snugglekitty: (genius)
The Mysterious Benedict Society was recommended in one of the many Life After Potter reading lists I have recently perused. It follows the exploits of four unusual children as they take a strange test, meet a reclusive benefactor, and undertake together a dangerous mission uniquely suited to their skills and talents. This book is not fantasy. There are no magical spells or mystical beings to be found. You could call it a sort of science fiction - the villain uses a diabolical invention to bring the world almost to its knees. Fans of Roald Dahl will enjoy the illustrations, the eccentric characters, the wickedness of the villains, and the resourcefulness of the heroes. Fans of Rowling might miss the magic, while enjoying the young people working together in the face of peril. Myself, I'm happy to give it four stars, and I look forward to the sequel, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, due out in May 2008.
snugglekitty: (broccoli)
Oh, how I love being proven wrong about things like this. Here is another book that completely jettisons the notion that nothing new can be done with the dragon genre. First Temeraire, then this. This book is hard to describe. It's a young adult book. A boy finds a baby dragon and decides to raise it against the rules of his time and place. I know that that sounds totally cliched, but it's the way that it's done. Set in a federal dragon preserve? With a fearless band of dragon rangers? And dragons that they hardly ever see? It's very different. I really enjoyed it. Four stars, although I don't think I'll need to reread it quite as many times as I have reread The Blue Sword, which is my favorite Robin McKinley book EVAR, and if you haven't read it you should run out and get it IMMEDIATELY! Or ask to borrow one of my copies.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Herein, you will find reviews of two mass market paperbacks obtained through

Wish You Were Here is the first in the Mrs. Murphy series of mysteries, written by Rita Mae Brown's cat (or so it claims). This series features the postmistress of a small town in Virginia, and the pets who try to help her solve crimes (possibly only murderous crimes). It was a bit too cute for me. I didn't realize that the animals were going to talk. I didn't really like them talking and it actually made it hard for me to finish the book. But it was well-written, and funny in places. Two and a half stars.

It's kind of funny how I wound up reading the other book... )

Queen's Gambit by Deborah Chester was longer than any of the books in the preceding trilogy - more than 400 pages. It is also much better than any of the trilogy books. Deeper, with more subtlety and more interesting themes. Pheresa continues to be a very sympathetic character, and continues to grow throughout the course of the book until its triumphant conclusion. The book doesn't have a lot of action in it, but it makes you feel as though it did, if you know what I mean. I also enjoyed very much the new character of Talmor. I was very happy with this book. It is quite unusual to see a series in any genre improve as it goes along, and I'll be following the next books with interest. Four stars.
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Today I finished Seaward by Susan Cooper and When Darkness Falls by Mercedes Lackey. Both of these books have teenage main characters with absent parents and weighty responsibilities.
Sometimes I am completely uninterested in reading fantasy, and it kind of weirds me out. "Who am I if I don't like fantasy?" I think, since it was one of the first things I was ever passionate about. (Like, even before sex, people.) Well, times like this, when I can't seem to get enough of it, make up for those times.

Seaward. This is a funny book for me, since I was convinced that there was a five hundred page sequel that [ profile] ceelove recommended to me, called Westward, which doesn't seem to actually exist. Maybe it's in that bookstore where all the books that never got written live. It's doubly interesting since the book itself seems to demand a sequel.
Oh, you want to know about the actual book? Right then. I thought it was good. It was more mature than her Dark is Rising sequence (soon to be a movie) and the female main character did better than the females in that series, too. It was short and interesting. I'd give it three stars and I wish there really was a long sequel. And yes, it was on the life after Potter list.

When Darkness Falls. I've been reading this series slowly since [ profile] 7j explained to me that it was less fluffy than it appeared based on the covers and back blurbs. She was right about that, no doubt. So, since not-so-fluffy Lackey titles are harder to find than they used to be, I have been reading this series with luxurious slowness, just like I read Bujold's Chalion series. The first book was great, the second book was okay, the third left me a bit unsatisfied. I think it could have used a better editor. There were too many ellipses, and too many instances of the same word being used twice in one sentence. Also, all of the characters spent so much time talking about the cause that they were fighting for, and how any sacrifice would be acceptable to Save the World, that it slowed down the action. Maybe Lackey expects her readers to not be paying attention, but you don't actually have to remind me about Vestakia's mother's sacrifice EVERY SINGLE TIME we meet Vestakia. I can remember from one chapter to the next. Really. Also, it would have been just as good, if not better, if it were a hundred pages shorter. Still, I enjoyed it, and I did wake up this morning thinking, "Where's that book?" before I remembered that I had finished it the night before. Three stars.

Other things I am reading right now: 2012: The Return of Quetzlcoatl, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, and True Lust.
snugglekitty: (Default)
While away, I read To Play the Fool by Laurie R. King and Pyromancer by Don Callander.

To Play the Fool is the second Kate Martinelli investigation. The first was A Grave Talent. These novels feature a queer female police detective who lives inBerkley. The first book was very bleak. This book was more hopeful, even lighthearted in places. The main character, who is thought to be a witness to the murder, is a homeless man who speaks only in quotations. The premise was intriguing, and I enjoyed watching the story unfold, although it was not unputdownable like the last one. Three stars.

Pyromancer by Don Callander was another offering from the Life After Potter lists. This book was a little too cute for me. I mean, it's great that everyone has the potential for redemption, and if you offered ME a teakettle that would do all the cooking and washing up my household needed, I would say yes (as long as it didn't eat babies or something). But I would see its ability to talk as a negative, not a positive thing. Also, there is a part of the book that was pretty obviously a plot device, and it wasn't even whitewashed with a Hand of Fate designation, and it bugged me a bit. Still, it was good light reading for my trip. Two and a half stars.
snugglekitty: (Default)
This is yet another offering from the Life After Potter lists. Kaye has spent her life following her mom's band, dealing with her many men, and picking up after her. But when Kaye and her mother go "home" to her grandmother's house, things get a little weird. Then they get a lot weird. This book was great, and I can't wait to read the two sequels Black has out, Valiant and Ironside. Four stars - in other words, I would read it over and over, making little chuckling noises of glee.

Book note: This week, I have wanted some books that I knew the library wouldn't be getting enough to actually order them myself. Eek! I almost never do that. For those who are curious, the books are Vampires in Their Own Words by Michele Belanger and Spiritual Transformation Through BDSM edited by Sensuous Sadie. Both spur of the moment things, but I have been really In Budget for a month, and could actually afford them. Amazing.
snugglekitty: (Default)
I read this in the furtheration of my goal to re-read all the Chrestomanci books. This is one that I hadn't read before. I liked it, although the ending felt rushed and was also somewhat confusing.

I wish that the series as listed on the author's website was in order of chronology, not when the books were written. Jumping back and forth between Chrestomancis is confusing. But the books are getting longer, and they are also getting better, and those are both happy things. Three and a half stars for Conrad's Fate.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Over the weekend, I read The River Wife by Jonis Agee and finished Water Babies by Charles Kingsley.

The River Wife was recommended to me by To those who are new to this journal, I love to read the booksense monthly recommendations by small bookstore owners. The River Wife appealed to me because of the way it seemed it would follow generations of women - I enjoy books like that. It also promised elements of sensuality, magic, and mystery. However, the book did not entirely live up to its reputation. It was fairly bleak, and all of the women seemed to be grasping towards their respective men, who never lived up to their initial promise. There also wasn't much that tied them together except for the landscape of Ducharmes Landing. It was old-fashioned because the most modern story was set in the 30s. Three stars - it was good, but I won't read it again, and I probably won't look up other books by the same author.

Water Babies by Charles Kingsley was another recommendation from the "life after potter" lists - genre pre-modern fantasy. Tom is an abused little chimney sweep, who is taken away by water-babies, which are a kind of fairy, after an especially passionate plea to be clean. I liked the book well enough, but it got overly moralizing in some places, as Victorian children's literature is wont to do. It's a little violent and harsh for children of today, and contains dire predictions about children who don't get enough excercise, people who only do as they like (apparently it's only hard work at things we hate that keeps us from reverting to monkeys), and those who tease animals. I would recommend it mostly for people who like fairy tales, since it's somewhat original in that regard. At first I was sad that I was reading the abridged version, but by the end, I'll admit I wished it were abridged even more. Two and a half stars. The illustrations are quite nice, though.
snugglekitty: (Default)
This is a book about rich teenage socialite vampires. I liked it most of the way through. At the end, it got really Christian in an "isn't this obvious" way that really assumes that you, me, all the characters, and everybody are Christian, because that's just how it is. That didn't do it for me. I don't dislike Christian mythology in all circumstances; it can be done well, but this isn't that time. I don't know if I'm going to read the other two books. For now, three stars.
snugglekitty: (Default)
As far as I know, this is the first time I've read anything by Dave Duncan. Wow. This book was so good, I couldn't believe it! I had a really hard time putting it down. I felt like it was creative and original in ways I didn't expect. The style was fairly masculine overall. The flashbacks could have been really annoying, but actually weren't. I will definitely look up more books by this author. Four stars.

Single favorite part - this one guy in the king's bodyguard saves him from an ambush, while the other bodyguards have been distracted. Afterwards, the king gives him a special favor, and he says, "I'm not worthy!" His buddy says, "You're not worthy? The rest of us should all be hung, drawn, and quartered, every day for a month!" After the king leaves, the buddy asks the hero, "Can I kiss your backside?" "You're not worthy." "I know that," he sighs, "I was just hoping." For some reason that cracked me up intensely.

I'm happy to discover that there are sequels. Also, although this book is masculine and militaristic, it did not make me feel dirty the way that John Ringo sometimes does.
snugglekitty: (Default)
The Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman is the first in a new-to-me series. Gilman is well-known for her Mrs. Pollifax series. CC was a fast, light, and enjoyable read, featuring a down-on-her-luck noblewoman from Eastern Europe who uses her psychic skills to help solve crimes. Three stars.

Tamar was the first of many books I found on the Harry Potter reading lists. It was not a fantasy, but more of a historical suspense, featuring two British agents in the Netherlands during WW11. The descendants of one of them are trying to figure out what happened during that time. It was very suspenseful. I was able to see the central twist from the first chapter of the book, but it was still really really good. Four stars. Mal Peet is clearly an author to watch.

Buddhism's Women, Women's Buddhism was an anthology of essays presented at a conference on women and Buddhism, a while back. I didn't read every word. I read all of the non-academic essays - I guess there were about twenty - and maybe half of the others in their entirety. I skimmed the rest, not because they were too difficult, but because they had a tendency to repeat the other essays. After reading three essays about the difficulties of getting ordained as a Buddhist nun in Asia, I felt like I had a grasp on the concept. Ditto the financial difficulties of being a Buddhist nun in Asia, etc. This was a great companion book to Turning the Wheel because most of the essays were not about American Buddhism. My favorite section was "Art and Architecture" and my favorite essay was "How a Buddhist Decides Whether to Have Children." I'd give the whole book three stars - a good resource but I doubt I'll need to read it again.
To those who are curious, I found some things out while reading this book, but I still haven't found that elusive bit that will make me say, "Oh, good, I know what I need to know now, I can move on to a different topic."


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August 2011

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