Skinwalker: A Jane Yellowrock novel

Courtesy of Goodreads.comI’ve read all through the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter but I haven’t reviewed any of them yet, which is a shame because they’re really quite good books. The series starts out with¬†Skinwalker, which just happens to be what Jane is, though we don’t find that out right away. We’re introduced to our protagonist Jane Yellowrock as she rolls into New Orleans on her motorcycle, Bitsa. Bitsa is so named because she’s apparently made out of “bits of” other bikes. That tickled my fancy. ūüôā

At any rate, Jane is something of a mercenary/bounty hunter. She’s licensed to handle vamp problems, which include the right to kill them if necessary. Since vamps aren’t really citizens in this world, as yet, the US government isn’t terribly worried if you knock one off for bounty money. Vamps in this world are sort of considered foreign citizens and their compounds as foreign territory. The humans leave it up to them to police themselves because humans just can’t handle them for the most part.

And for their part, vamps police themselves very well. They¬†want to be accepted by human society. They want power that comes from being citizens, of holding property and earning money. So they don’t want to compromise that due to some nutso vamp going on some killing spree, which is what’s happening in New Orleans right now.

High powered vamp Katherine Fontanbleu has hired Jane to find a rogue vamp whose killing off not humans but other vamps. They don’t know who it is, don’t know how its killing the other vamps. They want it caught and they want it dead, which is where Jane comes in. Jane has specific requirements when she takes a job and Katherine readily agrees to them all with no argument, which rather puts Jane on edge.

Jane herself is Cherokee but with little memory of where she came from before the age of twelve when she was found wandering some woods. She was raised in an orphanage and that’s about what she knows. She knows, of course, that she’s a skinwalker and the last one to her knowledge but she keeps that from most everybody. She has few friends and no romantic entanglements and she likes it that way.

So naturally, within the course of a few days, she finds two hot guys in New Orleans that are her type and who light her fire but are also pretty suspicious fellows. She finds herself more than a little off balance with these two and the master of the city, Leo Pellisier, who is very interested in what she is. Somehow Jane has to tango around all three of these guys to get at what’s going on.

These books are a good combination of urban fantasy and engaging mystery. I liked the fact that I was kept guessing the whole time. There were some personality traits of Jane’s that I didn’t particularly care for but the world has been crafted well enough that I could see why those traits came about. I like the fact that the protagonist is a strong, independent female who is, for once, not a white girl with red hair as seems to be par for the course these days. Also, I adore New Orleans. ūüôā I highly recommend this whole series. Rating: A.

Romulus Buckle

Photo Courtesy of Amazon.comI recently read through a new steampunk book called¬†Romulus Buckler & the City of the Founders¬†by Richard Preston Ellis Jr. Its a bit different than regular steampunk in that this appears to be a dystopian future steampunk, though I’m not entirely certain on that. Despite being more than half way through the follow up book, I’m really not certain how far in the future this is or even if it is future as compared to us. The timeline of this world is really uncertain, like the author thinks that 1) readers won’t care about that bit of detail or 2) the characters don’t really care about their own history.

The gist of this is that there was an invasion by Martians some unknown time ago. Yes, you read that right, Martians invaded earth. Its all very¬†War of the Worlds. It made me think that maybe this world ending event of Martian invasion was¬†meant to be that 1938 Orson Welles broadcast but again, it is really not clear. All that we learn is that the Martians brought with them these giant obelisk things (like bigger than the Empire State building it sounded like) that do something to interrupt all electricity in the world. Something else vague and unclear turned the world into a desolate, nuclear winter type world. Perhaps we’ll find out in a later book?

At any rate, we’re far enough in the future that Martians (and half Martians because these humanoid Martians can breed with humans) are integrated into society as it remains. The world is demarcated into territories of clans, each one of them specializing in something that makes living in this new terrible world possible. And they all jealously guard their secrets.

Our here, Romulus Buckle, is the eighteen year old adopted sun of the leader of the Crankshaft Clan. In this book, Romulus is on a mission to save his father, Balthazar Crankshaft, after he and a number of other clan leaders had been kidnapped by the Founders Clan. The Founders are the most mysterious clan of the lot. They don’t really deal or trade with anyone. They’re entirely self contained. So why they kidnapped these other clan leaders is uncertain.

Romulus leads a suicide mission into Founders territory to get his father back with the help of almost all of his adoptive siblings. Only those who are physically unable to serve aboard a zeppelin don’t make the trip with him. Things start going wrong from the get go, naturally. There are attempted boardings by pirates, attacks by weird animals that the Martians brought with them and Romulus himself goes overboard in the territory of a rival clan.

Luckily for Romulus (or should we say¬†deus ex machina-y), this clan’s leader was¬†also¬†kidnapped. They agree to return Romulus to his ship if and only if he takes a contingent of their soldiers and rescues their leader. With nothing else for it, he agrees. Once aboard, they all sneak into the mysterious City of the Founders (hence our title). It turns out that his adoptive sister and chief engineer (whose name I’m blanking on) escaped from the city when she was very young and knows how to get in and out.

And because I’m in book two, naturally they make it through this harrowing and mysterious city, find their quarries and escape, though not entirely unharmed. We also learn that the Founders are up to something and are, most likely, trying to get the clans to fight amongst themselves.

I found this book to be a bit Scooby-Doo-y and full of tropes. All the women are in love with Romulus, the¬†dashing airship captain. He, of course, is just too enamored of his ship to bother trying to marry though he does have a series of one night stands. He’s unnecessarily reckless and hot-headed and people are all like ‘oh that’s okay’ because he’s the clan golden boy. Its a bit ridiculous. Romulus has a mysterious background and a missing (presumed dead at this point) sister.

The Founders have mysterious and advanced weapons that no one else has access to or have even seen and yet our heroes get away and with relatively few and minor injuries. The important people all survive, Romulus is the hero of the hour and Crankshafts have two new allies from the rescued clan leaders they helped escape.

This book had¬†so much potential that I was rather disappointed there wasn’t more world building. What was it in those Martian obelisks that disrupted electricity and continues to do so? Why does tea exist but not coffee? The both come from the same parts of the world. One would presume that if tea plants survived, coffee plants¬†also survived. Why did the Martians come to Earth in the first place? Why did they bring these weird alien creatures with them? Is that what ended the world? There are so, so many questions and not enough answers. There aren’t really enough hints to let the reader do their own world building.

I’m honestly not sure why I’m even bothering with the second book other than the fact that it was cheap (I think it was one of those 2 dollar Kindle sales days) and that I hate to leave books unfinished once I’ve started them. I suppose I hope that it’ll get better but it doesn’t really seem like it. This book was an easy read but I found myself skimming at some parts because what the author chose to go into detail with wasn’t really what needed detail. All in all I’d say if you’re looking for something to kill time, pick this up, but if you’re looking for something¬†good, give it a miss. Rating: D+/C-

Waistcoats & Weaponry

Courtesy of Amazon.comOh man! I am already sucking at my resolution! Ah well, we continue on with¬†Waistcoats & Weaponry, Gail Carriger’s latest Finishing School book. Sophronia and her lot are learning new things, including steel bladed fans which HOLY CRAP I WANT TO LEARN!

At any rate, Sophronia and her friends Dimity, Soap and Lord Felix Mersey embark on a foolish but well intentioned mission. Lady Sidheag Kingair’s pack back in Scotland is falling apart. They tried to attack the Queen, committing treason and causing their Alpha, Lord Maccon, to run away to London. Lord Maccon takes on the alpha of the Woolsey pack and wins, thereby gaining a new pack. This isn’t an entirely unexpected outcome as he couldn’t rightly stay with his old pack because of their betrayal. Sidheag doesn’t want to accept that though and feels that there must be some way to keep her family together.

Sophronia and Dimity, in the mean time, are at her brother’s engagement soiree, a costume ball. After a bit of a to-do with the mechanicals and an accidental engagement to Dimity’s brother Pillover, Sophronia manages to get the lot of them off to the railroad on her stolen dirigible (she’d had it masquerading as a fancy top to her mother’s gazebo). There they find an unusual train just sitting in the station.

This train isn’t a passenger train and it doesn’t appear to be a freight train. Intrigued, they hook themselves up to it and climb on board. Once there, they find that it’s a hive train and who is on board with them but their old nemesis Monique, newly minted drone. Not knowing what she’s up to but convinced its nothing good, Sophronia and the others take over the train, driving it north.

While all this is going on, Sophronia is fighting her feelings for the sootie Soap (a dark skinned boy who treats her the way she wants to be treated but is entirely¬†unsuitable for marriage) and Lord Mersey (who is entirely¬†suitable and gives her the shivers but doesn’t quite treat her the way she wants to be treated. And obviously his father is a Pickleman, which is really too bad). Her battle of the heart is an underlying theme all the way north, including when they get waylaid by flywaymen.

This book just came out about a month ago, so I won’t go any further. Needless to say, that book is¬†amazing. Oh man. I cannot wait for the next book! So much potential! Please read this book! Please read this series! Rating: A+