Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dean Koontz's Dead and Alive

Dead and Alive (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #3)Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this instalment, Deucalion, Carson, and Madison are steadily moving toward stopping Victor and his bid to take over the world. Victor's problem is that his creations are all turning into Pinky to his Brain. He is so bound by his own arrogance that he is incapable of taking steps to correct the errors. His downfall is inevitable, because he just can't admit that he isn't perfect. With everything going wrong around him, he finds more and more creative reasons why none of this is his fault.

Erika Five (Victor's wife) has become a central figure in this story line. She stumbles upon a secret passage in the library that leads to a private study. In the study is a large, coffin-like glass box with "something" in it. Something that actually speaks to her. Then she brings Jocko (Jonathan Harker's child from book 1) to see the secret room. Erika and Jocko have become friends and she wants his opinion about the mysterious box. Jocko is pretty sure that whatever is in the box is bad and they should just leave it alone.

Deucalion visits Victor's Angel of Mercy Hospital and discovers that Victor's creations are imploding much quicker than anticipated. He finds and speaks with Victor's computer operating system, and when he learns that the computer is partly organic he "frees" her from her prison by shutting the system down. The computer is grateful, but she follows her fail-safe instruction by turning the self-destruct count-down on. Victor goes back to the Hospital that evening only to find that everything will be destroyed. He grabs his computer back-ups and heads out to his new race factory outside the city. Deucalion, Carson, and Madison are on their way to the factory as well, and the final confrontation that will occur there.

I enjoyed this novel very much. I really liked the developing relationship between Carson and Madison, and the one between Jocko and Erika. Watching Victor's plans unravel and his utter confusion about it was fascinating. I know not everyone liked it, and I can understand why, but for me it was a satisfying read, and I recommend it. I'm really looking forward to Book 4: Lost Souls.

Buy the eBook:
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Friday, January 14, 2011

Chimerascope by Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith
Published by ChiZine


Chimerascope, my first full collection of short fiction, is now available for ordering. Chimerascope contains sixteen of my favourite stories, including an Aurora Award winner, a Best New Horror selection, nine Aurora finalists, and three Year's Best Fantasy & Horror honourable mentions.

I had intended the read the first story, get a feel for the collection, and then book a time that I would read it all. No way. This collection was impossible to put down. This contains one of the best collections of speculative fiction I have ever read. There is a reason that the majority of these stories have won awards and nominations. Smith is absolutely brilliant as he proves SF is every bit as intelligent and thought-provoking as any literary work out there.

My favourite in the collection was "Scream Angel," with my new favourite first line: They stopped beating Trelayne when they saw that he enjoyed it. I surprisingly also liked "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down." I generally don't like horror, so it was a surprise to have enjoyed this one as much as I did.

After reading the collection, I immediately knew Chimerascope would be on my Aurora Award nomination list this year.

Author's website

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Allegra Fairweather: Paranormal Investigator

Allegra Fairweather by Jannie Nell
Carina Press
209 pages

Back of the book blurb:

Allegra Fairweather here. Paranormal investigator. Got problems with specters? Shapeshifters? I'm the woman to call. Just don't call me a Ghostbuster. The last guy who did that ended up flat on his back with my boot at his throat.
With my 99.5% success rate, solving the mystery of a bleeding rose that has sprung up on the shores of Loch Furness should have been an easy gig. But already I've heard the shriek of the local banshee, discovered two bodies (and then lost two bodies), and had a near-death encounter with a three-hundred-year-old ghost. And perhaps most dangerous of all, the hot pub owner who hired me now wants to show me exactly what's under his kilt.
Luckily, I'm ably assisted by my very own guardian angel. I'm grateful for his help-but he's also drop-dead gorgeous. A bit distracting when I've got a mystery to solve, and the clock is ticking...

I'm a little torn by this book. On one hand, it was quite a light, fluffy read - perfect for reading at the bus stop every morning. On the other hand, I had no confidence in Allegra's abilities. Then, there is the romance element that seemed too heavy-handed and out of place, but then there's the relief of it not having a HEA ending.

I loved the characters, excluding Douglas and Allegra. Douglas was underdeveloped for my tastes and seemed to become less and less important as the story went on.

Allegra kept telling us that she was an expert in paranormal investigations, though she didn't really seem able to investigate the case. There were a couple of very obvious moments where Allegra could not have solved the case without people randomly coming up and telling things at crucial things. That was disappointing. 

I also sometimes found her unprofessional, like this was her first case. The lusting after Casper (her guardian angel) frustrated me a few times and I admit that I thought she'd be faster solving the case if she wasn't mooning over the forbidden fruit.

In closing, if you're looking for a female version of Harry Dresden, this isn't it. If you like paranormal romance and are reading more for characters than plot, this might be worth you giving a try.