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

Storm's Heart (Elder Races #2) by Thea Harrison
This is another winner by Harrison.  Fun and sexy.  Tricks, the heroine, is the new queen of the Dark Fae but the road to the throne is fraught with danger as not everyone is ready to accept her.  In fact, in less than 36 hours, she has survived two assassination attempts.  Fortunately, she has Wyr sentinal, Tiago to watch her back... and her front... and every other part of her he can get his hands on.  Despite a prior contentious relationship, Tiago has it bad for Tricks.  Tiago is what I would call an intense alpha - kinda controlling, kinda arrogant, and kinda intimidating but as he was once revered as a god, I found his behavior believable.  He can also be kinda sweet, seeing past Trick's public persona to the person she really is.
Tricks is adorable, strong willed, sometimes flaky but always funny; some of her lines had me laughing out loud.  Her new status has rendered her life a tad bit unstable, as well as highly dangerous but she always manages to deal with it through humor and plucky courage (plus copious amounts of alcohol.)  
I found both characters appealing and their developing relationship charming and sexy.  As with the first book, these are two characters who like each other, it's not all sexytime, hormonal you-are-my-mate, let's fuck, Destiny, Destiny, Destiny!  I'm really enjoying this series and can't wait for the third book, Serpent's Kiss, due out in October.
This book can be read as a stand alone.

An Agreement with Hell by Dru Pagliassotti
Dru Pagliassotti wrote one of the first steampunk books (Clockwork Heart), that I read when I started dipping my toes back into the fantasy genre.  While not a perfect book, it was still one I enjoyed and put Pagliassotti on my writers-to-watch list.  So when I saw that she had a new book out, I was determined to read it.  In An Agreement with Hell, Pagliassoti has switched gears from steampunk to horror and given us a story about the divine struggle between good and evil on a college campus.  An ancient seal has been broken, allowing creatures from another dimension into our world and it's up to a priest, a magician and a Walker Between Worlds (sounds like the beginning of a joke), to stop interdimensional evil from destroying the world.  
The book started out strong but quickly devolved into a series of action/horror scenes that I wasn't invested in.  The good elements in this book never came to fruition and there was something slight about the story.  It read more like a sketched out tale than a fully realized novella.  I didn't hate this story... partly because there wasn't enough of it for me to feel strongly about it but I think this is one that can be easily skipped.  Despite that, I'll still be keeping an eye on Pagliassotti's endeavors.
GRADE: C-   

(I bought Storm's Heart.  Geist and An Agreement with Hell were recieved via PBS.)

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