This is one of those books that I love more every time I reread it. This is my third read and I can appreciate the impressive feats Stephenson pulls o...moreThis is one of those books that I love more every time I reread it. This is my third read and I can appreciate the impressive feats Stephenson pulls off. It's a book that improves as you grow up and can see more of what Stephenson is doing. I'm almost willing to forgive him the classic Stephensonian ending.
EDIT 4/29/14: This is just to say...I am teaching this book in my "Literature and Networks" seminar and I am super excited! *kermitflail*(less)
Diana Wynne Jones is compulsively rereadable and I somehow end up returning to at least some of her mind-bogglingly wonderful work once a year. Usuall...moreDiana Wynne Jones is compulsively rereadable and I somehow end up returning to at least some of her mind-bogglingly wonderful work once a year. Usually after my brain has decided that it would like to stop either reading non-fiction or taking chances on new books. The former was at fault this time - it has been weeks since I read a book that I wasn't either a) teaching or b) interested in for research reasons. So this Friday night, my brain had enough. Hexwood is brilliant and part of why I love rereading it is that the plot is so perfectly intricate that, even when I remember most of the book, I'm still startled and amused and pleased by how it manages to work itself out in the end. I've read it several times now and you would think I would remember all the puzzle pieces by now, but Jones is so fiendishly clever that she still manages to surprise me. I also wonder just how she managed to come up with her blend of fantasy, science-fiction, silliness that is both fantastically new and reassuringly familiar in every book. I'm not sure if this book is the ideal introduction to her, but it's everything a DWJ book should be.(less)
Funny, how one can grow to like a book so much better the second time around. I reread Bujold's "Curse of Chalion" and loved it so much more than I re...moreFunny, how one can grow to like a book so much better the second time around. I reread Bujold's "Curse of Chalion" and loved it so much more than I remembered. This was the first of her works I'd ever read, and I listened to it on audio about a month before my wedding and it somehow failed to make an impression on me. Then I discovered the Vorkosigan Saga and devoured everything Bujold had written, then went on to inflict her on my friends and family. Which is the proper thing to do with a good book. I've finally begun to reread them and I've worked my way back around to Chalion, with far more of an appreciation for her storytelling, her character development and her worldbuilding than before. She (like a few other authors, NK Jemisin notably) has an understanding of how divinity works to best advantage in fantastic worlds. She knows how to create gods with power, but but who need worship. Gods that, while they don't make sense on a human level, have religions that make sense. She understands worship and it shows. Her religion is better thought out than most real ones (which should come as no surprise). Anyway, I'm so glad I came back and gave Chalion, and Cazaril, another chance.(less)
Wonderful, as always. Bujold is a joy to read and handles fantasy with the same eye for character that she has in sci-fi.
I'm looking forward to hearin...moreWonderful, as always. Bujold is a joy to read and handles fantasy with the same eye for character that she has in sci-fi.
I'm looking forward to hearing more about the world of Chalion; she's one of the few authors who can write a series without recurring characters that I will read, because I know I will not be disappointed by the lack of old friends in the book; the new characters will be just as much fun to read.(less)
Dear Goodreads, Will you please implement a half star system? This was not a three star book because what it was trying to do pushes it easily into fou...moreDear Goodreads, Will you please implement a half star system? This was not a three star book because what it was trying to do pushes it easily into four stars, but it somehow doesn't quite seem to achieve what it sets out to do. (Bow before me, for I am the queen of the vague review). In certain respects, Brennan's book is brilliant. She has the voice of the naturalist down pat and she does 19th century British woman on an adventure with all the style and sincerity of someone who gets the Victorians and understands how to put them on paper. Her narrator, Lady Isabella Trent, is the prime example of getting character and voice right. The plot, oddly enough, is where I think my expectations were most disappointed. If this wants to be a Victorian novel, and I do think it does, it's missing that sense for how the plot has to lock together perfectly in order to make the events seem real and as though they work. And it's not that Brennan doesn't have all the pieces there, but the way she lays them out leaves me wondering why they don't fit together as well as they should. (Trying to articulate my objections in a concrete manner is weirdly frustrating. I'm usually better than this.) It's as if she has all the tools for writing this book at her disposal, but she doesn't always deploy them in a way that works for me. So the foreshadowing is there, but it doesn't...foreshadow right (for a Victorian novel). I think that may be my biggest objection. When someone attempts to write a Victorian novel and epically fails, I just laugh. But Brennan is only off by a little bit and that sense of the world just a bit out of skew throws me because I want it to be right. I expect it to be right. Oh, and the pseudo-Judaism thing, which encapsulates my objections rather perfectly. I love that she chose to give Judaism a prominent place as the model religion of her pseudo-Europe. That's awesome. I'm disappointed (in someone) that I picked up on no indications from the text that the Magisterial branch of the religion was also based in Judaism. I should have noticed that. (Brennan has said this in an interview and I will take her word for it and it makes sense because she doesn't describe the break as different religions in the text, but as different sects). So either I missed the indications of a more legalistic/rabbinic Judaism, which is possible if a trifle embarrassing, or the way that Brennan tries to convey it misses somehow. That for all the interesting world that she creates and the attention to very specific kinds of detail, we don't find out enough about that world to answer out own questions about how this world came to be as it is and why. Yes, that's the problem. The world and plot seem realer to her, as author, than they do to me as reader and something of the details and the intricacies get lost on the way from her brain to mine. And I can sense their absence and I miss them. Tl:dr - we need a 3.5 star rating and, despite everything, I hope the next book in this series is better.(less)
As always, the best part of reading McKillip Is her use of language - sparse, economic and beautiful. The story was intriguing, especially in its ambi...moreAs always, the best part of reading McKillip Is her use of language - sparse, economic and beautiful. The story was intriguing, especially in its ambiguity, and her ability to evoke strange, almost fantastical, worlds speaks to her roots in fantasy. Then again, I love everything this woman does.(less)
I seem to be on a (re)reading the Young Wizards kick. I always remember liking this one just a bit less than its predecessor (which means it was reall...moreI seem to be on a (re)reading the Young Wizards kick. I always remember liking this one just a bit less than its predecessor (which means it was really good, rather than OMG amazing!). I think I'm just a bit bothered by the plot and the death elements. Not that people don't die in these books (well, it's not Game of Thrones, but it's still serious), but something about the plot left me...bugged as a kid and, therefore, still bugged as an adult. Anyway, it was still awesome and I'm looking forward to starting the next book. In, as they say, my copious spare time.(less)
You know that feeling when you read a book as a kid and go back to it 15 years later and its still amazing? That's how I feel about this book. Duane do...moreYou know that feeling when you read a book as a kid and go back to it 15 years later and its still amazing? That's how I feel about this book. Duane does a wonderful job of writing for kids/young adults without writing down to them, her characters are brilliant and her wizards and their world are some of the best realizations of the idea of magic I have ever read. And, yes, I admit, I did read the oath aloud as a kid. Just once. Just in case...(less)
Note: rating changed from 3 to 4 stars on this reread.
I enjoyed this book the first time I read it, but I didn't get it, not in the way that I got it...moreNote: rating changed from 3 to 4 stars on this reread.
I enjoyed this book the first time I read it, but I didn't get it, not in the way that I got it this time. Kushner's writing is within the realm of fantasy, but not really fantasy and her characters are enough to drive you mad even when you love them.
Listening to the book did make me love them again (even the damn Mad Duke, who is delightfully, wonderfully awful) and Katherine's story resonates now in a way that it didn't when I first read the book (which my brain believes was a long time ago, but it only came out 8 years ago so clearly I'm misremembering). I think I had read it then with the goal of making sense out of The Fall of Kings...which is still a goal of mine.
But returning to this book not long after listening through Swordspoint, I find I like it a lot better (also, how did I forget about St. Vier?) for the story it tells, the realness of the characters, the rawness of the situations they face and how well Kushner deals with the role of women and, as she puts it, the Privilege of the Sword. This book does so many clever things that I entirely failed to appreciate on first read and I'm so glad I took the time to listen.
Well, I have audible credits sitting around. I wonder whether The Fall of Kings will win me over if I try it one more time.(less)