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Friday, December 25, 2009

School Book: The Collector


When I started reading John Fowles' The Collector, I didn't want to put it down. It is the story about a Butterfly Collector who comes into a lot of money and uses it to kidnap a young woman. The first third of the book is told from his perspective and it was really creepy; the way things were worded, you just knew that something was going to happen. The second part of the book was told from the girl's perspective, as written in a diary. It detailed most of the events from part 1, everything from her getting kidnapped to the same point where part 1 ends. The final two short parts are again told from his perspective.
Unfortunately, the last parts fall flat. The book seems to build and build to nothing. It was anticlimatic and sort of predictable, if you weren't looking for something more fantastic. I sort of felt cheated reading it.
The Collector reminded me of Tin Man (which I reviewed way back when on Shauna's World) - the beginning was fanatastic, but then it all fell apart as it kept going. Unfortunately, being a book, most people would not be happy with only reading part 1. So my advice is to not bother with this one; find something better.

Monday, December 21, 2009

School Book: The Black Album


Now that school is over for the holidays, I've decided to read some books for next term. The first one I decided to read was Hanif Kureishi's The Black Album. I got it, along with two other books for my Identity in Contemporary British Fiction class. I thought The Black Album sounded interesting, so I decided to try reading it first.
The Black Album tells the story of Shahid, a young man from a Pakistani family who is just starting college. Shahid quickly ends up caught in the middle between radically different people. First, he makes friends with his radical Muslim neighbour, Riaz, who introduces him to several other radically Muslim people, namely Hat and Chad. This group follow Riaz, but Chad, who is the second-in-command, often limits access to the leader. Shahid also ends up involved with his liberal teacher, Deedee Osgood, who enjoys partying hard with sex, drugs and booze. The Black Album is the story of Shahid trying to negotiate his identity, amidst the escalating activities of his Muslim friends. Is he Muslim? Is he liberal like Deedee? Or is he something else altogether?
While it was sometimes hard to keep reading it for long periods of time, I enjoyed The Black Album. This is not something I would typically grab for myself, but it was an interesting read. I did not read "My Son the Fanatic" yet, which was included with my copy of The Black Album, but I hope to read it in the future.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

School Book: Antony and Cleopatra


I just finished reading the last play for my Shakespeare: Blood, Betrayal and Bewilderment class! Overall, I've had a lot of fun reading all of these plays. Yes, I didn't like them all, but it was great to be looking at different plays (not the normal ones like Hamlet, which I have read three times to date for a class).
Unfortunately, Antony and Cleopatra falls into the category of plays I didn't really like. It reminded me of Coriolanus in that it was very confusing. But the confusion mainly stemmed from the disjointed time - one minute Antony is in Egypt, the next he's married, and then his wife wanders back to Rome while he runs back to Egypt. And for a tragedy with lots of big battles, it sure takes a loooong time for people to start dying!
Antony was also a rather strange character. He was very attached to Cleopatra, but then he went off and married another woman when his first wife died. I understand he was marrying for political reasons, but I expected him to put up some kind of fuss; instead he calmly married the other woman and then ran off to Cleopatra again.
Overall, I wasn't really impressed with this play. Like Coriolanus, maybe I'll change my opinion after tomorrow's class, but somehow I doubt it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

School Book: Cymbeline



We're almost at the end of the term, and Cymbeline is the second-last play I have to read for my Shakespeare course.


Cymbeline is the king of Briton during the reign of Augustus in Rome. He has refused to pay the tribute to Rome, and so Rome declares war on Briton. This, however, is the background story to the play. It is part of the main plot, but only moves to the foreground about half-way through the story. The real tale is about Princess Imogen and her husband, Posthumus Leonatus. Posthumus is exiled from Briton and Imogen, and so he goes to Rome. While there, a Roman, Iachimo, bets that Imogen will no be true. Cheating to win the bet, Iachimo convinces Posthumus that Imogen has been unfaithful, and so Posthumus sends word to one of his servants to kill Imogen.


The servant knows that Imogen has been true to Posthumus, so he devises a plan: she is to disguise herself as a man and flee to Italy. Hilarious hijinks occur in the woods, some of which reminded me of As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet, although the latter with a happier ending. I was never sure how Cymbeline would end, which kept me entertained through the whole play. From kings, knaves and Jupiter himself showing up, Cymbeline is a highly entertaining read!

Friday, October 23, 2009

School Book: Timon of Athens


A few days ago, I finished reading Shakespeare's Timon of Athens. Timon was a lot of fun to read! While it was a bit crazy, I thought it was still relevant to today.
Timon is a nobleman who loves people. He throws huge parties and gives extravagant gifts to all of his friends. But when he goes bankerupt, none of his friends will help him get back on his feet. So Timon goes from loving everyone to hating everyone.
Timon of Athens is a strange play, but highly entertaining. I really recommend reading it!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reread: Romeo and Juliet


Before I say anything else, I need to share what Dr. Richardson said about this particular edition of Rome and Juliet. He held it up to the class and said "I'm not quite sure whether that's Juliet or Romeo on the cover. It looks young enough to be Juliet." This made me chuckle. Arden really should have gotten a better picture for the cover of this!
The class I am a TA for has to read Romeo and Juliet, so I reread it as well. I haven't read it since high school, and I really enjoyed rereading it! I had forgotten how much fun the first three acts are. And Mercutio's speeches are fantastic!!!! Definitely worth rereading!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

School Book: Troilus and Cressida


I just finished reading Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, and I found it a lot better than Coriolanus. It was more entertaining, and wasn't confusing like Coriolanus was.
Troilus and Cressida was described to me as Romeo and Juliet but with a pimp. While this is essentially true, it doesn't capture the full scope of the play. Troilus and Cressida is set during the Trojan Wars, and so a lot of the play involves the heroic characters of the war. The love story between Troilus and Cressida often seems to take second place to events of the war.
Troilus and Cressida is the play I will be doing a seminar on, so I am glad I enjoyed it. I'll have to do a lot more work on it in the coming month!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

School Book: Coriolanus


Shakespeare's Coriolanus is the second play we're covering in my Shakespeare course. It was mentioned a lot in the introduction to Titus Andronicus, so I was excited to read it. Like Titus, Coriolanus takes place in ancient Rome. But unlike Titus, Coriolanus was a lot harder to follow.
The play opened, and it seemed like Caius Martius (who later gains the surname Coriolanus) is returning to Rome. But then he is back in battle almost immediately without returning home. After that battle, the nobles want to name him consul, but the tribunes disagree, claiming that he is too prideful. What made this strange was that he left the room when people were speaking of his great deeds; hearing of them shamed him! The play continued in this fashion, and so I remained quite thoroughly confused through the whole thing, never really sure what was going on.
I'm going to have to mull Coriolanus over a bit, and see what is said in class, but so far, this is not one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. I'm going to write a follow up in a few days though, once I've had some time (and we talk about it in class).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

School Book: Titus Andronicus


I have seen the Julie Taymor film version of Titus starring Anthony Hopkins, so I vaguely remembered some of the more gruesome parts of the story. But right from the get-go Titus Andronicus managed to amaze me. From Saturninus's strange paranoia (he was most paranoid that Titus was against him even though it was Titus who made him emperor) to Titus killing one of his four remaining sons, Act 1 was one of the wildest rides I've ever been on. This is probably the most senslessly violent play I've read of Shakespeare's work. While Hamlet has a giantic body count, almost all of the killing happens near the end. Titus Andronicus is a crazy blood bath that never wants to stop.

Interlude: Piled Higher and Deeper


I didn't actually put this on the official List, so I'm counting it as an interlude. On my first Friday back in school, the Graduate Student committee had a guest speaker, Jorge Cham, present a talk on The Power of Procrastination. Jorge Cham is the creator of the comic series Piled Higher and Deeper, which depicts graduate student life at Stanford University. The talk was hilarious (when it didn't scare me off of grad school), and afterwards he had a book signing. Having never read the comic strip before, I lucked out and managed to get one of two copies of the first book that he had with him (my friend got the second copy). I've been reading the book ever since, reading a few pages whenever I needed a bit of a mental break.
Like Cham's talk, Piled Higher and Deeper is hilarious (while also somewhat terrifying - is grad school really like this?) This first volume collects the first five years of Cecilia, Mike, Tajel and the nameless hero's adventures in their respective PhD programs (Tajel is in the social sciences, while the other three appear to be in engineering). Whether on a search for funding or free food, their antics (and those of the supporting cast of characters) will have you laughing and crying (if you are yourself a grad student). I'm hoping to pick up the other volumes for some more sanity breaks in the future!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Library Book: Common Grounds Vol 1


I saw this graphic novel at work and thought it looked interesting, so I decided to grab it. Having a bit of extra time before school starts this week, I decided to read it so I could send it back without having to renew it a million times!
Common Grounds is a really neat read. There are thirteen stand alone stories in it that only share one real commonality: the coffee shop Common Grounds, where both super heroes and villians can meet without fighting. (Well, the last story also ties everything together, too; a lot of the characters from the other stories make appeances or are mentioned). Common Grounds is full of a lot of zany, colourful people and I really enjoyed their stories. I also really liked the cover art; it reminds me of the art from Justice. This is a great read if you want something a bit different from the comic book world.

Interlude: Planet Hulk


A friend of mine lent this to me a long time ago. I decided to read it as I have a bit of time right before school starts.
Planet Hulk starts with the Hulk being tricked by his "friends." They send him into space to a planet with no sentient life so that he will no longer be a danger to Earth. His shuttle accidentally goes through a portal and the Hulk finds himself on the planet Sakaar. The Hulk is enslaved by the Imperials and find himself a gladiator in their arena. Unfortunately for the Imperials, the Hulk allies himself with some of the other gladiators, and together the slaves fight not only for their own freedom, but for the very future of Sakaar.
I have to admit that Planet Hulk didn't really appeal to me when I first started reading it (or really at all - I didn't really want to read it, but I wanted to give it back to my friend). I found the beginning a bit slow and boring, which is rather odd as the Hulk has crashlanded on a planet and is turned into a gladiator. It was only about halfway through the story that I started to enjoy it. I thought it was entertaining, but I really have no desire to read the next part (World War Hulk). The end was a bit predictable in my opinion, and the whole thing just wasn't really for me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Interlude: The Time Traveler's Wife


One of the last times I went to the movie theater, I saw a preview for The Time Traveler's Wife. It looked pretty good, and I remember eyeing the book up at work in the past, so I decided to read it before seeing the movie. I was going to put it on hold, but a friend lent it to me instead (therefore it is an interlude and not a library book).
Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife is a love story. It is the story about Henry, a man with a genetic abnormality that moves him through time, and about Clare, the girl who loves him. Henry first appeared in Clare's life when she was a little girl; she grew up looking forward to his visits. Henry always appeared in her childhood when he was older; he first met Clare when he was already an adult.
The Time Traveler's Wife was admittedly a bit creepy. There are scenes when Clare is six and Henry shows up as a naked forty-year old. But overall, I thought it was a great love story, full of the everything that makes up love. As the Daily Express (UK) quote on the front cover says, it is "a magical love story that is as sad as it is joyous." I thought it was sad, but it was, in its way, a beautiful story.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Child Thief


I had started reading David Eddings's Queen of Sorcery when I wandered into Chapters a few days ago, which was my first mistake. While browsing the shelves, I discovered that Brom (a fantastic artist I know of from Magic:the Gathering) had written a novel. The art looked fantastic, and the book's premise intrigued me. That was when I made my second mistake: I started reading the Prologue. After that, I found myself unable to put the book down and immediately bought it.

The Child Thief is the story of Peter Pan reimagined. Peter roams the streets of New York looking for lost children who he brings back to his magic island. He entices them with stories of adventure and the lack of grownups, but leaves out the scarier aspects, like the Flesh-eaters and barghest, or the Mist that must be crossed to get to the island. Once in Avalon, the children become his troops in a war for the island's very soul. One of these lost children is Nick. Peter helps Nick get away from his troubles; with no where left to turn, Nick follows Peter through the Mist to Avalon. Once there, Nick finds he does not want to be part of the war, but is caught up in it all the same.

One of my favourite characters was, surprisingly, the Captain. Gone is Captain Hook, the usual villain in Peter Pan. In his place is a very deep, brave character who I truly felt sorry for. He was a man left in extraordinary circumstances and I felt myself feeling sorry for him and hoping that things would work out.

Make no mistake, The Child Thief is a very dark, adult tale. But it was very beautiful in its way, and I found myself not wanting to put it down. Brom spun a fantastic story, and I hope to get a hold of more by him in the future!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pawn of Prophecy



A few years back, I got a hold of all five books in David Eddings' Belgariad. I decided to give the series a try last week. I have read one of his other series in the past, and enjoyed it, so I was hoping that the Belgariad would also be enjoyable.
Unfortunately, I've had a real struggle with the first book, Pawn of Prophecy. Pawn of Prophecy follows Garion, a young boy raised by his Aunt Pol on a farm. Unfortunately, Garion gets caught up in world shattering events when his friend, Mister Wolf, comes to the farm in desperate need of Pol's help. And so Garion is dragged from the farm life he knows into the company of kings as they attempt to find an important object that was stolen.
I didn't like that the book followed Garion. While he was an alright character, everyone treats him as a child throughout the entire book. No matter what he does, he is looked down upon by his Aunt. And even though he is quite obviously in the middle of things, and has a right to know why he was uprooted from his life, no one wants to tell him anything. I also found the beginning of the book threw a lot of information at you that was hard to follow or care about (especially when it then heads to a simple farm for a good quarter of the book), and lots of things were extremely predictable. This last thing, especially concerning certain characters like Aunt Pol was most likely done on purpose, but I thought the book would have been better if things were concealed a bit better for the reader.
As I struggled through it, I kept thinking that I would not attempt any of the other books in the Belgariad. Pawn of Prophecy was one of those mediocre books. Like Tim Lebbon's Fallen, it wasn't a good book and it wasn't a bad book. But unlike Fallen, Pawn of Prophecy didn't really keep me wanting to read it. I made it through by sheer stubbornness (or maybe stupidity) alone. I never really found myself interested in what was going on through the majority of the book. Only at the end did something interesting happen, but I'm not sure it was enough to make me want to read the next book. Knowing me, I probably will; I'm hoping that the Belgariad will get better as it goes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Raven's Strike


Well, I was a bit slow with reading Patricia Briggs' Raven's Strike, as I finished the Raven's Shadow a week ago. For some reason, it took me a bit to get into it and keep reading. But once I got about halfway through the book (which is about when things felt like they were moving forward, rather than filling in some things that had happened somewhere between the two books, which conveniently happened yesterday) I couldn't put the book down! Raven's Strike was just such an intreguing read, revealing more about the world in which it is set.
Raven's Strike picks up pretty close to where Raven's Shadow left off. Seraph, Tier, Lehr and Jes are returning home to Redern with Hennea, who wants to go and track down the new Shadowed. Seraph convinces Hennea to remain with them; the Shadowed has cause enough to hate the family and will come after them seeking revenge. But right after they return, Tier starts to experience problems with his Order, which is being stolen by the only remaining wizard from those who kidnapped him: the Shadowed. Seraph and her family must then travel to long lost Colossae in the hopes of saving Tier and stopping the Shadowed once and for all!
When I got near the end, I didn't want to put Raven's Strike down, even though I knew I had to work this morning. I saved the last 30 pages for today, which I really enjoyed. The story is over, but I find myself wondering what comes next? I really enjoyed reading about these characters and I hope that Briggs will one day return to their world.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Raven's Shadow


I just finished yet another excellent book by Patricia Briggs (At this rate, I'm going to run out of novels by her to read and it'll be like Terry Brooks - I have to wait each year until the next one comes out!) This time it was Raven's Shadow that I just read. Raven's Shadow is in a completely different world from the Mercy Thompson series and the Sianim books.
Raven's Shadow is the story of Seraph, a Traveller Raven mage. After her clan is killed by plague and her brother killed by townsfolk, she is saved by Tier, a soldier returning home after war. Seraph decides to remain with Tier, becoming his wife and forsaking her Raven duties of protecting the world's people from a long ago evil. But everything changes when Tier fails to return home one winter. With the help of her children, Seraph goes to find her husband and finds that his fate is tied up with the ancient evil that is stirring once again.
There were some aspects of Raven's Shadow that confused me a bit. For example, it took me a long time to figure out what exactly a Raven was. I knew that the Ravens were mages, but it is a bit more than that; to use an example from Dungeons and Dragons, a Raven would be similar to a sorceror, while a non-Traveller mage would be like a wizard. This isn't the perfect analogy, but it works. Ravens are one of six Orders within the Traveller clans, with the other five being Owl (Bard), Lark (Healer), Falcon (Hunter), Cormorant (Weather Witch) and Eagle (Guardian). Not all of the Travellers are Order-bearers, but the Orders are almost always found within the Traveller people. From what I could gather, the Travellers are similar to gypsies, but they have blonde hair.
All in all, I thought Raven's Shadow was an excellent book! It seemed a bit harder to get into at the beginning than Briggs' other works, but I really enjoyed it and can't wait to start Raven's Strike!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Companion to Wolves



Originally I was going to read Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear's A Companion to Wolves right after Steal the Dragon, but then Camelot's Blood showed up. So as soon as I finished reading that, I went on to A Companion to Wolves. I originally discovered it on Bear's website, where she said they were planning on having it be a novella satirising the whole animal companion genre, but it took on a life of its own. And so, intrigued, I decided I had to read it. And it was definitely worth reading! A Companion to Wolves is a beautiful book about the interspecies relationship between a man and his wolf.
Isolfr is the son of a nobelman who is tithed to the wolfmen who defend the people from trolls and wyverns. He falls in love with the puppy Viradechtis, who is destined to be a wolf-queen. It is the story of their growing up and growing into the roles destiny has cast for them, amongst the threat of a war against the trolls. But it is also a book about sacrifices, and the sacrifices that both must make in order to stay together.
My biggest complaint about the book was the names. All of the characters have Norse, Anglo-Saxan and Germanic names, which can be a bit confusing because many are rather similar. But to make matters worse, all of the wolf brothers take on a new name once they bond with their wolves! For instance, the main character is Njall for the first while, and then becomes Isolfr. It gets very confusing, and about half way through the book I decided that if I couldn't remember who someone was, then they weren't worth remembering! But other than that, I really enjoyed it.
While I absolutely loved A Companion to Wolves, I cannot recommend it to everyone. There are aspects of the book of a sexual nature that not everyone will want to read. It is definitely for mature audiences.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Camelot's Blood


Earlier today I finally finished Sarah Zettel's Camelot series with the final book, Camelot's Blood. I bought the book from Ebay right after finishing Under Camelot's Banner; when I found out the final book was Laurel's story, I just couldn't wait for it! I was a bit sad that it was only published in Britain for some reason, as the cover art is different from the other three (my copies of the other three are all from Luna books).
Camelot's Blood was a bit different from the other three books in a few ways: this was the only book that featured a girl who was previously introduced (Laurel is Lynet from Under Camelot's Banner's sister), and this is the only book of the four in which they (in this case Laurel and Agravain) are married at the beginning (marriage was a reward at the end of the other three books).
Camelot's Blood picks up after Under Camelot's Banner. Laurel was named queen of Cambryn, but abdicated in favour of Lynet. At Arthur and Guinevere's request, Laurel agrees to marry Sir Agravain, knight of the round table and heir to Gododdin. But during their wedding night, news arrives that Agravain's father is dying and Gododdin is going to be attacked by Morgaine's armies. And so Laurel and Agravain hatch a desperate plan to save Gododdin and at the same time restore its lost honour.
I loved Agravain. I knew he was going to be tough to match with someone (seeing how he was always angry and very closed to other people), but Laurel was a good match for him. Beneath his composed exterior was a very complex character, intelligent and caring.
I thought Camelot's Blood was a really good read, but I thought the ending could have been a bit better. There were a few loose ends that were never really resolved; when all was said and done, it seemed to end a bit abruptly. But otherwise, Camelot's Blood was a great read, and a good ending to the whole Camelot series.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Steal the Dragon


When I first started reading Patricia Briggs' Steal the Dragon, my first thought was, "This is the difference between a good book and Tim Lebbon's Fallen." Right off the bat, I was interested in the characters, and genuinely wanted to know what happened next.
Steal the Dragon is about Rialla, an ex-slave who escaped her master in Darran and became a horse trainer. The Spymaster of Sianim asks Rialla to return to Darran with her friend Laeth, posing as his slave in an effort to gather information and hopefully stop an assassination. But things go from bad to worse when Rialla encounters her old master, and Laeth's brother is killed and Laeth is framed for the murder! It is up to Rialla, with the help of the healer Tris, to try to clear Laeth's name and find the real culprit.
I really liked the main characters. They were very well thought out (and wow do I feel sorry for Rialla - being a slave, then returning by choice into slavery - but at least it WAS her choice!) The plot was fantastic, with so much going on that it kept me wanting to figure out who was behind everything. Another great book by Patricia Briggs that I recommend to everyone who likes fantasy or just wants a good read!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fallen


Fallen by Tim Lebbon was one of the books I bought from Chapters during their awesome sale. I saw it sitting on the shelf during a previous Chapters visit, and thought the story sounded intriguing. So after finishing Dust, I was going to read something else but then decided to give Fallen a try; I've never read anything by Lebbon before, and was ready to try something new.
Unfortunately, Fallen was not what I expected. Yes, it was a quest story. And yes, as the back of the book states, this quest does become a race between the two main characters. But I could never shake the feeling that the main characters were so petty. And as the story went on, the other characters, whom I liked, became less and less believable. Sure, they were warriors from a culture where every day is a struggle to survive. But they seemed to lose their common sense the further the story progressed.
I started writing this review when I was only about a third of the way through the book so I didn't forget anything I wanted to mention. And the first thing that bothered me was that Lebbon is not very good at writing dialogue. During the beginning of the book, it just never seemed to flow right (or at times it didn't make sense within the context of the conversation). Once the group of characters split up, the dialogue seemed a bit better; I now think Lebbon just isn't very good at writing dialogue for a larger group of characters. And as I mentioned before, the main characters seemed rather petty and dumb. Ramus, the scholar, did seem human in his pettiness, but he did nothing to make me like him or feel sorry for him. Nomi was a jerk, and even though she financed the whole fiasco, didn't seem like the type of character to get involved in this sort of thing. This was a turn off, but at least the other characters (the Serians, who were protecting the other two on the voyage) seemed alright.
But I do have to admit that I was entertained. The story itself, while often a bit strange (I think this is mostly due to the bizarreness that is Noreela) was interesting. I found myself wanting to know what was up on the Great Divide, and I was curious who would make it there first (although I still think that most of the Serians in Nomi's group probably should have left her when Ramus did. Not that I think they should have joined him. I just think they should have left the whole fiasco and gone back to Marrakash).
And then the ending happened. Events of the third part of the book got really weird, and I kept wondering how they would get out of it. But then the ending happened, and it felt somewhat lacking. I'm sure that things will continue, maybe not as a direct sequel, but in a future Noreela book. But I'm not sure that I really care.
And that is how the whole book felt. Yes, it was entertaining (I managed to read it in three days), but at the same time it was hard to care about it. I didn't really care what happened to Ramus and Nomi. I didn't really care if they got to the top of the divide. And I didn't really care once the book ended. I kept reading to see if my attitude toward the book would change, but it never did. And so I don't care if I ever read one of Lebbon's books again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: A Graphic Novel


I was extremely surprised to find that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a graphic novel. I discovered it while at my local used bookstore, The Bookshelf.
I'm sure almost everyone is familiar with the story, or at least the just of it. A boy is born as an old man, and as he ages he gets younger and younger. I really liked it as a graphic novel; the pictures really aided the words. But overall, I thought the story was just okay. It progresses in a very linear, predictable pattern, and so is nothing really special (although I really liked the art).

Bigfoot: I Not Dead



Back in the winter, I went to a bad poetry reading/contest. While there, one of the MC's read passages from Graham Roumieu's Bigfoot: I Not Dead. So a few days later, I tracked the book down and bought it. Originally I was only going to read it a bit at a time, in order to savour it. But today I decided that since I own it (and many other anthologies which I will in fact savour), there was no need. So I read it.

Bigfoot: I Not Dead is hilarious! It is filled with Bigfoot's musings on life. From sad times to fitness, Bigfoot's experiences and thoughts will make you laugh! This is definitely going to be a book I turn to when I need some cheering up!

Dust


It was almost a year ago that I discovered Elizabeth Bear. A friend from work recommended Hammered to me, which I devoured along with the rest of the Jenny Casey trilogy. And now, after a long time away, I return to Elizabeth Bear's writing with Dust. Dust was recommended to me by another friend, who bought it on one of our many random book buying sprees at Chapters. I finally picked it up during their awesome annual sale.
Dust tells the story of two girls. Sir Perceval was captured in battle, her wings cut off. She waits only to die, to be consumed by her captor. Rien is the serving girl who was to attend Perceval, and who is also Perceval's lost sister. Together, the pair escape Rule and set off to find their father in hopes of stopping a war. Their journey takes them throughout their world, the ruined starship Jacob's Ladder, in an unforgettable story that I couldn't get enough of! Dust was a fantastic tale, and I can't wait for the next enstallment in the Jacob's Ladder series, which is coming this December!
I reviewed Dust, as well as the Jenny Casey trilogy, on Best of the Backlist. Click here to read the review!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Under Camelot's Banner


Several years ago, I found the first book in this series, For Camelot's Honor. At the time, this book was available in trade paperback, so I decided to wait until it was available as a mass market paperback. Unfortunately, that never happened; the other two books, In Camelot's Shadow and Under Camelot's Banner disappeared from bookshelves. I was lucky to find In Camelot's Shadow in a used bookstore in Toronto over a year ago. Under Camelot's Banner I found on ebay.
These books by Sarah Zettel tell the tales of the four brothers, Sir Gawain, Sir Geraint, Sir Gareth and Sir Agravain, as well as the stories of the four ladies who capture their hearts. Under Camelot's Banner tells the story of Sir Gareth and the Lady Lynet.
War is brought to the doorstep of Lynet's home. When her father is murdered, it falls to her to bring back the High Queen Guinevere to settle the dispute. Guinevere is the true heir to Lynet's lands, but she has long been absent in Camelot. With her sister remaining behind as a hostage, and aided by a magic mirror, Lynet must make the journey herself to bring the Queen back to her home and right the wrongs that have been done.
Along the way, Lynet meets Gareth, squire to Sir Lancelot. Upon hearing her plight, he pledges himself to help her. But due to Lynet's past, she does not believe in the honour of Camelot's men. Will Lynet trust him to help her save her land?
Under Camelot's Banner was an amazing story. I can't wait to get my hands on the final book to read the conclusion of this four volume epic!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Chapters Sale

I wandered into Chapters the other day, and found out that they had extended their annual Buy 3 Books and Get 1 Free sale until Sunday. And me being me, I had to go and take advantage of it, even though I definitely do not need any more books! I phoned a friend up, and we planned to make an evening of it, hanging out and choosing books. But when we got there, we had about 20 minutes to choose our books because the store was closing! (Chapters used to be open until 10pm on Friday nights, but they're now open until only 9pm). Needless to say, I was able to choose my four books pretty quickly. I bought Dust by Elizabeth Bear, Raven's Shadow and Raven's Strike by Patricia Briggs, and Fallen by Tim Lebbon. I'm kind of excited about the Lebbon book, as I've never read anything by him before. My friend loved Dust, and really recommended it to me, so hopefully it will be good. And the two Briggs novels sound really good; I'm hoping to fly through them like I did the Mercy Thompson novels.

Of course, this brings the List back up to 125 novels. I am definitely still buying them faster than I'm reading them! But I'm in the middle of a really good book, so hopefully I'll be able to breeze through a bunch, bringing the List down to 100 before summer's end!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wyrd Sisters


When I wandered into the Bookshelf recently, I was informed that they had just gotten some Terry Pratchett books in. So I took a look and found both Wyrd Sisters and Guards! Guards! which are both books recommended to me by different friends. Having already read Reaper Man back in February, I decided to give Discworld another try with a different friend's suggestion. And so I took Wyrd Sisters with me camping this past weekend.
Wyrd Sisters got off to a rough start. I found some of it kind of funny (like when the witches first go to see a play) but didn't really have anything that kept my interest. So I didn't get very far in it at first. I also brought it with me to work the other day so I could read it during breaks, so before today, I had read 60 pages. And then I started reading it today. My only plan for Canada Day was to read, which was exactly what I did! I read the rest of the book (200 pages) this afternoon!
Wyrd Sisters follows the antics of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat, three witches from the Kingdom of Lancre. They are minding their own business when the King of Lancre is killed, and his loyal servant dies bringing the Royal Heir to them for safekeeping. Determined not to meddle in politics, the witches are dragged kicking and screaming into the fray by the Duke until the whole business becomes personal! This was a hilarious romp through the underhanded politics of Kingship, showing why you don't mess with the witches!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shadowmoor


It's taken me awhile (I read the first story back in March), but today I finally finished the Magic:the Gathering Shadowmoor Anthology! And I have to say I really liked it! Right off the bat I was enchanted with the land of Shadowmoor, from the treefolk and giants to the merrows and elves. I liked that there were no humans present. It, and Lorwyn (the sunny, happier Shadowmoor), reminded me of a fairy tale land and I liked that. But if Lorwyn is the happier side of the coin, Shadowmoor is the dark, Brother's Grimm fairy tales. Almost all of the tales in this anthology are darker, and many have twists that end in death, destruction and suffering.
There were nine stories in total, most by authors I am unfamiliar with (unless they wrote stories in some of the other Magic anthologies I have read). Out of the nine stories, I really enjoyed five of them, and thought another three were alright. It was only "Expedition," the story about the kithkin doun trying to teach fear to one of its members, that I really didn't like. Shadowmoor was a great read, and I wish Wizards of the Coast would continue to tell tales from this dark land (and its sunnier counterpart).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Batman: Haunted Knight


After finishing Dalamar the Dark, I knew I needed something fast and good to read. So I decided to give one of the three Batman graphic novels by Jeph Loeb that I bought in Toronto a try. I arbitrarily chose Batman: Haunted Knight because it looked like it was the shortest of the three.
Haunted Knight is a collection of three Batman Halloween specials by Loeb and Tim Sale. The first story features the Scarecrow rampaging through Gotham during Batman's early days. Batman becomes torn between his duty of stopping the Scarecrow and his personal wants when he meets a beautiful girl at a Halloween party.
The second story features the Mad Hatter's twisted scheme based off of Alice in Wonderland. He kidnaps children in an attempt to reenact the novel. While Batman is on his tail, the Hatter makes it more personal for Commissioner Gordon when his daughter is kidnapped by the madman.
The final story is a Halloween version of A Christmas Carol. Batman is visited first by the ghost of his father and then by three spirits who wear the guises of various villains and Death.
All three stories were excellent! I felt like I devoured the book, it was so good!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dalamar the Dark


Although I enjoy reading fantasy novels, I do not normally concern myself with the magic of a world, including its mages. This is especially true of the fantasy lands such as Dragonlance, where the system runs off of a pantheon of Gods in much the same manner as Dungeons and Dragons. That said, I am a fan of Nancy Varian Berberick's books, and so I was willing to give Dalamar the Dark a try.
Dalamar the Dark tells the story of a servant elf who was born with a lot of magical talent. He was taught only a little bit and very grudgingly by the Silvanesti Elves who practice good magic, and so he taught himself black magic in secret. When war threatens his homeland, the elves must flee their homeland. Once they return, Dalamar is caught and exiled from Silvanesti forever for worshipping the dark gods. Dalamar then goes on to fulfil his destiny as a dark elf.
While this book sounded like a lot of fun, it was a very ponderous read. From the beginning, it seemed hard to follow, jumping around all over the place with no real consistency. This wasn't helped by the fact that it's been a long time since I've read any Dragonlance novels, and so could not remember what happened in the world (Dalamar the Dark parallels the story from the Dragonlance Chronicles series). But even after it stopped jumping from person to person, it just never made me want to read it. Picking the book up was a struggle, and so was reading more than about five pages. While the ending was alright, it never seemed worth the struggle to get there. As a fan of Berberick's work, Dalamar the Dark was a huge disappointment, and I do not recommend it to anyone. There are many better books out there, both in the Dragonlance series and by Berberick.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Kiss Before the Apocalypse


I haven't cried so much at the end of a book since Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey. Thomas E. Sniegoski's A Kiss Before the Apocalypse was an amazing, beautiful book. Midwest Book Review describes it as a "Heart-wrenching, beautiful urban fantasy," which is the perfect summary of it.
This is the story of Remy Chandler, an angel who has decided to renounce Heaven and live on the earth as a human. He is a private investigator, is married and has a black lab, Marlowe. Yet his life is turned upside down when he discovers that the Angel of Death is missing, along with the scrolls that will summon the Apocalypse. And so he is hired by his Seraphim brothers to find the missing Israfil and avert the Apocalypse.
I was enchanted right off the bat by the characters. Everyone, from Remy to Marlowe, is well thought out (Remy can talk to animals, and so Marlowe and he always converse). Everyone has their own quirks, and while not all of the characters are likable, they are all unique individuals whom I enjoyed reading about.
As I said before, the story is both amazing and beautiful. It is full of magic and adventure, but at its very heart, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse is a love story. It will speak to anyone who has ever lost someone they loved.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spy vs Spy


I know, I know, it's a little bit weird having a book like Spy vs Spy 2: The Joke and Dagger Files on The List. I mean, the book is mostly made up of the later Spy vs Spy comics from Mad Magazine. But even though there are very few words (there are a couple of articles in the book), it still took a bit to read. I found out the hard way that you can only read so much Spy vs Spy at any one sitting.

But that doesn't mean that it's not worth reading. Spy vs Spy 2 was full of hilarity, as well as some interesting articles by the various authors and illustrators of the comic. I really enjoyed this volume, and am going to look for the first volume (which has all of the strips by Spy creator Antonio Prohias!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thunderbolts: How To Lose


This was another graphic novel that I picked up from Chapters for like $1. I saw it the day I bought Club Zero-G for $2, but didn't pick it up then. It was during a later trip that I found it marked down for even less.
Thunderbolts: How to Lose by John Arcudi collects issues #76-80 of Marvel's Thunderbolts. It tells the story of Daniel Axum, a former supervillain who served his time in prison and is trying to lead an honest life. But he attracts the attention of a local (il)legal fight club.
Judging from its cover, I wasn't sure I would enjoy it. Coupled with the last graphic novel I picked up for $1, I was extremely skeptical. Yet I really enjoyed reading How to Lose. I liked the characters (especially Armadillo). I liked the overall plot. And I really liked the ending. I don't normally read a whole lot of Marvel, but How to Lose is definitely worth it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Harley and Ivy


This was one of the graphic novels I picked up from Toronto. While the other ones were a bit more serious looking, this one just looked like a lot of fun. So I just had to buy it. I mean, I can't really picture Harley and Ivy together.
Luckily, this was exactly the type of read that I needed: totally different from those magazines! Harley and Ivy are indeed an odd pair, which led to some hilarious antics! This volume collected three different stories about the unlikely duo. The Bet, the first story by Paul Dini, was a hilarious little romp. Harley bet Ivy a dollar that she could get more of the Arkham males to kiss her! Love on the Lam by Judd Winick had Harley kicked out by the Joker, so she enlists Ivy's help for a big score. Ivy attempts to get Harley to go off on her own for awhile, away from the Joker's influence. And finally, there was Paul Dini's Harley and Ivy, a longer story about the pair on their random adventures to South America and Hollywood.
This was a great read! Perfect for any Batman fan who wants a break from the seriousness!

Magazine Extravaganza!






While cleaning up my room about a week ago, I discovered that I had A LOT of unread magazines hiding under my dresser (coupled with the one I bought while in Toronto, there was a total of 27 unread magazines). So I took it upon myself to read them all in a magazine extravaganza. Needless to say, I only got through 10 of them, and now I need a break!!!!

Here's the rundown of the 27 magazines:

  • 13 Shape (I know, that's over a year of issues!)
  • 5 Self
  • 4 Fitness
  • 3 Glamour
  • 2 Psychology Today

Over the last week (approximate. It's only been about 4 or 5 days since I started this), I have read:

  • 3 Shape
  • 2 Self
  • 4 Fitness
  • 1 Glamour (These 10 are all pictured).

I think the problem is that they are all very similar magazines (especially the Shape, Self and Fitness. Glamour has a bit of different stuff, and I know the Psych Today will be really different). The last magazine that I read was a Shape, and I found myself flipping through an article that I normally would have read. So I am going to read a few books before coming back for Magazine Extravaganza #2!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

List Update

Now that I am home from Toronto, I thought that this would be a good time to do a List update! I bought a wack of graphic novels while I was away, which brings the List total up to 125 books! While I know that some of them will be quick reads, I really have to get going! My goal is to have the List down below 100 books (I am hoping to have it down to about 70, but we'll see how that goes!)

Interworld

I started reading Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves' Interworld right before my trip to Toronto. I was hoping to have it finished before I went, but I was a bit too busy and ended up having to finish it on the plane.

Overall I thought it was okay. There was something missing from it, and I can't quite put my finger on what that was. The characters were awesome. The idea was great. And the plot seemed okay. But it just didn't have the usual spark that I associate with a Gaiman book.

The premise of the book is that a boy, Joey Harker, has the ability to travel between worlds. This is a power shared by all of his counterparts in the other worlds. And it is for this reason that all of his incarnations are hunted by two opposing factions who wish to harness this power to fuel their own dimension hopping ships. While many of the Harkers have succumbed, there are some who have escaped, banding together in an effort to stop either side from winning.

So yes, most of the characters in the book are Joey Harkers from other worlds. Only they are in most cases extremely unique individuals. There is Jo, the girl who has wings that are too small to fly with unless she is on a magic world, Jerzy, the boy who looks similar to Joey except that he has feathers rather than hair. Jakon, the wolf girl. The list goes on and on. Both male and female.

One of my major complaints was that we are only shown the magic side of the spectrum, personified by HEX. HEX is a group of wizards who have found a way to boil the Harkers down to their very essence, then sealing that essence into jars which are used to power their ships. They use magic spells and whatnot, and come from worlds with fairy creatures. On the other side of the spectrum is the Binary, who come from scientific worlds. They freeze the Harkers and scientifically extract their essence to power their spaceships. But other than one brief encounter, the book focuses exclusively on HEX.

My other complaint has to do with Michael Reaves. He wrote another book that I read (before I started this blog) called Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, which was an extremely bad book. (Basically, it made Maul look really bad. It started by saying how awesome he is, and then he spent the majority of the book failing to capture and kill a jedi padawan, a droid and some guy. The end was awesome, but it just couldn't make up for the rest of the book). So I was rather hesitant to pick up another book by him, but I made an exception because this is a Neil Gaiman. I am thinking that it is due to this bias that the book failed to shine in my eyes. It was fun, but it wasn't spectacular.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dragon's Keep


Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey was another of my Chapters finds. It sounded like an intriguing tale: a princess is born with a dragon claw. Only her mother knows about it. The princess is kidnapped by a dragon, and she is forced to come to terms with herself, dragon parts and all.
Intriguing idea, but I didn't think it was very well carried out. The problem was the whole book seemed so slow. Princess Rosalind meets a dragon near the beginning of the book, but isn't captured until half way through. And once she is captured, the tale seems to ramble on for another hundred pages before eventually coming to an end. Even the events at the end seemed to ramble on unnecessarily.
The one thing the book had going for it were the interesting main characters. I liked Rosalind. She was an interesting character who always tried to do the right thing, even if it didn't always work out. She wanted to live a normal life but was so mired down in ancient prophecy that this was impossible. Lord Faul, the dragon who eventually kidnaps her, was also great. And so were his little ones. But a lot of the other characters seemed to fall a bit flat. Or, in the case of Kit, they were just getting to be interesting and then they are gone.
So all in all, I don't really recommend this book. It had a neat idea, and some good characters, but overall it didn't feel worth reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Interlude: Breakfast of Champions


My brother lent me Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions. I decided to read it so I could give it back to him once he is back home from school. I read most of it yesterday while hanging out in various waiting rooms, but finished it today.
Breakfast of Champions reminded me of Mordecai Richler's Cocksure. Both books are satires. And both have a certain fascination with male anatomy. But I have to say, I enjoyed Cocksure more than Breakfast of Champions.
Vonnegut's book tells you what is going to happen pretty much from the get go. Two of his characters, the writer Kilgore Trout and the car dealer Dwayne Hoover, meet. Dwayne learns about one of Kilgore's books which causes his already unstable mind to go over the edge into insanity, and he hurts a number of people before being caught and sent to the psych ward of a local hospital. So while we already know the ending, the book takes us on the journey, showing what leads up to their fateful meeting and Dwayne's insanity.
Now, Kilgore Trout is an awesome character. He was invited to be a guest speaker at the opening for an Arts centre in Dwayne's town. So after initially refusing to show up, he decides instead to appear as the most destitute old man he possibly can. He finds an old tuxedo and hitchhikes across the US, staying in old movie theatres and having a grand adventure in his quest to show the uppity Arts people what it's really like.
Another feature of the book that I enjoyed were the illustrations. Vonnegut drew all of the pictures himself. While they aren't exactly the greatest pictures ever, they are extremely entertaining.
So overall, this book had some great things going for it. But I always felt like it was building up to something big that never really seemed to happen.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Iron Kissed


Well, here I am. It's almost 5am and I just finished the last of my three Mercy Thompson books. Like the first two, Iron Kissed was awesome - so awesome that I couldn't put it down!
Iron Kissed picks up where Blood Bound left off. To deal with the Vampires, Mercy had needed the help of the fae. So in return for their help, she now owes them a favour. So Mercy's mentor, Zee, calls her in to help them investigate some murders on the local fae reservation. But Mercy has to walk a fine line. The fae are extremely secretive, and will kill to remain so.
After investigating, Mercy is shocked to discover that Zee has been arrested for murder and no one is willing to help him even though he is innocent. And so it is up to Mercy to clear his name while avoiding the wrath of the powerful fae lords.
As is fitting for a story that deals with fae, Iron Kissed is, in many ways, a lot darker than the previous two novels. While it deals with some rather tough subjects, it was still a really good read and I highly recommend it! Now I can't wait to get my hands on Bone Crossed...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blood Bound


I finished Patricia Briggs' Moon Called last night and immediately started reading Blood Bound, which continues the story of Mercy Thompson. This time, Mercy gets asked to help her vampire friend Stefan out, as payment for his help from Moon Called. Mercy accepts, and finds herself the coyote accessory for Stefan's intimidating costume as they investigate an unknown vampire in the area.
But this vampire is not just a vampire; he is a demon possessed sorceror. With him rampaging around the Tri-City area, the werewolves agree to help the vampires stop him. But as the mayhem escalates, and the demon-hunters are M.I.A, Mercy refuses to sit on the sidelines any longer. But what can a lone coyote do against the powerful vampier-sorceror?
Like Moon Called, I couldn't put Blood Bound down! I wanted to know what happened to everyone, especially those who were taken by the sorceror. This was another good read, and I can't wait to start book 3!
(On a side note though, I think these books are okay as stand alone novels, so I should be okay if I wait awhile before getting a hold of book 4. This also means that while it's better to read them in order, it's okay if you don't).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Moon Called


As is tradition, after my final exam I had a book waiting for me in my car; when the exam was over, I read the first page before heading home. This year, I chose Moon Called by Patricia Briggs for the honour. I bought Moon Called back in March; while at Chapters I skimmed the first page and found it really interesting, so it seemed like the logical choice. So true to tradition, I read the first page. . .and then didn't touch the book for a couple of days! I'm not entirely sure what happened, but my best guess is that I just really needed a break from reading after all of the English books I've read over the last few months. But then I brought Moon Called to work with me, and got hooked!
Mercy Thompson is a mechanic who works in the Tri-City area. Recently, the Lesser Fae have revealed their existence to the world, but a lot of supernatural still have not. Mercy is working on a vampire's VW, and her neighbour is a werewolf. Mercy knows all this because she's not human herself - she's a walker, a shapechanger who can turn into a coyote. She was also raised with a pack of werewolves, so she knows their ways.
Mercy decides to hire a newly made werewolf in order to help him out. But some men have come looking for the kid, seeing him as their valuable property. After things go horribly wrong, Mercy has to take her neighbour, the local werewolf Alpha, to her foster family for help.
I absolutely loved this book - the characters, the plot, the world, everything! This is the first book in a long time that I couldn't put down! In fact, I loved it so much that I went out and bought the next two earlier today! I can't wait to read more!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Library Book: Powers Volume 5


I just finished reading Powers: Anarchy and I have to say that it isn't the best volume in the series. It gets the job done, but cannot compare to Who Killed Retro Girl, Roleplay, or Supergroup.
Anarchy takes place about a year after Supergroup. Walker has been off the Police Force the entire time, due to events at the end of Supergroup. So it is up to Deena and her new partner to investigate the violent public execution of Omega Man, along with a string of related murders. All of these murders have the same slogan spraypainted on buildings around the fallen heroes: Kaotic Chic; this is the same slogan that was found by the body of Retro Girl.
After apprehending the lead suspect, they have to get Walker back; the lead suspect is refusing to talk to anyone but him. And amongst the already crazy events that have take place so far, there is only more insanity waiting within Anarchy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Library Book: Powers Volume 4


I was rather disappointed with the last volume of Powers, so I was a bit hesitant to start reading Powers: Supergroup so soon afterwards. But now that I have read it, I am so glad that I did! The back of the book says it is considered the best of the whole Powers storyline, and while I'm not sure if I agree with that, it was definitely good!
Supergroup opens with the split between the federally sponsored supergroup FG-3. The member who split with the group, Wazz, gives a public interview on the subject. And while Boogie Girl watches the interview, their third partner dies. He dies in a most gruesome fashion, and Boogie Girl is the only one around.
Deena and Walker are called in to investigate. But they are met with hostility from FG-3's managers. And then Boogie Girl flees, leaving behind several badly injured people.
So Deena and Walker (once they recover) are left trying to put the pieces of the story together, and trying to find Boogie Girl. But they're thwarted at every turn. The Feds have arrived, and are sweeping everything under the rug. Luckily they find an eyewitness who the Feds hadn't talked to, who gave them information that eventually led to the runaway Boogie Girl.
What happened was incredibly moving and in many ways crazy. It was a fantastic story, and once again, I can't wait to read more! (In fact, if I buy any of the issues, it will definitely be this one!)

School Book: I Never Liked You


Take a deep breath - this is the last school book of the year! And as I do not know what will be happening next year yet, whether I will be taking English or Psychology, Chester Brown's I Never Liked You could conceivably be the last school book for a while! (I have no intention of writing on here about Psych texts).
So even with this exalted status, I Never Liked You managed to fall flat on its face. It's a comic about a boy named Chester (aka the author) growing up. And it really wasn't very good.
I Never Liked You is about Chester and the people in his life, especially girls. He's popular for some reason, but there's never really any explanation as to why. He's got girls crawling all over him, from Carrie, who always loved him, to Sky, the girl he claims to love. But he seems to lack the ability to really and truly care about them (even though he says he does).
So, while reading this, I quickly discovered that I had no sympathy for the main character at all. Truth be told, I couldn't stand him. He did whatever he wanted with no real regard for the people who cared about him. I'm glad it was a comic, as that meant I could read it quickly. And now I'll never have to read it again.

Library Book: Powers Volume 3


It took a little while, but the library listened to my suggestion; Powers: Little Deaths (volume 3) was added to the collection! (Along with volume 6, so the library now has the first 8 volumes of Powers!)
I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed with Little Deaths. It definitely wasn't as good as the first two. Little Deaths starts out with the death of another superhero, Olympia. The story then becomes magazine-like for awhile, before continuing with the story. It made sense for this to happen, but I didn't really like it.
So the Olympia story gets wrapped up, then Little Deaths gets into another one, where a graphic novel writer is tailing Walker. It was going along alright, but then the end just sort of happened; I know what it implies happened, but it just wasn't very good. After that, we're given yet another story that ends with the transcription of a court case.
All in all, I did not enjoy Little Deaths as much as I enjoyed the previous two volumes. Volume 3 just never felt like it had any closure. Deena didn't seem to play as much of a role in the stories, and we didn't really learn anything new about Walker. I'm hoping that the next few volumes will be better!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Library Book: First Footsteps in East Africa


I decided to read Sir Richard Burton's book First Footsteps in East Africa after reading Laurence's The Prophet's Camel Bell. I am going to write an essay comparing the two books, as both Laurence and Burton's books involve Somaliland.
Burton is an extremely interesting character, so I was rather excited to read something that was actually written by him. I enthusiastically sat down to read First Footsteps...and was immediately disappointed by the introduction. But as that wasn't actually written by Burton, I clung to the hope that the actual stuff by Burton would be better.
In many respects I was mistaken. There are long chunks of the book that list off people's names, or the genealogies of different tribes. These were very hard to get through. But then there are other chunks that are super interesting, detailing his actual adventure. So parts of the book were very good, others not so much, at least according to my taste.
All in all though, I am glad that I read First Footsteps. By no means the best book I've ever read, it was nonetheless interesting. And I think it will work wonderfully in my essay!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

List Update

I thought that now would be a great time to do another List Update. It is now crunch time with school, so I haven't really had time to read things that I want to. So there are currently 112 books on the list, with two more on their way, and I am definitely thinking about picking up another. This means that I am looking at 114-115 books within the next week or two. These last three have a bit of a story behind them, so I figured I would share.

I have had an ebay account for quite awhile now. I signed up sometime last year, but then didn't have time to sign up for Paypal. Without Paypal, I didn't bother ordering anything off ebay, so I was reasonably safe. And then last Wednesday, I was over at a friend's house, and decided randomly to sign up for Paypal. You see, I was randomly surfing ebay, and found a book that I wanted. I wandered over to Paypal's website, and discovered that I can sign up and immediately start shopping on ebay. And so I did. Sarah Zettel's Under Camelot's Banner is on its way! (Of course, while searching around a bit, I found out that there is a fourth book to this series, Camelot's Blood, so that might be added to the list as well in the near future...)

The other two books that I mentioned are sort of connected in that it is Amazon.com's fault that I have bought/am planning to buy them. I was wasting time last night, and found that Amazon.com had recommendations for me (I must have signed up with them sometime in the past, but I do not remember why). So I looked to see what they were trying to sell me, and discovered that I could manipulate their recommendations, based off of rating what I own and what I've read. So I spent a lot of time last night doing so.

While I was wandering through the many recommendations, I noticed one author come up a few times: Patricia Briggs. It was a weird coincidence, as I had just found someone's blog and they had talked about books by Patricia Briggs. So of course, now I'm curious, and I'm planning on checking the book out over the next few days (there's a copy in Chapters right now, so if I have a chance over the next few days I'll stop and see what it's all about).

Finally, there was another recommendation for a David Farland book that I had never heard of before. It sounded interesting, so I did a quick search on ebay, and found a rather cheap copy. Worlds of the Golden Queen is on its way!

There was a fourth book that I was interested in buying, Warrior by Marie Brennan. But it turns out that I own it already; it was originally published under a different title, Doppelganger (I originally thought it was the third book in the series, but it looks like there will only be the two).

So that is the news right now. Luckily school is almost over, so I should be able to tackle some of these books soon!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Interlude: Batman: A Death in the Family


It's been a month or so since I've read any Batman graphic novels. So I was rather excited when a friend lent me Batman: A Death in the Family, which tells the story of the second Robin's death. I knew the second Robin had died, but I did not know how, other than that the Joker was responsible. I pictured the Joker shooting Jason, rather like he shot Barbara Gordon (but this shot would have been lethal). Other than that, I wasn't really sure what to expect; I don't really know anything about Jason Todd.
A Death in the Family opens with Jason disobeying an order from Batman and nearly getting killed. Batman decides to take Jason off of active duty; apparently Jason has not gotten over the death of his parents. While wandering around Gotham City, Jason encounters a friend of his parents who saved some stuff for him. He brings the box of stuff back home and discovers on his birth certificate that the woman he thought was his mother, Catherine Todd, was actually his step-mother. His real mother's name is blurred, but it begins with an "S" rather than a "C." Luckily his father's address book was also present, so he decides to track down the three women in there with a first name starting with "S."
Meanwhile, Batman has to decide whether to track down Jason, or stop the Joker's latest scheme (selling a cruise missile to Arab terrorists because he is broke). He regretfully chooses the latter, but luckily finds Jason along the way. Jason's quest had brought him to the Arab nations because that was where the three women were all working. So the duo track the Joker down, then continue to look for Jason's mother.
Lucky for Jason, the third time's the charm; the third woman turns out to be his real mother. They are briefly reunited, but then the Joker turns up, having some business with Jason's mother. Jason tracks the Joker down, then goes to warn Batman. Batman has to stop innocent people from dying of the Joker's laughing gas, so he warns Jason to wait for him. Jason doesn't. He goes in after the Joker to save his mother, but gets beaten practically to death. Then the Joker decides to dispose of the evidence, so he blows the place up, with both Jason and his mother in it!
It wasn't what I was expecting at all. Definitely not the best Batman story I've ever read, but it was pretty good to read. I know I gave away a good chunk of the plot in my summary, but I left a couple cool twists and turns out that are definitely worth checking out. Definitely a must-read for any and all Batman fans!

School Book: Death of a Transvestite


When I originally bought Ed Wood's Death of a Transvestite, I was assurred I would enjoy it. Everyone who had read it said it was a fun read. So I expected it to be good.
What I wasn't prepared for, but in hind sight should have been, was for this book to read like Ed Wood's movie Glen or Glenda but with a LOT more sex. It definitely didn't help that the main character was a transvestite named Glen as a man, and Glenda when he was in drag.
The book opens with Glen in jail, about to be executed via electric chair. He makes a deal with the warden to tell his story if the warden will let him die in the clothes he loves. As there is just enough time, the warden agrees. What follows is Glen's/Glenda's story of his/her life after leaving the crime Syndicate he/she worked for as a hired killer, and right before he/she got caught.
I was expecting some wild and crazy antics of a killer in drag. What I wasn't prepared for was the sex. Everytime you turned around, Glen/Glenda was either having sex with someone, or someone was reminiscing about the fantastic sex they had with Glen/Glenda. It felt like being in Ed Wood Fantasy Land, and it got a bit rediculous after awhile.
Death of a Transvestite wasn't a terrible read, all things considered. But you're probably better off without it. It was a bit hard to get into, and nothing really seemed to happen throughtout it. Ed Wood fans might enjoy it, but for the majority of people, I'd say pass this one by.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

School Book: The Prophet's Camel Bell


I have to admit, I was extremely biassed towards this book. I have read two of Margaret Laurence's books, one in high school, and one in a Children's Literature class, and I do not like her writing style. And so I began reading The Prophet's Camel Bell expecting to hate it. I couldn't have been more wrong!
Laurence's The Prophet's Camel Bell tells of the author's experience in Africa. Her husband at the time took a job in Somaliland to build water resevoirs in the desert to help the people get through the dry season. Laurence accompanied him, and together they met many interesting people and saw the life that the Somali people dealt with. A deeply religious people, they lead their harsh lives as best they can, trusting in God's will. Laurence and her husband gain the friendship of their work crew, overcoming language and cultural barriers as best as they can. Laurence becomes interested in Somali poetry, and works to translate it while her husband constructs the resevoirs.
I think my one complaint is that the book tends to throw people at you without properly telling you who they are. Pretty much everyone is explained at the end, but when many of the Somalis are first brought up, you are left guessing as to who they are.
But all in all, The Prophet's Camel Bell was an extremely interesting read, and I am incredibly glad that I have read it!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

School Book: Beautiful Losers


I knew I was in trouble with this book when I read the first line on the back cover: "One of the best known experimental novels of the 1960's." I know I'm biased; I like more traditional novels. You know, non-experimental types. But I had to read this for Canadian Prose, so I had to give it a shot.
Well, I did give it a shot. And Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers was what I thought it would be. Experimental. It is a book about this bizarre love triangle between the unnamed narrator, his wife, and his best friend. The only other character in the book of note is a Native American saint named Catherine Tekakwitha who was alive about 300 years before the other characters in the book.
The first part of the book follows the unnamed narrator. Part way through his narration, I came to the conclusion that he was insane. There were a few chapters that made no sense, but I persevered through them in case they were important to the plot. They weren't.
The second part of the book is a letter from F., the narrator's friend. The letter explains a bunch of stuff that is going on, while raising many other questions. The final part of the book is the epilogue, which is written in the third person.
Beautiful Losers is a smutty book. There is a lot of sex within its pages between all the three main characters in all sorts of combinations. But beyond the sex, there wasn't a whole lot else except for the story of Catherine Tekakwitha. (Which, in my opinion, were about the only parts of the book that were interesting and made sense). The story of Catherine Tekakwitha, as told within Beautiful Losers, seems to be fairly accurate.
By the end of the book, I had lost sympathy with the three characters within the love triangle. I was also left wondering what exactly had happened. This was a very confusing book, and I'm glad I will not have to read it ever again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Library Book: Rapunzel's Revenge



When I was at work the other day, I came across Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale. It sounded absolutely ridiculous so I had to give it a try. And having just finished it, I'm really glad that I did!

Rapunzel's Revenge tells the story of Rapunzel. She grew up in a villa like a princess, but bored to tears. On her 12th birthday, she climbed the wall that surrounded the villa and discovered many shocking truths. Mother Gothel was ruling the land by controlling the growth of plants. Mother Gothel had kidnapped Rapunzel from her parents. And Rapunzel's real mother was still alive but a slave. Highly objecting to this, Rapunzel was taken into a forest and locked up in the trunk of a very tall tree. Four years later, Rapunzel has managed to escape with the help of her incredibly long hair. So now she's out to free her mother and stop Mother Gothel once and for all!

Yes, it was an incredibly ridiculous tale (I mean, the heroine defeated everything by whipping it with her stupidly long hair!) But it was also highly entertaining, and definitely worth reading. Especially if you like fairy tales with a twist!