Sunday, March 27, 2011

Enchanted, Inc.

The title: Enchanted, Inc.
The author: Shanna Swendson
Publication: Ballantine, 2005
Got it from: Amazon, 2009

I enjoyed this book so much that I immediately went out and downloaded the sequel onto my Kobo and read the two books back-to-back. There's actually two more in the series but I'll probably hold off on them for now. I know that I usually profess not to like chick lit, but this was a little bit different. For one, the main character, Katie Chandler, only rates about a 6/10 on the Mary Sue scale. For another, there's magic!

These books are pure escapist, cracktastic goodness. I found myself unable to put them down. Katie is an average New York career girl from small-town Texas with a boss from hell and a dead-end job. One day, out of the blue, she receives an email from a company that wants to recruit her. The hitch is that the company is actually called Magic, Spells and Illusion, and it produces spells for the magical community. Katie is special because she is an immune, meaning magic doesn't affect her. She is perfect as a company verifier, because she can see the hidden truth behind any magical manipulations. Like Harry Potter, she is soon whisked from a tortuous situation to a magical world. It's every working girl's fantasy.

Because this is chick lit and not romance, the romantic elements in the story have to share time with Katie's career and her friendships. That's not to say the romance is unimportant. Katie has a big-time crush on her co-worker Owen, who heads the Research and Development department and also happens to be an extremely powerful wizard who's incredibly shy and nervous. There's a lot of fun characters and scenes in the book, like her CEO being THE Merlin and riding magic carpets through the city. One particularly funny scene involves a girl's night out with her co-workers (some of whom are fairies) where they go to Central Park and kiss some frogs to disenchant them back to princes. There's also a big threat to the company in the form of a rogue ex-employee who's trying to sell some rather nasty spells, and naturally Katie is on the case.

If you enjoy immersing yourself in a fun world a la Harry Potter, with a cast of amusing characters, then Enchanted, Inc. may be just what the wizard ordered.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Hippopotamus Pool

The title: The Hippopotamus Pool
The author: Elizabeth Peters
Publication: Warner, 1996
Got it from: Vancouver, 2001

"Another year, another dead body" is a favorite expression of the Emersons, but for me it's another year, another Amelia Peabody mystery. After last year's thrilling plotline, Amelia's husband Emerson has regained his memory and their archnemesis Sethos is dead - or is he? (Emerson: "I wouldn't put it past him to survive solely in order to annoy ME.") It's a new digging season, and a mysterious messenger seeks out the Emersons to tell them of the discovered tomb of Queen Tetisheri. This time, their children Ramses and Nefret are along for the ride and bickering only the way two non-related siblings who are destined to love each other can. Also along is their laughably inept new governess, Miss Marmaduke, and David, the grandson of their foreman Abdullah, who has a talent for forgeries. As the Emersons work on uncovering Tetisheri's tomb, it becomes clear that there are at least two sets of robbers also out for the tomb's treasures.

After The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog, which focused so much more on the adventure and the relationships, I felt that The Hippopotamus Pool fared poorly in comparison. This is not to say it wasn't enjoyable, but I felt like it was an ordinary Amelia Peabody episode that followed similar plotlines to previous works in the series. A mysterious man shows up and is soon murdered - check. Unknown adversaries threatening their digs - check. Somebody in the family is kidnapped - check. Emerson tries to protect Amelia, she wants to go, they fight and then have sex a lot, she goes into danger anyway - check. It's predictable, but it's good, and I learned some more about archaeology in this one than I have in the other ones. A visit with old friends is still pleasant, even if the cake isn't as delicious this time around.