Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stranger Things Happen

by Kelly D. Link

Grade: Unfinished
Read: Part way through the first story.

There was something in the first story that disturbed me. I was going to read through some of the rest anyway, but I ran out of time and energy, and it was overdue at the library.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Shall Wear Midnight

by Terry Pratchett

Grade: Unfinished
Read: To page 68.

I really wanted to finish this one. I loved the title and the poem it was based on. Plus, it's the new Terry Pratchett, and he might not live for much longer. But for some reason, I can never get into his Tiffany Aching books. Maybe they're too serious--yet I love the serious bits that come up in his other Discworld novels. So I don't know. I guess I'll try again some other time, when I have more time. Perhaps it was mostly the studying for exams that made me unable to concentrate on this book.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Among the Ghosts

by Amber Benson

Grade: All right
Story: Noleen meets some ghosts, and they start to disappear, and that's bad.

Well, that was a bit surreal. Firstly, I got this book from the library SOLELY based on its cover, which is by the AWESOME Jason Chan (who also did my copies of The Girl Who Could Fly and The Kneebone Boy). I don't usually do that. And I almost never pick up random books which I haven't checked out on book review sites yet. But I did this time. And THEN I turned to the back and read the author bio, and it turned out to be the girl who played Tara on Buffy!!!!! (I miss you Tara! You were awesome!) Anyway, apparently she's one talented lady. As well as acting and writing novels, she's also directed, produced, and written scripts.

The book itself was pretty good, but definitely for younger peoples. A bit too young for me, I think. And sometimes it felt a bit disjointed. Benson also has a book called Death's Daughter which I want to check out. I suspect a novel for older people might not feel so disjointed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dragon Book

ed. by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois

Grade: Good

"Dragon's Deep": I didn't really like it. People who I liked and thought were good turned out to be quite wicked. And there was a weird part that disturbed me.
"Vici": Naomi Novik is a good writer, I think. Her novels which I didn't finish were not left unfinished because they weren't good. I think they just weren't my type of book, and I didn't really like any of the characters. This was the same, except that I liked it much more because it was so short. I didn't have time to get tired of not liking the characters.
"Bob Choi's Last Job": Wow, I love Jonathan Stroud. This story could so easily be a splendid and wholly original novel, or series of novels. That is one great problem with short stories--they are so short. Sometimes it works perfectly, and you get something which is just clever and contained and awesome. But then you get stories like this. I really wished there was more of this. He is so good at creepy and strange and original.
"Are You Afflicted with Dragons?": Awesome, funny, and I loved the ending.
"The Tsar's Dragons": Meh. Not my favourite. Partly because none of the characters were at all likable.
"The Dragon of Direfell": I liked the twist on this one, even thought it wasn't totally unforeseeable. And I liked all the characters too. I would quite like a novel set in this world, hopefully with the return of Lord Cygne. Or the new Lady Porthlois. She was great.
"Oakland Dragon Blues": Really good, and somewhat meta, which I love. I have to check out Peter S. Beagle now.
"Humane Killer": I skipped this one. It seemed like most of the bad guys were Christians, and I didn't feel like having to go through that. Maybe I was wrong, but it didn't grab me right away anyway, so I thought I wouldn't bother.
"Stop!": Great and original, as Garth Nix always is.
"Ungentle Fire": I really liked this one, especially the imagery of the dragon made of web spanning the canyon.
"A Stark and Wormy Knight": I didn't love this one. It was supposed to be funny, I think, but I didn't find it so. Mostly just annoying.
"None So Blind": Good. I don't really have anything else to say.
"JoBoy": DWJ is always one of the most original and enjoyable story tellers in any collection, and this story was no exception. She always has such clever ways of tying her magic into the real world.
"Puz_le": I loved this one. It was strange and clever. Gregory Maguire's other books are like this too, from what I remember. But there were things that made me dislike his novels which couldn't really be present in a short story. (Somewhat similarly to the Naomi Novik story.) I wished it were a bit longer, though. I'm afraid I didn't quite understand completely what was going on. Who exactly was the bad guy here? Was it her mother or the dragon? Maybe there wasn't supposed to be a bad guy at all. I think I probably didn't understand it because I'm tired and was trying to finish this far too quickly.
"After the Third Kiss": There was a part on page 305 which says this:

                          'I think often on a passage the fat priest in the little chapel used to cite to us: "The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons."
                          'I always hated those lines, thinking it deeply unfair that God would punish children for the actions of their parents. But now, finally, I think I understand. The verse does not speak of what God will do, but rather of how the world works. For when you do evil, when you create pain, at the same time you create an enemy. And not just one enemy; you make an enemy of all those who loved the one to whom you gave the pain.'

It reminds me of how M. H. described this concept to C. S. one Thursday evening. C. seemed to understand all of a sudden when M. described it this way. It still doesn't quite make sense to me, but that's ok.
This wasn't my favourite, but it turned out well in the end, and I liked that.
"The War That Winter Is": I didn't like the ending of this one. What about all the people being killed all the time? They're just left to die forever more?
"The Dragon's Tale": Well, it's Tamora Pierce. It's going to be well written and easy to read and amusing. I don't know how much being familiar with the world would have helped, but I certainly enjoyed it without being familiar with the characters like Daine and Numair.
"Dragon Storm": Good enough. I don't have much to say about this one either.
"The Dragaman's Bride": It was probably very good, but it didn't do much for me. It was too strange.

Well, all in all a good set. "Bob Choi's Last Job" was my favourite, but "Are You Afflicted with Dragons?", "The Dragon of Direfell", "Oakland Dragon Blues", "Ungentle Fire", "JoBoy", and "Puz_le" were also really great. And even the ones I didn't like so much were still pretty enjoyable and easy to read.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


by Jackie Morse Kessler

Grade: To Own
Story: Lisabeth Lewis has an eating disorder, and then she becomes Famine.

I love Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse books so much. They are a subclass of my perhaps even greater love for Death books. That is the main reason why this book is "To Own". I can put it with Pratchett's Thief of Time (which I still need to buy) and Pratchett's and Gaiman's Good Omens, and then add Mort and Keturah and Lord Death as Death books. I really wish I liked The Book Thief more. I mean, everyone else in the world seems to adore it, and its Death character is really great. I also wished I liked Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics. His Death is one of the most original and awesome Deaths around. But I really don't. Like them, I mean.

Anyway. Back to the book in question. I quite liked this Death. As it says in the book, "Pestilence sighed. Death, he'd learned long ago, was weird". He was described as sexy twice, which almost put me off him. I'd much rather this was shown subtly instead of stated like that. But anyway. I still liked him--he is the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death after all.
The one part where I did appreciate the use of the word "sexy" was here (pg. 62):
"Lisa liked their accents. Maybe British or Scottish or Australian; she couldn't tell. But definitely one of those places, where the words all rolled up and down hills and language turned into something sexy." Oh yeah. Definitely.

Otherwise, it seemed to me a tasteful handling of anorexia. But what do I know.
And the whole thing was a little short. I could do with a lot more fleshing out, especially of the other Horsemen. Especially of Pestilence. People never show Pestilence enough. (Although Pestilence in Good Omens was the awesomest.) War is always some big lady with a sword and an attitude. Death is always wise and calm and in control--and in this case, wisecracking. But Pestilence in this one was rather mysterious, and I'd like to know more about him. Pestilence is supposed to work well with Famine, apparently. Death himself says so. But he was weird and gross and claimed he was a philanthropist--but was he?--and he certainly didn't seem to get along terribly well with Famine.

So we'll see how Rage is when it comes in at the library. I definitely want to read all of the next three when they come out. And own them if they're not worse than this one.

(See reviews of the next books in the series: Rage, Loss, Breath.)

P.S. Death shows up on my Top Ten (Or So): Anthropomorphic Personifications of Death.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wolf Queen

by Tanith Lee

Grade: Good
Story: Claidi goes searching for her fiance, and meets a bunch of strange people and discovers some strange politics.


Well, Arugl's back, so I'm happy again. And I quite liked Winter too.

And I don't know what else to say. My mind is going completely blank.

I liked this one better than the second one but not as much as the first one and I really want to read the fourth one now.

That's it.

Wolf Star

(also called: Wolf Star Rise)
by Tanith Lee

Grade: Good
Story: Claidi gets kidnapped and stuck in a very strange house.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! I had a post written out and it was actually rather good, and then stupid Blogger LOST it!!! GRRRRR!!!!!
Oh well. I'll try to recreate as much as I can, but I warn you, it won't be nearly so good.


This was definitely my least favourite of the three. After I had finally decided that I really loved the Romance of the first book, Argul was basically non-existent throughout the entire book! And then she begins to fall for this Venn guy! GRRRR!!!

But that is what's refreshing about these books, and especially this heroine. Claidi is completely open with you. She pours out her heart to you, and when she tells you that she didn't fall for Venn very hard, it is the truth. It is not some sort of justification for her forbidden love or something, as it would be in a different book.


Other that, it was simply strange. Moving house, a guy with plants for hair, little tiny miniature animals, weird animal crosses. Usually I really like weird, creepy, strange. But this time ... I don't know. It was a bit too much. Maybe if the problem mentioned in the spoiler paragraph above wasn't there, I would have loved the whole thing, creepiness and all.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wolf Tower

by Tanith Lee

Grade: Good (To Own, maybe?)
Story: Claidi is a slave--until a handsome stranger appears in her tiny walled-off palace, and she escapes with him. Then--Adventures! Romance! Sequels! Lots of really weird science/magic stuff!

Well, I did it again. I read all three of these books (the fourth is on its way) before I had a chance to write up on this one. (Which is rather unfortunate, because they changed my impression on this first one.) I read them all in one day too, at a rather break-neck pace. (Which is excusable because school is over! Whippeeeee! That's also why I'm writing this at such an ungodly hour.) Anyway, I'm going to try to write up on each individual book, but it will prove difficult, as it always does in such circumstances.

This book is so COMPLETELY different than I expected, in so many ways. I suppose it was partly because I'd seen these recommended by Angieville, and I'd just finished reading a quartet of books recommended by Angieville. So I had this idea in my mind that both quartets would be pretty similar. I thought this book would be Romantic and political with a heroine who was extremely good at fighting. ( that I come to think of it, this series is hugely political, and there's a fair bit of Romance, and Claidi--well, she's never extremely good at fighting, but she certainly gains some powers. Anyway, my point is, these books are totally and completely different from Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses series.)


I also expected the handsome, golden-haired prince would be the one she fell in love with. And she did! But not for very long! I first started to realize that these books were different and actually highly like-able when Claidi decided very early on that she was in love with Nemian. Then she mused to herself whether her annoyance with him was a result of being in love with him, because she'd heard that love makes you alternate between hating someone and adoring them. I found this very refreshing. In so many novels, the heroine gets hugely annoyed at the hero, and then wonders why. It drives me crazy. Have they not read any books at all? How are they so completely ignorant as to not realize they are attracted to him? And besides, I don't think being in love actually does make you extremely annoyed at someone. (Although what would I know...)


Anyway, I had a lovely blog post all thought out it my mind. It was scintillating and well-written--a perfect description of my feelings about this book and series. But I didn't write it down of course, so now I'll just have to make do with this. I'll just write about Claidi and then stop.

So. Claidi. She is one of the best heroines I've met in a long time.
--She's fiesty and trouble, but she can't fight big men that are way stronger than her, and she's also a bit of a coward sometimes.
--She's refreshingly open. As I was mentioning above, most heroines don't seem to realize that they are attracted to someone. Claidi mentions it as soon as she realizes it.
--I don't know how to explain this further, because I'm not in a writing sort of mood. Perhaps by the time I get to reviewing the third in the series, I will have more thoughts.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fortune and Fate

by Sharon Shinn

Grade: Good
Story: Wen hates herself. Due to unexpected circumstances, she ends up training the guard for a soon-to-be marlady and her guardian. Cammon, the king (sort of), wanders throughout his domain with the rest of the six companions of the previous three books.

I had heard that this book was to be about a minor female character, and I was quite disappointed. But that was before I met Wen in Reader and Raelynx. And really liked her. She's short. I like short people. And very blunt and depressed and not terribly intelligent. Every once in a while, you need people in books who are plump, or slightly stupid, or really plain, or otherwise non-attractive, in order to counteract the reams of beautiful, smart, feisty people. (It's not like she's stupid exactly, though. She's obviously intelligent when it comes to such things as soldierly strategy. But she really doesn't get subtlety of language, and she doesn't like to read at all, ever.)

But the romance! Why do they have to sleep together so much??? This matter sits in my head in the same way that most immodest clothing does. In other words, even if I didn't care a jot about the morality of wearing immodest clothing, I simply find that it doesn't look as good (for the most part). The strapless gowns girls wear always make them hunch their shoulders in most unattractive manner. And even if they aren't hunched over, the ratio of skin to dress isn't as attractive in my humble opinion. So it is with this. When they begin sleeping together every night with only the smallest bit of romance before hand (and before getting married, of course), all the tension dissipates. It simply isn't as interesting. Marriage brings the excitement back. You're stuck with this person forever now. It is a great inconvenience rightly considered. In other words, an adventure.

But it was lovely to see Justin and Senneth and Kirra and Donnal and Tayse and Cammon. The six. So it's "Good".

See the previous books: Mystic and RiderThe Thirteenth HouseDark Moon Defender, and Reader and Raelynx.