Friday, December 23, 2011

Library Book: Batman: Noel

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you combined Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol with Batman? Batman: Noel! Batman has lost sight of the people he is protecting, becoming rather akin to Scrooge in his outlook towards crime. On Christmas Eve he is visited by three "ghosts" who help him see the error of his ways, and help him change before it is too late.

Written and illustrated by Lee Bermejo, Batman: Noel is a haunting and beautiful tale. This is a must for every Batman fan. I'm hoping to pick it up myself after the holidays so I can read it every year before Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Library Book: Axe Cop

Axe Cop. My brother told me about Axe Cop awhile ago. From his descriptions, I knew it would be crazy. He told me to look for it online, which I never got around to doing. Lucky for me, Axe Cop is now available in graphic novel form (and even luckier: the library has a copy!)

I don't really know what to say about it, other than it is awesome. Axe Cop is written by Malachai Nicolle, who was five years old at the time, and drawn by his much older brother Ethan. Axe Cop is a crazy story about Axe Cop and his team as they fight the bad guys in all shapes and sizes.

I really enjoyed the graphic novel because it gave commentary by Ethan. Reading the behind the scenes was just as funny. Alright, maybe not quite as funny. But still entertaining.

Axe Cop just really made me laugh. It is definitely worth reading if you enjoy random silliness. I can't wait for Volume 2 (in graphic novel form!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Library Book: Shadow's Lure

Luck was with me: the library ordered Jon Sprunk's Shadow's Lure immediately after getting Shadow's Son; I only had to wait a couple of weeks to read it!

Shadow's Lure takes place only a few weeks or months after Shadow's Son. Caim has struck off into the Northlands with only Kit for company, leaving Nimea in the hands of the new Empress, Josephine.

Caim must be the unluckiest guy in the world. He starts his adventure by getting mauled by a bear. He then stumbles his way into a conflict. The northern country of Eregoth is being taken over by a self-proclaimed Duke and his witch paramour. They have started a reign of terror, with the witch's son (known as "The Beast") murdering villages across the country.

Back in the south, things aren't much better. Josephine is on the throne, but the deposed Church refuses to lose its power without a fight; they are encouraging the people of Othir to riot against Josey. On top of that, a shapeshifting assassin is after her, making it very difficult to know whom to trust.

I enjoyed reading Shadow's Lure, but I did find Josey's chapters a bit of a drag. To me, they seemed to take away from the fun that is Caim's life. About half way through the book, I also ran into a problem with Josey's character that bothered me (I don't want to give spoilers, but it involves things that happened to her in Shadow's Son), so that made it even tougher to get through them. But her story is full of lots of political intrigue, so if you enjoy that you will enjoy reading about what happens to her.

That being said, the rest of the book was great! Caim managed to get into one scrape after another, and also really grew with his powers. He was also separated from Kit for a good portion of the book, and her sections were interesting as well. I will admit though, I was rather confused about where Shadow's Lure was heading, but it really kept me reading! I would love to read the final book, Shadow's Master, but unfortunately I'm going to have to wait until next summer for that.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I wanted a standalone novel to read, so I settled on Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw. I've had the book for awhile now, but just never got around to reading it. Having read it in two days, laughing my head off during a few parts, I'm rather sad I didn't read it sooner.

Mogworld is the story of Jim. Jim was a student at a battle mage college and died when the college was attacked. Some sixty years later, he is brought back to the world of the living by a necromancer along with most of the people from the graveyard where he resides. He agrees to join the necromancer's undead hoarde, all the while trying just to end his unlife.

But the world he has returned to has changed. The regular living people can no longer die and are brought back to life at the nearest church. Adventures are coming down with "the Syndrome," where they start moving mechanically and lose their personality. And the world's economy has become all about rewarding points to Adventurers. When the necromancer and most of the horde is deleted, Jim strikes out on a quest to find the deleter angels and make them take him, too. But the closer he gets to the deleter angels, he finds himself closer to the world's creators (who tend to talk in gibberish and don't seem as all powerful as they would have you believe). Helping him are the only other two undead minions left, the bubbly Meryl and the dour priest Thaddeus, and the rather inept rogue Slippery John.

Mogworld was a really funny read, reminiscent of Terry Pratchett (at least his later work, not the first two Discworld novels). This is definitely a recommended read for lovers of video games, satire, and Yahtzee's particular phrasing. I laughed really hard at the ending, and just really loved this book.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Interlude: Star Wars Tales Vol 3

A friend lent me Star Wars Tales: Volume 3. Like the name suggests, this is a collection of short tales (about 20 in total) set in the Star Wars universe. My friend told me this was his favourite of the three volumes; having only read this one, I can't really say if he's right or not. But there were some really great stories here.

This volume opened on a high note with "Resurrection." A secret sect of Dark Side Followers have resurrected Darth Maul. Darth Vader agrees to duel him to the death; the winner will clearly be the better apprentice for the Emperor.

"Hate Leads to Lollipops" was cute but just okay. "The Rebel Four," a parody of the Fantastic Four, was incredibly funny (in a very morbid way).

I enjoyed "Trooper," the story of the Stormtrooper who is chosen to go first when they board Princess Leia's ship at the beginning of A New Hope. "Skreej" was a funny story about the man who was supposed to be working as a guard with the Hutts. He wakes up with all his stuff gone, so he tries to track down what happened to him (and where his stuff is). "Nameless" was the story of why Darth Maul has a double bladed light sabre.

I think one of the funniest stories was "A Wookie Scorned." This one takes place after the Battle of Endor. Han is supposed to be helping Chewie fix their ship, but he keeps disappearing to "debrief" Princess Leia.

"Free Memory" was an interesting story. C3P0 wants a technician to free up space on R2D2's memory banks. The little droid doesn't appear, so C3P0 goes to find him, and in the process finds out what R2D2 has stored inside him.

"Prey" was another interesting story. Tarkin hires Boba Fett to go after a treasonous pilot. Vader believes the Empire should show no weakness and hunt the pilot on their own. So Vader follows Fett, leading to an awesome showdown between the two.

"In the Beginning" is the story of the card game where Lando lost the Falcon to Han. "The Princess Leia Diaries" was another really funny story, telling how wild Leia was as she grew up on Alderaan.

"Tall Tales" had a gang of aliens sitting around telling each other what they knew about the rebellion. It was pretty funny (and a good example of how stories change as gossip spreads them). "Ghost" was a strange tale of a younger Han going on a treasure hunt; he finds a jedi knight instead. "A Day in the Life" was just okay. It's a short story of Wedge a few days after the Battle of Endor. It started out pretty good, but I didn't like the way it ended.

"A Jedi's Weapon" was an interesting romp. On a diplomatic mission, Anakin Skywalker loses his lightsabre and attempts to get it back.

The last really funny story was "The Revenge of Tag & Bink." They left Boba Fett for dead and he's going on a personal bounty against them. And everything leads to the sarlacc pit.

"Once Bitten" was a strange story that didn't seem to fit with the others. While heading to Alderaan. Obi-Wan tells Han Solo a story of him and Qui Gon Jinn trying to help a jedi, but facing off against Aurra Sing, the jedi assassin. The story ends with Obi Wan asking Han Solo for something to help with Luke's lightsabre training.

Everything ended on a low note. "The Duty" is the story of a jedi knight defending the last of the padawans from Darth ader. Knowing he can't defeat Vader, the jedi makes a deal with the dark side.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading the Tales. They were a varied bunch of stories that were fun to read. If you're a fan of Star Wars and get a chance, you should definitely give this a read!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Library Book: Shadow's Son

I picked up Jon Sprunk's Shadow's Son at the library several weeks ago. It sounded intreguing, so I thought I'd give it a read. But then I got busy and almost sent it back. Lucky for me, I actually read the first few pages before doing so and was hooked!

Shadow's Son is the story of the assassin Caim. He is given a job where he is set up to take the fall while other men rise to power in the city. But with the help of Kit, his spirit friend who only he can see, and Josephine, the daughter of a man Caim was supposed to kill, and with his own ridiculous luck, Caim sets out to find whoever set him up and stop them.

I really liked all the characters in this book. Kit was hilarious, and I wish she didn't wander off quite so much. Josephine was the spoiled aristocrat's daughter, but she had a core of steel that refused to be put down. And Caim himself was great. Like Josephine says, "Take away the fact of his profession and he was the finest man she'd ever known" (206). Caim is loyal, repeatedly risking his own life to save this girl whom he barely knows. And I really liked that he wasn't invulnerable; he gets hurt rather early in the story, and the wound hampers him throughout the tale.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading Shadow's Son. I've got the sequel, Shadow's Lure on hold at the library; I can't wait to read more of Caim's story!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Short Story: Nocturne

While working at the library the other day, I stumbled upon the brand new anthology Angels of Darkness. I was intrigued so I read the back. I'm not entirely sure why, but Sharon Shinn's story "Nocturne" caught my attention. So I took the book out specifically to read that story.

I have to say, I'm really glad I did. "Nocturne" is the story of Moriah, a woman working in a school as a cook. She discovers a blind angel living in a building rumored to be haunted. So she takes it upon herself to push him out of his misery.

I had no intention of reading the other stories in the book. My plan was to simply read the one story and send the book back. But I loved that story so much, I bought Angels of Darkness for my Kindle. I don't know for sure that I'll read the other stories, but I have the option to should I one day decide to. All I know is I loved "Nocturne" so much I wanted a copy of it to enjoy in the future.

I also went today and bought Sharon Shinn's novel Archangel. I liked the world and was sufficiently intrigued by it, I want to learn more!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Library Book: Toads and Diamonds

I have a lot of books to read which are currently on the List. I also have a couple of library books which I took out late last week. But that didn't stop me from taking Heather Tomlinson's Toads and Diamonds out from the library today. And reading the entire book all in one day.

Toads and Diamonds is the story of stepsisters Diribani and Tana. While going to the village well for water, Diribani meets a goddess who grants her a gift: every time she speaks, precious jewels and flowers fall from her lips. At her mother's urging, Tana also visits the well and receives a gift as well; but it is snakes and frogs that fall from her lips. Diribani's gift looks much more like a gift while Tana's seems to be a curse, particularly in their province where the governor kills snakes.

Diribani finds herself in the company of a prince, while Tana attempts to seek enlightenment. Both girls strive to find meaning in their gifts, to learn what the goddess wishes to teach them.

Toads and Diamonds was a great story. I really liked both Diribani and Tana (although I will admit, I kept yelling at Tana to just understand her gift already!) While there are many other books I could have (or maybe should have) read today, I'm glad I chose this one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Library Book: Amulet: The Last Council

The Last Council continues the story of Emily. Along with her family and friends, Emily has arrived at the floating city of Cielis, the stronghold of the Stonekeepers. Finally Emily will be able to get some help from the Stonekeeper Council.

But all is not right in Cielis. The people are terrified, hiding in their homes and unwilling to talk to strangers. Emily and her family is separated from their friends. And the elves are arrested and left in prison (which admittedly isn't that strange. They are elves, after all. One of which is the Elf King's son). And Emily is further separated from her family when she is subjected to the Council's trials.

Admittedly, this wasn't my favourite of the Amulet series. But it was a great interlude where the stakes have just been increased. I look forward to the next installment, whenever that will arrive (as of right now it isn't even announced on Kibuishi's website, so I will probably have to wait quite a while).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kindle Book: No Plot? No Problem!

I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I've always wanted to, but November was always a terrible month for me due to school. But with school now a thing of the past, and with no other super-pressing concerns, I am finally free to try writing a novel in a month!

Before embarking on the crazy literary adventure that is NaNoWriMo, I decided to give No Plot? No Problem! a quick read through. Chris Baty, the guy who started NaNoWriMo back in 1999, wrote the book as a guide to the entire month. He details what you're up against, encourages you to get snacks, and gives you strategies to help you succeed during the month-long escapade (and beyond, should you choose to continue polishing your masterpiece). Unfortunately, the warning not to read all the chapters until you actually get to the week in question comes at the end of the book; I did read the book from cover to cover, which I wasn't supposed to. But I did enjoy reading it; I am now ready to embark on my month long escapade.

If you want to follow my novelling progress, you can find me on NaNoWriMo. You can also follow my weekly blogging updates here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Sleeping Beauty

After reading Snow Crash, I had to read something that I knew would be all around more appealing to me. So today I read Mercedes Lackey's The Sleeping Beauty, which I have been hoarding since it was published last year. And now that I have the sixth book, Beauty and the Werewolf, now was a good time to get caught up with my reading!

The Sleeping Beauty is the retelling of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and the story of Sigurd and Brynhild all rolled into one (with even more fun!) It begins with the Princess of Eltaria, Rosamund, fleeing an evil Huntsman and being enslaved by dwarves. Rosamund's mother was killed and her father hastily remarried an "evil" sorceress. Rosamund believes that the Huntsmen was sent to kill her by her new Stepmother.

Unknown to Rosamund (and the Kingdom), the new Stepmother is actually Lily, the Fairy Godmother of Eltaria. Lily married the King in an effort to stop the Tradition, the magic of the land, actually forcing Eltaria's king down a dark path. While maintaing the ruse to fool the Tradition, Lily works to save the Princess. But all is almost foiled by the appearance of two men: a roguish middle son, and a Hero who is trying to escape his Doom (and the woman who keeps appearing, asleep in a ring of fire....) Add to that the unexpected death of the King, which leaves Rosamund and Lily scrambling to save Eltaria from invasion.

As usual, Lackey has a wonderful assortment of characters. Rosamund and Lily are both strong heroines; I loved reading about their adventures. Siegfried and Leopold were a lot of fun to follow. And I can't leave out mentioning Luna, the unicorn with the lisp!

The Sleeping Beauty was another hilarious romp through the Five Hundred Kingdoms. I absolutely loved it (especially the end of Chapter 14! I laughed extremely hard when I read that!); The Sleeping Beauty was exactly what I needed to read after being so disappointed by Snow Crash.

Kindle Book: Snow Crash

A friend of mine has been wanting me to read Snow Crash for awhile now. So when I found out that Neal Stephenson was going to be the keynote speaker at GDC Online (which I attended), I decided it was time to give Snow Crash a read. My friend lent the book to me, but in the interest of travelling as lightly as possible, I bought the book on my Kindle. I started reading it on my flight to Texas and got about 40% through it....and then didn't pick it up again until a few days ago.

Snow Crash is a really interesting book. It's got some unique characters, like Hiro Protagonist, the sword-toting hacker who delivers pizza for the Mafia's franchise, and Y.T., a young Kourier who manages to be in the thick of everything. Hiro and Y.T. get caught up in the search for information on a virtual drug called Snow Crash, which crashes the minds of hackers who are exposed to it.

My problem with Snow Crash was simple: it started out as a really interesting book with the pizza delivery stuff, but then it kind of lost my interest when Hiro started "researching." I say "researching" because it was more along the lines of the Librarian lecturing Hiro. Hiro would ask a question or two, and the Librarian would lecture him for a few chapters. At this point, there would be a chapter of Y.T., the other protagonist, doing something crazy, then back to the lecture. I don't know exactly how long this went on for, but my estimate is 30% of the book. Then, after Hiro was done listening to the lecture, he went off on his own adventure, during which he decided to regurgitate everything the Librarian had told him!

Despite this, there are some really interesting (and awesome) things that happen, particularly with Y.T. The chapters with her really helped me get through the Librarian's lecture.

All in all, the story of Snow Crash was pretty good, but I really didn't like being lectured at. I almost stopped reading Snow Crash a few times because of this. But I soldiered through and did finish the book. But I'm not going to lie, there were more than a few times when I thought I could be reading something else. And now that I'm done, I'm more excited to start something else than to dwell on Snow Crash.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Library Book: Amulet: The Cloud Searchers

The Cloud Searchers continues the story of Emily and Navin. After saving their mother, they are now on their way to find Cielis, the legendary city of the Stonekeepers. Unfortunately, the city is believed to be either gone or hiding among the clouds. They will need to hire an airship to take them. But few captains are willing to chase after a dream. Few except Enzo and Rico that is.

Once again, the elves are hot on their trail. This time the Elf King has hired the assassin Gabilan to find and kill both Emily and his son. Unknown to him though, his son, Prince Trellis, and Emily have joined forces. Together they plan to take him down once and for all.

Unfortunately The Cloud Searchers is the final volume the library has. Book 4 is on order, so I'll be reading it once it comes in. I can't wait!

Library Book: Amulet: The Stonekeeper's Curse

Like The Stonekeeper, The Stonekeeper's Curse was a really fast read. Emily and Navin rescued their mother, but she was poisoned in the process. So they are on their way to the city of Kanalis in search of medical aid.

Unfortunately, the Elf King has decided that Emily is too dangerous to have running around. And since she refused to join him, she must be eliminated. To that effect, he has sent his son and Luger, a dangerous elf, to find and destroy her.

Luckily, Emily and Navin are not without allies. In Kanalis, they meet the fox Leon Redbeard, a member of the Resistance. With his help, Emily heads to the Peak of Demon's Head Mountain, looking for the fruit of the gadoba tree. This fruit is the only thing that can save her mother.

The Stonekeeper's Curse continues the fantastic adventures of Emily and Navin. This is a fun story with beautiful illustrations. Once again I can't wait to read more!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Library Book: Amulet: The Stonekeeper

While looking for a couple of Bone books at Chapters, I stumbled onto Amulet. I read the first little bit in the store and enjoyed it. But rather than buy it, I decided to see if the Library had it. Lucky for me, they had the first three books!

Amulet is the story of Emily and her brother Navin. The story opens with an accident where there father is killed. A few years later, due to financial problems, their mom moves them to their great-grandfather's house in a smaller town.

While attacking the housework the first day there, Emily and Navin stumble onto their great grandfather's library. While looking through some things, Emily stumbles onto an amulet. Swearing her brother to secrecy, Emily takes the amulet with her.

Later that night, everyone hears some strange noises in the basement. Their mother goes to investigate and is captured by a strange creature. Emily and Navin follow it into Alledia, an alternate version of Earth. There they meet their dying great-grandfather, who gives Emily the choice to become the Stonekeeper. Choosing to embrace the amulet's power, Emily can now use her great grandfather's mechanical creations to go save her mother!

This first book was a really quick read. I really like Kazu Kibuishi's style, and can't wait to read more!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I started reading Bone a few years ago (before I started this blog). I got the first five volumes from the library. Unfortunately at that time the library didn't have the last four, so I wasn't able to finish the story at that time.

A friend of mine knew I was interested in reading this series, so he got me the one volume edition for christmas. It's taken me awhile, but I finally got around to reading it.

The story starts out with Phoney, Smiley and Fone Bone on the run from Boneville. Phoney's latest scheme got the three cousins run out of town.

The cousins get separated when a swarm of locusts appear. Fone finds himself in a valley where he meets Thorn and Gran'ma Ben. With their help he is reunited with his cousins.

But all is not well within the valley. The rat-men are testing the treay they have with the humans. They are preparing to wage war once again at the behest of the Hooded One, who is the speaker for the dreaded Lord of Locusts. The Hooded One sends the rat-men out searching for the Bone-creature with the star on its chest, which puts the three cousins right in the middle of everything.

As I've already mentioned, I've already read the first five volumes. While I didn't really remember it, as I was reading it everything was familiar. The first few books in particular are really funny with all the antics of Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone.

All in all, this is a fantastic story. Bone is both funny and epic, and well worth the read!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kindle Book: Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling

Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling is the second book my friend recommended to me on game design. Unlike A Theory of Fun, this one seemed a lot more technical and harder for me to get through. I am not a programmer and have never programmed anything, so the chapters on designing an interactive storytelling engine were especially tough for me to get through.

But with that disclaimer aside, Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling is a valuable book for game designers to read (and for game writers as well). Crawford details exactly what interactive storytelling is and how it is different from the stories present in games. He talks about the importance of verb thinking, how verb thinking is difficult for English-speakers, and how traditional games still give players the same few choices over and over. His book is difficult to wrap your head around in ways (especially if you are like me and lack certain frames of reference) but it is still worth reading.

About part way through, I came to the realization that I will benefit from rereading this book in the future. It's given me a lot to think about (and has made me want to try interactive storytelling), but I need to go off for a bit (and maybe learn some basics of scripting languages) before I come back to Crawford's theories.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Library Book: Mirror Mind

A friend of mine at the library recommended Tory Woolcott's Mirror Mind. This is the story of Tory growing up with dyslexia. When it was discovered that she couldn't read, the other kids in school started making fun of her in very hurtful ways. She was eventually sent to a different school that was supposed to cater to kids who need a little more help. Unfortunately she had a rather mean teacher. It was only after she was tutored by someone who was really patient and caring, and later got a teacher who understood dyslexia, that Tory was finally able to show the world that she simply sees things differently from most people.

As someone who has always been an avid reader and never had to deal with dyslexia, Mirror Mind is very eye-opening. This is definitely worth reading whether or not you have struggled with dyslexia.

Thanks for sharing your journey, Tory!

Library Book: Prince of Persia: the Graphic Novel

I was at work a few days after finishing my first play through of Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time and I went looking to see if the library had the music from the game. Instead I stumbled on Prince of Persia: the Graphic Novel.

Prince of Persia: the Graphic Novel is a really unique story. It is actually a tale of two centuries, where two stories are intertwined. Two separate princes (one an actual prince, and one a man who eventually marries a princess) confront the corruption of the ancient city of Marv.

The first prince, Guiv, is almost drowned by his brother Layth. His sister convinces Layth to forgive him. But while he was under the water, he received visions of the palace in flames and a child with a sword. So even though he is forgiven, he leaves the palace in an effort to discover what the visions mean.

The second story is more about a princess than a prince. She sets out to discover what her teacher has cryptically riddled about. She disguises herself as a boy and heads to a tree marked with a symbol near an old well. There she discovers a mysterious man who hides in the ruins.

Prince of Persia: the Graphic Novel is quite a feat of storytelling. A little hard to follow in places, it is nonetheless worth reading if you are a fan of the Prince of Persia series. And don't forget to read the afterword by Jordan Mechner! That alone has made me want to read both the Arabian Nights and the Shahnameh (although it may be awhile before I have time to get to either of them!)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Library Book: JLA: World War III

A friend recommended JLA: World War III to me the other day. He said it was a really good book. So I put it on hold and got it once he returned it to the library.

World War III is the story of a super weapon, Mageddon, speeding towards the Earth. Mageddon causes anger and rage, making people fight those they once considered friends. It leaves only death and destruction in its wake.

The JLA gets attacked in their own headquarters on the moon by Lex Luthor and a new Injustice Gang right when they discover Mageddon is coming. They try to warn Luthor that Mageddon is influencing him, but he refuses to listen.

Meanwhile, the world itself is going crazy. Countries are declaring war on one another andlaunching nuclear warheads left, right and centre. Those JLA members who were not on the moon have their hands full trying to save the world from itself.

World War III was a pretty good story, but isn't one of my favourites. I don't really like it when there are tons of superheroes whom I don't know. Yes, I recognized most of them (particularly the main ones), but there were just as many I wasn't familiar with. And with so many superheroes present in the JLA, there's no way to give them all screentime. But if you like the JLA, and having tons of characters throughout a story, you will like World War III.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kindle Book: A Theory of Fun for Game Design

I've been reading Ralph Koster's A Theory of Fun for Game Design on and off for the last few weeks. A Theory of Fun was recommended to me by a friend. I was excited to find it on Kindle, which meant it was a lot easier to bring this book along with me. :)

A Theory of Game Design is not a book I would have picked up myself right now without my friend's urging. I've been focusing on books about writing video games, while this is theory about game design. That being said, Koster's book is an extremely good read. He breaks games down and starts a theoretical discussion on both games and players. He uses everyday language, making this book easy to understand. If you are remotely interested in game design, you should definitely give this book a read!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gwenhwyfar: the White Spirit

It's been a long while since I have read a Mercedes Lackey book (in fact it's been even longer than I thought- the last one I read was The Snow Queen, back in 2008 when I started this blog). I've been hoarding The Sleeping Beauty, which is the fifth book in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series (side note: I just found out the sixth book is coming this fall! I'm excited!) But my copy of The Sleeping Beauty is hard covered, so I didn't want to bring it out to camp. But then I discovered that Gwenhwyfar was also on the List. And so, since my copy is soft-covered, Gwenhwyfar accompanied me out to camp.

Gwenhwyfar tells the story of Arthur's third queen (by a twist of fate, all three have the same name). Gwenhwyfar is the third of four daughters to King Lleudd Ogrfan Gawr. As a child she has Power, and assumes she will follow in her mother's footsteps by joining the Ladies of the Cauldron. But there is another fate in store for her. For Gwen is also blessed by Epona, the horse goddess. On the advice of her hero, a female chariot driver named Braith, Gwen finds herself training to be a warrior. She falls into this life with a passion, determined to become one of her father's war chiefs.

But it is only after she has achieved all that she dreamt of that fate conspires to make her Arthur's third wife. As the daughter of a king, she always knew that such could be her fate, and so she bows to it. But how can a warrior turn her back on the life she loves?

It took me a bit to really get into Gwenhwyfar. But once I did, it was well worth the read. Gwen is a wonderful character who I really found myself empathizing with, especially when she was required to become more womanly as the High Queen. While I am not a warrior, I understood what she felt when she was confined within the palace. Someone like her will never be happy, no matter how comfortable and pretty the cage is. She needs to be free.

Something that Arthur says near the end beautifully summed this up: "I tried to make you - what you were not. I took a warhorse, and tried to fit it to a plow" (397). Gwen tries - and fails - to be what she is not in order to please everyone else. And in the end this fails because she is not meant for ploughing.

Gwenhwyfar was a beautiful book, especially for anyone who has ever struggled with trying to be something they are not.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Faerie Locket

The Faerie Locket is the companion novel to the Dungeon's and Dragons A Practical Guide to Faeries. I found it at the Bookshelf and thought it sounded rather intriguing. While it is written for a younger audience (and it's very obvious about this as soon as you start reading it) I thought it was an entertaining book overall.

Twelve-year-old Jade finds a faerie locket, which transports her to the Feywild. Once there she is transformed into a Pixie. She finds herself at the heart of a war between the Ice Queen and the Summer King. Despite having lost her trove of power, the Ice Queen is trying to conquer the Feywild by freezing it and thereby killing the summer fey. As a desperate last hope, the Summer King has sent the locket to a human girl in the hopes that she will fulfill a prophecy and end the war. There's just one problem: the locket was meant for Vira, Jade's older sister. Can Jade do the impossible and stop the war within three days? Especially when almost everyone doesn't believe she can?

The Faerie Locket is a really quick, light read. I read it in one night while I was at camp. Keeping in mind that this is a story meant for a younger reader, The Faerie Locket is an all around fun story. At its heart it is the story of Jade becoming a hero, even when all the adults dismiss her because she is too young (and later for also being a pixie). My one problem with it came from a misunderstanding: when originally reading the plot synopsis, I thought it was a girl from "our" world that is brought to the Feywild. Instead it is a girl from a fantasy world who is transported to the realm of faeries which exists alongside her realm. Once I got over that, I found the book extremely enjoyable.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A List Update

Today I decided that enough was enough: I'm cleaning up the List! At the last count I had over 170 novels to read, which realistically would take me over a year. Plus I want to read all of the newer ones I've bought, not the random books I bought on a whim (mostly from the Library).

So I went through my room (mostly my closet), getting rid of both the books I no longer want to read and the books that I read awhile ago and hung onto (but now don't want to reread). I don't know how many books I am getting rid of in total, but I am reducing the List by 46 books.

In case you're curious, here are the titles I am getting rid of:

The Jester
Preludes Volume 1 Darkness and Light
Preludes Volume 2 Kendermore
Preludes Volume 3 Brothers Majere
Heroes Volume 1 The Legend of Huma
Heroes Volume 2 Stormblade
Heroes Volume 3 Weasel's Luck
Demon Lord of Karanda
Queen of Sorcery
Magician's Gambit
Castle of Wizardry
Enchanter's Endgame
Changing Planes
The Cursed
One Hundred and One Ways
The Tower of Beowulf
The Spiral Dance
The SFWA European Hall of Fame
The Dark Beyond the Stars
Alien Chronicles: The Golden Ones
Emperor the Death of Kings
A Plague of Angels
The Death Gate Cycle Volume 1: Dragon Wing
The Shattered Chain
The Genesis Quest
The Tragedy of the Moon
The Left Hand of Darkness
Witch Hill
Sleep With Evil
London Fields
The Mists of Avalon
Lady of Avalon
The Way the Crow Flies
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
The Doomsday Conspiracy
Mr. Murder
The Deep End
Jurassic Park
Are You Afraid of the Dark
Ford County
Year's Best Fantasy 5
Year's Best Fantasy 6
30th Anniversary DAW
Best New Fantasy

By getting rid of these books, the List is now down to 132 books. While this is still a lot, the number is now a lot more manageable. And now it's full of books I actually want to read.

Between you and me, there are still some books I could probably let go of. If push comes to shove then I will. But for now, I'll hang onto them in the hopes that I read them. I feel better already in getting rid of just this much clutter!

I'm planning on donating these books to the Canadian Diabetes Association Clothesline Program. Normally I would trade them at a used book store for more books. But I think I need to actually get through some of the stuff I have right now.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tales from Wonderland Volumes 1, 2 and 3

I bought all three Tales from Wonderland graphic novels when I was reading the Wonderland trilogy. I was originally planning a separate entry for each volume, but the stories are all interconnected in ways that don't make much sense until you have read the entirety of the Grimm Fairy Tales Wonderland series. So rather than trying to separate everything, here they are altogether.

Volume 1 has four stories, with one ("The Experiment") rather longer than the other three. The three shorter stories give the origins of the Queen of Hearts, the origins of Mad Hatter, and the story of how Alice "escaped" from Wonderl
and. The final story ("The Experiment") actually ties into the Queen story, and shows how the King of Hearts came to be.

Volume 2 tells the story of what happened to the Cheshire Cat between Beyond Wonderland and Escape from Wonderland. During that time he was trapped as a house cat and taken in by a Japanese college student. This was a great story because it gives the origins of Lina, the girl with him who was never explained in Escape from Wonderland.

The story about Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum didn't make a lot of sense in the scheme of things until the end. It actually explained who exactly the Carpenter is. The story about the Red Queen was another really cool tale, but it didn't make sense to me until after I read "The Arrangement," which is the story of how Dodgson bargained with Wonderland to live through his illness. Finally, there was another Mad Hatter story. This one showed the Hatter at peace, and set the stage for his war against the Queen of Hearts.

So that brings us to Volume 3. Volume 3 had a few more origin stories, starting with the White Knight, who becomes corrupted and finally serves the Queen of Spades. There is also the story of the Red Rose, who voluntarily went to Wonderland long before Dodgson made his bargain. Then we get the war between the Hatter and the Queen. And finally we see how Dodgson tried to break his pact with Wonderland all in the name of love.

As I said above, only after you've read all six volumes (the Wonderland trilogy and the Tales) do you really get the full story of Wonderland. So if you have any interest in the trilogy, be sure to give these a read as well!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Stepsister Scheme

While wandering around Minneapolis I inevitably ended up in a Barnes and Noble. Browsing the new paperbacks, I found a book by Jim C. Hines, an author I had never heard of before. I wandered into the Fantasy section and found the first book in the series (The Stepsister Scheme), so I decided to buy that instead.

The Stepsister Scheme tells the story of Danielle Whiteshore (aka Cinderella). After her honeymoon with her prince charming (Armand), she is attacked by one of her stepsisters. The assassination attempt is ultimately unsuccessful, but the stepsister reveals that Armand has been kidnapped. And so Danielle, aided by Talia (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow (White) set off to rescue Armand. The Stepsister Scheme takes the girls all the way to Fairy Town as they track down Danielle’s stepsisters.

I really liked the three princesses. Danielle is a friendly girl trying to adjust from being a servant to now being royalty. Talia is a blunt fighter who distrusts almost everyone (most especially the fairies, with good reason). And Snow is a sorceress and a flirt , someone who takes innocent joy in almost everything along the way. It’s great fun to see the three of them interact, and to witness how their friendships grow throughout the book.

Hines does a great job of twisting the fairy tales we all know in a rather believable direction. This book is proof that the stories we all know may well differ from the “truth.”

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I've put off reading Wolfsbane for quite awhile now. I really enjoyed the first story of Aralorn and Wolf and was rather excited to start the second. But I've been busy working on other things (getting ready for a conference plus working on a video game) that I didn't really have time for it. And the few times I did, I decided to either read something else (like library books and graphic novels) or whatever else. But now, on my way to my conference, I decided to bring Wolfsbane with me. On the first part of my journey, a seven hour car ride, I started reading it. And I found I couldn't stop! Now in the hotel, I finished the final 40 pages last night (meaning I read the book all in one day!)

I love Aralorn and Wolf, and was really glad to return to their world and story. This time around, Aralorn has received word of her father's death. So after 10 long years, she finally makes her way home to pay her respects. Her family welcomes her back with open arms. Except for Nevyn, her sister's husband who hates magic (even though he himself is a magic user). He discovered that Aralorn was a shapechanger and has hated her ever since (which is why she has been uncomfortable returning home).

When Aralorn goes to pay her final respects to her father, she makes a shocking discovery: her father is still alive! He was ensorcelled as a means of luring Aralorn and Wolf back to her home.

As Aralorn and Wolf evade the traps set for them while trying to free her father, they are left with the mystery of who has done this to her father. And all of the clues lead toward Wolf's father the ae'Magi whom they thought they'd killed...

Wolfsbane is a fantastic story. It is yet another example of why I love the work of Patricia Briggs!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Library Book: Loki

After seeing the movie Thor about a month ago, I realized that I know very little about Marvel's version of the god. Sure, I am relatively familiar with the Norse mythology thanks to my studies of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. And in my travels I've seen a few Thor graphic novels that have caught my eye. Finally I decided to read one from the library.

The one I chose was Loki. This graphic novel gives Loki's point of view of events. The trickster god has defeated his step-brother and step-father and is now Lord of Asgard. After parading Thor's humiliated form through the streets, Hela, the Goddess of Death shows up asking for Thor's soul. Loki then debates with himself over whether he is going to have Thor executed. He speaks with those he has conquered, Sif, Baldur and Odin in particular, who paradoxically convince Loki (in his own mind) that he should kill his brother. But he gains other doubts along the way. And the whole time, Thor is locked in prison, slowly regaining the strength to free himself.

This was a really interesting look at Asgard from Loki's perspective. I enjoyed reading it and can't wait to get a hold of more Thor stories!

Escape From Wonderland

Well here it is: the final part to Calie's story. At the very end of Beyond Wonderland, Calie's newborn daughter was taken from her by her brother Johnny. Johnny has become the Mad Hatter and is serving the evil of Wonderland. They need Calie's daughter so that the evil can break free of Wonderland and invade the real world.

But this time, Calie is through with running and hiding. So she heads back to her home and storms Wonderland with the intention of saving her daughter.

Escape from Wonderland was an epic conclusion to the Wonderland story. As a quote on the back of the book from says: "This is very much a thrill ride from start to stop." The artwork through the whole series was fantastic and I am extremely happy to have read this story. Yes it is a darker version of Alice, much darker than pretty much everything I have encountered thus far. But it is a brilliant reimagining of the tale and well worth reading for yourself!

Beyond Wonderland

Beyond Wonderland takes place a few months after Return to Wonderland. Calie and Brandon have started a new life together in New York City. But Calie is suffering from nightmares of Wonderland. She tries to tell Brandon about what happened but he doesn't believe her - he thinks she's suffering from mental illness like her mother was.

So Calie attempts to go about her life but starts to question her own sanity. On top of that, Brandon goes missing (she believes he leaves her), then her best friend is brutally mauled to death in her apartment. And when her friends throw her a baby shower, a mysterious package shows up - with the dress she found in Wonderland in it.

While a little slow at the beginning, Beyond Wonderland really continued to draw me into the continuing saga of Calie Lidel. I can't wait to finish this trilogy off!

Return to Wonderland

For my birthday, a friend of mine got me the Grimm Fairy Tales Wonderland trilogy. Before reading it, I decided to reread Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and to read Through the Looking Glass for the first time. Now that I have read both of those (and watched both Disney versions of Alice), I was finally ready to start reading the Wonderland trilogy.

Return to Wonderland is mainly the story of Calie Liddle, Alice's daughter. Alice herself is mentally ill and attempted suicide as the story begins. To help Alice recover, the doctor recommends that her family get her a pet: a white rabbit.

Calie comes home to find the place a wreck. Her mother is in tears, hiding in a closet, with her rabbit missing. Calie follows it into the basement where she falls into a hole and ends up in Wonderland.

But this Wonderland is a gruesome place. She finds the Carpenter and the Walrus (or what's left of him). The Carpenter then tries to kill her too. Escaping, she continues on the path, following rather closely to the path of Alice in Alice in Wonderland but everything has a gruesome twist (and is trying to kill her). Luckily Calie manages to escape with the help of her mother, but she returns to a rather darker home life. The madness of Wonderland is starting to bleed through to the real world, and nothing short of a human sacrifice will stop it.

Yes, it is dark and rather gruesome. But Return to Wonderland had an excellent story and I can't wait to read about what happens to Calie next!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nonfiction: The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World

I've had The Introvert Advantage for several years now but never bothered to read it. I think that at the time I read the first little bit and decided that I am an Introvert, and that was good enough for me. But after reading Networking for People Who Hate Networking, I decided that I wanted to give The Introvert Advantage a read before I head to my upcoming conference. I was hoping that I could gain some more valuable networking tips for someone who isn't extroverted.

I took this book's introversion quiz and came to the same conclusion as when I took the one in Zack's book: I am someone in the middle of the introversion/extroversion continuum, but I have tendencies towards introversion. That means that I recharge my energy as introverts do (through alone time, which I was well aware of), but I didn't identify with some of the other common characteristics of introverts. I'm kind of thinking that this may be due to upbringing and other circumstances. And even if I didn't label some of my behaviours as "introverted," I've known for a long time that I like (and need) alone time or I do sometimes feel overwhelmed.

So while I didn't identify with everything in this book, it was good to go over. It didn't have a whole lot on networking as The Introvert Advantage focuses on your entire life rather than just networking. But I got some helpful hints that will hopefully help me retain energy while I'm at my conference. And hopefully they'll translate into my everyday life, too. I'm really glad that I got this book (and finally read it) because I can always go back and reread things as I need to. Which is a good thing, as I didn't quite read the entire book. I skipped over a few chapters that I felt didn't pertain to me (like the one on parenting).

Overall, The Introvert Advantage is a great book to read (or at least skim), for both introverts and extroverts. Introverts can learn some great tricks that can help them survive in this extroverted world (as Laney says, 75% of people are extroverts). And extroverts can learn about the introverts in their life, how they're different and how to deal with that difference. It's a win-win for everyone! :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There

I'm really not sure what to make of this one. I finished rereading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and started reading the sequel almost immediately afterwards. But right away I found it more confusing than the first book (although that may be because I have read the first story a few times, while this is only my first time reading Through the Looking Glass).

Where Alice's Adventures in Wonderland uses a deck of cards, Through the Looking Glass revolves around chess. Alice herself is a pawn who must travel across the entire board to be crowned Queen. Along her travels, she meets both the Red and White Queens, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, a White and Red Knight (who fight over her), and many other characters. While it isn't explicitly stated, she also encounters the March Hare and the Mad Hatter from the first book (but she does not recognize them).

Through the Looking Glass is a crazy adventure. It's worth reading, especially if you are interested in all of the newly envisioned Alice stories (like those I mentioned in my last post), particularly if you are interested in seeing how some of the well known characters like Tweedledee and Tweedledum fit into her story. But overall I enjoyed the first book better.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Reread: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

A number of years ago, I wanted to read Alice in Wonderland. So my brother bought me a copy as a present. But before I read that copy, I ended up reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in a treasury I bought for a Children's Literature class. With the wealth of Alice related stories that are now out there, such as the made-for-TV movie I really enjoyed, the video game, and even the new Disney movie, I decided that it was high time I reread the original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. And it was high time that I read the version that my brother bought for me!

Alice is a ridiculous but fun romp through Wonderland. After witnessing a rabbit check his pocket coat watch and run off, Alice follows him through a rabbit hole. While attempting to follow him, she meets many strange creatures and has many strange adventures. From growing and shrinking in size, finding a never-ending tea party and playing crochet with live flamingos and hedgehogs, Alice never has a dull moment in Wonderland.

As I said, I originally read Alice for a Children's Lit course. I'm actually really glad that I did so, because I wouldn't have gotten the allusions had I simply read it on my own. Alice likes to try showing off her learning, and every here and there she attempts to recite what were well-known poems at the time the story was written. But Wonderland is a backwards place, and all of the poems turn out wrong. Luckily I was familiar with some of the original poems because I had read some of them earlier in the class, and the others were referenced within that edition of the book.

Alice is a quick read and it was fun to go back to it. But now I am excited because I am going to read Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There for the first time ever!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Library Book: Firelight

I read Firelight in one night. I was at camp and couldn't sleep. And when I was finally tired enough to sleep, I was so close to the end that I decided to finish it.

Firelight tells the story of Jacinda. She is a draki, descended from the dragons. But she is rare even amongst her kind because she is a fire breather.

Jacinda and one of her draki friends break their pride's rule about flying only during the night. Hunters come after them and Jacinda is almost killed, but she is saved by a beautiful boy named Will. Her pride is going to make an example out of her (and heavily punish her at the same time) but her mother takes her and her twin sister out in the middle of the night. Her sister never manifested and her mother's draki is dormant (dead). Her mother takes them to the middle of the desert with the intention of killing Jacinda's draki so the three of them can live safely among the humans. But Jacinda tries to fight back, refusing to let her draki die.

On top of that, she once again finds Will. And in the middle of the scorching desert heat, the beautiful hunter is the only thing keeping her draki alive.

I thought that Firelight was a Romeo and Juliet type of story about forbidden love between two people. Unfortunately, once I got to the end, I stopped enjoying it so much. The book was very obvious that it was setting itself up for a sequel by leaving things in a very unsatisfactory manner. According to Sophie Jordan's website, the second book in the series is due out this fall.

Two of the reviews on really nailed this book. The one written by Tiger Holland brought up how whiny Jacinda is. And that's really true. She whines no matter what happens. As you get to know her, you really start to lose respect for her. She's a rebellious teenager who doesn't put anyone before herself. And that gets really boring to read about.

The second review I read (by GreenBeanTeenQueen) also made some good points: the interesting part of Firelight is the draki pride. But we don't get to see them, because Firelight quickly becomes all about Jacinda "trying" to fit in at school. GreenBeanTeenQueen also mentions how the other characters seem rather flat, which was very true as well. (Her example is Xander, Will's cousin. We're told he's dangerous, but never shown why that is. We have to take Will's word for it).

So overall, Firelight was entertaining to read, as long as you overlook its flaws. And as long as you don't mind waiting for a sequel (or possibly more) before the story gets resolved.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Library Book: Batman: Long Shadows

I found Batman: Long Shadows while I was at work today. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to keep reading!
Batman is presumed dead, so it is up to Dick Grayson to don the cowl and convince everyone that Batman lives on. The problem is that Dick Grayson is a very different man from Bruce Wayne. He fights differently and even acts differently from his predecessor. And unfortunately for him, Two-Face has noticed the differences.
So now Dick has to convince everyone (including himself) that he IS the Batman.
This was a really good story. But the graphic novel ends in the middle of a larger story arc. And unfortunately, Batman: Long Shadows is part of a longer story arc which includes Batman: Battle for the Cowl, Batman: Life After Death and a few other volumes. The library has neither of these titles, so it may be awhile before I get my hands on the rest of the tale.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Library Book: The Iron King

Julie Kagawa's The Iron King caught my eye a couple of months ago. I put it on my Chapters Wish List and then forgot about it. But then a few days ago I saw it go by while working at the library. So I decided to grab it then.

The Iron King is an interesting take on fey. Meghan Chase is the half-human daughter of Oberon. She is unaware of her fey heritage until her brother is kidnapped and replaced with a changeling. Meghan will risk everything to find him and bring him home safe.

And so Meghan embarks on a quest through the Nevernever with her best friend, who happens to be Robin Goodfellow. Along the way she'll meet a cast of fun characters like Grimalkin, a fey cat (who reminds me a lot of Edgewood Dirk from Terry Brooks' Landover series). And all the while, she is being fought over by the other fey, particularly her father and the Winter Queen Mab.

The Iron King was a very good story. It's the first book in the Iron Fey series. I'm not sure if I'm going to continue on with this series, but this book was really good.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nonfiction: Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames

My goal was to read Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames in about two weeks; I would have read about a chapter a day. But it looks like I powered through the book a bit faster than planned!
I bought Game Writing while I was reading Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing. Both books were created by the IGDA. While reading Professional Techniques, I quickly discovered that it was the more advanced book. And so I snagged Game Writing from Amazon.
My original problem with Professional Techniques was that, while it is full of extremely useful information, the book is relatively advanced. The problem with Game Writing is that it tends to be a little too basic. The first few chapters were all about the basics of writing a story in general. I found myself very familiar with the majority of the concepts in the first half of the book. And then the last couple of chapters seemed a bit more on the advanced side. I think I need something that's like a happy medium between the two books right now.
Another thing that I didn't like was that unlike Professional Techniques, Game Writing does not have any exercises to try out. With the chapters in Game Writing covering more basic concepts, it would have been nice to attempt actually using them, especially now that I am feeling a bit more confident about what I know. But that's okay. I can either go back to some of the exercises in Professional Techniques or see what the next book I read on the subject of video game writing has to offer!
While I'm on the subject, I think I am going to take a brief break from the game writing books. My brain feels like it needs a fiction break!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Library Book: Networking for People Who Hate Networking

I am planning a trip to a conference in the near future. Somewhere during my planning, I realized that I have never been to an actual networking event (especially with the intention of networking). So I ran off to the library to grab a few books. I immediately gravitated towards Devora Zack's Networking for People Who Hate Networking because I know I am an introvert; I'm uncomfortable with the traditional networking "rules."

Luckily, Devora Zack provides some great alternatives which work with an introvert's strengths. One big tip is that introverts need to work in some time to themselves so they can recharge their energy reserves. I really enjoyed her book, and I can't wait to give some of these tips a try at my upcoming conference!

Also, I liked the book so much that I decided to buy it on my Kindle! Now I'll be able to bring the book with me and go over things on the plane!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nonfiction: Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing

I made a real push to finish Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing tonight. I started reading it a few days ago. While I did persevere, I quickly did realize that it's a bit more advanced than where I'm at. I'm going to need to go and read some of the other books on game writing that I have (which are more basic) before possibly re-reviewing this one. But I am really glad that I read it. I now have a lot more knowledge and insight into video game writing than I had before.

Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing is a book full of articles written by actual game writers. It covers a whole range of topics, from writing game manuals and tutorials to writing for all audiences and for new intellectual properties. I read it from cover to cover, but it's the kind of book you can easily peruse, reading the chapters that pertain to you. Reading the whole book all at once is a bit overwhelming, especially when you are new to game writing. But this is definitely a good book to digest in smaller chunks.

Oh, and my favourite chapter was by Andrew S. Walsh on Writing Tutorials. It was funny and super informative!

Monday, May 23, 2011


I've been reading a lot of nonfiction book lately. I was going to bring one of them to work with me yesterday when I changed my mind, opting to bring a fiction book instead. I was going to bring Mogworld, but at the last second changed my mind, choosing Masques instead. And I'm completely glad that I did!

Masques is Patricia Briggs' first book. It's been out of print for years, but was finally reprinted this past fall. Masques is the first book that takes place in Briggs' Sianim world. And while Briggs might think the book isn't as polished as her newer stuff, it was still fantastic to read! I didn't want to put it down!

Masques follows the adventures of Aralorn, a half-blooded shapeshifter, and her mysterious companion, Wolf. Employed by the Spymaster of Sianim, Aralorn is sent to spy on the ae'Magi, the head mage of the land. The Spymaster believes there is an assassination plot against the ae'Magi. But Aralorn uncovers something much worse - that the ae'Magi is not at all what he seems and is using dark magic to fuel his plots. So Aralorn finds herself and Wolf helping a dethroned King lead a ragtag army against the ae'Magi.

As I already mentioned, I really enjoyed reading Masques. I loved the characters, particularly Aralorn and Wolf. Aralorn was a young woman who wasn't afraid to stand up for herself (and who "Does not take orders, [but] will occasionally listen to suggestions"). She was funny, strong and just a joy to follow throughout the book. Wolf was in some ways her opposite, but he was still interesting. Together they were quite a pair! So if you're looking for a good tale with quirky characters, Masques is for you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nonfiction: The Woman in the Story

I bought this book on the advice of a friend from the screenwriting class I took last summer. When my first draft of my screenplay sort of fell apart and I decided I should restructure it with one of my female characters in the lead, I decided it would be a good idea to look The Woman in the Story over.

I have to admit, I had a bit of a hard time getting through this. Yes, I got some good ideas for some things to consider when reimagining my screenplay. But the book seemed to really drag on with lots of lists and parallel lists. And even though I'm not normally bothered by the odd awkward phrase in a book, I found a few too many that they really started to annoy me. Maybe it's the fact that I've been marking papers for a few years. Or maybe I just expect better proofreading from a published book. But either way, if this book is ever republished in a second edition, I hope it's better edited.

My honest opinion is that this is a good book to peruse if you are interested in screenwriting. You should definitely look it over if you want to write heroines. Informative but a bit dense, this is a hard book to read from cover to cover.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grimm Fairy Tales: Inferno

I found this series at Chapters the other day. I've never heard of it before, but it seemed really interesting. I decided to buy Inferno because it seemed to sort of stand alone from the others.

Grace Dante suffers from amnesia. She was told she was in a car accident; she can't remember her life before that time. Grace has started having schizophrenic hallucinations. She's also being sexually harrassed by her boss, abused by her boyfriend, and over-medicated by her therapist. But then she meets Sela Mathers, who promises to help Grace see the world more clearly and remember her past.

There's a lot of really cool stuff that happens in Inferno. But I kept feeling like I was in the middle of the story, and that I was missing some major pieces of what happened before this. Inferno helps a bit with that by reprinting a couple of the missed bits at the end of the story, so when you're finished reading this volume you have a pretty good idea of what happened. But I think you'd be better off starting at the beginning of the Grimm Fairy Tales series before jumping into Inferno.