Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tangled in Time by Pauline Baird Jones

Back of the Book Blurb:

Colonel Carey (from
The Key and Girl Gone Nova) takes a test "flight" through the Garradian time-space portal, but an unexpected impact lands him somewhere and some when. As he attempts to get to Area 51, he crosses paths with Miss Olivia Carstairs, who could be Mary Poppins' twin sister. Or maybe her cousin. Olivia's got a transmogrification machine powered by steam and something more, and a mouth he'd like to kiss like it was his job. Can he get them both to safety before the buzzard eats them or she shoots him with her derringer?

The genre for this Novella read: Science Fiction/Steampunk/ Paranormal. Quite a lot to fit into one book. I was also a little wary about the blurb because it made it seem as though this Colonel Carey character was from a series of books and I don’t like picking up a book in the middle of a series. Still I gave it a go.

The beginning read like the beginning of any novel so it seemed that perhaps I wouldn’t have to worry about it being part of a series. However I noticed right away that the genre's were misleading. The two settings in the novella are in a dessert or on another planet (which could have been anywhere really) and the only Steampunk item was the machine the brought the female main character to her current location. I wouldn't classify it as either Steampunk or Paranormal. There is some scientific techno-talk to explain the time travel bit that I guess one could classify as Science Fiction, but the genre for this should really be Romance.

Romance isn’t something I normally read and when I do I’m picky. I like my romances to have an interesting plot; something that moves the book forward in a way that makes me care more about what happens next then if the guy gets the girl (or vice versa). This book didn’t quite do it for me.

The author can write well and her descriptions of the emotions the main characters were experiencing - the lust and tension – were so well done you could almost feel it yourself. But I felt the plot and the sense of a story wasn’t as good as it could have been – particularly the lack of resolution. About ¾ of the way through the novella, a bad guy is revealed… and then nothing. They talk about him, how they will need to keep an eye out for him, but there is no resolution. There are a multitude of subplots that are brought up that bring a real interest to the story, but are never tied up at the end and sometimes are only mentioned once. In fact, the only thing that gets resolved is that the guy gets the girl at the end, which is pretty standard for most romance stories.

If this is meant to be part of an ongoing series in which things will eventually be explained in another book, then it really should be marketed like that so that people like me aren’t expecting a full story when they pick this novella up.

The author can write, she’s got talent that’s for sure, but if this is a stand alone book I can only give it 2 out of 5 stars.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bitter Night by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Back of the book blurb:

The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances — including one with a rival witch’s Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him — and standing with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right — if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is….

I'm a huge fan of DPF's traditional fantasy works, especially her Crosspointe series. Her literary tone really suits the sub-genre. So, I was hesitant to try the urban fantasy. I'm glad I did.

I confess that the first quarter of the book had me confused. To be fair, I think that was more about me not being well read in urban fantasy, as opposed to it being the author's fault. I'm a newbie reader to the genre and I found that I had a lot to consume in a really short period of time. After about the mid-way point, I found I had adjusted to the information and was able to really get into things.

The heroine, Max, and I have a hate-love relationship. I didn't warm up to her until mid-book. The hero, Alexander, well...let's say that I took a shining to him immediately. In many ways, he made the book for me. I was unable to put the book down because of Alexander. And, eventually, because of Max. I'm glad Alex was included so early on; he gave me the anchor I needed to keep reading.

I really recommend lovers of urban fantasy to purchase this book; you'll have a blast as Max chows through 45 hamburgers and kicks ass in tight leather the next day (yes, that happened, but there is a very good explanation why she was able to pull off both). If you haven't read much urban fantasy, get a copy from the local and see if it's your thing. If not, I recommend "The Cipher" instead.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jim Butcher's "Side Jobs"

I love the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, so I was tickled to see an anthology, while we await the resurrection of the next book mid-2011. I enjoyed the stories in this anthology, some more than others.

It was odd reading short stories from the series that aren't actually connected to the books. Sure, the characters and events are all there, but it was strange having stories that didn't feel "cannon" to the main series. Most of these stories, according to the author notes, were written at the request of agents and anthology editors, so perhaps that's why they feel disjointed from the series.

All of these pieces have been previously published, either on Butcher's website for free or in various anthology collections. It does contain a new novella, Aftermath, which takes place less than an hour after the end of the last published Dresden books, Changes.

Aftermath was great and disappointing all at once. The story seemed, again, disconnected from the overall plot of the series and get I the feeling that nothing beyond "there is a power void now" is relevant to the overall series. I hope I'm wrong, but that's the feeling I got.

Still, saying that, I enjoyed Aftermath and I'm happy I picked up the book for that alone. The ebook price is a little steep at $12.99, but most of the big publishers are charging those kinds of prices. It was also frustrating trying to purchase this as a Canadian, as it apparently isn't "available" to Canadians (though the hard cover is out up here). I ended up just getting an American friend to buy it for me and email me the file. Note to publishers: Limiting the availability of your digital products is really silly.

If you have never read the Dresden Files, do not pick up this book. You'll be completely lost. Start with the first book of the series (Storm Front) and I'll see you in a couple of months.

If you are a Dresden fan, add this to the collection if you don't have the others. Otherwise, borrow from a friend so that you can read Aftermath.