Monday, 20 May 2013

Fantasy!! not History

No I don't want to make a detailed and well thought out comment about women and their representations in media, specially fantasy books, because right now I am tired and sick. 

I would however like to point out, if authors can do WHATEVER they want with an alternate reality why do some still subjugate women to second class citizens? Or why suggest the only power they have is to use their bodies? Or portray them as powerful because they can be manipulative bitches?

Answer me that please!

Fated and Cured - Benedict Jacka

These are the first two books in a series about a mage who lives in London. I read them as part of my crusade to open up my reading horizons to include all manner of Urban Fantasy. My verdict ... scroll down and look at the rating if you don't want to read the whole review :P

From Amazon "Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success."

If you have a close look at the pictures the writing on the page is an endorsement from Jim Butcher saying that Harry Dresden would like Alex and maybe be a littler nervous around him.  HMM maybe, but I'd still put my money on Dresden, I would also say that maybe Butcher is more understanding of beginning writers then I am and wonder if he actually read it.

The best and the worst aspects of these books are that they are too easy to read. It makes for a quick turn around time but they are not hugely detailed and full of depth. Alex as a character is developed well and so are the supporting characters but not in any outstanding way. The setting is modern day London and a few references are thrown out and don't detract from the story or make me pay extra attention to it. The plot is very easy to follow and some would say it is very easy to see where it is going (me not so much, I never like to think about it). The way magic works and the societal structure is interesting and I think will be developed more over time.

Fated (An Alex Verus Novel) is the first and establishes Alex as reluctant hero who can hold his own despite his powers being more passive then active. Cursed (Alex Verus) has more complexity in regards to character development and the writing of conflict gets better and so I enjoyed this one much more.

It wasn't ground breaking, and I kinda expected it to be considered Butcher added it to his 'must-read list' but that's ok. I will keep it in reserve for when I don't know what to read and want something quick and ... easy to digest. I think it will get better as Jacka continues to write but right now I have other things to read and this didn't hook me.

2.5 out of 5 mages dodging bullets.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison

This isn't a review of Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, Book 1), this is a collection of thoughts so far. Just letting you know.

So I have only read a few pages of this book and I think it's crap, pretty terrible. I am aware I take a lot longer to warm to female characters then male ones, but I honestly don't know if I will continue this book, it just feels too much like work.

All I have read is the female protagonist whinging about how hard her life is because she fucked something up and should not have been reduced to this kind of work .... suck it up you whinny (calls her a name) and deal with a mistake, thats just life.

So authors please note: stream of conciseness - only use it when someone's head is interesting enough to be inside.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Folly - Ben Aaronovitch

This series is awesome, it's my new favourite by far and I've been reading a lot lately. If you pay any attention to me in real life, or on the forum or on this blog, you'll know I love it. I think you should buy the first one right away! Here I'll even link it for you Rivers of London and then buy the second one Moon Over Soho and then the third Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London 3), but if you don't live in London or think you will appreciate the depth and detail it is given in the book, maybe read a few things in between.

Let me break it down for you ...


o   London feels like it is alive.
o   Traffic reports and bus/train timetables
o   Streets names galore
o   History the suburbs Grant goes to and how they developed

Main Character

o   Curious scientific mind, always doing experiments and wondering about things
o   Goes off on tangents and gets distracted easily
o   He is reflective – thinks about how his actions will affect people.
o   Understanding of others situation and is accommodating– Lesley, Abigal, Zachary
o   Supporting cast of characters with their own back stories hinted at (sign of good writing)


o   Police procedural jargon is often amusing
o   The thought process is just as important as the action
o   The magic learning runs back ground to the magic in the world around that he encounters.

Twenty Palaces: A prequel – Harry Connolly

Didn’t like Twenty Palaces, A Prequel at all, maybe Connolly gets better, and that is why he is so popular?

This by the way is spoiler ridden ... so yea, just letting you know!

Ray the (main character) just seemed to blindly bumble around with no real sense of direction and constantly reminding the audience that he "owed John" drove me crazy, he seems a simplistic character with no real depth. All I received at the end of the book in terms of character development was that he is tattooed now and has to follow around a chick that wants to kill him.

I read the first chapter of Child of Fire. That duo seems strange. She tells him nothing and he is still asking questions and getting no answer, so pretty much the first book all over again. While that would normally be fine, I just don't care about Ray enough, and that girl, she didn't even seem like a character, just a plot device. So there is nothing keeping me involved in the story.

The magic you say ... random ribbons and glyphs ... seemed impractical and there wasn't much to the 'action' scenes but ... chuck a ribbon = fire or draw a glyph here = fire ... there wasn't much focus on the magic.

The plot I think was pretty good. I liked the world outside of the world. I loved that the 'cure' was turning people into crazy cannibals and I really liked the way that they story finished but that was it.

In all there was not enough for me to be convinced that this is a series that I will peruse right now. It was published in 2011 after a few of the novel in the series had been published, so I assume Connolly would know how to write his characters by now. My best explanation is that he wrote the prequel for those who love the series. So if you want to get involved in this series, start with Child of Fire.

2 out of 5 ribbons that can set things on fire

My reading niche ... for a while at least

Within fantasy there are subgenres, not this many but there are a few for sure! The people that made that list went a little overboard I think.

The one I want to post about is urban fantasy. I’m not just talking about wizard detectives that advertise in the Yellow Pages, I am talking about fantastical events, or characters of setting that have some or lots of elements of our current reality.

I have been reading a fair bit of this subgenre lately. Of course I am a huge fan of Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) and I’ve read some Neil Gaimen and a few other random bits and bobs, but now I am making a concentrated effort to broaden my horizons. As you know (if you have read my posts lately) I have read Ben Aaronovitch’s The Folly series (can’t wait for June and next release Broekn Homes) and I’ve read Fated (An Alex Verus Novel) the first book in Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus series. On my tablet I also have Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, Book 1)  by Kim Harrison but the first few pages were garbage so maybe I will continue I’m not sure. I also finished Twenty Palaces, A Prequel by Harry Connolly and also didn't think to highly of that one.