V.E. Schwab – A Darker Shade of Magic

I feel a little mean for not liking this more. I liked the general mood of derring-do, and I liked the two principal characters (especially after they met and started interacting directly). There are some fun set pieces (many of which feel like they would translate well to film). But I found the relationship ofContinue reading “V.E. Schwab – A Darker Shade of Magic”

Sara Benincasa: DC Trip

liked this better after I stopped worrying about the geographical inaccuracies and just went with the full-on zany. the framing device didn’t work for me, and some of the backstory digressions seemed a bit OTT, but I did like the alternating chapters from the kids’ perspectives and the chaperones’ perspectives. sweet (if a bit raunchy)Continue reading “Sara Benincasa: DC Trip”

Andrea Phillips: The Daring Adventures of Captain Lucy Smokeheart (so far)

I wouldn’t normally write about a novel that’s half-complete, but I just tore through the available chapters of this serial novel-in-progress like a bag of movie popcorn, and this seems like a great jumping-on-point. I think the overall title does a fantastic job of setting expectations: Smokeheart sails in waters that remind me of ErrolContinue reading “Andrea Phillips: The Daring Adventures of Captain Lucy Smokeheart (so far)”

Sarah Rees Breenan: The Demon’s Covenant

This didn’t have a surprise to compare with the plot twist in The Demon’s Lexicon, but I thought it was much stronger overall: more satisfying character development, better prose, a plot that’s less reliant on coincidence. Brennan is particularly adept at depicting the emotional messiness of adolescence and burgeoning sexual awareness.

Laura Resnick: Disappearing Nightly

I liked Disappearing Nightly, but I have a bit of trouble explaining why. It’s a light contemporary fantasy with a whodunnit flavor and a dash of romance. It partakes of several genres, and I didn’t think it succeeded particularly well at any one of them. A mystery novel, for instance, needs a bit more misdirectionContinue reading “Laura Resnick: Disappearing Nightly”

Chuck Wendig (ed.): Don’t Read This Book

I picked up Don’t Read This Book because it featured a few dark fantasists I like and several more I was curious about. Foremost among the latter was editor Chuck Wending, whose @ChuckWendig twitter account and http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/, which jointly offer irreverent entertainment and lean, mean writing advice, have zoomed him to the top of myContinue reading “Chuck Wendig (ed.): Don’t Read This Book”

Joe Meno: Demons in the Spring

One of the things that impresses me most about Meno is how adept he is at both naturalistic and magical realist* fiction. Two of my favorite stories in this collection, “Miniature Elephants are Popular” and “Airports of Light” explore striking, original, and emotionally resonant metaphors for grief and loss. (I thought the similarly themed “TheContinue reading “Joe Meno: Demons in the Spring”

Sarah Rees Brennan: The Demon’s Lexicon

I wasn’t initially terribly impressed by Brennan’s world-building, but I was drawn in by the good cop/bad cop juxtaposition of brothers Alan and Nick. I thought it was pleasingly unusual that the primary viewpoint character was really not that nice a boy, and there were a few other good details, but I thought I’d workedContinue reading “Sarah Rees Brennan: The Demon’s Lexicon”

Rob Felder (ed.): Damn Yankees

Let’s get this straight: the only reason I checked this book out of the library was because of the parenthetical phrase in the subtitle, “Twenty-four major league writers on the world’s most loved (and hated) team.” It promised a good dollop of hatin’ on the pinstripes, and that was reason enough for me to checkContinue reading “Rob Felder (ed.): Damn Yankees”

Jennifer Traig: Devil in the Details – Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood

Traig’s memoir of growing up beset by scrupulosity, a form of OCD manifesting as extremes of religious observance, was often very funny. This was a multiple-guffaw read for me. And beyond its entertainment value, it’s informative and sometimes insightful. I found its structure a little perplexing; it’s somewhere between a linear coming-of-age memoir and aContinue reading “Jennifer Traig: Devil in the Details – Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood”