Short Reviews #11: Even More Micro Reviews (6 Titles)

TRICKED (The Iron Druid Chronicles, book 6) by Kevin Hearne
Del Rey, 2012, 352 pages, 978-0-345-53362-3, Mass Market Paperback, $7.99

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Liked it: Yes, as always!

Thoughts: This is another great addition to the Iron Druid Chronicles, and it simultaneously wraps up open issues from the previous book and introduces entirely new ones. But look out–not all of the wrap-ups will go as you expect, and some will certainly surprise you. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of Coyote, which is endlessly entertaining, and lots of Oberon for fans of his interaction with Atticus (I’m sure that’s most people). The Morrigan’s appearances are continually fantastic, and the ending promises more development for Granuaille (who is fabulous, by the way) in the next volume. As usual, Hearne writes some of the most hilarious passages I’ve ever read, and I’m looking forward to Trapped come November. If you haven’t yet tried the Iron Druid Chronicles, then get up right now, go to the bookstore, and pick up a copy of Hounded. It’s addicting.

BLOOD OATH (Nathaniel Cade, book 1) by Christopher Farnsworth
Jove, 2010, 486 pages, 978-0-515-14903-6, Mass Market Paperback, $9.99

Genre: Government Thriller/Urban Fantasy

Liked it: Most definitely!

Thoughts: I had no idea what to expect when I purchased this book. In fact, I was, at first, of the opinion that it wouldn’t be for me. There’s some irony in this, as I was present during a bookstore event with this author (only I didn’t know that so I wasn’t listening in) and neglected to buy when I first saw it (only to have the last copy snatched up by someone who was attending his talk). Two weeks later, having been unable to stop wondering about whether I’d like it, I’m in love with Nathaniel Cade and Zach Barrows. I blew through through the nearly 500-page novel in less than twelve hours, then went to the bookstore to get volume two. This book is a page-turner, and I can’t pinpoint what, exactly, makes it so. Perhaps it’s the vampire under U.S. Presidential command. Perhaps it’s the fantastical elements plaguing an otherwise modern setting. Perhaps it’s simply that the writing is so easy to read that you don’t want to stop and can’t even think of any reason why you should. The characters are believable and complementary, even during the most outrageous events. Blood Oath was entertaining from beginning to end, and I’d definitely recommend it.

THE PRESIDENT’S VAMPIRE (Nathaniel Cade, book 2) by Christopher Farnsworth
Jove, 2012, 433 pages, 978-0-515-15041-4, Mass Market Paperback, $9.99

Genre: Government Thriller/Urban Fantasy

Liked it: Yes, indeed.

Thoughts: This is another action-packed addition to Farnsworth’s series of Nathaniel Cade novels. The antagonist in this one will be familiar to readers of Lovecraft, and it’s more than a little stomach turning. Word of warning from someone who found out the hard way–do not eat while reading this book. It’s not that Farnsworth is excessively graphic, not at all. More like he’s just so plain and straightforward about the disgusting nature of what Cade is facing that it makes you lose your appetite. You’ll love it–just not while you’re having dinner. My only qualm with this installment is that Cade and Zach are separated for much of the novel, which causes the story to lose some of what appealed to me in the first one. It is fun, though, to watch Zach get more and more accustomed to his new life as Cade’s partner while Cade remains largely the same (trusty old…very old…vampires being what they are). Now, as for volume three….

RED, WHITE, AND BLOOD (Nathaniel Cade, book 3) by Christopher Farnsworth
Jove, 2012, 383 pages, 978-0-399-15893-3, Hardcover, $25.95

Genre: Government Thriller/Urban Fantasy

Liked it: Do you need to ask?

Thoughts: If the fact that I’ve gone out and read all three of the Nathaniel Cade books, one after the other, doesn’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed these novels, then nothing I can say will suffice. But I’ll try anyway. This third book continues Cade’s hunt of creatures from the Other Side by pitting him against the Boogeyman–an enemy who simply won’t stay dead. In the meantime, President Curtis is fighting to regain his footing in the polls before reelection, and he insists on campaigning on the road despite the danger. This, along with a plethora of other nagging problems, trips up the supernatural disposal team at every turn. After reading this book, I’ve decided that I was right the first time. The portions where Cade and Zach work together rather than separately are my favorite parts. Something about the two of them in a room just works, often hilariously, and always with interesting results. The end of this book will leave you making a capital-O face (:O) and quite possibly make it difficult to sleep if you’re reading late at night (adrenaline, you know). And there you have the downside to having a marathon of the entire series so far–there’s no more Nathaniel Cade for me until Farnsworth gets around to a fourth book (assuming he plans to get around to a fourth one at all). I suppose I’ll have to cross my fingers and reread my favorite bits in the meantime.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern
Doubleday, 2011, 387 pages, 978-0-385-53463-5, Hardcover, $26.95

Genre: Fantasy

Liked it: For the most part

Thoughts: I’ll say one thing for this book–it’s quite unique. It’s written in the present tense, which is incredibly unusual, and kudos to Morgenstern for stepping outside the box. It jumps back and forth in the story’s timeline, which isn’t altogether uncommon, but not so common that I didn’t have to focus to keep track of what was going on. Moreover, the premise was unique–a magical competition between players who, for a long time, don’t even know each other’s identities and who, for the most part, don’t even know the rules of the game. The venue? A circus. An incredible circus that garners an impressive following around the world. My problem? A lot of the things that make this novel what it is were things I found frustrating and, at times, annoying. The present tense, the jumping timeline, and the vague rules of the game often made me frown with confusion, and the tendency to write about things that seemed (though weren’t necessarily) arbitrary made the book tedious at times. In the end, I liked the story. I certainly liked the nature of the circus and the people within it. But it took so long for my interest to take hold, that I can’t count this story as a favorite. Still, it’s an interesting book, and I would recommend it to people who like stories with magical components or to those who might like to try something different.

D.GRAY-MAN, vols. 1-5 by Katsura Hoshino
Shounen Jump, Ongoing Series (currently up to volume 21)

Genre: Manga

Liked it: Yes!

Thoughts: Without a doubt, the D.Grayman manga is superior to the anime. The stories go on only as long as they should rather than being drawn out forever, and it feels like we’re actually gaining ground on the plot rather than treading water in uselessly episodic stories. The characters are entertaining and more rounded in the books, which is wonderful, as always, and the drawings are well rendered. So far the story of the Black Order exorcists versus the Millennium Earl and his akuma is only in the beginning stages, and with fifteen more volumes to go before I reach the end of the currently available issues in the States, I’m looking forward to a lot more from this story. Now…everyone go out and read it with me!

~

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