Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bitty Reviews: Meh, Yay, Blah

Geist (Book of the Order #1) by Philippa Ballantine
I wanted to enjoy this book much more than I did. It's a complex story set in a complex world with complex characters but the end result was convoluted. The setting is one of those "days of yore" worlds commonly found in fantasy, sorta medieval but with some minor steam punk elements like dirigibles and guns thrown in which does give it a unique spin. There is a lot of detail here and the reader is introduced to some strong, flawed characters... and yet, I never felt that the characters developed any further as the story went along. 
The story moves quickly, perhaps too quickly for my tastes. We are often told details instead of shown, without the author ever laying down any real groundwork to explain the twists and turns within the character's relationships. I never felt that the characters came alive beyond their initial introduction, (as good as that may have been.) For example, trust is an issue between the three main characters. When this begins to change, I didn't buy it. Not because the characters were not worthy of each others trust but because the change in the relationships felt superficial. I accepted it because the author told us but I didn't believe it because it was not shown. I found it difficult to be emotional engaged by this story despite the fact that intellectually it is an interesting one. 
This is one of the few times when I felt like a book should have been longer so that the author's writing could match the depth of the world she portrayed.
Grade: C

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book News

  • Ann Aquirre has just sold two new series.  The first is a science fiction trilogy  described as Prison Break in  space.  The second is a steampunk whodunnit written with Andres Aguirre.  Both are out in 2013.  You can read all about it here.
  • From Meljean Brook's Really Infrequent Newsletter comes this:   In January 2012, "Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City" will be included in the mass market reprint of The Iron Duke and issued as a standalone ebook a few months later. I've also been given the go-ahead on a novella for Scarsdale -- look for that in Summer 2012.   HOORAY! Scarsdale!  I am so ready for his story. I wonder why it's a novella, though.  Lord knows Scarsdale has enough baggage for a full length story.
  • This sounds like it could be interesting... From Lilith Saintcrow: I’m happy to announce that Orbit short fiction will be bringing out my “teenage Antichrist” short story, Unfallen, this fall. I must admit a great deal of the genesis of that story was reading Slacktivist’s awesome blow-by-blows of the Left Behind series. (He reads so we don’t have to! And really, we’re grateful for that.) Slacktivist articulates a number of things that have always made me incredibly uncomfortable about evangelism and Dominionism, and especially the current craziness swallowing evangelical Christianity in America as a whole. All that aside, however, the short story came from a very simple question: what if the Antichrist was just a teenager who wanted to be liked?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Review: Shadow Kin by M. J. Scott

Shadow Kin (The Half-Light City #1) by M. J. Scott
Back Cover Blurb:  On one side, the Night World, rules by the Blood Lords and the Beast Kind. On the other, the elusive Fae and the humans, protected by their steadfast mages...
Born a wraith, Lily is a shadow who slips between worlds. Brought up by a Blood Lord and raised to be his assassin, she is little more than a slave. But when Lily meets her match in target Simon DuCaine, the unlikely bond that develops between them threatens to disrupt an already stretched peace in a city on the verge of being torn apart...

This is a solid start to a brand new series trilogy.  And I think it is the first time I have read a gaslight fantasy.  What's that you ask?  Well, thanks to Wikipedia, I can tell ya.  It's a fantasy set during the Victorian era with a nod to the gothics.  (You can read more about it here.)  Scott does a nice job of creating a darkly evocative atmosphere in a world populated by the Beast Kind, the Fae, Vampires and Humans.  The story begins during what is known as a treaty year: that time when the four races negotiate the terms, trade and territories that allow them to co-exist in some semblance of peace.  Transgressions by any of the races can result in a loss of privileges.  Since the treaties will last for three years, each race has a lot at stake regarding the outcome of the negotiations and so must keep hidden any nefarious shenanigans lest they lose entitlements.