Friday, October 21, 2011

Horton Hears a Who

Alas, they have dared me, double dog too.
They want me to write a poem review.
Iambic pentameter would you not know?
They ask. I deliver. So, here we go.

The doctor is funny, he rhymes quite well.
Don't think its iambic but hard to tell.
The meter shifts sometimes but that's all good.
He rhymes where he's s'posed too... rhymes where he should 

Developing characters is hard to do,
But Seuss is a master, using but few
words to convey traits that we have all seen,
people near us can be kind and/or mean

Horton is careing, but not kangaroo.
Monkeys are meanies they can't hear the Who.
Pete Townsend's not in this, don't get confused.
These Who are from Whoville they feel abused.

Horton can hear them, so he tries to help.
Will all of the meanies hear, when Whos yelp?
You will have to read it if you would know
I am not telling cuz that spoils the show.

Teaching life lessons is what Seuss books do
I recommend them from upward of two.
Youngsters will love them, of this I am sure.
Some books are passing, but this ain't du jour.

This book is timeless, it's fun and it's fine.
Parents will like it right to the last line.
Read it tonight, you're kids will be happy.
I'm sure they'll love it, the rhymes are snappy.

Okay, so I did it, now it's your turn.
Kate, you started this, it's now your concern.
Write me a rhyming review, if you dare
iambic or not, i do not really care

Jen, I see you. You have not got away.
I challenge you too, dear, do it today.
I'm sure it will be great, please don't you fret.
Know you can do it, your best write up yet!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Format: Unabridged, Audible File
 -9 hrs 50 min
Narrator: Joyce Bean

*Amazon: 3.8 out of 5 Stars (351 reviews)
*GoodReads: 4.31 out of 5 Stars (12,550 Ratings; 1,207 Reviews)
Reading is Fundamental-



*Note- Ratings and statistics current at the time of writing.

I've been told on countless occasions, that whether you liked the first two books or not, here is where the Fever series really begins to shine. I mostly agree with this assessment but it’s difficult to pin down why. Faefever is a "middle" book in every sense of the word. Third of five, it spends a great deal of time on exposition. As was true of the first two books, Karen has not really attempted to set up much of an independent story for this installment, but I think the first two had more focus than this one. Each of those culminated in a climax, that events native to the particular book, were tied to. To an extent that’s also true here, BUT Mac’s attention is spread across multiple players. The connections between her discoveries and the closing of Faefever is more tenuous than in the first two.

Despite its internally disjointed structure, this book moves the meta plot in a major way. Mac spends a great deal of time confronting the various camps searching for the Big Bad Book ("BBB") and learning new and important things. I know that doesn’t sound all that exciting, but Karen imbues each situation with just the right amount of tension to keep it interesting. We learn a lot about what have heretofore been periphery players and the more information we are given, the more questions that information seems to generate.

Interpersonal relations become considerably more defined in this book as Mac spends more time interacting with a multitude of characters. Dani, Rowena, Christian, and Jayne all get more face to face time with Mac. Barrons, of course, makes more than a couple appearances, but he is not the presence he has been in the previous books. Instead it is V’Lane that gets the lion’s share of development. Given the title of the book, I doubt that will surprise anyone.

I once again must praise Karen’s character development. I have rarely read, in ANY genre, more realistic growth of character. In this volume, Mac continues her steady evolution from pink Barbie girl to pragmatic predator. She and Barrons are two of the best rendered characters I have EVER come across.

I was somewhat shocked by the direction Faefever took as the page count wound down and I’m somewhat frustrated that I can’t expound upon that in even a general way without using a spoiler because I think it’s a tremendous selling point of this book. For those of you who have not read it yet, suffice it to say that Faefever has an element that is germaine to many of the best urban fantasy series, but I’ve never seen it depicted this way before. For the rest of you, click the link!

» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «

These books are dark from beginning to end and this one has absolutely the bleakest ending I have yet read in the genre. The only thing I can say about it without spoilers is that this is the quintessential cliff hanger. The book really only comes to an end in the sense that there is a final page after which you have to pick up the next book in order to go on. The internal plot of Faefever itself can only loosely be described as having been resolved. I’d have been pretty frustrated by this had I read it at the time it was originally published.

There’s NO WAY I can close this review without talking about the ending, even though some of you won’t be able to read it, but I’m going to get to that in just a second. First, I have to take Karen to task. I’ve said it in my previous reviews. Girlfriend, you were seriously brave to tell this story the way you did. I give you props for that. The cliff hanger I’m about to talk about? Again Karen, big time ballsy. Your little author’s address at the end of the book? Not so much.

Have the courage of your convictions, Karen, don’t temper the darkness with a half ass attempt at a night light. Trust your readers to trust you without having to ask them for it. I would be very surprised if you kept a single reader from walking who was inclined to do so after finishing Faefever. If they left the series here, I guarantee it wasn’t for lack of hope or faith. If they left here, it was because you offended their sensibilities and there was no way your author’s address was going to rectify the problem.

Now if THAT doesn’t make you wanna read Faefever just to find out what I’m talking about, nothing else I could say will. For those of you that have read it my personal take on the end is this...

» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «

A word about the narration of Faefever.  Joyce does a fantastic job with this story.  I have Faefever on my Kindle as well.  There were some periods while I was listening to the book that I had an opportunity to read along.  It was interesting to notice that Joyce made some (extreamly) minor changes to the text as she would read to make things flow more naturally.  Her pacing was excellent.

Dramatically, her southern accent is very good and worked pretty well for Mac. My only real complaint is that Joyce's voice is a little more richly sophisticated than I imagined Mac to be, but that's really a triviality.  She doesn't try to over sell her male voices so I didn't find them jarring in the least.

In closing, despite not having a clear focus, Faefever was an exciting read full of dark tension from beginning to end. I strongly recommend you have a copy of Dreamfever on hand before you come anywhere near finishing the book, because the ending is a doozy.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

Publisher: Amazon Audible
Format: Unabridged - 11 hrs 59 min
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang

*Amazon: 4.2 out of 5 Stars (103 reviews)
*GoodReads: 3.95 out of 5 Stars (2,683 Ratings; 463 Reviews)
Reading is Fundamental-

*Note- Ratings and statistics current at the time of writing.

Every now and then I read a book where it seems that the story was written for Hollywood.  You know, not a script, but told in such a way that lends itself to adaptation.  Almost as if the writer's focus is more about selling movie rights than leveraging the advanatages of print media.  Think comic book only with more words and fewer pictures (I listened to the audio, but even it has a cover picture). I've noticed a trend in the U/F genre lately where many books are being converted into graphic novels (i.e. Mercy Thompson, the Dresden Files, etc.).  Spider's Bite would make an exceptional graphic novel.

I'm not a personal friend or family member of Jennifer's, so I don't know if movie adaptation or graphic novel were first and foremost in her mind, or if she merely thinks in action based, visual terms, but I can tell you I would much rather have seen this story than read it.  That's not to say that the story was bad or that it was poorly written.  I actually enjoyed the book and will likely continue on with the series at some point, but then I "enjoy" most books.  It was a fairly average read that I think would be better suited for the big screen.

Spider's Bite is not premised on an original concept.  We have a child, orphaned by violence, who grows up to channel her pain and grief into vigilantism.  Gin a.k.a the Spider is a stone cold killer.  Except of course she isn't.  Yeah, she knocks off people for a living, but all of them deserve it.  They have to, or most of us wouldn't be able to relate, let alone like the character.  The plot itself is pretty transparent, so much so that I was a little incredulous.  Predictability is one thing, characters ignoring or disregarding things for the sake of allowing the story to move forward is another when these actions are completely out of character.  It wasn't so igregious that it ruined the book for me, but I would have prefered for Jennifer to take a better approach.

» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «

Jennifer does have an interesting, if odd, take on "elemental" magic.  I found it somewhat strange that ice is considered a major element and water a lesser element, same for stone as opposed to earth in general.  Jennifer doesn't really explain the workings of magic in her world the way that other, better stories, in the genre do.  This is not Kim Harrison's The Hollows, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, or Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series, all of which are much more thorough in explaning the inner workings of magic and what it can and can't do. It's much more like Harry Potter in that magic does whatever Jennifer says it does and she's pretty vague about it.  Some of the things she says it can do are a little wierd, but, going back to the strong visual thing, it would make a hell of a movie. 

There is a feminist undercurrent to the book that I think gets in the way of what would otherwise be a better story. Look, I'm all about empowering women, but the men in this book are fairly useless, generally wrong, and have few redeeming qualities outside their "hawtness".

» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «

The book's pacing is a little strange, particularly near the end where it continued for a good bit after the storyline had resolved itself.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just something that doesn't happen much in modern writing.  Much of the added material was unnecessary or could have been worked into the story prior to the climax.

Lauren Fortgang does a very good job with the narration of the book. She gives Gin a subtle southern accent that I found perfect for the character. As it isn’t overblown, it supports the locale of the story without detracting from the professional nature of Gin’s character. Lauren does gruff or raspy voices effectively without sounding silly or forced. Her male voices are subtly different from each other with no hint of exagerated tone. Obviously, she doesn't sound like a guy, but she doesn't sound like a girl pretending to be a guy either which is something I generally find grating. Instead she subtly deepens her voice so the listener knows a male is speaking.

Overall, Spider’s Bite is not spectacular, but it’s a fun read that was definitely worth my time. A fair start to a series.