Friday, October 26, 2012

A Hidden Fire (Battle for the books and the hot librarian)

I have to say, I was quite impressed with this book. I couldn't put it down. Started it on a lark, but then the mysteries in the beginning kept me reading and the deeper I read into the characters, I got incredibly attached. The strongest strength to this book is the intrigue. It keeps you guessing, keeps things not quite explained, at least not until the end.The cast is fantastically fleshed out and none of the characters are flat or cookie cutter. Giovanni is all dark and mysterious, but it turns out, he has good reason for being a loner and he really is quite alone. Beatrice is a smart, computer savvy and capable female lead which is...well, refreshing. And Carwyn the Irish priest vampire who wears Hawaiian shirts? I think that says it all on its own.


Giovanni's Mysteries #1: When I first started reading the book, it took until the third chapter to reveal he was a vampire. You could guess it, sure, but there was enough vagueness and enough uniqueness in his abilities that you didn't just go, d'oh, vampire. His interactions with Bea in the library are like an intricate dance as both observe the other, becoming more intrigued and more interested. And once he reveals himself to her in the elevator? She handles it like a champ, despite her qualms and concerns. Plus, the concept of elemental vampires is a fun variant and brings an entirely different perspective to his vampirism.

Giovanni's Mysteries #2: Now, this is a vampire with a fine appreciation for books. (An avid reader's wet dream) And early on in the novel, particularly when Carwyn comes around, it becomes evident that Giovanni's running some sort of game. Even though he finds Bea attractive, he's ancient and has more smarts than that. Her dad is the source of intrigue because he's been tracking down his books the whole time and has the feeling her father got involved. Well actually, he has the concern that her father got turned. So he hires Bea to work for him and leaves the reader wondering what his real end goal is with all of this.

Giovanni's Mysteries #3: The final bit of intrigue which ties the story together involves Giovanni's crazy "son" (aka the guy he turned) Lorenzo. Nothing like Giovanni. And more like an unstable clown that's taken too many uppers and decided to prance around in Renaissance garb. At least that was the mental image that popped to mind every time he spoke. And Lorenzo pretty much takes it on himself to toss Bea's life into the garbage chute. He attacks her grandmother, he turned her father and he kidnaps her, forcing her to live in his gigantic Grecian dollhouse and wear all of his dumb white outfits.

So the story wraps up with Lorenzo temporarily defeated and Bea saved, even though she bears some pretty hardcore trust issues as a result of her staycation in Lorenzo's funhouse. Even though her and Gio get together, she ends up still leaving for L.A. which I was very sad about. But, the book still ended on a good note with Gio walking up to her place in Cally and leaving a note for her, which desperately makes you want to read the next book.

Rating: 4

Monday, October 22, 2012

Divergent (Abnegation's the new Puritan)

This book was getting a lot of talk and piqued my curiosity. Young adult dystopian scifi? I could get behind this. I feel mildly conflicted on this book as a reader. It was a spectacularly fun read and I ripped through the book, but now that I've had time to mellow on it and think, I'm a little more subjective. The concept is phenomenal and the world is very fascinating with a clever new dystopian society. Beatrice as a character is who I feel conflicted about. She seems very detached for a lot of the book. Despite her romance with Four, she leans towards an emotionless response to things. While I can appreciate her struggles to stay strong, sometimes I felt a little lacking for internal reassurance that she's not so prickly. What I will say though is that her fights throughout everything make her a badass and that is something that kept me wanting to read along.


Dauntless be crazy #1: From the beginning of the book, we get the gist that these Dauntless folks are crazy mofos. But when they say they're daring, what they mean is they're pretty much Tyler Durden level nuts. Not that it doesn't make an entertaining read, it definitely does. If you aren't tough, you soon learn to be, or you die. Beatrice/Tris starts off strong, jumping off the roof first. Since she's from boring ol' Abnegation, she has to prove that she's tougher than the rest even though she's a slip of a thing. And these kids get brutal.

Dauntless be crazy #2: While Tris stayed in the middle ranks during the physical stuff, its the mental initiation where her Divergent juju really sticks out. During these simulations, its about addressing fears, but the Dauntless initiates are fully immersed. Except for the Divergents. They have the unique ability to realize they're in a simulation, a la The One style in the Matrix, and they can therefore manipulate their surroundings. The Divergent thing becomes more and more dangerous in this highly regulated government where things are supposed to work perfectly because people are supposed to perfectly fit their factions.

Dauntless be crazy #3: The problem with perfect dystopian societies is that they don't exist. Hence they all come crumbling down. The Erudite are crafty bastards (shocked, anyone?) and decide to take out the factions that they don't like. The Dauntless mental initiation? Zombie juice to take over all the Dauntless and use them as soldiers. Only issue with this plan are those pesky Divergents.This is where Tris and Four as well as all the other Divergents reveal themselves, because they won't mindlessly walk in to slaughter all of Abnegation. Tris turns into a badass and the remaining people in Abnegation rise up to fight against the Erudites.

Regardless of any qualms I had, the end of the book picks up in such a phenomenal way that its incredibly addictive and worth the read. The romance between Tris and Four is really engaging and I love the way they bond together. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book.

Rating: 4

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Out of Time: A Time Travel Mystery (Gangster Vampire, go the hell away)

This book opens up with a great romance setup. Stodgy professor and his friendly assistant. They're both interested in one another, but given their current situations, age and status, neither is willing to make a move. The perfect solution? A frolick through time courtesy of Simon's grandfather's watch. Hurrah! Now stuck in a different time period, all those pesky problems melt away and they can finally bone! Except for the gangster vampire. What is UP with the gangster vampire. Where a simple gangster would've worked just as effectively, he was a vampire as well which was a whole bushel of unnecessary. Oh I'm brooding and tormented and eternal, wah. And Simon happens to be a professor of the occult! How perfect! In all seriousness, because the vampire reveal was left for the second half of the book, it felt hokey and out of place. Had the paranormal been present from the start, it wouldn't have muddled my reader expectations, but man, midway through the book and he's just a pain in the ass.


Simon and Elizabeth's Self Made Hurdle #1: While they're adjusting to the times, Simon and Elizabeth both struggle with mutual attraction. Because it bubbled under the surface when they were in modern day times, this new environment that forces them to be together also forces up some of the pent up feelings they've both hidden. Things are progressing well in the romance department...*gasp* sharing a bed! Secret touches! Until Elizabeth gets a job working as a waitress in a bar. BUT during Prohibition which makes it more dangerous. Of course Simon's hidden all the prophetic dreams about her death, so he just seems like he's being a controlling ass and of course it pushes her straight into the job and further from him.

Simon and Elizabeth's Self Made Hurdle #2: As soon as it seems they've made up and the romance is heating up again, they kiss which ruins everything. Simon opens his mouth again and tells her it was all a lie. Her being upset is very understandable since all she's wanted from the beginning of the book is a relationship with Simon. And Simon continues creating his own problems by not telling her about the prophetic dreams until the breaking point when they finally air their grievances, realize they love one another (duh) and make sweet sweet love.

Simon and Elizabeth's Self Made Hurdle #3: So it seems like the only hurdle now is Simon's doom dreams, but a gangster, King, takes a liking to Elizabeth. Now, a head gangster taking a shine to a lady is trouble enough, but he's a vampire too. (Still don't know why) Elizabeth so far has been fairly independent and intelligent, but once King becomes involved in the picture it's like the vamp drained her brain and is going back for blood. The logical thing to do when a mob boss takes a liking to you is quit said job and move away. Especially since they're planning on heading home in a couple of weeks and it doesn't really matter where they are. No. She decides to stick around which gives King time to fall for her and kidnap her.

This all leads to the end of the book where Simon runs into Time Travel Grandpa and they fight King the Vamp together to get Elizabeth back. Big explosions, King has a magical change of heart and saves Elizabeth. Simon and Elizabeth return to the future, make googly eyes, the end.  Not bad, I mean the story kept my interest, but while the romantic tension fueled the beginning half of the book, the latter part with King the vampire just got silly. My vote is to cast the vampire off the island and just enjoy the time traveling romp through the 1920s.

Rating: 2

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hammered (Thor is a gigantic douchehat)

After the last book "Hexed" being everything I wanted from the series, my expectations had raised significantly for this one. While I enjoyed it, it fell flat for me kind of like the first one. One of the things I've noticed is that the voice fluctuates a lot during the series. The first book, you'd believe the character is 2100 years old for sure and he has an arrogant tone throughout. The second book I thought had the best balance to it. He was all knowing and wise, but kept up with the times as a matter of survival. When he slips into the twenty one year old geek persona, it was hilarious, but it was a persona, a facet. This book takes the persona and makes it his personality. While I loved the jokes, it was inconsistent with the first two books. Regardless, this book was about Atticus making do on his promises from the last book.


Atticus Kicks a God in the Jollies and Runs #1:
This first happens when he kills the Norns and the adorable giant squirrel, Ratatosk gets murdered in the process. Atticus repays his debts and in the previous book he owed Laksha a golden apple of Idunn. Since Bacchus was already pissy with him, he leaves a note to Idunn that Bacchus was involved, papering his name all over Valhalla. But the alarms sound fast and while the Norns want him dead, Atticus would really like to stay living. So he distracts Odin, beheads some Norns and hightails it back down Yggdrasil, the tree of life. 

Atticus Kicks a God in the Jollies and Runs #2:
So while he's on the way out of Tempe and gathering the boys for their big fight against the entire Norse pantheon (Well, supposedly just Thor) they run into one very pissed off god. Oh Bacchus, don't worry, you weren't forgotten. After murdering a ton of Bacchants the last book, the god wasn't pleased with Atticus. And then after dropping his name all around Valhalla...well, the gods were never known for being forgiving. So their journey gets a kick start as Bacchus literally chases them out of town on his chariot. 

Atticus Kicks a God in the Jollies and Runs #3
This fight had a lead in from the first book when Atticus mentioned what a giant douchebag Thor was. Somehow you had the feeling it was going to end in battle. And indeed it does. Atticus and his companions rally the Frost Giants and they take the Norse pantheon by surprise. They hadn't been prepared for gods, an ancient druid, an ancient vampire and a werewolf alpha. Everyone had their own reasons for killing Thor, but in the process they lay waste to Valhalla. The body count is huge. I'm talking Thor dead, Odin incapacitated, the Valkyries gets ridiculous. And with most of the people wanting revenge dead, Atticus can't even ask them if it was worth it. Even though they get out of Valhalla, they're still on the run and a ton of gods want them dead. 

One of the things that bugged me was the large chunk of the book that was storytime. Personally I thought it slowed down the pacing of the entire thing and would've been more interesting had the guys all just talked to one another. Instead a huge chunk was these dudes stories, but problem is, I didn't really care about any of them beforehand so I was just waiting to get the to end. Leik's was the only one of any importance. The other thing that bothered me was the goal switching. After he spent the last two books getting into all of this trouble to stay where he was, him leaving in this book seems rather wasteful. It makes all of his battles the last two books absolutely pointless if he was just going to leave anyway. Even with my qualms, the second book was so good I'm still going to give the next books a chance in the hope they'll be like that one.

Rating: 3

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hexed (Everybody needs a pocket Druid)

This was the book that determined I'd be sticking with this series. From start to finish it was everything I had hoped for by the original description of the series. Atticus is witty and hilarious, Oberon plays off him well and Granuaille is a great balance to the three, smart and eager to learn. The dialogue is nothing short of hilarious and the fights are fantastic, increasing in difficulty and ridiculousness the further you read. The mounting ridiculousness as well as danger makes for a phenomenally fun jaunt through Arizona with everyone's favorite druid.


Atticus Favor Swaps #1: So despite Atticus' claims that he's avoiding trouble (Atticus doth protest too much, methinks) when the god Coyote comes knocking at his door, he gladly offers his help. Considering the demons are partially cleanup for his big messy fight with Aengus Og the previous book, he gets guilt tripped into taking care of a demon who's killing kids at a school. Weeeeell, apparently it's not your run of the mill demon. It's a fallen angel. So luckily his friend the widow MacDonagh is a devout Catholic, so she prays to Mary for him. Which means that Mary pops up in the real world so Atticus has some holy blessed arrows to use in this fight. The battle is messy and apart from killing the big bad demon, Coyote pulls one over on Atticus and he doesn't accomplish a hell of a lot.

Atticus Favor Swaps #2: There are two big compromising factors to Atticus' happy life in Tempe. One of these are Bacchants. Apparently wherever they go, orgies rein and since they're leaving Las Vegas and trying to bring the party to Tempe, it's up to Atticus to stop them. Pesky sex crazed Bacchants and their pesky orgies! Problem is though, their juju works on Atticus. So he needs help. This is where he calls in a favor of Laksha which sets up future problems for him. Laksha agrees to kill the Bacchants, but in return, Atticus has to steal a golden apple from Idunn. Meaning he's got to get involved with the Norse gods. Laksha makes quick work of the Bacchants with her frightening witch powers, but Atticus is stuck dealing with the cops as well as the deal that leads into the next book.

Atticus Favor Swaps #3: Laksha isn't the only one who wants Atticus to mess with the Norse. Leik, his vamp pal, hates Thor and wants Atticus to help him kill the god. That's particularly messy and he doesn't want to, but unfortunately he needs Leik's help. The other big compromising factor to Atticus' happy Tempe life is the Hexenwitches, these German bitches that consort with demons. They mess with him big time, killing his loyal employee Perry. Plus, the other coven of witches that Atticus plays nice with doesn't like the Hexenbitches either. So Atticus swaps favors with Leik to get him to help take out this crazy coven with their demons. A big showdown with witches, a vamp and a druid end in lots of blood flying, lots of weapons flinging and a ton of fire.

So Hexenbitches defeated, Bacchants temporarily staved and Coyote's off cackling to himself, success, right? Even though some threads are tied up this book leaves a LOT of loose ends leading to the next book where there is Valhalla, giant squirrels and the asshat, Thor. The satisfying note to leave on though is Oberon, as was done the book before. The dog's just adorable.

Rating: 4

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hounded (Literally, cos of the Irish Wolfhound)

Upon first look at the blurb of this book, my mind jumped to awesome. Druids? Check. Paranormal hijinks? Check. Witty banter? Check. All the makings for a fantastic story. This being said, the first novel is primarily set up. While the story is entertaining and it served the purpose of getting me to read the next book, most of the first novel is based around setting up the area, the cast and explaining Atticus' past. Which is large, mind you. 2100 years old large. But after awhile, some chunks of it felt like reading a guide to mythology rather than the story itself. Still, Celt mythology has plenty of fascinating stories, so it's still worth a good read. The tone was not as hilarious and pop culture filled as I had initially hoped, but the story was entertaining, the characters eccentric and damnit all, his wolfhound Oberon is adorable.


A Parade of Celtic Gods #1: The first of the big ol' Irish pantheon to show up is the Morrigan. This is the setup for the whole book pretty much. She divines Atticus' death when he's fated to clash with his rival Aengus Og, the god of love. Sounds like a pretty time old story of the gods manipulating mankind. Here's where the fun flavor comes in though: this world not only includes the Celt pantheon, but all pantheons connect to earth. Plus, vamps and werewolves frolic about, most of the time not together. Morrigan herself is exactly what you'd imagine. Either an evil crow or an evil seductress, but all in all a good time.

A Parade of Celtic Gods #2: The next god to visit Atticus is Flidas, goddess of the hunt. Here's where the streams cross with Aengus Og's plotting. When Flidais and her posse, Atticus in wolfy form and his wolfhound Oberon run around trying to hunt mountain goats, they run into a park ranger. A magically compelled park ranger. In turn for his insolence, Flidais has Oberon tear out the man's throat. And following the set up, the police arrive on the scene moments later. Atticus just wants to live in Tempe running his bookstore with his trusty pup at his side, but Aengus is determined to make him run, or fight back. 

A Parade of Celtic Gods #3: After the gods traipse through Atticus' house several more times (including Brigid), the final straw happens when Hal, his werewolf pal and Oberon are kidnapped. Now Atticus is forced to act. While Aengus Og rallied witches at his side, he wasn't prepared for an angry werewolf pack and a pissed off two millenia old druid. The final confrontation pits demons, witches and Aengus Og against him, but it all ends with the witches killed by the werewolves and Aengus Og dead.

Manipulation of the gods, blah blah, Atticus is angry, blah blah. Oh yeah, pissy witches and demons, blah. The important part? The puppy is saved. Which is pretty much the point of the entire book.

Rating: 3