Friday, October 1, 2010

My monthly reads - September

The Southern Vampire Mysteries - Charlaine Harris
(Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family)
Although I read all ten of these books, I'm not holding my breath for the next one due out next year. These were better written than the Twilight novels, if only slightly, in that the amount of killing and violence was a lot more realistic when you consider that vampires are ruthless killers. As usual, long dead vampires are misogynistic sods who treat the heroine barely better than chattel, and view her independent streak as baffling and mostly amusing or just plain inconvenient. If you were a fan of these books, or just like your Mills & Boon with a little fang, you'd love the Anita Blake series, which is much like these, only slightly better written. I'm yet to find a vampire series with a female heroine who wasn't really named Mary Sue though.

So You Want to be a Wizard - Diane Duane
The first in the Young Wizard series. After trying to start two different books, and not being to get more than a third of the way through (Runemarks - Jonanne Harris, and The Alchemyst: the secrets of the immortal Nicholas Flamel - Michael Scott) it was a relief to pick up this book and get hooked straight away. Two twelve year olds independently find a "how to" book on wizardry and much magical adventures ensue. Fairly standard YA fantasy stuff here - thwart the bullies, find the treasure, save the world, that kind of thing. Despite the very basic formula, and the fact that this was obviously written for the preteen market (who else would want to read about 12 year olds?) I quite enjoyed this book. I picked it up because it reminded me of a book I'd read a preview for many years ago, but never got around to finding/reading, but this wasn't it. Never the less, it made a nice relaxing evening's read, and if the rest of the series is around at the library, I might even pick them up too.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days - Derek Landy
The next instalment in the Skulduggery Pleasant series. It moves along at a good pace, though I felt more time could have been spent on the effort spent to bring Skulduggery back, allowing Valkyrie more time to develop as a character on her own without her mentor present. Book five is due out sometime this month, so that something to look forward to.

Heat Wave - Richard Castle
This is a tie-in to the tv crime show Castle, starring Nathan Fillion. The tv show's premise is that an award winning author starts following around a cop for research into his new series of books. This is the first book of that series. It is all done with strict attention to detail, down to the page numbers the tv characters are referencing when talking about the book. Reading the book gives new insight into both of the shows lead characters, and while I didn't think the reporter in the book was as much like Castle in the tv show, it was like a mini episode to tide me over until the new season of the show comes out. Read it if you are a fan, otherwise the clever in-jokes will go over your head, but otherwise, if you like slightly trashy crime novels you'll still enjoy this.

Nylon angel - Marianne de Pierres
Code Noir - Marianne de Pierres
Gutsy, gritty, post-apocalyptic speculative/sci-fi from a Western Australian author. More like Neuromancer than The Matrix, this is Isobelle Carmody for grown ups.

For the Win - Cory Doctorow
A passable story about unionism and rpg goldfarming. Not sure how much of it goes on, but the games are there, and goldfarming certainly is, so it's plausible. Perhaps if the writer had spent more time on the story and less time trying to teach his YA audience about world economics, it might have been compelling. Not nearly up to the standard of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom or even Little Brother, but still an alright way to pass an afternoon.

Deep Secret - Diana Wynne Jones
The prequel to The Merlin Conspiracy, this book sets up background information that is compatible with lots of her books/worlds. A delightful romp through magic, politic, book conventions, and dabbles a toe in computer games while it's there. A great introduction to DWJ's work, or to flesh out the worldview of anyone who has already read her stuff.

The Merlin Conspiracy - Diana Wynne Jones