Friday, December 20, 2013

Reading...The Lies of Locke Lamora

127455I can't remember how long it's been since I put The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch on my Kindle...but it's been a while. My good friend Heather suggested I read it, but somehow it kept getting pushed to the back of my to-read list. But it popped back up on my radar when Hubby listened to the audio several weeks back and really enjoyed it (and the sequels).

The Lies of Locke Lamora is a deceptively layered book, and highly enjoyable. The author sets you down in the middle of a unique world, and immediately introduces you to thieves and con artists operating in an often brutal, gritty, blood-thirsty place, an island nation that has some pretty chilling pasttimes (the Roman Colloseum has nothing on the Revels of Camorra). I'll admit, it took me a while to get into the story and develop a picture of the place, but there was a spark to the story that kept me going. Then all of a sudden everything locked into place, and I found myself fully invested the characters and their story. The author employs a style of storytelling that has the not-quite-straightforward flavor of oral storytelling -- which I almost always enjoy. He starts out in the past, jumps to the present, then intersperses the present with more glimpses of the past. 

But, at the end of the day, you come for the story and the setting and stay for the Gentleman Bastards. They are witty and cocky and vulgar and a big pack of liars....but they are a family. The characterization of the Gentlemen and of their untraditional family is one of the richest things about the book in my opinion.

The book is sly and witty and has the feel of a good caper, but this is definitely not a "feel good" story. It's messy and bloody and gets pretty grim at the end. Brace yourself. But it's also rich and layered and worth your time. Bottom line: if you want some immersive fantasy and don't mind some grittiness with your wit  -- check it out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reading...Across a Star-Swept Sea

Across a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #2)This summer, I finally read Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars which I loved so much I almost turned to the first page and just read the whole thing again. (Instead, I picked up the inspirational material: Jane Austen's Persuasion). And earlier in the year (or maybe late last year...) I blew through the Secret Society Girls series. Needless to say, I was counting down the days for Peterfreund's latest book, set in the same world as For Darkness Shows the Stars, and a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernell.

Across a Star-Swept Sea had all the things I love about Peterfreund's books - a vivid world, interesting characters, a well-placed plot, friendship, family, and swoony romance. Because I loved this book's companion so much, I did have to remind myself at the beginning that this was a completely different book - where as FDStS was about love and duty and freedom, this book is about power, revolution, making your own choices, and recovering from mistakes. There's intrigue and espionage, and a healthy dose of secret keeping (which is always so frustrating! know...sometimes in a good way when it comes to stories). It was interesting to see a new side of the same world -- both civilizations reacting to the same historical events, but in radically different ways. One of the other things that stood out to me in this book were the villians. The Scarlet Pimpernell is set during the French Revolution, an event in history that gives me chills when I read about it, a sobering example of good ideas gone horribly, horribly wrong. Peterfreund really captured that sense of overwhelming vengeance, hypocrisy, and lust for power in the villians of Across a Star-Swept Sea.

Bottom line: if you just love a good story, pick up this book.