Series Love: Peter Grant / Rivers of London

Peter Grant by Ben Aaronovitch series covers

A new series all about … book series! Because sometimes it makes more sense to talk about the entirety of a book series, instead of doing a post about each individual title.

First up, is my beloved Peter Grant / Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you may remember my post about the first entry in the series, Midnight Riot. You may also have seen the other titles in the series appear in my New on the Stack posts, so don’t be surprised if the author’s name is familiar.

This series is a ton of fun – it’s a delightful conglomeration of mystery and urban fantasy. Things get weird in it, so if you don’t like oddball books these probably won’t appeal to you, but I love them. Peter, Leslie, Nightingale, Beverly, The Folly – the personalities involved and the setting all make me so happy.

Why They Might Not Be Your Cup of Tea

The series is very British and sometimes I have to guess on some of the slang or Google it if I can’t figure it out by the context. I’m sure I’m still missing some nuances, but I love how British it is. It makes me wish I knew London better, as I’m sure I’d appreciate some of the events more if I wasn’t so clueless as to where things take place in relation to each other (I know, I could get out a map, but I don’t care that much).

There are a few sex scenes, but nothing is too graphic. It’s enough that my grandmother wouldn’t have been willing to continue reading the books, so if you’re a very conservative reader you may want to pass (or know that you may have a few pages to skip over).

If you’re a sensitive reader, you may be bothered by some of the more disturbing scenes. There are some icky things mentioned; not usually super detailed, but it’s in there. I am not a sensitive reader so I could usually just think “ew” and move on. Know your own reading tolerance for this sort of thing.

While I love the series as a whole, the books themselves are sometimes uneven. Book #4 ends on a major cliffhanger, so you’ll want to have #5 ready to go. Book #5 mostly takes place outside of London, and I prefer Peter in a more urban environment. The ending for book #5 is fairly weak as well – it just kind of ends, and many loose threads are left dangling. If all I’d ever read was that one, I’d be wondering what on earth all the fuss was about the series – this isn’t a series that works well enough as potential stand-alone titles.

Reading Them All

If you find you love the series, there are some graphic novels, short stories, and novellas that are intermixed with the main novels. None of them are essential for following the storyline from the novels (although there are some comments in a few of the later novels that refer back to events from the graphic novels).

Numbered titles in bold are the novels, that need to be read to follow the overall plot, and should be read in order to avoid spoilers. Other titles are optional, but fun if you’re a series fanatic. Be aware that the visual nature of the graphic novels makes them a poor choice for Kindle copies, and don’t be like me and let your kids peek over your shoulder as you read them. A couple of the illustrations caught me off guard and I quickly moved to close the book before my kids could notice.

Audio book fan? The narrator for the series is excellent. You can get a good sample of his style on the free Audible short story linked below.

  1. Midnight Riot (published in the UK as Rivers of London) Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
  2. Moon Over Soho Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  3. Whispers Under Ground Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  4. Broken Homes Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  5. Foxglove Summer Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  6. The Hanging Tree Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
The Graphic Novels
Extra Stories

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Reading The Hobbit for the First Time (Don’t Be Like Me)

At the end of last year, my Facebook book club read The Hobbit. I’d been looking forward to it for years, but was underwhelmed by it. If you too want to avoid overall disappointment when reading The Hobbit, I have some suggestions.

Read it when you’re younger

It’s a much simpler book than The Lord of the Rings and expecting that layering of depth in The Hobbit led me to wonder where the rest of it was. It’s much more straightforward and felt lacking. If I’d read it as a teen or even tween, I don’t think I’d have noticed anything.

Don’t listen to it the first time

There are some songs scattered throughout the text, and listening to the book makes it hard to skip over them. I wanted to skip over them, as they were tedious and seemed to take to get through. I’m also much faster at reading than listening, so the book seemed endless for what all it didn’t cover, and if I’d been reading it I could have zipped along.

Read it before The Lord of the Rings

Knowing what happens afterward leads to a lot more of a “who cares” feeling throughout this book. Read it first so you don’t know who the characters are, and don’t have any inkling of things that might be important later.

Have the movie ready to watch afterward

Reward yourself for it.

Don’t overhype it to yourself

Too much build-up can lead to ultimate disappointment. That was probably my major problem with the book. 😉

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Introducing June’s Book Club Selection: Uprooted

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik

What’s It About?

(Description from Goodreads)

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Why Was This Title Selected

The year’s fantasy option, chosen because Jessica raved over it. It was also surprisingly difficult to find a stand-alone fantasy novel – so many of the ones I was finding were series reads (or at least trilogies), and I didn’t want to choose one that wouldn’t be complete in one book.

Anything Else to Know About It?

The discussion will begin soon in the Facebook group, and you’re welcome to come and join us.

It’s available in Print, for Kindle or Nook, or via Audible.

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

What’s Coming Up Next?

true-gritTrue Grit by Charles Portis

What’s it about? Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross recounts the time when she sought retribution for her father’s murder.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2017 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Introducing December’s Book Club Selection: The Hobbit

The HobbitThe HobbitThe Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien by J. R. R. Tolkien

What’s It About?

(Description from Goodreads)

A great modern classic and the prelude to The Lord of the Rings

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

Why Was This Title Selected

I wanted a fantasy novel for the year, and this one has been on my TBR list for years. I also assumed it would be a fairly accessible one for readers who are new to fantasy.

Anything Else to Know About It?

We’ve started the discussion about the book, and you’re welcome to come and join us.

It’s available in print, for Kindle, Nook, or Audible.

What’s Coming Up in January?

animal-vegetable-miracleAnimal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2017 here.

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: November 2013 Recap
Four years ago: Favorite Spiritual Growth Books

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Katie Chandler Series Review (Enchanted, Inc)

Shanna Swendson's Katie Chandler seriesWhile Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted, Inc series actually includes seven titles, I only read the first five. So, the series review is admittedly incomplete as far as how the series ultimately resolves.

However, glancing at reviews of the final two titles doesn’t indicate that there is anything drastically different between them and the others, so I feel pretty confident with my overall comments.

A strength of the series is in the imaginative twist to often standard fantasy elements. There’s magic, fairies, spells, ogres, wizards, and (perhaps most fun of all) – gargoyles are real, and they don’t always stay in place. They’re all in what is otherwise a standard contemporary setting. Chick lit/light romance swirled together with fantasy – how fun!

I appreciated that the romance aspects never took over the entire story, and things are very tame. If you like more romance in your stories (or at least things to go beyond a few kisses), this may not be the series for you.

These aren’t great literature, but for amusing, nonchallenging reading I liked them enough to burn through five in a month or so. I only quit because I couldn’t get the sixth book quickly, and then was never motivated enough to try again for it.

Do I recommend it? Sure, if it sounds like something you’ll like, it’s entertaining. It’s not something I’d ever reread, or recommend you putting a lot of effort into obtaining. They’re great library books for when you want something really light – think beach reading!

Publisher’s Description of Book 1: Enchanted, Inc:

Katie Chandler had always heard that New York is a weird and wonderful place, but this small-town Texas gal had no idea how weird until she moved there. Everywhere she goes, she sees something worth gawking at and Katie is afraid she’s a little too normal to make a splash in the big city. Working for an ogre of a boss doesn’t help.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, Katie gets a job offer from Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., a company that tricks of the trade to the magic community. For MSI, Katie’s ordinariness is an asset. Lacking any bit of magic, she can easily spot a fake spell, catch hidden clauses in competitor’s contracts, and detect magically disguised intruders. Suddenly, average Katie is very special indeed.

She quickly learns that office politics are even more complicated when your new boss is a real ogre, and you have a crush on the sexy, shy, ultra powerful head of the R&D department, who is so busy fighting an evil competitor threatening to sell black magic on the street that he seems barely to notice Katie. Now it’s up to Katie to pull off the impossible: save the world and–hopefully–live happily ever after.

Series Details

Series Title: Katie Chandler
Author: Shanna Swendson
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
Individual Titles:

  1. Enchanted, Inc.Enchanted, Inc. (Katie Chandler, Book 1) by Shanna Swendson
  2. Once Upon StilettosOnce Upon Stilettos (Katie Chandler, Book 2) by Shanna Swendson
  3. Damsel Under StressDamsel Under Stress (Katie Chandler, Book 3) by Shanna Swendson
  4. Don’t Hex with TexasDon't Hex with Texas (Katie Chandler, Book 4) by Shanna Swendson
  5. Much Ado About MagicMuch Ado About Magic (Enchanted, Inc. Book 5) by Shanna Swendson
  6. No Quest for the WickedNo Quest for the Wicked (Enchanted, Inc. Book 6) by Shanna Swendson
  7. Kiss and SpellKiss and Spell (Enchanted, Inc. Book 7) by Shanna Swendson
  8. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger

Manners and MutinyManners & MutinyManners & Mutiny (Finishing School #4) by Gail Carriger by Gail Carriger

My least favorite of what had been a delightfully entertaining series. Some of that is surely just because my hopes were so high, both because I have so enjoyed the previous books in the series, and because I’d just finished Winter (and LOVED IT), so I was all excited: YES! Series endings can be amazing!

And this one … wasn’t.

It wasn’t terrible by any means, and if you’ve read the earlier books I can’t imagine that you won’t want to read this as well. And perhaps if you’ve got tempered expectations you’ll be pleased enough with this.

As it was it was somewhat disappointing. I do still adore the beginning of the series, and I did like finding out certain things about some characters (being intentionally vague here), but the wrap-up at the end seemed to leave some others out. Perhaps they make appearances in the other series she wrote?

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
If one must flirt…flirt with danger.

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster–in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test? Find out in this highly anticipated and thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!

Book Details

Title: Manners & MutinyManners & Mutiny (Finishing School #4) by Gail Carriger
Author: Gail Carriger
Category: Fiction / Fanstasy (Steampunk)
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Biggest Disappointments of 2013
Three years ago: Book Review: Cheaper By the Dozen

Winter by Marissa Meyer

WinterWinterWinter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer by Marissa Meyer

This is, of course, Book #4 in the Lunar Chronicles series (I feel like I’ve mentioned it a time or twelve before, plus all the other buzz this series has gotten on other blogs and media sites).

I was so hesitant to start Winter – I *loved* Cinder, really, really liked Scarlet, and ok, so Cress wasn’t my favorite, but still. It was good enough as a penultimate series entry. For the ending though, was this going to be a crash-and-burn of a great series? Could it possibly live up to what I wanted it to be?

Now for the tricky part: talking about the book while maintaining a spoiler-free zone. So, in brief: Yes, the book lived up to the promise the series showed in Cinder (and erased the memory of that disappointing Fairest) . It’s over 800 pages, but read much faster than that, plus it’s so much fun having that much time to spend with these characters I didn’t wish any of the pages away.

What about the plot, and how things worked out? Well, you’ll need to read it yourself to find out, but I was so impressed at the job Meyer did of bringing together all of those plot threads. It made me want to start the series all over again and see what hints she dropped in earlier books.

Super satisfying, this was a great ending to a fun series. Highly recommended for fantasy fans.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Book Details

Title: WinterWinter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
Author: Marissa Meyer
Category: Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Bookish Gifts for the Late Shopper
Two years ago: Twitterature – Recent Reads

Quick Lit: Recent Fiction Reads

Playing catch-up with reviews:

The Big FourBig Four: A Hercule Poirot MysteryBig Four: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie by Agatha Christie
Probably my least favorite Poirot so far – it was laughably ridiculous with the plot devices (Super villains! A secret lair! Poirot cheating death at every turn!). Read it only if you are insistent on reading all of Christie’s work, but otherwise skip it in favor of some of her other books.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Speaking from Among the BonesSpeaking from Among the Bones: A Flavia de Luce NovelSpeaking from Among the Bones: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley by Alan Bradley

I still love Flavia, and still adore the audio versions of these books. Don’t start with this one though – begin with the first in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. If you are at all a fan of mystery books, give Flavia a try.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

An Incomplete RevengeAn Incomplete RevengeAn Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs Book 5) by Jacqueline Winspear by Jacqueline Winspear

It took me FOREVER to get through this one, and I’m not sure why. I like the Maisie Dobbs series, but this one was not as compelling for me. I’m still looking forward to continuing on with the series however, as I do love Maisie’s character.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

A Curious BeginningA Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell MysteryA Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn by Deanna Raybourn

Fun elements to it, but not to the “you’ve got to read this book!” level. I may look for the second in the series when it’s published next year, because I am curious about where she goes with the characters, but it’s not a super high priority.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

GodmotherGodmother: The Secret Cinderella StoryGodmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon by Carolyn Turgeon

I don’t even know how to write about this one without giving spoilers galore. It’s a sort-of retelling of the Cinderella story, so if you like re-imagined fairy tales you may want to give this a try. This one is definitely darker, tilting away from the Disney side of the fairy tales spectrum towards the original, Brothers Grimm version side. It’s likely to stick with you though – I’m still thinking about it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Books I’m Looking forward to Reading in 2015

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde

The Well of Lost PlotsThe Well of Lost PlotsThe Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next Series) by Jasper Fforde by Jasper Fforde

It took me months to finish this book, and usually that’s a sign that it’s one I should have given up on and admitted that I didn’t find it compelling enough to keep reading.

Except I really do like this series – it’s so odd, and so entertaining. So why did it take me forever to finish it? I think it’s because I was reading the collected version of the first five books in the series on my Kindle, and seeing the “11 hours remaining in the book” status was so discouraging I was never motivated to keep reading.

Obviously, I know that those numbers were for the entire set, but still. It couldn’t give me a breakdown of “this far for this book alone” and that drove me batty. Who knew I needed some sort of real guidance as to how much I had left in a book? Because clearly I do, and counting chapters wasn’t enough, at least until the very end.

All that aside, it is a series that I recommend, if you’re into quirky, genre-bending novels. It’s a mish-mash of fantasy and mystery, but it works.

One of my favorite parts of this series is trying to catch as many literary allusions as possible. I have no expectation that I get them all, but I get enough of them to be quite amused and impressed by Fforde.

If it sounds intriguing, do yourself a favor – don’t start with this one – it’ll make no sense whatsoever, and with this series you’ll want all the help you can get as far as making sense of things. Begin with The Eyre AffairThe Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel by Jasper Fforde and see how you like this alternative world, and the fabulous character of Thursday Next.

Publisher’s Description:
The third installment in Jasper Fforde’s New York Times bestselling series follows literary detective Thursday Next on another adventure in her alternate reality of literature-obsessed England

Jasper Fforde has done it again in this genre-bending blend of crime fiction, fantasy, and top-drawer literary entertainment. After two rollicking New York Times bestselling adventures through Western literature, resourceful BookWorld literary detective Thursday Next definitely needs some downtime. And what better place for a respite than in the hidden depths of the Well of Lost Plots, where all unpublished books reside? But peace and quiet remain elusive for Thursday, who soon discovers that the Well is a veritable linguistic free-for-all, where grammasites run rampant, plot devices are hawked on the black market, and lousy books—like the one she has taken up residence in—are scrapped for salvage. To make matters worse, a murderer is stalking the personnel of Jurisfiction and it’s up to Thursday to save the day. A brilliant feat of literary showmanship filled with wit, fantasy, and effervescent originality, this Ffordian tour de force will appeal to fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse.

Book Details

Title: The Well of Lost PlotsThe Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next Series) by Jasper Fforde
Author: Jasper Fforde
Category: Fiction / Mystery / Fantasy
My Rating: 3 Stars
Buy the book: Print | Kindle | Audible

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Shadow Scale

Shadow ScaleShadow ScaleShadow Scale (Seraphina) by Rachel Hartman by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Scale concludes the story begun in Seraphina, which I enjoyed enough to look forward to reading the sequel.

Unfortunately, Shadow Scale is a much weaker book, and it’s hard to recommend it, even to those who have read the first. I absolutely would not suggest anyone read it without reading the first – it won’t really make sense and you’ll miss out on the world-building.

In this book, Seraphina seems clueless, traveling about and just fortuitously having things happen to her, instead of making things happen. She’s also more self-pitying, and it gets tedious.

I don’t really like fantasy books where the hero has an all-powerful ally, and I also don’t like it when the antagonist is all-powerful. Jannoula ends up being that sort of foe, and I found myself rolling my eyes at the difficulties Seraphina found herself in because of Jannoula’s abilities. Fantasy novels are lots of fun for me, unless I reach a point where suspension of disbelief doesn’t work and it turns into ridiculousness. In that way, Seraphina worked for me while Shadow Scale didn’t.

The romantic triangle issue is resolved (no spoilers here, I can’t imagine anyone who didn’t think it would resolve in one way or another; this is a YA book after all), but it felt too neat. Does anything in life work out in such a convenient manner? It was eye-rolling, and telegraphed way too early in the book.

I did finish it, and so it was at least good enough for that (and at 600 pages, I did debate it.) It’s a quick read for all of it’s length, but ultimately a very unsatisfying end to a promising start.

Not recommended.

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