Monday, 27 August 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch


This doesn't seem to be the current cover - current cover art here - but I prefer this one with Locke perched by the river as it conveys the faded Venetian air of the book a lot better IMO. And it's the cover that I have, so it goes on my blog.

I'd heard great things about this book but somehow never got around to reading it. Finally the urgings wore me down and I downloaded the sample to my Kindle. I will often enjoy samples and add books to my wishlist to be bought when I have a spare few quid, but when I reached the end of this sample I had the proverbial "shut up and take my money" reaction.

Sometimes laugh out loud funny, often unexpectedly, I enjoyed the banter between Locke and his friends very much. The author indulges in a good deal of character torturing - poor Locke is beaten multiple times, tortured with magic, poisoned and other creative abuses heaped upon him - and with each setback the ante is satisfyingly raised. I also enjoyed seeing Locke-the-child receiving his instruction in thieving; he appeared to be a very bright but seriously aggravating child! The author stays well away from the traditional hero. For one thing, Locke is morally suspect - he's a thief, after all, and thinks nothing of taking vast fortunes from people... and keeping them for himself. Robin Hood he ain't; he will injure, even kill people to get what he wants. And he doesn't always get it right. People die in this book. People who shouldn't, and who die because Locke Messed Up. I love that the author has made Locke just a guy who is obviously very clever and comes up with some staggeringly inventive plans, but when it comes to it is just human, and isn't always as smart as he thinks he is.

I am looking forward to reading the second one and hope it will keep me as entertained as the first one. My only quibble would be the swears. I am happy for books to contain swearing where appropriate, and given the occupation and social class of these characters, one would hardly expect Queen's (or Duke's) English from them, but I did get a bit tired of the constant effing this or effing that. Used more judiciously it would have had more impact; as it was it just got rather tedious. Hopefully in the subsequent books Locke's potty mouth won't be quite as jarring.

Still, a cracking good romp of a book. Five triumphant stars.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

In my list of books I'd read during my hiatus I forgot one: Enigma by Robert Harris. I'll review that in a couple of days, but in the meantime here's one I just finished. Whisper Cape by Regan Walsh.

I'm not usually a romance/paranormal romance reader, but gave this a crack since it was on free download at the time. The novel's true target market might very well have a different perception of the novel.

My first main grouse was the manner in which the main characters came into their powers. With the heroine it was "You might be able to do such-and-such." "Let me try. Oh, so I can." Straight away. No practise required. With the hero it was "I can't do such-and-such. Oh hey, yes I can after all." There was no cost to using the powers either, beyond a little dizziness after teleporting. In my opinion, they need to have costs and consequences of magic-using, not just an unlimited vat of power.

The characters themselves were standard romance fare. Both impossibly beautiful and both spending a lot of their point of view scenes thinking about how sexy the other is. Trouble was, I didn't believe them. I had no real feeling of Cael's irresistable nature. Dare I say, he was obviously a man written by a woman for women?

The other thing that was missing in this novel was the concept of "in late, out early" for the scenes. Almost invariably, the scenes went on that little bit too long and ended with a bit of a whimper, where if they had finished 100-200 words earlier there would have been a nice punchy end line. But this is the author's first novel (and as such, she has written one more than me!) so maybe that will come with experience.

Along with "in late, out early" the author could do with googling "deus ex machina" since the ending definitely smacked of it to me.

I've given it 3 stars as it entertained me for a few hours and I finished it. I will abandon books if they really aren't worth finishing, so at least I got to the end. I won't be reading the follow-up though, free download or not.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Flash!!! (Ah ah....)

OK, so I'm tinkering with flash fiction, which is a new thing for me. The prompt for this was 'balance' and it had to be a maximum of 350 words. This is what I came up with. It's 343 plus title, according to Word. Hope you like it.

Starts with a Single Step

You can do it, baby. Come on.

Sandra smiled her encouragement as her daughter hauled herself to her feet. Clinging to the bars Terri put one tentative leg in front of the other. Her confidence had grown over the past few weeks until it seemed inevitable that she would finally strike out by herself. So convinced was Sandra that today was to be the day that she had persuaded her husband to take a day's leave to be there. She had to do it today; she had to. They had been waiting months for this.

Her daughter glanced across at her, blue eyes doubtful. She had never been the adventurous type and letting go of that support was going to be a big adventure.

David squeezed Sandra's hand. "You can do it, Terri.  Let go."

Their daughter released the bar, standing alone: scared yet triumphant. She wobbled, regaining her balance, the pink tip of her tongue sticking out as she concentrated.

"Come to me, baby," said Sandra. "Mum's here. I'll catch you if you need me." I'll always catch you.

Terri watched her legs as they moved. One hesitant step. Then another. Terri looked up at her parents, tears glittering in her eyes. Sandra could feel her own tears begin to fall; she was so proud of her daughter. Others had learned to do this – many others – but it felt as though Terri was the very first. She raised her phone in trembling hands, capturing the moment to share with family and friends who would miss this momentous occasion.

"Wave to grandma, honey."

Terri waved cautiously, the slight movement threatening to bring her crashing down in a tangle of arms and legs. The nurse was at her side right away and Terri clung to her arm, confidence shaken.

"I think that's enough for one day, don't you? These legs are going to take you time to get used to and we don't want to overtire you."

Sandra nodded, relieved. The bastards that had detonated the bomb in the shopping centre would not win.

Friday, 3 August 2012

OK, so as is usual with me, I started off well and then lost interest. I haven't stopped reading since February, honest. In fact I've read quite a bit.

Books that I can remember reading since then are :

Nightchild by J.A. Cummings
A Game of Thrones by G. R. R. Martin (reread)
A Clash of Kings by G. R. R. Martin (reread)
Hollowland by Amanda Hocking
The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle
Hunting the Corrigan's Blood by Holly Lisle
Talyn by Holly Lisle

and then 2 failures that I gave up on without finishing (but may try again)
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I may well come back and do short reviews on these; I don't think I could do really detailed ones without revisiting them and I'd sooner keep reading!

I've also listened to audio books of Elantris, The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages, all by Brandon Sanderson, and I'm listening to Alloy of Law on audio book now, so I'm turning into a bit of a Brandon Sanderson fangirl!

Currently I'm "proper" reading A Storm of Swords (GRRM) on Kindle and rereading (after a gap of 30 years) Shardik by Richard Adams.