World After (Penryn and the End of Days, #2) – re-read

World AfterWorld After
by Susan Ee
Rating: ★★★
isbn: 1477867287
Series: Penryn End of Days #2
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Pages: 438
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Skyscape

I hadn’t planned on re-reading all three of the Penryn books, but I should have known better; I’ve never been able to just re-read one book in a series without wanting to re-read them all.

This one stands up exactly as well as it did the first time around.  It’s good, but not awesome, and of course, the whole science fiction angle doesn’t score points with me, as it’s just not my jam.  Still, the angel mythology remains compelling.

Why would Angels need science if they have magic?  Why would they need human doctors?  Human-derived technology?  None of this is explained in either of the two books so far.

INSERT SPOILER TAG HERE

I really liked the way the author used Raffe’s sword to share with Penryn and the reader Raffe’s POV and some of his long backstory.  Also, the sword’s way of using those memories as training exercises for Penryn – not that she ever used the lessons as far as I could tell.  Once past the halfway-ish mark, the story started pulling me in again.  It’s no coincidence that it’s also about the same time Raffe makes his re-appearance in Penryn’s life.  The two of them together are a more intriguing story to me than they are apart.

There’s a soupçon of humour in this book that was all but missing in the first one.  I’m still shaking my head over ‘Pooky Bear’ but can totally appreciate the naturalness of how the name came about.  Put me in the same scene in place of Penryn, and I’d have responded in much the same way to Dee/Dum.  Though I’d have probably said ‘Twinkle Toes’ or something equally obnoxious.

I read somewhere that 5 books are planned for this series.  If that’s the case, I predict, even though this book ends with the tides seemingly turning against the Angels, that they will rally in the third book.  It’s hard to imagine stringing this out for more than 3, 4 books at the most, but I’m sure the author has much more in store for everyone.

Just please don’t let it be more science fiction.

Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, #1) – Re-read

AngelfallAngelfall
by Susan Ee
Rating: ★★★½
isbn: 0761463275
Series: Penryn End of Days #1
Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Pages: 284
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Skyscape

This is a re-read for me; I was going through my archives, trying to update this blog and my presence on the new site, bookhype.com, when I came across is and just felt like I needed to re-read it.

It held up well, though my original rating was 4 stars, and on the re-read it gets 3.5.  I’m not sure why, except that on the second read, I found parts tedious.  But it remains a compelling read.  I still didn’t really connect with Penryn as a character, but Raffe became more compelling.

The same elements of it disturbed me that disturbed me the first time around; I don’t think I’d really like to see the imaginings of Susan Ee too up close and personal, but the story remains, to a degree, haunting.

World After (Penryn and the End of Days, #2)

World AfterWorld After
by Susan Ee
Rating: ★★★
isbn: 1477867287
Series: Penryn End of Days #2
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Pages: 438
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Skyscape

I couldn’t wait for the paperback; I had to see what was going to happen next. iBooks wasn’t selling it and I gave in to weakness and bought it from Amazon. Ultimately, I should have just waited and bought it in paperback.

If you haven’t read Angelfall and you think you might want to, beware there might be spoilers here for you

World After, for much of the first half of the book, was just too Science Fiction for my taste. All those scorpion/locust chimera’s and Angels performing science experiments. Not for me. The whole thing just felt too contrived. While Angelfall didn’t feel like a book written with the YA demographic specifically in mind, World After did. It was still a good read; I just felt like some of the suspension of disbelief needed in this book would be easier for someone closer to that age group.

View Spoiler »

I really liked the way the author used Raffe’s sword to share with Penryn and the reader Raffe’s POV and some of his long backstory. Also, the sword’s way of using those memories as training exercises for Penryn – not that she ever used the lessons as far as I could tell. Once past the halfway-ish mark, the story started pulling me in again. It’s no coincidence that it’s also about the same time Raffe makes his re-appearance in Penryn’s life. The two of them together are a more intriguing story to me than they are apart.

There’s a soupçon of humour in this book that was all but missing in the first one. I’m still shaking my head over “Pooky Bear” but can totally appreciate the naturalness of how the name came about. Put me in the same scene in place of Penryn, and I’d have responded in much the same way to Dee/Dum. Though I’d have probably said “Twinkle Toes” or something equally obnoxious.

Generally, enjoyable.

 

Why would Angels need science if they have magic?  Why would they need human doctors?  Human-derived technology?  None of this is explained in either of the two books so far.

INSERT SPOILER TAG HERE

I really liked the way the author used Raffe’s sword to share with Penryn and the reader Raffe’s POV and some of his long backstory.  Also, the sword’s way of using those memories as training exercises for Penryn – not that she ever used the lessons as far as I could tell.  Once past the halfway-ish mark, the story started pulling me in again.  It’s no coincidence that it’s also about the same time Raffe makes his re-appearance in Penryn’s life.  The two of them together are a more intriguing story to me than they are apart.

There’s a soupçon of humour in this book that was all but missing in the first one.  I’m still shaking my head over ‘Pooky Bear’ but can totally appreciate the naturalness of how the name came about.  Put me in the same scene in place of Penryn, and I’d have responded in much the same way to Dee/Dum.  Though I’d have probably said ‘Twinkle Toes’ or something equally obnoxious.

I read somewhere that 5 books are planned for this series.  If that’s the case, I predict, even though this book ends with the tides seemingly turning against the Angels, that they will rally in the third book.  It’s hard to imagine stringing this out for more than 3, 4 books at the most, but I’m sure the author has much more in store for everyone.

Just please don’t let it be more science fiction.

Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, #1)

AngelfallAngelfall
by Susan Ee
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 0761463275
Series: Penryn End of Days #1
Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Pages: 284
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Skyscape

I think this is a 4 star read.  I reserve the right to change my rating after the story has settled in a bit.  It’s certainly one that will stay with me for awhile.

I find Angel mythologies fascinating.  Paradoxically, I rarely read fiction involving Angels, because I’m rather picky.  Most fiction I’ve run across involving angels portray them as pure, pull of love.  Automatons, or more kindly, one-dimensional and without free-will.  Being raised in a rather old-school but highly academic Catholic environment (firmly team Evolution here) I grew up hearing my mother tell of the battles the Angels raged, and how ultimately, one angel built his army and chose to stand against God.  Angelfall indeed.

I hadn’t even heard of Angelfall until I started seeing all the reviews on Booklikes talking about what an excellent story it told.  I read the synopsis and thought ‘Oh, this sounds good, but wait – Post-Apacolyptic? No, thanks, not a fan’.  But still the reviews came and I got intrigued.

I’ll say this: the story sucked me in well and truly.  So many elements of it disturbed me, especially towards the end, obviously.  I prefer not to be disturbed, generally speaking.  I also felt like the ending veered rather sharply away from UF and stuck it’s toe into Science Fiction, which I’m also not a fan of.  But sucked in and firmly hooked I was.  To the point of cranky snappishness whenever I was forced to stop reading for mundane things, like, say, eating.

I’ll not cover old, worn out ground by providing a synopsis.  I’m not going to gush about the characters either since I feel oddly ambivalent about most all of them except Josiah.  And, I guess, Raffe.  Ee wrote a tragic character there, but one I found myself invested in.

Again, I think I’ll have to let the story sit with me for awhile.  The ending just got a little too weird for me.  I’ll definitely be reading the next one though.  Well and truly hooked.

Fashionably Dead (Hot Damned, #1)

A fun, somewhat amusing way to pass time when you’re stuck at work with nothing to do (not even legitimate work!).

 

The premise of the story reminds me a lot of the Undead series by MaryJanice Davidson. With Prada. The story is told to entertain, with a few sex scenes to make it a bit steamy, and eccentric characters galore. Also, chock full o’ girl power.

 

Cotton Candy comes to mind when I try to make a comparison: fun, sweet, in swirly bright colours, it gives you a rush when you first consume it, but it doesn’t stay with you long.

 

The story leaves off with a cliffhanger, so there’s definitely another book in the future. If I’m still looking for an entertaining way to kill time, I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading it.

Bran New Death (A Merry Muffin Mystery #1)

This is a very well written book with an excellent story and plot. It misses that last half star because I just didn’t connect well with the main character. Her two friends, yes. Her hinted-at future love interest – not even a little bit. So I was left feeling that while I really enjoyed the story, I didn’t empathise with the main character or her future life in Autumn Vale at all.

 

The setting was really well done – Autumn Vale is full of quirky, eccentric folks and I found that the setting was written with realism – this isn’t the idyllic quaint town that hums along; this is a quaint little town that is dying, with more storefronts closed up than open. There’s a lot potential here for future development in subsequent books.

 

The central murder plot was very well crafted; this is a meaty story and not one I think you’re likely to breeze through. Ms. Hamilton writes another series and in comparison, there is a much more mature quality to the plotting and writing in this first-in-a-new-series. The action moved along, there was well crafted dialogue, and not a lot of filler in the form of internal dialogue – there was a bit of ‘let’s sum up the suspects’ but it was minimal and didn’t really take me out of the flow of the story.

 

A convoluted plot with suspects known and unknown. Well done to the end.

 

I’ll definitely pick up the next book – there’s a bit of a cliff hanger in the form of a puzzle yet to be solved; that could prove to be fun. I’ll hope that in the next book I’ll find more to connect with regarding the main character, Merry.

Gone With the Woof (A Melanie Travis Mystery #16)

I’ve been a fan of this series since the first book came out years ago, and they’re books I will occasionally re-read. I was certain the last book, Doggie Day Care Murder (Melanie Travis Mysteries, #15), was the last one, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the upcoming release of Gone With the Woof. I made sure to pre-order it and couldn’t wait to revisit old friends.

 

For this long time fan, the story didn’t disappoint. Melanie, Sam, Aunt Peg, Bertie – the gang is all here and are as likeable and delightful as ever. Aunt Peg is still bossy, Sam is still easy-going and Mel is still giving as good as she gets.

 

The plot is one involving the sins of a father and son and I thought it was well done. There was a pivotal moment in the book when I had the ‘ah hah!’ moment and knew who the killer was – but it happened towards the end of the book and nothing was really lost with the knowing.

 

I found the climax a little bit odd as there was no way the killer wasn’t going to be caught so I don’t know what motivated that final scene. But I enjoyed it all the same.

 

I don’t know whether to look forward to another book or not? I certainly will be pleased if there is, but with 5 years in between this and the last, and after 16 books, I’m afraid to get my hopes up too high.

Clammed Up (A Maine Clambake Mystery #1)

This book started slow for me, and I was certain it wouldn’t be a 4 star read. But it was well-written and something kept me from just putting it down and walking away. As I kept reading, the story built momentum, and I became more engrossed, more invested, with each chapter.

 

The story takes place in Maine and the characters adhere to the stoic typecast of most residents of Maine. The result is not a light-hearted, humorous book or setting. The characters are likeable, but they aren’t charming or witty or cheeky; it takes time to warm to them. There’s also a fair amount of family drama to work through in this book, and that ratchets up the stoicism just that little bit more.

 

Julia has just moved back to Maine from New York City in an attempt to save the family business, and has no real friends in town to speak of, so no opportunities for banter or for the lighter side of a personality to shine through. Quentin shows promise in the future for more levity, but he doesn’t play a massive part in this plot and isn’t seen very often.

 

The plot itself was delightfully twisty and the ending was skilfully done; there was no guessing on my part – I hadn’t a clue how the story was going to end. A few threads were tied up a bit neatly at the end, but none of them central to the murder and none of them a surprise. I will say the author knows how to end a book too!

 

A very strong first, and I’m looking forward to reading the second.

Midnight Blue-Light Special (InCryptid, #2)

A fun, entertaining read that I found myself lost in and didn’t want to put down. All the characters in this motley crew were likeable (except the female dragons, and we don’t see them much); I think Islas might be my favourite; she had some of the best lines in the book.  The writer used humour to soften what could have been some dark scenes – something I appreciated as I don’t really go for the dark stuff.

 

The plot was very fast-paced with constant movement; not a lot of time was wasted with unnecessary dialogue, there was always something happening to forward the storyline.

 

The writer mentions at the end of the book that the next book will focus on another member of the Price family, so I’m not sure I’ll pick up the next one or not. I really grew attached to Verity, Sarah, Dominic and the Freakshow crew.

Mama Gets Trashed (A Mace Bauer Mystery #5)

I enjoyed this book, but I’m giving it three stars because I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the first three books.

 

The plot was excellent and the subject matter not too many cozies authors would tackle – this book is going to either skirt or cross right over that line for a lot of folks. The subject matter doesn’t offend me at all, but I have a rather wider definition of cozy mystery than some. The major plot twist was one I guessed at pretty early on, although I was never sure of the villain so the ending was both climatic and satisfying (no puns intended). I love all the old-Florida touches throughout the book.

 

What disappointed me about this book were the characters – Mama isn’t funny anymore, she’s just shallow and narcissistic; the author, imo, has lost sight of what made mama funny in the first few books. Mace’s inability to get her head together as it concerns her relationship with Carlos is feeling overdone as well. She’s a protagonist I can rally behind; she’s smart, she’s capable, she’s independent. But her inability to apply her strengths in the rest of her life to her love life feels thin, contrived and tired. Time to grow up. Also, this whole Carlo-and-Mace-fight-then-just-carry-on-like-nothing-ever-happened….what the hell is that? I don’t like having to be involved in hashing out my own relationship issues, so I certainly don’t want to be dragged into someone else’s, fictional or not, but I’m certain the author can write a scene in there somewhere to let the reader know that serious communication between these two is taking place – the talking kind, not the kind taking place in the back seat of cars in cow pastures – and problems are being addressed in a constructive, progressive manner. Otherwise, each book is going to start feeling like a broken record.

 

I’ll be on the lookout for the next book, but I’m not going to be nearly as excited about it as I’ve been to this point.