Tag Archives: The Insatiable series

Five SFF Books That Made Me Laugh – Part 2

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As promised back here, I’ve now trawled through my lists and added another science fiction or fantasy five books that at least made me grin or laugh aloud. Here they are in no particular order…

Insatiable – Book 1 of the Insatiable series by Meg Cabot

insatiableSick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper. But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn’t believe in them. Not that Meena isn’t familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you’re going to die. (Not that you’re going to believe her; no one ever does.) But not even Meena’s precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It’s a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire-hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.

Another vampire adventure filled with incident and a large dollop of humour to help it all along. I loved both this offering – see my review here – and its sequel, Overbite.

 

How To Train Your Dragon – Book 1 of the How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell

And no… I am not talking about the rather vanilla version portrayed in the films, which is very how to train your dragonentertaining, but nothing like as vivid, anarchic and funny as the books. Hiccup is far less charismatic and far more worried; while Toothless is far less rare, a whole lot naughtier and less obedient than the film – see my review here.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as “the Dragon Whisperer”…but it wasn’t always so. Travel back to the days when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb? Join the adventure as the small boy finds a better way to train his dragon and become a hero!

Again, this is has been a joy to share with the grandchildren – and I have been known to dip in and out of these books if I need cheering up.

 

The Radleys by Matt Haig

theradleysThe Radleys are an everyday family who juggle dysfunctional lives. Except, as Peter and Helen Radley know, but their children have yet to find out, the Radleys happen to be a family of abstaining vampires. When one night Clara finds herself driven to commit a bloodthirsty act, her parents decide to explain a few things.

This is another vampire book, but unlike any other you’ll have read see my review here. This is the story of a middle-class couple desperately trying to blend into suburban England with their children – to the extent that they haven’t even got around to explaining to their hapless offspring the cause of their garlic allergy and extreme photosensitivity. It is hilarious and shocking by turns – and I’ll guarantee if you read it, you won’t forget this one.

 

Stray Souls – Book 1 of the Magicals Anonymous series by Kate Griffin

straysoulsThis book sort of follows on from the previous offering – what do you do in our modern world if you are cursed with a special power? How do you blend in? What if you can’t blend in?

London’s soul has gone missing. Lost? Kidnapped? Murdered? Nobody knows – but when Sharon Li unexpectedly discovers she’s a shaman, she is immediately called upon to use her newfound powers of oneness with the City to rescue it from a slow but inevitable demise.

Sharon Li tries to provide an answer with her Magicals Anonymous support group. In addition to getting together and discussing their issues together, they also find themselves caught up in Matthew Swift’s latest problem. Unlike the Midnight Mayor series, this one is laugh-aloud funny, in amongst the chaos and drama – see my review here.

 

The Martian by Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.themartian
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

I – finally – got to see the film of this 21st century version of the Robinson Crusoe adventure over the Easter break. And was sort of glad that I didn’t spend a lot of money going to watch it at the cinema. Oh, the film was okay – in fact, better than okay. But it only hinted at the humour that runs right through this story, humanising Mark and preventing him from coming across as either a lantern-jawed NASA clone, or a whiny victim. The book was not only a thoroughly enjoyable science fiction adventure, it was also very funny – see my review here.

So what funny or amusing science fiction and fantasy books have I missed off my list? Have you read any of these and also found they made you smile?

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Review of Insatiable – Book 1 of the Insatiable series by Meg Cabot

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With my customary efficiency and foresight, I managed to read the second book Overbite in this series – see my review here – before plucking this one off my teetering TBR pile. However I’d so enjoyed the chirpy tone of the protagonist Meena Harper that when I was needing some light relief after struggling with a tenacious cold that has turned into something nasty and infected, I dived into Insatiable.

insatiableSick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper. Meena Harper is familiar with the supernatural. After all, she knows how you’re going to die. (Not that you’ll believe her. No one ever does.) But while she’s always been able to see everyone else’s destiny, she’s never been able to look into her own. Maybe that’s why when she meets Lucien Antonescu – a modern-day prince who also has no destiny that she can foresee – she’s instantly attracted.

That’s as much of the rather chatty blurb as I’m willing to share as the plotting in this smart, semi-parody is well paced and crafted to pull you in. Meena is an entertaining protagonist, who spends a great deal of time trying not to think about death, until she sees how those around her are going to die… And the catch is, those deaths are avoidable, so she feels obliged to try and warn them, which does nothing for her love life.

Cabot is an experienced writer, clearly at the height of her powers. It takes a lot of skill to take the vampire sub-genre and gently parody the more gothic aspects, while at the same time producing a gripping, convincing adventure tale in the same genre. The vampires are nicely handled – and while there is an undercurrent of fun, particularly at the expense of the lantern-jawed hero Alaric Wulf, chief vampire-slayer of the Palatine Guard, once the action starts, there was plenty of tension and gore. The sub-plot provides a lot of the fun. Meena is a script writer for a long-running soap that is suffering from falling ratings, so the studio have come up with the idea of introducing a vampire storyline, to Meena’s intense disgust. She thinks the whole notion of vampires is so lame and ridiculous…

There is also delightful cast of characters around the three main characters, Meena, Lucien and Alaric. My particular favourites are the eccentric neighbouring couple Mary Lou and Emil and Meena’s clueless brother Jon, as well as Meena’s vampire-hating dog, Jack Baur. And yes… there is a thing going on with names in this book. For those of you who don’t know, Jonathan Harper is the narrator and protagonist in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mina is the name of his fiancée who suffers the attentions of Dracula.

This could all have disintegrated into a pretentious, lumpen mess, but with Cabot at the helm, the result is memorably enjoyable, with plenty of thrills and action garnished with a helping of fun. Every time I recall the book, I find myself grinning. If you enjoy urban fantasy with a dollop of humour, track this down.
9/10

Review of KINDLE EBOOK Overbite – Book 2 of the Insatiable series by Meg Cabot

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I was away for a few days and wanted a bit of light relief from some of the grimmer Fantasy offerings I’ve been recently sampling – and this new addition to my Kindle, courtesy of Himself suddenly seemed like a very good idea.

OverbiteMeena Harper has bitten off more than she can chew… She has a special gift, but only now does anyone appreciate it. Her ability to predict how everyone she meets will die has impressed the Palatine Guard—a powerful secret demon-hunting unit of the Vatican—and they’ve hired her to work at their new branch in Lower Manhattan. Sure, Meena’s ex-boyfriend was Lucien Antonescu, son of Dracula. But that was before he (and their relationship) went up in flames, and now she’s sworn off vampires for good—even though she firmly believes that just because they’ve lost their souls, it doesn’t mean they can’t love.

Convincing her new partner, Über-demon-hunter Alaric Wulf, that vampires can be redeemed won’t be easy. Especially when a deadly new threat arises, endangering not only the Palatine, but Meena’s friends and family as well. As she unravels the truth, Meena will find her loyalties tested, her true feelings laid bare.

Yes, yes, I know. Vampires. Again. But this offering has a welcome sprinkling of humour, and as you see from the cover, neither does it deal in indecent boring detail about their sexiness, either. Meena is struggling to cope with the aftermath of what went down in the first book – as well as continuing to cope when she’s confronted with how people might die. And she keeps annoying Alaric, who to be honest, initially comes across as something of a berk. Although when juxtaposed with Lucien’s smooth patter, he quickly grew on me. But it’s Meena who holds the plot together. Her strong belief that no one is doomed forever, as well as her frantic efforts to try and head off the deaths of people she encounters are by turns humorously dappy and hopelessly idealistic. While I often want to shake such heroines till their teeth rattle, I just wanted to put an arm around Meena and gently explain to her how the world really works.

So why? I suspect it’s the way she’s written. Cabot is an experienced writer with a slew of successful books behind her and it shows. The characters are well depicted and enjoyable, the storyline was engrossing and provided some twists and turns. And for all the chirpy tone, there were still some death and destruction that had me fearful for the surviving cast in case Cabot offed someone I really cared about. I had the strong impression that she wouldn’t be afraid to kill off a major character…

The story arc raced towards the inevitable climax – and came to a satisfying ending that had me reading waaay into the night to find out what happened. If you enjoy urban fantasy, then give Overbite a go, but my firm advice would be to read Insatiable first. This series is worth savouring.
9/10