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Posts Tagged ‘Gollancz’

Whispers Underground

In Book Reviews on July 13, 2014 at 6:00 am
Gollancz 2012

Gollancz 2012

Practically the whole point of being police is that you don’t gather information covertly. You’re supposed to turn up on people’s doorsteps, terrify them with the sheer majesty of your authority, and keep asking questions until they tell you what you want to know.

If these books had been around when I was a teenager, I would have totally wanted to be a cop in London. I would have been super disappointed in my career aspirations to find out that there was no supernatural department of the Metropolitan Police Department, so it’s probably best that these books only came out a few years ago.

Nutshell blurb: Peter Grant is back for another adventure. This time he’s investigating the murder of the son of an American diplomat which means that the FBI gets involved. Hijinx and hilarity ensue.

I read The Rivers of London back before I started this blog, so I haven’t done a write-up on that but if you would like to read my thoughts on Moon Over Soho, please feel free to do so.

I loved this book as much (but maybe a teensy bit more because I adore Lesley) as the last one. They actually do seem to get better as you go along. The characters are all so unique and well thought out. They could be real people for all I know. They certainly seem like it.

I want to read them all again, one after the other because sometimes I forget events or names of people from previous books if I’ve left too much time in between them.

Also, Mr. Aaronovitch has such an engaging style of writing that I get so caught up in the narration that I don’t concentrate on what’s actually happening.

Does that even make sense? Maybe not, but it happens, people. It’s probably not the best thing when reading a crime novel as you need to pay attention to the details in order to keep up with plot twists and such.

It doesn’t really matter, though. The sheer enjoyment I’ve gotten from reading these books so far is worth it. And I’m sure that I’ll pay more attention to the facts during my second pass.

I said it in my post for Moon Over Soho and I’ll say it again now: Ben Aaronovitch is a genius. I hope that he keeps on writing these books forever.

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Dune Messiah

In Book Reviews on March 16, 2014 at 8:49 pm
Victor Gollancz 1971

Victor Gollancz 1971

Nutshell blurb: Paul Atreides is all grown up and ruler of a vast amount of planets. And now, pretty much everyone is out to get him.

I was decidedly underwhelmed by this book. I was completely blown away when I read Dune and was super excited to read the follow-up book. I looked for it every time I went to the library but finally ended up breaking down and buying it.

The premise sounded great. Plots upon plots, the return of a friend as a ghola and a rich world with interesting characters. But somehow I felt that there was something lacking in the execution. It just didn’t grab me.

This could be partly why I’ve been going through a reading rut lately (as I mentioned in a previous post). This book was a hard slog for me, but it was deceptively exciting. I kept thinking that something was going to happen if I just read a few more pages, but alas…

I’ve heard that the next book is better so I think that I’ll give it a chance. It seemed to be the general consensus (according to the reviews on Goodreads) that this book is a somewhat weak bridge between the first book and the next.

I certainly hope so.

Giants of the Frost

In Book Reviews on October 23, 2013 at 6:00 am
Giants of the Frost

Gollancz 2005

Memories streamed through him: blood and fire and the helpless shrieks of mortal suffering. “There is no love, Vidar,” his father had said. “There is only fate.” Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful book! So far, I’ve only read two books that are based on or have Norse mythology incorporated into them and I’ve adored them both. The thing that has always intrigued me about any type of mythology is that not everyone gets a happy ending. I’d like to take a moment to say that I’m not against happy endings because, let’s face it, sometimes we need them. Sometimes I like reading stories where everyone lives happily ever after except for the villain who has gotten his comeuppance in a very satisfying way. But most of the time I’m a sucker for a tragic character. And boy, there are some tragic characters in this book. Nutshell blurb: Vidar, the son of Odin, has been waiting a thousand years for the soul of his beloved to be reincarnated. Unfortunately, he has some daddy issues. Odin was the one who murdered her and would do so again if he found out that she had been reborn and that Vidar was anywhere near her. This is a love story or perhaps a story about how powerful love is. ‘Wait, Buffy,’ you might be saying. ‘I thought you didn’t like romantic stories.’ In which case I would have to clarify my definitions of love vs romance stories. In my mind (and it could be different for you) a romance story focuses on the two star-crossed characters. There’s a lot of will they, won’t they even though you totally know that they will. There’s also a lot of sexy-time and something like 50 different words for a man’s winkle. For me, a love story is part of a larger story and doesn’t hinge on whether the two people get together. There might be some out and out sexy-time or it might be implied but it’s part of a larger story. Perhaps that’s a bit simplistic, but that’s how it works in my brain. So, let’s start with Vidar. Could you imagine a man patient enough to wait 1000 years for you to be reincarnated? He’s angry and disillusioned by his family, particularly his father and just wants to spend a lifetime with the love of his life, which isn’t really a long time considering that he’s from Asgard and she’s a mortal from Midgard. So, what’s the problem, Odin? The problem is that his entire family think that he’s weak because he was an exceptional warrior who fell in love and decided not to kill people any more. They’re the worst type of meddling family members. Vidar decides to go off into the forest and live in a cabin away from all of them just to get some peace and quiet from them. The thing that’s so tragic about him is that he knows deep in his heart that even though she’s been reincarnated they can never be together yet they both try to escape their fate. Fan-girl interlude: I’d like to take this moment to say that if you love the Chris Hemsworth version of Thor from the movies (as I do because he’s super dreamy) you’ll have to try to not imagine him as the Thor in this book. Because this Thor is kind of a douchebag. And by ‘kind of’ I mean ‘seriously, really and a lot of’. Now, please keep in mind that I haven’t actually read any Norse mythology as of yet so I don’t know what Thor is actually meant to be like, so don’t you go ruining it for me. I try not to fan-girl too much so indulge me, k? Thanks.

Sweet god of thunder… You’ll always be the real Thor to me.

*Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh* Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes, tragic characters. Next up we’ve got Victoria the reincarnated lover. She’s a meteorologist doing research on Othinsey aka Odin’s Island. She’s got a lot of first world problems. She views her mom as a bit of an nutcase who consults psychics and she frequently becomes frustrated with her because Victoria’s a scientist who doesn’t believe in superstition and other such things. She can’t hold down a decent relationship and has gone to this Norwegian island in an effort to avoid relationships, yet she finds that she’s the object of attraction/affection to a couple of people on the island. She just wants to be left alone. Then she meets Vidar and had to rethink everything that she believed. I think that my favourite tragic character is Aud. She’s a princess who is a bondmaid to the Aesir because she made a deal with the Norns who weave the fates of everyone. She must serve the Aesir for 1000 years. During her servitude, she falls in love with Vidar who obviously can’t love her because he’s in love with Victoria. I liked her the most because she wasn’t bitchy or spiteful about her situation even though she couldn’t have her way. She struggled through the entire book and it just seemed like she couldn’t catch a break. I really felt for her and felt like I could relate to her. She wasn’t perfect and she made some bad decisions but she accepted that she had to serve her 1000 years and just got on with it. My one criticism of this story is that I felt that the ending was rushed. Or maybe I was rushed when I read it. You see, I usually leave books at home when I have 100 pages or less to read because the last 100 pages or so is when it all hits the fan and I don’t want to be interrupted by things like getting off of trains and having to start work. I was so close to the end and I thought that I could finish it on the train. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much sleep the night before and I kept dozing off during my commute. I got off of the train with something like 15 pages left to read. I should have sat down on a bench at the station and finished it, but I didn’t. (Don’t worry, it wouldn’t have made me late for work. I got there pretty early.) I ended up finishing it during my lunch hour which meant that I picked it up in the middle of an action scene. First world problems, my friends. Anyway, this is a book I’ll reread one day and then I’ll get a better sense of whether or not the ending was rushed or if it was just me. I think that this book would have made me cry if I hadn’t been interrupted. It certainly took my breath away.

Heart-Shaped Box

In Book Reviews on September 18, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Heart-Shaped Box

Gollancz 2007

He put the box on the shelf, in the back of his closet, and decided to stop thinking about it.

Nutshell blurb: Jude is an aging rocker with a collection of morbid items. He bought a dead man’s suit online for a laugh only to find out that the consequences weren’t that funny.

Jeepers. This was a really good read. It was difficult to put it down when I needed to. This was one of those books that tempted me to stay on the train past my stop during my morning commute. (I was a good girl, though, and didn’t let it make me late for work. *sigh* It’s hard being responsible.)

I didn’t find the main character likeable AT ALL. However, I was intensely sympathetic to his plight and didn’t want bad things to happen to him or the people around him. That’s quite a delicate balance to achieve as a writer and I was seriously impressed by Mr. Hill’s mad writing skillz. There were a few times when I thought that I had figured things out only to have some new development that would throw me for a loop. Seriously, people. Skills.

There were a few things that didn’t make sense to me or weren’t explained thoroughly, such as the significance of the box the suit came in being heart-shaped. Perhaps I missed something, but I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t explained. I also didn’t understand how the ghost came to be as he was. I’ll leave it at that so that I don’t spoil it for you, but it wasn’t clear to me.

These things didn’t really matter in the scheme of the story, though. It was well written, fantastically creepy and full of suspense. I usually have two books on the go; one for home and one for my commute and this was my commute book. I was so transfixed that I read it at home as well in my travels and it was time well spent. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work in the future.

Redshirts

In Book Reviews on September 4, 2013 at 6:00 am

RedshirtsGollancz 2012

John Scalzi had me at his dedication to Wil Wheaton.

To Wil Wheaton, whom I heart with all the hearty heartness a heart can heart.

Thus began an entire novel of complete silliness and whimsy. Right up my alley.

As the title suggests, this book follows the plight of the Redshirts. For those of you who haven’t watched any Star Trek at all (shame on you, for one thing), the Redshirts are the throw away characters who accompany the main characters on away missions and always die. You can always tell who it’s going to be. You’ll have the captain, the science officer, maybe the chief engineer and then there’s Ensign Bob Smith and you know right away that Ensign Smith won’t be making it back to the ship.

Actually, Eddie Murphy explains it much better in Boomerang:

You get the idea. And just so we’re clear, this book does not take place in the Star Trek universe.

So the premise of this book is that the demise of Redshirts aboard the Intrepid has gotten out of hand to the point where they start noticing that something is wrong. And then they start comparing notes and realise that assignment on any away mission is a death sentence. A handful of them set out to figure out why and to see what they can do to stop it.

Frankly, I can’t tell you more than that without spoiling it.

I will give you this quote, however, which might be slightly spoilerfic but it’s from the pov of one of the Redshirts so we kind of expect it anyway.

Ensign Davis thought, Screw this, I want to live, and swerved to avoid the landworms. But then he tripped and one of the landworms ate his face and he died anyway.

I literally laughed out loud. Reading it still makes me giggle a bit.

I gave this five out of five stars on Goodreads because of the sheer enjoyment I got from it. It was fast-paced with constant action (always a plus for me) and it didn’t take itself very seriously at all. The dialogue was a bit clunky and some of the characters weren’t well rounded, but I attributed that to the subject matter. These guys are the extras with minimal back-stories and the writing style reflected that.

The one thing that I didn’t really like about this book was the end. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it for you.) After the main story is a set of three codas which wrap up the stories of some of the characters from the main story. I felt that this book could have stood on its own without the codas. I thought that the ending was really quirky and cool, but was then dragged out by this additional information which I could have survived without.

Overall, I loved it. It satisfied my need for action and had the added bonus of complete and utter silliness. A total win in my book.

The Last Wish

In Book Reviews on June 13, 2013 at 9:42 pm

The Last Wish

Gollancz

English Translation 2007

This was a pretty good read. It contains a series of short adventures or quests on which our anti-hero embarks as he fights his way across the land.

Nutshell blurb: A witcher, Gerault is resting in a convent/nunnery/temple and flashes back to the adventures which brought him there.

I’m going to start with the negative things about this book. The first thing is that I didn’t realise he was flashing back to his adventures until I happened to read it in The Witcher wiki which I looked at to find which came first: The Witcher or The Last Wish. (Incidentally, it was The Last Wish.) I don’t feel that it was made clear in the writing, unless I’m just super unobservant and wasn’t paying attention. Through the entire book. I thought that he just really liked this temple that he was staying at and kept going back to it. I would almost count that as a cardinal sin. Mysterious = good. Vague = not so good.

The second thing that I didn’t like was that all of the stories were told as flashbacks. I don’t mind a flashback here and there, but I want peril. I want to find out at the end whether or not our hero/anti-hero survives. I don’t want to know that he’s relaxing with some hot chicks through the entire book while the action is going on in his memory. There’s no sense of immediacy. No threat of something really bad happening to him.

On to what I did like. I was pleasantly surprised that this book contained re-tellings of various fairy tales. I think that I might have told you in a previous post that I’m becoming more fascinated by re-tellings and although they weren’t the focal point of the stories, they made it interesting. I liked reading the author’s take on these fairy tales and how they could fit in with a dark and gritty story. They certainly weren’t inspired by Disney.

The characters were interesting and the action was action-y which is always a plus for me.

Overall, it was pretty standard fantasy fare but I found it fun to read.

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