A Madness of Angels

a-madness-of-angelsA Madness of Angels (Matthew Swift 1)
by: Kate Griffin


(Urban Fantasy)


458 pages [Hardcover]


Matthew Swift awakens two years after a particularly violent and untimely death, not quite his old self, with one thing on his mind; revenge. Revenge against whoever killed him, and revenge against whoever brought him back.

I had picked this book up a while back at the library and at the time I just couldn’t get into it. I figured it was because I had snagged several books at the time and those just seemed more appealing in the moment. But, as I got further along with the book this time, I think I know why I put it down before.

There are some cool things in this book, which I will get to in a minute, but I think I’ll start with what I didn’t like so much first. There is something in this author’s writing style that made reading feel a little more like work. The words didn’t fly effortlessly off the page, painting pretty pictures in my head, like a lot of the other books I’ve read. I think it had a lot to do with the level of description and frequent name dropping of London locations.

While description is generally a good thing in a novel, in this case, the frequency of it seemed to overburden the narrative. Every time the character moved from one location to another I was confronted with specific names of places that were generally meaningless to me, since I have never been to London, and detailed descriptions of those places. Periodically, this wouldn’t be so bad, but it seemed to happen quite often and interrupted the flow of the story for me.

Abundant description aside, there are some things I really liked in this story. Instead of bringing well-known supernatural creatures into the urban environment, like most urban fantasy novels, this story’s creatures evolved out of the urban environment itself, creating original gods and unique entities. Anywhere there is life there is magic and that magic grows from that world.

Matthew Swift himself was fun to watch and the way he was written from the beginning, given his special circumstances, was well done. I’d say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

If it weren’t for my problems with the location dropping and description, I would have liked the story a lot more. I had no problem with the plot or the characters and the world building was quite good. I can’t decide if I will continue with the series or not. This book was a little more work, but perhaps not completely unworthy of a little extra effort. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Mistborn: The Final Empire

mistborn-the-final-empireMistborn: The Final Empire
by: Brandon Sanderson

(Fantasy)

570 pages [Nook Book]

In a land covered in ash and oppressed by the hand of the Lord Ruler, can a team of thieves use their metallurgically enhanced abilities to overthrow the Final Empire?

Why have I not been reading Brandon Sanderson books all this time? Why?

I read Elantris ages ago and loved it, but somehow forgot to see what else Mr. Sanderson had written. I wasn’t as on top of book-related things back then. Thankfully, I’ve made my way back around to him, even if it took me way too long.

Above, I categorized this book as fantasy, which it mostly is, but what I’d really like to call it is Alloy-Fantasy. The story has a lot of elements in common with steampunk novels, only no steam. There is an oppressed society, omnipresent pollution, in the form of ash, and a set of magic powers based heavily upon different types of metal. So, if you like steampunk and fantasy, you’ll be especially happy with this one.

I loved the world-building and the atmosphere. The characters are just as wonderfully developed. Vin’s evolution throughout the story was believable, and I enjoyed watching her grow. Kelsier’s flippant attitude and mad schemes were fun to watch; there’s nothing like a character who takes risk after unbelievable risk, all with a smile. There were times where I expected to be disappointed by certain character-related circumstances, only to be pleasantly surprised. There wasn’t a single underdeveloped character in the bunch and the Lord Ruler himself turned out to be especially interesting.

The story moves quickly, and the excerpts before each paragraph really add gradual depth and history to the world. The revelations at the end were unexpected and brilliant. I’m extremely pleased overall, which is a good thing since I bought the whole trilogy and have two more books to go. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Sleeping Giants

sleeping-giantsSleeping Giants (Themis Files 1)
by: Sylvain Neuvel

(Science Fiction)

304 pages [Hardcover]

When a giant metal hand is accidentally discovered, a risky project to uncover its secrets begins.

Curiosity-driven stories are my favorite, and this one also just happens to be extremely easy to read. This is the first novel I’ve read that uses interviews and occasional journal entries to tell the story rather than lengthy exposition. Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoy an artful turn of phrase, but this works too.

Of all the characters, I found the interviewer, a man we know almost nothing about, to be the most interesting. He can be cold and logical, yet somehow I found myself liking him the most.

There were some great big-picture implications and the usual questions when power is involved. How far is too far in the name of progress? What is our place in the universe?

My only criticism is there was a little bit of petty emotional stuff in the middle there. It wasn’t anything too bad, I’ve read much worse, and it did end up being integral to the plot. The characters continued to evolve as the story progressed, which made up for it for the most part.

I suspect the next volume won’t be as curiosity-driven given the conclusion, although there is still a mystery or two left. But since this book was so easy to read, I’ll definitely be reading the next one, even if it’s just a break from my usual, more long-winded fare. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

What-the-Dickens

What the DickensWhat-the-Dickens
by: Gregory Maguire

(Fantasy)

295 pages [Hardcover]

Trapped amidst a natural disaster, with three kids to look after, Gage tells them a story about What-the-Dickens, a skiberee that doesn’t know he’s a tooth fairy, or very much at all really.

This is an odd little story, not quite for children, but not quite not for children either. It’s difficult to categorize. I would have labeled it a children’s story, but there is a lot in here that would go over their heads.

It’s basically a story within a story. The children of a sheltered religious family are waiting out a hurricane while watched by their twenty-something cousin. He has his hands full, they’re out of food, and the children’s parents have yet to return, so he tells the children a story about What-the-Dickens, the rogue tooth fairy.

I found the story within the story to be the most interesting, but I think that was the point. What-the-Dickens himself is rather charming as he discovers the world, not knowing anything. His attempts to understand his surroundings are fun to watch. You get to be a part of his thought process, as erroneous as it might be.

I was a little put off by the other skiberee when they were finally revealed. They are very simple, close-minded little creatures that follow dogma and propaganda rather than thinking for themselves. They dismiss What-the-Dickens as stupid or slow, when he thinks, reasons, and questions things. I feel like the author might have been making a bit of a statement here through What-the-Dickens’ eyes.

In short, I liked the story, but I was disappointed with the other skiberee, as What-the-Dickens no doubt was also. Still, it’s a cute little book that will look nice on my shelf so I think I’ll hold on to it for a while. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Map of the Sky

The Map of the SkyThe Map of the Sky
by: Felix J. Palma

(Victorian/Science Fiction)

591 pages [Hardcover]

H.G. Wells is once again pulled into all manner of danger and adventure when the events in his novel, The War of the Worlds, begin happening around him.

I’m really becoming a fan of Felix J. Palma. The Map of Time was pretty awesome and The Map of the Sky is just as good. While his novels can feel a little long and drawn out at times, the payoff at the end makes it all worthwhile.

This time, I was prepared and read The War of the Worlds beforehand. With The Map of Time, not much of H.G. Wells’ novel factored into the story, other than the subject of time travel, and the machine itself. With The Map of the Sky, having The War of the Worlds fresh in your memory will make the story that much more fun. I won’t tell you how, exactly, but I think it’s worth it.

I was pleasantly surprised to see characters from The Map of Time show up in this novel. It was nice to spend some more time with them and watch as they faced the horrors of alien invasion. There is also something wonderfully fun about H.G. Wells being an unlikely hero. There were some surprising twists and turns, which I have come to expect from Mr. Palma, and the way it all turned out, in the end, wrapped things up well but left me thinking. I love it when a book leaves you with a little nugget of something to ponder over. I’m very much looking forward to The Map of Chaos, and I’ll be reading The Invisible Man first in preparation. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Comments on Classics: The War of the Worlds

Comments on Classics posts often contain spoilers,
so go read the book first and then come back. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Comments on Classics

The War of the Worlds – 1898 – H.G. Wells

In a nutshell:
Martians invade England with plans to take over the world.

I was reading Felix J. Palma’s The Map of the Sky recently and thought it was about time I read H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Mr. Palma seems to be getting me to read a lot of Wells’ work lately, The Invisible Man will be coming up soon in anticipation of The Map of Chaos.

The first two-thirds of the story read like a victorian disaster novel. This part wasn’t as interesting to me since I’ve seen the modern equivalent plenty of times with the usual mass panic, running, and destruction. However, at the time, it must have been riveting.

The last third, however, was the most interesting. I find the psychology of people surviving in a post-apocalyptic world to be fascinating. What do you do? How do you handle it? The narrator’s time trapped in a house with a good view of what the Martian’s were doing, and his conflict with his cumbersome curate companion were the most illuminating. The narrator managed to hold it together while the religious man fell apart. I suppose that might happen when you’re presented with something you can’t fit into your beliefs in a positive way. The proximity to the Martians gave us such wonderful information about their anatomy, how they fed on human blood, and how they might have evolved on their own world. It was very well thought out.

When the Martians dominate the planet, humans are reduced to prey, scurrying for cover like rabbits. The suggestion that the Martians will learn to domesticate humanity, the way we have domesticated cattle and the like, was as frightening as it was practical.

In the end, humanity was useless in stopping the threat, but bacteria, something we think of as so much less worthy than ourselves, managed to wipe out the invading force. We’ve convinced ourselves of our own superiority, but how strong are we really? Supposedly, Wells wrote this story in response to the colonization of the time, turning the tables, and highlighting the horrors of such a fate. Like all good science fiction novels, it makes you think. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Myth Hunters

The Myth HuntersThe Myth Hunters (The Veil Book 1)
by: Christopher Golden

(Dark Fantasy/Myth)

284 pages [Nook Book]

Oliver Bascombe is thrust into the world beyond the veil under perilous circumstances, thanks to none other than Jack Frost himself. While he always wanted to believe there was something more out there, he gets more than he bargained for.

I got this book for free for my nook, thanks to my BookBub subscription, which is why I picked it up in the first place. It’s unusual for a traditionally published book to be available for free like this. I actually thought it was an indie when I got it.

Myths are cool. I liked the premise but didn’t love the book. I felt like there was something missing here. Perhaps there wasn’t enough depth? There was plenty of action, in a running for your life kind of way, but I didn’t feel enough of that sense of danger. Despite some serious violence, I had a hard time relating to their peril.

The borderkind themselves are pretty cool, and the creatures encountered on the other side were not the standard critters you would expect. This is the first time I’ve read a novel that had Kappa in it, even if they only appeared briefly.

The biggest problem I had with it was the main character. He alternates between being utterly useless to being extremely helpful. Most of the time he is a fish out of water, and the borderkind have to constantly explain everything to him, which made him seem kind of flimsy, and less likable. By the end of the story he’s earned his place a bit better. I have found in the past that the first novel of a series might be a little weak while it sets up the characters and the story. The second book might be better.

Having events told from Oliver’s side of things, as well as from the perspective of the detective investigating his disappearance and the violence in his wake, added a little something extra to the story and helped to break up the monotony of running away and being told how things worked.

I might read the sequel, I might not. I’m curious about where this all goes and I’m secretly hoping it gets better, but it might not be worth the time with all the other books on my list. We’ll just have to see. Until next time…

Happy Reading!