Tuesday, August 27, 2013

White Cat

I really enjoyed Tithe and some of Holly Black's other work back in high school, so I thought I'd dip back in and check out her more recent work. 

Rating: 3.5 stars
Length: Moderate (336 pages in trade paperback)
Publication: May 4th, 2010 from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Premise: Cassel Sharpe is the only non-gifted child in a family of magical workers, and he's clinging to the safe normalcy of his school life....until he's found sleepwalking on the roof and forced to go home.
Warnings: mild gore, magical memory/emotional manipulation resulting in trauma, dubiously consensual drunken makeouts
Recommendation: The style of Whte Cat varies from a lot of YA stuff, from the worldbuilding to the character relationships; it may not be an all-time favorite, but it's worth checking out, especially if you like reading about mind games. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Rating: 3 stars
Length: Average (347 pages in trade paperback)
Publication: June 7, 2011 from Doubleday
Premise: Humans have been happily depending on robots for decades, but an artificial intelligence named Archos is determined to change the course of the world. Things start going wrong with small malfunctions, but when Zero Hour comes, no one is safe.
Warnings: fairly disturbing machine gore, nonconsensual body mutilation/modification
Recommendation: If you want to read about the robot apocalypse, go forth and read: this does a good job with both the machines and how the people recover from depending on them. It can be a bit uneven no the pacing and style counts, though, so I wouldn't recommend buying it new unless robots are really your thing. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Written in Red

Cookie Monstress and Smartypants sent this one my way because they both sort of enjoyed it but weren't sure it was a good book, per se. My short answer is....sort of: it has good ideas and worldbuilding but absolutely ridiculous characterization.

Rating: 3.5 stars
Length: Expansive without dragging (433 pages in hardback)
Publication: March 5, 2013 from Roc
Premise: Meg Corbyn is running from dangerous people, so she retreats to a place where human law doesn't hold sway: a compound of the Others, the supernatural races who rule the world. That choice should be more dangerous than facing her fate with other humans, but she doesn't smell like prey to them and matters go well...until she could be the flashpoint of an inter-species incident.
Warnings: cutting, gore, attempted kidnapping
Recommendation: If you're looking for slightly different urban fantasy worldbuilding and can tolerate melodramatic characterization, check this one out: I really don't recommend buying it in hardback unless you're a hardcore Anne Bishop fan already.

There are mild to moderate spoilers in the red pen section to hash out exactly what was bothering me.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I'll confess that I jumped onto this wagon because the book was everywhere and I figured I'd get ahead of the movie buzz for once instead of waiting for months past the movie release to crack the book. Marketing makes me contrary.

Rating: 3 stars
Length: On the long side but doesn't feel like it (487 pages)
Publication: February 28, 2012 from Katherine Tegen Books
Premise: In a city where people divide themselves into five factions, Beatrice Prior is Divergent, with an affinity for more than one of them. She's having enough trouble finding her place in the adult world, but inter-faction tensions lurk beneath the surface and threaten to rip apart everything she's ever known.
Warnings: allusions to child abuse, attempted murder, sexual assault, suicide, mild gore
Recommendation: This is one of the best-paced YA books I've read recently, even though the worldbuilding could use a bit more detail. If you're looking for a great vacation read or fun way to spend an afternoon, this might be just what you're looking for, but I'd recommend finding it on sale or at the library. 

Spoilers for Beatrice/Tris's chosen faction, but it's plastered over quite a bit of the summary text I've found (and is kind of difficult to avoid discussing).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Corpse-Rat King

Rating: 3 stars
Length: Comfortably expansive (410 pages)
Publication: August 28, 2012 from Angry Robot
Premise: Marius don Hellespont has spent years robbing corpses for money and little treasures, but taking on Gerd as an apprentice just gets both of them into trouble. When Gerd is killed over the King of Scorby's corpse, Marius is left holding the crown and pulled into the underworld, where the dead want him to be their king. They are furious to learn that he is an imposter, but they allow him to leave on one condition: that he return and bring them a real king.
Warnings: gore in all its manifold expressions, implied prostitution of underage girls, offscreen torture
Recommendation: If you're looking for something gritty and odd and running over with black comedy, this might be your cup of tea-- if you're at all squeamish, especially about rotting flesh, do steer clear. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shades of Milk and Honey

Rating: 3 stars
Length: Compact (320 pages)
Publication: August 3, 2010 from Tor Books
Premise: Jane Ellsworth has resigned herself to spinsterhood and lives in the shadow of her younger sister Melody. Despite Jane's remarkable skill with glamour, her future seems set. When Melody's desires and the introduction of several new gentlemen to the neighborhood upset the regular turn of her life, however, she finds herself forced to the center of events.
Warnings: none
Recommendation: If you're looking for Jane Austen with a light dusting of magic, this is your cup of tea. If not, you may want to pass it up-- it has less in the way of direct magic than almost any other fantasy I've reviewed.