**spoiler alert** So I lied and read this one straight after Rebirths. I blame Amazon for putting the ebook on sale.
I think I'm glad I read Deaths bef**spoiler alert** So I lied and read this one straight after Rebirths. I blame Amazon for putting the ebook on sale.
I think I'm glad I read Deaths before this one, because I don't know if I'd have been interested in reading the rest of the series otherwise. Several plot points like Penetra are mentioned but never really used, left open for the sequels. Antonio is a non-entity, only needed to put Jill in trouble. Jill herself is a carboard cut-out compared to the next books, and it's hard to reconcile her with the no-nonsense political mastermind of Deaths, with or without Quasing.
It's an OK novel and a quick, fun read, but it's so busy being an origins story that it just doesn't have the same grip and sense of urgency as the others. ...more
3.5 stars, rounded up because I ultimately liked it.
Is it weird to judge a series of which you haven't read the first installment? Well, I started rea3.5 stars, rounded up because I ultimately liked it.
Is it weird to judge a series of which you haven't read the first installment? Well, I started reading with The Deaths of Tao, which I got as part of this year's Hugo package and, while I do intend to read The Lives of Tao at some point, I do not feel the urge to do it right now. Apart from some initial confusion, Death and Rebirth stand well on their own.
My main impression of Rebirths, however, is that it doesn't feel like the last book in a series - more like the middle one, where the tide turns and the game changes. I'll echo the sentiment of another reviewer: we're told the world is about to end, but we don't really get much sense of urgency. And while we hope for our underdog heroes to be able to bring down the Genjix, Chu needs to minimize the impact of their actions so he can write more stories in this world. Win the fight, prolong the war, so to speak.
This driving slowly into the apocalypse has also the ultimate side effect of having our characters react rather than act most of the time. While it's entertaining to watch the heroes get repeatedly kicked like sacks of potatoes, to me it gets very close to that stretching point where I find it almost unbelievable that they can win in the end by anything but sheer, dumb luck.
Cameron. Well. Portraying a non-annoying teenage character in the middle of a bunch of adults is never easy, especially when one of them is thousands of years old and in his head, and Chu manages - barely. I find his chapters to be the weakest of the bunch, though (thankfully) he never manages to be so annoying as Enzo. Dude. Mental sparring with your Holy One is one thing, but when you never agree on anything, maybe you're just not a very good host.
You might be asking how this book can get a 4 when I seem to have disliked so much of it. First: I only niggle about things that emotion me. I don't get argumentative about stuff that leaves me 'meh'. Second: Roen. It's evident that this is the character that Chu has the better grip on, that has the best humour and most of the best lines, and who he loves more to beat up to an inch of his life. There could be a miniseries of just Roen slamming into things while trying to make a sandwich. It's that good....more
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 whose 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 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