January 1st, 2009

closed book

The Sleeping God by Violette Malan

I found this book in a used bookstore when I was craving fantasy and decided to give it a try.

Dhulyn and Parno are Mercenary Partners. The bond between them can never be broken. But when a routine guard assignment leads to treachery, betrayal, and the unveiling of secrets that have been hidden for years, that bond will be strained to its limit. Can the magically gifted forme slave and the former nobleman hold together against all comers?

This book is so good, and so unique. It made the mercs-for-hire plotline seem new and fresh again. Questions of loyalty, of belonging, and the power of the past are central. Four and a half stars.
book magic

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Heyer was recommended to me by aeryndex and belgatherial in their generous response to my request for titles that might cheer me up. They were spot-on.

The gently bred Kitty Charing is the ward of a pennypinching, hypochondriac man, no actual relation to her, who is also a big meanie. He has devised a scheme to keep everyone in the family under his thumb. He wants Kitty to marry one of his great-nephews. If she does this, he will leave her all his fortune. If she refuses them all or marries someone else she will be cut off! Without a cent! Penniless!
She cannot bear to face either fate, so she devises a cunning plan. She will pretend to be engaged to Freddy, the one nephew who is secure in his own fortune and completely uninterested in hers. This will gain her a London Season. And in a London Season, anything can happen!

This book is what fans of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope should read while they are on vacation. It is set in the Victorian Regency era, but was written in the 1950s. It is shorter and easier to follow than most books actually written in that time period, but it has a very authentic feel. It is sweet and clever and not annoying. Once I got into it it was very hard to put down. Heyer, where have you been all my life? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Five stars. Fans of period pieces will find it very entertaining.
two of hearts

what was your favorite book read in 2008?

hello everyone! happy new years, hopefully it's starting off great for you all. this is my first post and i just love this community.  i would like to reflect on 2008 one more time and i was wondering, what was your favorite book that you read in 2008?

this was mine:

the gargoyle by andrew davidson

words can't explain how much i love this book. i will say that i was tempted to buy another copy of it, just in case i lost the one i have now, but i am careful with my books so that wasn't necessary. i highly recommend it to anyone who likes an intense love story and isn't too squeamish because it has very graphic details about a burned victim and the process he has to undergo. i can't write decent summaries without giving much away, so here is the amazon review. this book is amazing in every way. there is so much beautiful imagery conveyed, the writing is deep and engaging, and it's just full of surprises. it gripped me from the beginning and left me wanting more after it's ending. i should also mention that this is andrew davidson's first novel and what a debut one it is. it's absolutely breath taking. i will definitely read it again this year. has anyone read it and if you have, did you like it?

and also, what's your reading goal for this year? i'm keeping mine reasonable and going for 50 books, but i most likely will surpass it.


Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

I've fallen a bit behind on my reviews. Under the cut is Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher. There are some spoilers for the end of Dead Beat. Next I will review The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong, which I finished JUST before midnight, so I'm still considering it a 2008 read.

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Rating: Four and half out of five stars
Similar Books: The Women of the Underworld Series by Kelley Armstrong.
Other books I've read by this author: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight (my review), Death Masks (my review), Blood Rites (my review), Dead Beat (my review)

xposted to bookish  and temporaryworlds 


Top 15 books of 2008

I do have a list of the total of books I read in 2008 at my personal booklog (read here!) but I thought that I’d post something a little different here. Under the cut are the top 15 books I read this year with mini reviews about why I recommend them. The only rule was they could not be re-reads. They are listed in the order in which they were read.

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xposted to bookish  and temporaryworlds 
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Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

In an effort to record every book I read this year, I think I'm going to review...  Every single one.  So here's the first book, partially read in 2008, completed in 2009.

Since the dawn of time, the Faerie have taken. . . .  For seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow, faeries are just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery, whose steel-gray eyes mask an equally steely determination to protect her. Sonny guards the Samhain Gate, which connects the mortal realm with the Faerie's enchanted, dangerous Otherworld. Usually kept shut by order of icy King Auberon, the Gate stands open but once a year. This year, as the time approaches when the Samhain Gate will swing wide and nightmarish Fae will fight their way into an unsuspecting human world, something different is happening . . . something wondrous and strange. And Kelley's eyes are opening not just to the Faerie that surround her but to the heritage that awaits her. Now Kelley must navigate deadly Faerie treachery—and her growing feelings for Sonny—in this dazzling page-turner filled with luminous romance. Wondrous Strange is a richly layered tale of love between faerie and mortal, betrayal between kings and queens, and magic . . . between author and reader.

^^Product description from Amazon.com.

Lesley Livingston is a first-time novelist, and the first thing I'm going to say is that you can tell this while you're reading.  I'm not saying this to knock first-timers at all, and doesn't take away from her ability--but technically, this book isn't going to dazzle you.  If a "book snob", this won't be one for you.

Faeries--or "fairies"--are the new vampires.  At least, that's what the publishing world is trying to get across.  (Good luck with that.  I think they're hoping that Stephenie Meyer isn't going to revisit her Twilight saga.)  This book is one of three fairy-oriented novels I picked up on a whim, and to be honest, it's probably my least favorite.  The summary above doesn't really explain that much, but suffice to say that Kelley is a young actress living on her own, about to play the part of Titania in  Midsummer Night's Dream.  Her heritage is going to be questioned when she meets Sonny, and it doesn't take you long to figure out who she is.  (Even though it takes Sonny, Expert on Faeries, most of the book to guess what we already know.)

Kelley's characterization annoyed me...  Simply because she seemed kind of stupid.  She seemed to win by sheer luck.  (Luckily, the actress playing Titania became injured.  Luckily, a siren saved her from drowning.  Luckily, her friend isn't going to freak out about the horse in their bathtub.)  The horse in the bathtub is even named Lucky.  More specifically, he's a kelpie. The fact that a horse followed Kelley home, sat itself in her bathtub, and just began blowing bubbles seemed to belong to a children's book, rather than YA.  Do you honestly think that I'm going to buy that?  I know it's fantasy, but it's urban fantasy.  Human rules have to apply somewhere. 

Sonny, I liked.  He was a little too good to be true, but I liked the concept of human children being stolen and trained to become the Janus, guards of the Otherworld.  (I don't know whether this is rooted in lore or not, but it reminded me of the janissaries, Christian boys taken to become soldiers for the Ottoman empire.)  Sonny's coolness, however, drained when he became all lovestruck over Kelley, otherwise known as "Firecracker" or "my heart".  I think that one of the reasons Kelley bothered me was because the book was written in the third person, and we saw her from Sonny's POV as well as her own.  She just sounded too good to be true.  It seemed like one minute they were bickering, and the next they were falling in love.

The book did have its good parts, though.  I liked the characters of Auberon and Mabh--especially Mabh.  I want to know more about her.  Tyff was interesting enough, as was "Bob".  The story was one of those that was entertaining, but sort of plotted weakly.  However, I do think that Lesley Livingston has potential, and, as WS was clearly set up for a sequel, I think I'll read it.  This was a fun enough read, if not great. 

Borrow from the library, but don't spend your money on Wondrous Strange.

Rating: Three out of five stars.
Page Count: 327

han shot first

The Loot

I haven't seen nearly enough of what books people received this holiday season! Whether it was a gift card to your favorite book store, money you got that you spent on books, or books received as gifts, which are you most excited about digging into?

Here's what I got:

Grimm's Grimmest
The Hobbit Collector's Edition
The Clone Wars
Wild Space
Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor
The Classic Fairy Tales: Norton Edition
The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm
The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest
Sword Song: The Battle for London
Ender in Exile
Devil in Amber
Black Butterfly
Fables 1: Legends in Exile
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Ender's Game

So, I just finished reading Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, my first read of the 2009.  I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but I've heard a lot of good things about it, and it was highly recommended to me by another friend who has similar tastes as me. 

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Review of 2008

It always amazes me when I read how members here read so many books in a year. In 2007 I read only 23!
My goal for 2008 was to read 50 books and I managed 52!
The link will take you to my public journal.

Lynn Flewellyng

Could someone tell me whether Nightrunner series is really worth reading and for what reasons would you recommend it? How did you like it?
I consider reading these books, they may be good, but i wouldnt like to waste my time.
Thanks for your advice.
obama, alex hutchinson, suburban fiction

New Website for Writers

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As an added bonus you can also sign up for My Unedited Newsletter. In this monthly e-mail you and I will continue our journey together. Each month you will receive a new article about my creative attempts towards book promotion. We can succeed together and on occasion you can watch me fail. Either way we both get to learn. You will also receive a new writing tip, something I might have picked up that very month. By the way, the newsletter is also FREE!

As with all things worth writing there is always room for improvement. After taking a complete read through the website I would be thrilled if you would leave a comment on the last page. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, whether your words are critical or cause worthy, I want to hear from you.

Thank-you, Alex Hutchinson
Hopeless Love

(no subject)

I'd like to learn more about the American Civil War, but most of the books I've tried so far have been really dry and fairly unreadable. Does anyone have any recommendations? I'd like something informative that reads more like a novel.

Thanks in advance!

Montmorency and film noir

I've recently read Eleanor Updale's Montmorency, a young adult thriller set in the 19th century England, which makes for a fairly decent read that I'd recommend for older children. The book is the first in a series on the exploits of Montmorency, a protagonist with a morally ambiguous character. He was a career burglar, who was seriously injured in an accident during a heist and was put back together again by an ambitious doctor who was experimenting with surgical methods. The plot had the strangest pacing, twists and plot devices especially towards the later half of the booki, that I have no idea why I headed straight for the bookshop this afternoon to pick up the second and third book in the series (whose plots looked even more bizarre if that was possible). In the end I boil it down to the fact that I had appreciated the tone and language in the story.

This brings me to the actual point of this post. I'm suddenly keen on stories with a heavy film-noir tone. Crime stories set in the late 19th/early 20th century, preferably set in Europe, with darl, brooding characters. Besides Caleb Carr, does anyone have any recommendations please?