Dallas, TX, United States | Member Since 2009
A fun and escapist new take on urban fantasy with some great plot twists. I keep wanting to say "bouncy," perhaps because the pert blond heroine bounces over the roofs of the city as she free-runs from place to place. The free-running and a back story that includes a stint on a reality TV show are a few of the elements that make this book feel very timely--the action is happening now, in 20teens America.
As for the urban fantasy--the talking mice and the cuckoo are just the best of the delightful new fantasy creatures in the Cryptid world. Also excellent is the casting of Emily Bauer to read this book. Her voice makes Verity Price come alive, completely and perfectly.
The universe, plot fun and pacing, and narrator are why I give this book 4 stars.
Discount Armageddon includes lots of talk of ecology and evolution; no mention so far in the series of any gods or religions beyond those of snake cults and the talking mice. Saint Patrick is mentioned, though only in association with the bad guys. So, magic, and monsters, but no mysticism... except that of the sacred vow of the bad guys... I hope there's not going to be a "science=good/religion=evil" theme as this series continues... boring. (And semantic).
Less gritty than Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series (which, set in the future, is more dystopian), Discount Armageddon's love story also lacks (as of book one) the emotional depth of Andrews' series. Rather obvious hookups occur between physically attractive characters because...um....they're hot? And hot people just automatically have amazing chemistry and deep connections...? More depth, please. I like escapism, but my disbelief can only be suspended so far.
Great title, except that the book didn't actually involve any Armageddon. I guess "Discount Secret History/Urban Fantasy" just doesn't have the same ring... and "InCryptid"... I have to wonder if McGuire made up this entire series just so she could use that pun.
I also could have done without the sexual themes and nudity. The heroine works as a cocktail waitress in a strip club and is frequently described--in great detail--in skimpy, sexy outfits (reminded me of Sucker Punch). She makes all the moves on the Obvious Love Interest, and the kissing scenes are also described in detail. But then as the intimacy rises, McGuire fades the scene to black. I don't get it--gratuitous descriptions of scantily clad women, yet barely-there sex scenes? (Much less detailed than in the Kate Daniels series). I don't think there's a decent plot reason to have to heroine work at the club to begin with, and it doesn't empower any of the female characters--all the club adds to the book is another clever name and lots of female nudity. But, even if there are plot reasons for the strip club I missed... why all the focus on describing the wardrobe? What's the point? To teach women that we have the power to kick butt and take names, as long as we're also scantily clad and ready to have sex at any second with any available hottie?
Well, I knew from the genre that there would be sex in this book--I just wish it was as easy to fast-forward an audiobook over the parts I want to skip as it is to skim in a regular book!
I'll continue reading the series as long as it continues to offer light, escapist action. I give it 4 stars because it was a great listen with a good variety of tense and less tense scenes, and for the aforementioned plot twists and creative creatures.
Hidden Truth picks up where First Truth left off and leads our characters through some twists, turns, changes, and realizations. The story did several fun things I was not expecting. The big twist is one the savvy reader can figure out ahead of time, which is part of the pleasure in reading a well-crafted story. (You know, you figure out what's probably going to happen, say "Cool!" out loud, to the confusion of the other people in the check-out line, and pat yourself on the back for being so smart (and good-looking)).
The first two books in this series are paced in a leisurely (but not slow) way, so there is good tension but not too much stress for the reader. If you need books you can pause and walk away from (say, to leave the car and go to work, or politely interact with the check-out cashier), First Truth and Hidden Truth fit the bill.
The romance is also intense but restrained, and so are the characters' interactions with the villian... each time the villain appears, there's no knowing if he'll do something truly horrible, or just complain about the food. Kind of like dealing with that boss with the super-short fuse. The intensity and restraint keep the book moving and prevent it from being too predictable.
A note on the narrator: It's very likely that most people will say Marguerite Gavin did a 5-star job narrating this story. I'm just sick of her voice. There is a rhythm to the way she speaks, and something about her accent, that bug me.
I will definitely finish this series, though maybe in print rather than audio.
When the last installment of truly engaging series ends well, it is such a relief! In Clockwork Princess, Cassandra Clare continued the action, adventure, and romance (okay, sometimes a little too much romance!) of the first three books, meanwhile raising the stakes and tying together the loose ends in such a way that the book felt like the carefully crafted conclusion to a larger story, rather than like a formula-written episode in a series. It was quite wonderful.
This conclusion is so strong that it makes the previous two installments stronger, too.
I listened to the first two books practically back-to-back a few years ago and was sucked in to Clare's Victorian London, and to the story. I came to really and truly root for several of the characters--Will especially, and also Henry and Charlotte. I waited anxiously for the conclusion to the series. The foreshadowing in books 1 and 2 made me worried about how some of the storylines in Clockwork Princess might turn out. Here, though, Clare surpassed my expectations--she did not capitalize on her foreshadowing in the plot the way I expected, but rather turned it into a very interesting discussion of theme and character. Clever, thought-provoking, and unexpected.
I appreciate Clare's attention to period detail--dialogue, dress, and setting were all correct for Victorian London--or at least, correct enough not to jar the reader out of the story with egregious anachronisms.
As mentioned earlier, I did find some of the romance (or lovey-dovey-teens-in-love-and-angst) scenes too long, too frequent, and/or too repetitive. The emotional intensity became exhausting--almost melodramatic. In a print book, I would have skimmed ahead.
Another slight irritation--throughout the series, I found Tessa's failure to use her abilities very frustrating. A number of the problems the group faced could have been solved more easily if Tessa had harnessed her powers. In book three, however, either Tessa has grown up enough, or Clare had better editorial advice, so that our heroine actually uses her abilities to solve some problems. It was very nice.
Themes of drug use, drinking, teen sex, and adult sexuality/preference appear in this book (and the rest of the series).
Daniel Sharman did a truly wonderful job narrating the book and capturing the voices and accents of the different characters.
Clockwork Princess is an excellent conclusion to an enjoyable series.
There is so much in this book that I like, and so much that bugs me.
Seanan McGuire presents an urban fantasy world and characters that are new, fun, and engaging. I especially love the supporting cast--the scary ones, the adorable ones, and the adorably scary ones.
The story elements are all there... but...
The melodrama. McGuire raises the stakes by having her first-person narrator over-react to plot elements. It's a common writing strategy--when our main character is worried, we as readers are expected to also become worried--but that writing strategy fails horribly when the character is freaking out about things that do not merit freaking out. (We're talking, the heroine successfully takes out horrible monsters, then launches into melodramatic, fatalistic monologues because a much less scary and less horrible monster might show up). If this is really an emergency, if this situation truly merits melodrama and fatalism, I as a reader need to be convinced of that much more thoroughly than McGuire managed.
The plot in book 2 is much simpler than in book 1, which would not be a problem, except that plot twists are replaced by fake tension and melodrama. Also, at least 5 times in the course of the book, our smart, savvy, trained-from-babyhood heroine makes the same stupid mistake. This isn't a theme in the book--it's not like the character's error is highlighted as a fatal flaw. No, the main character makes stupid, uncharacteristic mistakes, presumably whenever the writer needs a way to raise the stakes.
There's also this whole recognizing-long-lost relatives by sight thing in the book that I found completely unbelievable...I even stopped listening to do research, and math, on how ridiculous the idea in the book was. I could rant, but I'll restrain myself.
When book 3 comes out, I'll probably save my credit and look for the book at my local library.
An interesting and informative read. The descriptions of different ways people attach to romantic partners are easy to remember--and to see in those around us!
"Attached" is sciencey enough to be convincing without being so sciencey as to be boring.
The only thing I really didn't like about this book is how dismissive it was of other theories of love/attachment, some of which "Attached" misrepresented. Bad form. If the authors want this book to seem like a scientific treatment, rather than self-help, then mud-slinging the competition is not an effective strategy.
I downloaded this book because Audible offered it for free. The book has little new to add about how to find love, offers more of the usual advice on how to keep love, but it delivers fully on its promise of explaining adult attachment theory. Insight that I can remember--not bad for a free book.
Puns aside, the journey of Calwyn and her friends, discovering their world, using (and learning when not to use) their magic, is an engaging and thought-provoking story. The characters are complex in their backgrounds and motivations, and they make--and learn from--mistakes.
We could call this book secondary world young adult fantasy (the heroine is a 16-year-old girl), though the story also resonates with the 12+ group and with adults. Themes of racism, power/powerlessness, pen/sword, fight/negotiate, and stewardship can be found in the series, as well as friendship and coming-of-age.
There are places where I wish Kate Constable showed more and told less, mostly when it comes to character motivations and interactions. The world itself is presented very well, and the magic system is just cool. I love the play on words with "enchantment" and Chanters.
The Singer of All Songs audiobook is enhanced with actual singing in the background in scenes where the magic is sung--and it works really well--it really added to the book!
The book has violence and hardships, but they are handled gracefully--nothing too gory or explicit.
The first book works as a stand-alone, and it is lovely. The latter two books in the trilogy add depth to the characters and themes. I listened to the series a few years ago, and just listened to it again over a long car trip. I'm sure I'll come back to it in the future.
This book has everything that we loved about the first three in the series, except that our heroes have finally made it off planet.
The stakes are higher, our band of heroes is smaller (and still shrinking, alas), and the story gets darker.
There are parts of Prince Roger's character arc that I'm not entirely convinced of, and more of the same long tactical and political conversations that bored me in the previous three books in the series are back to bore me again in "We Few." Likewise, Ringo and Weber deliver plenty of long, detailed fight scenes--some of which bore me tremendously. Maybe it's a pacing thing?
I will absolutely read the rest of this series. I want to know what happens next!
I love the premise, I like the characters, and I find so much to enjoy in this series.
But... sometimes the characters just go on and on planning battles or discussing polictical machinations... bo-ring. Othertimes, they get into a battle and it just goes on and on and on. These are things I would skim in a real book--maybe the Audible app needs a double-speed function?
Yet I've really enjoyed this series. The progression of cultures has been fun, and the development and implementation of the Mardukan natives is clever and thorough. Plus, Ringo and Weber aren't afraid to kill off almost anyone, so the stakes are real, and the effect of extended combat on the human troops is realistic and educational.
This book kept me entertained for 20+ hours. Sometimes, that's good enough.
Standard sword and sorcery--very Tolkein-inspired and D&D-like--but with enough twists and wriggles to keep it from being derivative.
Honestly, I gave it 3 stars instead of 4 stars because the writer tells more than he shows. I know who all the characters are supposed to be, intellectually, because Sullivan delivers them to me that way. I don't think I had an emotional connection with a single one of them, though. There wasn't enough space in the writing, somehow.
I also got irritated at the sexism. Yes, the story is set in a medieval-ish world where men were in charge and women were so much chattel, but even the main female characters tend to act more like stereotypes (overemotional) than like real people. Some of that could have been the narrator, I suppose--some of his female voices were ridiculous.
If the rest of the series goes on sale, I expect I'll listen to them, too. But I probably won't spend any credits.
Intriguing magic system used in a thought-provoking way--what are the moral implications of doing horrible things to bad people to try to make them into better people? Can two or three or ten wrong deeds turn a bad person good? Meanwhile, how are the inflictors of bad on the bad affected in return?
But... the sex scenes were too raw and too sordid for me, with too much vulgar language. They also seemed to be in the book to titillate the reader, not to add to the story. I like to read stories, not erotica...this pushes the edges...
I got this book on a $5 sale, so I don't regret spending the money, but I won't be reading the rest of the series.
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