Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review: Coraline

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Horror / YA

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous. But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go. Coraline will have to fight with all her wits and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

I picked this up from the library yesterday because I had seen the movie last year, and realized it was a book. I tend to read books before I see the movies, so I had to get it. I only opened it briefly when I got home. Today, I sat down to read it.

It took me two hours.

Even for me, that's fast. I don't generally read horror because it's hard to find a story that truly creeps me out through written word. I've found a few short stories that have done it (example: Skin by Ceridwen Swift) and Coraline did not disappoint after watching the movie, which had me closing my eyes several times.

The simple act of sewing buttons over their eyes has the ability to creep me out, but add in the rhymes such as:

We have teeth and we have tails
We have tails we have eyes
We were here before you fell
You will be here when we rise

from the rats, and Neil Gaiman had me hooked. The "Other Mother" was truly spooky. I loved the illustrations even though they, to be repetitive, creeped me out.

I liked Coraline the character--a very curious girl, and not one to shy away from something that scared her. I really liked the story about her and her father, it added a much needed depth to the parental characters, which had been in danger of simply being extras in the story.

But I have to say, the cat was my absolute favorite character. I loved him in the movie and I adore him in the book. Kudos to Neil Gaiman for capturing the attitude of a cat perfectly.

Rating: 5 Stars

Author Information:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review: Midnight's Daughter

Title: Midnight's Daughter (Book 1 in the Dorina Basarab series)
Author: Karen Chance
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half-human, half-vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. So far, Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing.

Now Dory’s vampire father has come back into her life. Her uncle Dracula (yes, the Dracula) infamous even among vampires for his cruelty and murderous ways, has escaped his prison. And her father wants Dory to work with the gorgeous master vampire Louis-Cesare to put him back there.

Vampires and dhampirs are mortal enemies, and Dory prefers to work alone. But Dracula is the only thing on earth that truly scares her, and when Dory has to go up against him, she’ll take all the help she can get…

I was hesitant to get this mainly because of the dhamphir storyline, but I picked it up because it's Karen Chance and I've always enjoyed her work. I found myself very glad to have bought it.

Per Ms. Chance's norm, this was a fast paced book, filled with action, humor, and loads of sexual tension. I love that she managed to work in flashbacks of Dory's past but she did it in a way that you barely noticed the transition from first to third person--which is usually a pet peeve of mine.

Karen Chance has a real talent for first person point of view and bringing a fresh tone to it for different characters. A lot of the time, I'll read an author whose Voice stays the same regardless of the character, but I never see that with Karen Chance.

I was a little disappointed that Dory and Louis-Cesare didn't get together, and it got where I couldn't figure out who I wanted to cheer for--Louis-Cesare or Caedmon! But I have high hopes for the second book.

The fight scenes were amazing, the plot well thought out. I loved Claire, Dory's Roommate, and her little note-writing quirk was cute and funny.

Overall, this book was really good. Action packed, fast paced, humorous, sexy as hell, and I can't wait to read the second book!

Rating: 4 Stars

Author Information:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: Unclean Spirits

Title: Unclean Spirits (Book 1 of The Black Sun's Daughter)
Author: M.L.N Hanover
Genre: Urban Fantasy
In a world where magic walks and demons ride, you can't always play by the rules.

Jayné Heller thinks of herself as a realist, until she discovers reality isn't quite what she thought it was. When her uncle Eric is murdered, Jayné travels to Denver to settle his estate, only to learn that it's all hers -- and vaster than she ever imagined. And along with properties across the world and an inexhaustible fortune, Eric left her a legacy of a different kind: his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the Invisible College.

Led by the ruthless Randolph Coin, the Invisible College harnesses demon spirits for their own ends of power and domination. Jayné finds it difficult to believe magic and demons can even exist, let alone be responsible for the death of her uncle. But Coin sees Eric's heir as a threat to be eliminated by any means -- magical or mundane -- so Jayné had better start believing in something to save her own life.

Aided in her mission by a group of unlikely companions -- Aubrey, Eric's devastatingly attractive assistant; Ex, a former Jesuit with a lethal agenda; Midian, a two-hundred-year-old man who claims to be under a curse from Randolph Coin himself; and Chogyi Jake, a self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities -- Jayné finds that her new reality is not only unexpected, but often unexplainable. And if she hopes to survive, she'll have to learn the new rules fast -- or break them completely...

Overall, this book was okay. I didn't care for the introduction being in third person and then switching over to first person in chapter one, but I can understand that the author did it to bring conflict into the story immediately, and probably to foreshadow later books.

Jayné was a little too obvious a character for me--daughter of a strict, religious man, getting into trouble as a teenager, college dropout, and when her uncle dies, she gets pushed into a situation she's not in any way prepared for. Suddenly, she's rich and she can fight like she's been trained all her life--which she hasn't.

Honestly, I was not a happy camper when Jayné and Aubrey got together, and I am very glad that it was nipped in the bud when it was. I was rooting for Ex all the way. I like that the romantic elements didn't overshadow the fantasy, but instead enhanced it. I was pleasantly shocked when Aubrey's estranged wife and Jayné got a bit buddy-buddy with each other.

I enjoyed the author's Voice/Style of writing. He has a fluid way of describing things to keep the pace steady. I particularly enjoyed the fight scenes.

My favorite part was when they figured out that Midian wasn't human. His tirade was the most natural and humorous part of the book. His language is intelligent, if crude, and he won my vote as favorite character in the entire book.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book, and I do recommend it. But it could've been better.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Author Information:

Official Website (M.L.N Hanover is a pseudonym for Daniel Abraham, and his website for his penname doesn't seem to really up and running, so I'm linking to his regular website.)