The Hollows, Book I

I just finished up Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison. I liked it well enough that I’m contemplating picking up the next one, The Good, The Bad and the Undead. Apparently Ms. Harrison is something of a Clint Eastwood fan. Rockin’.

Anyway, Dead Witch Walking features witch Rachel Morgan.  It starts out introducing to Rachel’s dead-end job hunting down supernatural creatures who break the law, in this case a leprechaun who was busted for tax evasion.  Turns out that Rachel’s really struggled in her job for some time now, no fault of her own we later find out.  She decides to quit, a risky proposition that could mean her death, and form a detective/bounty-hunting type business of her own.

Rachel successfully quits from the Federal Inderland Bureau (FIB)-the federal agency responsible for catching supernatural troublemakers-but brings her incredibly successful friend/roomie Ivy Tamwood (living vampire) with her.  Because of this, she starts getting attacked left, right and center from everything from faeries to demons, all of whom are being paid to hunt her down and dispose of her by her former living vampire boss.

Rachel survives by a combo of sheer luck and her friends Ivy and a pixie named Jenks.  Determined to get the death threat removed, she goes after a big bad guy by the name Trent, a city councilman.  Trent is his first name and because I don’t have the book up on my Kindle, I don’t have his last name. Read the book to find out! 😉 At any rate, Trent is into everything from smuggling Biodrugs (huuuuuuuuuuuuuugely taboo in this culture) to regular type drugs (called Brimstone). If she can bring him to the attention of the FIB’s rival bureau (the entirely human run IS), she can get them to pay the bounty money to lift the death threat.

I particularly enjoy the pixie character of Jenks.  He’s funny, brave and snarky.  I’m not to sure on Ivy yet, she seems a little spoiled to me.  Rachel Morgan is an acceptable enough female lead, but she is stubborn to the point of stupidity at times.  The nice thing is, she starts to recognize that at the end and attempts to change that.  It doesn’t take right away, making her a character to relate to.  She’s not perfect, she’s not gorgeous.

This could be a female Dresden Files, but with a little less (so far) the-world-actually-is-against-me angst. I rate this a solid B book, but with the caveat that I think it’s sort of like a chick flick only a novel.  Chi-novel?  While I can see my husband enjoying the Dresden Files (if he ever gave them a chance), I  don’t think he’d enjoy this as much, even with the Clint Eastwood theme names. Boys beware!

The Iron Duke

I just finished this steampunk tale from Meljean Brook called The Iron Duke. I have to say, I really enjoyed it. Steamships and airships and nanobots, oh my.  It was incredibly original, which is always refreshing.  I’m not sure if I came into the middle of a story arc or not, but even if I did, I didn’t really have any trouble following the story.

Some two hundred years ago, the Mongol Horde took over Europe and England with the help of advanced steampunk-y technology, including the use of nanobots. These nanobots were hidden inside tea and sugar shipments to England, and therefore ingested by any red-blooded Englishman.  The Horde could then control those who were infected through the use of radio signals from a tower they built along the Thames after successfully invading Britain.

Their long and terrible rule was brought down by one man, Rhys Trahaearn, and his pirate ship Marco’s Terror (a reference to Italian explorer Marco Polo).  The people of England are now getting used to their emotional and physical freedom and bestowed the title of Duke of Anglesey to Trahaearn. He even got to build his own estate along the Thames.

The Iron Duke starts out with a body being tossed onto his estate and him meeting Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth, a half-English/half-Horde peeress. They have to track down who the body used to be, why it was tossed on to his estate and why. It leads them into a dangerous world of treason and high seas adventure and sexual tension. A lot of sexual tension. And then a lot of sex.

I don’t mind sex in novels, especially not if it’s well written. But I do think there was a bit too much in this novel. Basically, Wentworth and Trahaearn end up shagging quite a bit simply because there’s nothing else to do on their airship while they’re in between the action.  Really? Can’t come with anything else to fill up the time? Like chatting up the airship captain, revealing more of Trahaearn’s ‘mysterious past’ or perhaps why the emotionally fragile Mina Wentworth suddenly decided she wasn’t afraid of a good shag?  No? Okay then, we’ll just let you make with the sex then.

That being said, the mystery itself was fairly good. I can usually figure things out well in advance, but I didn’t this time around, which I always enjoy.  And the action was also quite good. I really enjoyed Brook’s ingenuity on the steampunk gadgets.  Genetically altered sharks and kraken that patrol the waters and attack anything with a steam engine; zombies are nanobot infected people whose nanobots went bad and people can get more than just hook attachments for their arms and legs.

All in all, a refreshingly original book. I recommend it and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. B+

First Intro to Steampunk

Courtesy of gailcarriger.comSome time ago I stumbled upon information about steampunk. I’m not entirely certain now what it was that first brought that to my attention, but as a historian, I was intrigued.  The Victorian Era is also referred to the Industrial Age and the Golden Age, depending on who you talk to and what exactly you’re talking about.  Depending on your social status, the era could have been awesome in terms of the new technology and the ability to freely travel or it could royally suck with terrible work and health conditions. And forget about being a woman in that day and age.

At any rate, I was intrigued, but it took me a while to try out anything.  Because I’m sort of new to the steampunk genre, I’m not entirely sure if these books qualify as steampunk or just as historical fantasies.

First up: Soulless by Gail Carriger.  I was drawn to this because the main female character doesn’t quite fit into the typical urban fantasy female lead mold.  Sure she’s tough, self-sufficient and speaks her mind (much to her mother’s horror), but she’s described as dark, swarthy, large-nosed and plump.  She’s not lithe, fit, svelte, atheletic etc that most of the female leads I read about are described as.  It’s a nice change.

Soulless mixes steampunk, romance and fantasy by talking the soulless character of Alexia Tarabotti (an English lady of Italian descent) and crossing her path with the alpha werewolf of Lord Conall Maccon (and his pack) and vampire Lord Akeldama (a lovely unconventional vampire).  Alexia and Maccon have to solve the mystery of why some vampires are mysteriously disappearing before things get out of hand (terrible summary, I know but I read this one a while ago. Sue me).  Alexia is, as many of my favorite characters are, a wise ass. And she’s not afraid to use it. Or her silver and wood reinforced black parasol, her favorite accessory.

The follow up to Soulless is Changeless. Alexia and Maccon, (SPOILER ALERT) married after the end of the first novel, have to solve the mystery of why members of the London pack (Lord Maccon’s pack) have suddenly stopped being able to change into werewolves.  It leads them all the way to Scotland, to Lord Maccon’s original pack, who also cannot change.  Things don’t end too well for the married couple, sorry to say. Not that anyone important dies, but still, Gail Carriger leaves us hanging on that. I haven’t gotten the third book Blameless yet, but Christmas is coming in a couple months, so we’ll see.  I highly recommend both the fist two books, A.

Next post: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brooke