Book Review – A Local Habitation

Title: A Local Habitation

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: Paperback

Year Published: 2010

The second of the Toby Daye series, A Local Habitation sends Toby out of San Francisco to Fremont, CA to check on her liege’s niece. Toby is sent off with Quentin, a teenaged foster at Lord Sylvester’s, as her backup.  What they discover when they get there is death – not only death, but murder, and suddenly Toby must figure out what is going on, before she’s next.

This book has a different feel than Rosemary and Rue does – while Toby is run ragged (again), she’s clawing her way out of her depression finger by finger, and therefore things seem less to happen *to* her, and more like she’s actively inciting them. (But, once again, how many times can one character get “mortally” wounded? Although in this case, that actually becomes part of a plot point.)

The murder/mystery part of the plot is hard for me to explain, as it doesn’t really follow any kind of “investigating” really on the Toby’s part – at least, not according to all the detective stories I’ve read over the years. She stumbles on the answer almost by accident – or at least, until she can’t ignore the clues anymore.

I didn’t enjoy this book necessarily as much as I’ve enjoyed others of the series, and some of that was the character of Alex, as Toby seemed to ignore all the hints about who his was until far too late – I called it early on. (Not necessarily his heritage, but the other big secret he had.) So every time there was a scene with him, I wanted to shake her.

On the flip side, I did like April – the Dryad daughter of January, who now has a tree made up of a computer and as such, has a very different outlook to everything that’s happening.

I also loved that Toby called the night-haunts – creatures that “eat” Fae bodies and leave behind human-simulations for the humans to find and see. It sets a up plot events for the future, and it also is exactly the kind of reckless action we expect her to take.

Plus it’s a great scene.

Overall, not my favorite book, but certainly an enjoyable read. 3/5 stars.

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Book Review – The Monster at the End of This Book

TITLE: The Monster at the End of This Book
AUTHOR: Jon Stone
FORMAT: Hardcover (children’s)
PUBLISHED: 2004

The Monster at the End of This Book is a Sesame Street book featuring Grover, furry, lovable, monster.  Who is scared to death that there’s a monster at the end of the book.  In a glorious dropping of the fourth wall, you, evil reader, keep turning the pages and DON’T YOU KNOW THERE’S A MONSTER THERE?!?!?!

I love Grover, and he’s perfect for a book like this.  The illustrations are adorable, the story line is great, and it’s a beautifully done story for a little kid (or a big kid…).  In fact, I happened to have it with me and one of my friends saw it and admitted that they hadn’t read it.  By the time it had gone around my circle of friends, everyone was talking about how well done the book was.

It’s a solid 5/5 pages, and easily one of my favorite stories.  I recommend this to anyone.

Book Review – Rosemary and Rue

Title: Rosemary and Rue

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: Paperback

Year Published: 2009

Rosemary and Rue was the very first Seanan McGuire book I tried to read, and as I’ve said before, I slammed hard against the first-person POV and couldn’t finish. But since I’ve been blazing my way through her other books, I decided to give it another try.

This time it grabbed me and I raced through it. Overall I enjoyed it, though there were some quibbles I had that are probably my own personal hang-ups. (Full disclosure here: the only one I have not read at this point is Once Broken Faith.)

The story starts with October “Toby” Daye, changeling and Knight, on the hunt for her Liege Lord’s wife and daughter, before she gets turned into a fish and looses fourteen years of her life.

And that’s just the start of Toby’s adventures. Staying as far away from the world that cost her the daughter she loves dearly, Toby is dragged back in when a friend is killed and casts a curse on Toby that forces her to investigate the murder, or die herself.

The force of the curse is, truthfully, what pushes the story through at what is really a breakneck paces. Some of that is warranted – Toby would never go back into the world of Faerie of her own volition – but it does create a book where it feels like Toby never gets a break.

One of the things that this brutal pace does is to put Toby in mortal danger multiple times – but truthfully, how many times can she almost die in one book? After the first couple, suspension of disbelief is slim. (It doesn’t help, mind, that I knew that there were 9 more books.)

The romance is heavy in the book, too, with Toby going between two old lovers, with a third (though this is  more subtext than anything) hanging in the wings. Of the three, though I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to like Connor, he’s the one I felt the most unfavorable toward – I don’t like people who cheat, and his actions made it obvious it was only his respect for Toby that prevented him from cheating on his wife. (Who is, yes, evil, but my opinion still holds.)

The author ties up the story with skill, pulling little hints here and there that play off big later (and, minor spoilers, play off much later in the series). It took a while to suspect the Big Bad, and his ending felt satisfactory.

A strong start to a strong series, 3/5 pages

Book Review – Black Horses for the King

TITLE: Black Horses For The King
AUTHOR: Anne McCaffrey
PUBLISHED: 1996
FORMAT: Mass Market

According to the introduction, Black Horses for the King is an Arthurian Legend, but from a direction that we don’t normally get the story.  I’m not a huge fan of Arthur stories, but I thought that a combination of McCaffrey and a new angle would make this interesting.

The story follows Galwyn, apprenticed to his uncle because his father sucked at life.  Lord Artos crosses his path and Galwyn jumps ship (literally) to get away from his uncle and go on an adventure like he wants.  He has an ease with language and is considered an asset to the group.

I liked the writing style for the most part, although there were some wordings that were a little clunky because she was trying to sound old fashioned with how she talked.  But the blatant “screw everything that isn’t my way” was totally unpalatable.   At one point, for instance, Galwyn makes a big deal out of being thankful that his Uncle was only his mother’s sister’s husband and not actually a blood relative because he was pagan.  And no wonder he was a bad person because, duh, he was pagan.

And I’m totally of the opinion that I don’t care what a character is or isn’t, but there better be a damn good reason for making fun of everything.  And there was’t a lot that justified the total pagans-are-shit treatment.  (Because they’re not me and my way is right doesn’t cut it)

In the end, I decided that the book was way too soap box and way too unpalatable to finish. I decided the review was valid, but because I only got through the first 40ish pages, I’m not going to give this a number review.  Voice good, soapbox bad.  Rating ?/5.

Book Review – Chaos Choreography

Title: Chaos Choreography

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: Paperback

Year Published: 2016

Chaos Choreography is the fifth (and newest) book in the InCrytid series. After two books focusing on Alex Price, Verity’s brother, we’ve returned to Verity (not, surprisingly, their little sister Antimony, who has several short stories but not a full novel) and her husband Dominic (married in Vegas on their way across country back to Verity’s parents, in an attempt to keep her parents from killing him due to his status of an ex-Covenant member).

The plot starts in earnest when Verity receives an email from Dance or Die, the reality dancing contest that she was in before moving to New York. They’ve decided to do a “returning stars” type of show, and she’s invited. Verity agrees, and finds herself thrust back into a world she thought she’d left behind.

Unfortunately, her old world is about to collide head-first into her new one. Coming back from an elimination round, Verity stumbles across the bodies of the two people eliminated. The problem is, nobody else finds the bodies and when she (and the two Cryptids who are also in the competition with her), go to look again, the place where the bodies were have been cleaned by magic.

Unable to ignore it, Verity’s family sends back-up in the form of her grandmother, who spends her time traveling between dimensions and therefore looks no older than Verity, with Dominic close on-hand.

There were several twists in the story I didn’t see – I called the leader of the big bads fairly early on, but the henchman I didn’t see coming – and I loved Verity’s relationship with her roommate – the way that they are so close, but that Lyra doesn’t really let Verity get away with everything’s she’s doing that’s outside the character of a normal dancer. The big climatic scene was loads of fun and ultimately satisfying. 4/5 stars

Book Review – Llama Llama Red Pajama

BLOG NOTE:  It’s with a heavy heart that I have to tell dear readers that Anna Dewdney passed away from a brain tumor at the age of just 50.  Eff cancer.  

Her final wish was to not have a funeral, but to ask everybody instead to get a book and read to a child.  As I had the first book in her series sitting in my living room, I grabbed the book and borrowed a toddler.  It’s remarkably hard to read a book when you’re crying…

 

TITLE: LLama Llama Red Pajama
AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Anna Dewdney
FORMAT: Oversized Paperback
PUBLISHED: 2005  (*Imagination Library Edition, 2014)

The Llama Llama books are perfectly simple.  Little Llama gets put in a situation that is totally normal for a toddler, and has to deal with whatever is happening.  In this one (first in the series), Mama gets Llama into bed, but Llama gets scared and brings the Drama (with a capital “D”) until Mama comes back to calm him down.

It’s beautiful.

I have probably read this book about 50 times to the toddler who, at less than 3, has managed to memorize when I act out the Llama Drama based on pictures.  He’ll ‘read’ it to me and scream, or ask me to read it to him.  Over and Over and Over and…

This is easily one of the favorite books in the household, as well as one of the best loved in my step-sister’s household, so I have no problem giving this a 5/5 page rating.

Book Review – Pocket Apocalypse

Title: Pocket Apocalypse

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: Paperback

Year Published: 2015

Pocket Apocalypse is the fourth book in the InCryptid series, and the second to follow Alexander Price. The book starts out with Alex’s girlfriend asking him about werewolves, so it basically starts with a bang.

As it turns out, Alex knows a lot about werewolves – he’s encountered them before – but what he tells Shelby doesn’t reassure her. Her family, who handles the cryptid population in Australia, have started to encounter werewolves. In a place where they’ve never been before, which means that they have a huge problem. So before he really knows it, Alex finds himself on a flight bound to face down one of his biggest fears. And Shelby’s family.

Alex finds that things are run very differently in Australia, and it’s not made any easier by the fact that Shelby’s father hates him. Unfortunately, he’s about to face a new danger – on a trip out, he’s bitten by a werewolf and now must face the danger that he will become a mindless, raging beast, unless he isn’t actually infected or he manages to find a cure.

The story keeps ramping up the tension, but does so in a believable way. I did see two of the major plot points coming (the leader of the werewolves and the “surprise” person who had been bitten), but that may have been because I’m powering my way through the author’s books. There were less twists in this than the previous book, as well.

An excellent offering to the series – 3/5 stars.

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