**DISCLAIMER** This post is not intended to be a critical review of the works discussed below. This is merely a record of the thoughts, feelings, and reflections that accompanied my experience of my reading during the previous week.
Steal the Sky by Megan O’Keefe
I am generally more forgiving of first novels, of which this is. However, it’s a lot stronger than many first books I’ve read. If this is an example of Megan O’Keefe at the beginning of her career, I’m excited to be on the band wagon now. Sure, the book includes some of my personal pet peeves that I find in many first novels, a plethora of linking verbs being the foremost of them. However, I will let that go, as it’s a first book. It’s a heist story. It’s a steampunk story. What’s not to love about a steampunk heist story? I’m on board enough to forgive some extra linking verbs. I’m 22% in on my Kindle version, and the story is getting strong enough that I don’t quite notice the linking verbs as much. I’m enjoying the banter between the two principle characters, Detan and Tibs. They remind me a bit of Locke and Jean from The Gentleman Bastards books. The book has a B storyline that I’m not quite as into as much, but an interesting twist just happened there, so I’m interested to see where that goes. The deeper down the rabbit hole I go, the more I see O’Keefe hitting her stride. I’m in for the whole ride., and I’m going to pick up my signed paperback copy Friday evening when Ms. O’Keefe has a signing in Davis, CA.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
UGH. Finished this one earlier today in audio. I really didn’t like this one. It got billed as “The American Harry Potter.” It’s more like “Harry Potter meets Catcher in the Rye meets Chronicles of Narnia, all while attempting to be cleverly meta.” It failed at all of the above. So much of this novel felt rushed and hurried, with really interesting bits glossed over and summarized. I didn’t like or sympathize with any of the characters, with the exception of one minor character whose journey was far more interesting than any of the primary characters. I really wish we could have gotten more of her story. All in all, it felt like an excuse to write a book about college age and twentysomething characters in New York be angsty, get drunk, be dicks to each other, with a bit of magic tacked on. I seriously doubt I’ll be reading or listening to any more books in this series.
Reaper of Stone by Mark Gelineau and Joe King
This was a fun little novella I read on the plain to Detroit. These guys are just starting out, but they show promise. Again linking verbs bombarded me, the story arc is well-concieved, and most of the plot twists are set up nicely. The structure is set up like a Shakespearean play, with a prologue, five acts, and an epilogue. I liked the setup and the story. I don’t know if this is their first piece, but I know they are just starting out, and again, I’m excited to see where they are going. My one issue was with the major twist in the climax. I’d have liked to have seen that foreshadowed a little earlier in the book.They did a great job of it with another, not-so-climactic moment. Had a great set up, but then we get an even bigger twist that could have been set up just as well with one or two sentences when they set up the first twist. I have another of their novellas on my Kindle. Will be diving into that one soon.
First Chosen by, well, me.
I’m re-reading the Tears of Rage books as I prepared to tackle book 5, A Rise of Lesser Gods. Also, if the publisher I’ve been speaking to picks it, we’re going to do a full content edit. I caught a couple of “there was” sentences, that I’m going to want to blast into oblivion with the “delete” key. I’m also considering rearranging some of the scenes, especially earlier in the books. Most of all, however, I’ve seen a bunch of places where I can really deepen the world and the character by just rewording a few things here and there, as well as adding in a couple of paragraphs to flesh things out. I think I want to add in a scene from Sylvie’s point of view during the birthday party between her and Carmine. That would heighten the tension in some of their later scenes. Even though it’s rough, and I can tell my writing craft has developed since I wrote this, I still very much enjoy reading my own work, and I can’t wait to rediscover the nifty bits in all the books as I go through them.
Until next week, happy reading.