Reviews

The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse

4.5 stars - slow to start but the last half - especially the last quarter - make it all worth it. 

The Taxidermist's Daughter was publicized as being in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe, which is what grabbed me. Finally, a good dark twisty novel! And it's a good thing they advertised that, or I would never have made it past chapter one. The prologue felt fake and choppy (and really can be skipped without any impact to the plot, so I recommend that). Chapter One wasn't much better, but at least the character reference improved. Once things started gathering steam, it was much more enjoyable; it took a few days for me to get past the first few chapters, but I finished the second half of the book in one sitting. 

I was also pleased that my pre-read guess at the plot was wrong. With a title like "Taxidermist's Daughter" and description of "Poe-like" I immediately went with a re-write of Cask of Amontillado and assumed we would find the Deep Dark Secret was that someone had been taxidermied and hidden away in the house, and that was the memory Connie had suppressed. 

Knowing that the ending is worth it, I encourage you to push through the lackluster beginning. I may even check out another of Mosse's books. If anyone has read them and can recommend a good one, let me know! 

- Alexis

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The Return!

Hello friends!

The Husband and I have made it back home from our vacation, and it was incredible! If you want to see any of our photos, check out the Trip Photos link (also at the bottom of the home page) and you get a day-by-day breakdown link to each album. 

While I was gone, I even got through a book I've been wanting to read for quite some time: Jim Butcher's newest book, and the first in a new series, The Aeronaut's Windlass. The series is called Cinder Spires, and it's a steampunk/sci-fi adventure and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There are several main characters that take turns narrating from third-person POV, and it brings a cool filter to the story progression. Cat lovers will especially love this book as one of the main clans is cats, and in fact we even get several chapters narrated by one cat, Rawl. 

No one is 100% likeable, which I found refreshing compared to some other books in this genre. There were times where I wanted to shake people and tell them to shut up, or make up their mind, or smack them for making stupid decisions, but that's part of how real humans get through life. 

Like most books that are the start of a new large series, the setting was a little lacking, but I looked at this as more of future potential than a reason to not like this book. If Butcher had spent the time to fully flesh out his world in book one, it would have probably doubled this already large novel and been and info-dump overload. I'm excited for more in this series! (But not too quickly; I don't want to have to wait even longer for more Dresden Files books...)

Overall: 4.5/5

 

- Alexis

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Karou, Karou

I'm about halfway through Days of Blood and Starlight (book 2 of the trilogy by Laini Taylor) and I'm very stressed. Who am I cheering for? Who do I want to win? 

At least Zuze is here. She's pretty awesome. 

 

No idea what I'm talking about? Go pick up Daughter of Smoke and Bone (book 1). I bet your library has it. Read it and hope you were quick enough to reserve books 2 and 3 at the same time, because there's a teeny bit of a cliffhanger at the end of book 1. 

No more time to chat now. I have to see what Karou will decide. 

 

-Alexis

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June in Review

I'm pretty sure June was only two weeks long - definitely doesn't feel like a whole month has passed since I last posted! Lots going on so here goes:

Serial Killers! - I read a trilogy of books by Barry Lyga, which is a YA trilogy that follows Jasper Dent, the son of a serial killer as he tries to prove he isn't following in the footsteps of Dear Old Dad. The first one caught my eye because of the title: I Hunt Killers. It was a good mix of mystery and thriller that probably is horror for the YA genre. I liked it enough to reserve the second and third books from the library. 

The second book was my favorite. And I didn't think I would ever say that about a series, ever. But the whole concept was really cool. I can't tell you what without completely spoiling things, but it's the kind of thing I would like to see again with maybe another type? (That will make sense once you read it. Really.) And the ending was great! It was quite clear that it was a hook for book 3, but Lyga did it in such a way that you're not sure if what was wrapped up just a chapter ago is really solved, and how Jasper is going to handle the current situation. 

There were things I didn't like, but nothing that ruined the experience for me, and I don't want to ruin the experience for you so I won't detail them here. Final review: 4 stars. Absolutely worth reading once. The magic is gone after you know whodunit, so I won't re-read them, but I'm glad I pulled it off the shelf.

 

Akitis! - Progress is happening (is progressing?). Akitis is currently having a rather infuriating chat with a crazy man. Nyria is trying to find a new hireling since Akitis killed her first choice (RIP Dailon). Every time I sit down to write more of The Shadowknives, I get excited. It's such a great feeling! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Look for some more behind-the-scenes on it soon!

 

Old Favorites! - Several years ago, my mom introduced me to Dick Francis' novels, which would become my all-time favorite mystery books. Most of them are stand-alone, but there are a few that share protagonists. Odds Against and Whip Hand star ex-steeplechase-jockey-turned-PI Sid Halley, and I think I've read those books 15 times each. They're still good. Parts of them are a little dated, but they hold up so well as stories I don't even care. If you're in the market for a new author, I recommend Dick Francis. Final review for Sid's stories: 5 stars. 

 

Kallizar! - I submitted Fire in the Blood to some more agents, and received the related rejection letters. Such is life. There are a few requests still outstanding, so we'll see what happens. 

 

Gaming! - The Husband and I picked up Elder Scrolls Online for the Xbox last week, so we've been running around questing it up and sometimes saving the world. It's a good game but oddly difficult to play together, considering it's an MMO. Most of the time we end up just playing at the same time and meeting up every so often in town to do trading. 

 

- Alexis

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The Art of the Story

It's not always about what stories we consume. Just as important is how we consume them. We have so many choices: read a printed book, read an ebook, listen to an audiobook, listen to someone in person as they tell a story on the fly, watch a movie, watch a TV show... 

There are some books I read where I find myself wishing that there were a movie to tell the story as well. Not all books do that; there are plenty that I love reading that I think would make terrible movies, because you can convey different things through the printed word than you can through film. This weekend I listened to an audiobook and I really enjoyed it. I don't think I would like reading it though. The book was set in Scotland and the narrator did a good job with the Scottish accent and pronunciation of the Gaelic words. I don't "hear" things like accents when I read, so it was much more immersive to listen to the book. There have also been a few movies I've watched recently that I wish had books to go along with them so I could learn more about what made a particular character tick. 

If you're inclined to pick one way to take in stories and stay there, here's a nudge to try something new. Never listened to an audiobook before? Try it out. Most have samples you can listen to before you purchase so you can get a feel for the narrator; a bad narrator can really wreck a great story, but a good narrator can make an ok story good or a good story great!

How do you like your stories? Do you have any recommendations for good narrators or authors? 

 

-Alexis 

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