Matthew Swift: Kate Griffin (Book 2)

And so it continues.

Surprise! Swift survived the first novel. It got a bit hairy back there what with all the fighting and the murderous intentions. Secret societies, organizations pitted against magic (for “religious reasons”), psychotic colleagues, etc.

This novel opens just as abruptly as the last one did.

Matthew answers a public phone (because he will always answer the phone when it rings; it’s part of who he is) and is blasted back down the street. And now he’s being attacked by spectres, which are particularly rare for London. All I’ll tell you is that the tools for their demise include beer and a cigarette. Happy imaginings. =]

Let me give you a visual of a spectre:

You’ve ever been strolling around a city and you see that kid shuffling along in a hoodie with the hood up and headphones going in, bobbing along to a beat that only they can hear? Now imagine said kid without a face. Just a gaseous space holding clothes in the proper shape. Now you’ve got a spectre–but you can hear their beats, and not all spectres bob to the same rhythm.

It’s been said that, should the Ravens ever leave the Tower of London, should the Stone ever break, should the Wall be defaced, the city of London shall be damned. The Midnight Mayor’s job is to protect the city–provided the Midnight Mayor actually exists, since Swift seems terribly skeptical–but if the city requires a protector, clearly there are things it requires protection from. Correct?

I am sure you have already deduced a few things with the help of the above paragraph coupled with the title. Namely, that the Midnight Mayor has died, that the position has been transferred to Matthew Swift, and that the city is in pretty deep shit.

Suddenly, the phrase “GIVE ME BACK MY HAT” is graffitti’ed across the city, written on the London Wall, on the wall where the Ravens were killed, on the window of the business housing the broken Stone–everywhere. Significant? You bet your ass.

Griffin does such a marvelous job creating suspense and then systematically untying knots which tie more knots until finally the whole thing comes undone at the end. You can’t help but be drawn in, be captivated by her vivid imagery and intense, peculiar descriptions of things. She uses such unexpected language that catches you off guard but gives you a perfectly exact picture of what it is you’re looking at and it’s amazing. She has swiftly (hahahaha) become one of my very favorite and most inspiring authors–and it only took two novels. (One, actually, but we’ll say two.)

Goodreads got a 5 star rating from yours truly. I bet you’re just super surprised, huh? That’s what I thought.

Until next time,

–Emily

Matthew Swift: Kate Griffin (Book 1)

And so it begins.

Matthew Swift is a sorcerer in London, but it is immediately apparent that he is more than that. He has been resurrected after having been dead for approximately two years.

Before the night is out, Matthew is attacked by a “litterbug” (a summoned monster composed of, you guessed it, garbage. Which, for the record, he defeats with a dustbin. Not to ruin it. It’s a marvelous scene.

Newly resurrected, Swift’s sole missions are to (a) find his murderer and return the favor, and (b) find who resurrected him, find out why, and then, quite likely, kill them as well.

So the novel progresses and you learn more and more peculiar things about this Swift, but things are still left unsaid, left in the dark and unexplained, leaving an air of mystery and suspense until finally the truth is spilled–but not all of it. Only one set of truths. As the book progresses, truths are revealed in clusters until finally the book ends and the final shoe finally drops. The perpetual mystery and vague confusion coupled with the peculiarity of the narrative–due to the intrinsic peculiarity of the narrator–are large parts of what keep the novel moving at the Andantino cum Accelerando (a little faster than “a walking pace” but steadily speeding up) tempo that it does.

 The prose is marvelous and intriguing; Griffin doesn’t write in chapters. Sections are broken up with white space or ” * * * “; larger sections are broken up as “Part One: [Title]”, “The First Interlude: [Title]”. It’s fascinating. And I totally love it. But there’s also a number of places where the writing totally breaks into stream of consciousness style, which is also terribly moving in-context. (Also because I know things you don’t. hahaha.) It can catch you off-guard if you allow it to, but if you just get lost in the text as you’re reading, it just works right into the story. Some of the paragraphs are these great, barely-connected run-on sentences (one or two sentences total in the paragraph) and it’s magnetic. It really keeps you moving through the material because it’s different in that it’s a frequent change in prose style, which catches your attention even when you aren’t conscious of it.

 

Sidenote: I’m terribly amused at the little sticker on this cover which proudly proclaims “Only $19.99!” as if that’s somehow cheap for a novel. I think I paid $7.99 for mine? Maayyyybe $8.99. It’s just kinda funny. That’s all.

 Solid 5 stars on Goodreads. Always. Every time. (Even though I’d have to buy it again if I ever wanted to read it again because I lent it to my ex-boyfriend and he’s now had it–and the second–for almost two years and refuses to answer my texts/calls when I’m in town. Asshole.)

  

Until next time,

–Emily

Abby Sinclair: Allison Pang (Books 1, 2, & 3)

So here’s the deal.

Abby is the TouchStone for the Fae Protectorate, who is actually a princess, though I don’t recall if that’s stated right off the bat. So that could probably be a spoiler. Oh well.

This incubus named Brystion (nicknamed Ion) shows up and asks her to help him find his sister (a succubus, in case that didn’t occur to you) but “off the radar” in a manner of speaking.  There’s some real shady business goin on and because the three paths (Heaven, Hell, Fae (who are apparently a middle ground or something if I recall correctly?)) are not exactly on the BEST of terms, things should be kept on the down-low.

Things get complicated, as they always do; Abby turns out to be a Dreamer, which is something that he explains the meaning of but we still don’t really get to see it (even by the end of book 2) because Abby hasn’t learned how to control it yet. She’s haunted by some pretty severe nightmares, though; nightmares she can’t let go.

The bad guy here is Maurice. It’s been too long since reading it for me to tell you most accurately what the deal is exactly. But he basically, like, painted Brystion’s sister (and then Abby and I think a couple other people?) into these ugly ass paintings. And Abby ends up stuck in this painting with sharks (her biggest fear (which is totally irrational since she’s never even seen one)) and she almost dies and there’s a whole bunch of really tense drama and stuff. And then blah blah blah she’s saved and whatever.

Brystion and Abby have this super heated love affair–go figure–but it’s… it’s… I liked it. I mean, it was nice. beautiful, in a way. passionate. But he left her anyway. That pissed me off. But she gave him a place in her Heart of Dreaming or whatever, so… I mean… there’s that. (He can’t have one because he’s an incubus.)

It received a full 5 star rating on Goodreads by yours truly because I felt that the prose combined with the storytelling and the plot itself all deserved it. The dialogue doesn’t even feel forced, you guys. So many people have so many problems with dialogue that it’s really nice when someone gets it so very, very right.

 

As an aside, this model has a different facial structure (and body frame) than the last one. I’m not sure how I feel about it… Also, all of her hair is pink and purple in this one instead of just her bangs… Meh.

So here we go again. Sorta.

Maurice is in jail but the Queen is going insane and the Fae court is kind of a wreck. Moira’s baby is in Abby’s care until she hands him off to his father (which is a scandal!) to take care of stuff.

Now there’s romantic stuff brewing with her body guard Talivar, who turns out to be the prince and Moira’s half-brother.

Clusterfuck after clusterfuck. The Queen shuts down the CrossRoads, which puts the entire metaphysical community afluster, strands some, kills others, etc. The Demons actually threaten war on the Fae, which is actually where this one kinda leaves off. Because Talivar and Abby accidentally start it and then Abby pulls a stupid in order to save him and Brystion–who have a weird love triangle thing going with Abby now, which is… strange… but amusing and interesting nonetheless.

I was VERY unhappy about where this book ended. Very unhappy indeed. If you’re unhappy because I just said a whole ton of nothing, I apparently grew weary of typing this post. And there’s too much that counts as serious plot spoilers. And I don’t wanna ruin TOO much. I already dropped a couple huge things there, even if you don’t realize it yet.

This book also got 5 stars because, let’s face it, I’m basically in love with them. They’re so worth it. Entertaining and provocative and definitely different.

So um… here’s the thing:

I read this so long ago now (and have read so much material since then) that I don’t especially remember much of it.

I know that a number of things get resolved but least that many things really don’t.

Abby spends some time in a magic-drunk stupor because she’s supposed to die and they decided that it would be easier on her to knock her out of legitimate consciousness. Or something like that. But then the two men in her love triangle save her and then there’s all kinds of unhappiness and action and drama and magic and… you get the gist.

Gimme a break; I’m copying these reviews over from my old blog. =/

Look: It’s just as good as the other two and worthy of yet another 5 star rating on Goodreads. I fell in love with Pang’s material and I heartily recommend it to any fans of paranormal romance literature. Because the sex in here is hot. The sexual tension is also really excellent, for the record, which there is much more of than actual sex. Just saying.

Until next time,

–Emily

White Trash Zombie: Diana Rowland (Book 1)

Meet Angel, who’s just woken up naked in a hospital after a drug overdose because she’s a total loser drug addict who can’t hold a job and has already done jail time.

When she wakes up, she’s gifted clothes and a set of bottles of strange-looking liquid with a note that she’s got a job at the morgue which she’d damn well better show up for.

Except that things aren’t as they seem.

As evident per the title, Angel is now a zombie, although she hasn’t figured it out yet. She’s also trying to piece together a lot of information that doesn’t make sense, as well as acquire enough more to make sense of the rest–all the while trying to hold onto this job for as long as possible.

Meanwhile, things are getting weird around town. There’s a rash of beheadings–which is especially unfortunate because they keep happening when she’s hungriest–and she’s kinda falling for a cop who’s already seen her naked.

There’s a helluva lot more to it than that, but that’s the basic gist of things.

Seriously you guys, this novel is awesome. It’s hilarious and pragmatic, moving and interesting, thought provoking and irritating. The best kind of novel, if you ask me. It kept me engaged through its entirety and I couldn’t put it down for very long–which was problematic because I was working full time (and overtime) at the time. So there it is.  It reads pretty fast, but that’s probably because it’s entertaining. haha.

In terms of zombie literature, it definitely isn’t your typical story. Rowland gives it a bit of a twist which keeps things interesting, and I could certainly go about employing my English-major ability to read subtext implications, but it would require I drop some major spoilers, and I prefer not to. Sorry.  Regardless, it got a solid 5 stars on Goodreads, because I really did truly love the crap out of it.

Book two is titled “Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues”, and I’ve just started reading it so I really don’t have anything to say about it. I’ll get to it eventually. Once I get through this absurd mountain of literature that will probably end up ahead of it… hahahaha. Ohh life.

I actually bought all three books at the same time (the fourth comes out next year) this summer because (1) I like to buy books in sets (because when I finish it I just want to jump into the next) and because (2) Grand Forks doesn’t really have that great of a bookstore setup (seriously; it’s deplorable) and I wanted to have them when I got here because (3) I hate having to wait for Amazon to send me shit. hahaha. And I don’t like to buy all of my books from one place. It’s a thing. I don’t know.

Anyway! That’s what I’ve got.

Until next time,

–Emily

Parched: Z.L. Arkadie (Books 1 and 2)

Parched is the first book in the so-named series by Z.L. Arkadie. I found the second book (pictured below), The Seventh Sister, free on Amazon Kindle, and because I was bored and it was about vampires, I downloaded it. Upon its completion, I discovered that it’s part of a series, which led me to book one (pictured left), Parched.

The general idea is that Clarity, the protagonist of the first novel (but not the second), can essentially read minds and emotions off the people around her. While in college she meets a man by the name of Baron Ze Feldis (whose name is initially different, but I don’t remember what it is) and it turns out that he’s a vampire, or in the terms of the novel, a Selell.

Now, as it turns out, Clarity is one of seven, (as the title of the second novel could lead one to believe), only three of whom do you meet by the end of this novel: Clarity, Adore, and Fawn.

Arkadie creates an interesting “other” world called Enu into which Clarity ventures to learn about who she is and what’s going on.

The novel is packed full of mystery and plot for as short as it is, and it’s enough to keep you reading.

Except.

1. Arkadie’s prose is kind of godawful. I mean, don’t get me wrong, her actual words aren’t [usually] at fault, but she throws random commas in random places in which they don’t belong, she’s constantly separating her “in which”es and she called a fence “rod iron” instead of “wrought iron”. I get that these are free books on Kindle and stuff, but the other five books in the series are all at least $2.99 and, as cheap as that is, I still feel like it’s worth somebody’s time to edit these things. They aren’t that long; I read them both in a matter of a couple of hours total.

The following point(s) apply to both Parched and The Seventh Sister, which I have yet to discuss, but will shortly.

2. Her protagonists are super subject to Mary Sue syndrome. For anybody who doesn’t speak author, this is a very common pitfall of authors *coughcough Christopher Paolini’s Eragon coughcough* to “self-insert” the author into a text (exhibit A: Bella Swan via Twilight), or, more commonly as used today, over idealize the protagonist to the point where they are literally better than everybody else present. Prettier, smarter, “The One”, “The Prophesy”, etc. etc. Everyone wants them, they can do no wrong, you name it. Generally speaking, it’s the placing of the protagonist above everybody else and largely assuming or insinuating that they are without fault. It’s a huge problem in fiction writing, and the term got its start in Star Trek fanfiction (check Wikipedia). For the record, the term for males in this position is Marty Stu, which is, quite frankly, hilarious.

3. Neither of her protagonists in the first two novels have a unique voice with which they tell their stories, think, act, or reason. Both novels are told in the same storytelling style–which I can’t condemn too hard because I understand how hard it can be to change your style–but even so, when you’re working with characters who are separate people, they need to be employed with their own voices.

At this point, the question does have to become that of prose versus plot: Is the story itself enough to overpower the pitfalls? Honestly, I’m not certain. The fact that I’ve downloaded the third book to continue the story leans one way, but the fact that every other page I’m swearing to myself because of blatant, unacceptable errors leans the other. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads because I did really enjoy the book–short as it was–but these are certainly things that have to be taken into consideration.

The Seventh Sister follows Zillael, the youngest (if I recall correctly) of the seven sisters, who is attending high school and taking care of herself because her mother (who actually isn’t) is always out on business trips. Whatever.

Apparently Zillael has the gift of speed, which is one of the seven gifts inherited from her father, whom she has never met.

Zillael’s teacher and classmate are also special persons–the teacher a guardian I think and her classmate a Wek (which is sorta like a guardian angel or something; it’s difficult to explain), and they’re charged with protecting her from Selells/vampires, except that she sort of falls for one? While also falling for the Wek. It’s complicated.

Anyway.

That’s all I can really say about the second one. I read it ages ago and I’m not especially in the mood to do it again. It was far shorter than Parched, and I read in Parched’s afterword thingy that The Seventh Sister was more of a filler short or some such a matter. But it was fun. And it was free!

It is still subject to the same complaints as mentioned above, though. So. You know.  I still gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, because I enjoyed it. But. You know.

A common complaint of Arkadie’s is that she tends to drop a shit ton of information all at once, or over time, and apparently people have difficulty keeping up or keeping it all straight. I didn’t have that issue personally, but I’m used to reading really complicated, convoluted, in-depth material where every detail counts (like my Victorian literature for my university classes, for example. Can anybody say Charles Dickens?).  So that’s my thing. No judgment on anybody making the complaint, I’m just saying that I’m used to it so it wasn’t a problem.

Book 3 is Quenched, which I haven’t yet started but probably will shortly. I read them on my phone’s Kindle app when I’m between classes or waiting to pick up Captain from work.

So that’s that! I hope it’s been satisfactory. =)

Until next time,

–Emily