A quick review of the latest books I’ve read in some series I follow. I am in the middle of all these series, so it’s difficult to review a later adventure without spoiling for those who are not familiar with the series. So here’s quick rating system and recommendation:
Kate Daniels: 5 stars, recommended for fans of supernatural and kick-ass heroines
Thursday Next: 4 stars, recommended for bookworms fond of wordplay, the quirky and literary references
Lady Emily: 3.5 stars, recommended for fans of clever, easy-breezy historical mysteries
Flavia de Luce: 2.5 stars, recommended for fans of child narrators and unusual detectives
Magic Slays—Kate Daniels #5 by Ilona Andrews
I do love Kate. And Curran. Last summer Salon published a list of romance reads for the summer. I don’t read romance novels, but the Kate Daniels book sounded promising, so I started reading the first one, Magic Bites. I was hooked. It is considered Urban Fantasy, and it can be violent. Kate is a mercenary. It’s her job to hunt down and kill supernatural beasties, which she does quite well. Kate is so kick-ass and I love the alternate reality/future reality Atlanta where magic and technology coexist, not particularly peacefully, by sliding back and forth. When the tech is up and the magic is down, cars will run and the telephones work. When the tech falls and the magic us up, residents must rely on magical and supernatural wards and charms to protect themselves. It’s a very cool world. The romance is between Kate and Curran, leader of the Pack, the Atlanta chapter of animal shapeshifters, but I wouldn’t call these books romance novels. Kate and Curran’s relationship isn’t the driving plot–the real story is whatever badness is happening in Atlanta that requires Kate’s attention.
Dangerous to Know—Lady Emily #5 by Tasha Alexander
I discovered Lady Emily when I picked up Tears of Pearl, her fourth adventure, at my local library, not realizing it was part of a series. I was attracted to the book because of its setting—19th century Constantinople. I enjoyed Lady Emily and went back and read about her previous escapades at home in London and on a trip to Vienna. Vienna is another of my little passions. Those of you equally intrigued should read The Little Book. Amazing—one of my top reads of 2010. Anyway, I am one of those people who takes book recommendations from fictional characters, and after meeting Lady Emily, I purchased the Robert Graves translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey. Emily discovers a passion for ancient Greek. Needless to say, Lady Emily and I have become quite good friends.
I was looking forward to her next adventure, as was my mother, apparently. When I brought Lady Emily #5 home from the library, my mother stole it and began reading it. She then proceeded to spoil it by declaring she already knew who the murderer was and shouting from the opposite end of the house “It’s X! It’s X!” She can be quite aggravating sometimes. Consequently, when I was finally able to ready Lady Emily #5 myself, much of the joy had been lost. Lesson learned: when Lady Emily #6 is published, I shall hide it from mama until I have read it myself. Hmmph.
One of Our Thursdays Is Missing—Thursday Next #6 by Jasper Fforde
I’ve been feeling a bit blase about the Thursday Next series: I liked the first, loved the second and third, didn’t care for the fourth and fifth. Jasper Fforde is one of the most creative writers I know. He’s created not only the world of Thursday Next, but also the Nursery Crimes Division (case #1–who killed Humpty Dumpty?), the Last Dragonslayer (on my to-read list) and this new world in Shades of Grey (meh). But I’ve been feeling underwhelmed by Thursday Next and wasn’t sure I would read this one until I read Mad Bibliophile’s teaser. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a clever Harry Potter reference.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I loved this Thursday Next book. Like the second and third, this adventure takes place nearly entirely in the Bookworld, whereas the fourth and fifth are more concentrated in Thursday’s Real World. I clearly much prefer the Bookworld. This book is narrated by the fictional Thursday, as the real Thursday is missing shortly before crucial peace talks between Racy Novel and Women’s Fiction. Oh, how I’ve missed the Bookworld. I’m also cheered to know that there will finally be a new Nursery Crime Division book, albeit in 2014. Mr. Fforde seems to be focusing much of the next two years on the Dragonslayer books, so I’ll definitely have to read the first and see if I can get on board with that series as well.
A Red Herring without Mustard–Flavia de Luce #3 by Alan Bradley
Oh Flavia. I think it’s time we take a break. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been feeling restless lately and have just not been able to care about your latest adventure. Maybe I’m too preoccupied waiting not-so-patiently for the newest Parasol Protectorate novel, Heartless.
Maybe it’s you. Lately I find you bratty and annoying. I wanted so much to like you—an 11-year-old detective in 1950s Britain with a passion for chemistry? You sounded superb, and while I enjoyed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, I wasn’t as blown away as I expected to be. I found your second adventure a bit grim and I just can’t get into this latest escapade.
Perhaps we’ll meet again at a future time when I am more interested in the gypsy woman and your insufferable need to prove yourself to the local constabulary. Maybe I will care to learn why you are Half-Sick of Shadows this November. Time will tell. Until then, I wish you luck with your sisters Feeley and Daffy, who seem to exist in their own novel (think I Capture the Castle) and your trusty bicycle Gladys. May it carry you to a more engaging adventure, and perhaps a little maturity.
Next in serial reading: the further adventures of Lady Alexia Maccon in Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4), which should be magically appearing on my iPad any day now, and the second Sugar Maple book, which I’m thrilled to discover is a series.