To read, reading, read…

by Jennifer

I love to read, I always have. But as I get older I find myself more and more willing to stop reading mid-stream. Ironically, eBooks have made this even more likely, as I stop reading something, thinking “I’ll come back to this…” all the while knowing that, well, I won’t.

Devil’s Punch (2012)
by Ann Aguirre

Thus we come to today. I finished Devil’s Punch by Ann Aguirre. This was a good book. It’s the third I’ve read about Corine Solomon and I’m enjoying the ride.

Corine is a woman who can sense the history, especially strong emotional history, of items when she touches them. In recent books she has undergone some changes to become more of a witch, but as is the course of many urban fantasies, she has to make choices that on the face of them are evil and so has been branded a black witch by most other practitioners.

When her best friend is stolen by demons and taken to hell (Sheol), Corine puts her life and soul on the line to go save her. That is some friend! Of course, in the course of getting to hell and saving herself and her friends, she has to make more gray choices.

There were bits in the middle that were confusing, especially as Corine is slowly being subsumed by a demon queen who has been a parasite on the Solomon line for hundreds of years. But right before the point where I would get so confused about who was in control of Corine’s body, it would be made clear again.

The action was fast paced and fun, and the story didn’t stick to standard tropes in fantasy, so I was surprised at how she ended it. The story starts in Mexico, moves to Sheol, and ends up in London. And Corine saves her friend, but with a large cost to herself and her soul.

After the break are two more reviews of a book I’m reading and another that I am starting to read.

Warrior (2010)
by Zoe Archer

This was the book I interrupted to start reading Devil’s Punch. I got through 49% before my library copy expired, and I was almost relieved that that happened, as then I wouldn’t have to slog through it any more.

The problem with this book was not that it was bad — it wasn’t. It is a mystery set in the early 1900s or late 1800s about a mystical group that is dedicated to protecting the world’s natural magical wonders from falling into the wrong hands. The problem was it felt like it was trying to be two types of book at the same time:

  • steampunk
  • romance

There’s nothing wrong with combining these two genres. In fact a lot of books by Luna press seem to be doing essentially that (for them it’s Fantasy/Romance). It’s like a bunch of Romance writers realized that they enjoyed reading or writing SciFi and Fantasy and decided that there needed to be more books in that area. I have no problem with this, in fact, I’m enjoying it a lot.

But I don’t come to these books from the romance genre. In fact, the most romance I ever read was in college when I wrote a women’s studies paper on the differences between how women talk in SciFi novels and in Romance novels. For that paper, I had to read a bunch of Romance novels and tear them apart. Writing the paper was much easier for me than reading the novels. I felt like my eyes were bleeding towards the end of that quarter.

So, in reading Warrior every time we got to a scene where the two main characters started to express their feelings (not unrequited, but unexpressed because of societal mores), I started getting bored. As a SciFi reader I’m used to romantic scenes being fairly quickly defined and over quickly in order to get to the action. But these scenes (and mind you, at the point where I got to, they were completely unconsummated, I think he may have touched her breast one time, over her coat) would go on for several pages. In some ways it was awe inspiring that the author could go on for so long about heavy looks, furtive kisses, and desirous thoughts.

It was pretty disappointing to me because the rest of the story is more like something a la “Indiana Jones” and that was interesting. But it started feeling like a chore I had to finish in order to get to a story I wanted to read.

Magic Dreams (2012)
by Ilona Andrews

When I started this post, this novella was in the “To Read” category. I had been getting recommendations of Andrews’ work and I decided to try her out with an inexpensive ($2.99) novella. I wasn’t disappointed. This was a very fun and fast read and even though I’d read none of her other works, I didn’t have any problems understanding the rules of magic in her world. And the explanation came naturally in the course of the story rather than pedantically tacked on at the beginning or end.

The story is about a shape-shifting white tiger and her alpha, who, she believes, doesn’t know she exists. He discovers a problem in their pack(?) and investigates, getting himself targeted in the process. Mali then has to save him using her magic and the magic of her family.

This was a fast read but it didn’t feel fast. I now want to know more about this world and the people in it (especially Jim and Mali). This novella did exactly what both I and the author would hope for. I now want to check out or buy more of her books.