Thursday, June 9, 2016

Indexing by Seanen McGuire

For those of you who have been following along, it's summer time. For me, that means yard work and long walks and gardening and audiobooks. Audiobooks are something I latched on to a couple years back and now they rule my life. Be very careful if you start down this road, because they literally go everywhere with you. Cleaning house? Audiobook. Driving? Shopping? Definitely an audiobook experience ready to happen.

So here's my latest listen. Indexing by Seanen McGuire.

Henrietta Marchen works for the ATI, a branch of the government that keeps fairytales from turning our world inside out. With the help of her team, they respond to incidents of stories ready to burst through and go full Grim on us.

This was an audio 'read', so a lot of the poor writing issues others seem to have experienced, didn't exist for me. The characters came across as very realistic inside the world McGuire built. I love Sloan. Love. Her. Who wouldn't? She's an honest to goodness wicked sister who says all the things we'd like to come Monday morning. Just don't eat the donuts she brings to the office.

Following the world build is easier if you don't think about it too hard. If you want to get all logical about fairytale incursions, be my guest. I chose not to. What I did not care for, (and after finding out this began as a serialized kindle story, it becomes understandable) was that in the beginning when the author would switch from 1st person pov, where the investigation took place, to third person POV, to let the reader in on what was happening inside the fairytale in progress, the time lines didn't flow like they should.

I don't care for stories that shift between 1st and 3rd, and I also don't like shifting back and forth between timeframes. The process was choppy at the beginning, but smoothed out toward the end, developing a pattern that made sense. I wondered why the front didn't match. Now I know. I made up with the 1st to 3rd shifts, as they do serve a really good purpose and, toward the end, were accomplished to better effect. I still wonder why the entire story hasn't been better edited.

Seeing the improvement though, I would pick up the next book, on audio.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy

Mutations abound in the world built by Steven Campbell. Hank’s mutation? He’s hard to kill, as in, really hard to kill. He’s tough and strong and the one the crime lords of Belvaille call when they need their point made.

But Hank does just as much verbal negotiating as he does beating down a target. It’s easy for him. You just look at what is at stake and search for the compromise everyone involved can live with. And nobody wants Hank mad at them. That helps.

Life in Belvaille has established its own rhythm over the years. Centuries, for Hank. He knows where everything stands, including himself—and then this blue girl shows up. She wants drugs. A lot of them. Hank can get them, and he does. Then he finds out those drugs aren’t for her, but for her level ten mutant brother. Which leaves Hank in the middle when the galaxy forces show up to take him back into custody.

I loved this story. I found it a bit sophomoric in places, but deliciously so. Hank is a fun character. The action never stops and Hank, being Hank, lives through all of it. He’s got a knack for that, it seems. This is number one in a series I will be continuing.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review: Halfway Bitten

Bodies are turning up in Halfway, and that’s not okay. Not just because this little tourist town nestled in the depths of the Adirondacks is a slice of heaven with waffles, but because this is Carlie’s territory. Her family has lived in Halfway for generations, using their magic to protect the people here from all manner of creepies that lumber and dart in the dark.

And now it seems Carlie is failing in that mission. Something is hunting in her town. That is not allowed.

First on her list of suspects is the traveling circus that’s landed in Halfway. Clowns that are never out of costume. Odd atmosphere of power she can’t put her finger on. Something doesn’t feel right. Enlisting the aid of her gran, Carlie begins investigating. As the corpse count begins to increase, the stakes—literal ones—are raised, forcing Carlie and her gran to take on a power older than both of them.

This is book two of the Halfway series. Carlie is still the witch with the best waffles in town and a love of helping those around her. Gran steps up to the plate in a major way this time around, introducing Carlie to the ghostly past of Halfway and even more of her own gifts. As always with a Maggert story, history comes to bear. I normally enjoy this, (and I didn’t not enjoy it this time,) but I did feel it was a weakly developed plot line, as was the romance between Carlie and Wulfric. Our historic n’er-do-well appears and then she’s gone. Poof!

What I’m trying to say, is that I didn’t get a strong sense of attachment to her as the villain throughout this story. There is a villain. Something villainy and wrong is happening in Halfway, but the actions are attached to a shadowy figure and when she’s disclosed, that’s it. Anticlimactic.

We won’t talk about what happened to Wulfric at the end. Suffice to say, a good man is hard to find, and even harder to hang on to. Overall, the romance between Carlie and Wulfric was pretty much anecdotal. He didn’t make much of an appearance in this one until nearly the end. She met him the first book. The potential for a relationship was hinted at, but we never get to see the initial steps, and I think we should have. I feel cheated. Where’s the rest of their story?

Okay, so we did talk about it.

That said, all the things I’ve come to love and expect about the Halfway series were there. Carlie is the kind of person you could imagine living next door to. Gran reminds me of Gran from the Sookie Stackhouse stories, except she’s magical. Drinking tea at her house means you get more than a relaxing cuppa. The magical and paranormal elements of the story are well done and woven into the setting of the novels in such a way that they feel as natural as the forest depths of the Adirondacks that Halfway is set in.  

Halfway Hunted is next. Won’t be missing it.