Author: Karen Marie Moning
Publication Date: 10/30/2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
[Goodreads | Amazon]
The year is 1 AWC—After the Wall Crash. The Fae are free and hunting us. It’s a war zone out there, and no two days are alike. I’m Dani O’Malley, the chaos-filled streets of Dublin are my home, and there’s no place I’d rather be.
Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.
Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.
When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.
Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.Review: What is the quickest way to make your intended sexy book absolutely, irrevocably, totally unsexy? Karen Marie Moning has the answer for you - just have your "heroes" act like abusive pedophiles, who love perving all over a scrawny, barely 14-year old girl, have them tell dick jokes around her, crawl into her bed when she is unconscious, lick her and wax poetically about her panties, sexualize this underage girl in every which way, and voila! - your book becomes revolting instead of
tantalizing. Now, I am not going to pretend that I
didn't know Moning wasn't exactly a PC writer when it comes to treatment of women - Mac had her share of atrocious, abusive things done to her by a slew of men, including her life mate, in the Fever
books, but at least she was a grown-up and could fight back physically, sexually and emotionally. Dani is a child! I seriously question Moning's judgment here. She is definitely no Nabokov to take on a subject so controversial and make something good out of it. She should have stuck to what she knows best and let us, her fans, enjoy a book that is entertaining and fun rather than the one that unnecessarily and thoughtlessly pushes boundaries and makes us gag in the meantime.What makes me the most annoyed is that with the way Iced is plotted, there isn't actually a reason for Dani
to be so young and for the story not to take place 5 or even 10 years in future. As the novel opens, post-wall-crash Dublin is
in an even more dire situation than at the end of Shadowfever
. Not only is our world infested by fae, but something weird is freezing and icing the whole areas of Dublin and beyond. It seems, Ryodan learns first about the ice problem and then decides to recruit Dani to help him investigate it, and does so by quite literally torturing and blackmailing her. (Don't ask me why a millenia-old man with a gang of friends, equally old, smart and experienced in many things fae and human, even needs a help from a teenager. I still don't get it.) So, having no choice, Dani starts investigating, with assistance from her friend Dancer, a 17-year old science geek and the only non-creepy male in the whole story. Lurking about is pedo fairy Christian, who suddenly and unexpectedly acquires a very unhealthy sexual obsession with Dani.I personally wasn't that impressed with the first half of Iced. First, there is too much recapping of the Fever
story and mythology and second, naturally, there is too much uncomfortable sexualization of Dani, done mostly by the mega-creep Christian. As far as the mystery of Iced goes, I'd say it's of an average quality for urban fantasy
. The new bits of mythology are interesting but the plot is not as elaborate and twisty as that in the Fever
series. However, the second part is a tad livelier and less offensive (or maybe I just got used to the grossness of it all by then?). That's where the investigation really gets going, we learn more about Dani's past, we see how Cruce is plotting his escape and how Christian's transformation into an Unseelie Prince is progressing, and, most importantly, Christian's sick POV is scaled back. In this second part
he is presented in a sort of humorous way, because once we no longer have to be in his head filled with thoughts of sex and odes to his hard member so much, from Dani's POV he is just a pathetic and often laughable psycho. With that said, I honestly don't know if I can actively recommend Iced. While reading it, I spent too much time
trying to imagine Dani was older, so that I didn't have to feel so revolted all the time. But then, judging by the multitude of 5-star reviews of this book, there is a HUGE portion of women who have absolutely no problem with the blatant pedophilia in this book. It's astonishing, really, just how many don't really think anything of it at all, "as long as Dani doesn't actually
have sex with anyone." Oh well...
I will probably read the sequel. 3/5 stars
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Illustrated by: Al Rio, Cliff Richards
Adapted by: David Lawrence
Publication Date: 7/10/12
Publisher: Del Rey
In Fever Moon,
we meet the most ancient and deadly Unseelie ever created, the Fear Dorcha. For eons, he’s traveled worlds with the Unseelie king, leaving behind him a path of mutilation and destruction. Now he’s hunting Dublin, and no one Mac loves is safe.
Dublin is a war zone. The walls between humans and Fae are down. A third of the world’s population is dead and chaos reigns. Imprisoned over half a million years ago, the Unseelie are free and each one Mac meets is worse than the last. Human weapons don’t stand a chance against them.
With a blood moon hanging low over the city, something dark and sinister begins to hunt the streets of Temple Bar, choosing its victims by targeting those closest to Mac. Armed only with the Spear of Destiny and Jericho Barrons, she must face her most terrifying enemy yet.Review:
This is a surprisingly coherent and well-written graphic novella (it's a bit too short to be called a novel, IMO). Very often graphic novels are nothing more than money-grabbing ventures, when the same story is sloppily repackaged in a different format. Fever Moon
, to me, is not only a novella that offers some new content, but it is also a well-adapted story, unlike, let's say, The Exile
, an Outlander
graphic novel that wasn't cohesive and wasn't laid out properly, in addition to the inconsistent character images. Fever Moon is set in somewhere in a middle of Shadowfever. Jericho is back, he and Mac are still searching for the Book, their relationship is i
n a limbo. Dani is doing her savior job on the streets of Dublin and one day comes across several victims in coma who are also missing some of their face parts - i.e. an eye, a mouth, an ear. When Dani falls victim to the same kind of plight, Mac and Barrons have to step in and find out who is to blame. Obviously, some bad Unseelie is involved.
This is a pretty self-contained mystery that doesn't have a bearing on the main story arc (or maybe I am wrong and some of it will figure in future Fever
novels? hmm, there is definitely a possibility, if the author is keen). I actually enjoyed the story much more than I had thought I would. Besides a bit strange conclusion of the mystery and issues with some imagery, which I will detail later, I thought Fever Moon
was quite successful. I liked that it recapped Mac's back story rather nicely and also introduced some new information about the Unseelie King and his concubine - the most intriguing part of all Fever
books, if you ask me.
Now to the gripes. The portrayal of some characters here is rather questionable. Like Emily astutely noted
, Mac's breasts do look more or less like boulders. And generally ALL women in this graphic novel are allowed only one body type, which is extra busty. Even our young Dani (how old is she, 14, 15?) has a couple of good-sized grapefruits stuffed down her shirt.
Mac in her male wish-fulfillment glory
Dani and her grapefruits
As for Jericho and his crew, they all look like tanks. I kind of expected Barrons to have a more polished, less thuggy, lankier look. And don't get me started on Ryodan. His "look" is wearing a stripy half-sleeve buttoned down shirt which you can often see on fast-food employees. I don't know if I can see him as a desirable man in future Fever World books in that getup.
Ryodan, Barrons and their square bro-mates
The Seelie guys, on the contrary, are all much better shaped and overall better looking, of course if you into Fabio look. (Apparently, I am. And, after looking at Velvet some more, is he really less muscly? Oh, I don't know, I don't know!)
But even with all these complaints, Fever Moon is still a very entertaining and visually pleasing book. I am even contemplating buying me a copy.
Today, a double dose of Tana French love!
Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad, #4)
Author: Tana French
Publication Date: 7/24/12
Blurb: The mesmerizing fourth novel of the Dublin murder squad by New York Times bestselling author Tana French
Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestselling Faithful Place
, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands.
On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care.
At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks.
And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family one summer at Broken Harbor, back when they were children.
With her signature blend of police procedural and psychological thriller, French’s new novel goes full throttle with a heinous crime, creating her most complicated detective character and her best book yet. Reviews:
After more than 6 months filled with disappointments that came like blows from my favorite authors (Bitterblue
, Holier Than Thou
, Gone Girl
, The Calling
), I thought I couldn't count on any of my precious to deliver the goods. Apparently, I can still rely on Tana French to keep up her standards. Broken Harbor
is not maybe my favorite novel of hers (I think Faithful Place
is), but definitely not weaker than any of her previous works. All her books are psychological thrillers, not fast-paced, not action-packed, but slow-moving and
interrogation-heavy, and Broken Harbor
sticks to the same format. At first, I intended to say it was possibly the "most psychological" out of her psychological thrillers, and the most crazy-driven. However, if I look back, all her novels without fail explore the depths of human mind, power of memories and their effect on investigative work, and involve mentally unstable characters.
Like detectives in all previous books in Dublin Murder Squad series, the chief investigator Mick (Scorcher) Kennedy is full of mental baggage of his own (who doesn't have it though?). I have only the vaguest memory of him from Faithful Place
, so he is almost a completely new personality to get to know within the framework of this series. Behind Scorcher's unwavering, never-failing, upright cop facade, there is a lot of tension and a lot of self-control that come only to people who have battled through serious life challenges and learned to cope by keeping themselves tightly guarded and emotionally removed. Even though Scorcher has dealt with most of his childhood traumas, he is not free of them. His half-mad, volatile sister is a constant reminder of past dealings with mental illness and a disturber of his peace. When Scorcher dives into investigation of the assault of the Spain family, French, as you would expect, pushes
him into facing the darkest corners of his memory. Gradually learning of the economical and psychological demise of the Spains, Kennedy finds it hard to watch the parallels between the Spains' and his own family's stories. Will he be able to keep his cool and stay objective, not let his personal feelings influence the investigation? You'll just have to read and see. The murderer in this case is fairly obvious and pretty early in the book, I would say. The pool of suspects is just too small. But the pleasure of unpacking this novel is not exactly in knowing who, but why and how.
This is where the leisurely pace and lengthy interrogations work the best - you have an opportunity to get into all the suspects' minds, and what's inside is not pretty - psyches ravaged by strains of financial hardship, instability, uncertainty and, surprise! online bullying (of sorts). How current!It is interesting that Broken Harbor
has a very similar setting as Gone Girl
- a well-to-do family loses financial security, and almost immediately loses its integrity, both material and psychological. But where Flynn's characters annoyed me with their, what I perceived, self-entitled whining, French's characters made me live through their difficulties as if they were my own.
I know, this review is kind of vague, I tiptoe around the subject a lot, trying not to spoil the reveals, but just know this - Broken Harbor
is a story a picture-perfect family that crumbles under the weight of money problems and a desire to save public face at all cost. And this story is horrifying and sad. 4/5 stars
Tana French is responsible for some of the most all-consuming, vivid characters I’ve ever experienced. Reading her books, for me, is often like becoming a different person for a little while. She doesn’t just write
characters; she seems to channel
them. More than just about any other writer’s, her characters are like real people to me - and these are not simple, happy people. These people have pasts.
They have layers and layers of coping mechanisms and justifications and habits that shield them from those pasts. And most of all, they have gaps in those layers – tiny ones that even they don’t know about – where the outside world can get in.
Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy has his rules and he has control. Oh sure, his childhood was a bit difficult (is what he’ll tell you), but he got over that. He put in the work – in therapy, rigid vigilance, and in his precious hard-earned control – and it paid off. Now he has the best record on the Dublin Murder Squad. When a high profile case comes in – the murder of two children and their parents in the quiet suburbs – Scorcher is assigned the case. With his rookie partner-in-training Richie, he dives into it with single-minded determination.
“My solve rate is what it is for two reasons: because I work my arse off, and because I keep control. Over situations, over witnesses, over suspects, and most of all, over myself. If you’re good enough at that, you can compensate for just about anything else. If you’re not, Richie, if you lose control, then it doesn’t matter how much of a genius you are: you might as well go home. Forget your tie, forget your interrogation technique, forget all the things we’ve talked about over the last couple of weeks. They’re just symptoms. Get down to the core of it, and every single thing I’ve said to you boils down to control.”
The case appears simple at first, but of course there’s far more to the story. I'm not going to give away any details, because I don't want to ruin it for anyone. Tana French truly got me with this one. For the first time in one of her books, I genuinely had no idea who the murderer was or what happened on the night of the crime until she wanted me to. All I want to say is that, in my opinion, this is the most tense, frightening book she’s ever written. There were a few places where I had to put it down for a while and go hug my family for comfort. And of course, this is Tana French, so a large part of the reason I was so deeply unsettled was because I could relate at least in part to just about everyone
here – the victims, the family, even the murderer. But most of all, I related to Scorcher Kennedy. He got under my skin so very much.
In his mind, the world falls into a rigid order – if you play by the rules and do everything right, then you will survive. If you don’t, then you will pay the price. But what if there is no rhyme or reason to this world? What if horrible, unthinkable things can happen to people who do everything right? Everything that he believes about himself rests entirely on his flawless control.
So what happens when he loses it? Who is he then?
“All those years of endless excruciating therapy sessions, of staying vigilant over every move and word and thought; I had been sure I was mended, all the breaks healed, all the blood washed away. I knew I had earned my way to safety. I had believed, beyond any doubt, that that meant I was safe.”
He infuriated me with his self-important lectures to Richie, he disturbed me with his unhealthy relationship with his sister, and he surprised me with how viciously pleased I felt at some of his more callous policing tactics. His loss of control felt satisfying and thrilling and terrifying and painful and so very real. This book is another triumph in psychological mystery for Tana French. Perfect Musical Pairing
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Tana French does another brilliant turn in this book by overlaying the entire mystery with the current economic climate in Ireland. With thousands unemployed and many suburban housing developments that were half-built during the economic boom now sitting abandoned, the suburbs of Ireland have a lot of dark, desperate potential these days. The setting here immediately made me think of Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, which is about loss of innocence and the slow but unstoppable crumbling of suburban life.
Blackbirds (Miriam Black, #1)
Author: Chuck Wendig
Publication Date: 4/24/12
Publisher: Angry Robot
Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.
But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.
No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.Review:There have been a few conversations on Goodreads
lately concerning the dangers of labeling and categorizing books, especially books written by women and especially calling them chick-lit
or dystopian romance
. Many eloquently and convincingly argued that giving fiction written by women these labels is dangerous and detrimental because it dismisses these books and alienates its potential male readers. On a logical level, I do understand these people's concerns, but personally, I don't feel like women are being underrepresented in publishing. Most of the books I read are written by women, most of my favorite authors are women, so it is hard for me to relate and lament the fact that if some book is called a romance, then we, people who label it so, take away the author's livelihood and stop men from reading it. I suppose, men are generally disinterested in books dedicated to "women's issues," but must it always have something to do with sexism and ten kinds of malice? Where am I going with this? Well, I just want to make a point that some books genuinely do not work for us, because they are written by an author of the opposite sex, no sexism needs to come into play. This is the case with Blackbirds
, a book, which, I believe, I would have liked more if it didn't have so much dude in it.Blackbirds
has all the elements of an excellent urban fantasy novel. And it would have been one, if it were written by Stacia Kane
, for example. The book's main character, Miriam, has an ability to know how a person will die by having a skin-to-skin contact with him or her (this reminds me of some other books with similar powers, maybe Harper Connelly serie
s by Charlaine Harris?). She uses this ability to take advantage of the dying people, normally by following them close to their death moment and cleaning out their wallets. Miriam seems to be unable to change the course of people's lives and postpone anyone's death, so she carries on knowing everyone's last moments, but not doing anything about it. That is until she meets a long-distance truck driver Louis who is nice to her and who she knows will die in a gruesome way a couple of weeks after meeting Miriam and with Miriam's name on his lips.The plot unfolds roughly as you would expect
any urban fantasy (series) to unfold. There is a romantic entanglement (or two), some drugs, some sex (not sexy), a mystery, and lots and lots of violence and gore. I would have totally been down for this plot, if not for a few things.Wendig writes from Miriam's POV (3rd person). And I have the same problems with his woman's voice that
I have with all the YA novels written by female writers from POV's of young lads who sound like middle-aged women. It's just not believable. Miriam's narrative is peppered with the amount of dick and dick-related tangents and jokes that are characteristic of only male-written books. (Sorry, guys, we are just not that preoccupied with your members.) And, in general, I found Miriam's voice too labored for my taste. Too much strained wit, even in the most inopportune and life-threatening moments, is not something I enjoy. The other thing that turned me off about this novel is the bare, cinematic
quality of it. Sometimes you come across books that just have no "meat." Wendig has the plot down, the dialog is OK, but his characters appear to be operating in a vacuum. There is no sense of place, no atmosphere, little to no emotion, but mostly events and conversations happening one after another. And the last thing that I never in a million years thought I would complain about. There is way too much gore and nastiness in this book. It is often gratuitous and too gross, which is especially jarring when not balanced with depth and emotion and solid motivations. You have blood galore, cut-off body parts
, eye boogers, bodies ground in a garbage disposal. Not to mention the term "blumpy" I learned which I now desire to erase from my mind forever (google it at your own risk). A lot of this was an overkill and not fully justified by the novel's plot.My advice about Blackbirds? Skip it, unless you are a dude or have a taste for gross, and read Zoo City instead.2.5/5 stars
Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1)
Author: Stacia Kane
Publication Date: 5/25/10
Publisher: Del Rey
THE DEPARTED HAVE ARRIVED.
The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.Review:How do you decide which urban fantasy
series you should read?
Let's be honest, there is like million and a half books in this genre, all with the same basic premise, assemblage of characters, mythology structure and story arcs. I, personally, do not even bother to read synopses of UF books any more, because, well, they are all the same anyway. Only some trusty reader-friend's recommendation will do the trick. And, apparently, mentioning some hottie can be enough to perk up my interest. In the case of Unholy Ghosts
, Catie talked so poetically about this one Terrible
, that I just had to check him out. ASAP, naturally.So, Terrible. I am not terribly into Terrible yet, but, boy, do I see promise.
You see, I do like when an author writes a man who is not particularly attractive, and then manages to make him sexy. If I strain my brain, I can think of only one guy in UF who is no Adonis, but whose personality and actions make him the hottest guy on the block. I kinda enjoy to be surprised and wooed like that. (Sadly, this other guy is a teenager, Derek in Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers trilogy
). Like Catie said in her review, Terrible is not handsome, at least not in a traditional way and not to the main character at first, the dialect he talks in makes him sound a tad... dumb, and yet, and yet, Stacia Kane manages to slowly make him VERY appealing, by writing things like this:A couple made out against the gritty stucco wall on the side of the club. Chess watched them for a second, embarrassed to do so but unable to turn away, something quiet and small twisting in her chest.The girl was a little thing, platinum blond, in a miniskirt and a pair of platform heels that looked like they weighed more than her entire body. Her thin legs crossed at the ankle behind the guy’s waist, while her tiny, pale hands dug into his back. Chess couldn’t see her face; it was almost entirely hidden by the guy’s hands, cupping her cheeks like he thought the bones might break. Chess didn’t think she’d ever been touched like that. A pang of pure envy ran through her.The girl caressed the back of his neck and lifted her hands to twine her fingers in his hair. His hips pressed forward, pinning her against the wall, and he dipped his head to kiss her throat. The light caught the prominent ridge of his brow and the crooked bump of his nose.It was Terrible.Heat rushed to her face. Yes, definitely Terrible. No wonder he’d blushed when she teased him about his sideburns. She’d never even thought of him as actually being interested in women. He seemed totally asexual to her, like instead of fucking he preferred beating people up. A silly assumption. He was a man, after all.
I know exactly what you are doing here, Ms. Kane, and it's working.What did not work as well for me is Chess' characterization. Would it be too awful to say that I didn't feel like she was junky enough? Hear me out. Chess, the ghost banisher, is an addict, she takes pills, she snorts speed, always waiting for her next fix, etc, etc.
But, reading Unholy Ghosts,
I never felt that this addiction was a vital part of her, her driving force, rather, it was something that she did, that she could easily put away, something that did not affect her work or her mental abilities much. I did not feel like I was in a head of a serious addict. Maybe my impression has something to do with the fact that the book is written in 3rd person and therefore there is a bit of a distance between the reader and the narrator. Or maybe reading Trainspotting
left me with a skewed view of what severe addiction is like for an addict. Trainspotting,
I felt, put me at the center of an addict's mind, but Unholy Ghosts
did not. I will not be wasting time on summarizing the details of this story or its mythology. This post-ghostapocalyptic setting worked for me, so did the mystery and the characters. Whatever I say I liked about Unholy Ghosts
will not work for everyone, like it happens with most genre fiction. I also think that the two main points of contention in this series will be the main character's addiction and the local dialect. The book was a good fit for me though. I look forward to reading more about Chess and Terrible. Terrible has more of his 6 ft 4 in (everything in proportion
) glory and prowess to demonstrate. I am along for that ride.4/5 stars