Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1) by Julie Kagawa * *

I haven't read any of this book for a long while. In an attempt to cut down my Currently-reading list, I gave this another go. It didn't get better. The thing is, the whole time I was reading it I felt like I've read this before. I even knew what was going to happen in certain situations. I even thought at one point that maybe I've read it, but that's impossible. However, in a way I have read it.

I always loved fantasy, fairy tales that have princes and princesses. I still do. I occasionally watch fairy tale movies intended for kids. In my 32 years, I've seen a lot of stories. That's exactly the problem with this book. It's good if the reader is a young person, just switching over from the Grimm fairy tales to something else. This will feel familiar. However, to me, I've read this all. There is just nothing new or surprising, or witty about the story. It's like a mish-mash of things that I've read before in countless others. I just feel bored.

I've read stories intended for people less than half my age. I enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, and I can't help comparing it to this book. While Percy Jackson draws from Greek mythology, it manages to update it, and to make me want to read that version of the stories. They are not unfamiliar to me. At around the age of 10 I got into ancient mythologies. I read a lot about them, read whole collections of stories. The things in Percy Jackson were familiar this way. However, the way they were twisted around kept them from just being the same. In The Iron King the concepts, the events are just nothing new. Therefore, I cannot go on with reading this book. I've promised to myself a while ago that I'm not going to read anything that I don't want to.

The writing itself is good. There is nothing off-putting about it. The characters are also familiar, very cliché. The problem is the unoriginality of it all.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) by George R.R. Martin * * * *

The only reason why I managed to finish this monster book of monsters is because I went over to the audiobook version. I'm not sure if I should recommend it though. While the man does the male voices well, the female voices are a horror to listen to. The rest of the text is read as if the man was half drunk.

This is the last published book in the series. Obviously, it's hard to keep it spoiler-free. I'll try my best though. Most of it is taken up by characters that were not in the previous book. Therefore, the people who were in that book are not in this one, at least, the first half. Most notably, Sansa is not in it at all, and Brienne just makes a sudden appearance. Most importantly, Daenerys features a lot in the book.

The story moves along the usual pace, at the envy of a snail. I love the world, and I love reading about intrigue, but this is the book where you skip a lot. I don't care which four men went to the meet with Jon Snow. Nor do I care what men were at the party, unless they play a role later on. There is such a thing as too many details.

Since this is the end for now, until Martin finally delivers the next book, the ending was more important than before. It can be summed up in three letters. WTF???? Yep, seriously. The characters I most care for are all going towards doing something they have been preparing for. Will they get there? Most likely not. I still hope though. There were also some deaths, that made me sad. I forgot not to get attached.

Overall, the quality is the same as ever. If someone got this far, it's worth going on, because a lot happens, just really slowly. However, now I want to lock Martin up in a house with just salads to eat twice as much. Maybe he'll deliver on his promise to finish the next book this year. Then only about 4-6 more years until we find out the ending. Or more. Though we'll know the alternative ending when the TV series finishes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Introducing The Honourable Phryne Fisher (Phryne Fisher, #1-3) by Kerry Greenwood * * * *

The first story is Cocaine Blues, and in accordance with the title, cocaine does feature in the story. I was a bit apprehensive about how the famous drug will participate, but it wasn't in a positive light, thankfully.
Having seen the series adaptation of the books, I couldn't help comparing the two. The series has an air of the 20s about it, part of what makes it so great. The book does as well. I tried to remember if I'd seen the story itself in the series, but I couldn't remember. However, the first season was over a year ago, and my memory concerning crime serieses is notoriously bad. It does allow me to see one episode multiple times though.
The TV show has a lot of sexual elements, and the book didn't disappoint in that regard.
The story itself was a lot of fun. It wasn't unsolvable, there were no clues hidden from us. What I also liked was how there wasn't just one story in the book, but several running simultaneously. You have Phryne entering Australian society, Dot's appearance, the story of the girl, the Russians, and the cocaine. I didn't mind them though, and while it may sound a bit chaotic, the stories flowed together well.

Phryne is of course the central character, but the view is not third person limited. We do get to see other happenings, that are not centred around her. She is as interesting as she is on TV. One thing that gave more depth to her in the book was that she wasn't always rich. The last time she had seen Melbourn was as a poor child. It took her out of the regular flapper attitude, and grounded her in reality.
Dot is as endearing as on TV. Their meeting is under different circumstances, and I liked this version.
Bert and Cec are in, but the inspector didn't play as big a role as he did on TV. I'm hoping that he'll make more appearances in the following books.

Overall, a really good start. It's a fun crime novel series. What I especially liked about it was that it felt like what I usually read. The style had a comfortable, easy feel to it, that made me feel secure. I can't pinpoint what gave this feeling to it, perhaps the prose had a simple quality to it, but I really liked that.

The second story in the book is Flying Too High. Frankly, I wasn't as impressed by this one, as I was with the first one. It took me longer to read as well. It's actually not one case, but two that happen at the same time. They are connected by the use of a plane in them, but I think the bigger reason why they were put together was that they would just be too short on their own.
One is the kidnapping of a little girl, the other is the death of a rich man. As a side story, we meet more of Phryne's friends, and also see her moving into her new home.
The stories were a bit too simple. The kidnapping we already knew who had done it, it was just a matter of how they were going to get the girl back. About the death I had my suspicions, and I was proven right.
One thing that I noticed was that the stories suffer from the author not knowing when to stop. After all is said and done, we still get Phryne doing something, having a party, eating, etc. I skipped that. Hopefully the next story will be better, and this one just suffered from 2nd book problems.

The third story, Murder on the Ballarat Train, was probably my favourite so far. It also has two cases going on at the same time, but they blend together a lot more than they did in the previous story. Their real connection is the train, but also that the main victim in one case is also connected to the other case. If I said how, that would be giving something away.
There is some more sex here, and I actually liked this guy. It was kind of cute.
The murder case is interesting. I was kind of going back and forth on who did it. The case of the girl is, however, a bit problematic for me. I know that what they talk about was popular in the 20s, but in this story it's actually made up to be a legit thing. Which I don't think it is.

Overall, not a bad start to such a long series. It had a low point in the second story, but the third one brought the level back to me. While I was doubting reading on before, the third story made me want to pick up the next installment.