Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Well, this is it.  Harbinger.  The last Book of the Order by Philippa Ballantine.  I started it a little while ago, but read the majority of it (I think over 200 pages) today, finishing it.  The story took some twists and turns, but overall I enjoyed it.

Like its predecessors, Harbinger begins pretty much where the last book, Wrayth, left off.  Well, a couple of months later (much like Wrayth).  The remains of the Order of the Eye and the Fist are gathering around Sorcha, trying desperately to stay one step ahead of Derodak and the Circle of Stars.  The Emperor, turned against the Deacons, has begun a wave of terror as he attempts to bring the wayward Princes of the realm to heel.  And the Rossin is making his own plans in the middle of everything, managing to keep them even from Raed.  In short, the realm is in chaos and the clock is ticking for the Order as they struggle to stop Derodak from destroying their entire world.

All in all, I enjoyed reading the adventures of Sorcha, Merrick, Raed and the Rossin.  But there were many points in Harbinger where things were happening and I had a difficult time suspending my disbelief.  I feel silly writing that, as Harbinger is a work of fantasy.  But things were happening here (and, I'll admit, a little bit in Wrayth) that seemed a little too unbelievable, even in a world wracked by geists and magic.

Harbinger was by no means my favourite Book of the Order.  Nor was it my least favourite (that would be Spectyr).  I did enjoy reading it, but now I'm ready to move onto something else.  Although I do hope Ballantine considers returning to the world in the future; I would love to see what challenges the Order will face in the aftermath of Harbinger.  It would also be interesting to see some of the struggles the Order of the Eye and the Fist had when they first came to Arkaym.  But that is something for the future.  Now I need to decide what I want to read next!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


After my disappointment in the beginning of Spectyr, I was a little hesitant to begin reading Wrayth so soon.  But luckily that fear was misplaced.  I read over half of Wrayth in one sitting; I would have finished it sooner but I wasn't able to fully devote my time to reading.

Once again, Wrayth picks up pretty much where Spectyr leaves off.  It is two months after the events in Chioma.  Sorcha is still unable to move but she is conscious of everything happening around her.  Even more frustrating, her bond with Merrick is still present but not as strong as it should have been and so she is stuck inside of her own head.

For his part, Merrick has been at Sorcha's side as much as possible, fighting to keep her as his partner.  Unfortunately as one of the strongest of the Order, the new Arch Abbot doesn't want him sidelined for long and is working on getting a new partner for the young Deacon.

But then Sorcha is kidnapped.  Intending to abandon the Order to go search for her, Merrick goes to ask the Emperor's sister, Grand Duchess Zofiya, for a favour.  But events spiral out of his control when he realizes the Emperor's new favourite is one of the men who tried to kill his mother back in Chioma.

Off elsewhere, Raed is hunting down his sister, Fraine.  The princess has been seeking new allies in an attempt to start a civil war against the new Emperor.  And unfortunately for everyone, her newest ally is a geistlord.

Wrayth was an excellent book.  I can't wait to see how the story ends in Harbinger!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


After reading Philippa Ballantine's Geist, I was excited to get started on the second book, Spectyr.  Luckily the library had it, so I was able to get it almost immediately (unfortunately they don't have books 3 and 4, so I had to order them online).

Spectyr picks up pretty much where Geist left off.  Sorcha and Merrick have been sidelined by their new Abbot (he keeps sending them into really boring missions).  Raed is off across the sea.  But the two Deacons receive a vision of Raed in trouble, and so a convenient diplomatic mission sends them off the Chioma, a part of the Empire which is rather unique from the rest because they still worship one of the old gods, Hatipai.

Elsewhere, the Grand Duchess Zofiya, herself a worshiper of  Hatipai, receives a divine message from the goddess.  Zofiya unknowingly sets her free.  And so Hatipai begins gathering her power once again to take control of the world and in the process feast upon the Rossin.

I really enjoyed Geist, so I was disappointed that I had a really hard time getting into Spectyr.  I don't know what exactly the problem was, but I just didn't connect with the story for the most part.  But then the end happened, and now I can't wait to read the next book, Wrayth

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Volume 1

I found the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic graphic novel at work awhile ago.  I've only seen a couple of episodes of the show, but I was curious so I flipped through it a bit.  I came to a page where Pinkie Pie was instructing everyone on how to be a zombie and I knew I had to read this book.

I did have a bit of trouble when I first started reading it though.  The book was referring to Queen Chrysalis, who was recently defeated.  I thought that maybe this was a later volume in the series as a result.  But no it isn't.

The story starts out with the Cutie Mark Crusaders (the little sisters of three of the main ponies who are trying to find their flank markings) getting kidnapped by Queen Chrysalis.  The next day, the main ponies realize something is weird about all the people in Ponyville (and that the three younger ponies are acting extremely weird, too).  Recognizing the other ponies to be changelings brought on by Queen Chrysalis, they set out to rescue their town.  Unfortunately, the three little ponies are missing.  Queen Chrysalis gives our heroes three days to reach them before she destroys them.

The Zombie Walking Incident
I'm not going to lie: the highlights of this were almost all thanks to Pinkie Pie.  From the zombie walk which first attracted me to the "I'm Sorry" cake she carries around with her, almost everything she did brought on a laugh. For that alone, this book was definitely worth the read!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Geist was one of the books I bought from the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto.  I've never heard of Philippa Ballantine's series before, but it sounded really good so I decided to give it a shot. 

Geist is the story of three people: Sorcha Faris, the most powerful Active Deacon, her new young partner Merrick Chambers, and Raed Rossin, the Pretender to the throne.  In their world, Otherworld creatures, called Geists, possess and attack humans; it's up to the Order to stop them.  Deacons are put into pairs, with one Active, who actually fights the Geists, and one Sensitive, who sees the Geists.  After a disastrous Geist attack, Sorcha's husband and partner is injured.  The Arch Abbot of the Order assigns her a new partner and sends the two of them off on a mission to an isolated village called Ulrich.

Also heading to Ulrich is the Pretender.  Raed is the heir of the old ruling family.  His family has been ousted and a new Emperor was brought in from a distant land.  Raed's ship needs repairs, and so he is on his way to the isolated village. But in Ulrich, all is not as it seems.  The three find themselves drawn into the middle of a horrible conspiracy that spans the Empire. 

Geist was a really good read. I loved all three characters, and really liked this world where the Otherworld presses so closely to the living.  I'm looking forward to reading more about Sorcha, Merrick and Raed.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Last week while in Toronto, I went to see the ROM's Mesopotamia exhibit.  As part of the exhibit, they had a piece of the Epic of Gilgamesh (Tablet VI).  When we got to the exhibit gift shop, in the books they had Stephen Mitchell's New English Version of Gilgamesh, which I bought and promptly started reading.

When I read a book like this for the first time, I usually skip the introduction until after I've read the actual work.  I don't want to be biased when reading (and honestly just want to avoid spoilers if I'm unfamiliar with the story).

Gilgamesh is credited as the oldest recorded story.  Its title character is a king who is 2/3 divine, 1/3 mortal.  He goes on adventures, ultimately searching for the secret to immortality.

I'm not going to lie, when I first finished reading it, I wasn't a big fan.  It was entertaining enough, but overall the story just seemed okay.  So I am really glad that I went back and read the introduction at that point.  The introduction made me appreciate the poem a lot more than I did after initially reading it (including the ending, where I kind of missed what exactly had happened!)

So overall, I enjoyed reading it, but mainly because of the introduction.  Without that, I probably wouldn't have liked it as much.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Emperor's Soul

I saw The Emperor's Soul go by at work awhile ago.  I thought it sounded interesting, so I bought it for my Kindle.  It's taken me a bit, but I decided to read it on my trip (I decided to just bring my Kindle with me, rather than any physical books).

The Emperor's Soul is the first book by Brandon Sanderson that I've ever read.  And I really, really enjoyed it.  The Emperor's Soul is the story of Shai, a forger.  She was caught while trying to steal the Emperor's scepter and is given an intriguing offer: she needs to reforge the Emperor's soul or else she will be killed.  Shai jumps into the challenge, deciding that rather than just building a forged thing, and by extension making a puppet emperor, she will attempt to make the new soul as authentic as possible.

The Emperor's Soul was a short read, but it was one of the best books I've read in a long while.  I liked it so much that I went to The World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto and bought Elantris.  I'm really looking forward to reading more books by Sanderson.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Soul of Fire

So after reading Laura Anne Gilman's Heart of Briar, I couldn't wait for the sequel, Soul of Fire.  I preordered it on my Kindle, and was super excited to get the book a week earlier than expected from Amazon.  I dove right into the story, eager to see what happened to Jan and company.

I have to say, I was rather disappointed in Gilman's Soul of Fire. Having finished it, it reminded me of the way I felt after reading Philip Pullman's The Subtle Knife: at the end of The Golden Compass, Pullman could take the story literally anywhere.  Unfortunately the place he chose to go with it was so boring I was extremely disappointed.  While Gilman wasn't in the same boat as that (Heart of Briar wasn't nearly as open-ended as The Golden Compass), I still feel very unsatisfied with how the story played out.

I'm going to give a spoiler alert here.  I want to talk about this book in more detail.

A good part of the problem, in my opinion, with Soul of Fire was similar to my issue in Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Revelation.  There were a lot of characters introduced, many of whom were minor characters, making it hard to keep track of who was who, especially when supernatural creature names were thrown into the mix, often without a real explanation of what they looked like.  To make this even worse, many of these minor characters were killed off (like the cops who went missing), reminding me an awful lot of Darth Maul, Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves (which is not a book you want to be reminding me of).
With a whole mass of characters, it is hard to give the ones I actually cared about (mainly Jan and Martin) enough screen time.  On top of that, it took a while for Jan to actually start doing something (reminding me of Katniss' daze in Mockingjay, even though she wasn't actually dazed).  And then when she, Martin and Tyler go off against AJ's express orders, they end up hanging out with the missing Preternatural Queen for awhile while almost everyone else seemed to be doing more.  Now don't get me wrong, the Queen was interesting, but overall this part of the book seemed to slog on.

The book ended with a couple of big fights (which Jan was mostly not a part of because she doesn't really fight), then with the Queen agreeing to go back to her Court.  The book kept insisting that there needed to be a balance between the Preternaturals and the Earthlings, so the Queen pretty much just left with little fuss in order to restore the natural order of things.  After that, a shell-shocked Jan is left trying to move on with her life as best she can.  All in all, this wasn't a very satisfying ending.  Especially since Jan didn't end up with either Tyler or Martin.  Yes, I was biased; this novel was published by the Harlequin Luna Books imprint, so I was expecting something a bit more than "well, Tyler left.  The end."  (And yes, I realize ending up with a kelpie might not be great news for Jan, but Martin did seem to be a love interest of sorts.  And one who was interesting and really seemed to like her.  I won't lie, I was hoping they'd end up together).

So yes, I found Soul of Fire rather disappointing.  Which is too bad, because I like the world, many of the characters, and the creatures who inhabit Gilman's Portals duology.   

Monday, September 23, 2013

Heart of Briar

When I was at work, a lady brought back several fantasy novels. Laura Anne Gilman's Heart of Briar caught my eye, so I took it home and started reading.

Heart of Briar is the story of Jan. Her boyfriend, Tyler, goes missing and she sets out to find him. But the supernatural world finds her first. AJ, a lupin, and Martin, a kelpie, save her from a gnome's attack. It is they who inform her that Tyler was taking by elves, preternatural (not from our world) beings who periodically steal humans. The gnome was sent to kill her because Jan, Tyler's lover (or leman, as they say), is the only one who can possibly save him.

To make matters worse, the preternaturals are coming much more often now; they've found some way to open their portals wherever and whenever they want. AJ and the other supernatural need Jan's help to discover how they're doing so (and hopefully find a way to stop them).

With Martin's help (despite the fact that he is a kelpie), Jan attempts to trap the prefers in their own game (they're using internet dating sites to snare their prey). But time is running out for Tyler.

Heart of Briar is unfortunately the first book in a series. And the second book isn't out yet. But I really did enjoy reading it, and can't wait till the use one one comes out on Kindle (I pre-ordered it).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Erfworld Book 1: The Battle for Gobwin Knob

A friend of mine lent me Erfworld, Book 1: The Battle for Gobwin Knob.  I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.

Erfworld is the story of Parson Gotti (aka Lord Hamster), a game master from our world who is summoned to Erfworld.  There he is designated the Chief Warlord of Stanley the Tool.  Parson has to defend the Tool's last remaining city against an army that outnumbers them by 10 (or more accurately 25) to 1. 

Erfworld is an interesting place, full of gwiffons and dwagons and the like.  The world itself is like a giant strategy game, where everyone has a stat associated with them (which the warlords and royalty can see).  Parson needs to learn the system's rules quickly in order to exploit every thing he can to keep his side alive.

Erfworld: the Battle for Gobwin Knob is a quirky read, poking fun at gaming.  I don't have a whole lot to say about it, but I did enjoy reading it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Dark Crystal Creation Myths Volume 2

A couple of days ago I read The Dark Crystal Creation Myths, Volume 2, which I recently got through inter library loans (illo).  Creation Myths, Vol 1 kind of ended on a (mild) cliffhanger, stating that Raunip was going to cause some trouble.  I was eager to see exactly what sort of trouble he would cause.  Luckily Creation Myths, Vol 2 picks up pretty much where Vol 1 ends off.   

Vol 2 still has the same framing narrative as Vol 1: a mysterious hooded figure is continuing to share stories.  But this time the figure tells you that he or she is dying.  S/he implores you to listen because s/he still has much to impart that should not be lost.

Where Vol 1 told a number of shorter tales, Vol 2 is telling only two: the framing narrative and the story of how the crystal cracked.  What's more, Gyr from Chapter 4 of Vol 1 returns (his tale seemed out of place in the rest of Vol 1).  After finding the song of the lone Urskek, Gyr has lost the will to make music.  But Raunip and Kel, the daughter of one of the great gelfling clan mothers, have come to his village to seek him out. They are journeying to the Castle of the Crystal to witness the next Great Conjunction and require a song-teller to witness the historic moment.  Although Gyr wishes no part of their adventure, Kel convinces him to journey with them, if only to the next village, at which point he can decide whether or not to continue on.  On their journey, the two gelflings fall for one another, which is why Gyr inevitably stays.

Joined by the son of one of the Pod People's clan mothers, the group makes their way to the Castle in time to witness the Great Conjunction.  There they find Aughra, who has been working on a way to get the Urskeks home.  It is before the Great Conjunction that one of the Urskeks seeks Gyr out and implores the song-teller to play the Urskek song he heard on his journey.  Though reluctant, Gyr does.  Unfortunately the song corrupts the Urskek, which has a disastrous consequence during the Great Conjunction.

I really enjoyed reading Creation Myths, Volume 2.  It was quite different from Vol 1, but that was okay.  This was an excellent story which I recommend to all fans of The Dark Crystal.  Unfortunately Volume 3, which should be the conclusion of the story, is due out sometime next year.  That's a longer wait than I would like, but based off the first two volumes, I am sure the wait will be worth it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Legends of the Dark Crystal: the Garthim Wars

So I'm continuing my Dark Crystal reading with Legends of the Dark Crystal: the Garthim Wars, the only graphic novel the library actually had.  This one is a manga-style book; I generally don't like reading the traditional ones (I've gotten confused while reading a few that didn't lay their panels out in a logical way), but this one is more like a traditional North American book so it was okay.

The Garthim Wars tells the story of Lahr and Neffi.  Both Gelflings are the sole survivors from a Garthim attack on their respective villages; after finding each other, they go to warn the next village.  Lahr is the only Gelfling who has managed to kill a Garthim, making him a hero among the other Gelflings (who all believed they couldn't be killed).  The Gelflings are a peaceful race, but both Lahr and Neffi urge the village to change their ways: the Gelflings need to stand and fight, or else they'll be hunted into extinction.

I enjoyed reading The Garthim Wars, but I have to admit that it wasn't at all what I was expecting.  I didn't actually read the synopsis, so I was expecting a story centered more around the creation of the Garthim.  I didn't get that, but I got a pretty decent look at Gelfling life along with a good story.  Lahr and Neffi's story continues in Legends of the Dark Crystal: Trial by Fire.  I'm interested to see where it goes!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Dark Crystal Creation Myths Volume 1

A friend of mine told me about The Dark Crystal Author Quest, a contest the Jim Henson Company is putting on to look for an author to write a new book set in the world of The Dark Crystal.  I have always loved the movie, but I've had trouble thinking of the world as anything other than that movie.  So I went to the library looking for The Dark Crystal graphic novels; they only had one, but have ordered the other three I wanted to read through their inter library loan (illo) service.  The first one, The Dark Crystal Creation Myths, Volume 1, came in for me almost immediately.  I had to put off reading it until after I got back from San Francisco.

The Dark Crystal Creation Myths, Volume 1 is made up of several different tales, all within a framing narrative.  The framing narrative starts out in Chapter 1: A Tale Well Told, which shows a mysterious hooded figure who has a companion that is the same species as Fizzgig.  The figure has agreed to share stories as payment.  And so once darkness falls, he or she begins.

Chapter 2: The Birth of Aughra, is the story of the beginning of the world, known as Thra.  Aughra was born to give voice to the voiceless and sight to the sightless, providing a link between the world itself and all the creatures that inhabit it.  She watched over the world and its inhabitants, most especially the gentle Gelflings.

Chapter 3: Strange and Distant Stars tells of a later time, when Aughra has turned her attention to the stars.  This is the story of the first great conjunction and the coming of the Urskeks.  This was also where Raunip, Aughra's son, was first introduced. 

Chapter 4: A Song of Tides, was an interesting sort of interlude from the main story, which involves Aughra and her son, Raunip.  A Song of Tides is the story of Gyr, a traveller who collected songs.  He dreamed of an older song that had become lost and forgotten, and so sets out on the sea to find it.

Chapter 5: The Secret Behind the Stars, has Raunip, who has always been distrustful of the Urskeks, try to incite the Gelflings to rise up against them.  He has seen a darkness within the interlopers that others, including his mother, have been blind to.  He also learns that the Urskeks who have arrived on Thra are not ambassadors, but were banished from their home world. 

At the end of three of the chapters, there's a short story as well.  The three are "The Covenants of Thra," which is an excerpt from an epic poem by Fellen the Elder, "How the Gelfling Maid Got Her Wings," which tells one version of how Gelfling women first got their wings, and "Jarra-Jen and the Horn of Thunder," which tells how Jarra-Jen freed the Gelfling slaves from Creghel's tyranny.  All of these were fun little excerpts.

The final story in the book is the special 8 page Dark Crystal story written for free comic book day.  It pretty much gives an overview of the main story within Creation Myths, Vol 1, while also hinting at what is yet to come.  I liked that it was included at the end of the book; I don't think I would have wanted to read it before the book came out.

All in all I really enjoyed The Dark Crystal Creation Myths, Volume 1.  The art is beautiful, as befitting something set in the world of Thra.  But what's more, Creation Myths really got me thinking of Thra as more of a living land.  There's much more potential for stories there than I was previously able to imagine.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon

"Okay.  This looks bad."  Those are the words that started off every story in Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon.  I got this book out from the library a long time ago.  I renewed it several times.  Brought it back, then took it back out again.  I finally got around to reading it today, almost two months later. And I really wish I had gotten to it sooner - it was a lot of fun!

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon collects Hawkeye #1-5 (and Young Avengers #6, where Kate Bishop first meets Clint Barton).  Clint and Kate get into all sorts of trouble, from dealing with a gang of thieves stealing from villains, to trying to get a tape with some incredibly incriminating evidence for Clint, the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. back after a mole within S.H.I.E.L.D. releases it. 

I have to say, I was a super big fan of both Clint and Kate.  In a way they're both what I like about Batman: neither one of them have superpowers.  They're everyday people (ok, maybe really well trained everyday people) taking out the bad guys.  But besides the trick arrows Hawkeye has up his (or her) sleeve, they have to rely on their training, their wits, and a healthy dose of luck to see them through.  I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for more Hawkeye books, particularly any more from Matt Fraction.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

After finishing Matt Forbeck's Brave New World trilogy, I was heading out to camp and thought that Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane was the perfect book to take with me.  It isn't particularly long (181 pages), and I've heard really good things about it.  And there hasn't been a new Neil Gaiman book in quite sometime, so I was pretty excited to sit down and read it.

"This book is childhood."  That's how Emily May starts her review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  And that description is particularly apt.  This book, written for adults by an adult, is childhood.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane starts off in a relatively mundane way.  The narrator (I believe his name is George, but it only comes up near the end) is back in his home village to attend a funeral.  He has a couple of hours to kill, so he wanders back to his old neighbourhood and finds himself at the house of his old friend, Lettie Hempstock.  Sitting down by the pond which Lettie had convinced him years earlier was an ocean, he finds himself flooded in memories from the summer when he was seven years old.

The summer in question is definitely not mundane.  A man living in the narrator's house committed suicide, which woke up a being who should have stayed asleep.  Lettie takes the narrator to help her put the being back to sleep, but everything goes wrong.  The narrator's home life becomes a nightmare as that being follows him home.  The narrator knows that only Lettie and her family can save him and his family, but he has to get to her first. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is well written, in an almost whimsical manner, at odds with the darkness of the tale; coupled together, this book has a rather dream-like quality that suits it.  This is the story of the worst that can happen in childhood: the monsters are real and they really are after you. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Resolution

I started reading Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Resolution a few days ago, but wasn't able to finish it until just now. 

In order to talk about Resolution, I'm going to be giving some spoilers.  So if you haven't read the book, or the previous one, you might want to stop reading this now.

I have to admit, the beginning of the book wasn't really working for felt a little too removed from what had gone on before.  And I guess it was rather removed from the events of Revelation; Resolution opens with everyone safely on Isla Delta, having to explain how they got there. And then the action starts.  Delta Prime invades the island, and everyone except for Patriot (and Terri, the delta who is flying him around) get captured. 

I'm not going to lie, but it was at the end of all this (about halfway through the book) that I stopped reading.  Yes, I was busy.  But the way things played out, I wasn't really in a hurry to get back to the book.  But when I finally did start reading again (earlier today), I was once again blown away by how great of a storyteller Forbeck is. 

So anyway, everyone is captured, and Patriot needs to rescue them in a hurry, because Delta Prime is forcing Street and another gadgeteer named the Supplier to build a bigger bomb than the one that removed Chicago from the Earth.  But the two of them have found a way to send someone to Chicago.  And so Lisa goes, taking with her the plans to build a similar device there to bring everyone back home.

Of course, nothing goes smoothly.  As a diversion, Patriot and another delta manage to reveal the identity of the President.  And unfortunately he isn't who they thought he was...

The end of Resolution was fantastic.  There's no two ways about it.  It's a fast-paced ending with a lot of unexpected things happening.  This was a fitting end for the trilogy, and I'm really glad Forbeck was able to write this series, thanks to the funding he got on Kickstarter.  I'm looking forward to reading more of his books!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Revelation

So I finished Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Revelation last night.  I was really tired, but so near the end that I wanted to finish it before I slept.  And the ending was definitely worth the loss of sleep!

Revelation takes place a few weeks after the events of Revolution.  Patriot, Lisa and company are sent to Colorado to answer a family's distress call; it seems they were attacked by a super-powered man.  A man who may have just fallen out of the sky after the detonation near the end of the first book.  Their world is rocked when they discover the identity of the man: it's Superior, the world's greatest alpha-powered delta.  Superior disappeared along with Chicago 23 years ago.

Of course, they're not the only ones after Superior and the family of deltas he attacked.  Delta Prime is hot on their heels, bringing down their jet-van into a Catholic Church.  Patriot needs to find a way to get all of them out alive, which becomes less likely by the minute as they're surrounded by Delta Prime.

I have to say, for most of this book, I thought it was okay.  It wasn't as good as Revelation (which may in part have been because there were a lot of new characters who took center stage along with Lisa and Patriot).  But then the end happened.  I'm talking about the very end of the book, after the climax.  I wasn't at all prepared for it, even though in some ways I felt like I should have seen it coming.  After being blown away by that, I really can't wait to see how all of this ends in the final book!

Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Revolution

When I first heard about Matt Forbeck's 12 for 12 Kickstarter drive, I thought it was a great idea. If successfully funded, Forbeck gets to write twelve novels during the year, and everyone who supported him gets some hopefully awesome books. No, I had never read any of his books before, but I loved the idea and really wanted him to succeed.

It's now been over a year since the first 12 for 12 drive ended and I received my copies of the first trilogy, set in a roleplaying setting Forbeck created years ago (Matt Forbeck's Brave New World). As I was flying home from California yesterday, I thought it was definitely time to actually read them! And so I read the first book, Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Revolution, as I was flying home.

Revolution takes place in Crescent City, the city that grew on the edge of the crater where Chicago once stood. Super powered people, called Deltas, are required by law to register and join the American government/army (the Delta division, called Delta Prime). And while many do, there are just as many people who don't want to; they value their freedom and so run from the law. Many of them find their way into the rebellion called the Defiance.

Lisa believes she is an ordinary girl. But suddenly her life is turned upside down when both Delta Prime and the Defiance, led by Patriot, an ex-Delta Prime member, come looking for her. Patriot is captured while saving Lisa from Delta Prime. And so she finds herself teaming up with other members of Defiance to rescue a man she doesn't know, all the while trying to figure out why everyone wants her so badly.

I have to say that I really liked Revolution. So much so that I'm almost finished the second book, Revelation. I like the setting and I really like both Lisa and the Patriot (along with all the others!)  I do apologize for the future posts on this trilogy though: there will be spoilers!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Beauty and the Werewolf

I knew when I started reading Mercedes Lackey's Beauty and the Werewolf that there was a very good chance I wouldn't really like it.  A friend of mine at work read it and told me the main character is pretty annoying.  When I first started reading, I thought Isabella (or Bella for short) wouldn't be too bad. I mean, she was taking care of her stepsisters and seemed to have a good relationship with them (which is very much at odds with a fairy tale type story, especially one set in the land where the Tradition pushes your life into a tale for good or ill).  But then Bella gets bitten by a werewolf and the king sends her to live in seclusion with said werewolf for three months in case she was infected.  And that's when she starts getting really whiny and annoying!  Whenever she distracts herself in some fashion, she wasn't too bad.  But whenever she stopped to think, she'd just start feeling sorry for herself.  It was really annoying to read that sort of thing over and over again for the first half of the book.

Another issue I had was with the villain.  It was super obvious who it was pretty much from the beginning.  I kept hoping that I was wrong, that something would happen and the villain would turn out to be someone else.  But no such luck. 

I feel like I should give a bit more of the plot here, but there really isn't much to say.  The beginning is a bit Red Riding Hood, where Bella goes to visit a wise woman in the woods (conveniently named Granny), who trains her in herb lore and the like.  The werewolf attacks her on the way home.  Then, as I already mentioned, she is sent (or "kidnapped" as she keeps calling it) to the home of Duke Sebastian, the werewolf who bit her.  The house is full of invisible servants who can only speak by writing things on chalkboards.  The only other human in the house is Eric, Sebastian's half-brother (unacknowledged by their father) who works as the Gamekeeper and keeps everyone off the land so Sebastian won't accidentally kill someone should he break free.  Bella had a couple of run-ins with him before coming to the house.  So now Bella has to adjust to being away from her household and family, learning to live with Sebastian and Eric (again, for only three months if she doesn't become a werewolf herself).

I gave this book only 2 stars out of 5 on Goodreads.  I originally gave it a 3 because I like Lackey's writing style.  But this is not one of her better books.  The Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms overall has been kind of hit and miss, and in my opinion this was the worst of the misses.  The plot was too predictable in most regards (I think the biggest mystery for me revolved around the invisible servants, and that didn't really develop throughout the book) and I couldn't stand Bella through a good chunk of the book (as M- says in her review of the book on Goodreads: "the heroine is a spoiled manipulative child with flagrant Mary-Sue tendencies," which is unfortunately quite true).  Unless you're a super dedicated Lackey fan, you'll probably want to give this one a miss.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hart's Hope

I first heard about Hart's Hope when I started reading Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (which I haven't actually finished reading!)  I was looking for help with worldbuilding at the time, so I was just reading that chapter.  Card started talking about drawing the city of Inwit (which ended up inspiring me to start drawing maps again) and later making the magic system for the book (magic comes from blood and sacrifices).  The whole thing sounded really interesting, so I ordered Hart's Hope to give it a read.

I started reading it over the July 1st long weekend.  I first tried reading another book, The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan, which I unfortunately lost interest in rather quickly and decided not to continue with.  So I started reading Hart's Hope instead.

When I first began reading, Hart's Hope was really promising.  Already interested in the setting, the characters of Palicroval, his friends (Sleeve the wizard, Zymas, and the Flower Princess) and Asineth (Queen Beauty) were all really interesting.  I was enjoying it (although, I must add, I don't approve of what happens in the beginning to Asineth.  That was terrible!!!!)

But then the book sort of changed.  Rather than follow all the characters I was liking so far, it started following another one, Orem.  It went through Orem's childhood and birth, and followed him for the rest of the story.  And while Orem is a really important character in the story, he was very boring.  I was less than half way through the book when I first considered putting it down.  And that feeling stayed with me for a good long while as I struggled to keep reading.

In the end, I did persevere.  And I'm glad of that.  I decided to keep reading for three reasons.  The first was that I took a quick look on Goodreads and was intrigued by some of the ratings; a few people really, really liked it, and I wanted to know why.  The second reason was that somewhere around the middle, I started to notice that the book was written in second person.  But there was no indication of who the narrator was.  So of course now I was curious and wanted to find out, all the while trying to figure it out based off the way they talked about the different characters (btw, I was wrong about who it was).  And finally, I really felt like Hart's Hope was going to pull a Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time on me.

Let me explain that last one.  When I first tried playing Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time, it was the same night I tried out Ninja Gaiden Black.  And to me, Ninja Gaiden was a much better game in many, many ways.  Years later, when I finally went back to Prince of Persia, almost the entire time I was playing it I kept thinking "I could be playing Ninja Gaiden instead."  But then the ending of Prince of Persia happened and I was completely wowed by it.  So, based off of the reviews and the second person narrative, I was expecting to be wowed in a similar manner.

Hart's Hope didn't exactly wow me like Prince of Persia did.  But the ending did pick up quite a bit and I found that I enjoyed the book overall. This is a rather dark fantasy tale, a power struggle in a really neat world.  Unfortunately the middle of the book is quite a slog to get through so this book lost a lot of points with me there.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Kindle Book: The Great Gatsby

So when I heard The Great Gatsby was going to be a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, I decided I had to read the book before seeing it.  I didn't read it in high school, and having seen the trailer during Christmas, I thought I had plenty of time to read the book.  Of course, time ended up disappearing on me and here I am, finishing the book about a week after the movie's been out.

As soon as I started reading The Great Gatsby, I knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle; this book is not written for me.  But I persevered, and managed to finish it.  I could tell right from the beginning of the book that it was building to something, so that helped me persevere.

The Great Gatsby is the story of one summer in New York.  Nick Carraway moves next door to Jay Gatsby, an incredibly wealthy but mysterious man who throws outrageous parties.  As the summer unfolds, Nick slowly realizes just what it is that Gatsby is after.

I gave The Great Gatsby 2/5 stars on Goodreads because like I said, this book really wasn't for me.  I had a hard time wanting to read it (I only did because it was short and so I could go see the movie, which I'm hoping I'll like better).  It was an alright story but I much would have preferred reading something else.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Library Book: The Queen in Winter

After reading To Weave a Web of Magic, I immediately started reading The Queen in Winter.  It has stories from three of the four authors of the other book (replacing Patricia McKillip with Sarah Monette) so I was ready to be wowed.  Unfortunately that really wasn't the case.  Sure, I enjoyed these stories, but overall I thought that To Weave a Web of Magic was better.

This time Lynn Kurland's story "A Whisper of Spring" opens the volume.  This is the story of how Symon won the hand of Iolaire from her father, the Elf King.  Well, that happened after he helped her escape from Lothar's clutches.  I really liked that Iolaire wasn't passive; she managed to escape from her cell by herself.  I liked some of the characters (like Symon's father, who was hilarious) but overall this story was just okay, especially after Lothar was bested (which just sort of happened in a rather anti-climatic way).

Next up was Sharon Shinn's "When Winter Comes."  I was expecting to enjoy this one, having really liked all of the other stories I've read by Shinn thus far.  "When Winter Comes" takes place in her Twelve Houses world, which is somewhere I am completely unfamiliar with.  It is the story about two sisters trekking across the land.  One was kicked out of their house mecause she had a mystic baby.  The other sister chose to go with her.  So together they are looking for a safe place to raise the baby in a world which is deadly to mystics.  The premise was alright, but I found this story sort of plodded along until it came to an end.  The story was somewhat predictable and all around just ok.  Of the three Sharon Shinn stories I've read so far, this one was definitely my least favourite.

Claire Delacroix's "The Kiss of the Snow Queen" came next.  When I first started reading it, I really didn't like it.  I think it had a lot to do with the main character sort of waffling about what to do for a loooong time.  But once her decision was made, the story suddenly got a lot better.  "The Kiss of the Snow Queen" is sort of a retelling of "The Snow Queen."  Gerta is a seer, who is bethrothed to a horrible man.  Her and her father (the king) were forced out of their land by the Cath Palug, a nasty cat thing that killed her father's best warriors.  Gerta summons a sorceror named Cai to help.  she is also hoping that if he bests the Cath Palug, she will be given to him instead of to her bethrothed.  Unfortunately the Cath Palug bests him; she watches (through her mirror) as the cat drags him away.  Meanwhile a shadowy being enters Gerta's room and talks her into journeying to the Cath Palug to save Cai.  This being calls himself Loki; he is one of the Fallen Angels.  Loki himself is at odds with the rest of the story.  He speaks in a modern way, which ends up quite funny, particularly when he speaks to Gerta, who often calls him on his speech (ie "You speak nonsence again").  The two of them make quite the pair; overall it is their interactions that made this story pretty good.

The final story is Sarah Monette's "A Gift of Wings."  The beginning of this story was hard to get through; there are a lot of weird names of people and places (and no map to help keep it all straight!)  I found out after reading it that "A Gift of Wings" takes place in her world Meduse (where her Doctrine of Labyrinths books take place).  Once you get passed all that though, "A Gift of Wings" is a super good story.  It's about Maur, a wizard who was cripled in a war (both his hands and his magic), and Agido, a soldier who loves him. The story is about them learning to trust each other again in the wake of that war.  This is compounded by the fact that Maur was also hurt by the people who were supposed to be helping him heal, and so he is cold to Agido because he is trying to protect himself from being hurt like that again.  The story also has a murder mystery thrown in, which was interesting but a bit hard to follow (once again because of the names).  Agido is blamed for the murder, so she and Maur have only a few days to prove her innocence before the watch shows up. 

So overall, The Queen in Winter was an alright read.  I think it would be better if you are more familiar with some of the worlds the authors are writing about (particularly for Shinn's and Monette's stories). 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Library Book: To Weave a Web of Magic

I decided to read To Weave a Web of Magic because of Lynn Kurland.  One of her books caught my eye at work; unfortunately the book wasn't the first in the series. So I did a bit of research on her work and found that she had written a short story related to that book both in To Weave a Web of Magic and in The Queen in Winter.  I was originally planning on reading only Lynn Kurland's and Sharon Shinn's stories (Kurland's being "The Tale of the Two Swords," and Shinn's "Fallen Angel;" I've read a short story by Shinn before and really liked it).  In the end I decided to read all four stories.  And I'm glad I did; I liked them all!

The first story is Patricia A. McKillip's "The Gorgon in the Cupboard."  I've never read anything of McKillip's before, so I really didn't know what to expect.  "The Gorgon in the Cupboard" was a quirky story about a painter looking for his muse and finding her in Medusa, who starts talking to him out of one of his paintings.  Along with inspiring him and his painting, Medusa pushes him to see beyond his painting to the women who model for him and his friends as the people they really are. 

Next came Lynn Kurland's "The Tale of the Two Swords."  This story had a framing narrative; an eight year old boy wants an adventure, but agrees to having his father tell a story instead.  And so his father tells him and his two siblings the tale of how the king and queen of the land met.  The girl, Mehar, ran away from her father and an unwanted arranged marriage.  Gil (short for Gilraehen) is the crown prince of the land.  He saw his father killed and was himself wounded, having to flee the battle against his uncle.  The two meet at the king's hidden castle; Mehar was going there for help, Gil was hiding while his people regrouped.  The two start to fall in love, even though their love cannot be; Mehar is below Gil's station and Gil is betrothed.

The third story was Sharon Shinn's "Fallen Angel."  I've read one of her stories before and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to "Fallen Angel."  And it didn't disappoint.  This is the story of Eden, a Manadavvi woman who falls in love with a forbidden angel named Jesse.  As a Manadavvi woman, Eden is a society girl, waiting for her father to choose her husband for her.  And Jesse is a free-spirit and a troublemaker, exactly the kind of person she should not fall in love with because she knows they can never be together.  But Jesse shows her how shallow her life is, how boring, and makes her want to be free, like him. 

The final story was "An Elegy For Melusine" by Claire Delacroix.  Delacroix is another author I am unfamiliar with. Her story is about Melusine, a half-mortal Fey who strikes a bargain with a mortal man named Raymond.  She wants to be free of her mother's curse, and so needs a mortal man's love so she can live forever in the fey world.  Of course, Melusine did not bargain on love.  And it is that love that is her undoing.

All four stories in To Weave a Web of Magic were excellent.  I enjoyed reading everything, and now I'm really looking forward to The Queen in Winter, which features stories by three of these four authors.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer

I bought Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer in the bargain section of Chapters a few years ago.  I don't honestly remember when, but I'm sure the premise intrigued me.  But not enough to read it right away. And so it's sat in my closet until just recently, when I am trying to actually read some of these books that I bought on a whim.  Most of them I'll probably read once then send on their way for someone else to enjoy.  I fully expected to do that with Blackbringer.

And then I started reading it.

I think I read pretty much all of it last night.  I started it earlier in the day.  Then last night I was going to go play Terraria, but decided at the last minute to continue reading this instead.  And I was blown away by how good it is.

Blackbringer is the story of Magpie Windwitch and her clan of crows.  They travel the world hunting the demons who are being released by the stupid humans ("mannies") who find their prisons (One demon granted some mannies three wishes, so now everyone is clamouring to get some wishes of their own; unfortunately most of the demons aren't as benevolent as that one happened to be).  Then Magpie finds a boat where a prison has been opened but there is no other evidence of the demon, not even the dead mannies who are usually left in a demon's wake; all that is left are their shoes.  And so Magpie must track the most deadly demon of all right into the faerie home of Dreamdark.

Blackbringer was written for a younger audience, so it's an easy read.  Easy, but so very good. It's got faeries fighting demons, magic, adventure, everything!  I actually fell in love with the book (i gave it a 5 on Goodreads and even marked it as a favourite) and bought the second one in the series from Amazon as soon as I finished reading.  I can't wait to read more from Dreamdark!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Library Book: Fallen Angel Volume 1

I stumbled on the Fallen Angel series when I was researching Supergirl a few months ago. Fallen Angel was written by Peter David, the same guy who wrote the Supergirl series featuring Linda Danvers as Supergirl, a series I really enjoyed. I was excited to find Volume 1 at the library, giving me a chance to check the series out.

I don't really want to say much about it though. Volume 1 is very much an introduction, leaving more questions than answers. The story focuses on Lee, aka the Fallen Angel. She has weird mind powers and is both ridiculously strong and resilient. She has moved into the corrupt city of Bete Noire as a force of justice and someone the desperate can turn to. Unfortunately her presence is also disrupting the city's balance of power.

I enjoyed reading rt his volume, but like I said I now have more questions than answers. The library doesn't have the second volume, so I'll have to look into getting it myself sometime.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Library Books: Star Wars Adventures

While at work the other day, I found two Star Wars Adventures graphic novels (Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya and Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands).  They are both really quick reads (I read them both in like 20 minutes).  Both stories take place before the Rebellion, with Slavers from long before the movies (all of them) and Hollow Moon a few years before A New Hope.

Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya was the one I chose to read first (I thought it took place before Slavers, but in reality it doesn't).  Han and Chewie get busted for cheating in a casino.  The owner (Sollima/Solly) demands that Han retrieve a droid stolen from him by the Imperials.  Unfortunately he won't let Han take Chewie, wanting to keep the wookie as collateral so Han has to follow through. As soon as Han leaves, Solly tosses Chewie into an arena, believing the wookie will be dead in a day (or less); Solly has greatly underestimated Chewbacca though.  The Han story was alright, but the Chewbacca stuff really made this story awesome!

Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands was told as a flashback.  The beginning of the story has Han, Chewie and Leia escaping from somewhere.  Once the danger is over, Chewbacca starts telling this story from his past. 

When Chewie was the wookie equivalent of a teenager, he was determined to prove he was an adult.  So he took some of his friends into the Shadowlands, a place forbidden to them.  But while there they encounter slavers.  Rather than go and tell the adults, Chewie is determined to stay and fight; that decision has tragic consequences.

Overall I really enjoyed reading these.  They were short and fun (the first one especially!); I really recommend them for fans of the Star Wars universe.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sonic the Hedgehog Legacy Collection, Volume 2

When I wrote about Sonic the Hedgehog Legacy Collection, Volume 1, I said that I was excited to get reading Volume 2 because it was full of many of the stories I remembered from when I was younger.  And of all the stories in this volume, it was #25 that I was most waiting for.  Sonic #25 was the Sega CD tie-in, the episode where Sonic races against Metal Sonic.  I remember the comic being good back then, but I honestly wasn't expecting it to hold up so many years later.  I couldn't have been more wrong; #25 was easily the best of the entire collection, combining the fun of Sonic with a really good story.

But how did the rest of the volume hold up?  I have some mixed feelings on this.  The individual Sonic stories were generally pretty good (which is why I rated this 4/5 stars on Goodreads).  But this was the era of side stories, where people like Sally had a miniseries which was only briefly touched on in the comics collected here.  Unfortunately the comics keep referring to these miniseries, but they weren't included in this collection.  So I may have read them years ago, but honestly don't really remember them, which really took away from this collection (it also makes me nervous for Legacy Series Volume 3: are they going to include Mecha Madness?  If not that will be extremely disappointing!  Mecha Madness was part of the main storyline; leaving it out will mean that story arc won't make sense in the collection!  And that being my favourite story arc of the comics, I would be incredibly sad if it isn't included.)

Anyway, I apologize, this has been mostly me ranting.  I enjoyed this graphic novel, but most of my enjoyment may have come from nostalgia.  I don't really recommend it though because of the missing comics that are referred to (specifically the Sally and Tails miniseries).  And I am hoping Volume 3 won't let me down in regards to Mecha Madness.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reading Reader's Digest

So over the last while I've been reading some Reader's Digests.  I've had a subscription for about a year and a half now, which has been piling up.  I managed to get through four of them (December 2012, February 2013, March 2013 and April 2013) and am now half way through the June 2012 issue.  Unfortunately, I still have quite a few to read through and I am losing interest in them.  So I'll probably be taking a break after I finish the June 2012 one to go read something else.

I find that a lot of the articles seem to go on a bit too long; a lot of times I might be interested in something but not to the depth the articles go into.  That being said, I've read about some pretty interesting things.  For example, I hadn't even heard of the Northern Gateway project ("The $273 Billion Question" from February 2013), which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.  Or that Canada was working on robots to care for people ("Love Machine" from March 2013).  I didn't think the December 2012 issue was anything special, but it did have a really moving story reprinted from 1985 (I found it here as well) and a story that made me chuckle.  All in all there have ben some good stories and I'm looking forward to reading more.  Just not right away.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sonic the Hedgehog Legacy Collection, Volume 1

For Christmas, my brother didn't just get me Nowadays.  He also got me Sonic the Hedgehog Legacy Collection, Volume 2. When we were younger, my brother used to collect the Sonic comics.  I'd read everything he got because I liked them, too.  I just never bought any because they were his collection.  Volume 2 is made up of most of the comics that my brother had, so I know it'll be full of stories I liked.  But rather than jump right into volume 2, I decided to read Volume 1 first.  So I ordered it from Amazon and finally read all 500 pages over the last day or so. 

Sure, I knew some of the stories, mostly ones that were reprinted in special editions (like Sonic Firsts, which told the story of Bunnie Rabbot's partial roboticization), but overall Sonic the Hedgehog Legacy Collection Volume 1 was a brand new read for me.  It's full of a lot of slap-stick humour (there was actually one story where they paused and said every tree-related pun they could think of before continuing the story!) which was silly but still pretty fun.  Most of these early stories have very little continuity (but what is there is usually pointed out by the editor) and seemed to be almost experimental at times (I'm looking at you, Verti Cal and Horizont Al).  And Snively sort of pulled a Dulcy from season 2 of Sonic SatAM (he just sort of appeared in issue 6 briefly and wasn't seen again for a few issues; at that time he made regular appearances and sort of replaced crabmeat as Robotnik's advisor, but was never explained as to why he was there.  Sure, having watched Sonic SatAM and read further into the comics, I knew why he was there.  But an explanation would have been nice).  That being said, there were some great extras that I'm glad I saw, too.  Like Robotnik's rules and Sonic's chili dog recipe.

So now that I've read Volume 1, I can't wait to get reading Volume 2, which I know has some of the stories I really liked when I was younger!!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Library Book: Redshirts

A friend of mine recommended that I read Redshirts by John Scalzi some time ago.  Needless to say, I finally read it today.  I'm trying to pair down the library books that I have so I can get back to reading books that I own; now that I finished reading Redshirts, I only have two more library books out.  I'm not altogether sure I'm going to read them right now though; I might send them back and get them out another time.

Anyway, Redshirts is a book making fun of the early Star Trek. There are five people on board the Universal Union flagship Intrepid who can go into uncertain danger and escape (mostly) unscathed: Captain Abernathy, Commander Q'eeng, Chief Engineer West, Medical Cheif Hartnell and Lieutenant Kerensky.  Everyone else is expendable, particular when they are assigned to an away team with one or more of the five officers.  The Intrepid goes through a ridiculous amount of crew as the ensigns die, one after another in a myriad of spectacular ways.  And then some of the ensigns, led by Andrew Dahl, notice the pattern.  And they're not content to wait around until it's their turn to die.

Red Shirts was a pretty fun read.  It was super predictable, particularly through the main narrative (not so much the three codas at the end of the book), but that didn't really take away from its charm.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Library Book: Kill Shakespeare Volume 2: The Blast of War

So yes, I did immediately read Kill Shakespeare Volume 2 after finishing Volume 1. Volume 2 picks up literally right where Volume 1 left off. War is immanent between the forces of Richard the Third and Lady MacBeth, versus the rebellion led by Juliet and Othello. And between the two forces stands the Shadow King, Hamlet, who must make sense of the prophecy before his friends are killed in the coming war.

I really, really enjoyed both volumes of Kill Shakespeare. This is an interesting story, pitting heroes and villains from all of Shakespeare's plays against one another.

Library Book: Kill Shakespeare Volume 1: A Sea of Troubles

I've never heard of Kill Shakespeare before, but when I saw it at work, I knew I had to read it. This is a crazy mish-mash of Shakespearean characters. William Shakespeare is believed to be either a great wizard or a god; either way he is believed to wield great power with his magic quill. And Hamlet finds himself in the middle of a prophecy: he is believed to be the Shadow King, the one who will either return the Bard to his people, or kill the great wizard.

I really enjoyed this first volume. I can't wait to read the second!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Old Man and the Sea

My brother has been wanting me to read Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea for a few months now; I finally sat and read it today.  It's a short read (only about 120 pages) and surprisingly compelling considering it is about an old man and the sea.  The old man of the title goes off fishing by himself.  He has just gone 84 days without catching any fish and so feels lucky, heading out further than everyone else to find the fish.  His luck is with him, and he catches a huge fish on one of his lines.  Unfortunately he has to find a way to actually bring the fish in and kill it.  This is the story of his struggle with the fish, which goes on for days.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Library Book: Warm Bodies

I've been waiting to read Warm Bodies for a few months now. Unfortunately the library only has one copy though, meaning I've had to wait. But I got it yesterday and started reading it today. It's a pretty quick read; I think it took me maybe six hours total, which was a lot quicker than I was expecting. It's well written though, making me want to just keep reading.

Warm Bodies is the story of R, a zombie. R eats the brain of a young man and inherits his memories, most especially his love for a girl named Julie. And so R strives to protect her, starting one of the strangest love stories I've ever read.

I don't want to give spoilers here so I'm not going to say much. But it's a pretty fun story. I really liked R, especially how he was eloquent in his thoughts, but just couldn't express himself out loud. The tale reminded me of Romeo and Juliet in many ways, which I thought was pretty good. The only thing I didn't like was the ending, which left me feeling unsatisfied.

That being said, Warm Bodies is still an excellent book. I can't wait to see the movie!

Friday, February 1, 2013


For Christmas, my brother and his wife got me Nowadays, a graphic novel about zombies that was made locally.  Flipping through the book is pretty neat because it even deals with local places (they're heading to Thunder Bay, people talk about Silver Islet, things like that).

I was a little leery of reading this so soon after my Walking Dead extravaganza, but luckily there was no need to worry.  Nowadays features zombies but they are very different from those in The Walking Dead.  For one thing it's blood the zombies crave.  For another, the more they have, the more human the zombies become (reminiscent of Gwen, but she needed brains).  Zombies who are full of blood are generally indistinguishable from humans (but they are faster and stronger than us).  This made for a nice contrast between those people who may be desperate at times to heal but who are good and those people who are jerks looking out only for themselves; it's the latter who wanted blood just to be stronger and more powerful.

Nowadays opens with Brendan.  He dies from an infection in his foot and wakes up craving blood.  After eating his dog (who subsequently becomes a zombie dog), he heads off to the graveyard, hoping against hope that his wife and child, who passed away years before, may have somehow returned from the grave.  Finding them 'alive,' he feeds them blood (with the help of his dog's hunting) and they slowly begin to heal.

Brendan's story is intersected with a group of survivors.  They were heading out to plant trees but were attacked by a zombie.  One of their number is bitten and turns while they're trying to rush her to the hospital. They are left trying to decide what to do with her; she died but she's clearly not dead.  Decision made, they then need to figure out how to survive in this new world.

I have to admit, I had a hard time getting into the story.  Most of the problem in the early pages was due to editing errors (there were a couple of words that I really had to puzzle out because they were misspelled), but it also took awhile for the story to focus.  I mean, it started out with Brendan, so I thought he was the main character.  But then it took off from Brendan and stayed away from him for quite awhile.  Once the story came back to him, he clearly wasn't the focus either.  So things were a bit confusing until closer to the end.  But if you do give Nowadays a try, definitely stay with it.  I did, and I really ended up enjoying it.  It took some twists and turns that were fun, had some great characters, and I'd definitely be interested in more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Library Book: iZombie: Repossession

I was super excited: the final iZombie title came in while I was at work today!  I read it as soon as I got home!

iZombie: Repossession is the fourth and final iZombie graphic novel.  This is the crazy conclusion to everything that's been happening.  At the end of volume 3 there was a zombie outbreak.  That has been largely dealt with but now there is a bigger problem: a monster from beyond time and space is coming to eat the world.  Amon has stood before this monster in the past and delayed the apocalypse before.  But to do so again he needs Gwen's help.  This is the reason Amon made Gwen like him, not a zombie but a revenant, a zombie who retains her personality.  But can Gwen do what he asks of her now, killing everyone in town to save the world?

Like the last volume, iZombie: Repossession was strange at times, but overall this was a satisfactory ending to the entire series.  I'm glad I picked up the first volume a month ago and I kind of wish there were more.

Fable: Edge of the World

Disclaimer one: before I say anything else, the ending of this book made me mad. It was the same anger I felt when I read Firelight; I had no idea this book would end on a "To be continued" kind of note (but I had my suspicions when there were only twenty or so pages left and no ending in sight). To make things worse, I have no idea if book 2 will continue the story (or even who book 2 will be written by) or if I'm just supposed to play Fable: the Journey to see what happens (which I can't because I don't have a kinect). So the ending made me angry, which is a shame because I was really enjoying the book.

Disclaimer number two: reading Fable: Edge of the World was a bit difficult becgause when I play the Fable games I'm usually a woman. So it took a bit to get used to everyone referring to the king and his father, rather than the queen and her mother.

Ok, with that over with, I'm going to talk about the story with some big spoilers. You have been warned.

Fable: Edge of the World is a story within a story. There's a framing narrative about some dwellers, one of whom is fascinated by the Heroes. He gets into trouble for telling the children tales of Heroes because none of them will ever be Heroes. This is the whole 'prequel to Gable: the Journey" part of the book, which I didn't care about and found largely boring.

The main story involves the king of Albion, the Hero you played in Fable 3, keeping in mind that this is just a version of Fable 3 they chose to write about. When you or I play the game, our Hero could be very, very different from this one. I really wish they put in the disclaimer about that that was in Fable: the Balverine Order. Anyway, the king is marrying his true love Laylah, a girl from Aurora, when he receives some troubling news: the darkness from Fable 3 has returned, plaguing the land of Samarkand. Gathering an army, the king goes to stop this threat, leaving the kingdom in the hands of his new bride. He takes with him a few notable Fable 2 characters like Ben Finn and the priestess Kalin, leaving Page to help his queen. The king's journey is a hard one, being plagued by hollow men, balverines, sand furies and worse at every turn. But he fights his way to Samarkand's capital, gaining new allies along the way, chief among them are the sand dragon Percy, who is in reality some magic thing that serves Heroes, and Garth, the Hero of Will from Fable 2. The king uses his allies and army as a distraction, hoping to secretly enter the city and capture the Empress. But things do not go as planned; the king finds himself captured.

Meanwhile, back in Albion, Laylah finds herself clashing with her husband's head of security, Jack Timmins. She finds solace in the friendship of Page until Reaver appears and weasels his way into her inner circle. He tricks Laylah into believing both Page and Timmins have betrayed her. Once the two have fled Bowerstone to escape imprisonment (and in Timmins' case execution), Reaver in actuality betrays her. Forcing her to betray both her people and the location of her husband's Sanctuary, she desperately sends word to Page through her husband's dog of what has happened and how she is sorry for doubting the former rebel.

The last time I read a book that split the action with political intrigue was Jon Sprunk's Shadow's Lure; I didn't like the political stuff there and was worried I wouldn't like it here as a result. Luckily that wasn't the case; Christie Golden wrote both plots so well that I constantly wanted to know what was happening in both of them. There were even some points where I was more interested in Laylah's tale than the king's! I love reading books by Christie Golden and Fable: Edge of the World was no exception. I just hope this story will be continued by her and soon!