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 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!


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!