Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dust City

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Mystery
Author: Robert Paul Weston
Publisher: Razorbill

Secrets and Shadows was supposed to be this week's review, but some rival fan got to the library's new books shelf before me, so you have to wait another week. A fellow blogger recommended Dust City as a substitute, and I'm very glad for that. The book had been on my radar, but low on the priority list, because I wasn't in the mood for Yet Another Reinterpretation Of Red Riding Hood. Well, that's not what we've got here. What we've got is a story that picks up where that old folktale ends off, and casts the fairy tales of our youth into a dark, noirish setting which is grimy, dirty, and -- yes, you saw it coming -- grim.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kitty Goes to War

Series: Kitty Norville (#8)
Genre: Drama/Adventure
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Tor

There comes a time when you just can't take another helping of the same old thing. I'm not at that point yet with Kitty Norville, but I'm getting there. Maybe it's my fault for going through the whole shebang in less than a year, but Kitty Goes to War went down like that meatloaf in a cliche 50's sitcom: Tasty, well-made, but, geeze, meatloaf again?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Red Moon Rising

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Drama
Author: Peter Moore
Publisher: Hyperion

Peter Moore is an obscure author. He doesn't have a website, at least not one that I could find, and his Goodreads page seems to conflate his work with that of several other people with the same name. This is probably why his book Red Moon Rising hasn't gotten a whole lot of press. It's a real shame, too, because this is excellent writing. It reaches above the usual love stories found in YA paranormal to give us a much deeper tale of bigotry and personal identity.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Frenzy

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Horror
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Publisher: HarperTeen

I try to avoid ranting in my reviews. Yes, I'm not always full of praise and kudos. If I see a mistake, I point it out. If an author breaks rules they should know not to, I wag the finger reprovingly. If I find the characters or themes of the story offensive, I will say so. But I don't treat a bad book as a slap in the face. I don't come at an author with both barrels demanding the time I spent reading refunded. I don't take this stuff personally.

The Frenzy is bad in a way that I do take personally. It doesn't fail due to a lack of interesting ideas. In fact, it has some great ones. It doesn't fail due to a lack of skill on the authors part. Francesca Lia Block has over 30 published books and several prestigious awards to her credit, so she obviously knows what she's doing. No, the great failing of The Frenzy is laziness. It's a first draft. The author hasn't put in the work to make it the best it can be. It never should have found it's way to the bookshelves in it's current form. Someone somewhere along the way should have kicked it back to the author and said "We all know you can do better." Yes, yes, I know -- authors have to eat, deadlines have to be met, publishers have to turn in good quarterly reports. But there is still a very clear and distinct line between a book that has been polished to at least meet a certain standard of quality and a book that has been throw together by someone who doesn't give a damn. Don't ship the latter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Adventure
Author: Lish McBride
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

How can you not love that title? Seriously, how can you? It gives you tone (tongue-in-cheek humor) and content (necromancers, or more broadly, wizardry in a modern setting), plus it rolls right off the tongue. Who cares if it's paraphrased from an old Elton John song? It's awesome. So I had some expectations of quality when I cracked this book open. And they were mostly met. Mostly. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a good read start to finish, but it's a somewhat better read at the start than it is at the finish. Somewhere along the way, it runs out of steam.