I have to admit I was kinda disappointed by this book. The premise is a fun one - a woman obsessed with Jane Austen gets to experience an Austenian roI have to admit I was kinda disappointed by this book. The premise is a fun one - a woman obsessed with Jane Austen gets to experience an Austenian romance of her very own. And it is, in the end, a relatively cute, short read. Which is the problem - I've come to expect much better than this from Shannon Hale given the other books of hers I've read. Jane, from my limited knowledge of chick lit tropes, is a perfectly standard protagonist in that mould. Which is sad, because Hale can write absolutely amazing, complicated, and real female characters, as she does in her Books of Bayern. Jane, on the other hand, feels like a cliche. There's some signs of life in her, and the conflict about her getting over her fantasies would be interesting, if not for the fact that by the end, she gets exactly what she wants. She really doesn't do much growing at all, or at least none that sticks with her. The other characters are fun, but the men especially clearly occupy different Austen tropes, and thus they fall a bit flat. Over all, I think this is one case where I definitely prefer the film. It has the same theme of Jane grappling with fantasy versus reality, but a number of plot elements are different, and the film's Jane seems to actually grow and change more. I'll probably give the sequel to this a go, since I'm sure it'll be another fun, quick read, but I cannot strongly recommend this the way I'd recommend Hale's YA books....more
I actually ended up liking this one somewhat better than the earlier books in this series. I think the Percy Jackson books are definitely an example oI actually ended up liking this one somewhat better than the earlier books in this series. I think the Percy Jackson books are definitely an example of a series that gets better as it goes on, which gives me hope for the sequel series. It was nice to see various characters from previous books return, such as Thalia, even if they didn't play huge parts in the adventure. Some fairly interesting stuff continues to be done with Rachel and Nico, which was good. Nico especially is a reason I want to read the sequel series at some point, since I know he gets explored in more detail there. Percy himself is dealing with about a year of constant war, and his characterization does a fair job of reflecting that. He still manages to be a fun narrator at the same time. I did appreciate that he began to question how good the gods are, but I'm annoyed that that issue didn't really get resolved.
The plot was generally pretty good. Rather than being sent on a formal quest Percy and his friends are simply charged with defending New York and Mount Olympus from Kronos. There's a lot of fighting and Riordan does a fairly good job of making it clear that the stakes are high. I just wish I'd actually cared about any of the characters he kills off. Also, it was sort of weird to go from the start of the war in the previous book to the end of it in this one. It makes me wish I had bothered to read the Demigod Files book, which contains some in-between material. Still, the plot is fun, and I appreciated that Riordan pulled off a rather clever prophecy twist. Over all, I guess I'm glad I read these books, since they were a fun way to pass the time, even if they're not the greatest thing ever....more
This was a pretty fun installment of the series. I think the Percy Jackson books are definitely one series that gets better as it goes on. Percy, as aThis was a pretty fun installment of the series. I think the Percy Jackson books are definitely one series that gets better as it goes on. Percy, as always, is a pretty fun narrator, and I liked that he's kinda clueless about the romantic aspect of the story that's starting to become more prominent. After all, as other characters point out, boys his age are often not very good on picking up on that sort of thing. There was a nice theme of discovering that your heroes aren't necessarily as great as you think they are, as Tyson meets a Hundred Handed One and Annabeth meets Dedalus in encounters that prove to be somewhat underwhelming. The use of the Labyrinth was interesting, since it allowed a lot more random wandering from one monster or adventure to the next. There was a bit of a fantasy dungeon crawl vibe to this book. I liked that Rachel, a mortal with the mysterious power to see through the Mist, was brought back. She showed up briefly in the previous book, but now she's become a bigger character. I'm glad that Riordan doesn't just sprinkle in interesting things without exploring them properly. Similarly, I liked have Nico back, and I must say I'm surprised by what's been done with him. His story arc is fairly interesting, though I do feel like it would make a little more sense if he was slightly older than eleven.
Over all, the plot was fairly enjoyable. I appreciate that it departed from the formula of the previous books a little bit. While there's still a quest, it involves trekking through a magical dungeon. There was actually one point where the heroes leave the dungeon altogether to recover, which I liked. Further, I feel like there's a bit more originality here, and fewer retreads of incidents directly taken from Greek myth. I'd have been kinda annoyed if the Minotaur showed up, especially since Percy already fought him in the first book. In fact, I enjoyed seeing the story start to take on a somewhat more unique shape, and it gives me hope that the final book in the series will be fairly good. This still isn't my favorite YA fantasy series ever, but I will say it's gotten a bit better, and I continue to have a fun time reading the books....more
This was a fun installment in the series. I definitely liked it better than the previous one, since it was at least a little bit more original in itsThis was a fun installment in the series. I definitely liked it better than the previous one, since it was at least a little bit more original in its use of Greek mythology. Seeing Artemis appear as a twelve year old girl was clever, and it was nice to see animosity between her Hunters and the heroes from Camp Halfblood. Percy continues to be a fairly entertaining narrator, and in general I enjoy his character. It was nice that this book explores his fatal flaw a bit more, and I look forward to seeing how that plays out over the last two books in the series. I was a bit sad that Annabeth is absent from most of the book, though it was fun to see her dad. Plus, Thalia's presence helped a bit. She's a pretty fun character, and I wish the series spent more time exploring her. The main villain, the General, was a bit more simple than I would have liked, though the twist about his identity was nice.
The plot is fairly similar to that of the first book in the series. Something important has been stolen, and Percy has to get it back by going on a fast-paced road trip across the US. It was nice to see new and different locations on his quest, and some of the updates to the mythology continue to be pretty fun. I also liked that the Lotus eater casino made a reappearance. All in all, it feels like the series has settled into a formula, but it's not necessarily a bad one. Percy Jackson definitely isn't my favorite YA fantasy series, but it's fun enough, especially given that I can get through each book fairly quickly....more
I wanted to like this, since from what one of my professors told me, it sounded like a good book with fun elements parodying the Gothic. Sadly, what II wanted to like this, since from what one of my professors told me, it sounded like a good book with fun elements parodying the Gothic. Sadly, what I found was a novel that is far too long and far too much of a slog. I agree with another reviewer that the narrator and protagonist, Lucy Snowe, hates me. I hate her right back. She skips over some potentially interesting parts of her life and focuses too much on day-to-day minutiae of her life as an English teacher in Belgium. She's not a particularly compelling character, and while her narration is certainly interesting, it's rather off-putting. It takes a long time for the first few chapters to again become relevant to the plot, which was frustrating. Even worse is the fact that Lucy recognizes another character as somebody she knew earlier in the novel, but it takes many chapters for her to inform the reader of this. The other characters tend to be odd. Some are potentially interesting, like Polly, and some are amusing awful, like Ginevra. Then there's the two potential love interest, Doctor John and M. Paul. Both are awful, unlikeable people. Dr. John at least seems like he would be loving towards Lucy if he had any affection for her, but M. Paul is just an awful jerk. What plot there is is dull and takes far too long to develop. I didn't care much for many of the characters, and so much of the revelations of their secret pasts weren't overly interesting. Plus, the fact that the book is around five hundred pages causes it to be a slog, and a pointless one at that given the odd ending. I am tempted to try Jane Eyre at some point, even though I really didn't like this novel, but I don't think I'll ever give this book a reread. Once was far more than enough for me....more
This looked like a fairly promising collection, but sadly I only really liked a few of the stories. I think the big flaw is that while the anthology iThis looked like a fairly promising collection, but sadly I only really liked a few of the stories. I think the big flaw is that while the anthology is called Fearsome Magics, the theme isn't really tight enough. I like Strahan's discussion of how magic has to have consistent rules and not just be able to do anything, and yet there isn't much consistency here. Some of these stories feature magic in only the loosest sense, or even have none at all. Grigori's Solution tries to pass off a math equation as an end-of-the-world spell and succeeds only in telling a story of people reacting to the end of the world that I've seen done much better elsewhere. Aberration is some sort of strange time travel story (or something - it was far too vague and confused), and the only piece of magic is a stone that the character believes is the cause of her wandering through space and time. Ice in the Bedroom is just as explicable as a hallucinatory total break with reality brought on by the protagonist's wife's suicide as it as as an actual magical journey to a surreal ice world.
Hey, Presto! was about a stage magician and his clever, adventurous daughter, but I did at least enjoy the story. The protagonist is the sort of spunky schoolgirl I love reading about, and the look at the backstage of a magic show was fun. My other favorites also had good female characters. The Dun Letter sees a girl pondering whether she wants to take a trip to fairyland or not, and the fairy good Where Our Edges Lie suffers in my eyes only because it treats fairly similar themes - I would have loved it more if it hadn't come in the same collection. Devil's Bridge has a heroine with a really interesting magical power that has a terrible cost - and she has to struggle with it while only being a teenager. Safe House, which sees a wizard dealing with the remnants of a horrible magic war, was also fairly good and manages to be both thought-provoking and funny thanks to the excellent narration.
Home is the Haunter was a fun story, though I feel like I've read better stories in a similar vein elsewhere. I didn't get quite enough of a sense of the characters or world to see whether I'd want to read more about them. Dream London Hospital seemed a bit like Neverwhere at first, but instead it's surreal, horrific, and just not all that good. Migration is similar, while The Nursery Corner had a good protagonist paired with a so-so plot and use of magic.
There really wasn't anything mind-blowing or life changing here. That isn't a problem when an anthology as a whole is entertaining, but when it only has a few good stories, it does become an issue. Over all, there were far too few stories that I really enjoyed, and I'm just not sure I feel that reading the ones I did like was worth the cost of admission....more
This was a fun book, though not quite as good as I was hoping. The main character, Alexandra Aurora Fortunato, makes for a fun narrator, especially wiThis was a fun book, though not quite as good as I was hoping. The main character, Alexandra Aurora Fortunato, makes for a fun narrator, especially with her snarky attitude and annoyance at much of the cliches of fairy tales. Unlike traditional fairy tale heroes, Alexandra would much rather be a poor Goose Girl than the beautiful princess she has become thanks to a witch's magic. Similar to the heroine of Princeless, she decides she's tired of being locked up in a tower to be picked over by men and makes her escape. She does this with the help of her twelve geese, who provide help and comic relief throughout the novel. Alexandra's interactions with her pets are often entertaining, since both geese and girl are spirited. This Goose Girl has to deal with an evil king, bumbling prince, ogresses, and various other dangers in her quest to get out of her fairy tale life and just be a normal person again.
The plot itself is fun, though it didn't have as strong a parodic or subversive element as I expected. For the most part, Alexandra, her geese, and eventually the Prince, bounce from fairy tale to fairy tale. A number of archetypes, both popular and somewhat less known appear. I have to say that for those with at least some knowledge of fairy tale tropes, the plot is often kinda predictable, but it's still fun to see how various stories are put together into one larger narrative. Still, the ending is a fairly standard happy fairy tale one, and over all this book just didn't grab me as much as I was hoping. It was fun and a quick read, but not one of my favorites....more
This was a fairly mixed bag of stories. Some of them were interesting additions to world of Princeless, including a story shedding some light on BedelThis was a fairly mixed bag of stories. Some of them were interesting additions to world of Princeless, including a story shedding some light on Bedelia's backstory. Others were just kinda pointless or strange. I think a lot of these suffered from being only a few pages and thus feeling disjointed or rushed. Plus, not all of them starred particularly interesting or memorable characters. For example, two stories are devoted to some prince who got tossed in the dungeon, and I simply don't remember who he is - or care about him at all. Also, the art varies wildly from one story to the next. This is to be expected in this sort of anthology, but it's still bothersome, since not all of the art styles are particularly good. On the plus side, the Free Comic Book Day story collected here is excellent and does a good job of summing up everything good about Princeless in a handful of pages. So this isn't a complete loss, even if it was fairly disappointing....more
The continuing adventures of Adrienne are pretty fun, though I liked this volume slightly less than the previous one. I think that's mostly because thThe continuing adventures of Adrienne are pretty fun, though I liked this volume slightly less than the previous one. I think that's mostly because the book settles into its overarching plot and tones down the feminist commentary a little. (Though the cover of the second issue makes fun of sexist comic book covers in an excellent way.) The adventure is pretty fun, though. It's nice to see that Adrienne's sisters are fairly different from her, from the beautiful and self-centered Angelica who is the focus of this volume to the Gothy Angoisse who looks to be the next princess to be rescued. Adrienne and Bedelia continue to be really fun characters, and though their lives get a bit disastrous, they're relatively good at handling things. I was disappointed that Sparky wasn't along this time - she's probably one of my favorite dragons. Over all, this is an excellent continuation of the series, and I'm looking forward to reading the next part of the story. I just wish that the comic came out more often. (Also, I'm a bit annoyed that this collection seems to just be the individual issues, ads and all, bound together into a book.)...more
This was a fairly mixed collection of stories. I like the idea of a group of stories about badass female mages in the modern day, and I was happy thatThis was a fairly mixed collection of stories. I like the idea of a group of stories about badass female mages in the modern day, and I was happy that it includes a new Diana Tregarde story. However, this book ended up being a bit of a letdown.
The first story, Arcanum 101, is a sort of origin story for Di. It's set during her college days and shows her finding some allies in the fight against evil magic while struggling with her worries that being a Guardian will mean she's always alone. I did like some parts of this story - as always, the magic draws on multiple traditions and there are some exciting action scenes. However, it wasn't as good as the original Di books from the early 90s. For one thing, there's a major continuity problem - Di is attending Harvard rather than Yale, and the friends she makes are different from the old college buddies she has in other stories. More importantly, while Di's characterization here makes sense - she's worried that she won't be able to have any friends or lovers because of her status as a Guardian, which makes her fairly mopey - it leads to me not liking her as much as when she's more grown up and self-assured in the novels. Over all, this was a fun story, but I kinda wish I'd read it first rather than saving it for last.
The second story, Drums, is a Jennie Talldeer one. Jennie is a Native American Medicine Woman who has a variety of powers and a wide ranging knowledge of magic. She's also a private investigator, and thus is a bit like a female Native Harry Dresden. This story was fun, as it sees a simple investigation of a woman who's become strangely absent from her community turn into a fight against an angry ghost. As with the one Jennie novel, I liked the use of Native American traditions but wished that there had been a bit more detail to the magic. Also, while I did like this story, it was a bit short and less compelling than the others. Plus, since the novel also involves an evil ghost, it cements my feeling that I don't mind Jennie not having any more stories, since I feel like they would probably be a bit one-note.
The final story, Ghost in the Machine, was definitely the best. Ellen is a techno-shaman, a woman who uses her magic in the digital world to stop magical threats there. She does things like stop magical hacking of the stock markets and exorcize stealth bombers. In this story, she's charged with dealing with a Wendigo in a MMO that's become a bit too real. The details of how online games work were fairly accurate, though Lackey throws around terminology without explaining it a little more than I like. Ellen is a pretty fun character - she's kinda dorky, with her familiar that talks like K-9, but she's also dedicated to defending cyberspace from evil and goes to some length to fight the Wendigo. The story over all was really enjoyable, and I'm pretty sad that Lackey hasn't written anything else about this character. She's a nice twist on traditional urban fantasy protagonists, and there's potential for a ton of stories about her adventures.
Over all, this wasn't as good a collection as I had hoped, but the last story really saved it and made it well worth the price of admission....more