Monday, May 7, 2012

Bastard Quick Reactions: Kitty's Big Trouble, Skeleton Crew, Never Knew Another, Sins of the Angels, On Basilisk Station, The Neon Court

I think this is quite self explanatory, here are few "quick reactions" to some books I've read and wanted to say something about them. Some I read with no intention of reviewing them, others were read before I had even thought of having a blog, others I've just been pressed for time so better a little something than nothing at all.

At the end of each I put a link to full reviews from other bloggers I enjoy reading. Some of them parallel my thoughts on a book, while other may be the opposite.

In any case, I'm looking forward to doing more of these. It's a real load off my shoulders and will let me focus on the full reviews I intend to write.

Kitty's Big Trouble by Carrie Vaughn

Been a fan of the Kitty Norville series, though since the first novel it's been an up and down relationship for me. That said, it always managed to make it a fun read despite any misgiving in a particular installment.

Kitty's Big Trouble was released during the summer last year, and I was hugely disappointed by it. Found it to be the weakest in the series. Seemed like a recycle of scenes (Kitty or Ben getting hurt, then petting each other) and the plot left a lot to be desired from. Three fourths of the book are spent in an underground maze where little actually happens to move the story along, and when we confront the big bad, it was just painful to read how events unfolded with one weak rationalization after another.

We get a few reveals and a back-story on a personal favorite of mine, but there was just not enough here for me. Then add how predictable everything was. I hope the next one is better.

Read a full review by Tori (smexys_sidekick) over at Smexy Books.

Skeleton Crew by Cameron Haley

Second book in The Underworld Cycle and a marked improvement over Haley's debut novel. Though I enjoyed  Mob Rules, I felt it needed quite a bit of work, hard to get into early on, and the lingo using "juice" instead for "magic" at times irritating, but interesting nonetheless. It did have some great moments, particularly the fast pace second half which I can only describe as twists galore.

Series has a unique focus, mainly on gang wars and then connecting it to the fey. Skeleton Crew was simply better written, and action from start to finish, so good stuff on that regard. I felt the plot of the first book was stronger and more interesting, but the flow of the novel and the character interaction was superior this time around.

The novel focused on zombies, and even though I'm not a fan of them, I thought it was a cool take on zombie lore. In any case, looking forward to the next installment Dead Drop.

Here's a full review by Scooper Speaks.

Never Knew Another by J.M. McDermott

Well, this was a unique one. Really hard to put into words what I feel about it, but at the end of it I really loved it. Beautiful prose that contrasted the ugly world it depicted. It's a very short novel, yet quite packed. The story itself is not that complex, but the storytelling technique is. It's easy to get confused since POVs are not always easily identifiable, but that's part of the charm. Part of the story is experienced through a character accessing another's memories. There's switching of POV, as well as the narrative mode, and events are not in chronological order. So be prepared to put some effort.

Themes of loneliness and solitude are explored to its fullest, as well as the pursuit to belong; find someone that understands you. I really loved how the demons were depicted here, how it mixed the humanity with the inhumanity with the inevitability of what they are, and how toxic they are just for being what they are despite of who they are and who they wish to be. I hope that made some sense.

The ending was a bit abrupt for me and the climax was very subtle, really felt like there was none, but with the sequel already out, this is pretty much a none issue. Never Knew Another is the first in the Dogsland Trilogy. McDermott is certainly an author to watch, I have a feeling he'll be producing some compelling and thought provoking reading for years to come.

Here's a great review by Neth Space which relates my feelings about this novel in a much better manner.

Sins of the Angels by Linda Poitevin

If you're looking for an urban fantasy with a good mix of procedural and relationship drama, then this is one for you. It also featured a great Heaven mythological ambiance, pretty much my favorite part of the novel particularly with the political intrigue. In various regards, especially with the focus on the relationship drama, Sins of the Angels wasn't a book for me, yet I really enjoyed it. Although it has been pointed out to me that I may be mistaken in this opinion, but the character interaction and relationship drama reminded me plenty of Blood Rights by Kristen Painter. Also few portions were predictable, probably a consequence of rotating POVs, but overall I thought everything was handled quite well.

I'm keeping my eye on how the series will progress, particularly with how powerful the supernatural beings are compared to humans, so it's going to be tricky on how our main character will be handled amid all the danger. But I'm hearing great things about the sequel, Sins of the Son, which many seem to think is even better than the first one, so very much looking forward to reading it soon.

This novel also featured one of the creepiest murder scenes I've ever seen. I think the creative people on CSI would be proud of it. The novel, first in The Grigori Legacy series, was well written and I have a feeling that I'll enjoy the next installments even more.

Read a full review over at The Qwillery who enjoyed the book quite a bit.

On Basilisk Station by David Weber

I'm not much of a sci-fi reader, in fact I've barely read any "real" sci-fi for lack of better phrase. For some reason the novels haven't attracted me much, and I still have plenty of fantasy novels I need to go through so venturing to reading sci-fi hasn't seemed that appealing. That being said, got very curious about the Honor Harrington novels, so gave On Basilisk Station a shot. Loved it.

Thought Honor was a great character, and Weber did a great job in the creation of the universe. I haven't read any other novels in the series, but really hoping to get back to it soon.

It gave me nostalgia of one of my favorite animes, an oldie space opera from the late 80s known as Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I don't know how sci-fi fans compare this series to others in the genre, but if it's in any way resembling of what is found there, I really need to make a better effort to read some more in it.

Read Mark Chitty's full review over at Walker of Worlds.

The Neon Court: Or the Betrayal of Mathew Swift by Kate Griffin

Urban Magic is real treat of a series in the hands of a very talented writer. Kate Griffin has been published since her mid-teens, and this series began in her early 20's; that alone is an impressive accomplishment.

I've seen plenty of praise going around for this series, many of which come from readers that don't care much for the urban fantasy genre, so I recommend it with little hesitation to just about anyone. Griffin has done a wonderful job bringing London alive, in a way that it has become literally a character in the story. The main character's narrating voice is very unique, or maybe it would be more accurate to say voices, and that's where I think this series really shines.

The Neon Court is the third novel in this Mathew Swift sequence, and I thought Griffin took a big risk with it. All I'll say is that she put my favorite character in the series through some really tough circumstances without letting the readers prepare for it, but it worked. My only real problem was that in the effort to bring London to life, I think the story gets a bit carried away with the descriptive passages in a way that hinders the plot progression and the pace. That said, with patience, by the end of it you notice why the author took its time being so meticulous as everything comes together, but I still think it could be handled much better.

The fourth book is already out, The Minority Council, which I'll be reading soon.

A full review by Jacob @ Drying Ink.


  1. Several of these I want to try the series out. Thanks for the quick thoughts and links to other reviews as well. Nicely done.

  2. I may have to think about digging out some stuff I read before I did a blog and do a quick review like this on a review. I've always enjoyed your take on UF.

  3. A fun read. Glad I put it on my summer reading list. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.


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