Books

I finally read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl last week, about a woman who disappears under mysterious circumstances and the husband who immediately becomes a suspect.  The first surprise is that it took me so long to read it.  Gone Girl was named on many of 2012’s “best of” book lists.  It’s got mystery and suspense and page-turner qualities.  Why didn’t I read this one sooner?

I’m going with “better late than never” on this one.  I’m not going to write a review, because there’s already about a million of those out there.  But I know I’m not the only one who hasn’t read it.  So instead of a review, I’m going with the 10 things you should know about Gone Girl before reading it.

A Tale of Red RidingFanboy Comics' Bryant Dillon reviews A Tale of Red Riding: Rise of the Alpha Huntress.

Both the Young Adult genre and the practice of “alternative adaptations” of classic fairytales have become very common in today’s pop culture spectrum. Chances are that Fanboy Comics’ readers have experienced these rebooted morality tales, full of elves, goblins, dragons, and other mystical creatures of the imagination, in multiple mediums, including the big screen, the small screen, and even in the sequential art format of comics and graphic novels. The latest entry in this newly forming genre comes from author Neo Edmund, whose e-book A Tale of Red Riding: Rise of the Alpha Huntress is sure to thrill and exhilarate those in the growing fairytale fandom that currently shows no sign of slowing down!

MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

 

Diana Rowland’s Touch of the Demon, the fifth book in her Kara Gillian series, contains twists and turns aplenty, as well as at least one revelation that will leave longtime fans of the series reeling.  It’s arguably the strongest book in the series so far.  But one plot development left me feeling a bit disappointed, and tempered my enjoyment of the book a little.

The summary, courtesy of Diana Rowland’s website:

Kara Gillian is in Seriously Deep Trouble.

She's used to summoning supernatural creatures from the demon realm to our world, but now she's the one who's been summoned. Kara is the prisoner of the demonic Lord Mzatal, but quickly discovers that she's far more than a mere hostage. He has his own plans to use Kara and keep her from Rhyzkahl-the demonic lord she is sworn to serve. However, waiting for rescue has never been Kara's style, and she has no intention of being a pawn in someone else's game.

Yet intrigue and treachery run rampant amongst all lords, and Kara is hard pressed to keep her wits about her. Her abilities as a homicide detective are put the the test as she seeks the truth about FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff, Rhyzkahl, and herself. But, the answers she finds only raise more questions. She soon discovers that she has her own history in the demon realm-one that goes back farther than she could have ever imagined. But that history may yet spell her doom as she’s faced with a peril beyond mortal comprehension.

The Kara Gillian series follows a 30ish police detective who summons demons in her spare time.  In the first book, she accidentally summons a demonic lord named Rhyzkahl and ends up becoming his sworn summoner and friend-with-benefits.  Since then, she’s been drawn deeper and deeper into demon world.  As such, bringing Kara herself into the demon realm seems a natural progression.

Kara’s time in the demon realm was a little bit confusing, at first.  There were a lot of new characters introduced, and I found myself missing my old favorite characters—primarily FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff, who harbors secrets of his own.  But Big Important Things Happen, things that will change the way I see certain characters, and Kara herself, forever.  We also get to learn a lot more about Ryan and his connection to the demon realm.  This is a game-changing book for the series, and Rowland consistently delivers.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the introduction of another love interest for Kara.  I have, up until this point, been very invested in the Kara/Ryan/Rhyzkahl dynamic.  But what started out as a love triangle has now become, in essence, a love pentagon.  This may work for some people, but it just cheapened it for me.

But this is just a minor—and very personal—quibble with what was otherwise a very strong book.  If you’re a fan of the Kara Gillian series, Touch of the Demon won’t disappoint.  If you haven’t read the books yet, I suggest you start at the beginning (Mark of the Demon) and work your way forward from there.


 

2012 wasn’t a big year for me, reading-wise.  Of course, “not a big year” for me is pretty much what equates to “I read nonstop” for almost anyone else.  I didn’t keep as careful track of the books I read in 2012 as I did in 2011, but I’d estimate that I read about 100 books.

Overall, I’d say that most of my 2012 reads have been…well, lackluster.  I don’t know whether that’s been caused by a decline in the quality of reading material available, but I suspect it’s more me than anything else.  I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump this year.  I feel like a lot of the stuff I read just regurgitates the stuff I’ve read before.  But what that means is that the stuff that sticks out REALLY sticks out.

My favorite romances are the ones that have something else going on, some other kind of plot, besides the romance.  My favorite science fiction books are the ones that have incredibly complex and well-develop d characters, the ones that use their fantastical plots to add nuance to human problems and failings.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter had both.  Maybe that’s why I liked it so much.

 

Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles has become one of my favorite urban fantasy series.  In a largely female-dominated genre, Hearne is a standout male voice.  His Atticus O’Sullivan is consistently funny and interesting to read.  The books also feature one of my favorite non-human characters: his Irish wolfhound, Oberon, who communicates with Atticus telepathically.  Oberon thinks exactly like I imagine a dog would, continually obsessed with bacon and French poodles.  He’s also the funniest character in the series.  In short, it is an endlessly readable series, and I always find myself eagerly awaiting the next book.  Trapped is the fifth book in the series.

 

the road_coverThe Road Most Traveled kind of fell into my lap. I had no idea that it was coming out until the press release landed in my inbox. I am totally a nerd, so I was super excited that I had a book about music/punk/touring to review. I really do when my writing world and my music world collide.

Now, I will first say that I am not the intended audience for this book, it is aimed at those bands who are just starting out their lives on the road. It offers funny stories, warnings, and practical advice, for those bands, yet as a music fan, I loved reading every single story that was contained in these pages.

 For some reason, I have been devouring historical romances lately, primarily those taking place in Regency-era England.  I’m not quite sure why.  Maybe it’s because I’m a big fan of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, and I love seeing the modern writers’ takes on the era.  Maybe it’s because, since the time I was a child, I’ve always been a bit of a history nut.  Maybe it’s because it all seems more appealing when I don’t have to give up modern conveniences like electricity and deodorant.  But however you look at it, I’ve been reading a lot of them.  It’s with this in mind that I can say that this is a good, if not great, representative of the genre.

 

Too often, historical romances feature heroines that are…well, quite frankly, wimpy.  I mean, I get that most historical romances take place in the 18th or early 19th century, not an era known for its progressive stances on women’s rights.  But honestly, it seems like a cop-out to me.  I mean, I can’t imagine that every Regency woman was a sweet, demure virgin waiting for a duke to sweep her off her feet.

Luckily, How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English avoids this pitfall.

 

The book Easy by Tammara Webber is part of the emerging “New Adult” genre—books featuring characters between the ages of 18 and 22.  I’d never read anything in the genre before, but it seems like a good market to serve.  I remember, as a college student, being dissatisfied with my reading choices: young adult books were too young, and adult books featured characters years older than me whose experiences weren’t relevant to mine.  The New Adult genre, in contrast, can explore situations unique to college-aged young adults.  

As far as my introduction to the genre goes, Easy was a good, if not great, place to start.