Posts Tagged book review

Sacrifice (First Book of the Fey) – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Worth looking for.

Stars: Three and three quarters out of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
Summary: Their armies have conquered half the world. Now they want the rest.
The Fey, known for their beauty and their warrior magic, have set their sights on Blue Isle. They should conquer the Isle quickly; its people, simple and religious, have never known war.
On the eve of the invasion, Jewel, the granddaughter of the Fey’s all-powerful Black King, has a frightening vision, one that ties her fate to the Isle forever. Still, she helps her father Rugar head the invasion force.
The force meets a surprising resistance. Nicholas, heir to Blue Isle’s throne, has always dreamed of battle. Normally, he would be no match for the powerful Fey. But Blue Isle has a secret weapon—a weapon no one understands, a weapon that could stop the Fey in their tracks.
Nicholas must find a way to harness this amazing power. Jewel must find a way to thwart him. To survive… what will happen? (quoted from publisher’s description online)
Provenance: Purchased ebook online.

Sacrifice – Kristine Kathryn Rusch: This is the first all-out fantasy I’ve read by Ms. Rusch, and it does not disappoint.

The narrative switches from one limited-first-person to the other.  At first I expected to follow Jewel extremely closely, but then I got more comfortable as the point of view spent almost equal time with Nicholas.  I very much enjoyed the twist on the usual trope of ‘the Fey.’ Here they are warlike and steadily conquering everything within their reach. Not at all wispy and ethereal 🙂  Hmm, Romulans?

The only hold-back from four stars is that I felt the pace slowed a little more than I wanted, as the important characters seemed to reach their intended locations for the end of this book. But, they’re set for act two now, and I am looking forward to learning what’s next.

Hooray for completed series!  I can read the whole thing as soon as I like, and I certainly will get going soon.

Linkage and spoilerly comments below

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Star Island – Carl Hiaasen

Fun splashing, but same old ocean.

Stars: Three of five.

Review format: Comment plus links.
Summary:   Meet twenty-two-year-old Cherry Pye (née Cheryl Bunterman), a pop star since she was fourteen—and about to attempt a comeback from her latest drug-and-alcohol disaster. 
Now meet Cherry again: in the person of her “undercover stunt double,” Ann DeLusia. Ann portrays Cherry whenever the singer is too “indisposed”—meaning wasted—to go out in public. And it is Ann-mistaken-for-Cherry who is kidnapped from a South Beach hotel by obsessed paparazzo Bang Abbott.Now the challenge for Cherry’s handlers (über–stage mother; horndog record producer; nipped, tucked, and Botoxed twin publicists; weed whacker–wielding bodyguard) is to rescue Ann while keeping her existence a secret from Cherry’s public—and from Cherry herself.

The situation is more complicated than they know. Ann has had a bewitching encounter with Skink—the unhinged former governor of Florida living wild in a mangrove swamp—and now he’s heading for Miami to find her . . .

Will Bang Abbott achieve his fantasy of a lucrative private photo session with Cherry Pye? Will Cherry sober up in time to lip-synch her way through her concert tour? Will Skink track down Ann DeLusia before Cherry’s motley posse does?

All will be revealed in this hilarious spin on life in the celebrity fast lane. (from goodreads)

Provenance: My bookshelf, family purchase… 
Date Read: June 2012 

I needed something new to read, and lookit: a new-to-me Carl Hiassen book sitting in the basement.  It delivers what I have come to expect – protagonists of spunky run-down investigative male and feisty and hot female on a mission; Skink, calls to conserve not pave-over the environment, grotesque bad guys, grisly ends for some bad guys.  A little bit forgettable, but perhaps that’s because I feel like it’s a Hiassen formula.

Many of the supporting characters are standouts from previous books – notably Skink and the bad-guy with the weed-whacker hand.  It’s nice to see them return, but it’s also a short-cut instead of introducing amazing new characters.  The botoxed-scultped-identical fraternal twin sister publicists: they were new and funny.  Cherry’s parents? Reminded me a little too much of Elizabeth Bennett’s parents in Pride and Prejudice, though Pa Bunterman is not quite as cool as Mr. Bennett.

In summary:

  • If you’ve liked other Hiaasen books, then expect some enjoyable but very-slightly-stale more of the same.
  • If you’ve disliked other Hiaasen books, then this is not the book to convince you otherwise.
  • I think Double Whammy is my favourite of his books. Not that I’ll go re-read it right now, but it was more zingy and edgy.

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And Blue Skies from Pain – Stina Leicht

Astounding and near-perfect.

Stars: Four and a half of five.

Review format: Comment plus links.
Summary:  It’s November of 1977: The punk rock movement is a year old and the brutal thirty-year war referred to as “The Troubles” is escalating.
According to Irish tradition, the month of November is a time for remembrance of the dead. Liam Kelly, in particular, wishes it were otherwise. Born a Catholic in Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland, Liam, a former wheelman for the Provisional IRA, is only half mortal. His father is Bran, a púca—a shape-shifting ghostlike creature—and a member of the ancient Fíanna.
Liam must dodge both the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who want him for the car bombing that killed Constable Haddock, and the Provisional IRA, who want him for the deaths of Éamon Walsh and several others found ripped apart in a burned down farmhouse in Armagh. Fortunately for Liam, both the Ulster Constabulary and the Provisional IRA think he’s dead.
On the other hand, the Militis Dei—a group of Roman Catholic priest-assassins, whose sole purpose is to dispose of fallen angels and demons found living on this earth—is very aware that Liam is alive, and very aware of his preternatural parentage. With the help of his unlikely ally Father Murray—a Militis Dei operative who has known Liam since childhood—he must convince the Church that he and his fey brethren aren’t demonic in origin, and aren’t allied with The Fallen.
The clash between The Fallen and The Fey intensifies against the backdrop of the Irish/English conflicts in And Blue Skies from Pain, Stina Leicht’s follow up to her critically acclaimed debut, Of Blood and Honey.  (from the publisher’s website)
Provenance: Baen Online Store… 
Date Read: June 2012 

I recently purchased and read two books by Stina Leicht, and they are awesome. The first book is Of Blood and Honey and its sequel is And Blue Skies from Pain. These books follow a young man in early-seventies Northern Ireland whose life is complicated by:

  • poverty
  • imprisonment
  • only able to get a job with IRA fronted cab company
  • tendency to shape-shift in stressful situations
  • political girlfriend
  • near-illiteracy
  • absent father – was he Protestant? Black? Indian? Not… English?! No, just Fae.

These two books are the best books I’ve read in quite a while. Makes it difficult to find a next book worth reading. Go read Red’s review of these books for more persuasive details of their excellence.

For me, these two books both evoke many of the same feelings that Jo Walton’s wonderful Among Others did. Since she just brought home a Nebula award for her novel, this is a very positive comparison.

Links and others’ reviews

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Carousel Tides – Sharon Lee

Enjoyed my visit to Archer Beach.

Stars: Four out of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
Summary: Kate Archer left home years ago, swearing that she would die before she returned to Maine. As plans go, it was a pretty good one — simple and straightforward.
Not quite fast enough, though.
Before she can quite manage the dying part, Kate gets notice that her grandmother is missing, leaving the carousel that is the family business untended.
And in Archers Beach, that means ‘way more trouble than just a foreclosure.. 
(quoted from publisher site)
Provenance: purchased from baen after enjoying free sample chapters.

Good book, go read it.  I would love to read more by this author and especially in this world with these characters.

Very good evocation of small resort-town Maine, and the difficulties of an unwanted family heritage. I would love to read the backstory of Kate’s life as a programmer… was magic at all a part of her life ‘out there’?

Oh yes, and one more thing. I found this cover off-putting: owned the book for a year before reading it. The cover you see here looks very… hmm… wispy-ethereal-gothic – and I don’t like all that swooning.  But in fact the book is quite gritty and down-to-earth. So, don’t pre-judge the book by this cover. 🙂

Linkage, some Spoilage below

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