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review 2017-05-05 01:30
Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires, #13)
Blade Bound - Chloe Neill

3.5 stars might be a tiny bit unfair.  This is probably more of a 4 star read, but I'd have enjoyed this last book in the series more if Neill had opted to end on a bang, rather than full-scale mass destruction.

 

Merit and Ethan and the rest of the scooby gang are trying to enjoy peace and quiet and a wedding, but the after-party comes with snow.  In August.  After that all hell breaks loose as an old enemy isn't as vanquished as they'd hoped.  And boy is she pissed.

 

The thing is, I don't like sequels all that much when they involve 'the return of..'; I was disappointed at the end of the last book (#12) because the big bad was hauled off to jail.  Nobody with half a brain could think that would end well.  So having her evilness come back felt a bit 'here we go again'.  However, I loved what Neill did with Chicago, and I loved, loved, loved how Ms. Evil met her end.  It was fitting and it was hilarious.

 

But I love these characters; they're the sort I'd like to call friends.  Merit and Mallory have the best dialogs.  I think, given enough popcorn and iced tea, I could just sit back and listen to these two talk to each other for hours.

 

My entire immediate family is from Chicago, save myself, so I have an inherited affection for that gorgeous city (Go Cubs!), and it was painful to watch Neill tear it up.  And she didn't mess around; she immediately went straight to the landmarks any Chicagoan knows and loves; she didn't even spare the lions!  This made reading difficult; I kept thinking no, no, not Shed's... dammit...omg, NOT WATER TOWER PLACE!

 

Of course, the good guys win in the end - that's not a spoiler; it's the last book in the series, so of course they are going to triumph.  Normally, in this situation, I enjoy an epilogue; a little something to give me some view of how it all works out in the long run.  Honestly though?  Here, I'd have been happier without it.  It verged on twee.  I can't believe Neill went twee on me.  But... glancing at the book ads at the end, it seems she's creating a new series based on the two characters in that twee little scene, so I suppose there was a method to her madness.

 

I've love this series madly, and I think the author brought it to an end at a good time and place.  I'll try the new series, although I'm not sure Chicagoland will hold the same appeal to me without her landmarks and without Merit's and Mallory's witty repartee.

 

 

 

Total pages: 361

$ Banked: $3.00

 

Note:  Chicago has the El subway system, which Merit and Mallory use to escape something chasing them, but there is also, as it turns out, travel by air; not on a plane, but spoilers would be involved in the telling, so I'll just say Merit definitely travels by air at one point.  ;-)

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review 2017-04-01 11:09
The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe
The Haunted Grange Of Goresthorpe - Arthur Conan Doyle

The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe is a previously unknown short story written by a young Arthur Conan Doyle, and was only discovered when Blackwood's archives were donated to The National Library of Scotland in 1942.

 

In 2000, the Arthur Conan Doyle Society received the necessary permissions to publish the story for the first time.  I found a copy of it in a used-book sales list and snapped it up because A. it's Doyle and B. it's a ghost story.

 

As with any kind of previously unknown story posthumously published, this slim volume has a preface, an introduction and an afterword.  But in this case, the result is so presumptuous it's hilarious.  We start with a reasonable 2 paragraph statement from the copyright holders and a 1.5 page preface by the Librarian of the National Library of Scotland.  This is followed by a 38 page introduction by the head of the Arthur Conan Doyle Society, broken into chapters.

 

Lots of introductions are long, although I've never actually seen one split into chapters before.  But here's the kicker:

 

The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe is only 9 pages long.

 

So we have an introduction that is fully 4 times longer than the story itself; to add insult to injury, Owen Dudley Edwards spends much of that 38 pages talking about how juvenile an effort this story is on Doyle's part (in fairness, he argues this is understandable, as it's believed to be his first effort).  

 

I realise I'm not a lettered, learned, literary expert (although I can alliterate with the best of 'em!), but I must respectfully (or not) disagree with Mr. Dudley Edwards:  I thought this was a ripping good ghost story!  Conan Doyle is an undisputed master of the short story form, and in 9 measly pages he sets the scene, the atmosphere, the backstory, the dare, and finally a delightfully hair-raising climax and ghostly encounters.  I didn't find the writing juvenile in any way; indeed the writing never got in the way of the story; unlike Dudley Edwards' attempts.

 

If you have the chance to read this, do.  Just skip the introduction, and enjoy the story; it may not be his best, but it's still better than most writers at their best.

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review 2017-03-23 23:08
Etched in Bone (The Others, #5)
Etched in Bone - Anne Bishop

Every book in this series have been marathon reads for me, and Etched in Bone was no exception.  I picked it up yesterday morning and pretty much did absolutely nothing else until I read the last page about midnight last night (although I did stop, in the name of marital harmony, to shovel some dinner down; luckily, there was a footy game on last night, so the shovelling went largely unnoticed).

 

I have loved every moment of this series; been sucked into this world so thoroughly that interruptions leave me hazy about reality and I have been as attached to these characters as much as, or more, than any others.  Possibly more than real people I know. 

 

But... this one; this final book concerning Meg and Simon, was not as great as the first 4.  Because this book deviated from the rules the author created for The Others.  In any of the other books, Jimmy would have been a stain on the sidewalk before chapter 3.  I get what she was trying to do here, I get what she wanted to explore, but it was not done as gracefully, and the effect felt forced; its execution more heavy handed.  In short, Jimmy got on my nerves; I stopped being horrified and started getting irritated and mumbling 'why isn't this man dead yet???'.

 

Still, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes urban fantasy and/or parables.  Because this whole series is one giant parable about the human race: our capacity for grace, our capacity for vice, and our wholesale destruction of everything in our path as long as we remain unchecked.  As horrifying as The Others are, I can't look around at what's going on today and not sort of wish our Earth had Naimid's teeth and claws to protect her.

 

I'm attached so thoroughly to these characters in the Courtyard, I'm not sure I'll read the next book; which is apparently in the same universe but with a different setting and characters.  I want more Tess!  But I'll definitely be re-reading these.

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review 2017-03-21 09:49
Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)
Silence Fallen - Patricia Briggs

Mercy is kidnapped by vampires and is taken to Europe, where she escapes, but has no clothes, no money and no passport and must stay on the run until Adam can find her and neutralise the threat to herself and her pack.

 

I'll admit I was less enthusiastic about this one that I normally am about the books in this series, because my first thoughts ran along the lines of 'oh, yay.  Woman in peril who must fight to survive and over come obstacles over and over again.'

 

I could not have been more wrong.  Yes, there are perils and obstacles, but they are more than balanced out by moments of control and action and intelligence.  This book was also far more about political negotiations and intelligence analysis, if you'll excuse the out-of-place term here, and I loved that.  This felt like a far more intelligent novel that the previous books.

 

And for the first time in I can't even remember how long, I was totally blown away by the twist.  Never. saw. that. coming.  I actually exclaimed 'holy sh*t!' out loud.  Well played, Briggs.  Absolutely brilliant.

 

There wasn't anything I didn't thoroughly enjoy in this book; I had no complaints at all.

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review 2017-03-10 07:15
The Revenant of Thraxton Hall
The Revenant of Thraxton Hall - Vaughn Entwistle

I'm going to use one of my dad's favourite sayings and call this one fair to middling. 

 

On the surface it should have been a guaranteed-to-please-me read: I'm intrigued by Wilde, Conan Doyle is one of only a couple of people I'd go back in time to meet, and the it's a ghost story set on the moors.  In spite of all of this, I remained nothing but an indifferent observer from start to finish; I failed to connect with Wilde or Doyle, and the ghosts failed to thrill.  Additionally, the twisty part of the plot was something I saw coming from the start, although how Doyle got there at the end was so twisty and convoluted, I'm still not sure I get how he did it.

 

He did totally pull one over on me regarding the Count though; did not see that one coming.

 

This is the first of a series, but I doubt I'll be searching out the second one.  

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