I'll admit that I was the tiniest bit disappointed by the length of the book when it arrived in the mail: it seems to be for very young readers, whileI'll admit that I was the tiniest bit disappointed by the length of the book when it arrived in the mail: it seems to be for very young readers, while (for some reason) I expected it to be middle grade, a la Dragonbreath.
Kate Beaton's illustrations and humour, however, are top notch as always, and Princess Pinecone is just freaking adorable. ...more
I liked this book, but I'll admit I wasn't entirely blown away. In part it's simply because I prefer Gaiman's longer works; in part because I had readI liked this book, but I'll admit I wasn't entirely blown away. In part it's simply because I prefer Gaiman's longer works; in part because I had read many of the stories in this collection before, whether online or in other books, so it was mostly like a reunion with old friends rather than the thrill of the new.
Each story comes with a small introduction, and I wish they had put each one right before the story, rather than lumping them all at the beginning. I did a lot of back and forth while reading.
Black Dog, the new Shadow novella, is quite good - but then I'll easily read anything with Shadow in it. It's odd, but I like him more as a main character after American Gods. Either hew grew up on me, or I grew up, or both. ...more
This book is a heavyweight - and not just because it's almost twice as big as the earlier ones.
(mild spoilers follow)
Whereas Valour and Vanity was a hThis book is a heavyweight - and not just because it's almost twice as big as the earlier ones.
(mild spoilers follow)
Whereas Valour and Vanity was a historical heist novel, Of Noble Family could be seen as a psychological thriller. What should have been a simple engagement or even a relaxing vacation turns soon into horror, and Jane and Vincent have to bear the effects of the cage they're trapped in - not strictly a physical cage, but one made of threats, promises, and obligations. Both characters are subject, in different degrees, to mental and physical distress that would make lesser people crumble.
Luckily, in addition to each other, they find good allies in the slaves and freedmen of the plantation, who share some of their mutual goals, as well as the black doctor Jones (who may or may not be named Martha) and the delightful character of Mrs. Whitten, who makes her first stunning appearance right on the book cover. Rather than being stereotypical white saviours, Jane and Vincent are quite often chastened and/or rescued by the locals, who are more savvy of local customs, wary of the dangers of Antigua (whether from the weather, the corrupted soldiers, or the plantation master), and decidedly not prone to fall victims of cultural appropriation. I dare anyone not to fall immediately in love with Nkiruka and her endless amount of sass.
The thing that vexed me most, being the last book in the series, is that Jane is once again incapable of using glamour for most of the story. Since (almost) everything is described from her point of view, that means that we get verbal descriptions but never get to actually see how the different styles of African glamour work behind the scenes. As someone who loved the 'technical' parts of the previous novels, this was a bit disappointing.
Apart from that, this is as close to perfect as it can get for a series finale. I admit that I'll miss Jane and Vincent and the folds of glamour, and I hope that one day we'll get to read more stories from this world and its people (like Louisa and Zachary, dismantlers of slavery? pretty please?)....more
This book was... nice? OK? I really have a hard time finding much about it that I didn't like, but there isn't much of particularly exceptional eitherThis book was... nice? OK? I really have a hard time finding much about it that I didn't like, but there isn't much of particularly exceptional either. (Except for Csevet. Csevet rules.)
(mild spoilers follow)
Maia is a particularly nice main character who main characteristic is being nice. Granted, I'm extremely glad that he has enough political knowledge not to be the stupid kind of nice who makes the kind of choices a 3-year old would see are wrong (a staple of many lesser fantasy novels). But his life as a recluse (pre-start of the book) and Emperor later means he doesn't get much in the way of personal character development outside of the throne. He doesn't read. He doesn't dance. He has no hobbies. He only gets to start riding because his grandfather basically forces a horse on him. Yes, his ignorance is part of the plot points, but it also makes him a bit of a blank slate beyond his good heart.
Many other things feel like a "good idea, need to expand it more". We know there's steam and clockwork in this world, and yet they use airships rather than, say, trains. Why? Geographical difficulties? Lack of proper terrain? We know there's magic, and a whole caste of magic users, but the only time it's used is for a sleeping cantrip and offscreen, in the space between two paragraphs. We know there's another race, close enough for interbreeding but treated as different/foreign/inferior, but it's not clear how far down this racism goes. Similarly, other main characters, like Cala, get enough hints at characterization that it gets frustrating when they do not follow.
On the other hand, Addison lets some of her worldbuilding get the better hand of her, creating extremely cumbersome names and making it difficult to follow who is who, when family names and honorific titles change at every minute. I mean, I know my D'ni and I dabble plenty in Sindarin, but even I have an issue when the first name I meet in the book is Untheileneise and it goes downhill from there. It also doesn't help in identifying with Maia: to him, one of the main difficulties is the gap between what he knows (formal etiquette) and what he doesn't (the realities of life at court, political alliances, and so on; to us, however, it's all a jumbled mix. Actually, we could probably spot the intrigues well before him, if we could just remember what an Os'merrem was.
But the main fault of the book, IMHO, is that there is a constant lack of tension, either actual or implied. Part of this is Maia's incredibly level-headed approach at things, and we're seeing everything from his point of view. Part of it is that the threats just appear, rather than build up, and most of the rest of the story is lost on political etiquette, rulings, balls and whatnot, like in an elven version of Downton Abbey. On one hand it makes for an extremely leisured read; on the other it also makes it kind of forgettable.
(Disclaimer: I got an ebook copy of this book as part of the Hugo 2015 reader packet)...more
It's not mystery that I adore Kingfisher/Vernon's down-to-earth, sensible protagonists, so of course I adored Bryony from the get go. And of course shIt's not mystery that I adore Kingfisher/Vernon's down-to-earth, sensible protagonists, so of course I adored Bryony from the get go. And of course she would find her perfect match in a witty and sarcastic Beast.
While the story is in great part more humorous and light-hearted compared to the previous Seventh Bride, it takes a real quick turn for the dark towards the end (the corridor of roses will haunt me for a while).
Only 4 stars as I was a little let down by the resolution, though it's the thin line between "perfection" and a mere "extremely good"....more
Haunted castles! Stitched-up minions! Walking suits of armour! Bats! donkeys! Several kinds of not-quite-dragons! And a 12-year old Wicked Witch who iHaunted castles! Stitched-up minions! Walking suits of armour! Bats! donkeys! Several kinds of not-quite-dragons! And a 12-year old Wicked Witch who isn't exactly who she says she is. These are the ingredients of Ursula Vernon's latest novel and all I can say is I need a sequel now.
If you read my other reviews you already know what I love about Ursula's books: the humour, the clever resolutions, the characters and their snappy dialogue, and that down-to-earthness that makes her stories of magic extremely realistic and relatable (I'm not talking about grimdark here, but rather things like the start reality of having to pull weeds from a garden, or the need to steamroll the carpets in your ancient arcane vault because they certainly won't get clean by themselves).
Castle Hangnail definitely gives all this and more. In an age of catastrophic dystopic YA, this is a real breath of fresh air. Well, maybe not too fresh. Those rooms haven't been opened since the vampire lord died, you know....more
3.5 stars, really. Before elaborating, I'm going to quote from two other reviews here on Goodreads because I think they summarize my opinion quite well3.5 stars, really. Before elaborating, I'm going to quote from two other reviews here on Goodreads because I think they summarize my opinion quite well. Flannery: "This book is nostalgia porn." William Cline: "Ready Player One doesn't draw from 1980s popular culture; it just name-drops it all over the place."
First things first: I liked Ready Player One, it's a solid first book, and I'm curious of what else Ernest Cline can come up with. But it's deeply, deeply flawed.
On the world: I was a kid during the '80s, so I have a very fond memory of them. I nodded knowingly at most of the references the author dropped here and there. But the idea, presented in the introduction, of a world that (at least inside OASIS) had reverted to the 1980s never really came true. Sure, there's a lot of name checking, and virtual items, and rewatches, and trivia contests, but let's be honest: you can find most of that stuff now, in Second Life, and there isn't even a grand prize attached. The influence of the '80s only really seems to extend to the Gunters. Also, specifically because of Anorak's quest, most of that is museum nostalgia. Knowing details to perfection, memorizing lines from movies, and so on. There's little, if anything, of new: no mashups, no fanfiction, revised versions, and so on. Non-creative fans are a bit sad.
The cast of characters is very restricted and, while some of them have very interesting facets (Aech in particular) some of them come off as little more than cardboard cutouts, like Shoto. The big bad corporation, also, doesn't seem to have any other motivation for their actions beyond being a big, bad corporation. Monetizing is bad, mmkay?
Maybe the biggest flaw was the last dash in search of the Egg, because there wasn't much tension in it. One part of it ((view spoiler)[replaying the movie (hide spoiler)]) is inherently slow, and Sorrento was off screen most of the time, so there wasn't a real feel of the race-against-the-clock element. The denouement is basically non-existing.
Now, I'm told that Eric Cline is a script writer first and foremost, and I think it shows: this definitely looks like it would work much better on the big screen, where namecalled objects (like the DeLorean) become things you can see and gawp at, and do not mind if they disappear after two minues and are never mentioned again. But, in a novel, it leaves something to be desired.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I actually read the first four issues as part of the Humble BOOM Bundle in August 2014.
Lumberjanes is refreshing, as it shows a group of very diverseI actually read the first four issues as part of the Humble BOOM Bundle in August 2014.
Lumberjanes is refreshing, as it shows a group of very diverse young girls having fun and adventures in a very peculiar girl scouts camp, drawing inspiration from -and building upon, making fun on, subverting with a wink- all sorts of adventure stories and old tales, from the Goonies to Red Riding Hood to Indiana Jones, and so forth.
This comic will resonate both with teens who want to read something other than the usual 'all-white-male plus one objectified girl' group (btw, Sailor Moon was 20 years ago, it shouldn't be *that* hard to find this kind of cast in a major publication), and grown-ups who will get a chuckle from all the pop culture nods.
If I can find a fault, the plot might seem a bit slow moving if you read it all in a row, as the first four issues are mainly standalones with glimpses of the major underlying plot. ...more
"When your future husband is a mad sorcerer, following hedgehogs sometimes seems like the only option."
Initially born as a retelling of Bluebeard, thi"When your future husband is a mad sorcerer, following hedgehogs sometimes seems like the only option."
Initially born as a retelling of Bluebeard, this story stands on its own and becomes something else entirely. For one, most of the wives are still alive in this version, and for some of them that's definitely not an improvement.
Kingfisher/Vernon has a rare skill, in that she can imbue a book like this with humour and whimsical moments (like the aforementioned hedgehog) without detracting anything from the creepy, weird, fairy-tale horror atmosphere of the story - if anything enhancing it, as the cheerful bits make the horrible stand out even more.
If you love fairy tales, slightly genre-savvy protagonists, and helpful but snarky animals, this one's for you....more
A really great webcomic (now coming up in paper format too). The author has some pretty impressive skills drawing facial expressions and body languageA really great webcomic (now coming up in paper format too). The author has some pretty impressive skills drawing facial expressions and body language, allowing her to make several poignant pages where not even a word goes by. My only beef is with the ending, which IMHO was kinda predictable,rushed, and dissatisfying, especially compared to the slower, calmer pace of the rest of the comic. Still a worthy read....more
I'm kinda conflicted about this one, and it makes me sad, since I wanted to love it so much.
It's not the change in characters so late in the series (oI'm kinda conflicted about this one, and it makes me sad, since I wanted to love it so much.
It's not the change in characters so late in the series (only one more book to go): Hawthorn and Tamburlaine are lovely, especially the little troll's struggle to understand human society and all its little quirks and unspoken rules that make absolutely no sense.
It's not even that September and the rest of the characters we know so well are absent for a great part of the book (though, once you get over the book's tipping point, you keep on thinking that CMV is deliberately hiding them all).
It's mostly that, after the aforementioned tipping point, it feels rushed, paler than its predecessors, as if both the story and the author were in a hurry and forgot to properly paint the sketch of a scenery we're running through. If you've ever read Catherynne Valente before, you know that luscious language and descriptions are basically what her books are made of, which makes the lack of it even more disconcerting. It makes me wonder if it had something to do with the carpal tunnel issues she had in the last years, which greatly reduced her writing speed, when she could write at all.
I'm still digesting the ending, which feels somewhat both too late and too sudden. It feels like the book needed 50-100 more pages to really get through. ...more
All right, the important bits first: if you haven't read this book yet DO IT DO IT NOWWWWWWW. Ahem.
The only word that comes to describe this collectioAll right, the important bits first: if you haven't read this book yet DO IT DO IT NOWWWWWWW. Ahem.
The only word that comes to describe this collection of short stories by Yoon Ha Lee is "astounding". The author's prose is rich and succulent, each phrase a meal in itself, at times reminding me of Borges and Cat Valente.
Most of the stories in the collection are sci-fi, though with an edge in narration that makes them more akin to ballads and old-wives tales. Recurring images in the stories are kites, dragons and origami, as well as several other images from Asian tradition - Korean in particular. Whether they're far future worlds, or distant galaxies a long time ago, the reader is definitely sure that they're not the usual Heinlein-esque or Blade Runner-inspired landscapes we're used to. The fantasy stories are maybe more conventional in backstage dressing, but still original in the magic they bring - and I'm not talking about magic systems.
Some of the stories might seem needlessy cryptic or dense on a first read, requiring a reread or several hours of mental unpacking before being fully digested, but in my opinion this an added bonus rather than something detracting. I might not have understood or caught everything that went on in a story, but I'm definitely sure that its themes and images will remain with me for a long time....more