Tag Archives: humor

Radiation (Of Cats and Dragons #2)

Title: Radiation

Author: Carol E. Leever and Camilla Ochlan

Series: Of Cats and Dragons #2

Omen tried to stay out of trouble. Really. But when he and Tormy get the chance, he begs for a quest–and not just any quest, but something huge and important that only he can complete. So Etar, his divine brother, gives him one. Now Omen must hunt down another divine sibling in a world utterly desolate . . .

I liked the second book even better than the first. We get a lot more backstory on Omen, Omen’s family, and Templar. I love how the history is so rich that every story brings questions about a dozen more details. I never thought there was a reason behind the names in Omen’s family, and now I want to see a story about his parents since their lives were at least as interesting as his. And ouch, poor Templar. No wonder he’s always a bit on edge. Although it hasn’t stopped his sense of humor.

The friendship between Omen and Templar continues to be one of my favorite parts, even though in this book it took something of a backseat to Omen’s “epic quest” and an extended adventure for Lilyth, Omen’s sister. Templar and Omen arguing about who exactly is the bad influence on whom was hysterical, as was Templar’s succinct summation of Omen’s quest (quote below review for those wanting to avoid spoilers).

And the new characters were all compelling. I really liked Etar, a younger god that is more or less Omen’s brother. Kyr is just adorable despite his circumstances (and I have to wonder how much Tyrin will be able to influence him, since Tyrin is basically Trouble-capital-T). Tyrin is of course hysterical, especially the “identical twins” routine, or the way he takes things too literally.

Overall this series continues to improve everything I liked about the first book, and I can’t wait for a third. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Templar’s take on the quest:

“So basically what you’re saying is,” Templar stated when Omen had finished, “you wandered into an empty wasteland, got rained on, and came home. And that’s what you call epic?”

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Night’s Gift (Of Cats and Dragons #1)

Title: Night’s Gift

Author: Carol E. Leever and Camilla Ochlan

Series: Of Cats and Dragons #1

Omen Daenoth just wanted to explore the city of Hex, free of guards or responsibilities. But when a pickpocket steals the bracelet that damps his psionic powers, Omen must race against the clock to get it back before his tenuous control slips.

I was intrigued enough by the sample to get the full book, and am so glad I did. I loved this. The banter between Omen and Templar (and later Tormy), the high octane adventure, and the solid worldbuilding made for an excellent read. There’s a lot of history that isn’t explained but only hinted at—like the city of Hex, which makes me curious to see more in this world. I wish Omen’s background got a little more attention (five bloodlines?) but since I read the second book before writing this I know some of it gets covered there.

Also this has one of the best reasons I’ve seen for not accepting consumables from elves: they’re insatiable druggies and have a tendency to lace narcotics into the food/drinks. At least one particular branch of elves.

I like Omen and Templar a lot. They’re both more than human, which leads to some interesting fights. Omen’s psionics and Templar’s magic can put on a flashy show, and their ability to heal damage means they can get into the middle of some intense situations. And it’s not just power—Omen’s clever use of song against the Mer or the way they get the box shows they can approach situations with brain in addition to brawn.

All in all this is a real treat, and I’m certainly going to read it again. From the sample clip I listened to, the audiobook also looks like a worthwhile investment. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Monster’s Daughter (Ministry of SUITs #2)

Title: The Monster’s Daughter

Author: Paul Gamble

Series: Ministry of SUITs #2

Jack and Trudy return, in an adventure just as insane as the original. This time, Jack is struggling to figure out the meaning behind a sinister new fracking operation, a weird aquarium, a bath and body shop with curiously powerful products, and more. He also stumbles across the reasons why there’s always a spider in the bathtub and learns a new superpower. But he’ll need every bit of twisted thinking to escape this nefarious plot . . .

I had a lot of fun with this volume too, although it didn’t grab me quite as much as the original (possibly because I was expecting the daughter of the title to be Trudy, as the book was heavily focusing on her relationship with her mother, and then it turned out to be something else).

It’s fun to see even the “normal” people in Jack’s life, like a classmate convinced he’s a superhero because he managed to harness static electricity, are going off the rails. It would be amusing if Jack really is responsible for upping the weird quotient in his general vicinity.

Also, like the last book, this features plenty of perfectly logical explanations for various oddities in everyday life, and plenty of footnotes to expound on them. (“This is 100 percent true. Or at least it will be in about ten minutes after I’ve finished editing the right section in Wikipedia.”)

I was disappointed that the mystery of Trudy’s mom doesn’t really resolve. They get so close, too. Other than that, though, the story wraps up nicely. You could probably start here but I’d recommend reading the first book to catch up on the background. I rate this book Recommended.

Thief of Time (Discworld #26)

Title: Thief of Time

Author: Terry Pratchett

Series: Discworld #26

Once, a man named Wen sought enlightenment, and found Time. Once, Time fell in love with a mortal.

Lobsang Ludd is an apprentice to the History Monks, the order founded by Wen to keep Time more or less in order. But the Monks are facing their biggest crisis yet. Someone is reconstructing a clock that can stop time itself. And it may be up to Lobsang and his eccentric mentor, the famous Lu-tze (who seems to be nothing more than a crazy old sweeper) to stop it.

This is my favorite Discworld book. There’s an order of warrior monks who mix old kung-fu movies with quantum physics. There’s the madness of someone like Jeremy, who is so sane he’s gone out the other side (with attendant Igor to help him build a most unusual doomsday device). There’s Death, preparing for the latest Apocalypse, and finding that his fellow Horsemen have rather lost their touch. And of course Death’s granddaughter Susan, a ruthlessly sensible grade school teacher who applies the skills gained battling elementary school students against forces that will end the world.

And it all WORKS. Beautifully.

This is Pratchett at his best—loaded with common sense as well as the humor, willing to say the obvious things no one says out loud, and pointing out that sometimes the most highest and secret wisdom was right in front of us all along. He’s got a way of peeling back the foibles of humanity, but underneath it all there’s a fierce love of what makes humans human. Like Lady Myria LeJean, who is discovering all the things that can’t be measured or explained.

It’s also interesting because Time had a son, we learn early on, but there are two strong candidates for who it might be: Lobsang Ludd, the apprentice with amazing skills slicing Time, or Jeremy Clockson, the only clockmaker attenuated to Time well enough to build a truly accurate clock. And the actual answer is a nice surprise.

Also, the climatic battle is basically a chocolate war, which is another thing I love about the book. Fine chocolates ARE deadly weapons.

Overall, this book works on so many different levels. I keep meaning to pull quotes for my file but I’d end up pulling most of the book, as it only seems to take a few sentences to get to something else that cracks me up.

If you’ve never read anything by Terry Pratchett, or just missed this one, give this book a try. The Discworld books are all basically standalone novels that loosely hook into the larger Discworld universe. I rate this Highly Recommended.

The Ministry of S.U.I.T.S (Ministry of S.U.I.T.S #1)

Title: The Ministry of S.U.I.T.S

Author: Paul Gamble

Series: Ministry of S.U.I.T.S #1

Jack has too much curiosity and a tendency to think about the world around him. Unsurprisingly, that leads to him getting mixed up with an agency devoted to taking care of the unusual things that normal people think don’t exist (or don’t exist anymore, like dinosaurs and pirates). When the sinister Mr. Teach sponsors his school, he knows there’s got to be more going on. But it’s going to take all his wits, the power to slow down time, and the help of the scariest girl in school to get to the bottom of this . . .

This reminds me so much of Terry Pratchett’s work. From the abundant footnotes to the cheerfully logical absurdities, it was always throwing out something that made me laugh. Like the ongoing thread about the aspirations of scarecrows to become store mannequins. Or the various digressions on pirates, or the origin of ninjas, or why dolphins are the most educated aquatic mammals.

Overall this was a light but funny read, and I’m eager to see where the series goes from here. I rate this book Recommended.

Archer’s Goon

Title: Archer’s Goon

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Howard’s ordinary life is turned upside-down when he comes home from school one day to find the Goon sitting in his kitchen. The Goon claims he’s from Archer and wants Howard’s father to give him two thousand words. But the words are only the beginning. Howard’s town is ruled by seven siblings who want nothing more than to be released from their confinement here so they can take over the world . . .

This is probably my favorite Diana Wynne Jones book (tied with Dark Lord of Derkholm). I love the way she can take the ordinary bits of life and twist them around into a hysterical adventure. Howard’s home is under siege by marching bands. Road construction crews are sent to pester his family specifically. Buses are run by someone who lives 400 years ago and that’s why they’re frequently off-schedule.

And interwoven in all that, the sheer humanity. Howard’s father, Quentin, is passive until he gets his hackles up, and then nothing in heaven or earth can shake him (although many people try). Howard has a little sister Awful, who earned her nickname, yet somehow avoids being completely unlikable. And Howard himself is caught in the middle of all this drama and tries to uncover the truth—and discovers way more than he bargained for.

Basically, it’s nonstop fun. My favorite part is the chase near the end where the various siblings are being called upon to work against each other. Howard is trying desperately to figure things out, but he’s starting to see where this is going to lead, and it’s something he doesn’t want to be true, even if it were somehow possible.

Overall, this is a great introduction to Diana Wynne Jones if you’ve never read her before. It stands alone and isn’t very long, but it’s packed full of laughs. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Forever Court (Knights of the Borrowed Dark #2)

Title: The Forever Court

Author: Dave Rudden

Series: Knights of the Borrowed Dark #2

Uriel Croit has spent his entire life waiting for the Redemptress to awaken. The Croits train and prepare for the War that will come when they will take over the world. But when Uriel’s fondest dreams are realized, he finds the world isn’t as simple as he thought . . .

Denizen Hardwick is in training to become a Knight who kills the Tenebrous who invade the world from some outer dimension. Too bad he’s absolutely fascinated by Mercy, the Tenebrous he saved, the Tenebrous who granted him knowledge of ALL of the Cants the Knights use to control their magic. And when a message comes from the Tenebrous asking for Denizen by name, no one knows what to think. Could peace even be possible, or is this some elaborate scheme? And even if it is a genuine offer from the Tenebrae, will the Knights risk it, or try to sabotage it themselves?

I adored the first book, and was happy to find this one was just as good. Uriel’s sections are important, but Uriel isn’t as funny as Denizen, so I tended to prefer Denizen’s commentary about basically everything.

Like the first, this has a good dose of horror, humor, and fantasy. Denizen is exploring his first crush—and amusingly enough it’s Mercy. Which gets him into no end of trouble with everyone.

We will see each other again, Denizen Hardwick.

Denizen had assumed that was the kind of thing magical glowing girls said all the time, to promote an air of mystery. He hadn’t realized it was something she was going to go and organize.

And:

He’d read enough fantasy books to know that diplomacy didn’t mean honesty and conversation. It meant fancy dinners, watching betrayal flash behind people’s eyes, and not trusting Grand Viziers.

Naturally, the situation is way more complicated than anyone realizes. I liked the rough relationship between Denizen and his newly-discovered mother. He thought of himself as an orphan for so long he’s not sure what to do with family. And honestly, he almost feels like an orphan still, because the way Vivian runs the Sanctuary is more like a barracks and less like a home. He’s much more a novice Knight to her than her son.

It was an occupational hazard of being a bookworm. You stopped thinking in terms of reality and started thinking of nick-of-time rescues and the power of a dramatic speech. It couldn’t be over because it shouldn’t be over.

And I liked how Denizen is an absolute wildcard in this whole mess. His knowledge of the Cants makes him extremely dangerous—but he doesn’t have the training to use them properly, or the physical ability to back them up. Cants are supposed to be a last resort, because of the Cost. He’s the only one who believes Mercy is telling the truth and that peace between the Knights and the Tenebrous is even possible. But is he right about her heart, or have those older and wiser Knights who see only monsters spotted something he missed? Just because a happy ending would be a nice story doesn’t mean it’s actually the truth.

Overall, I was thrilled to finally get a copy of this in my hands, and I can’t wait for the next installment. I really need to start a quote file to save off my favorites—the above are only about half the places that had me laughing so hard I had to put the book down. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

More quotes because I can and I want to remember these:

Mercy gave a passable approximation of Frown No. 12—Here Is Some Sympathy I Am Not Sure You Deserve.

And:

Jack shrugged. “There’s no point to revenge. You either don’t get it, in which case the want grows until it collapses your world around you, or you do get it. And then you have it. Great. Show me something you can build from revenge that you can’t build from acceptance.”

And:

I want a form, Denizen thought. I want everyone to have a form, and you have to fill out your intentions and list why you’re doing what you’re doing. And you’re not allowed to lie.

And:

He’d feel like a right idiot if all this was happening and he died from smoke inhalation.

And:

Denizen didn’t think he was claustrophobic, though he had avoided small spaces up until now precisely because he didn’t want to find out. He had the sneaking suspicion he was home to a whole plethora of phobias he hadn’t discovered, simply because he hadn’t been exposed to them yet.

And:

She gave Denizen a half-smile. “Hardwicks aren’t great with emotion. We’re our own worst enemies, really.” She paused. “Which, considering our vocation, is actually rather impressive.”