So I'm on vacation again this weekend and I thought that while I have a free moment tonight, I'd share with you some of what I've been reading as of late. All the links of the book's titles will take you to their Goodreads page where you can read more about them. (FYI, Goodreads is slowly becoming one of my favorite sites on the web. You can find me on there, so friend away!)
The Strange Case of Finley Jane by Kady Cross
Published May 1st 2011 by Harlequin Teen
Got this for free on a total whim. It is a novella prequel to a book called The Girl In The Steel Corset, which came out May 24th. Its a quick little read that introduces us to the titular "Girl" Finley Jane and her special abilities. I'm about halfway through it and really have no idea how this prequel ties into the events of Steel Corset, an apparent part one in a planned series called the Steampunk Chronicles. It has my attention so far, though, and has done what it was most likely intended to do: pique my interest in the series. And despite Steampunk Chronicles #1 suffering from one of my least favorite title tropes ("The Girl With The/The Girl In The/The Girl Who ... ") I believe I would enjoy reading subsequent tales about Finley Jane, after finishing this tasty little prequel.
Find the author, Kady Cross, on Twitter @KadyCross
Purchase The Strange Case of Finley Jane on Amazon - and guess what, it's still FREE!
I Wish... by Wren Emerson
Published May 14th 2011 by Lakehouse Press
I'm only about a chapter into this story of a young girl who must embrace her destiny as a witch, but so far it's enjoyable. Wren Emerson (aka Author With The Coolest Name Ever) gives Thistle Nettlebottom, the young witch in question, a natural, breezy voice and a biting, somewhat self-depreciating humor. And that works for me. If I'm going to read a story told in a first-person perspective - of which I'm usually not a fan - I'd like my female lead to be more Katniss Everdeen and less Bella Swan (no offense to my Twilight-obsessed wife...) Thistle and Emerson are an entertaining match and I look forward to reading more.
Find the author, Wren Emerson, on Twitter @wrenem
Purchase I Wish... on Amazon
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Published May 26th 2009 by Books on Tape, Inc.
(first published 2000)
Yep, this is my current audio book selection. I picked this one up after falling head-over-heels in love with Kraken, Mieville's 2010 offering that took the buzz-genre "urban fantasy" and showed all the chumps how it could be done. Holy crap I love Kraken. All kinds of love. Anyways, Perdido has not grabbed me quite how Kraken did. There's a reason for that. Though Kraken's plot is twisty and its cast a bit larger, it had a rather straight-forward narrative flow. Perdido Street Station is a whirlwind of imagery, much of it dedicated to the setting - New Cronbuzon, home of the titular Station - and a bit less of it spent on the emotional make-up of characters and their motivations, of what drives them. At least that's what I've felt so far. I'm not as connected yet to the characters of Perdido as I am connected straight into Mieville's amazingly creative mind. And that's enough for me, for now. One of the things I love most about, well, the writers I love the most (Gaiman, Doctorow, Poe, Tolkien, Lewis, Mieville) is their vast creativity - the worlds they can shape with their words; the music they make with their rhythm and phrase and vocabulary. I look forward to listening to this book more (I'm about 12 chapters in.) And props to the narrator, John Lee. He also read Kraken and is phenomenal.
Find the author, China Mieville, on Goodreads.
Purchase Perdido Street Station from Amazon.
The Gathering Dead by Stephen Knight
Published March 19th 2011
And so we go from girls in corsets to Special Ops soldiers slaughtering the walking dead. That about sums up the scope of what I could be reading at any given time! This is the most recent book I've finished and it was also the subject of my first Goodreads review. So here it is!
Stephen Knight's The Gathering Dead is an exciting tale about a group of special forces members trapped in a zombie-ridden New York City. Their chopper goes down while trying to extract a VIP, Dr. Wolf Safire, who has valuable knowledge of the zombie virus and may be able to produce a cure. They are forced to hole up in an office building while they try to figure out another plan to get Dr. Safire and his daughter, Regina, out of the crumbling city.
For the most part, I found the book very entertaining, fast-paced, with well-rounded characters and tensions between them. Even those more "stock" characters one often finds in a-team-of-military-men fiction each had some trait that made you root for them and made them stick out in your mind. However, the book could have greatly benefited from a solid editor. There are quite a few grammatical errors, some repetitive phrasing, and even one or two inconsistencies in continuity (at one point a soldier trades guns with another, then his old one is described in his hand a sentence later, then its back to the new one he just acquired.) But these, for me, did not distract from the page-turning enjoyment of this book. It may bother other readers, but I'm not distracted by the occasional typo. If it bothers you, this book could be irksome.
The detail in the story's technical aspects is what I enjoyed a lot. All the military weapons and gear is well identified and used properly, the tactics of the soldiers seem well thought out and realistic (not being a soldier myself, though, I can't speak to their accuracy; it just made sense to me as a reader,) and the layout of New York was solid and lent itself to an easy visual of the setting. There are also some really original scenarios presented. The scene when the team must descend 26 stories down an elevator shaft I found riveting, as well as the ensuing battle out in the streets. One presented idea about soldiers who have been reanimating retaining some of their training was a nice twist, something explored a bit in the film Day of The Dead. Still, the idea of the intelligent zombie hasn't been fleshed out much, and I think Knight handled it was a pretty solid plausibility.
All in all I enjoyed this book, and it was action-packed enough that I could easily picture it as a solid zombie movie. I recommend The Gathering Dead for the casual reader and fan of zombie and survival fiction.
Find the author, Stephen Knight, on Goodreads.
Purchase The Gathering Dead from Amazon.
So there's a look at what I'm reading. What books are you currently enjoying?