Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wishlist Wednesday the Second

It's Wishlist Wednesday! Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly segment in which I share books that I want but haven't got. Some are available at the library and some aren't.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie:

From Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he's on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian - leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glotka a whole lot more difficult. 

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

From Maternal love faces formidable challenges in this stellar steampunk tale. In an alternate 1880s America, mad inventor Leviticus Blue is blamed for destroying Civil War–era Seattle. When Zeke Wilkes, Blue's son, goes into the walled wreck of a city to clear his father's name, Zeke's mother, Briar Wilkes, follows him in an airship, determined to rescue her son from the toxic gas that turns people into zombies (called rotters and described in gut-churning detail). When Briar learns that Seattle still has a mad inventor, Dr. Minnericht, who eerily resembles her dead husband, a simple rescue quickly turns into a thrilling race to save Zeke from the man who may be his father.
 Little, Big by John Crowley 

From Little, Big tells the epic story of Smoky Barnable -- an anonymous young man who meets and falls in love with Daily Alice Drinkwater, and goes to live with her in Edgewood, a place not found on any map. In an impossible mansion full of her relatives, who all seem to have ties to another world not far away, Smoky fathers a family and tries to learn what tale he has found himself in -- and how it is to end.

That's part of my wishlist. What's on yours?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: Prospero Lost by L Jagi Lamplighter


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

More than four hundred years after the events of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the sorcerer Prospero, his daughter Miranda, and his other children have attained everlasting life. Miranda is the head of her family’s business, Prospero Inc., which secretly has used its magic for good around the world. One day, Miranda receives a warning from her father: "Beware of the Three Shadowed Ones."

When Miranda goes to her father for an explanation, he is nowhere to be found.

Miranda sets out to find her father and reunite with her estranged siblings, each of which holds a staff of power and secrets about Miranda’s sometimes-foggy past. Her journey through the past, present and future will take her to Venice, Chicago, the Caribbean, Washington, D.C., and the North Pole. To aid her, Miranda brings along Mab, an aerie being who acts like a hard-boiled detective, and Mephistopheles, her mentally-unbalanced brother. Together, they must ward off the Shadowed Ones and other ancient demons who want Prospero’s power for their own.

My Teasers: "Copernicus, Lavoisier, Newton: I summon and compel you. Let any spirit who disobeys be burned in the fires of Oppenheimer and let its name and nature be consumed forever."

As Mab spoke, Theo squinted at him in stark disbelief, clearly expecting Mab's unorthodox methods to fail. Having watched Mab work before, I knew better.

-Prospero Lost by L Jagi Lamplighter, pg 99

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Red Tree by Caitlin R Kiernan - RIP V Review V

I picked up The Red Tree for the RIP V Challenge. I had gotten it from the library because it was recommended by amazon, but never got around to reading it. It was a perfect Halloween season book for sure. From the back cover:
Sarah Crowe left Atlanta, and the remnants of a tumultuous relationship, to live alone in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house’s former tenant—a parapsychologist obsessed with the ancient oak growing on a desolate corner of the property. And as the gnarled tree takes root in her imagination, Sarah risks her health and her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago…
At the beginning of the novel, you are immediately told on the first page that Sarah Crowe is dead, and she has left behind this diary which was later apparently published. The editor makes some notes, but for the most part the novel is all snippets of Sarah's journal.

I don't really know what I was expecting from this book, honestly. I don't generally read horror books, but this sounded almost...noir. Gothic. Overall, I really enjoyed it. At first, the writing style grated on my nerves. It's a very informal narrative, as you'd expect a journal to be. Also, Sarah goes off on tangents like you wouldn't believe. It makes the narrative confusing, and after awhile I started to skim.

You slowly get impressions of something...wrong. Snippets. A lot of the creepyness comes from legends that the previous tennant had collected. There are weird things that happen actually in the narrative, but alone they really aren't all that scary. The prose that Kiernan uses is original and elegantly done.

There's never really any explanation of anything. I kept waiting for it, because I wanted to know more about why these things were happening, not just that they were. The reasons never came. I sort of feel that that was done on purpose, and that Kiernan was relying on the anticipation of being scared shitless rather than actual events.

Something that is worth mentioning is some explicit content in this book. Sarah is a lesbian, and that plays a fair role in this book. She thinks about sex a lot, there are some fairly graphic descriptions of some really...strange sexual practices. Putting it mildly. It seemed like they were just tossed in there for shock value. I consider myself fairly worldly and a few pages had me a little squicked. Sarah also curses like a sailor, so if that bothers you I'd recommend steering clear.

I'm glad I gave this a try, but I'm also glad to be moving onto another book. It gave me the willies but it won't keep me up tonight. There were a couple of scenes that had me on the edge of my seat, but for the most part this wasn't un-put-down-able. I'll probably pick up another Kiernan book at some point, but I'm not in a hurry.

Bottom Line
Overall Rating: 3 / 5
Buy or Try? Try
More? Standalone

Plot: 3 / 5 (pretty predictable, really)
Setting: 4 / 5  (creepy, and beautifully "illustrated")
Characters: 3.5 / 5 (I really didn't like her, but Sarah was well-written)
Pace: Slow
Descriptiveness: Mix of poetry and prose
Fantasy factor: Magical Realism link

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Sarah Crowe left Atlanta, and the remnants of a tumultuous relationship, to live alone in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house's former tenant-a parapsychologist obsessed with the ancient oak growing on a desolate corner of the property. And as the gnarled tree takes root in her imagination, Sarah risks her health and her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago...

My Teasers: "I will admit, since taking up residence here, I have considered on more than one occasion simply cutting the damned thing down myself. There is a chainsaw at my disposal. I have thought of burning the tree, or salting the earth at its roots. But it is only a tree, I remind myself, and these are only stories."

-The Red Tree by Caitlin R Kiernan, pg 88-89

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: RIP V Review IV

I know I'm a little late on the uptake with this book, but I hadn't even heard of it before I started blogging and following book bloggers. Apparently there's a huge hullabaloo about The Hunger Games. I can't say I particularly understand that, but I'll explain a bit more later. I have mixed feelings about this book. From the cover:
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
The first thing I noticed about this book was the tense which the author uses: present tense. As in, "I grab the book, and open it to page 233." Katniss is the narrator, and the writing is very informal.

I had a really hard time getting into The Hunger Games basically until the games themselves started. Katniss is clearly a very damaged girl, she's had a rough life. At first, I didn't really like her all that much, but as the Games wore on I started to like her a little more. I feel like despite the book being narrated by her, despite flashbacks, despite the fact she takes her sister's place, you really don't know much about Katniss until the Games begin. I understood a bit more about how she felt. I immediately liked Peeta, however. I think that distinction between Katniss's personality and Peeta's was well done. Their difference in upbringing and struggles is obvious.

You can't beat this story for originality. Sometimes dystopias can become routine when it's the same societal structure over and over. The Hunger Games is unlike anything I've personally ever read. I think that is at least part of why this book has garnered so much praise.

It is also an easy, fast read. It's exciting and it's brutal and it's dark. If I had children, I'm not sure I'd recommend they read this until they were older because it is pretty violent and...well...dark. Despite not maybe wanting to be friends with Katniss, I wanted her to succeed, and I wanted that shell of hers to crack and let Peeta into her heart. I got fairly into the book and I just had to stay up late last night and see what happened to the characters.

Personally, I want to know more about how all of this happened. How the heck the Capitol ended up the way it is, and who the rulers are that of 12 districts full of about 8,000 people, not one person seemed to rise up and rebel against their children being taken away.

But I'm not in a huge hurry to find out. Catching Fire has 30 people ahead of me to read it, Mockingjay has 57. As previously mentioned, I have mixed feelings about The Hunger Games. I enjoyed it, and it was entertaining. I can't say it was particularly well written, I'm afraid, but it wasn't a total train wreck either. I also hesitate to judge based on the writing, because I know it's a YA book and it's from the perspective of a very damaged and probably uneducated 16 year old girl. The story was very interesting, but the world wasn't as fleshed out as I like. I'm hoping that in subsequent books we'll find out more about Panem.

Overall, I enjoyed it while I was reading it. But when I go back and think about it, there are some things that could use improvement. I will read the subsequent books, but I'm not really rabid to get them, and I definitely don't understand the fuss surrounding these. I didn't love this book, but I did like it. Perhaps that will change after Catching Fire.

Bottom Line
Overall Rating: 3.5 / 5
Buy or Try? Try
More? 1 of 3 in The Hunger Games trilogy

Plot: 4.5 / 5 (some plot holes, but not glaringly obvious)
Setting: 3 / 5 
Characters: 3 / 5
Pace: Fast
Descriptiveness: Prose
Fantasy factor: Not Fantasy (dystopian) link

Book Blog Hop


Question: In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, let's take time this week to honor our favorite book bloggers and why we love them!

Answer: Michelle at my books. my life is the one who introduced me to book blogging in the first place. Michelle (yes another :P) at That's What She Read helped introduce me to the book blogging community. They both posted about my blog on twitter :)

A Trillian Books has some great reviews, and we have similar tastes. She's also starting a new meme called Read My Review, so check that out while you're over there! The Little Red Reviewer and e-Volving Books have had some awesome reviews as well.

My most recently discovered favorite is Karissa's Reading Review. I haven't been following for long, but I enjoy her reviews and her book choices very much.

There are many others I subscribe to, and I'm always looking to add more. Please comment so I can visit your site! Happy hopping!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

I just finished The Way of Kings about 10 minutes ago. Oh. My. God.

While I haven't reviewed them for this blog, I love love love Sanderson's previous works: Warbreaker (which you can get in ebook/pdf form for free here) Elantris, and The Mistborn trilogy. He has also written two Wheel of Time books, finishing the series for Robert Jordan.

I'm going to be fairly bold here and say that I believe The Stormlight Archive may prove to be his best work yet. I hesitate to say that it absolutely is, because I personally feel that the ending of a story is part of what makes a book great. However, naturally, this book's final pages are not the end of a story, but the beginning. This one isn't quite finished yet. From the book flap:

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called
The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building,
The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before Destination.
and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

Whenever I read Sanderson's books, my main thought is always "How the hell does he come up with this stuff?" Not in a bad way, in a very good way. I will admit that part of the magic in this book reminded me of Mistborn. One character can change the direction in which things respond to gravity. For example, he can "lash" himself to the ceiling and walk on the ceiling. Up becomes down to him. Then there's Stormlight, which seems to come from Highstorms, powerful and deadly storms that remind me of a hurricane on steroids. The winds can pick up boulders and rip a man to shreds. This Stormlight is present in their money, called spheres, and is also contained within tools called "fabrials" which can do various things, like providing heat or taking away pain.

I enjoyed the fact that the reader is just sort of "dropped" into the world, which is also fairly characteristic of Sanderson, but I found to be more noticeable in this book. We figure things out slowly, after being immersed in the culture, language, and events. It makes the reader a little confused at first...some of the words make little sense, and I found myself flipping for the expected index of characters/terms/what-have-you in the back (I'll go ahead and tell you there isn't one). I do feel, though, that it makes the book more suspenseful, because you're on pins and needles to find out what the heck is going on.

The characters are varied and numerous. Some characters only get a couple pages, other stories get a good chunk of the book. I would say the three main points of view are from Kaladin, Dalinar, and Shallan, as indicated on the book flap. For those of you who know who Hoid is, he plays much more of a role in this book than he did in any of the others. I appreciate Sanderson's skill with writing characters. It is very easy to tell who is good and who is bad, for the most part though. I don't particularly mind that, and in fact generally I enjoy it, but some folks believe that makes characters one-dimensional.

We are given a glimpse into something that may be evil for the greater good, however. There is also some discussion about morality, and whether something can be right without being moral. I imagine that this may be an overarching theme for these books.

I can see why The Way of Kings took a decade to write. The world is exquisitely described, planned out, and detailed. This is another area where I keep thinking "How the hell does he do it?" In addition to the descriptions in the book, maps are also included. There are drawings, sketches sometimes, at the beginning of every chapter as well. It would behoove the reader to pay attention to these, because they certainly add to the story and help illuminate some concepts.

The structure of the book is fairly typical of epic fantasy. There are 1005 pages, and 75 chapters divided into 5 parts. There is a prelude to the entire series at the beginning, followed by a prologue to The Way of Kings, and an epilogue at the end. Intermittently, there are "interludes," which contain stories from far off lands that are somehow connected to the events in the main story.

What makes this book special is the illustrations, which I already mentioned, and the text at the beginning of each chapter. Most, if not all, contain a quote taken from someone who is dying and seems to prophesy as their life ends. I find these to be inordinately creepy and intriguing at the same time. There is also an Ars Arcanum in the back, which talks about different kinds of fabrials and other bits of magical information. I would recommend waiting to read this until you finish the book, personally. It could contain some minor spoilers, and in the past I have found it is more fun to wait to read the Ars Arcanum, present in pretty much all Sanderson's books, until the end.

I really enjoyed The Way Of Kings. It was well written, and there was no "filler" as you would expect with a book that is over 1000 pages long. I had estimated that it would take me about 10-14 days to read this book, at the rate I usually read. It took me about 6. I really enjoy the way Sanderson writes. There's no pretension or meaningless description, but you are still absolutely immersed in the world he creates. I found myself thinking about "rotspren" as I was peeling peaches with some soft, overripe spots on them.

That's how you know an author has done his job well. At the beginning, you find yourself thinking "Well this is sort of strange..." and by the end it all makes perfect sense, and you wonder why the real world doesn't work that way.

Overall, I really don't have a single complaint, except that there's no publication date for the second one. :)

Bottom Line
Overall Rating: 5 / 5
Buy or Try? Buy
More? 1 of 10 forthcoming in the Stormlight Archive

Plot: 5 / 5 
Setting: 5 / 5 
Characters: 4.5 / 5 (bad guys are bad, good guys are good)
Pace: Fast
Descriptiveness: Prose
Fantasy factor: High fantasy link

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: The Way of Kings


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers:
Syl was silent for a moment. "Do you want to be a miracle?"

"No," Kaladin whispered. "But for them, I will be."

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson pg 517

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blameless by Gail Carriger: RIP V Review III

WARNING: I try to avoid spoilers, but they are possible (even probable), since this is the third book of the Parasol Protectorate. Soulless is the first. I recommend reading them in order.

I had to run out and get Blameless as soon as I finished Changeless. Gawd, I'm going to get all of these -less's mixed up. I can always tell when I'm enjoying a series...this will be my second review in two days, but since they all sound the same I keep nearly mixing up the titles. From the back cover:
Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.
Blameless was just as fun as Changeless was. I think part of what is totally special about these books is they don't take themselves too seriously. I love Alexia and all her friends. I got a bit irritated with Lord Maccon in this book though. He seemed to prolong his fit (for lack of a better term) over Alexia's alleged infidelity longer than was entirely necessary. Even after he was aware of being mistaken, he still continued to get drunk off formaldehyde. Some complaints have been made about the apology scene, but it made me laugh and was totally in character for both Alexia and Conall, I think.

Like Changeless, Blameless reveals more about the preternatural state. There is a bit of ancient history as well, and I love how Carriger incorporates supernaturals and preternaturals in with history. For example, in a previous book it was mentioned that staying out of the sun and having pale skin became en vogue because the vampires made it so. The Templars make an appearance in this book (their interpretation of preternaturals and supernaturals was spot on and realistic, I think) as well as an investigation into Etruscan society. I'm hoping in future novels, perhaps Alexia and crew may travel to Egypt or another exotic locale and investigate more ancient artifacts and the history and nature of preternaturals/supernaturals.

There are a lot of surprises in this book so be prepared. Luckily there's less of a cliffhanger for the next one, since we have awhile to wait. Nonetheless, there are still unanswered questions and plenty of carry-over plots to work with in the next novel, Heartless, which will be released July 2011.

Bottom Line
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Buy or Try? Buy
More? 3 of 3 (so far) in The Parasol Protectorate
Plot: 4 / 5 (not as strong as Blameless, but still very solid)
Setting: 4 / 5 
Characters: 4 / 5
Pace: Fast
Descriptiveness: Prose
Fantasy factor: Low fantasy Link

Wishlist Wednesday

This'll be a new segment I'm doing, Wishlist Wednesday, in which I will discuss books I have added to my wishlist.

I feel like my wishlist is different than my TBR pile. My TBR pile is books I own, my wishlist contains those that I must get my grubby paws on one way or another but do not currently posess. Anywhoo, here are some of my recent additions.

Threshold by Caitlin R Kiernan:

Via Set in present-day Birmingham, Alabama, the novel centers on Chance Matthews, a promising young paleontologist left bereft by the recent deaths of friends and family. Chance and ex-boyfriend Deke Silvey, a loser with latent psychic powers, wallow in self-destructive angst until they're sought out by Dancy Flammarion, a strange teenage girl who claims to be pursued by monsters. 

Details of Dancy's wild story inexplicably jibe with an anomaly Chance finds in the fossil record, and a pattern gradually emerges that points to an inconceivably ancient entity surviving from Earth's prehistory that is consciously shaping their lives and miseries to suit its inscrutable purposes. 

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott:

Via From one of the genre's finest writers comes a bold new epic fantasy in which science and magic are locked in a deadly struggle.

It is the dawn of a new age... The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.

Cat and Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can't be trusted, who can you trust?

Hand of Isis by Jo Graham:

Via Once, in a palace by the sea, there were three sisters born in the same year.

The eldest was born in the season of planting, when the waters of the Nile had receded once more and the land lay rich and fertile, warm and muddy and waiting for the sun to quicken everything to life. She was born in one of the small rooms behind the Court of Birds, and her mother was a serving woman who cooked and cleaned, but who one day had caught Ptolemy Auletes' eye. Her skin was honey, her eyes dark as the rich floodwaters. Her name was Iras.

The second sister was born under the clear stars of winter, while the land greened and grain ripened in the fields, when fig and peach trees nodded laden in the starry night. She was born in a great bedchamber with wide windows open to the sea, and five Greek physicians in attendance, for she was the daughter of Ptolemy Auletes' queen, and her name was Cleopatra.

The youngest sister was born as the earth died, as the stubble of the harvest withered in the fields beneath the scorching sun. She was born beside the fountain in the Court of Birds, because her mother was a blond slave girl from Thrace, and that was where her pains took her. Water fell from the sky and misted her upturned face. Her hair was the color of tarnished bronze, and her eyes were blue as the endless Egyptian sky. Her name was Charmian.

Once, in a palace by the sea, there were three sisters. All the stories begin so.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

Via In her latest enchanting novel, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen invites you to a quirky little Southern town with more magic than a full Carolina moon. Here two very different women discover how to find their place in the world—no matter how out of place they feel.

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes—which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar . . . Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past? 

Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

That's it for my Wishlist Wednesday. What's on your wishlist?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is waiting for me at the library!!! I thought I would never get through the list but it's HERE.

Totally nerdy how excited I am, but yesterday when I picked up Blameless, The Way of Kings was just sitting there. 20 percent off to boot. I picked it up, and it was a good ole "doorstop" fantasy book, my favorite sort: the long ones that take forever to finish. I had to drag myself out the door to keep from paying for it, even though it was only a matter of time before it came in from the library.

The Red Tree by Caitlin R Kiernan also shipped, which I am adding to my RIP Challenge. It looks absolutely terrifying so I'm hoping I'll be able to sleep while reading it. I don't do well with scary books or movies. :P I'm waiting for The Hunger Games as well, but I don't anticipate seeing that one for awhile.

Also, I got an idea for a little meme I might do every Wednesday called Wishlist Wednesday, wherein I will discuss recently wishlisted books of mine. I've got about 50 so far, so I'm thinking it could be fun. :)

I've got so much to do, I just don't know if I'll get around to my schoolwork. Haha.

Changeless by Gail Carriger: RIP V Review II

WARNING: I try to avoid spoilers, but they are possible (even probable), since this is the second book of the Parasol Protectorate. Soulless is the first. I recommend reading them in order.

This book has been moldering away on my shelf since April. I read Soulless last year. I added this to my RIP Challenge V, and I'm so glad I did. I kind of wish I'd read Soulless again before I started, but it was easy to get back into the series with this book. Here's the cover description:
Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.
While it's been a long time since Soulless, I enjoyed this book more than the first one in the series. I don't remember laughing out loud nearly as much at Alexia's commentary and inner dialogue. The author seemed to really hit her stride. Alexia was as biting and clever as ever, and the new characters introduced were just as entertaining. We also learn a lot more about existing characters, which I think is great.

This book is a lot more steampunk than the first was. I never read steampunk (that's not to say I won't ever, but I have never :P) I got a little confused with the descriptions of all the machines and how they work. Lots of made up words, I think. Nonetheless, I liked the steampunk additions overall. It was just a little technical for me.

I wasn't crazy about how it ended. I felt like the story arc in this book could have carried over more into the next, but Carriger wraps it up quite nicely (almost too nicely?), with one um...interpersonal exception. Either way, if you pick up this book, I highly highly recommend you have Blameless in hand before you finish. Quite the cliffhanger.

I really don't have any bones to pick with this was enjoyable from start to finish.

Bottom Line
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Buy or Try? Buy
More? 2 of 3 (so far) in The Parasol Protectorate
Plot: 4.5 / 5 
Setting: 4 / 5 
Characters: 4 / 5
Pace: Fast
Descriptiveness: Prose
Fantasy factor: Low fantasy Link

Teaser Tuesdays: Blameless by Gail Carriger


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teasers:

Mr Lange-Wilsdorf apparently did not notice the racket. Alexia resigned herself to the fact that it was the creature's normal mode of operation - when its eyes were open, so, too, was its mouth. - pg 152 of Blameless by Gail Carriger

(Note: This is the third in a series. The first is Soulless.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cover Her Face by PD James - RIP V Review I

My very first RIP V challenge review! Woot!

This novel is not what I generally read. I'm a fantasy/scifi girl to the core. Back cover description:
Headstrong and beautiful, the young housemaid Sally Jupp is put rudely in her place, strangled in her bed behind a bolted door. Coolly brilliant policeman Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard must find her killer among a houseful of suspects, most of whom had very good reason to wish her ill.
 I am a sucker for Masterpiece Mystery!, the BBC show that comes on every Sunday on the educational television channel. As I was reading this, I was reminded of those little stories I watch every week and tried to imagine what it would be like acted out. When I later discussed the book with my parents (who both love PD James), I realized that my gripes really don't have anything to do with the book itself, but rather mostly the genre. I'm just not a mystery reader. I like watching them, I even like listening to them on podcast or CD, but I'm just not crazy about reading them.

I got a bit lost in her descriptions sometimes. I noted that sentences could be as long as a paragraph in some places. Along the same lines, I felt like there was a lot of extraneous information. I would have thought that the story would follow Dalgliesh closer, but he doesn't even show up until the middle of the book (understandable) and even then there are some scenes that he is not even present in which seemed unimportant anyway (less understandable). I will say that the characters were diverse and well fleshed-out. I could picture these people, and their mannerisms were consistent and varied.

All in all, I struggled with this book a bit, and was glad it was only 250 pages. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I'd gotten it on tape/CD/podcast. It wasn't a bad book, just not my taste. I will still try Death in Holy Orders by PD James, but it probably won't be the next book I read.

Bottom Line
Overall Rating: 2.5 / 5
Buy or Try? Try
More? 1 of 14 about Adam Dalgliesh
Plot: 3 / 5 (solid, but not exciting)
Setting: 2 / 5 
Characters: 3.5 / 5
Pace: Slow to Middlin' 
Descriptiveness: Poetry 
Fantasy factor: Not fantasy Link

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Blog Hop


Question: Do you judge a book by its cover?
Answer: Absolutely. That doesn't mean I'll put down a not-so-attractively covered book, but the cover and title are what attracts me to it in the first place. A lot of times the cover tells you a lot about what is actually in the book. I always put covers with my book reviews for that reason :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril V Challenge


So I think I may take part in my very first reading challenge. I heard about the Readers Imbibing Peril (V) Challenge from That's What She Read, and it's hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.
"It is time to celebrate things that go bump in the night; that favorite detective that always gets his man, or woman, in the end; that delicious chill of a creak on the stairs, of the rogue waiting in the dark, of the full moon and the flit of bats wings."
Dark Fantasy.

I just got done wandering around the house trying to find some mystery/horror/scary books, and I've got quite the pile. Basically, you pick scary books (scary is subjective) and read them between September 1 and October 31. There are several different levels, from 1 book to 4, and then a category for short story readers and scary movie buffs as well.

I think I will be shooting for the highest level, since I've got a fairly extensive list of books that I can read. I don't imagine I'll get through all of them, but I certainly have choices.

  1. Cover Her Face by PD James (review)
  2. Bitten by Kelly Armstrong
  3. Death in Holy Orders by PD James
  4. Changeless by Gail Carriger (review)
  5. Blameless by Gail Carriger (review)
  6. The Darkness That Comes Before by R Scott Bakker
  7. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
  8. Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
  9. The Red Tree by Caitlin R Kiernan (review)
  10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (review)

The best part about all of these is they are all books I own! I've been saying that I wanted to make a dent in all the books I've bought and haven't read yet but this time I might actually do it. Here's a link to the challenge page where you can post your link and reading list if you want.

What books are on your list?

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

I have to say, I just love Sarah Addison Allen's books. I think it's safe to say I'm a fan now. I will be picking up her latest book, The Girl Who Chased the Moon and then The Peach Keeper which is going to be released March 22, 2011. But first thing's first, my review of Garden Spells. This is part of the book flap description:
In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…
The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.
As I mentioned in my review of The Sugar Queen, I picked this up in the Barnes and Noble online bargain bin. It caught my eye because of the cover, and then I kept researching it because it was a southern fiction novel. Sarah Addison Allen has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and one that I'd actually keep track of new book releases.

I love the way she writes her characters. Sometimes I can't picture a character, can't fathom their motivation. Her characters are diverse and fleshed out. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for the abilities she gives them too. In this one, passion causes one character's skin to burn things she touches. In one family, the women are amazing at sex and never have trouble holding onto a man. An older lady is seized with a compulsion to give people items that they always end up needing later. A hairstylist can cut hair to give people confidence and other qualities. It's truly amazing and original. As a chronic fantasy reader, it is very rare that I find any kind of original magic.

I don't really have anything negative to say about this book except I didn't enjoy the story in this one as much as I enjoyed The Sugar Queen. I really couldn't tell you why. I don't think I could relate to the characters as much, and the author really honed her style in The Sugar Queen. Other than that it was very enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to tackling the next two.

Bottom Line
Overall Rating: 4 / 5 
Buy or Try? Buy
More? Stand-alone
Plot: 3.5 / 5
Setting: 4.5 / 5 
Characters: 4 / 5
Pace: Middlin' to Fast
Descriptiveness: Prose
Fantasy factor: Magical Realism link
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