Writings: February Reading List & Reviews by Beth Bowser

Novels by Karen Chance, Charles Stross, and Katherine Neville February Reading & Reviews Click here for a printer friendly version of this page

I need to start this month's reading list by thanking all of you for the novel suggestions! Two of this month's books were suggestions and I loved reading them! The first novel of March will also be a suggested read. Thank you and keep them coming, please!

The first choice of Feb was Touch The Dark by Karen Chance, the first in the Cassandra Palmer series. It's an urban alternate history novel where vampires, wizards, magic, and seers are common! The main character, Cassandra, is a human seer and, supposedly, to keep your ability to be a seer, you must remain human as vampires attempted to turn humans to vampires in the past and they all lost future sight. So Cassandra is, or was, being held by a powerful vampire who used her future sights for his financial gains. It was a bit of a slog to get though I'm sorry to say. I like the premise, but the delivery was lacking... It felt like the author was constantly having Cassandra thinking about things, causing huge info dumps, at the oddest times. Middle of fight with lots of death happening? Check! Here's Cassandra thinking about wards. I know the readers want to know about this stuff, but maybe not while a fight is happening? It screwed up the pacing for me. It also was an example of 'telling' when authors are supposed to show not tell. Maybe it just needed more dialog to break up all the explanatory narration. It wasn't terrible, but I don't know if I'm going to read more of the series.

The second novel of February was a suggestion, Neptune's Brood, by Charles Stross. Technically, this is also the second book, and last, of the series Reyaverse, but my understanding is that the novels in this series work as stand alone books that are just set in the same world. Neptune's Brood is set very very far into the future, 5000 years future, where humans, or fragiles, are extinct. The main character, Krina Alizond-114, is the 114th copy or a double of the original Alizond metahuman. She's an accountant specializing in historical accountancy. I started reading afraid I would dislike reading about accounting, but the book was actually very good! Some points are slow, like reading about the difference between fast and slow money, but it does actually make sense. I can also see something like that happening in the future, where you are born into debt and debt is the universal economy. Even with all the explanation rife in the book, it's still a fast read! I mean, I did slow down at certain points to ensure I understand the historical accountant career, for example. Anyway, the writing was wonderful! Even if you don't generally care for science fiction, I would implore you to give this novel a try, it's got some slow moments, but nothing that angered me like inconsistencies or impossibilities that are all too common in many hard science fiction novels!

The final novel for the month was The Eight by Katherine Neville. A member of my SHEG group suggested it may be a masterwork for my novel. I really hope it's not a masterwork. In my sheg member's defense, I've not shared much of my novel yet so I don't hold it against her. The Eight is a thriller adventure in the style of Da Vinci Code. I believe my novel is more of a political thriller, but the politics are slight. The story is more about the main character growing as person rather than uncovering mysteries of the world. But I degress, on to the book review! The Eight is complete with hidden codes, pictures with special meanings, and nearly everything in the novel has another meaning. I don't care for that type of novel so reading it was a slog and took me more than half the month to finish. There are two main characters, one who is a computer expert working for OPEC, at it's beginning, from 1972 and the other, a nun from 1792. The whole novel focuses on a chess set and finding all the pieces of it. This chess set has mystical powers that people, because people are people, seek to control and murder to further their aims of course. Too often I had to hand wave away the inconsistencies. It was all too common that a character did something physically impossible that the author didn't explain or acknowledge. My biggest complaint is that there were just too many characters. The Author had a full set for both time lines and it was difficult to keep track of them all! I also came to hate all the mentions of known historical figures that appeared in the book. Catherine the Great of Russia was involved in the chess set craziness? I bet she was, sure... Overall, not a bad book, but I can't recommend it unless you love historical fiction, especially of a sleuth persuasion and consider Da Vinci Code a favorite of your own already.