Friday, April 27, 2012


edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

Grade: 2 stars

Thoughts: I got this book because of Sarah Rees Brennan (of the Demon's Lexicon series), and hers was one of the only stories I actually really liked. Ok, there were a few more that were somewhat interesting. However, most of those were stories set in the worlds of the novels of those authors. And I'm not interested in those particular series of novels, no matter how interesting the short stories were.

However, Sarah Rees Brennan is almost always awesome, and as I mentioned, I quite liked the story "Let's Get This Undead Show on the Road". There were interesting characters, with growth and everything, and there was no weird Romance (which most of the rest had (especially Melissa Marr's story--boy, that was...uber Romantic)). Also, there was this exchange (which may be funnier in context, and if you happen to be Canadian, like me):
"The man came from an enemy nation," Faye told him.
Bradley hesitated. "Canada?"
"They're a rebellious people. All that ice hockey, it fires the blood. I required soldiers to bring them down."
I wasn't hoping for too much from this collection, since I already knew I wasn't a fan of some of these authors, and there were no awesome authors I already knew about, except for SRB. The book is subtitled "Paranormal Diversions", so I was hoping for at least a little more good stuff. Ah well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The False Prince

by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Grade: 4 stars
Story Summary: Sage (a scrappy, clever, impudent young thief) is taken from an orphanage to be one of several candidates, all being trained to possibly become the puppet ruler of the entire country. So obviously a whole bunch of cool stuff follows: politics, sword fighting, wild horse riding, secret passage sneaking, history studying, and lots more.

Thoughts: I read a reviewer who liked this better than Megan Whalen Turner's series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia). Of course, I didn't believe them, but it still made this book an absolute must-read. And truth be told, it was awesome, but not Megan Whalen Turner. Which isn't actually saying much, because The King of Attolia might be on my list of top five books ever (as evidenced by the shortness and emotionalism of my review). Note that I don't know where it would be placed on my top five books, or even if it would be on my top five books. Because a list like that is REALLY hard to make. It's like picking your top two siblings (out of six) or something. ANYWAY, back to the topic at hand...

Sage is quite a bit like Eugenides in quite a few ways, like his brashness and extreme cleverness. And I always like thieves and conmen. And the plot had some similarities too, such as (SPOILERS for QoA, visit to decode) gur nsberzragvbarq pyrire lbhat guvrs orpbzvat gur xvat bs n pbhagel. Also just the amount of politics among several smallish fictional countries, who have a very uneasy relationship with each other, reminded me a lot of Turner's books. As this type of thing seems to hit all the right buttons for me, it was the perfect book to get me out of another strange reading slump, in which re-reading MWT was not an option for some reason.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Top Ten (Or So): Anthropomorphic Personifications of Death

Death, and also the other three Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In fact, I like Anthropomorphic Personifications of pretty much everything, but Death occurs most frequently, and is often the best.

Ok, so in approximate order of awesomeness, here goes:

--Death appears in every single Discworld book except The Wee Free Men. But usually it's only cameos, except in his own books, which are Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time, the latter of which also stars the Four Horsemen (and also a Fifth Horseman). Death has a granddaughter named Susan who takes over his job sometimes, and is also awesome. This Death is grandfatherly and rather sweet.

--Neil Gaiman has an amazing Death in his Sandman comics. She is female this time, which is cool. (In French, Death is la mort, which IS female, so I think we should get more female Deaths.) Unfortunately, I started reading the Sandman books, and didn't like them. So I'm not going to recommend them. Basically everyone says they're fabulous, though, so don't take my word for it.

--Neil Gaiman also wrote a book with Terry Pratchett called Good Omens, in which the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appear. Death is the same Death as in TP's books, I think. And besides him, Pestilence is the best of the other three.

--Jackie Morse Kessler has a series starring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Hunger, RageLoss, and Breath. Here Death is funny and guitar-playing and looks like Kurt Cobain.

--The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Narrated by Death. A slightly less human Death than usual, but still anthropomorphic. I liked this WWII book well enough. Most people loved it.

--Keturah and Lord Death. Quite Romantic. But I don't mind! WOW! It must be because I love Death so much.

--"Meet Joe Black", a movie with Brad Pitt. Not my favourite movie ever. This one is not only Quite Romantic, but up to the level of Uber Romantic. I finished it, though, so that's something, I guess. But it does star Death as a character, so it deserves to be on this list. Plus Anthony Hopkins is in it, so there's that.

--The TV show Supernatural has a Death character in a couple episodes. I think this Death wins for best entrance, what with all the slo-mo and creepy "O Death" song.

--And there must be more. There SHOULD be more. Does anybody know of any more? (I started reading On a Pale Horse by Anthony Piers, but didn't finish. There are also many good books and some TV with people who have Death's job, but none of them are actually Death himself as an Anthropomorphic Personification. Thus Hades from The Lightning Thief series doesn't count.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Dragon's Tooth

by N. D. Wilson

Grade: 4 stars
Story: Cyrus Smith and his sister Antigone have lost their parents and are living with their older brother in a run-down motel. But then a strange old man appears, and is killed by an even stranger man, and all sorts of weird things happen. Eventually they end up sworn into a centuries-old Order, with one of the evilest men alive after them. This isn't a very good summary, so now I'm going to do it exclamation point style, because that's more fun:
Invisible snakes! The Blood Avenger of Ashtown! Strange skin-shedding boys! Fencing! Fire! Torture! Revenge! Really scary monsters! Not-really-true-love, but certainly a couple of crushes! A girl named Antigone! (I like Greek names, ok?)
Warning: For dragon fans (namely my dear friend C.H.): there is no "Dragons!" added to this list for a reason. i.e. A dragon's tooth does not a dragon mean.

Thoughts: I originally got this book from the library because I heard it had something to do with joining an Order of St. Brendan, and was of the fantasy genre. Which immediately appealed to me because I assumed it would either be Catholic, or have something to do with Catholicism--considering that St. Brendan is, after all, a Catholic saint. And I am of the opinion that there needs to be far more well-written Catholic fantasy out there. Sure, we have The Lord of the Rings, which is pretty much the ultimate fantasy novel. But there's not much else. And in that respect I was somewhat disappointed. There are only vague references to Christianity, and the ones that are there, i.e. the monks, are rather grumpy and unpleasant. Not that it's necessary to be explicitly Christian. In fact, LOTR is all the better for NOT being explicitly Catholic. It's just.. well, I'm not sure really. I was expecting something somewhat different for this book, perhaps at least some mention of Brendan and his sainthood? In Wilson's bio, he mentions his admiration for such people as Tolkein, Chesterton, and C. S. Lewis (as well as the totally awesome P. G. Wodehouse). So my issue here is probably simply down to slightly different expectations, and not a problem with the book itself.

Anyway, enough of that. N. D. Wilson also wrote the 100 Cupboards trilogy. I thought the first two books were very well done with amazing visual imagery, but I didn't fall in love with the characters enough to ever get around to reading the third book. But this book doesn't fail in that regard at all. There are tons of awesome and memorable characters, from the immortal thief boy Nolan to the Avengel of Ashtown Rupert Greeves, to the brilliant flygirl Diana. And there are loads more.

Plus, it keeps the amazing visual writing of the 100 Cupboards series, and adds a fast-paced plot and magical studies (which I always love--in fact, I was rather disappointed that there wasn't more studying in this book. Perhaps in the sequels?)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

by Charles Yu

Grade: Unfinished
Read: To page 30.

Thoughts: I'm not totally sure why I couldn't finish this one. It may just have been my current mood. Certain books are very hard to finish when school is extremely busy. Perhaps it just isn't my kind of book, though. It certainly is strange. I originally ordered it from the library because it sounded extremely meta and self-referential, which usually is to my taste. And it was extremely self-referential, but also very confusing and slow-moving. Again, this might be because the present busyness of school makes it rather difficult to concentrate on anything else too intellectual. I'll probably try it again some day and see how it goes.