From this anthology, I only read Against All Odds by Lisa Kleypas. It's a novella about Lydia Craven, Sara and Derek Craven's eldest daughter, and Dr...moreFrom this anthology, I only read Against All Odds by Lisa Kleypas. It's a novella about Lydia Craven, Sara and Derek Craven's eldest daughter, and Dr Jake Linley.
This is a sweet, short romance that I enjoyed because it served as a sort of epilogue to Dreaming of You. The romance itself needed more page time in order to become more than an average read. Regardless, it's enjoyable enough.(less)
Death by Silver by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold is a fantasy mystery with an unquestionable steampunk flavor that does not overwhelm the world-bui...moreDeath by Silver by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold is a fantasy mystery with an unquestionable steampunk flavor that does not overwhelm the world-building, yet offers enough magic and subtle details to give this story set in a recognizable Victorian London, a very distinct atmosphere. There is quite a lot to enjoy in this well executed fantasy mystery with its delicious twists and turns, red herrings, murders by magic, personal struggles and a question of the heart.
The absorbing mystery drives the plot in Death by Silver as Scott and Griswold keep clues and details coming at a fast pace with well-executed red herrings, twists and turns. The mystery is well integrated with the world-building and the relationship struggle taking place between the characters. Most importantly, none of the characters in Death by Silver, including the villain(s), fall into the black and white category. Instead, they all display strengths and human frailty. Scott and Griswold effectively explore gray areas and the humanity of their characters through Ned and Julian's perspectives.
The fantasy details are organically incorporated into the world-building throughout the story and make sense from the beginning. For example, details such as a recognizable London as the setting with true to time Victorian morals, behavior, and lifestyle, are subtly blended in with magic, enchantments, automata-building salesmen, alternate institutions, laws, some rather interesting flora, and religious beliefs.
However, the hearts of this story are our main characters and narrators Ned and Julian. The story is narrated from their alternating first point of view perspectives. As a result, Scott and Griswold give the reader an in-depth look into both characters that include personal history, intimate thoughts, fears, and feelings. They also give an excellent view of secondary characters and different perspectives of the unfolding plot. The shifts in point of view flow well as do the intermittent flashbacks employed to show the characters' pertinent past experiences with bullies at boarding school.
The extent of the bullying episodes is revealed slowly and blends in with the mystery, as Julian and Ned confront personal fears and consequences of those boarding school days while working closely with the man who bullied them. Also slowly integrated are our main characters' depth of feelings and insecurities as they circle each other and wonder where their relationship stands. This is not the main focus of the story, still, I love Ned and Julian's "friends and lovers to romance-in-the-making" conflict.
I loved everything about Death by Silver -- the world-building and excellent atmosphere, the characters and their personal struggles, the twisty well-paced plot and the delicious romantic relationship-building elements, all the way to the great ending. I just hope that Scott and Griswold are planning a series because these characters and world are begging for one! Highly enjoyed and recommended. (less)
Myth is the sea on which the Fantasy story floats. Legend is the wind that drives it. Its place of birth is the Fairy Tale.
So begins The Queen, The Cambion, and Seven Others by Richard Bowes, a beautifully illustrated little book containing eight stories ranging from modern fairy tales and fantasy, to variations on myth and legends. The afterword by Mr. Bowes, "A Secret History of Small Books," enhances the overall reading experience.
I read this magical little book and enjoyed all of Mr. Bowes' stories. Of course I have a few favorites, including "The Queen and the Cambion" in which Bowes takes events from the life of a historical figure, Queen Victoria of England, and incorporates a character from Arturian legend to create a magical modern fantasy tale. There is "The Lady of Wands" a magical fantasy with a fantastic narrator as the central character, and a whodunit with twists, turns, and political undercurrents that can only take place when a story is set in the land of fairies. And the fantastic "The Progress of Solstice and Chance" with its soap opera style plot where the King of Winter and Queen of Summer marry and their child Solstice falls in love with Chance. I recommend all the stories, but I'm going to focus this post on one story, a single Fairy Tale.
The book begins with "Seven Smiles and Six Frowns" a fairy tale. It goes something like this. On a summer's evening the Witch of the Forest of Avalon gathers the children on her porch to tell them a simple tale about Prince Alaric who is beloved and gifted by his father the King and the Fairies with all types of magical presents. When the time comes for Alaric to marry, he is not satisfied with the princesses presented to him, but while traveling through the forest, a beautiful maiden uses cunning and magic to divest him of the magical items that make Alaric special until all he has left to win her is himself. There is a happy ending of course, but, what happens after that is what makes this a striking and unique piece.
Bowes' simple fairy tale gains complexity as the Witch invites her future apprentice to return the next day, alone, so she can tell her a different version of the fairy tale, one that is based on 'truthful' events. After the apprentice becomes the Witch, she in turn makes further revelations to her own apprentice and the reader. By the end, what began as a simple Fairy Tale with a handsome Prince and a happy ever after evolves into "a tale that not only entertains but teaches." Bowes' "Seven Smiles and Six Frowns" is an excellent example of the evolution of a fairy tale where modern insights are used by the narrator to enhance the listener's understanding but retaining the magic remains essential to complete the experience.
I loved the different take on vampires -- the virus -- and the details that JCP provides to make this world of vampires and non-infected humans come a...moreI loved the different take on vampires -- the virus -- and the details that JCP provides to make this world of vampires and non-infected humans come alive. Her characterization is also excellent and Mark's voice as the human narrator is fabulous. Jonathan as the secretive vampire love interest comes off as a sex bomb turned sensitive macho love bucket. I don't know who I liked best; Mark's snarky, biggest-queen-in-the-world attitude or Jonathan's sexy, secretive persona.
The story's pacing is a bit inconsistent, with some too-slow portions and other action-packed spaces, but overall a very good read!
Senegal Taxi by Juan Felipe Herrera is a small volume of poetry that is both political and raw in content. Herrera uses the voices of three children t...moreSenegal Taxi by Juan Felipe Herrera is a small volume of poetry that is both political and raw in content. Herrera uses the voices of three children to focus his poetry on the suffering and horrors of war in Darfur. Reading Senegal Taxi was a heart-wrenching experience that has yet loosened its grip on me.(less)