Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa


Ethan Chase can see the fae, and that's been the cause of a lot of problems. He's constantly in trouble, even when he isn't the cause of it. Now, here he is, yet again at another school, trying to make something good out of his life. If he just keeps everyone at arm's length, he can ride out the rest of his school year, and then he'll be free.

But there's one kid at school who is half-faerie. Now, he's gone missing, and there's something strange going on. With a rather pushy school reporter demanding to accompany him, Ethan has to wander into the Nevernever to solve the kidnapping, and there's one person he's going to have to face after all these years:

His half-sister Meghan, the Iron Queen.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from http://juliekagawa.com/

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.


The Lost Prince is another of those novels set right here, right now, and it's a perfect setting for Kagawa's material. It's all well and good to have magic and faeries in clearly fantastical settings or time periods, but right now? They don't "click" with our world, so Ethan's already got things going against him. Stories like this, and like the Harry Potter series, where there's a whole other world we know nothing about coinciding with ours, always makes me feel like I'm missing something. In a good way. It makes me watch my peripheral vision, to wonder if the movement in the corner of my eye is really something "normal" or not.


Kagawa has a clear sense of her characters' behaviors and thoughts. This is especially evident in Ethan and Kenzie, the two main characters we see. Since this book is in first person, we get a deep understanding of what's going on in Ethan's head and why he behaves as he does. He recognizes that some of the things he does are dumb or bad ideas, but he also knows why he has to do them, and we're right along for the ride.

There are other books in this series, and Kagawa does a decent job ingratiating new readers to what's going on in the fae side of things. Still, it's not a perfect execution there. I'm not saying she needed to add a whole crash course infodump of faerie lore into the novel, but there are some assumptions made that the reader knows about the Seelie and Unseelie Courts and some other details about dealing with the fae. It would make for a bit of a learning curve with readers without much exposure to the concepts. I feel like there could have been a little more-- let's call it a tutorial-- of fae. Not much, but some.

My Thoughts

I loved the concept behind The Lost Prince. I really liked a lot of the characters, and I'm always up for messing with faeries.

I didn't enjoy The Lost Prince as much as I'd hoped I would. On a personal level, I didn't click with Ethan, though I understood him very well. There was a lot of wandering in the book, a lot of scene changes and more importantly, scenery changes that I could have done without. In my opinion, there were too many locales we ended up dealing with, and it left me feeling stretched and lopsided. Once we were into the Nevernever, there was just too much going on, having to go here for this and there for that. And a lot of these changes happened far too quickly to get my bearing. I felt like the last two-thirds of the book or so lacked an anchor. That may have been a conscious decision, purposefully done on Kagawa's part. The Nevernever is a very different world from ours, and it's supposed to be foreign and uncomfortable and strange, but it left too much of an unpleasant taste in my mouth for me to want to read more of this series.

There were some great plot twists and reveals (one of which I guessed, to my joy) that really did make things more relatable and interesting, but it wasn't enough for me to draw me back into the story. I may look into Kagawa again in the future, but probably not for the Iron Fey series.

Would I Recommend This Book? If you're a fan of the fae, yes! This book tailors to some fairly specific tastes. While I do think anyone could enjoy it, it left me feeling too unbalanced to want to continue with the series. Kagawa has a solid writing style and has clearly done her homework, but this book just wasn't for me. I give The Lost Prince a half-breed 3 of 5 stars.

For more information on the author, visit http://juliekagawa.com/

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mini-Book Review: Mimes by Paul E. Cooley

Mimes is a quick read that makes silence into something chilling. I wouldn't necessarily call this novelette scary or terrifying, but it definitely gave me goosebumps. The main character, Joseph, is fairy unobtrusive, so that it would be easy to project myself into his shoes. Normally, I would say that his sort of "everyman-ness" would detract form the story, but this wasn't a long enough read for it to be an issue. There was just enough information, action, and personality in him to keep things moving and interesting. Honestly, I think it is the other real character we are involved with, Harvey, that shows the character development I know Cooley for.

As for the story itself, I enjoyed it all in one sitting and got shivers at the end. I did have the desire to see it expanded, if not into a full novel, then into something longer. It's not bad at this short length, but I wanted more development of plot, if not necessarily in character. I believe Mimes could be expanded into a thoroughly chilling novella, at least. Is it worth a read? Absolutely! The ending alone makes me cringe in a delicious way when I think about it, and that alone makes it worth the effort to consume Cooley's words.
Is it Cooley's best work? No. But it's a nice little treat. I give Mimes a silent 4 of 5 stars.

The Black by Paul E. Cooley


A drilling team has just struck an oil deposit with the purest oil anyone has ever uncovered. The crew cannot believe the fortune that this strike will bring with minimal refining. But there's something not right about this oil. It bubbles without reason. It eats through cloth and worse, flesh.

And it seems to be after every last one of them.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from http://shadowpublications.com/the-black/

Under 30,000 feet of water, the exploration rig Leaguer has discovered an oil field larger than Saudi Arabia, with oil so sweet and pure, nations would go to war for the rights to it. But as the team starts drilling exploration well after exploration well in their race to claim the sweet crude, a deep rumbling beneath the ocean floor shakes them all to their core. Something has been living in the oil and it’s about to give birth to the greatest threat humanity has ever seen.


The Black is modern, present-day thrilling horror in the best way. I don't recall hearing a specific date or year at any point during the book (I listened to the author's podcast recording of the novel), but I didn't need a specific year. It's clearly set here and now, and I could easily imagine the events of this novel occurring at this very moment. Yeah, right now. Right as you're reading this. Like, now.

There are parts of the narrative that rely on modern technology... I guess it's good that it's set in the now.


I adore Cooley's writing style. He's clear and concise, and even if I weren't listening to a recording, this is the sort of story I would want told to me. This would be a great book to read to others, with lights dimmed or around a campfire on a multi-night camping trip. This is what gives me chills, and it's ideal to have it told to you or to tell to someone else.

My Thoughts

It's clear from the get-go that Cooley did his research in making this book happen. I have to applaud him on the depth of what he learned to make this book accurate and plausible. Even so, with all the technical crap going on, I wasn't lost, nor did I feel talked down to. Things that needed to be explained were, but not in a way that detracted from the narrative. The characters were human and believable, though a number of them did sort of run together for me, but they were mainly secondary characters anyway. The main figures were clear-cut in who they were and how they spoke, thought, and acted.

The plot was excellent. I was intrigued from the onset and couldn't wait to see how things panned out. I got chills more than once, and even more often than that, I was mind-boggled at how insane Cooley's mind must be. The whole situation, the precarious positions he puts his characters in... they're awesome and awful. But things never got overly graphic. He lets your imagination do a lot of the grunt work, and that made the whole experience better for me. Now if this were a miniseries or movie, oh the gore and graphic disgustingness we would see.

I do have to say, though, if they did The Black in smell-o-vision, you'd be smelling a lot of bacon.

Would I Recommend This Book? Definitely! The Black is not a jump-scare-filled, out to make you squirm kind of thriller. This is a mindtrick, sort of, a nail-biter that will leave you wanting more and wondering how the heck your guys are going to get out of it. It's well-written and intriguing from the beginning to the end. i give The Black a corrosive 5 of 5 stars.

For more information on the author, visit http://shadowpublications.com/

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Book Review: Feed by Mira Grant


Even after a virus caused zombies to become real, humans haven't changed all that much. The American government is still running much the same way as it did, and that means a new presidential election is aout to start. For independent blogging journalists Georgia and Shaun Mason, this could be their big break in the ratings. They have just been selected to join the campaign caravan of Republican candidate Peter Ryman. Now, they have connections, they have inside information, and they have access to the biggest news stories of the year.

The only problem is everywhere they travel, outbreaks of zombies pop up. These aren't random uprisings. These are staged. And it's only a matter of time before the infected catch up to them. Who's behind these sudden bursts of infection? Is the scoop worth the risk?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from http://miragrant.com/feed.php

Shaun and Georgia are orphans of the Rising, the cataclysmic event which left the world reeling in the aftermath of the zombie uprising. Adopted by the Masons and raised in the strange world of the post-Rising media, they've spent their lives chasing the next big story, the one that will allow them to break into the big leagues once and for all. Now, in Senator Peter Ryman's run for the Presidency of the United States, they've finally found it.
All they have to do is survive until the election.
In a world filled with the constant threat of both the living and the living dead, it will be all that Shaun and Georgia can do to keep themselves in one piece. Accompanied by the rest of their blogging team, Senator Ryman's staff, and a whole lot of caffeine, they might succeed...or they might finally answer the big question of their post-Rising world: When will you rise?

In Grant's setting for Feed, the Rising occurred in 2014. It's now 2040, long enough for a generation of adults who have never known a world without zombies to be taking center stage in world affairs. So with Feed, Grant has set the "zombie apocalypse" right at our feet and taken things forward from there. She's not assuming it won't or can't happen right now. She's forcing us to deal with it, and that makes for a great setting. Seriously, with zombies being such a trend right now, it's great to see an author take on the issue of how we, as a people prepared for the Rising since it's such a fad, will actually react when faced with the living-impaired.

Turns out, we're doing pretty well.

Grant's writing style is sophisticated and clear, with distinct differences in the few writing and POV switches between characters. Blog posts from a few characters have their own voices, and that carries over into the variety of speaking styles of her characters. She's put a great deal of detail into the writing, which is only proper considering the news-reporting truth-telling subject matter of this book.

Overall, Feed was written very well.

My Thoughts
Yeah, yeah, I know. Here I am, a self-proclaimed disdainer of zombies, reading another zombie book. Hey, I do like to stretch myself and explore genres and subject matters I'm not overly fond of. Tastes can change.
I wasn't overly impressed with this book. Don't get me wrong, the writing is excellent, the structure and events are great, and I did like the characters. But in my opinion, based on my own interests and aesthetic, Feed just wasn't quite worth the sum of its parts. It is NOT a bad book. It just didn't grasp me the way some others have. I spoke to a friend who had also read it (he didn't finish it), and I summed it up as this:
The book entertained me, but it didn't engage me.
I felt one step too far back from the action. I loved the narrator, Georgia. I loved Shaun. I loved Buffy and Steve. But I was never one of them. I didn't belong with the crew. I think another holdback for me on this was that it is politically centered, with the campaign, and I don't care for politics much (if at all).
I think the tastes for this book are a little more narrow than some, which isn't bad. There is a great audience for this book. I just wasn't part of it.

Would I Recommend This Book? Personally, no. On the whole, no. If you're interested in zombies, journalism, or politics, yes. Just know that this book is fairly long compared to some others (the audio version is about 15 hours), so it is a bit of a time investment to read. I think it's worth a tackle, if you want to give it a shot. In light of how wonderfully it is crafted, I give Feed a repeatedly-tested 4 of 5 stars.

For more information on the author, visit http://miragrant.com/index.php