Tag Archives: London

A Lovely Way to Burn – Louise Welsh

This is an interesting mix between a Plague story and a murder mystery.  Set in London, people are getting sick with what has been dubbed ‘The Sweats.’  People respond with a mix of paranoia and apathy.  You will always have the group that raids the grocery stores for food and water.  You will also have the group who stay at work believing the panic to be nothing more than a craze.  There is also the set that will camp out at the pub reveling in the fact that maybe the bar owner died but that just means you won’t have to pay your tab.  This all happens in ‘A Lovely Way to Burn’ but its a backdrop.  Stevie is young, beautiful, and works as a  Shopping Network Presenter.  She is the person who gets equally wildly excited about selling you Christmas Lights, a cookware set, or jewelry.  Her initial desire was to become a journalist but she fell into this job and got really comfortable.  When her handsome, materialistic, doctor boyfriend doesn’t return her phone calls she decides he’s moved on.  She works herself up to a tizzy, goes to pick up her stuff, and finds him dead in his bed.  At first she believes it was ‘The Sweats,’ everyone is getting it, but then his co-workers, and the family she never met, ask if it could be suicide.  She’d only been dating him for a few months so she doesn’t really know.  Then she finds he left her his computer with strict instructions it can only be given to one person, the only doctor he trusted.  With this new info his cause of death becomes questionable.

Amongst people dying of a genuine plague Stevie sets out on the mystery of what happened to her boyfriend.  Stevie is immune.  She got sick but is one of the few who got better.  What does she decide to do with her immunity?  Does she help people to find a cure?  Does she seek safety to ride this illness out? No.  Stevie takes foolish risks driving around London with no thought to finding food, shelter, or rationing gas.  This fairly shallow character decides amongst a dying city she is going to find out what happened to her boyfriend.  Is it because she loved him and is heartbroken?  Is it because she believes in what he was doing?  No.  Stevie knows very little about the man she was dating.  She knew he liked fancy restaurants, nice cars, and they had a good time together.  She didn’t know him well enough to care to meet his friends or find out much about what he did.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with this.  I don’t expect utter devotion to someone you’ve only been casually dating, but I also don’t comprehend risking your life, at the end of the world, to find out why they were killed when you just weren’t that invested.  Many characters ask her why she is bothering to find out what happened to him when the entire city is dying.   I wholeheartedly agree with them.

Stevie and the rest of the characters in the book are shallow and not particularly likable.  I had a hard time getting into the book.  Towards the end it got better.  That said, I could not figure out why we were wasting time on the mystery of Simon’s death when the plague has come to town.  I kept looking for what tied the story together.  It felt like the book couldn’t decide what it wanted to be.  It is part of a series, however, and I want to see where book two goes.  The mystery portion gets completed, so I believe book two must be about the devastation reaped by plague.  I haven’t decided if I will read book two, but I do think it must be better.  Stevie will have to figure out survival, and she isn’t nearly as shallow at the end of the book.  So, while not very prudent, she has a chance at developing into a character of substance.  Maybe that will be the moral of the series – even the most frivolous have a shot if life challenges them and they choose to rise to the occasion.


The Mime Order (Bone Season#2) – Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2)

 Publish Date: January 27, 2015

A while ago I received Samantha Shannon’s teaser for ‘The Mime Order.’ It was fantastic but left off at a rather large cliffhanger. I have to give Shannon accolades because now that I have finished the ARC for the entire book I’m left in exactly the same position – driven to distraction and frustrated that I don’t have the ARC for Bone Season #3.

‘The Bone Season’ was a good book. It had some flaws, but it was enjoyable. The plot is fast paced. It introduces you to unforgettable characters and an alternate totalitarian London that is even more controlled than initially presented. ‘The Bone Season’ starts a revolution with the Rephaim, beings from the other side of the Veil, but ‘The Mime Order’s’ focus is on London.  Specifically, it is on the Criminal Syndicate, the illegal underbelly of the city. The forbidden piece of romance in ‘The Bone Season’ is addressed in this book but it’s not the primary focus. There are bigger problems to deal with.  When you have a revolution on your hands romance isn’t that important. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t take on a new intricate and plot enhancing shape, but it still isn’t the plot driver.  Welcome to the good version of Urban Fantasy.

Paige Mahoney is I-4′ Pale Dreamer.  She is the gangs mollisher (lead fighter/bodyguard to the leader) and second in command to their leader Jaxon. Paige is focused on exposing the Rephaim and London’s corrupt puppet government, but it isn’t that easy. The bulk of London’s population doesn’t know the Rephaim exist. Our escapees of penal colony Sheol 1 are doing everything they can just to survive and survival in London requires a clairvoyant or voyant to be part of one of the syndicate gangs. If they try to go it alone they will end up captured by the government or dead. Fear mongering propaganda is spread through the streets and without Jaxon’s and the syndicates protection Paige would be dead in moments. There is a bounty on her head and every night televised executions are shown to the public of Voyant escapees or unlucky Voyant look-a-likes. It’s pure show. The Rephaim are using the government to flush Paige out. She is the real threat – a figure to rally the syndicate against the Rephaim. Our poor Paige quickly becomes disillusioned.  As long as the Syndicate Mime Lords (Criminal Voyant Gang Leaders) survive and get their cut they are fine to keep the status quo.  The delicate balance can last only so long, however.  It is so much worse than Paige ever thought. London is going to be turned upside down.

This is a favorite series for me. ‘The Bone Season’ was enjoyable but Shannon has found her voice with this book. Paige is an intelligent if impetuous new adult. She’s forced to learn patience. This alone makes it feel real. The world building and language are natural. The villains are worthy. The real villains aren’t the ones we see coming and Shannon sure knows how to handle them. I would reread it immediately but I have other book commitments. The cliffhanger at the end is painful. When will I ever learn? I don’t have this kind of patience/self-control. I think receiving ARC’s is feeding my “need” for immediate gratification. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I “need” the third book already. I got the second book early. I am a greedy bastard.

I received the Mime Order’ from Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA in return for an honest review

 


The Mime Order (Bone Season#2) – Samantha Shannon (9 chapter teaser)

The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2)

Oh my! I received the 9 chapter teaser for Samantha  Shannon’s second book in the The Bone Season series.  Was I happy to see it was just a teaser?  No, but did it stop me from requesting it?  No.  I’ve read teasers before and generally come away feeling no worse for it, but this left a hell of a cliffhanger.  I don’t like the term “tease” but lacking a better term for this…well, this was a tease!  I’m left frustrated and wanting more…

“The Mime Order’ is better than ‘The Bone Season.’  It is better written.  I was never bored.  This book, at least the 9 chapters I was able to read, does not focus on the Rephaim.  The books focus is on the Syndicate.  Do you enjoy delving into the illegal underbelly of an alternate London?  Do you like strong female characters that aren’t teenagers?  Do you like magic or clairvoyant behavior?  Do you like a books that do not have romance as the primary focus?  Welcome to the good version of Urban Fantasy.

Paige Mahoney is the Pale Dreamer.  She is a mollisher, the second in command of a powerful voyant (clairvoyant human) syndicate headed by a crazy man by the name of Jax.  She is Irish, and the Irish are not thought of highly in this version of London.  Any practice of voyant powers are outlawed and to survive you better be part of one of the syndicate voyant gangs or you will end up captured by the government or dead.  The London population is afraid of voyance and they are quick to eradicate it.  The funny thing about this is it’s a show.  The city is controlled by Rephaim, dangerous alien creatures that protect humanity from an even worse alien threat in exchange for captive Voyants.  The Rephaim feed off the voyant auras.  This is hidden from the average London population.  The fear mongering propaganda is solely a tool for a corrupt puppet government to capture and provide Voyants as sacrificial lambs to the Rephaim and keep their twisted bargain.  So, Paige returns to her London to try to correct this bigger problem; to rally the syndicate against the Rephaim.  Our poor Paige quickly becomes disillusioned.  As long as the Syndicate and Mime Lords (Criminal Voyant Gang Leader) are getting their cut they are fine to keep the status quo.  The delicate balance can last only so long, however.  Changes will come…and that is where the cliffhanger comes in.  No spoilers.

I am now biting my nails in frustration. The wee  taste of this book I received has only made the wait for the COMPLETE book harder.  Oh, and it’s no longer coming out in October I heard the release date has been pushed back to January..ish.  I’m a very patient lady in most respects of my life, but I have no literary patience.  I want immediate satisfaction.  The fact that what I read is a vast improvement over ‘The Bone Season’ doesn’t help.  I liked ‘ The Bone Season’ by the way.  It had a few flaws, but it was a great debut for Samantha Shannon.  There were no flaws I could see in this “teaser.”  That’s all I have to say.  I’m off to find the literary alternative to a cold shower.  Any suggestions????


All Clear – Connie Willis

All Clear

I love historical fiction and science fiction so you could say this series is made for me but I would say Connie Willis did even better on this book than the first. It has more action and ties all the stories together neatly.  This is the sequel to Black Out which is set in World War II in London.  The series follows three time travelers and the entourage they accumulate during the Blitz.  It is a unique take on what an everyday Londoner rather than a War Hero or spy experienced.  This focused more on the shop girls, elderly men and women, and children experience.  All with an enjoyable bit of time travel.

I will say I’m disappointed there is not to be a third in this series. I wanted more. I wanted to hear more about Elaine and Polly. I won’t say more about that for fear of spoilers. Katherine Kellgren did a fabulous job narrating this on Audible. After I finished this I got the Doomsday Book (also by Connie Willis) and if you read it, in my opinion, Connie Willis did a much better job on this series but All Clear in particular. Don’t miss out on this. I made my mother, not a huge science fiction fan but a definite fan of historical WWII fiction and non-fiction, download this on her kindle. I don’t do that for anyone because I try not to force anyone to read anything but I made an exception this time. ….oh, and she loved it!


Midnight Riot: Rivers of London Book 1 – Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot (Peter Grant, #1)

Oh so good! This is police drama with urban fantasy done right. Peter Grant is a recently made constable that starts to see ghosts. This surprise has some down sides but has the decidedly great advantage of saving him from being a paperwork monkey that fills out other constable’s and detectives paperwork for them. While that would be a “valuable service,” it is not the service he signed up for. He wants to be a proper thief-taker.
Ben Aaronovitch creates a fabulously British view of London. It’s modern, funny, and has the perfect and accurate pop culture references. I picked it up because I was trolling Daniel O’Malley’s blog, hoping to find out when the sequel to “The Rook” was coming,and he recommended The Peter Grant series for those of us needing anything similar to satisfy our impatience.

This is a quick but fun read that will make you laugh. Make sure you have the sequel because you will not want to wait. It has some light sexual content and profanity but nothing extreme a slightly worldly teenager can’t handle. Have your parents ever slipped up and sworn in front of you? Yes? You can handle this.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does a fabulous narration! It enhanced the book for me. The accents were fantastic and the characters were differentiated well. The entirety is in a strong British accent but as it is set in London this was perfect. I will listen to anything he narrates and intend to listen rather than read the rest of this series.


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