corrielle: (Book and Key)
Melusine by Sarah Monette

Why I picked it up: I bought the first three books in this series in a used book store while on vacation more than three years ago. They've languished on my shelf ever since, and they are my first books read for project "Read the Books We Have Instead of Buying New Ones." Also, I was in the mood for some gritty fantasy with burglars, big cities, a stratified society, and big magic.

Review in a nutshell: Engaging read with strong characters and a nice portrayal of friendship and loyalty under adverse circumstances. Not perfect in terms of world building, but still good enough that I thoroughly enjoyed it and will most certainly read the other books
Goodreads rating: 3/5

Review under the cut )
corrielle: (Default)
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Why I picked it up:I've never read a fantasy novel set in 1890s Malaysia back when it was still a British colony before. Also, the excerpt I read pulled me in.
Goodreads rating: 4/5 Stars
Review in a nutshell: Really eerie story about the relationships between the living and the dead in a unique setting. Some plot points were a bit thinly developed, but still definitely worth your time if you like history and ghost stories.

Complete, spoiler filled review ahead )
corrielle: (Book and Key)
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Why I picked it up: I read the first two books in this YA trilogy (Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm) last year, and I liked the world building. The magical system is unique, and there are a lot of really fun secondary characters. I was anxious to see how Bardugo was going to wrap it up. All in all, it was a satisfying conclusion.
Goodreads Star Rating: 4/5

Spoiler Filled Review Ahead )
corrielle: (Book and Key)
The Waking Engine by David Edison

3/5 Stars

This was a book that was immensely frustrating to me because I kept on wanting it to be more than it was. I was drawn in by a snippet from the very beginning of the book and the slightly creepy but lovely cover. I was also looking forward to reading a book with a premise that I, at least, had not encountered before – death leads, not to heaven or a celestial afterlife, but to another life somewhere else. As does the next death, and the one after that, etc, until one finally ends up in the City Unspoken (the setting of most of the novel), where one finally has a chance, perhaps, to die for good.

The problem is, people aren’t dying, and those who are ready to are clogging up the streets, and there are Undead Lich kings trying to take over the city, and there’s an Unseelie Faerie Queen turned Cyber-Fae trying to muck things up, and all of this should have been really interesting, but… it left me cold.

Read the Rest of the review. )
corrielle: (Book and Key)
2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I’m a sucker for “different versions of the same events” stories. (I haven’t seen Groundhog’s Day, and that’s apparently a shame.) So, when I saw the description of this book in a “Notable books of 2013” list in a magazine, I decided I needed to read it.

The basic setup is this: Ursula Todd, third child of a comfortably middle class British family, is born in 1910, lives, and dies in various ways over and over again. Sometimes she lives for a few hours, sometimes a decade, sometimes a full life. Throughout all of her lives, you get to know her family and the friends and neighbors who show up again and again, and the whole thing has this deeply rooted cyclical movement that was really well done. There were certain images that were showed up in different ways in different lives, little variations in how her path crossed with certain people that ended up having big effects on the way things turned out… it was quite ingenious.

So Many Spoilers )
corrielle: (Book and Key)
One of my New Year's goals was to start doing book reviews again, in one form or another. So, to get that started, here are my thoughts on the first book I finished in 2014. (It was a doorstop, which is why it took me all month to read it.)

1. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

I chose this books precisely because it was outside of my normal reading comfort zone. While I certainly enjoy watching sci-fi, I haven't read a lot of it. I'm much more likely to reach for one of the flavors of fantasy. But around the end of last year, I ran across a "best sci-fi books of 2013" list, and this was on it, and it sounded interesting. Our local library had access to a copy, so I picked it up.

Here's what I thought. )
corrielle: (Default)
All Clear by Connie Willis
Why I picked it up: It's the sequel to Blackout, by which I mean "They were supposed to be one book, but it got too long," so it's more of a immediate continuation than a sequel, if you know what I mean.
Goodreads Rating: 4/5

So many spoilers. )
corrielle: (Default)
Ironskin, by Tina Connolly

Why I Picked It Up: I got this on preview night at Comic Con this year. The cover copy had me at "Jane Eyre" and "Fey." Also, the cover art is lovely. I proceeded to carry it around with me for most of con.
Goodreads Star Rating: 3/5

General, possibly spoilery thoughts: )

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
Why I Picked It Up: Again, this was a comic-con freebie. I had a choice between this and several YA books that didn't seem at all interesting to me, and so even though I don't usually go for zombie fiction, the title made me do a double take, and so I picked it up. (this is the first zombie BOOK I've read... and I've seen the first two seasons of Walking Dead.) Also, this little paperback was the lightest of my Comic-con freebies, so it fit nicely into my bag.
Goodreads Star Rating: 4/5

General, possibly spoilery thoughts: )

Blackout, by Connie Willis

Why I Picked It Up: I had the privilege of seeing Connie Willis on a panel about hard-to-classify speculative fiction at Comic-con... oh, a couple of years ago now. She struck me as a highly intelligent writer, and I'd been seeing her books for years. Also, London in WWII is endlessly fascinating to me, and so is time travel. So... there you go.
Goodreads Star Rating: 4/5 (I'd give it a 4 1/2 if I could...)

General, possibly spoilery thoughts: )
corrielle: (Book and Key)
I've fallen way behind in posting reviews of the books I've been reading, and so instead of trying to catch up on all the ones I didn't do, I figured I should just start up and not try to play catch-up. 

So, here's what I thought of the book I just finished tonight.

Through Stone and Sea by Barb and J.C. Hendee.

This is the latest entry in The Noble Dead series, which I've been reading on and off since I was an undergraduate.

I wanted to like this. Really I did. )
corrielle: (Book and Key)

I got this from a friend on tumblr, and thought I should post it here, too.

1. Favorite childhood book?

This is complicated. So, here are some books that got re-read a lot when I was a kid:

The Amelia Bedilia books by Peggy Parish.

Keep Your Mouth Closed, Dear by Aliki Brandenberg (This is the first book I remember laughing at so hard I cried. It's about a crocodile who swallows things on accident.  I'm grinning just thinking about it.)

The Hobbit by… well… you all know it's JRR Tolkien. I read this for the first time when I was eight. Mom was reading it to me, but she got sick in the middle and said, "You know, I think you can read well enough to finish it for yourself." So I did.

 

Read the other 54 answers... )

corrielle: (Book and Key)
I got quite a bit behind on my "books read" post this past year, and I'm trying to do a little to catch up.  So, for each book (or series), I'm simply said why I picked it up and commented briefly on if it was worth it. 

Included in this post are:

5. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

6-8. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

9. Sex With Kings by Eleanor Herman

10. Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary

Thoughts behind the cut. )

corrielle: (Book and Key)

1. The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliot

 

I read this book for the first time when it first came out in paperback some time in 1997.  Since then, it has been on every "favorite fantasy novels" list I have ever made.  Heck, it's probably been on every single "favorite books of any genre" list I've been asked for since reading it. I love this book.  I got my hands on the prequel, The Diviner, a few months ago, and I decided it was time to read the book that started my obsession with this universe again before forging ahead (or backwards?) into the prequel.  I started reading with trepidation.  What if it wasn't as good as I remembered it being? What if I winced and thought to myself, "THAT's what I've been recommending to people all these years? What was I thinking?"

 

I didn't need to be worried.  It's as good as I remember it being.

 

My review of The Golden Key. )



2. The Diviner by Melanie Rawn

My review of The Diviner. )

corrielle: (Book and Key)
And... the last two books I read in 2011 are...

29. The Hidden Goddess by M.K. Hobson

 

This is the sequel to The Native Star... good follow up novel. )

 


30. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 

Really lovely book by an author with a gift of imagery. )

corrielle: (Book and Key)

25. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

 

Because I shouldn't just read fantasy. )



26. Modern Ireland: a Very Short Introduction by Senia Paseta

 

Because I wanted to educate myself about a country different from my own. )


 

27. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

 

Because I've never read a book with a hermaphroditic narrator before. )


 

28. The Easter Rising: Revolution and Irish Nationalism by Alan J. Ward

 

Ok, ok, it's because I want to understand Branson. Happy? )

corrielle: (Book and Key)

On this last day of 2011, I'm trying to catch up on my book posts.  I've read some good ones this year, but life hasn't given me time to post about them in the detail I would have liked. So, here's the first of a few "books read" posts I hope to make today.

15. Heartless by Gail Carriger

 

In Lady Alexia's latest adventure... )


 

16. Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick


 This was my Comic Con line read this year. I'd buy the sequel. )


 

17. Ahab's Wife, or, The Stargazer by Sena Jeter Naslund

Moby Dick has never been a favorite work of mine, but... )


 

18. On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

 

I picked this book up because of its association with the most recent PotC movie, and because I've heard good things about the author. 

 

First of all, let me say it was nothing I expected. )

corrielle: (Book and Key)

8. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" / 

When I teach my Introduction to Literature class, we spend a day talking about narrators—First person, second person, third person; omniscient, limited, limited-omniscient; objective or subjective; reliable or unreliable.  We talk about the possibilities that each type presents and the reasons that an author might tell a story using an objective, omniscient third person narrator versus a mentally unstable first person narrator.  We don't really discuss what happens when a story has a dog for a narrator.  But perhaps I should.

Read the Review )



9. Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson

 

I've read a lot of criticism of pop culture in my life, starting with the classic Amusing Ourselves to Death by Marshall McLuhan when I was in the eleventh grade for a research paper on the effects watching television has on children.  When I started teaching composition, I started giving an in-class final about violence in popular media based on two essays about video game and comic book violence, and so I did a lot more thinking about that particular critique of pop culture.  However, in the back of my mind, even as I read all of this very legitimate sounding criticism, I knew there was a disconnect between what I was reading and my experience with pop culture.  I knew that Buffy and Firefly were incredibly, blazingly intelligent shows with stories and characters that demanded engagement, not passivity, from their viewers. I knew from my comic book junkie friends that comics were smart and complex and referential, and from hours spent with [personal profile] lynxgriffin playing Kingdom Hearts and various Final Fantasy games, I knew that in moderation, there is an incredible amount of satisfaction to be gained from figuring out the puzzles, and having the hand-eye coordination to make the right move at just the right time and beat the big boss. 

 

Therefore, it was with great interest that I borrowed this book from [profile] ghettopeach. Johnson's basic premise is simple.  As media (he focuses mostly on TV and video games) grows more complex and requires more of its users, it is actually making us smarter in ways that are difficult to measure.  Most of the criticism of Johnson's work comes from the fact that this thesis is difficult to prove.  He attempts to do so with the data available, but even he admits that it isn't sufficient to prove anything conclusively.  

Read more of the review. )

corrielle: (Book and Key)
Today, I present my thoughts on the high fantasy Rai-kirah Trilogy by Carol Berg.

3. Transformation 
 

I have been aware of these books for quite some time now, mostly because they were supposedly so filled with slashy subtext that they had certain varieties of fangirls salivating madly over them.  Now that I’ve read them, I see where the reputation comes from.

Read more. As always, beware of spoilers. )



4. Revelation 
 

This is the second book in the trilogy that began with Transformation, and though it suffers somewhat from "middle book" syndrome, it is still interesting enough.  It's the book where everything that Seyonne thought he knew about the rai-kirah (the demons) and his people's purpose turns out to be… not false, exactly, but much more complicated than he ever thought it could be.

Read more... )



5. Restoration

Read more... )



It had its faults, but I'm not sorry I read the series.  It was an interesting take on a lot of fantasy tropes, like the godlike power vs. human emotion tug-of-war Seyonne goes through, the "dark forgotten evil trapped, then rediscovered" plot, and the "people from completely different cultures who should hate each other end up being best friends forever" plot… let's not forget that one. Seriously.  I think it's an important lesson that fantasy novels have been quietly sharing with the world ever since Legolas and Gimli stopped arguing and agreed that caves/trees might not be all that bad.


corrielle: (Book and Key)
I've read quite a bit already this year, but I seem to be having trouble keeping my journal updated.  Since I have some extra time this coming week, I'll be trying to post about one of the things I've read each day.

1. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

 

If you asked me to describe what happened in this latest doorstop of a novel in three words, I would tell you, “Everyone grows up.”  While the main characters in the series have certainly showed signs of maturing over the course of the previous novels, this is where they are forced to trot out that newfound peace/maturity/sense of purpose and use it under extreme duress.

Snakes and foxes, Forsaken and Whitecloaks... and some spoilers, too. )

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