Sarah Rees Brennan (sarahtales) wrote,
Sarah Rees Brennan

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Books Books Books!

May is not all about me-me-me and my-book's-coming-out. No!

There are other books coming out in May too. Really awesome books. So awesome one wonders why they had to come out in May and make me look bad.

Here is to my deadly foes, then...

White Cat by Holly Black

CASSEL: I come from a family of criminals, but as a Not Terrible Person, I am trying to go straight.
WORLD: Magic exists!
READERS: Yes, we have read fantasy books before.
WORLD: It has been illegal ever since Prohibition, which has created a society in which the mob is all magicians.
READERS: Well, that is awesome...
WORLD: Everybody wears gloves so they won't have curses put on them! There are many cool details here.
CASSEL: So yes basically, my family are the magic mob. I have evil brothers.
SARAH: How evil are your brothers! Tell me more.
CASSEL: ANYWAY I am the good brother. Going straight! Living clean! Paying my school fees by running an illegal betting ring!
CASSEL: Look my only skills are being a criminal! It's hard out there for a pimp! Not that I'm a pimp.
READERS: Well that's a relief.
CASSEL: I did kill a girl this one time. What I was fourteen.
CASSEL: But now I'm a nice, normal schoolboy. Going straight! Living clean! I have a girlfriend and friends and-
AUDREY: I am dumping you. Bad boys are great. BUT YOU SIR, YOU ARE TOO BAD. YOU ARE THE WORST.
CASSEL: No, I am nice! And normal! And...
SAM: Cassel, I like you. But, and I say this with love, you are an insane criminal.
CAT: purr
CASSEL: Nice kitty. How can my life get any worse.
BARRON: 'Sup. Did you ever wonder if there were any dark secrets in our family?
CASSEL: I thought our dark secrets were all those crimes we commit all the time.
BARRON: Sure. I mean those too.
CASSEL: Oh God. Well, I see due to all the terrible things that are happening to me that I'm the protagonist of a novel. Where's my love interest?
CAT: purr

I love this book. It is so clever. The world is so awesome. The heroine would be the evil femme fatale in any other book. And I love with a sick love books that deal with family, and the evil families can commit against each other, the love that remains, and the twists and turns of the love-and-pain screws. And I love Cassel's spare, funny voice: a noir detective who is a teenage boy in pain who is very intelligent, very amusing and totally heartbreaking.

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

I cannot summarise this book because it is the last of the trilogy! And I would just be ruthlessly spoiling you for them, but this is my review of book one: YOU SHOULD ALL READ THEM.

Suffice it to say that the adventures of Chloe the tiny necromancer, Derek the grumpiest ugly werewolf kid in town, his handsome foster brother Simon and Chloe's crazy rival turned crazy friend Tori conclude with resounding awesomeness.

One of my favourite scenes was Chloe, who has always been shy and prone to backing down, having a moment of 'This guy - who I really really like - has done something and I must call him on it but it's not that big a deal and I want him to like me and I can just let it go and I absolutely know he is a good guy and everything could just be okay and-' and then she spoke up, and called him on it. It was just a little moment. But it felt so real, and it was so important for the character, and it was great.

Mistwood by Leah Cypess

ISABEL: I am a monstrous creature of myth, created to serve the king of this land.
ROKAN: I am king.
ISABEL: Servin'! I don't think I want to mention my memory is on the blink and my shapeshifting abilities are not all they could be. I am still the royal killing machine.
CLARISSE: I am the king's politically astute, cold-hearted, scheming sister!
ISABEL: I'm more cold-hearted than you on account of being NOT EVEN HUMAN.
CLARISSE AND ISABEL: Cold-hearted lady stand-off at dawn!
ROKAN: Would anyone like to talk about love? And feelings?
CLARISSE AND ISABEL: Ladies say what.
ROKAN: Do you FEEL, Isabel?
ISABEL: I feel good about turning my hand into a claw and slicing a dude's throat right out.
ROKAN: weeps into royal handkerchief
KINGDOM: is torn by question of who the rightful king actually is
ISABEL: is torn by question of who the rightful king actually is
CLARISSE: I don't trust you.
ISABEL: I don't trust you either.
CLARISSE AND ISABEL: We are both right.
CLARISSE AND ISABEL: choose their king
READER: Is there any way to vote the Clarisse/Isabel ticket for rulers?

I really really really liked Isabel, who is cold and inhuman and a ruthless killer and amazing. I also love high fantasylands like Megan Whalen Turner's or Tamora Pierce's, and the right of kings being questioned, and truly horribly difficult moral and emotional choices which aren't shied away from. I admit I was not completely convinced on who would be the best choice for king, though, but Isabel and Clarisse are so awesome, I'm happy to go with their choice.

Moonshine by Alaya Johnson

For those at home who are going 'Sarah, you are always about the YA, and you never recommend adult books with sexy times with djinn in them!' To them I say '... that last part of your complaint was extremely specific!' But Moonshine is an adult novel. With djinn in it.

I have heard people say (real people, not the people I made up who want to get down with the djinn element) that they are tired of vampire romance. Well folks, I am here to tell you that I am part of the problem. I have noticed that in almost any book, I want the vampire to get the girl or boy of choice. This is true of Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson series, featuring a mechanic torn between two werewolves (who has a vampire friend with a Scooby van she fixes). It is also true, with even less chance for the vampire, in this tale of 1920s New York avec vampires, djinn, socialite reporters and suffragettes.

ZEPHYR: You know when you've left school and you're an activist and a vegetarian and doing charity work in the city and earnest about everything and-
ZEPHYR: And it's the 1920s and your folks back home are demon hunters but you really think demons are people and it bothers you and there's this very handsome djinn-
MANY PEOPLE: We retract our 'yes.'
ZEPHYR: And you live a good life, with your nice psychic roommate Aileen and your friend the sophisticated socialite razor-sharp reporter Lily and Amir the handsome djinn with only a few problems arising like rescuing illicit baby vampires and being hired to murder vampire mob bosses-
ZEPHYR: Also tutoring an evil gang of child vampires in order to get information. Um - hey there, evil leader of the Turn Boys. In the midst of breaking and entering and indiscriminate slaughter, have you ever considered that it might be fun to learn how to read?
NICHOLAS, EVIL LEADER OF THE TURN BOYS: Yes. All right. Teach me how to read.
ZEPHYR: Excellent!
NICHOLAS: Why are you doing this?
ZEPHYR: I am a bleeding heart liberal. With, and let me be very clear about this, elite demon-killing skills.
NICHOLAS: I'm very musical and very messed up! Do you want to hear about my daddy issues?
AMIR THE HANDSOME DJINN: I'm handsome but really shady! Like even more shady than hiring you to kill people implies.
ZEPHYR'S DEMON-KILLING PARENTS: Honey, is this a good time to visit you in the big city?

I personally am all about Zephyr and Nicholas. But Nicholas does APPEAR (while not being!) rather young. Luckily for readers who are less crazy than me, there is a handsome djinn around. Also - 1920s New York vampire immigrants vampire suffragettes a heroine with a loving family of demon hunters! My very favourite character may be Lily the socialite reporter. I love a lady sleuth.
Tags: book recommendations, book reviews
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