Review – Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate #4)

Heartless is the fourth book in The Parasol Protectorate series following, Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless. Consider this your spoiler warning.

In book four of The Parasol Protectorate series, we meet up with Alexia, who at this point is very much pregnant and still very much living her life. Her husband, Lord Conall Maccon, is trying to integrate a new member into his pack, Biffy, who used to be a drone of Lord Akeldama’s, and get Alexia to sit still for a moment. Alexia, however, is less concerned with daily life and whether or not she should still be in public in her condition than with solving a problem with the local hives, surviving assignation attempts on her life (of which there seem to be many), and solving a pack problem. When things finally start to come together, another problem arises leaving Alexia once more the only person with answers.

It’s amazing that Alexia manages to survive her pregnancy at all. She doesn’t slow down at all; in fact, there are more attempts on her life in one week than maybe the three previous books combined. It’s highly entertaining. I also loved the addition of Biffy to the werewolf pack and all the adjustments that come with it. Biffy has always been a favorite of mine and to see him struggling with his new, unasked for life, was a nice addition to the story that’s mostly lighthearted and ridiculous in the most wonderful way possible. I also enjoyed the way Alexia, the most practical and analytical of people, thinks of the soon to come child — the infant inconvenience. She talks to it with commands — Alexia isn’t one for loving tones. When she yells in a much displeased tone, it’s her way of telling a person she loves them.

These books have been a guilty pleasure of mine these last few months and I’ve been dolling them out slowly knowing there are only five and the series will soon be coming to an end. What I love about them is the crazy lives of the characters, their habits, the totally unbelievable situations they get into and out of, and how everyone fits together in some way or another. These books will entertain you to the very last page. Crazy hats, Victorian manners, vampire hives, dapper drones, messy werewolves, pack politics, and ever messier pack leaders. Read them and be entertained.

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate #4)

By Gail Carriger

Orbit

ISBN: 9780316179959

4 stars

Review – The Name of the Wind

Kote is a man of secrets but you wouldn’t know it. For as much as anyone knows, he’s a quiet tavern owner who doesn’t get involved in the lives of his patrons. When Chronicler, a man who collects stories and is after the story of a man named Kvothe, stops at Kote’s Waystone Inn, he finds not only the story but the man. Kvothe — who now goes by the name of Kote and is enjoying life as a tavern owner — begins his story with his happy childhood being cruelly taken from him, his years living alone with his sadness, his survival on the streets, and years at university. As his life story unfolds, as do many questions — who exactly is Kvothe and what kind of power does he hold?

The book started a little slow for me and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it even though I had very high hopes for it. It came highly recommended and I didn’t want to give up before I found the goodness I was promised. In the end, my worries disappeared and I got caught up in the story Kvothe was telling wondering how his young self would handle the next problem. He’s immature and incredibly smart (he gets into university years before he should have even been considered) and because of this, he gets into one problem after the other. Somehow, this didn’t bother me at all because at this point I was too caught up in the story he was telling to care. I was also entranced with the magical world he was becoming a part of. The university itself is an interesting place and seeing Kvothe trying to fit in was a story in itself but that’s not all. He quickly becomes a part of the university but sees more of the underground than most and he refuses to let go of one subject — the Chandrain. He must find out how and why the Chandrain killed his parents. I wanted these answers too and was glad to see it didn’t fade into the background of the story.

What I really liked about this book, besides the world building which is top grade, is the way it’s told. It’s Kvothe’s own words. He tells you his life story and it has a very personal feel. Because of this I didn’t want to stop reading once I got into the story.

This is the first book in a series followed by A Wise Man’s Fear. I will be reading the next book in the series. It’s my first Rothfuss and I’m looking forward to more. His writing style is quiet, much like his character Kvothe, but he has a way of bringing you into a story and making you feel as if you can’t leave until it’s finished. It’s addictive writing. It’s addictive storytelling.

This review feels so inadequate. Here’s the thing, if you like fantasy, you should read this book. That’s all you need to know.

The Name of the Wind

By Patrick Rothfuss

Daw Books, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-7564-0474-1

4.25 stars

Review – Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3)

This is book three in The Parasol Protectorate series following Soulless and Changeless.

You know the drill. This is book three in a series, and I’ll try to stay away from specific spoilers but consider this your warning.

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon if you will, is pregnant. Conall, her werewolf husband, has tossed her out and she’s the scandal of the day for London society. She wants out of her parent’s house, not only are her sisters and mother incorrigible, but she can’t stand them or the gossip any longer. When she finds out they leaked her “condition” to the press, she packs up and heads to Lord Akeldama’s house, the rogue vampire she’s close friends with, only to find he’s flown town. So, with few other options open to her, she heads to Italy to hide and see if she can find out if anyone knows whether or not she’ll be able to carry her baby — the infant inconvenience — to term and whether or not she’ll be able to be in the same room with it once it’s born.

Alexia and her little band of friends can’t go anywhere without a problem following them, trying to bite them, or trying to eat them. You get the point. While I preferred the settings of London and Scotland to Italy, it was still entertaining. Alexia, and her love of food, finds pesto to be the most wonderful food and coffee to be the most abhorrent thing ever. While I missed Conall in the beginning, he being at home in Scotland drunk on formaldehyde (there are only so many things that can get a werewolf drunk you see), I did like seeing so much of Professor Lyall, his Beta, in this one. And Conall managed to prove he’s still Alpha — drunk and stupid as ever.

I think that’s enough for now. I don’t want to give everything away and you were warned of spoilers. I leave you with me pining for Heartless and Timeless which will be read sooner rather than later.

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3)

By Gail Carriger

Orbit
ISBN-13: 9780316082563

4 stars

Review – The Gathering

The Gathering is a sad book and several times I had to put it down for my own sanity but it was so good I had to pick it up again. It’s a heart wrenching ordeal of a book and I felt like I was getting kicked repeatedly while reading this one.

Veronica’s brother, Liam, has committed suicide. She is the one who has to retrieve his body from London and bring it back home to Ireland for burial. On the way, she contemplates her life, her marriage, which she knows is failing, and her grief for a life she wants and the life she has. Her grief takes on incredible highs and lows and she comes to the realization that there are no right answers for her, in fact, there may not be any answers at all which makes her want to run even further from everything in her life. She doesn’t know what to do or think and takes to blaming family, loved ones, and everyone in between.

If I didn’t get this across earlier, the book is profoundly sad but realistic in the portrayal of grief and its many forms. There’s a mother paralyzed by every decision she must make. There are numerous brothers and sisters drinking their way through the burial preparations and the funeral. Veronica begins writing again in the midst of everything falling down around her but it brings her no solace or any closer to the answers she wants. Her children are a small grace in her life but she can’t be with them and enjoy those moments of peace. She spends her days overcome with hatred for her husband that she can’t appreciate any bright spot in her life.

There are some happy flashes of remembrance in this book, as there always are in times of grief. Getting family together is always a gamble and tensions are always so much higher when a death is the reason for the gathering. What I liked about this book was the authenticity of the people involved and their emotions. Not everyone grieves in the same way and Enright made this all feel very real. There were no overly joyous or crazy sad moments in this book. Even a sad book needs a few light moments to keep it going and there were no jumps in this book that struck me as odd.

I gave this book 5 stars and I don’t have much more to say about it. I’m slightly speechless because it was so good but also too much in many respects. It’s one of those books that truly has a time and a place. I wouldn’t recommend picking this one up on a whim as I did. I bought this one months ago and came across it while looking for something new to read. I wasn’t prepared in any way for a book that stunned me with the raw emotion this one did.

The Gathering

By Anne Enright

Black Cat New York

ISBN-13: 9780802170392

5 stars

Review – The Invisible Man

I was looking for something short to read and came across an old beat-up copy of The Invisible Man on our shelves. It seemed like the perfect book — a little science fiction, a compact story, something to read while sitting on the roof enjoying a sunny afternoon.

Griffin, a scientist, invents a machine that uses optics to make things invisible to the naked eye. He tests his machine, and the procedure, on himself. He completes the process but he doesn’t have time to reverse it before he is kicked out of the inn where he’s conducting his experiments by the people of the town who don’t trust him. With no options, and no desire to explain himself or his work, he leaves the inn in his new invisible state. He steals to get what he needs then enlists a man to assist him in getting his notes back from the inn where he abandoned them. When he, and his invisible state, are reported to the authorities, Griffin flips and goes on a bit of a terror spree wanting to get back at the man who betrayed him.

The science fiction aspect of the book is interesting and the explanation believable. Griffin wasn’t a likable character though — he’s arrogant, mean, and capable of murder. I kept wondering what it was that made him that way because I didn’t believe it could have been the invisibility alone. He does tell his story but it doesn’t do anything to help his cause considering he openly talks of murder, setting fire to a place to hide his work, and robbing people. I’m fine with not liking the main character and here Griffin is really just being used as social commentary anyway so I understood the reasoning for it even if he didn’t appeal to me.

Having not read much HG Wells since high school, I was slightly stunned to find I didn’t like this one as much as I thought I would. Don’t misinterpret that, I did like it, just not love it. I’m a person that likes to bond with the main character and here that wasn’t possible. The reader isn’t supposed to like Griffin but even knowing that didn’t help me. For me, he was the cruel scientist bent on revenge not caring about the people he was planning to hurt along the way to get what he wanted.

As I’m writing this review I’m beginning to wonder if I’m experiencing an aversion to Wells’s writing and now I’m thinking of going back to re-read The Time Machine to see what I think of that. Interesting how that happens to me sometimes.

The Invisible Man

By HG Wells

Watermill Press

3.5 stars

What I’m Reading Today

I started Among Others by Jo Walton the other day. It took me a few pages to get into but I’m really enjoying it now. At first, I had trouble with the tone and the fact that I have no history on the characters with the exception of what Mori, the narrator and main character, offers up, which isn’t much. Somewhere in those first few chapters, more accurately dairy entries, I started to admire her for her reading choices — J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula La Guin— and her love of the library. For a story I wasn’t sure I was going to finish, this book is ending stronger than it started for me.

Have you read this book? Thoughts?

Review – The Winter Sea

I’m an historical fiction junkie and while I don’t read general romance books, when it’s tossed with some historical fiction, I’m all about it. That’s what Kearsley does so deftly in this book — she takes what should be a simple story about a woman writing a book and makes it about the lives of the women she’s writing about. This is a book where I wanted every possible happy ending to happen.

The Winter Sea begins in present day Scotland with an author, Carrie McClelland, working on a new novel about the Jacobites and a failed invasion. She finds inspiration while visiting a friend who lives in Scotland and decides to stay on and rent a small cottage near Slain’s Castle which plays a part in the story she’s telling. The cozy cottage fits her needs well and the writing comes along at an incredible pace for her. Carrie begins making friends with many of the locals; particularly the sons of the man she’s renting the cottage from. All seems to be going incredibly well, except the research. Research has always been a part of her work but she finds herself not needing it so much in this book. Carrie begins to wonder if the past is starting to intrude a bit on the present for her.

Time slips never bother me, especially in historical fiction. In The Winter Sea I particularly enjoyed this because we got to meet so many interesting characters. The second story, the story within the story if you will, only takes place in the time slip, and is centered in 1708 Scotland. It’s here that Sophia Paterson, a young woman running from a bad situation, is taken in by a Countess (she is made out to be a distant relative) and finds love, and a life she never expected.

When I said I wanted the proverbial happy ending above, this is where I wanted it. Without giving much away, there were parts of Sophia’s story that were so sad but understandable. Really, I adored this character and wanted her to be just as happy as Carrie. It was not to be but that doesn’t change how much I enjoyed this book.

I’ll admit that I’m easily seduced by a Scottish setting but it was the wonderful characters that immediately sucked me in. This one lived up to my expectations and beyond. While there were two distinct stories being told here, they never felt separate, they were integrated so well I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything when the perspective switched. I loved the family history that Kearsley wove throughout the story for Carrie, which was part of the reason it worked so well. Tying the fictional author to her ancestral characters was a nice touch.

This was my first of Kearsley’s books. I’m just sorry I waited so long to pick this one up.

The Winter Sea

By Susanna Kearsley

Source Books

4.25 stars

 

Review – Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

There are books I feel I never adequately describe and think it would be best if I just wrote in ginormous font:

READ THIS BOOK! NOW! GO!

 

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is going to be one of those books so keep staring at those big letters.

Among my friends, The Bloggess is a bit of a hero, mostly because she brought home a giant metal chicken to ring the doorbell. If you don’t know about Beyonce, go here. You see, we have an ongoing joke about chickens which I’m going to decline to talk about because it’s only funny to my friends. Needless to say, we all read her blog and to me, she’s one of the funniest, and honest, writers out there.

This book, which I have been looking forward to for a very long time, was just as funny as I hoped it would be, and in some ways even crazier than I thought. I laughed out loud, giggled, and then cried because I was giggling so hard. I was also slightly grossed out — deer sweaters and vomit. (ick) The chapter on infertility was heartbreaking and real. It’s not something people want to talk about but it’s a part of life and the road to parenthood and she acknowledged it as that.

Being able to laugh at ourselves and the strange lives we all lead is a big part of the book. We all enter adulthood in a convoluted manner and even, and especially, the embarrassing parts that shape us in our struggle to become the people we are. You have to embrace it all.

What are some of the funniest parts?

Well, obviously, Beyonce. The chapter – And That’s Why You Should Learn to Pick Your Battles. What starts as an argument over towels with her husband ends up in the purchase of a giant metal chicken.

The chapter where she describes numerous ways to photocopy body parts and how not to hide those photocopies and or websites you shouldn’t be looking at from human resources – The Dark and Disturbing Secrets HR Doesn’t Want You to Know. Needless to say, any hopes and dreams I ever had of working in HR are now gone. Gone I tell you!

So what do you do when your dog dies? Please don’t answer that it’s only a segue into the chapter – Honestly, I Don’t Even Know Where I Got That Machete: A Comic Tragedy in Three Parts Days. Let me just say we all need a friend to help fend off vultures and help put a beloved dead dog to rest. And the vultures are not metaphorical in this instance, I mean real vultures. This also means I will never be leaving my urban digs for rural Texas.

There’s a chapter called Making Friends With Girls that really made me smile. I’m fortunate in that I have some really wonderful women in my life, even the ones that are clear across the country and in places I don’t get to visit often. But, on the whole, I’m not the type of person that makes friends easily. I’m a nice person and all, I’m just shy. Reading another person talk about making friends was a shining spot in my day that meant I wasn’t the only one that found it hard to talk to people. Even when you know you aren’t the only one, it’s nice to hear it.

I could go on but I prefer not to give the whole book away because you should read it. It’s one of the funniest books I’ve read in such a long time. And of course, that doesn’t adequately describe the book at all (see above).

Also, The Bloggess is a person you should be reading here too. I want to keep talking but I feel I’ve already gone overboard on the mushy, gushy review part so, carry on. Oh, and read the book!

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

By Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess)

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Amy Einhorn Books

ISBN: 9780399159015

4.75 stars