The cover of this one drew me in, and then I flipped to the "about the author" page and was like, "Hey, it's the dude from Glee!" So I gave it a whirlThe cover of this one drew me in, and then I flipped to the "about the author" page and was like, "Hey, it's the dude from Glee!" So I gave it a whirl...
I'm pretty sure Chris Colfer was around age ten when the miniseries the 10th Kingdom was on. Otherwise, I would have spent this entire review going "tsk tsk," due to the similarities. The reader is whisked along a journey with two individuals from our world (twins, rather than a father and daughter), who enter another realm via a portal (a book, rather than a mirror), wherein they find several fairy tale kingdoms based on corresponding fairy tales (both have a kingdom belonging to Red Riding Hood, Snow White, etc.). At one point, the boy in the story makes a comment about how crazy fairy tale characters are, and it reminded me in particular of this 10th Kingdom scene in which Tony lets out his exasperation on an ill-fated frog. But like I said, Colfer was likely ten when the miniseries was released, so any similarities (and once you get into the nitty-gritty of the plot, there are few) are probably coincidental or one of those I-saw-something-when-I-was-a-child-and-it-has-lingered-in-my-subconsciousness-ever-since scenarios.
Regardless of similarity, Colfer has created several unique, approachable and winning characters for the adolescent set. I sympathized with the twins and their predicament. I was genuinely curious to see what would happen to the different side characters. There were parts that were poignant, parts that were suspenseful, and parts that simply made me smile. Goldilocks kicked ass. I am now able to write a review in which I use the phrase "Goldilocks kicked ass," for which I am eternally grateful. I look forward to Colfer's next installment, and I have already lent my copy of the book to another person. If you have adolescent children, or you enjoy relaxing with an adolescent book now and then, try this one out. ...more
A lot of shelves for this one...because there are a lot of different types of stories here. Some really worked with the "love and death" star-crossedA lot of shelves for this one...because there are a lot of different types of stories here. Some really worked with the "love and death" star-crossed theme, and some were sort of stretches. Most of the collection was very good, which is hard to achieve in a collection of short stories created by several authors.
My personal favorites, in no particular order:
Rooftops by Carrie Vaughn (super hero fun) The Thing About Cassandra by Neil Gaiman (a given almost - I can't name a thing he's written that I don't like) Blue Boots by Robin Hobb (a good little fairy tale type of story) Under/Above the Water by Tanith Lee (which makes me want to seek out her novels) After the Blood by Marjorie M. Liu (crazy, disturbing, and very original)
Check it out. With this collection you are bound to find at least one story that you really enjoy, regardless of your personal tastes....more
John Connolly has one of the craziest literary minds out there....several of these stories (The Cancer Cowboy Rides, The Inkpot Monkey, The Inn at ShiJohn Connolly has one of the craziest literary minds out there....several of these stories (The Cancer Cowboy Rides, The Inkpot Monkey, The Inn at Shillingford) disturbed me to no end. However, it is a good batch of thriller-chiller stories, extremely well-suited for reading during gathering storms, curled on a sofa, scaring the wits out of yourself as you drink something warm. Keep this one around and re-read it when you need a good "X-Files" sort of feeling....more
I have to thank Daniel O'Malley for writing this book...and then urge him to write the follow-up soon! I haven't been so thrilled to be reading in quiI have to thank Daniel O'Malley for writing this book...and then urge him to write the follow-up soon! I haven't been so thrilled to be reading in quite some time...or at least, not to the point where I can't wait to get back to the book.
So The Rook follows the exploits of Myfanwy Thomas, a woman who wakes up in the middle of a rainstorm without any idea of who she is. A series of letters from her previous self outline her situation. I don't want to give away too much about the plot, but that situation has something to do with an XMEN-like group of operatives with the directive to keep Britain safe from supernatural threats.
O'Malley is brilliant...he writes characters very well, the plot is simply awesome, and his is pacing is perfect. So...here's hoping he writes the next one soon, soon, soon. ...more
This was brilliant! I have never been so happy to pick up a book based on the recommendation of another author (thank you Neil Gaiman). I am going toThis was brilliant! I have never been so happy to pick up a book based on the recommendation of another author (thank you Neil Gaiman). I am going to have to look into other books by Valente.......more
Miller's writing is easy to read and just a tad aggravating. Every little thing that protagonist Haven is thinkI would really call this 2 1/2 stars...
Miller's writing is easy to read and just a tad aggravating. Every little thing that protagonist Haven is thinking is included in the novel. Every. Little. Thing.
If you can get past the writing, the story itself is not terrible. Basic synopsis: Haven grows up in a small religiously driven town in Tennessee. Because she is prone to suffering from visions of her previous life, said town is lead to believe she is possessed by the devil. When she is nearly 18 events prompt her to run to New York City and find her long-lost love from a previous life...but when she does, can she trust him?
Unfortunately, I found Haven herself to be pretty annoying. She is easily steered in any direction by anyone who speaks to her with the exception of her grandmother. If she gets advice from a character who she has known for about ten minutes she is more than willing to follow it until she receives contradictory advice from yet another character. The love interest is not much better. He is physically beautiful, but I could not tell you really anything about his personality. Their budding romance is pretty hard to swallow. Haven and Iain just might be "destined to be together" (an idea that rankles to begin with). By the time I was halfway through the novel I found myself completely ambivalent to whether or not they actually ended up together (no spoilers, you'll have to read it to find out).
If I liked the main protagonist a little more, and the love interest a little less Adonis-like and a little more of a real person, I would definitely bring this rating up a notch or two. ...more
The original, or older, or simply "non-Disney" versions of most fairy tales are highly disturbing. It seems that half the authors in this collection tThe original, or older, or simply "non-Disney" versions of most fairy tales are highly disturbing. It seems that half the authors in this collection took that as a challenge to make modern fairy tales five times as disturbing as the disturbing originals.
This does not mean the tales are bad. These are very good authors, with a highly developed sense of writing, of the magical, of imparting ideas without spelling out every minute detail, of leaving the audience with a good starting point for discussion. But the tales are often (not always) very difficult to read to to content. Consider that a disclaimer, or the rated "R" rating for content.
As with all collections of short stories, it is impossible to judge the whole by the parts. Here are my favorites:
Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman The Princess in the Tower by Elizabeth A. Lynn The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep by Charles DeLint I Shall do Thee Mischief in the Wood by Kathy Koja Like a Red, Red Rose by Susan Wade The Snow Queen by Patricia McKillip
As a side note, I wonder if Breadcrumbs and Stones by Lisa Goldstein was the inspiration for The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, which was published about a decade later. If you read both you will see what I am talking about. ...more
I did not read Dracula until I was in college, and was mightily surprised. Not by the level of Bram Stoker's writing, the intricacies of the differentI did not read Dracula until I was in college, and was mightily surprised. Not by the level of Bram Stoker's writing, the intricacies of the different viewpoints, or the overt sexuality he included in the text during a time period as repressed as his was. No...I was surprised by the fact that Dracula was...a monster.
Of course, this should have been obvious to me before that; in old Hollywood movies Dracula was always grouped in with the Wolfman, the Swamp Thing, etc. But having read the incredibly human vampires in the novels of Anne Rice, and seeing films that made vampires incredibly approachable as subjects with personalities (including, might I add, Francis Ford Coppola's version of Dracula itself), reading the novel that (sort of) kicked off the whole thing and finding the Dracula really was in fact a heartless, soulless, monster was almost astounding. But I digress. If you want to learn more about the weird history of the modern vampire, I suggest you read Sundays With Vlad by Paul Bibeau. I warn you, it was published before Twilight, so nary a glittery, angst-filled vampire is in sight.
My point with that diatribe is that I really loved the first half of Mina: The Dracula Story Continues, because I felt like the whole "heartless, soulless, monster" bit came out really well. The second half read a bit differently. I can't say much without giving away the plot, but the second half of Bergstrom's (or Kiraly's) novel has far too much human drama given what happened in the fist half. The beginning was also written in a style much more akin to Stoker's, which relieved me. I was worried it would read like a modern woman attempting to sound Victorian. While she never really digressed into sounding modern, the second half was still too outside of what Stoker sounded like (I realize that each author has their own unique voice, but if an author dares to tread the semi-dangerous territory of continuing another's work, particularly when that individual spawned a whole subculture, using a different voice is somewhat problematic). In fact, my like/dislike of the novel was pretty much split down the middle, hence the three stars.
Great writer, good concept, wicked hard to pull off....more
I made it to page 390 in this book before I had to give up the ghost. This is by far the longest I have stuck with a novel before leaving it behind foI made it to page 390 in this book before I had to give up the ghost. This is by far the longest I have stuck with a novel before leaving it behind for greener pastures. I berated myself constantly..."I really should finish this," "Look how far past the halfway point I am...I really should finish this," and "Gosh this is silly - I can just use this weekend to finish this." But at a certain point, every time I sat down to finish the book I just couldn't do it.
Let me say, this is my first real foray into the steampunk genre. Two years ago, I had no idea what steampunk was until a friend took me to the Maker Faire in California. A whole section of the festival had been cordoned off for people who dressed in some approximation of Victorian dress, but with a focus on mechanized things...necklaces that looked like clockworks, etc. The same friend introduced me to the band Abney Park, which gave me a better idea of what steampunk was about (or so I thought). It was, if I understood correctly, a genre in which the fantasy rested on a world in which technology did not progress past the steam engine. There would be trains and clockworks and airships and possibly magic, depending on whether or not an author wanted to go that route. Ah...airships...I get it!
Or at least I thought I did...until I read this. There are certainly airships in this book. There is also a society of steam men, which as far as I can tell are sentient robots who manage to run on steamworks with no interference from humans. The human society vaguely resembled Victorian England, but the history of the land Hunt created is very, very not English history (though at one point I found myself recalling Oliver Cromwell).
Perhaps I am just not well-indoctrinated into the ideals and tenets of steampunk, but half of what Hunt talked about I did not understand. There was no real explanation (that I could divine) for the whats and whys of his creation. Why are the steam men sentient? Why do they have a religion that vaguely resembles Buddhism? Why is the society in a place where the very "big brother" notion that every citizen has their blood taken and used as an identifier accepted? What precipitated the descent into this type of disturbing socioeconomic place? How do humans survive underground, without access to Vitamin D? Maybe some of these questions would have been answered if I had made it through the last pages. Perhaps this is really sophisticated steampunk, of a kind that one needs to know basic steampunk to understand. Maybe I needed to start with a simpler novel - one that would outline things concisely for the layperson - or perhaps Hunt is off his gourd. I really could not say.
I am not afraid of reading the complex or difficult novel. I enjoy parceling out meaning from a book that is somewhat hard to read. A good example of this is Our Tragic Universe, a novel that combines science and philosophy with a background of what should be (but is not) a simple story. So to find myself so flummoxed by what is essentially a sub-genre of fantasy tried my patience and made me question my own abilities as an intellectual being.
So maybe this is in fact really, really good steampunk. Hunt might be the Stephen Hawking of steampunk, and I am just not at his level. Maybe if I return to this novel in a few years, after having dipped my toes into other steampunk novels I will come away with an idea of his shining genius instead of my present frustration. Who knows? ...more