Review – Broken Homes

Cover of Broken Homes by Ben AaronovitchBroken Homes, Ben Aaronovitch
Review from July 30th, 2013

I think I need a support group to talk about this book. Or at least, the end of this book. If you like your books to kick you in the teeth real hard, go ahead and read this one.

At this point, I’ve stopped comparing these books to the Dresden Files because apparently I care a lot more about them and the characters involved than I ever did about Harry Dresden and crew. I’m still a bit disappointed there aren’t more major female characters, but I’m very definitely emotionally invested.

This would’ve been really amazing if it had all connected up. I mean, all the events are connected with one or the other overarching plot or subplot, but it feels a little bit episodic at times. The last half is pretty much unputdownable: I worry I’m already forgetting the first half in the wake of the gut punch that is the second.

One thing I really appreciate about these books is that it’s very much rooted in actual policing. Yes, it’s policing with the involvement of magic and supernatural creatures, but you still have the support network of a policeman — including superior officers to a) answer to and b) drag you out of trouble. On which note, Nightingale’s big scene was amazing. But you don’t have a freelance detective or a guy who can be a loose cannon (e.g. Ian Rankin’s Rebus). You’ve got your average police officer, with much to learn.

Rating: 4/5

Review – Whispers Under Ground

Cover of Whispers Under Ground by Ben AaronovitchWhispers Under Ground, Ben Aaronovitch
Review from July 18th, 2013

My previous hangups haven’t really been dispersed yet, but I am starting to think that Peter Grant is several cuts above Harry Dresden on the misogyny-sorry-I-mean-chivalry front. It’s starting to feel like he’s a genuinely nice guy who is sometimes a bit of an ass in the way he expresses himself, as people do.

Anyway, these books are definitely easy reads, and I like a lot of the background — the Folly, Molly, Nightingale’s long career — and the accumulated emotional stuff from previous books (i.e. Lesley and her mask — which I seem to have been under the impression was spelt “Leslie” in previous books, I’m not sure why). I really liked that Lesley’s still considered sexually attractive by various characters, and that she’s definitely a strong character in her own right, not a love interest or tragic past mistake.

I’m not sure how coherent I found this, though. I found so many places where the spelling was off, or the grammar just didn’t make sense (i.e. wasn’t something anyone would say, let alone write), but now when I sit back I’m not so sure about the plot, either. It felt like there was a fair amount of packaging.

I can understand why people like this series so much — and it is growing on me, too.

Rating: 3/5

Review – Moon Over Soho

Cover of Moon Over Soho by Ben AaronovitchMoon Over Soho, Ben Aaronovitch
Review from August 12th, 2011

I found Moon Over Soho more compelling than Rivers of London, somehow. It was a bit unputdownable, which is a quality I’ve been missing in my books lately, so that’s nice. Yeah, Peter’s led round by his dick here, too, and fails to think about things because he’s too busy having sex with them, and yeah, he’s got serious manpain over Leslie, who he also makes do all his menial work, but… The plot moved at a decent pace, and set up some plot threads which will no doubt be ongoing.

It still reminds me of the Dresden Files, and I’m still not enamoured of the treatment of the female characters, but it didn’t irritate me as much as I expected — I think I’ll continue reading this series. (Mind you, I didn’t give up on the Dresden Files right away, so there’s still time for it to annoy me.)

I read it more or less all in one go — in three sessions, in one day — so that’s definitely a bit better than the first book, which took me seven reading sessions over just over a week’s time. So if you were only planning to pick up Moon Over Soho if it was better than Rivers of London, showing that bit of improvement, well, it does.

Rating: 3/5

Review – Rivers of London

Cover of Rivers of London by Ben AaronovitchRivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch
Review from July 1st, 2011

I first came across Rivers of London on the Kindle store, and downloaded the sample. I was intrigued by the first chapter, and put it on my wishlist. A friend or two read it, and finally one lent me his copy. He thought I’d tear through it in one go.

Not quite true, as it happens. Oh, all in all, I think it took about two hours to read, but sometimes a few days would go by without me reading more. It reminded me a lot of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books — which is not really a compliment, coming from me. They were similar in tone, and something about the narrators was similar. Thankfully, I didn’t pick up on the same type of waves of misogyny — sorry, I mean chivalry — but I wasn’t entirely happy. Do guys really think with their dicks to this extent? Leslie was, most of the time, a great character — and then I was left feeling rather like she’d been there as a plot device all along. To fill in that role, of Pretty Polly, who is a silent onlooker and untroubled when wooed by a murderer…

Not a great start for women in this series, particularly with the nubile Beverley eventually used as a hostage, and then the whole thing ending with vagina dentata…!

To some extent, it depends what happens to Leslie now. Is she just the instrument for trowelling on Peter’s manpain? Or the exposition tool to help Peter figure everything out? Or will she have a plot of her own?

I will be reading Moon Over Soho, though I did think Rivers of London also had a few problems with pacing, but I won’t have the same tolerance with it. I do like the idea — actual, officially sanctioned members of the constabulary dealing with supernatural events — and I do love a good crime story when it falls together reasonably well.

Rating: 3/5

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is books on the winter TBR. I’m not very specific about stuff like that, and I’m dreadful at getting round to books on time, but here’s more or less what I’m planning…

  1. Mary Stewart, the Merlin trilogy. The first book was a reread, but with The Hollow Hills I’m breaking new ground. And enjoying it, thankfully; I still think Rosemary Sutcliff has just about everyone except maybe Steinbeck beat, but I’m enjoying Stewart’s work more than I remembered.
  2. Jo Walton, The Just CityI got distracted from finishing this off by family visiting, and because I can’t take it to clinic with me (I’m only allowed my ereader because it’s quite discreet!). So I’m planning to finish it… probably before the start of December, really.
  3. Tanya Huff, The Enchantment EmporiumAlso been on the go for a while, whoops. And it’s fun!
  4. Ben Aaronovitch, Foxglove SummerBecause omgggg.
  5. Garth Nix, ClarielBecause I’m dreadful and still haven’t got round to it after I wasn’t able to read it on the Eurostar on my last trip.
  6. Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart. Because superheroes! And it’s about time.
  7. Samantha Shannon, The Bone SeasonI’ve been meaning to pick this up for a while, and with the next book out soon, it seems like it’s about time.
  8. Guy Gavriel Kay, The Lions of Al-Rassan. I’m still working on reading all his books in chronological order (by publication), so this one’s up next.
  9. Henry Marsh, Do No Harm. I’m starting the long road to becoming a doctor, in theory. Marsh’s topic (brain surgery) fascinates me, and I feel like I should be learning everything I can and just soaking up the knowledge in that way I have of gaining things by osmosis. (Ask my mother. I don’t know how to pronounce a lot of words because they just slipped into my vocabulary via books, without me ever hearing them. She thinks it’s funny.)
  10. Bernard Cornwell, The Winter KingBecause there’s no better time, with a title like that, right? But also because the Mary Stewart re/read is putting me in the mood for other historically based versions of the story.

What about everyone else? Share!

Stacking the Shelves

This week, I have been super restrained. No, I really mean it!

Review copies

Cover of Brood by Chase Novak Cover of The Wicked + The Divine by Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen

I didn’t even request Brood — I’m not sure why Bookbridr sent me it, because it sounds like it might be a bit too gory for me. Maybe I clicked something by accident? But I’m glad to have an ARC of The Wicked + The Divine; I actually have a pre-order for the TPB anyway, but now I get to read it sooner.


 Cover of Do No Harm by Henry Marsh Cover of Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

I’m guessing I’m going to see a lot of Foxglove Summer around in the next couple weeks; it just came out on Thursday. I’m excited! And Do No Harm was something I spotted in the bookshop and ended up getting with what I had left of a book token: it’s all about brain surgery, which both icks me out and fascinates me. I can’t see myself as a brain surgeon, but neurology is fascinating…


Captain Marvel #9

Captain Marvel #9! I’m not caught up at the moment, but hey, it’s nice to support the Carol Corps.

What’s everyone else been getting?