The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

In the pantheon of Norse gods, there is none like Loki. With a reputation for trickery and mischief, as well as causing as many problems as he solves, Loki is a god like no other. As he is demon born his fellow gods view him with deep suspicion and from some even hatred. He realizes they will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows deepest revenge.

From his birth in the realm of Chaos to his recruitment by Odin; from his days as the go to guy in Asgard to his fall from grace and eventually Ragnarok – this is the unofficial story of the Nine Realm’s ultimate trickster.

Allow me to preface this review dear readers with a small note – this is NOT the Marvel Universe Loki. This Loki is the original, taken from the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda. Readers expecting the Loki made famous by Tom Hiddleston will unfortunately be sorely disappointed.

That is not to say this Loki isn’t as charming or fascinating; he is those things and so much more. He is smart, funny, quick-witted, and at times even heartbreaking. When he is brought in to Asgard’s halls by Odin, all Loki wishes is to be considered among its brethren. When he isn’t and is actively shunned by the Aesir and Vanir, he decides his only course is revenge.

At times extremely funny, at other times achingly sad, The Gospel of Loki is a very entertaining read. When a book starts with a cast of characters that reminds me of one of my favorite books (Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman), I know I am in for a treat. And with The Gospel of Loki, I was not disappointed.

It is quite obvious Harris has done her research for this book. There is a love for the characters that is obvious and a high regard for them as well. All of the well known Loki tales are here, from his birthing of Slepneir to Thor’s adventures in cross-dressing. Told in first person from Loki’s POV, it brings a breath of fresh air to these already well known tales.

Readers familiar with the original Norse tales are certain to enjoy this book. Those who are more familiar with the Marvel version of Loki and are looking to expand their view of the character are likely to enjoy it as well. Personally, I found it an enjoyable read and a fascinating look in to an already fascinating character.

 

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The Journal of Vincent Du Maurier II (Book 2) by K.P. Ambroziak

Empress Cixi’s ship is a haven of sorts for humans and vampires; where blood of the donors flows freely but not everything is as it seems. Centuries old and incredibly powerful, the Empress hides a great number of secrets.

Vincent has come to the ship in search of Evelina; taken by the Empress and held prisoner, the unknowing bait in a plan to trap the elder vampire. When the young woman is turned in to a vampire herself, she must adjust to her new life and gifts and keep her longing for Vincent a carefully guarded secret.

When Evelina is taken from the ship, Vincent cannot help but follow. He soon finds that if he cannot save her this time he will lose much more than just her blood…

The Journal of Vincent Du Maurier II is the sequel to The Journal of Vincent Du Maurier (reviewed earlier this year on this blog). It picks up immediately where the first journal leaves off, with Vincent coming aboard the Empress’ ship in search of Evelina. In the first book he finds her as a newly turned vampire having given birth to her daughter; the second book builds on this – on their relationship and their feelings for one another.

The first book was told in a series of journal entries written by Vincent alone; the second book continues this but also adds entries written by Evelina. It gives a different point of view on events and on being a vampire. This addition definitely adds an extra element and deeper understanding of the characters and the world they live in.

Due to the characters being vampires, readers should expect some blood and violence. In the universe this story is set, such events are almost par for the course. Readers who made it through book one will likely have no problem with book two.

As much as I raved about book one, the feelings carry over to this second book. I absolutely adored it and if it weren’t such pesky things like a job and sleep, I know I would have devoured it in half the time. The tension between characters – both sexual and otherwise – kept me turning the page, needing to know what happened next. The ending leaves it open for a third book; which I eagerly await.

Fans of the first book should absolutely continue the series with this second tome. Personally, I am so glad to have these on my shelf.

 

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free (Finn Fancy Necromancy #2) by Randy Henderson

It’s been a little over three months since Finn Gramaraye returned to the real world from his twenty-five year imprisonment in the otherworld of the Fey. Slowly he’s begun to settle in and adjust to the myriad of changes that have occurred. He was able to prove his innocence of the crime that caused his imprisonment, and he has found a place in the family business – operating a mortuary for the magical and Arcane. Finn has even found love, though he worries the girl he loves is in love with the version of him that hasn’t existed for many years.

And yet, Finn wants more. Or just perhaps different. He’s figured out how to find an individual’s true love using a device created by his half-mad father and is hoping to turn it in to a kind of Arcane Dating Service. Unfortunately for Finn, trouble always seems to find him regardless of where he is. When he agrees to help a bigfoot names Sal find his true love, the two inadvertently walk right in to the middle of a Feyblood rebellion against the Arcane Ruling Council. A rebellion created by unknown forces and fueled by the drug Finn’s own grandfather created.

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free is the sequel to Finn Fancy Necromancy, which was reviewed earlier on this blog. I greatly enjoyed Finn Fancy Necromancy and had high hopes for the sequel.

Let me tell you, dear readers, I was not disappointed.┬áHaving the same break neck speed, sprinkled with generous helpings of 80’s lingo, as well as remarkable characters, Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free is a wonderful second book.

Finn is still trying to adjust to the 21st century with a mind that continues to harken back to the good ol’ 1980’s. It is interesting to see him continue to struggle even as he tries to juggle family, friends, and a love interest. His main struggle though is with himself; both mentally and physically. His desire to be everything to everyone provides an interesting internal conflict with his 15 year old mind in a 40 year old body provides the (sometimes very amusing) external conflict.

Readers of Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free will want to read the first book before delving in to this one. Previous events play a fairly large part in the narrative and ones not familiar with the story verse might find it a bit confusing. Otherwise, though, I greatly enjoyed this book just as I did the previous one and highly recommend it.

Fans of the 80’s as well as fantasy and sci-fi should give this one a read.

 

Aftertime (Aftertime #1) by Sophie Littlefield

Waking up in a bleak landscape and covered in scars from unknown injuries, Cass Dollar is vaguely aware that she has survived something horrific. She has no idea how much time has passed and as she tries to remember what happened, she recalls one horrifying truth – something, or someone, has taken her daughter Ruthie.

Not only has Ruthie disappeared, but all of civilization has gone with her. Where once there were busy cities there are now ghost towns. The people long since evacuated leaving only Beaters behind. Beaters, once human themselves, now turned in to flesh craving monsters by a government experiment gone wrong.

In this broken and barren California, Cass must search for Ruthie. Few trust an outsider, especially one like Cass who seems to have miraculously survived a zombie attack. One person agrees to help Cass, and outlaw named Smoke; and in him she finds safety and a savior.

For the Beaters are still out there…but the remaining humans might be far more dangerous.

Perhaps I have been spoiled by other zombie novels, but I didn’t find myself particularly impressed with Aftertime. While the author’s take on zombies was certainly a new one – the zombies don’t go after their victim’s brains but their skin instead – I found it to be almost all the book had going for it.

I found the characters to be a bit one dimensional, especially the character of Smoke. Very little actual information is given about him and while I’m guessing it’s supposed to make him mysterious in the reader’s eyes, I found it to be irritating. The character of Cass was given more of a background which did help in being able to connect with her.

One thing I did enjoy about Aftertime was how background story information was given. Too often an author will do what is referred to as an ‘info dump’ where they will just dump a whole slew of information on the reader with no justification. Rarely does this help move the story along and more often than not it is aggravating to the reader. Littlefield does not do this. Instead, she gives information out piecemeal; as our protagonist learns about what has happened during the weeks she was missing, so too do we. This allows for a more natural understanding of the surroundings and moves the story at a far better pace.

Despite it’s weak points, Aftertime is a fairly decent book. Not the best zombie apocalypse novel I’ve read but not the worst either. Readers should possibly give this one a try, but I doubt I’ll be seeking out the subsequent books in the series.

 

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

Elizabeth Bennet could not be happier. Having finally married Mr. Darcy the two have set off on their honeymoon tour. A last minute change in plans has the two travelling to the continent, from Paris to Venice and parts in between.

As they travel and as Elizabeth meets more and more of Darcy’s family and friends, she begins to wonder. Things are not as they seem and secrets abound. The biggest one being centered around Darcy himself.

I will admit, dear readers, that I was rather disappointed by Mr. Darcy, Vampyre. While the title and small blurb on the back seemed interesting enough, the actual book itself was a bit of a let down.

Now I will freely admit it has been some time since I’ve read the original Pride and Prejudice, however I do not recall Elizabeth Bennet being quite so foolish. If I remember correctly she wasn’t nearly as vapid as she was written here. She was an intelligent and headstrong young woman in the original story, something that is sadly missing in this supposed sequel.

Mr. Darcy himself seems almost a farce of the original character as well. Brooding and moody, he takes it to almost an extreme – all in the name of wanting to protect Elizabeth. If he had wanted to keep her safe as badly as he claimed, one wonders why he married her in the first place.

Though there were a good deal of problems with Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, one thing Ms. Grange did well was with the locations. Her ability to describe the cities Elizabeth and Darcy visited easily brought the places to mind. Reading the passages where she described the different locales, I could easily picture the places in my head. This almost makes up for the numerous other issues in the book.

As much as it pains me, I cannot give Mr. Darcy, Vampyre a good review. Even if it weren’t a sequel to a much beloved classic, there are too many issues with character and storytelling to make it a decent read. This is one book that I sadly must advise my dear readers to skip.