Saturday, August 31, 2013


by Barry Lyga

Grade: 3 1/2 stars
Story Summary: Sequel to I Hunt Killers. Jazz goes to New York to help the police with a new serial killer, struggles intensely with his inner demons some more, and unwittingly joins in a game of life and death.

Thoughts: Another great one in this series. Definitely dark and gruesome (this is a book about the son of a serial killer), but not as horrible and dark and weird as, say, Slice of Cherry. I liked the way the "game" was incorporated into the story-line.

Also, side benefit, I love the dust jacket cover, and there's a special bonus of a beautiful, blood-splattered inside cover as well.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists

by Gideon Defoe

Grade: 3 1/2 stars
Story summary: I try not to do this very often, but I'm going to refer you to the Goodreads summary, for the same reasons described in my review below.
Sequel to The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Whaling.

Thoughts: Basically see the reviews for the previous books. I don't have much to say about this one individually. Partly because it's very similar in entertainment value and general hilariousness to the two before it. But mostly because I started reading this during my great crash into sickness and laziness after my two month European trip, and then continued reading it during the eight-day-long (and very intense) wilderness hike I went on right afterwards. These two things are not really conducive towards remembering details or taking notes or general comprehension or any such helpful things.

Stolen Magic

by Stephanie Burgis

Grade: 4 stars
Story summary: The Stephenson family is preparing for Angeline's wedding, and Angeline's new in-laws are doing everything they can to politely make things very unpleasant for her. Fortunately for us, she has a little sister named Kat, and Kat's plans to help her family always turn into mayhem, adventure, and lots of (illegal) magic.
Sequel to Kat, Incorrigible and Renegade Magic.

Thoughts: Yay! So fun! Kat is just... brilliant. I would love it if Burgis continued writing about her; she's one of those people that things just happen around. She's actually reminding me slightly, in that way, of Miles Vorkosigan, whose exploits and adventures I am reading right now and loving. They both come into situations which for normal people would simply end up mildly unpleasant. But somehow when they are there, the only thing that seems to be a possible solution is something completely audacious, involving disguise, manipulation, and great cleverness.

Her brother Charles also played a much more significant role in this book, which I was quite happy about. I always love it when all the individual members of a fictional family get enough time and attention to be interesting. (One of my favourite things about the Harry Potter series is how awesome the families and more minor characters are.) I'd felt a lack of him in the first two books, as he mostly just lay around all day and slept. Now, he's sort of pulled his life together, and like all people who have the misfortune of being close to Kat, is hurled into adventures he doesn't want to be a part of.

If I had a Top Ten (Or So) list of Clever and Audacious Characters, Kat would definitely be on it. I sincerely hope I some day get to read about her further adventures as she grows up--because one such as her could obviously not have a calm and normal life for long.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


by Jackie Morse Kesslar

Grade: 3 1/2 stars
Story Summary: Now we've done Famine, War, and Pestilence, and we're finally on Death. And he's seriously depressed. As in suicidally depressed. And it's all up to one also suicidal teenager named Xander to save everything.
Sequel to Hunger, Rage, and Loss.

Thoughts: I really love these books. They're "issue books", which isn't usually my cup of tea.'s the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse! How could I resist?

This one delved much more into the mythological aspects of the series--finally. I'd been wanting a bit of background. Most of it was pretty cool, and there were some things that finally made sense. I still wish some things were slightly better explained, but the books aren't really supposed to be about that. So I'm ok with it.

Spoilers in the paragraph below.
I was, however, a little unhappy with the end. Unfortunately, I'm very behind on reviews and so I read this book about a month ago, and don't remember what happened exactly. I do remember that there seemed an indication that much of the story was in Xander's head--a bit of a cop-out. It seemed like it could still work in that Harry Potter way: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?" But it wasn't clear enough, and I didn't quite approve.

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Travel Reading Part 4

For the last two months, I've been gone on a backpacking trip to Europe. My cell phone was the only internet access I had, and the reception was often spotty. Plus I was just super busy. So TONS of reading, but no posts. There were too many books, and I read them too long ago to make individual posts for each one. So I'm dividing them up into a couple posts, and just writing a couple sentences for each. Here goes the fourth and last set:

"Goose Chase" by Patrice Kindl
Grade: 4 stars
Retelling of the fairy tale "The Goose Girl". The goose girl is stuck in a tower for her own safety, courted by two men she highly dislikes. She plans a daring escape, and that's when her adventures start. A light read, but I loved it. It was pretty much the perfect comfort read for this particular time. The geese were hilarious, the goose girl was bad-tempered and awesome, and the romance was unusual.

"Shards of Honour" by Lois McMaster Bujold
Grade: 4 1/2 stars
The first book in the Vorkosigan saga. Cordelia is the captain of a scientific expedition, and she gets captured by the captain of a military ship from another planet. She has to survive for 5 days on an alien planet with him, and then there's politics and  battles and more survival and stuff. Faaabulous book (my description SO does not do it justice), which I'm guessing is the start to an amazing and unforgettable series. Where has this been my whole life? One of my favourites parts of this book is a little difficult to describe in so few words, but suffice it to say: it's titled perfectly. I loved the way the theme of honour was dealt with. This book and then next (Barrayar, discussed a bit below) are contained in an omnibus called Cordelia's Honour; this is very aptly named, for truthfully, Cordelia "pour[s] out honour all around [her], like a fountain". Also--Bothari. He is...quite something. There's not enough room to describe it all here, but his story was one of my favourite parts of the book.

"Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities" by Mike Jung
Grade: 2 stars
A couple of fanboys of the superhero Captain Stupendous have to help him out when all of a sudden he's not acting as stupendous as usual. This books subverts some common tropes (girl power, non-white characters, and more), which I always like, however it didn't really manage to keep my interest very well. Maybe my time of loving Middle Grade fiction more than most other kinds is slowly coming to an end, because it seems that the complaint "this book is too young for me" has come up a lot recently. (There are of course important exceptions, like Ordinary Magic, books by Frances Hardinge, and by Stephanie Burgis, and more.) Or maybe the book is simply a bit too simplistic. Not sure.

"Barrayar" by Louis McMaster Bujold
Grade: 3 1/2 stars
Begins right after Shards of Honour, so I don't want to discuss it too much because of spoilers. But there's a lot of Cordelia acclimatizing to a different culture, having lots of trouble with the horrific Barrayarian politics, and trying to save her unborn son. I liked it less than Shards of Honour, but it was still really good. My main issue might have been that it seemed to have less of a main theme and be less self-contained than Shards of Honour, but then I've read other reviews which have thought pretty much the opposite. So I don't know. What matters is that it has confirmed in my mind that this series is definitely worth reading. I am now going to go out and read as many Vorkosigan books as I can get my hands on.