic has become active and comes and goes in waves against technology for whichever of them is dominant at any given time. She has an interesting take on vampires, making them almost more like zombies, near-mindless bloodsucking shells that must be navigated by a remote-controlling mind. And, extra special bonus points for having a were-creature love interest who is not, in fact, a werewolf.

It's not entirely perfect; I found the bad guy's motive for going after our heroine a bit thin. (But then, I think that's also part of how Andrews is apparently of the school of "explain the absolute minimum about your characters and universe that's immediately pertinent to the plot"--and there's a strong implication that the reasons for the bad guy going after Kate are things we'll learn more about as we go.) And, in otherwise excellently written prose, one lone grammar error admittedly set my teeth briefly on edge. All in all, though, this was fun, Curran was swoonable, and I will be coming back for Book Two. Three and a half stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
As I believe I'd posted earlier in the year while working on some of the Lily Bard books, I'm these days definitely liking Charlaine Harris better when she's slanting more towards the mystery side of her spectrum than the fantasy side. The Harper Connelly series seems to occupy a space between the Lily Bards and the Sookie Stackhouses--but it's closer to the former than the latter, even given Harper's strange talent of being able to find dead bodies and sense the causes of their deaths.

I found the second installment in this series a nice followup to the first, advancing not only Harper's reputation for what she does but also the relationship between her and her step-brother Tolliver. I'll be really surprised if Harper and Tolliver do not eventually establish a romantic relationship--but for the time being, I'm definitely enjoying a series that's taking its time about that, and showing us that there's more to the relationship with these characters than just potential sex. On a related note, I also appreciate that neither Harper nor Tolliver really fit the cookie-cutter beauty that you see all too often in novels; Harper's frail and Tolliver has acne scars. It makes these characters seem way more real to me than most urban fantasy characters ever could.

Plotwise, things were a bit on the slow side. There was too much time spent with various and sundry characters presenting Harper and Tolliver with the "you guys are ghoulish so you must clearly have planted the body" attitude, and a whole lot of conversation and speculation got thrown around... but there was very little actual action or plot development. On the other hand, things were described in a lively enough fashion that I didn't mind the slow pace much.

Points also to Ms. Harris for sneaking in an amusing Elvis reference as Harper gets to joke about why it would be a bad idea for going to Graceland, too. Which may be another reason I keep coming back to her books; I'm a sucker for a fellow Elvis fan. ^_^ Three stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
It seems like every urban fantasy novel these days with a female protagonist will have heavy sexual elements in it. Succubus Blues is no exception--as you can of course tell right in the title. But the whole idea of this book is actually a refreshing change. Sure, the heroine is a succubus, but she's a succubus who's weary of her existence feeding upon the life forces of mortal males and who inwardly craves the mortal life she can only pretend to have.

It's a paranormal twist on "hooker with a heart of gold", to be sure. With a hook like this, you can kind of predict exactly where this character's development is going to go--and yeah, most of the book is fairly predictable. For me, at least, it was nevertheless still quite enjoyable. I was particularly pleased that Georgina, our heroine, worked in a bookstore--and that the mortal upon whom she develops a massive crush is in fact a writer, Seth Mortensen. And I've gotta say, Seth totally made me swoon: literate, shy, scruffy, and endearing. ^_^

Extra bonus points for some worldbuilding details I don't see get used often, for being another urban fantasy set in Seattle, and for a major demon character who's a blatant if unadmitted John Cusack fan. Not quite sure yet whether I'll be shelling out trade paperback prices for book two, but at least as of the time being, it's more likely than not. Three stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
I waited far too long to read World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Max Brooks, I was surprised and pleased to discover, is the son of Mel Brooks; you can see that he comes by his Funny honest, with that sort of lineage to draw on. This book is chock full of Funny, to be sure--though it's a dark and deadpan sort of humor. The humor initially pulls you in, but what actually keeps you is a solid and riveting story to back it up and soon make you forget about the initial BWAHAHAHA of the premise.

And the premise is giggle-worthy enough: what happens when a worldwide outbreak of zombies nearly drives the human race to extinction. The book's schtick is that of an unnamed narrator called upon to compile a report of how humanity survived, only to be ordered to excise all the "human factor" elements that he then decides to turn into a book. The only real glimpse you get of the narrator is in the introduction. Through the bulk of the book, the real characters are the "interviewees" that are the survivors of World War Z. The scope of their stories swerves from the national down to the personal and back again, showing you the big picture of what happens with the countries of the world contrasted with the survival stories of individuals. All of it is amazingly and deeply detailed, from Israel's announcing a quarantine of its entire country clear up through the American charge eastward over the Rockies to take back the country from the hordes of the undead. But the parts that shone the clearest for me were the individual stories, from the account of the young woman whose parents had fled with her into the Canadian north only to face increasingly desperate conditions--including cannibalism--to the old blind survivor of Hiroshima who took on the holy calling of training Japanese survivors to cleanse the ghouls from their land.

In fact, this quote from that old sensei's story really sums up the coolness of this book: "We might be facing fifty million monsters, but those monsters would be facing the gods." BOOYA.

And needless to say, four stars. ^_^
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
My Brother Michael definitely fits into the mold of other Mary Stewarts I've read this year: exotic locale, young Englishwoman who manages to stumble across something intriguing going on, most of the intriguing bits kind of buried behind too much talk and not enough actual action (at least for this modern reader). And yet, the charm of her prose keeps me coming back to read all the good bits, even if I wind up skimming through most of the book to get the gist of what's going on.

This particular time around, the heroine didn't quite click with me well enough to make me take my time reading through the book. She's too much of a wallflower in a way that may have been suited to the time in which this book was written, but which definitely feels dated now--and she doesn't really do enough to show her developing independence, to my mind. She spends too much time being perfectly willing to let the hero do unpleasant and bothersome tasks for her, and is particularly irritating in her failure to rise to the challenge of managing a large and unfamiliar car. Though to be fair, I'll also note that she was at least aware of her own tendencies in this--so I'm willing to ascribe to Stewart at least some intention of having the girl grow a backbone. I just wish Stewart would have worked a little harder at it.

Points though for being set in Greece, and lots of references to Greek gods and the like. Between that and a likeable enough stalwart British hero, I'll give this one two and a half stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
Sarah Langan's The Missing is a sequel to the book of hers I read at the beginning of this year--in fact, the very first book I read for this year's Book Log, The Keeper. Like the first installment, The Missing is a very grim, very dark read, introducing several characters just long enough to let you get a feel for them before mowing them down in suitably gruesome fashion. This time around, though, the story's much grimmer--and even in the midst of so much destruction, hardly anyone achieves the same sort of spiritual resolution that you see happening in The Keeper. A couple of characters do achieve an escape of sorts, but given the circumstances of the ending, it's hard to see what sort of future they'll be having.

Which brings me to the overall flavor of this book. The Missing is essentially a zombie novel, though the word 'zombie' is never used. The word 'infected', on the other hand, is all over the place--as is the strong indication that the virus sweeping through Corpus Christi is breaking out to threaten the rest of the country and possibly the world. Part of me was vaguely disappointed to see this essentially being a zombie book, since that felt less original than The Keeper. On the other hand, Langan's strong characterization was still in evidence here, and I'm definitely intrigued by the question of whether there will be a third book to finish off what's clearly intended to be a series, and whether there will be a ray of hope for any of the survivors of the plague she's unleashed upon her world. Three and a half stars.
annathepiper: (Book Geek)
Midnight Alley is the third in [livejournal.com profile] rachelcaine's Morganville Vampire series, and as with the second installment, pretty much picks up right where the previous one left off. If you haven't read the first two, you won't want to start with this one. Plot points set up in the first two volumes have significant impact on the characters here, as the world in which our young heroine Claire is now well and thoroughly trapped grows slowly darker. Claire learns more and more secrets about the vampires of Morganville--and now, with her own position in the town having changed, discovers that her new status is bringing her all sorts of unwanted attention.

As with previous Caine books, the pacing remains excellent--though one may wonder how long Claire and Shane can keep up the sexual tension while also keeping in mind that Claire is a minor. This is another series, too, that really rather reads like one long novel; ending on a cliffhanger note seems to be a thing now, which may put off readers who prefer to have a more self-contained story in each volume. Still, though, fun read. Three stars.

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