Sunday, June 26, 2011

Moon Called: Book One in the Mercy Thompson Series

In short-short, I liked Patricia Briggs's Moon Called. It wasn't my favorite book ever, but it was solid and satisfying, with enough character voice and surprises to keep me happy with the end result, especially for a clear series starter.

I had one nit-pick with it as far as yanking me out of the story, and that was the use and lack of use of contractions in various places. I know, that sounds stupid, but when a reader expects a character to say "I'm" rather than "I am" it gets kind of stumbly.

For a plus point, I particularly liked main character Mercy's pace with revealing information and in explaining her own logistical conclusions.

All-in-all, I give this book a strong Borrow, a Buy if you're really, really into contemporary supernaturals.

On a shallow note, a peeve and praise for the cover designers.

First, the peeve. What mechanic worth her grease would wear her work shirt a). unbuttoned and tied up that way, and b). with a push-up bra? I cannot suspend belief enough to think this covergirl mechanic seriously thinks she'll draw in business this way, even from skeevy rich dudes. Skeevy rich dudes go to strip clubs to see girls in knotted, push-up bra-ed outfits, not garages. Mercy's not stupid; she'd dressed professionally, but for functionality, and so her customers see her as a competent business woman.

However! Kudos to the person who sized and placed the endorsement blurb by Charlaine Harris. It's noticeable without detracting from the cover image, title, or author. That's tasteful and I applaud your class with that issue, Unknown Cover Person.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You

Now, for the sake of full disclosure (I disclose stuff all the time; be prepared), Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars are my two all-time favorite grown-up TV shows (I like a lot of kids' shows, too. *shrugs*), and to realize moments after finishing I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter that the whole book is one possible answer to the question, "What would happen if you enrolled a gonvernment-funded Veronica Mars in Chilton, the private school in Stars Hollow, fictional home of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore?", well, whoa.

Yes, yes, that was a really long, awkward, badly-written sentence. Don't care. I wasn't actually awake when I composed it.

Point is, I thoroughly enjoyed the first of Carter's Gallagher Girls novels. I dug the well-balanced aspects of narrator Cammie's real life with that of her cover life. On the one hand, the kind of life we normal peeps live is about as alien to Cammie "The Chameleon" Morgan, only daughter of a super-spy and the headmistress of Cammie's own seriously serious spy school for genius girls, as being a girl genius super-spy-in-training would be to us. Which is to say, mucho Vulcan.

Another great balance? Flippancy vs. solemnity. Some pages are devoted to silly, girly angst of the "I speak fourteen languages and not a single one of them translates to BOY!" and homework vareties, while other pages deal with heartache over lost loved ones, fear of incompetence (as all three, spy, friend, and girlfriend), and finding redeeming qualities in a new enemy. The great thing? Carter blends these themes seamlessly. The fluff is marshmallowy, deep stuff is satisfyingly subcutaneous.

Also, a Brownie Point for mentioning Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dirty Dancing. Though, to be perfectly fair, I thought two mentions of Buffy =ed cool; three . . . enh, kind of pushing it.

So, the short version, if you're into anything like the shows mentioned above, or like a read that treads the worlds of fluffy AND textured, BUY this one.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Chime by Franny Billingsley is one of the most gorgeous books I've read in a long while, and yes, the cover is gorgeous too, but when I picked up the book from my library, I really didn't think a novel with such a glammed-up, confidently-posed covergirl would have the kind of depth this book has.

Boy, how was I wrong! The narrator, Briony, tells the story of herself, her father, her addled twin sister (Rose), her late step-mother, the new boy in town, and to top it all off, the very real swamp bogies in their backwoods, turn-of-the-century English villiage (in fact, kind of think of Shamalyan's The Village). Briony's voice has a wonderful point and counter-point to it, using rich language, but in a stark, staccato rhythm I found absolutely wonderful. This voice matches the way Briony views herself, on one hand gifted with Second Sight, while loathing herself for her selfishness and desire to break free of her responsibilities. 

I can't properly describe how  the adjective "flat" can be desirable or even complimentary, so you'll totally have to go BUY this book to see what I mean.

A Witch in Time

A Witch in Time by Madelyn Alt sounded cute and quirky from the flap copy (you know, that little synopsis on the inside of the front cover?), so I picked up from the library and brought it home, along with three other books.

The book lived up to my expectations . . . sort of. I didn't really gel with the beginning, feeling it was a witchy-version rip-off of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire novels, but the middle seemed to come together better before unraveling again in the last few chapters.

Maybe its my personal pet peeve about "mystery" books with mysteries so easy to solve it's like watching an episode of Scooby Doo (just wait for the supposedly least likely or capable suspect to show up, and there you've got your criminal), or maybe I can't get passed a heroine who is a). semi-psychic, and b). practically attatched at the hip to other degrees of psychics not to figure things out before I did, especially since the book is from her point-of-view. It felt like Alt kept dumbing down her narrator just to drag out the page-count. Or, it could be I'm miffed there wasn't more hot guy action. That's also possible. Probably, though, all of the above.

One thing I definitely DID NOT dig was where my personal library shelved this book; in Teen fiction. Granted, I have no way of knowing if my library made a individual mistake, or if the book is being targeted to teens and higher, but I really hope it's not the latter. I promise, I'm not being a prude about teens and sex, but I believe if a book is going to deal with teens and sex, it has a responsibility to show both sides of what happens afterwards, and this novel did not do that. The mentions of sex (which were many) had more to do with raging adult hormones had a flippant, no-consequences thing to them, which I think is misleading to anyone, but particularly to teens who are just figuring out for themselves what they feel and believe about love and lust, and that place in between the two.

So, here's the short version: if you don't mind a bit of a wandering narrative and want something fluffy (including the supposed mystery), this is a good book. Think 'beach read' or something to pick up at the end of a long day of fixing fallout from other people's crap. If you want something meatier, something you have to put a little gray matter into, skip this one for a while.

And with this review, I'm instituting a new rating system: MISH! has her stars, but I'm a little more black and white. My three categories will be these: Buy, Borrow, or Bypass. The first is a book I'd rec friends to drop money on, to add to their own library because I believe they'd might reread it several times. Borrow, for those books that are good, and perfectly enjoyable, but probably wouldn't get more than one or two rereads, or be picked up for a special craving. Bypass, obviously means just don't bother, this book would just annoy you to even attempt, and who needs that?

A Witch in Time, by the skin of it's cover, gets a Borrow, mainly due to it being a part of a series, of which other titles could be better.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Make Yourself Aware

For years I've gotten my news and information on books and the publishing industry from Shelf Awareness, a free e-newsletter. So I was really excited to see that they're now putting out an edition for readers and other book lovers.

I've discovered so many wonderful books because of their recommendations, and I definitely recommend signing up for this twice-weekly email. You can find out more details on the new edition here.

Or, if you're interested in news about the entire publishing industry (geared more toward bookstore owners and employees), you can sign up for the pro edition, which comes each day of the work week.