Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: oops-got-you-in-trouble
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-09-21 22:44
A Dreaming City
A City Dreaming - Daniel Polansky

[I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]


Quite a strange book, in that it didn't exactly have a plot, more of a collection of "slice of life" moments. Well, moment in the life of a being able to bend reality to his will, or almost, surrounding himself, whether he wants it or not, with other exceptional beings.


After years, decades of wandering around, M is back in New York, where he gets reacquainted with old friends and enemies (not mutually exclusive), gets entangled in the local magic politics, finds himself facing strange worlds and creatures at times, all the while trying to remain "in good terms with the Management"—in other words, balancing feats of magic just right enough to live nicely, without getting much of backlash. And let's be honest, M's friends are often worse than his foes, considering the dire straits they take him into.


The New York M evolves in is definitely strange and enchanting in its own ways, mixing daily mundane places and events with happenings out of this world. Immortal mages trying to kill each others, the two Queens of New York trying to get the upper hand each int their own sly ways, revenge and curses, magical underground trains, apprentices coming out of nowhere, traders playing at human sacrifice... There are so, so many odd things in that city, in M's world in general.


The major problem I see with this novel is the fact it's a collection of mini-adventures, connected by a loose red thread much more than by any kind of solid plot. M meets some old friend who drags him on a crappy errand, or has to go and trick pirates to free another friend who got kidnapped, or finds himself in an alternate world whose rules may very well trample his own perception of reality... and so on. The blurb was misleading, in that its wording led me to believe there would be more of a plot (there's no real war between the Queens, for instance, and some of the stories felt repetitive). Instead, the connectors are people and places rather than events leading to other events, and not in the way of a more traditional narrative. Which is an interesting thing or not, depending on how you perceive it.


While I wasn't too convinced at first, in the end, this technique nevertheless offered glimpses into a magical world, and I found myself wanting to see which new adventure would unfold in every new chapter—not to mention that whenever connectors met, they still gave a sense of things tying together, but just a little, just enough, not as a series of convenient coincidences. (Because -that- can also be a problem, when a plot is too well packed and loose ends are too nicely tied.)


These stories also provide an interesting view on modern life: night scenes, drug addiction, poverty (so many people around you, who won't see you as you're being dragged down...), making and losing friends, art and pleasure, unpleasant acquaintances, wealthy lifestyle vs. a more subdued kind of existence, choices to make in the face of adversity, responsibilities, humanity...There's a strong current of life to this New Work, carrying its people just as much as its people carry it, and the author pictures it funny, dark and loving tones all at once.


Conclusion: I can't say I absolutely loved this book, however it contains a lot of imaginative elements, and the New York, the City with a capital C described in it, was such a vivid backdrop that it may just as well be called a character as well. 3.5 stars, going on 4.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-06-15 20:48
Riverkeep - Martin Stewart

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

A coming-of-age adventure in a world that is both threatening and full of wonders, following a boy who embarks on a journey to save his father: after Wulliam witnessed his dad being possessed by a river spirit, he decides to take his only parent to the sea, hunting down a legendary beast whose fluids are rumoured to have many healing properties. And even if it means abandoning his duties as the keeper of the river, Wull feels he doesn't have a choice: either that, or let his father wither and die.

There were quite a few magical, poetic descriptions and moments in this book, and I never found it hard to picture the characters' surroundings, or to imagine the mormorach, diving in the dark waters, preying on ships and crews bent on taking it down. Nor was it hard to imagine little Bonn, or Tillinghast's strange body (bodies?).

However, I was a bit disappointed in the “adventure” itself, for it was rather sluggish in more than one place, and some events and character arcs felt put on a bus after a while. Most of the people Wulliam meets have their quirks and an aura of mystery: from the undertaker to Tillinghast the man who's not alive, from Mix and her strange tattoos to Remedie cradling her strange baby, from the solitary scientist in the Deadmoor to the silent Mr Bent. The problem is that some of those people were given their own adventure... yet said adventures were never really concluded: only Wull and Tillinghast seem to have an ending of their own (as well as a few other characters, but let's just say that their ending is a little more, uhm, permanent). As a result, it felt less like an open ending, and more like the author wanted to get to Wulliam's ending mostly, with his quest being a little... on the side? I may be mistaken, but that's how I keep on feeling about it now. I still don't know why Mix doesn't eat, or what happened to Remedie and Bonn.

Wulliam was also pretty annoying as a character. On the one hand, I could understand his desire to save his Pappa, along with his underlying somewhat selfish reasons (he wants to save him because he loves him, of course, but also because he doesn't know how to be the Riverkeep in his stead, and wishes for his guidance some more); I could also understand how he'd come to be angry, considering everybody seemed to hitch a ride and not lift a finger to help. On the other hand, well... those characters helped in different ways (Till does pay for the trip, after all, and Mix does have a knack to gather resources unseen), and Wull after a while became more the annoying, tantrum-throwing type than the rightly-annoyed, unfairly-treated one.

Conclusion: ~ 2.5 stars out of 5. I liked the atmosphere, the depiction of the river and of the places travelled in this novel. Nevertheless, the pace was rather uneven, and unless it's the first book in a series and we're bound to learn more in a second one, not bringing closure to other characters' stories made me feel unsatisfied.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2015-08-20 19:33
The Gateway of Light and Darkness
The Gateway of Light and Darkness (The Gateway Series Book 2) - Heather Marie

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

I still like the mythology/back story woven into this series, but... but... Seriously, this trend of ain't-telling-you-nothing-itis has to stop. I don't know what it'd take. I don't know why this is still considered a good idea. It's not. It's not building plot, it's forcing it down into holes that aren't even the same shape.

So basically, Aiden makes the wrong choices (some crossing into Too Stupid To Live territory) mostly because all the characters around him who have information don't share it with him. And when he stumbles and falls, they get all "I'm disappointed in you", "I told you so", "I knew it", "I'm sorry I falied you". When they know very well that he *wants* to get rid of his curse. Their "help" in that regard, though, falls so far from the mark that it's not funny. I don't buy the belief that someone has to battle against darkness alone, and if they fail, well, then it means they were doomed from the start, weren't they? No. Maybe people wouldn't fall if they had just the right help. There are times when it's too much for one person to tackle. In this book, it's one of those times. (I also don't buy "we did it for your own good", because had this failed, whoops, they'd likely have killed him, too bad, son.)

I guess it was almost painful, seeing how this character had to go through it half-blindedly when it mattered most. The training his father gave him, the support he was supposed to have, were only part of what he needed. What he actually needed, he didn't really get. Thus his mistakes and wrong choices. It didn't help that Aiden didn't open up much about Koren, what he felt for her, thinking he could still "hear" her, etc... but what else to expect? His tentative attempts at getting answers always ended up in closed doors. Many people would give up and clam up for less than that.

It didn't help that the story was a little slow going, and peppered with events where more than one person shone through their wrong choices. Things picked up after the 70-75% mark, though, and the ending was more enjoyable. I would've liked this story more, I think, if its pacing had been more balanced in that regard, and if we had gotten to see more some of the secondary characters (Aiden's parents, for instance, or Seth). What felt slow could've been more exciting if they had been given some more limelight.

Not terrible per se, but not more than "just OK" either for me.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2015-07-15 20:50
Dark Run
Dark Run - Mike Brooks

[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

This was a nicely-paced and fun read, in the vein of space cowboys/pirates/smugglers branch of sci-fi. More plot- and ambiance- than character-driven, but what I wanted to read when I requested this book was a romp in space with action, blazing guns, spaceships, fishy cargoes, crazy pilots and mercenaries... and this is exactly what I got.

The crew members of the Keiko find themselves embroiled into a mission for someone they don't know. Only Captain Drift knows, and he didn't accept so willingly, as the one who made the offer was obviously not a friend. While the motto on the ship is "nobody asks about your past", some pasts are harder to forget and hide than others, and when everything turns to quagmire—because it always does, it always must, in such stories—and old secrets start surfacing back, everything gets tenser and tenser. What is more important, in the end: getting mad at the captain... or getting even when it comes to the mysterious employer?

While I wrote that this novel wasn't exactly character-driven, it's not completely true. I'd have to say that the characters are more of archetypal varieties that fit well into such stories. Think à la Firefly. The smooth-talking captain whose skill with words makes him an asset just as much as it causes him trouble. The stone-faced sniper/gunwoman who picked quite a few extra skills in her past. The mercenary going where the money is, but also wondering if it wouldn't be time to retire. The pilot bailed out of jail and now earning her keep by flying the ship through maneuvers so hard nobody else would try them. The ex-gang member trying to keep his temper in check after it destroyed his life. And so on.

On the one hand, it made them somewhat flat, in that they had too much to do to fully reveal a lot about themselves. On the other hand, interspersed within the various plot points were still bits of information about who they were and/or had done. Even Jenna's past, which is barely brushed upon, held a couple of hints. It may or may not be interesting, depending on what one would expect; however, for the kind of story I wanted to read when I picked the book, these characters still worked well. I also quite liked that they all reacted differently to Drift's secret being exposed, yet still considered the biggest picture.

The setting itself was fun as well: again, archetypal, yet in a good way, with shady stations on asteroids, as well as more exotic planets pitched against Old Earth and its European and US "blocks" and air space crammed full of shuttles. Mostly the places the characters had to go to had a "feeling" of their own, with a gritty side for some, and a more noble one for others.

I admit I still would have wanted to know more about the characters, and to get to see a little further than the epilogue, as the gambit the crew took was really dangerous, and could have been exposed at any moment. In that regard, events were maybe just a bit too convenient for them, even though Jenna's skills as a hacker did help a lot in planting information where it was needed to minimise the risks. This may very well warrant a second story of its own, where the crew would have to deal with the aftermath.

But, all in all, this book was a fun read, and this is what I'll remember of it.

3.5 to 4 stars.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2015-06-05 08:22
The Euthanist
The Euthanist - Alex Dolan

(I was given a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

One thing I'd like to say: blurbs, please stop spoiling the plot. Because, you see, when the main character learns of something only 50% in the book, and it's presented as a reveal, the reader having known for so long somewhat deflates it. Which is too bad.

Overall, this was an interesting story, one that made me keep reading, but to be honest, I found the blurb was more exciting than what it turned out to be. I didn't feel the urgency that much, and the two predators didn't come off as so ruthless in the end: we know how dangerous they used to be because of what other characters and newspapers said about them, but since they're not seen directly in action, their deeds appeared once removed, and the impact on me wasn't the same. I didn't feel the immediacy.

Mostly what I had a hard time with was Kali herself. While she's strong in a physical way, the mistakes she made were those of an amateur, not expected from someone who's been disguising herself and evading the law for years in order to give the good death to her clients. It's as if she had never really contemplated the possibility of getting caught (contrary to her mentor, whom she knew had made preparations), and once caught, every decision was illogical: running to other people and thus endangering them, using her real name when pretending to be someone she wasn't... In general: not being paranoid enough. Even I know that the first thing you do when on the run is to ditch your mobile phone, especially when you know you've remained unconscious for several hours with a manipulative bastard who could have made just any plans in order to follow you later.

Leland was infuriating, but in a way that still made me want to get to know him better, at least. He meant business, even though this involved lying and behaving harshly.

I did like the themes of trauma (due to kidnapping, more specifically) that the novel wove, the way different people reacted to it (one became sort of a recluse, another let her story out to exorcise her fears), and the person with a strong desire for revenge realised that this hadn't to be the main goal. Leland's second trade, while manipulative, of course, also allowed him to get an insight he probably hadn't expected within a world that he seemed to see previously as black and white only.

I guess that makes it a 2.5 stars: there were definitely twists and turns that made me want to know what would come next–it is a page-turner–but the main character was just too annoying, and her mistakes kept distracting me.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?