Sunday, July 25, 2010

Giveaway: The Reluctant Mage

Update: This giveaway is closed now and the book has been sent to its new home.

This week I got a copy of The Reluctant Mage by Karen Miller in the mail. The publisher had already sent me a copy a couple of weeks ago, so I'm not sure why I got a second one but I figured I'd give away the extra copy. So thanks to Orbit Books I am giving away one hardcover copy of the second book in the Fisherman's Children series, which is coming out this week.

Here's some information on The Reluctant Mage:

It's been many months since Rafel ventured over Barl's Mountains into the unknown, in a desperate bid to seek help for their ravaged land. With his father's Weather Magic exhausted, there seemed no other hope. Now this too has died.

Only Deenie believes Rafel still lives, sensing her brother in tortured dreams. She also knows she must try to find him, as only Rafel's talents could heal their land. The prospect terrifies Deenie, yet she sees no other choice.

She soon learns of a dangerous new power. Deenie comes to suspect that not only is her brother involved, but that the evil their father destroyed is somehow reborn. And if she can't save Rafel, then through him, Morg's vast power could once again command their world.

Contest Rules: If you would like to enter to win a copy, you can leave a comment on this post including your email address. Or if you prefer you can send an email to me at fantasycafe at containing your email address with the subject line "Giveaway." Only one entry per person is allowed. Winners will be randomly selected. If you are selected as the winner and there is no email address listed, another winner will be chosen so please be sure to include an email address. Also if the winner does not respond to email with a mailing address after 5 days, a new winner will be selected. This giveaway is open worldwide and will end on Saturday July 31.

Good luck!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Unfortunately, it's been pretty quiet here lately since my main writing time has been absorbed by new home ownership activities (starting to move, buying new stuff for the home and in a few minutes the more major moving back - finally!). Usually I write most of my reviews on the weekend, but I haven't had a lot of spare time during the weekends lately. I've been finding this week that trying to write in the evenings after my brain is thoroughly fried after work doesn't work out very well. Hopefully after this weekend I'll be able to write more, although I am also working on a couple of things that will not be up until next month...

Right now I'm working on a review of The Devil in Green by Mark Chadbourn. Other books in the review queue are:

The Lord of the White Hell: Book One by Ginn Hale (this isn't out until August so I won't be reviewing it until then but I loved it)
Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey (just finished it last night and really liked it)

The OCD part of me had to put up a new book since I just finished one. I haven't officially started it yet so maybe it will change but right now I'm planning to start The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke. It was a tough choice between that and The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells (I had been thinking about starting Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson but decided it was too short for the amount I'm behind right now).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

There, I Fixed It

No, this post is not some link to yet another site in the vast and ever-growing Cheezburger network that threatens to consume the web like some bastard child of Rick Astley and Walmart (well, I guess it is now). It's a mea culpa from the guy who didn't adapt a site design to fit Blogger's broken CSS/templating system three years ago, causing an annoying bug that was only visible at 800x600 resolution. My argument was: how many people browse the web at 800x600 the better part of a decade into the new millennium? Even my flying car has a higher resolution web browser than that.

So much for that argument. Since somebody recently mentioned it–and now that Blogger is a bit more flexible in their templating–it can be fixed. The coffee cup graphic down in the corner should no longer eat text when browsing with a narrow window. Sorry for the inconvenience folks, my fault, not Kristen's!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Leaning Pile of Books

This week was much lower key than the giant pile from last week; I received one ARC. (And it's another October book - there are so many books on the review pile that look good coming out that month!)

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

This is Rachel Aaron's debut novel and the first book in the Legend of Eli Monpress series. It will be released in October and it will be quickly followed by the next two books - The Spirit Rebellion in November and The Spirit Eater in December. On her website, the author mentions she is currently working on a fourth book, The Spirit War, which is supposed to be available next year. I was pretty happy to get a copy of this since it sounds like fun (thieves do often make for some pretty entertaining reading) and I was sad to hear I missed it at BEA. The first two chapters can be read online.

Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief.

But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while.

Like a king.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Favorites of 2010: First Half of the Year

Now that I've written reviews for all books read during the first half of 2010 it's time for the favorites list! This list is composed of all books read regardless of publication date since only 8 of the 26 books read by the end of June were published this year. I'll probably do a list of both at the end of the year since I expect that number to climb due to the number of books on the review pile for later this year that I really want to read. Plus I'm on my eleventh book published this year now.

It has been a fantastic reading year so far - much, much better than the first half of last year was. I've discovered some great new authors who dominate the top of my list.

This list does not include the two books I've read so far this month - if it did, one of them would definitely be on it. Favorites of the first half of the year are as follows:

1. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (Review)
2. Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews (Review)
3. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews (Review)
4. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin (Review)
5. Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey (Review)
6. Changeless by Gail Carriger (Review)
7. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire (Review)
8. World's End by Joan D. Vinge (Review)
9. Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Review)
10. Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs (Review)

What are your favorite books read in 2010 so far?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review of Naamah's Kiss

Naamah's Kiss is the first book in Jacqueline Carey's latest trilogy set in the world of Terre d'Ange, although it takes place a few generations after the first two trilogies in Kushiel's Legacy. The second book, Naamah's Curse, was just released last month, and the author is still working on Naamah's Blessing which does not yet have a release date according to the June update on her website.

Moirin, the great-granddaughter of Alais de la Courcel, is of the Maghuin Dhonn, a people in Alba who follow the Brown Bear goddess. At one time, the Maghuin Dhonn were powerful magicians, but they have only had smaller magics after making a great mistake. Although they are still feared and viewed with suspicion, they cannot predict the future or shapeshift but mostly have smaller tricks such as concealment and an awareness of animals.

When Moirin is very young she has visions of a man with a seedling and a beautiful bright lady. Later Moirin learns her father was a d'Angeline priest, and the man and woman she saw are a god and goddess from her other heritage. Because of this lineage she has some additional gifts, such as the ability to sense the feelings of plants and manipulate their growth. Once Moirin becomes old enough to undergo a rite of passage in which she will find out if she has been accepted by the bear goddess, she learns from Her that she has a destiny outside of Alba. All she knows is that she must cross the sea, so she goes to Elua to look for her father and embarks on a journey that brings her to the even more distant land of Ch'in.

Naamah's Kiss is a fairly long book; the hardcover version is 656 pages. However, it goes by quickly for its length since it is very readable from the start and has lots of small paragraphs and relatively short chapters. After reading Kushiel's Dart, the expectation was lots of dense prose but the style in Naamah's Kiss is very different - still elegant, but much more concise, which fits the narrator better. The complexity of Phedre's voice in Kushiel's Dart went with her more complex role as a well-educated, trained spy with an awareness of political machinations. While she is certainly intelligent, Moirin grew up in the woods in near isolation and goes out into the world without a lot of knowledge about how it works. As a result she is naive at times, plus with her gifts that keep her close to nature, she seems much more earthy. Her more straightforward, uncomplicated tone reflects her character well, and she is a completely different person than Phedre.

While Phedre was more interesting to read about, Moirin was easier to relate to, partially due to having an upbringing in which she wasn't prepared for a life but was allowed to be a child. Although she was influential in events due to her magic, Moirin also served as a pillar of strength and support for some with important duties and helped guide them in their decisions. She was kind-hearted and open-minded but still special given her abilities and the fact that she had a destiny. This role also made her very sympathetic since she had to go wherever fate lead her - and often her idea of what she would like to do and what she was supposed to do did not match, making for many heartbreaking goodbyes.

Terre d'Ange is an alternate earth and it is a fascinating place to visit. It was enjoyable to get to see so many places in this novel since it started in Britain, then went to France and eventually ended up in China. At first, I was sad to leave the European area, but I really liked Moirin's adventures in China and the incorporation of more Eastern culture and myths, particularly the dragon. Yet there was no boring travelogue even with so many long trips; the actual time spent traveling was kept to minimum and the relatively few pages that were dedicated to the trip were never boring.

As those familiar with the other books set in this world could probably guess, the goddess Naamah plays a role in Moirin's life so there is quite a bit of sex in this book. Unlike the Kushiel books, there is not BDSM but Moirin does have sexual relationships with several people of both genders (the d'Angelines are pretty open about sex as they follow the philosophy "love as thou wilt" and have a priesthood dedicated to Naamah). I felt it was tasteful and not too cheesy - it wasn't terribly overwritten or described in such a way that made it sound as though the people involved had a serious medical condition.

Although it was not quite as excellent as the more complex, political Kushiel's Dart, Naamah's Kiss was a very absorbing story with another great heroine. I'm looking forward to seeing where Moirin's destiny leads her in Naamah's Curse.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: I won it in a giveaway.

Read Chapter One

Other Reviews:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Women Writing Fantasy

I knew there was something I was forgetting in my links post yesterday! Memory over at Stella Matutina is currently doing a series on women writing fantasy (that is not contemporary as there are plenty of women writing urban fantasy and paranormal romance). I think it's a great idea since it does seem that often women writing historical or epic fantasy don't seem to be as well known. Plus she is going to cover (or has already covered) a lot of excellent authors I love - Ginn Hale (I'm in the middle of her forthcoming novel Lord of the White Hell Book One right now and am LOVING it), Sarah Monette, Robin Hobb, Elizabeth Bear and many more. And I've already discovered one author I hadn't heard of before whose books sound really interesting, Elizabeth Knox.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Assorted News and Links

There are a couple of links I've been meaning to write about and they keep collecting so I figured I may as well just aggregate them all instead of making separate posts.

After the flooding in Nashville, Tennessee, the schools really need children's books as well as storage bins. There are also wish lists on Barnes and Noble (mostly books for younger children) and Amazon (mainly books for YA/older children) for specific books that they would like replaced. To read more about how to help there is a very informative post on the Reader with a Capital "R" blog.

Ilona Andrews announced the title for Kate Daniels #5 will be Magic Slays. Although I'm a little worried about it based on a comment made in another post.

Ilona Andrews also provided a link to a collection of the stories written from Curran's point of view available to read online. (Yeah, so I've been obsessively checking for release date news on book 5.)

Regal Literary has a summer giveaway for the Fourth Realm trilogy by John Twelve Hawks (contest rules state it is only available to US residents). They are giving away 5 signed hardcover sets and 10 signed paperback sets.

Books and Legos

The most recent edition of Inside the Blogosphere, a feature over at Grasping for the Wind that asks several bloggers to answer the same question, is up. This time the topic for discussion is which favorite books would make a good Lego series.

Which books do you think would make an interesting Lego set (favorites or not)?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Leaning Pile of Books

This week's post is pretty long since I got 11 books over this past week - 6 review copies, 3 gifts and 2 I bought myself. It's times like this I wish I could read a lot faster since there are quite a few of these I'd like to read right now.

As far as reviewing goes, I'm just about caught up finally. I have a draft of Naamah's Kiss written. I haven't started a review of the last book I read, but since I just finished it early this morning, I don't feel behind yet. Now I'm trying to decide what to read next since I want to read one shorter book then start on Naamah's Curse.

Back to the books...

The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells

This is the first book in The Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin trilogy. It just came out this month, and the next two books will each be released one month after the previous book. The Uncrowned King will be available in August, and The Usurper will be available in September. It sounds pretty good, and since I got my copy from the author she signed it (I just love signed books).

The Kingdom of Rolencia sleeps as rumours of new Affinity Seeps, places where the untamed power wells up. By royal decree all those afflicted with Affinity must serve the Abbey or face death. Sent to the Ab­bey, the King’s youngest son, Fyn, trains to become a warrior monk. Elsewhere others are tainted with Affinity and must fight to survive. Political intrigue and magic combine in this explosive first book in an exciting new fantasy trilogy.

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

This one was an anniversary gift from my husband (apparently it's easy to find gifts for a paper anniversary for me). It's been on my wish list for a little while since I love fairy tale retellings and I enjoyed some of Jane Yolen's other books (The Pit Dragon trilogy). This particular novel combines the story of Sleeping Beauty with the Holocaust. It was a Nebula nominee and won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in the adult literature category. (Right now it is only in print as a young adult novel, but it was originally published as an adult novel.)

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

This was another anniversary gift from my husband. I got an ARC of Dreadnought, the second book in The Clockwork Century series, signed at BEA. It's supposed to be fine to start with the second book since it's not a direct sequel, but maybe I'll read this one first since I have it now. Boneshaker won a Locus Award and was nominated for both the Nebula and the Hugo Award this year.

In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey

The second book in Jacqueline Carey's latest trilogy set in her alternate earth just came out last month. This series takes place many years after the first two Kushiel's Legacy trilogies and follows a descendant of Alais de la Courcel. I recently read the first book, Naamah's Kiss, and really enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to reading this one too.

Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel's Legacy series, delivers book two in her new lushly imagined trilogy featuring daughter of Alba, Moirin. NAAMAH'S CURSE Far from the land of her birth, Moirin sets out across Tatar territory to find Bao, the proud and virile Ch'in fighter who holds the missing half of her diadh-anam, the divine soul-spark of her mother's people. After a long ordeal, she not only succeeds, but surrenders to a passion the likes of which she's never known.

The Crowded Shadows by Celine Kiernan

The second book in the Moorehawke trilogy became available the beginning of this month, and the third book The Rebel Prince will be out in October. I read the first book, The Poison Throne, earlier this year and found it mostly enjoyable in spite of some issues (review). It will be interesting to see what happens in this latest installment.

Every tyrant who ever threatened the Kingdom is gathering to Alberon's table, and the forest is alive with spies, wolves, and bandits. Within these crowded shadows, Protector Lady Wynter Moorehawke travels alone and unprotected, determined that she shall find the rebel prince and heal the rift that has come between the King and his legitimate heir. But who is an ally and who is a foe?

In this, the second volume of The Moorehawke Trilogy, old friends and even older enemies ensure that Wynter is never certain of who she can trust.

Tracking the Tempest by Nicole Peeler

This is the second book in the Jane True series and it just became available this month. The third book, Tempest's Legacy, will be released in January 2011. I read the first book, Tempest Rising. Although it had a couple of issues that didn't quite mesh with my personal taste, I did think it was mostly fun with a couple of interesting characters and a wide variety of supernatural creatures (review). I did like enough about it that I intend to read this one, though, especially since I heard it should have more of one of the characters I really liked.

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and Ryu - Jane's bloodsucking boyfriend - can't let a major holiday go by without getting all gratuitous. An overwhelming dose of boyfriend interference and a last-minute ticket to Boston later, and Jane's life is thrown off course. Ryu's well-intentioned plans create mayhem, and Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings. All the evidence points towards another Halfling, much to Jane's surprise...

Wizard Squared by K. E. Mills

This is the third book in the Rogue Agent series by K. E. Mills, a pseudonym for author Karen Miller. It just came out in the U.S. this month, and the first two books are The Accidental Sorcerer and Witches Incorporated in that order. I actually hadn't heard of this series before, but it sounds like fun with trouble in alternate realities.

When the staff of Witches Incorporated receive a visitor from an alternate reality, they are shocked to learn that life in the parallel world next door is anything but a bed of roses ... and it's all because of Gerald Dunwoody.

At a crucial moment in time, their Gerald turned left ... but the alternate reality Gerald turned right. Now the parallel world next door is in the grip of terror, staring down the barrel of a thaumaturgical war -- a war that threatens to spill across the dimensions and plunge every reality into a nightmare.

The only person who can stop a rogue wizard gone mad is another rogue wizard. But what do you do when another rogue wizard can't be found?

WIZARD SQUARED is the third novel in the Rogue Agent series, from one of fantasy's newest stars.

The Reluctant Mage by Karen Miller

This is the second book in the Fisherman's Children series following The Prodigal Mage. It will be released in just a few weeks on July 28.

It's been many months since Rafel ventured over Barl's Mountains into the unknown, in a desperate bid to seek help for their ravaged land. With his father's Weather Magic exhausted, there seemed no other hope. Now this too has died.

Only Deenie believes Rafel still lives, sensing her brother in tortured dreams. She also knows she must try to find him, as only Rafel's talents could heal their land. The prospect terrifies Deenie, yet she sees no other choice.

She soon learns of a dangerous new power. Deenie comes to suspect that not only is her brother involved, but that the evil their father destroyed is somehow reborn. And if she can't save Rafel, then through him, Morg's vast power could once again command their world.

Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb

This was the only book I was missing in the Soldier Son trilogy so when I found it in hardcover for about $5 I had to get it. Now I have the entire set in hardcover. I really need to read these as well as the two Rain Wilds Chronicles books that recently came out.

Loyal, privileged, and brave, Nevare Burvelle proudly embraced his preordained role as soldier in the service of the King of Gernia—unaware of the strange turns his life would ultimately take. Exposed to a plague of enemy sorcery that felled many of his compatriots, he prevailed, but at a terrible cost to his soul, body, and heart. Now he stands wrongly accused of unspeakable crimes—including murder, the most heinous of them all.

Condemned by his brother soldiers and sentenced to death, Nevare has no option but to escape. Suddenly he is an outcast and a fugitive—a hostage to the Speck magic that shackles him to a savage alter ego who would destroy everything Nevare holds dear. With nowhere to turn—except, perhaps, to the Speck woman Lisana, the enemy whom he loves—he is mired in soul-rending despair. But from out of the darkness comes a bright spark of hope.

Perhaps, somehow, the hated magic that has long abused Nevare can be used by him instead. Could he not learn to wield this mighty weapon for his own purposes rather than be enslaved by it? But down what perilous road will this desperate new quest lead him? And what will be the outcome and the ultimate new incarnation of Nevare Burvelle?

Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

This is the first book in the Keeper's Chronicles series. I actually came across it on Calico Reaction since it is the book club selection for the category "Cats in Fantasy." I love cats and really liked the sound of it so I ordered it when I needed just one more item for that free shipping. Since there are a crazy number of books coming out in the next few months that I want to review around the release date, I probably won't be reading it in time for the book club, though.

Magic taps an energy force outside the real world leaving a hole in the barrier separating the physical from the magical plane. Holes are monitored by Cousins, offsprings of Adam and Lilith to insure no evil can escape. When a hole is big enough for a magical creature, a keeper works to seal it up. Claire Hansen is just such a keeper. She is summoned to the Elysian Fields guest-house where she is tricked into becoming the carekeeper. Her first job is to seal a hole without awakening the evil upstairs in a guest room. While pondering her project, Claire must deal with her loquacious cat, who runs her life, catch the imps causing minor mischief, resist the wiles of an amorous ghost, and protect the odd assortment of guests that visit in the house.

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

This was another one of the anniversary gifts. It's out of print and I've really been wanting to read it since it's a Tam Lin retelling and of course by Diana Wynne Jones.

A photograph called "Fire and Hemlock" that has been on the wall since her childhood. A story in a book of supernatural stories -- had Polly read it before under a different title? Polly, packing to return to college, is distracted by picture and story, clues from the past stirring memories. But why should she suddenly have memories that do not seem to correspond to the facts?

Fire and Hemlock is an intricate, romantic fantasy filled with sorcery and intrigue, magic and mystery, all background to a most unusual and thoroughly satisfying love story.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review of Feed

Feed is the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy about the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse and will be followed by Deadline and Blackout. The series is by Mira Grant, another name for urban fantasy author Seanan McGuire. Normally I do not go near zombie stories, being very squeamish about blood, gore and descriptions of eating brains. However, I made an exception in this case for several reasons - and was glad I gave it a chance.

In the year 2014, a cure is developed for both cancer and colds. Unfortunately, this is not as idyllic as it sounds since there is a major disadvantage to these cures: they form the Kellis-Amberlee virus which, in turn, creates zombies. All of humanity has technically been infected with this virus, although it remains inactive for a time. Usually, people do not become zombies until their death results in resurrection as undead or they come into contact with the virus in its live state.

As one may imagine, the world has greatly changed as a result. Going outdoors or gathering in large crowds is no longer safe, and anytime a person is about to enter into contact with others they must undergo tests to make sure the virus is not alive, sometimes multiple times in a short period. One of the big changes is that the traditional media has been replaced by bloggers, who were instrumental in saving lives when the outbreak first occurred. They had no agenda other than ensuring survival and were allowed to freely state what they saw and learned. Many lives were saved due to their efforts and each one had a special place on the Wall, a collection of final blog entries to honor those who died in pursuit of truth.

Georgia ("George") Mason is part of a blogging team, along with her brother Shaun and their friend Buffy (who renamed herself instead of being just another "Georgette" in honor of George Romero). George is a "Newsie," the type of writer who strives to present an unbiased, factual viewpoint. As an "Irwin," Shaun is likely to end up getting himself killed since he makes the news by entering danger zones and getting up-close and personal footage of the zombies. Buffy writes fiction, but she's also a genius when it comes to technology. Together, they will soon make blogging history when they are chosen to cover the presidential campaign for Senator Peter Ryman, one of the front-runners for the Republican candidate. However, they discover an even bigger story after a couple of zombie outbreaks and George begins to suspect foul play.

Even though I occasionally experiment with horror, it's not my genre of choice, especially if it's the gory type that has body parts strewn everywhere. So I don't go near books that proclaim "ZOMBIES INSIDE" and almost overlooked this one when a copy showed up in my mailbox. Then I noticed that Mira Grant was the same as Seanan McGuire, whose October Daye series has become a must-read for me. That made me curious enough to read the opening paragraph, which had the same light, humorous narration as the author's other books:
Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot -- in this case, my brother Shaun -- deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens. As if we didn't already know what happens when you mess with a zombie: The zombie turns around and bites you, and you become the thing you poked. This isn't a surprise. It hasn't been a surprise for more than twenty years, and if you want to get technical, it wasn't a surprise then. [pp. 5]
After this, I was considering trying it, but I moved it to definite when Seanan McGuire left a comment saying it was more political science fiction than horror. After reading it, I'd definitely agree - it's not scary or full of graphic descriptions of blood spurting everywhere. Although there are jokes made about brains getting eaten, I was thankful there were no actual occurrences of this nature. As far as being grossed out goes, it was fairly mild - there was nothing that was described in such detail that it turned my stomach and I've read plenty of fantasy books containing parts that were far more disgusting than anything in this book.

That's not to say there is no sense of danger or excitement. Although it is about bloggers covering a political campaign, it is set in a world in which field reporting is not a safe profession. The very first scene in the novel has George and Shaun being chased by zombies, and this isn't the only such event - but fortunately the book is about much more than that. It's part adventure and part political thriller, but it's also an examination of what the world might be like 26 years after a cataclysmic change. It's also about the value of truth. Throughout the text are several entries from different blogs, many of which are both thoughtful and emotionally powerful reflections on the media and the world.

Although the details of how the world has changed since the Kellis-Amberlee virus was unleashed were very interesting, there was too much explanation about the world at times. This was definitely a fascinating take on the zombie apocalypse, and I much preferred reading about what it meant for the world than constant attacks by the undead. However, sometimes description about how different life has been since the zombies went on for long paragraphs and interrupted the momentum of the narrative, which was all from George's point of view.

The ending was amazing - it was a very unusual, gutsy conclusion but strongly moving. It elevated my opinion of the book quite a bit.

While reading, I did feel like the main political candidates were too extreme. The Senator George and her team were reporting for seemed too good to be true - an honest, well-meaning man. His opponents were a woman who boosted her place in the polls by wearing little clothing and low-cut tops and a religious fanatic who thought the virus was God's punishment on the world. Not a single one of them seemed like a well-balanced individual characterized by various good and bad traits, but seemed to fall into categories that were each on one extreme or the other: the good guy, the floozy and the crazy, hateful one.

Even though I usually would treat a zombie book like zombies themselves and run the other way, I'm glad I read this one. It contains the undead and has some tense chases involving them, but the focus is more on the political campaign, conspiracies, issues with news and media and a look at a world that has had to adapt to survive. It's not too heavy since there is a sense of humor that runs through the main character's voice, although sometimes this narrative does get bogged down by long descriptions of every little detail of the way life is after the zombie apocalypse.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the publisher (they sent me both the ARC and the final copy and this review is based on the final published version).

Other reviews:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Leaning Pile of Books

This week I am hoping to get up a review of Feed by Mira Grant, which is about halfway written. After that there is only one book left to review, Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I might get caught up over this next week.

This week I received one book in the mail that I am very excited about reading.

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

The third book in the October Daye series will be released on September 7. The second book was released earlier this year, and I really enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to reading this one. Rosemary and Rue was good, and A Local Habitation was even better so I'm eager to see if this one continues the trend (although I'll be pretty happy if I just like it as much as A Local Habitation). Faery, a tough but not even close to all-powerful heroine and Tybalt King of Cats... I may have to read this one before September.

Experience the thrill of the hunt in the third October Daye urban fantasy novel.

October "Toby" Daye is a changeling-half human and half fae-and the only one who has earned knighthood. Now she must take on a nightmarish new challenge. Someone is stealing the children of the fae as well as mortal children, and all signs point to Blind Michael. Toby has no choice but to track the villain down-even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael's realm, home of the Wild Hunt-and no road may be taken more than once. If Toby cannot escape with the children, she will fall prey to the Wild Hunt and Blind Michael's inescapable power.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June Reading

Like May, June was not a great reading month when it comes to the total number of books read. I've been a bit preoccupied lately - yesterday afternoon I officially became a homeowner so I have been spending a lot of the last two months picking out paint colors, cabinets, tiles, carpets, fans and lights. It's been quite a process. We need to move for the second time this year and then hopefully reading will resume at a faster rate.

But even with only three books read, two of them were the longest books I've read so far this year (one was 600 pages and the other was 650 in hardcover) so I actually feel like I did better than last month. Plus I've reviewed one of them already so that's some progress - the last two months have started with none of the previous month's books reviewed. That's actually one of the reasons I read some longer books.

June books are:

24. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews (review)
25. Feed by Mira Grant
26. Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Favorite book of the month: I liked all of these, but I'll have to go with Magic Bleeds. I am so addicted to the Kate Daniels series.

Usually I've read at least one new author, but these were all authors I've read before. This was my fourth Ilona Andrews book, my third by Mira Grant (the other two were of course written as Seanan McGuire since that was the first book she wrote as Mira Grant - and I was very excited to receive her third October Daye book in the mail today!) and my third Jacqueline Carey novel.

So what did you read during June? What did you think of the books you read?