Monday, June 29, 2015

The Castle Behind Thorns

by Merrie Haskell

Story summary: Sand wakes up in the nearby castle, in which every single item has been torn asunder, with no memory of how he got there. Stuck behind the wall of living thorns surrounding the castle, he builds a blacksmithing forge and begins to slowly mend all the broken items, setting up a life in the castle, and surviving. But he discovers he may have more of a talent for mending than he thought when the princess buried in the castle crypt comes to life.

Why You Might Like This Book:
  • The theme of forgiveness is excellently done, especially for a children's book.
  • It actually makes me want to take up blacksmithing. And that's saying something.

And Why You Might Not:
  • It's a quiet sort of book, and not fast. This is a good thing for this book, but it does mean that it can seem like nothing much is happening for the first half of the book.

Friday, June 26, 2015


by Marissa Meyer

Story summary: Cinderella as a cyborg. Sounds like a simple and maybe uninteresting premise, but there's a lot more to it, trust me.
Also see the sequels: Scarlet, Cress, and Winter.

Why You Should Read This:
  • Cyborgs.
  • AIs.
  • Did I mention Cyborgs and AIs?
  • Also mind control and girl mechanics and strange people from the moon.
  • In other words, the world-building is awesome.
  • But there are also great familial relationships, interesting characters, and suspenseful plot.
  • And "Cinderella as a cyborg" actually works surprisingly brilliantly.

And Why You Shouldn't:
  • It is written in a definite Young Adult style. Not my favourite, but if everything else is really good, as it is in this book, then it doesn't matter so much.
  • Nothing really gets resolved. You're going to have to read the other three books in the series to get answers, relationships, etc.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Texts From Jane Eyre

by Mallory Ortberg

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • If you've read your fair share of Classics and want to read someone parodying them, playing off them, and generally having a good time with them, all in witty text-speak, then this is the book for you.
  • She has modern/internet humor down.

And Why You Might Not:
  • What with it being not very long to begin with, and then on top of that written in texting style, well... it's funny and all, but very light. I almost didn't count it for my book count, until I realized I counted Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores, and they are of much the same ilk.

Cruel Beauty

by Rosamund Hodge

Story summary: Retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" (with maybe a bit of Hades & Persephone thrown in?).

Why You Might Like This Book:
  • The characters are flawed and faulty without being morally repugnant. Complexity, ftw!
  • The cover is beautiful. Yes, don't judge a book by its cover and all that, but sometimes sitting down to read something that looks so nice has a reward of its own.
  • In a similar isn't-supposed-to-be-relevant vein, the main characters are called Nyx and Ignifex! How cool are those names? I want to call my daughter Nyx, but I don't think I could get away with that, sigh.

And Why You Might Not:
  • The beauty/sexiness of the "Beast" was emphasized more than I like. I like my BatB retellings to actually have ugly Beasts, not just beautiful Beasts with a dark side.
  • Coming off from that, the romance was also not my style. There was a sort-of love triangle that bothered me, and way too much emphasize on beauty/sexiness as opposed to getting to know each other.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Work of Mercy

by Mark Shea

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Inspiring and well-written book on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
  • Mark Shea is very balanced in his opinions. It is a gift of his, I think, to not fall into political ideologies that tend to snare other people. Neither Left nor Right are free from his criticism or approval.

And Why You Might Not:
  • There are not as many practical suggestions as I wanted--it's more short musings than an explanation or a handbook. (It does give a helpful list of resources for practical action at the end, though.)

The Uninvited Guests

by Sadie Jones

Story summary: There's an eccentric family in their old, grand, and in-need-of-repairs house. There's a mysterious train crash with even more mysterious survivors. There's the charming surprise visitor with possible menacing intent. And there's a very non-house-trained pony.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • It's funny, short, strange, sweet, creepy, quaint.
  • I actually found the romances rather sweet, though not exactly deep. (I mostly only mention this because romance is often offputting for me, and so when it isn't, I take note.)

And Why You Might Not:
  • It's a strange book. Not completely coherent in plot or theme.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Battle for Skandia

by John Flanagan

Story Summary: Alt-Vikings and alt-Mongols battle it out with some help from our young heroes Will, the Ranger; Horace, the warrior; and Evanlyn, the princess.
Sequel to The Ruins of Gorlan, The Burning Bridge, and The Icebound Land.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Rescues, escapes, and splendid archery skills.
  • The battle taking up the last third of the book is really epic. Awesomeness abounds.

And Why You Might Not:
  • It's quite simplistic in some ways, lacking in subtlety or complexity.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


by R. A. Salvatore

Story Summary: The birth and youth of a young dark elf, struggling against the dishonour, corruption, and malice of his homeland.
First book in "The Legend of Drizzt" series.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Cool world building for a dark, amoral society, and cool character building for a complex and unusual protagonist.
  • There are awesome fighting skills. Seriously awesome.
  • Also the training to get those skills. (I love training scenes.)

And Why You Might Not:
  • It takes place in the very familiar fantasy world  of elves, dwarves, halflings, etc., despite the interesting world building for the dark elf society.
  • The dark elf society is definitely unpleasant. I enjoyed it, but others might not.