Archive for November, 2012

Having caused mayhem with the Norse thunder gods, Atticus O’Sullivan has lured them to the Arizona desert so they can get revenge by killing him.  After some trickery with the help of Morrigan, the goddess of death, the gods leave certain they’ve managed to kill him and avenged their dead.  Atticus can now get on with life without looking over his shoulder constantly.

Then he meets Coyote, the Navajo trickster god and agrees to help him with his vision, to set up sustainable energy plants all over the Navajo land and benefitting his people by being under their control.  Coyote tricks Atticus into fighting a war against skinwalkers, blood-thirsty desert shape-shifters.

Atticus has the same sort of style as Harry Dresden but they are two very different characters.  Though there are some similarities – druid/wizard, Molly/Granuaile as apprentices, dog sidekicks who are no ordinary dogs – this is a refreshing new story.  I loved Oberon, his slavering sidekick obsessed with bacon.  The mental exchanges between them are hilarious!  This book was the fourth in the series but the first I had read.  I’d only got a few pages in before realising I had to track down the first three to read.

Action packed plot, fun characters, interesting mythology, this book has it all.  A great read for anyone.

Orbit

Supplied by Hachette

Reviewed by Jan

 

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Set in Tasmania this book has three parts, telling the stories of Hugh Dixon, a school boy in the 50’s; his great great grandfather Martin’s adventures with a notorious bushranger in the 1800’s; and a return to Hugh as he makes a life in the 70s.

The first part is rather slow, telling us about Hugh’s best friend, his desire to be an artist, and his meeting with his great uncle Walter, an acclaimed lawyer, in order to get a favour for his father.  Walter creates a bond with Hugh, encouraging him to follow his dream of being an artist and acting as a mentor, introducing him to literature and new ideas.  This lays the ground work for the next chapter in Hugh’s life and introduces Martin, a relative Walter has long admired.

Martin longs to be a writer, rebelling against his father’s wish he be a gentleman farmer.  The setting is Tasmania in the 1800s, when it served as a penal colony for British convicts.  Liam Dalton escapes his prison sentence and returns to the gang of his fellow bushranger, the legendary Luke Wilson.  On his way there, he meets Martin who persuades him to take him to Luke and see if he’ll let him write down his life story for a newspaper.  Martin stays for a while in the utopian paradise Luke Wilson has created before the actions of an evil person force him out.

Jumping forward in time, Hugh’s story resumes.  Having left school, he works as a photo retoucher for a newspaper.  He reconnects with his childhood best friend and they are on their way to achieving their dreams of being artists. Then an evil person appears to shatter those dreams.  Hugh asks another favour of Walter, to help his best friend.

After a slow start, the plot heats up and more action occurs.  I’m glad I didn’t give up reading as this is a good book.  The contrast of good and evils is shown, and interesting questions are raised, such as can there ever be a utopia?  A thought provoking book, much different from my usual reads!

HarperCollins

Supplied by HarperCollins

Reviewed by Jan

Karou has fled after finding out what happened to Brimstone and her chimaera family.  Betrayed by Akiva, she takes refuge in the desert and joins the chimaera revenants as their resurrectionist.  She uses the portals to slip between the human world and Eretz, buying supplies for the revenants and gathering teeth for her work.  Watched closely by Thiago, the general of the chimaera revenants, her skin crawls whenever he’s near as he was the one to order Madrigal’s execution.  She’s viewed as a traitor by most of the soldiers, for loving an angel when she was Madrigal.

Akiva is reunited with Liraz and Hazeal, after choosing Karou over them in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  They find they all want the senseless killing between the seraph and chimaera to stop and try to figure out a way to do it.  Meanwhile someone is slaughtering the seraph, and using their bodies to send a message.  In the subplot Zuzana finally figures out from Karou’s cryptic emails where she is, and with Mik sets off to find her.  They succeed and stay with the chimaera in order to help Karou with her work.

I really enjoyed this book, a lot more than the first which I found slow.  Now I can see it was a lot of world building and setting the scene. The plot was tightly woven and there was quite a bit of action going on, with the fighting between the beasts and the angels.  The political manuvering was well thought out, with lots of little twists I didn’t see coming.  Karou is a bit too meek and accepting of being treated like dirt by Thiago I thought.  I also felt sorry for Akiva and wished she’d give him a bit of forgiveness.

I recommend you read the first book before this one to get the full backstory, though you can dive right in.  The twist at the end was brilliant, though unexpected, and it seems so right for the story.  I’m eagerly awaiting the final book in this trilogy, especially after the last lines – Tomorrow they start the apocalypse.  Tonight, they let themselves look at each other, just for a little while.

Little, Brown, and Company

Supplied by Hachette

Reviewed by Jan

Karou is studying art at a high school in Prague, filling her sketchbooks with stories, depicted in drawings of fantastic creatures.  She has a puppeteer best friend, a stalker ex-boyfriend who’s insanely hot, and the admiration of her peers for her talent.  Karou also has naturally bright blue hair, a lot of tattoos, and a necklace of beads that give you one wish.  Raised by a family made of chimaeras, Karou used various portals to slip in and out of the human word as a child and now runs errands for them; collecting teeth in exchange for wishes.

Azril is an angel, one of the beautiful men and women who have left irremovable black handprints on doors around the world before vanishing on unseen wings.  The doors are portals to other worlds and the work of the devil.  The angels are trying to eradicate evil from the world.  Once every door is marked they are set alight and close all the portals.  Karou is cut off from her family, stranded and alone.  But Azril has seen her, and fascinated, tracks her down…..

The book started off slow for me, only getting interesting toward the middle.  The writing is fine, the plot unique and interesting, I just prefer more action and only found it halfway through.  This is a story that young adults will appreciate.  The first half built the background of Karou and set the scene, making you able to ‘see’ her.  The characters are well formed and her family give you a different perspective, being able to love though evil and doing horrible things.  The ‘good guys’ (angels) aren’t so innocent however and have rewritten history.

If you want to know what the teeth are used for, keep reading.  It’s a slow start but gets better.  Off to read the sequel Days of Blood and Starlight.

Little, Brown and Company

Reviewed by Jan

It was the night before Christmas and a greedy little boy was lying in bed, wishing for even more toys.  So Santa decided to give him a special present……..

A cautionary tale of what wanting to much can get you, it shows how important family is and ends on a heart-warming note when everything turns out ok.  The book is composed of cleverly written stanzas with rhyming and a great beat when read aloud.  The illustrations are fantastic, colourful and conveying a sense of realism in each scene.

Written by Tom and Dougie from McFly, this is a wonderful, entertaining picture book that’s perfect for reading to little ones as well as delighting adults with its humour and clever illustrations.  I highly recommend this book for any children in your life and even if you don’t have any

Red Fox

Supplied by Random House

Reviewed by Jan

The Lenayin army is defeated from their last battle, though the feudal army of the Regent Balthaar Arosh won the war.  The Lenayin king is dead and most of the army is humiliated.  They realise they are marching with an army displaying no honour and committing atrocities against both serrin and human.  Sasha leads her brother Damon and three quarters of the army of Lenayin to defect and fight for Saalshen.  This leaves her brothers, Koenyg and Myklas, with the nobility and the Verenthane fanatics to fight for the Regent.

The final battle that will determine the fate of the Bacosh is in Jahnd.  A city of human refugees in Saalshen, its serrin hosts have allowed it to build into a major power over the centuries.  The mountainous land of Ilduur, Saalshen Bacosh’s third province, refuses to come to the aid of its neighbours.   Most of Ilduur is against joining the war as the mountains protect them from the battles to the north.  For Sasha and her allies to defeat the enemy they need the Ilduurian Steel to fight with them.  Sasha leads a delegation south to plead with the Ilduur to send troops.

Sasha has to become a true Lenay warlord to save Saalshen.  She must be feared and hated by her enemies, uncompromising and all conquering. Her own people are now insisting that she, and not her brother Damon, should assume the Lenay throne. ‘Haven‘ is the final in the ‘A Trial of Blood and Steel’ political military fantasy.  It is a fitting climax to this fantastic series. The story line is fast-paced and full of action.  The armies of both sides meet for an epic battle that will determine the future of the Bacosh.

The only parts I didn’t like are the horses getting hurt in battle.  The humans chose to fight, the poor horses did not.  Apart from that, this is an exciting book to read.  It could be read as a stand-alone, as it covers the series plot well.  It is a satisfying to ending to the Saalshen Bacosh war, while leaving loose threads for future stories.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

Rhodia has a divided population of feudalist’s, non-feudalist’s (Civid Sein), and the non-human serrin.  Tensions finally overflow and Rhodia moves toward a full-scale war. The northern Verenthane countries and the war-like goeren-yai, are marching south to join the Torovan armies and reclaim the Saalshen Bacosh. The serrin have occupied them for two hundred years and made them prosperous. The fanatical religious Verenthanes have wanted to reclaim them for years and some humans there want to return to feudal times.

In Tracato there is a politically and religiously complex situation.  Sasha’s Lenay countrymen are marching to wage war on the serrin.  Her lover is a serrin; her uman is on the opposing side. Sasha’s opposing loyalties and identity crisis build to an agonizing climax.  Sofy is marching with the Lenay army to marry a prince of Larosa in the sub-plot to Sasha’s life and battle for survival in Rhodia. With her are Jaryd, the former noble and now goeren-yai soldier, and Yasmyn, her fierce handmaiden.

Unlike the first two books in the Trial of Blood and Steel, Tracato completely skipped the introductions and jumped straight into action, the Tracato civil war. Then it jumped to the series-wide conflict, the Toravan/Lenayin invasion of Enora.  Joel Shepherd has built a highly complex political and religious world.  In Tracato, the history of the various countries and religions is known, the characters are in place, and everything is inexorably converging. There is maximum tension and intensity and this is possibly the most exciting book in the series.  Most of the back story is mentioned so this book is suitable to read alone.  I would urge people to start with Sasha though, as this is a fantastic series and deserves to be read in its entirety.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan