Friday, September 23, 2011

Read a Good Book Lately?

I've got no new books to pimp, nor nothing of profundity to expound upon, so I thought I'd share some good books I've been reading lately - one steampunk romance, one urban fantasy with romantic elements, one grittier urban fantasy with no romance, one Carl Hiaasen-like caper, and a very weird book about an emotionally disturbed teenage werewolf girl.

I've squeed over The Iron Duke everywhere else but I don't know if I've sung Meljean's praises here, so: OhMyGodthisisthebeststeampunkever!!!!

I'm not exaggerating. Best. Steampunk. Ever. The alternate history is well-plotted, the characters are fascinating, the world they live in is just as fascinating, the hero is a dashing and uber-sexy ex-pirate, the plot is dense and complicated and Brook writes beautifully.

And I've only read half of it.

When I realized that bits of Brook's world were leaking into mine (my hero suddenly began exhibiting very Rhys Trahaearn-like traits), I had to put the book down. I won't let myself finish it till my steampunk is done.

You don't have to take my word for it, though. Jayne Ann Krentz says Meljean Brook has defined the genre. I don't think I'll ever define a genre.

I am very, very, very envious of Meljean Brook.

I picked up A Brush of Darkness at the RT book signing back in April, just because I liked the cover and the back cover blurb and I hadn't read anything with faeries in a while. Now I'm eagerly awaiting the next in the series, which will be out early 2012.

Pang has taken the whole universe of paranormal beings--werewolves, vampires, zombies, faeries, angels, incubi, succubi, you name it, they're in here -- and she's managed to come up with something fresh. AND she does it in the first person POV, which I normally can't stand, but here it works.

Abby, the heroine, is vulnerable and tough and smart and damaged, and her inhuman friends are sexy, funny, scary and interesting. Pang's built a believable and original world, and I fell in love with the characters in it.

The Naming of the Beasts is actually the fourth or fifth title in Mike Carey's Felix Castor series, which I'm hooked on. It's gritty urban fantasy set in our world, if in our world ghosts were visible and demons not unheard of. Felix Castor is a London exorcist who's always short of cash and in need of another client. And most of the jobs he ends up taking turn out to be a lot more complicated, and deadly, than he expected going in. He's sometimes assisted by his old friend and landlord Pen (who's in love with Castor's other old friend Rafi, who's possessed by a very big, bad demon, and it's Castor's fault), his zombie data cruncher/fence Nicky, and the deadly succubus Juliette, who tried to eat Castor's soul but ended up befriending him and is now happily married to Susan, an Anglican verger.

It's really not like anything I've read before.

If you like Carl Hiaasen's books you'll probably like Mark Haskell Smith; Booklist says he writes like Hiaasen's oversexed cousin. Delicious is my favorite book of his so far, though Moist and Salty are a lot of fun, too. (None of the titles refer to cooking or eating, although the protagonist of Delicious is a chef.)

Joseph is a native Hawaiian who works for his uncle's Honolulu catering company. When a nasty, greedy old man from Vegas tries to move in and take over the catering market, his uncle and cousin drag Joseph into some bizarre and hilarious situations as they try to protect their ohana from the completely unscrupulous haole.

Smith writes character-driven capers--fast paced, complicated, funny, absurd. His protagonists are sweet, well-intentioned souls (even Moist's Anglo computer slacker turned novice Mexican gangster) who are trying to do the right thing in a complex world full of people who are up to no good. His books are like potato chips - I can finish one in a sitting.

And lastly is one of the weirdest books I've read in a long, long time. Lonely Werewolf Girl is about the youngest daughter of a royal werewolf family from Scotland--they're among the richest and most illustrious werewolf clans in the world, and they're ashamed of the teenage Kalix, because she's a little bit nuts, and addicted to laudanum and has serious rage issues (she killed her father, for one thing.)

So Kalix is taken in by two young British university students, who feed her and clean her up, thereby eventually attracting the attention of Kalix's older sister, a world famous fashion designer who, besides being a werewolf, is a talented sorceress; the Queen of a fire elemental clan with a serious haute couture addiction and a niece who likes to spike her hair and wear duct tape; Kalix's oldest brother, who's determined to take over the Pack and kill Kalix for killing their father; Kalix's cousins, a couple of talented but constantly drugged-up, falling down drunk rock musicians, and a lot more.

The story is told in omniscient third person, which kind of makes the reader feel distant from the characters in a weird way. Millar has a very dry sense of humor, even for a Brit, and he tells the story in a completely deadpan fashion. I never laughed out loud, like I did with Haskell Smith, but I snorted a whole bunch. Even as I kept thinking, "Wow. This is really, really odd," I couldn't put it down. I've just started the follow-up, Curse of the Wolf Girl, and it's just as good. If you're looking for something extremely different, and you like werewolves, check this one out.

1 comment:

Jen B. said...

Out of the 5 books listed, 2 are already on my bookshelf just waiting to be read. Now, I must get a copy of Lonely Werewolf Girl. It doesn't sound like anything else on my shelf. I will check out the other 2 books before I decide if I want to get them. Thanks for the roundup!