I have never considered my comments on books to count as "reviews". They're just my thoughts and feelings on the book I've recently finished. In the cI have never considered my comments on books to count as "reviews". They're just my thoughts and feelings on the book I've recently finished. In the case of The Ring of Allaire this is even more true than usual as I barely talk about the contents of the book (a lovely and charming tale, it might perhaps be considered a little "old-fashioned" these days), and instead reflect on how reading it made me feel.
I had been looking forward to rereading this ever since I discovered Susan Dexter had updated it and released it as an ebook. It took me long enough to get to it that I now have all three in the trilogy waiting on my Kindle (or technically up on Amazon ready for me to download to my Kindle whenever I'm ready). I have fond memories of reading the series back when it came out in the 1980s and while it was more a case of feelings than specific memories, that was enough to make me want to read them again.
I was surprised by how slowly I read this - it took me two weeks, with other books read at the same time - which is unusual for me. And I wasn't reading slowly because I was bored or not enjoying myself, but more because that just became the pace that seemed appropriate. It turned into a leisurely read, and perhaps that's just what I needed over the summer holidays. (I'm also very tired right now, so again, maybe leisurely was best.)
For all that I read it slowly, I really did enjoy it. The story built and felt very familiar, for all that it must be 25 years or something since I read it. Here I mean familiar is a good way, just as I mean leisurely in a good way. It was a warm and relaxing read over a most un-summery two weeks of summer and that turned out to be perfect.
I remembered most of the characters pretty well (but I forgot Minstrel - how could I possibly forget darling little Minstrel, the canary) and I knew what the twist at the end was going to be, but that didn't hurt the story at all. Instead, it was interesting to watch the progress of plot and characters already knowing it, as I hadn't on my first reading. I don't think it changed my reading of the book (it certainly didn't change my feelings for the book), but it did leave me feeling justified about which characters I preferred, which I guess means the author did her job well.
I had no idea, while reading, what Ms Dexter might have changed and what she left the same. I have my paperbacks down stairs (and their covers are so much prettier than these self-published new editions, but I can't blame the author for that as I assume she doesn't have the rights to use the paper editions' covers) and I could have gone and checked it out, but I didn't feel any need to do that. I just followed the story and enjoyed it.
I'm looking forward to moving on to book two, but as with the reading of this one, I'm not feeling desperate to rush into it (which is good, since I started the 900-odd page Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb today). Instead, I'm feeling decidedly leisurely about it. In this harried day and age, there often isn't much time for leisurely any more. Many thanks to Susan Dexter for allowing me to rediscover it with her charming trilogy....more
I'm reading this a story or two a month as part of the Women of SF 2011 Book Club, so it'll be sitting here in "currently reading" for most of the yeaI'm reading this a story or two a month as part of the Women of SF 2011 Book Club, so it'll be sitting here in "currently reading" for most of the year. I'll try to add a few comments on the stories as I read them, but I can't make any promises.
10 September, 2012: I’m officially giving up on James Tiptree Jr’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. This is not because it’s a bad book, but because at this point in my life I simply can’t take the depressing-ness of it. I’m going to put it away on the bookcase, but leave a bookmark in that, so that when I (hopefully) go back to it in the future I’ll know what I’ve read and what I haven’t. I’m very glad to have read some Tiptree, but the book is just taunting me from my bedroom bookshelf at the moment. “Ha! You’re scared of me and I’m still here with a bookmark in me, which means you should finish me!”.
Maybe one day, but this is just not the right point in my life....more
**spoiler alert** I really struggled with the middle of this book. I think it was partly me (my CFS has my brain turned into a kind of mush at present**spoiler alert** I really struggled with the middle of this book. I think it was partly me (my CFS has my brain turned into a kind of mush at present) and partly that I found myself really afraid of what might happen next. Not to mention that there were just so many pages to read.
But once it all started coming together, my reading speed increased and I really started to enjoy the book again. I finished up really, really liking it and I think it was an excellent end to the trilogy. I'm now all hyped up and ready to start Fool's Errand.
I really think part of my trouble with the book (and I mean trouble in the sense that I found it hard to read because it was good, not the reverse) was Kennit. He was created as such a hugely complicated character that I never knew whether to like him or hate him, be scared of him or be sorry for him. I think this is a great credit to Robin Hobb as an author, but it was hard for this reader whose emotions were being pushed all over the place.
Then Kennit HUGE SPOILER (view spoiler)[raped Althea (hide spoiler)] and any sympathy I had for him disappeared, especially when he then (view spoiler)[managed to make everyone, including Althea herself, doubt that it had happened (hide spoiler)]. At that point, I wanted him to die a horrible and nasty death.
What probably impressed me most about the whole book was that Hobb then managed slowly, not to redeem him, but to continue to show all sides to him, so that I was satisfied with what became of him and the effects it had on everyone else. I continued to dislike him after he crossed that line, but I was at peace with his end.
I liked how the book finished - in a place that showed a hopeful future without trying to tell the next story - and the resolutions for the characters, especially Althea and Paragon. I think Paragon was quite possibly my favourite person in the whole book.
Hobb managed to take a group of characters that were all pretty immature, spoiled and annoying at the beginning of Ship of Magic and let us watch them grow and mature into much more likeable and complete people by the end of the trilogy.
I'm going to enjoy the Tawny Man books (I hope none of them prove to be quite so hard for me to read, or that my health is better to cope with them) and then I'll be back for the Rain Wild books. I am ever so glad I stuck with this one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've decided to make this a DNF, which isn't really true as I've read all but the new entries already on the website. It's just that I'm not feeling tI've decided to make this a DNF, which isn't really true as I've read all but the new entries already on the website. It's just that I'm not feeling the need to reread them. I'm going to go on with Running Through Corridors: Rob and Toby's Marathon Watch of Doctor Who on its own instead....more
And so my first read for 2012 ends up being a Doctor Who novel.
I saw this on a stand at the library last week and grabbed it just as I was about to leAnd so my first read for 2012 ends up being a Doctor Who novel.
I saw this on a stand at the library last week and grabbed it just as I was about to leave. It sat on the shelf with the other library books and I forgot about. I saw it there yesterday and thought I'd pick it up.
It's been a hard couple of weeks for me, with my 7 year old with ADHD at home for the summer holidays and my CFS dragging me down. I don't think I could read anything complicated if I tried. I'm slowly rereading Susan Dexter's The Ring of Allaire, which I'm enjoying, but it's usually only a few pages or a short chapter at a time.
Therefore a Doctor Who novel, the first for the 11th Doctor, which I knew was aimed at family audiences, seemed a perfect option.
This is, indeed the first novel for the 11th Doctor, and I suspect that very little (or possibly none) of Matt Smith's interpretation of the role had been seen by the author at the time he was writing. He does his best, and there are moments where the Doctor does seem something like the Doctor, but he just doesn't quite get it right. I don't blame him for this - I've had 2 full seasons and 2 Christmas specials of Matt Smith's Doctor and love him inside and out (which is why I grabbed this when I saw it in the first place).
The thing that jarred was mainly his portrayal of the Doctor self-consciously telling jokes and having them fall flat. Maybe that was an idea that fell by the wayside as the 11th Doctor developed, but it doesn't feel right now. Otherwise, both the Doctor and Amy felt kind of generic. But as I said, I don't think the author can really be blamed for that.
As for the story, it was a fun read. Not earth-shattering or mind-boggling, but that wasn't what I was looking for. The idea of the poor people dying of asphyxiation in the park as it linked to the moon, combined with the astronaut appearing in the shopping mall trailing moon dust made for a great start. A solid, enjoyable story followed, leaving me glad of my impulse borrow from the library.
I've request the next few 11th Doctor novels from the library and I plan (within borrowing limits) to keep them around for when a light read is required. I'll also be interested to see if the characterisation of both the Doctor and Amy improve as they become more familiar to the authors. (Also, bring on Rory as a charcter in the novels, because I totally love him.)...more
I saw this one recommended on Dear Author some time last year. The fact is was written by a New Zealander and set it New Zealand attracted me, as didI saw this one recommended on Dear Author some time last year. The fact is was written by a New Zealander and set it New Zealand attracted me, as did the librarian/ex-rock star pairing. All the same, I never got around to reading it.
I don't remember what made me decide to request it just before Christmas, but I did and it turned up at the library for me. Again, I didn't get around to reading it. I was going to take it back, but something made me renew it instead.
So on Sunday, I finally got around to starting it. And I sat there, ignoring my poor, home-on-holidays, child and read through to the end.
This is a very fun read. I enjoyed the local setting and both main characters. I found Rachel and her backstory to be strong and her responses both to her past and Devin to be pretty realistic. I'm not so sure about Devin, but he was such a fun character that I didn't care how realistic the idea of an ex-rock star at Auckland University was.
The sub-plot with Mark, and both Rachel's reaction to her and later, his to her revelation, held true. However, I did feel that he started to take over the story towards the end and while he was the catalyst that brought Rachel and Devin back together, it felt a little bit like he was getting in the way.
There were some lovely little sub-plots that didn't have the opportunity to be fleshed out as much as I might have liked because of the length of the work. That's actually high praise rather than a criticism as Karina Bliss manages to make such points an enjoyable part of the story, despite the restricted word count. I'm especially thinking of Devin's mother's shoes under the bed and the introduction of Matthew; at single title length they could have been given full secondary status, but here's there's not room. I was delighted by them and their presence in the story all the same.
I'm not sure how many luxury private planes with the capability to fly of New Zealand to LA are ever on the ground at Auckland airport (but I don't live in those kinds of circles, so what am I to say what the reality is) but I was perfectly happy to let that slide as part of the story.
I would have liked a slightly more solid ending; somehow it felt a bit wishy-washy, even though it fitted the characters very well. I think that's very much a case of "it's me, not you" as I don't even know how I'd have liked it done differently, as as a bit more time passes since I finished the book, the happier I am with the ending.
I would like to know how things turned out with Zander in the long run, but that's a minor plot point and doesn't really need further clarification. It's just that the completist in me wants to know.
I'd be perfectly willing to read Karina Bliss again. And to recommend this to anyone wanting a pleasant romance with some mild angst. A very good read....more
This was a fun collection of the weird, curious and quite interesting facts collected and collated for the Stephen Fry hosted TV show, QI.
I learned alThis was a fun collection of the weird, curious and quite interesting facts collected and collated for the Stephen Fry hosted TV show, QI.
I learned all sorts of things that I probably never needed to know and forgot by the time I was on to the next section. But I don't particularly care as I enjoyed reading it and it's perfect for a piecemeal read of just a few pages here and there when you aren't feeling like reading anything else.
Just be aware that the last 25% of the ebook is actually the index. I guess because ebooks don't use small print and columns like paper books do, that it expanded considerably when the book was converted to the electronic version. It's still a useful index though (even if the page numbers in it relate to the paper edition) since each page number is hyperlinked. You still end up where you were wanting to go.
I don't know if it's appropriate to say in a public forum, but this is an excellent "bathroom book". Read a bit on each visit when you feel like it and over time you'll work your way through it. If you have a paper copy, leave it in there and your visitors can do the same. And when you wonder why they disappeared down your hallway and never returned, this book will be the answer....more
I'm trying to get back into the routine of reading with Marcus at night, so I pulled out a collected of books from my own library that might be suitabI'm trying to get back into the routine of reading with Marcus at night, so I pulled out a collected of books from my own library that might be suitable. He picked this one to try first. I'll say straight off that the first chapter throws lots of complicated concepts at an 8 year old, but now we're into the main part of the story, he seems to be following it and learning to tie the beginning "weird stuff" into the understanding Sirius is gaining as he grows and learns more....more
This is all the fault of Julie and Scott of the "A Good Read is Hard to Find" podcast. I was listening to it today and decided I really needed to readThis is all the fault of Julie and Scott of the "A Good Read is Hard to Find" podcast. I was listening to it today and decided I really needed to read this one. They've talked about other books that I've added to my wishlist, but this is the first time I bought the book pretty much on the spot and started reading....more
I found this quite slow - and actually rather boring - to start with, but once I got going things picked up and it turned into a pretty good story.
I fI found this quite slow - and actually rather boring - to start with, but once I got going things picked up and it turned into a pretty good story.
I felt there wasn't enough reason why Todd was so "special", but it didn't really matter. This will never be one of my favourite McCaffrey's, but it turned out to be better than I expected at first....more
I loved rereading this. It was nice to read it on Kindle and be able to mark passages as I go (that helps me absorb a text I find) and loved the GarthI loved rereading this. It was nice to read it on Kindle and be able to mark passages as I go (that helps me absorb a text I find) and loved the Garth Nix intro and especially the transcript of a DWJ speech about heroic journeys and writing F&H.
I remember this as being the catalyst that set me off to find out more about Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin, so it was very interesting to read it nearly 20 years later and from the other side, with the ballads well established in my head. It let me pick out meaning that I had missed before and made the read more enjoyable - but I still missed pretty much all the things DWJ mentioned in the speech at the end, so I guess there's a lot more for me to unpick in future reads.
It remains a great story as well as a brilliant interweaving of myth into a modern story.
I also found it had dated less than the earlier books. It still had horrible parents, but at least nobody got hit around this time.
The only thing that caught me out was when Polly was at the practice with the quartet, and they needed to find out when her next train home would be. Everyone looked at Ann, who leaned down to look in her bag. For a moment, I really thought she was going to pull out a smart phone and look it up that way. Of course, what she did pull out was a paper timetable.
A huge thumbs up. You have to pay attention as you read, but boy is it worth it....more
I good, solid read, but not as amazing as I'd been expecting. Maybe it therefore suffered from too high expectations?
I found the first half to be veryI good, solid read, but not as amazing as I'd been expecting. Maybe it therefore suffered from too high expectations?
I found the first half to be very slow - and I was left in a constant is he/isn't he state of confusion regarding Sage's identity. Mostly because I wasn't sure if she would take what I saw as the most obvious solution. She did.
However, once that was pretty much cleared up and she explained how that was possible, I was much happier. I hadn't been sure she could come up with a reasonable explanation, but everything was there, set out to be revealed later. At some point, I'd quite like to reread the book knowing those revelations. I really do wonder if that would alter my more lacklustre reaction to the first half of the book.
However, as I may or may not have said before, I generally hate unreliable narrators so I first reading where I'm all "can I trust what the first person narrator says or not" I find very annoying. To this day, I don't know why I didn't find that with The Thief, except that somehow I always trusted Gen, even if I knew he wasn't telling me everything. I didn't feel I could trust Sage. I like to be able to trust my narrator and I didn't in this case, which is why I'd kind of like to read it again now I do know the truth. Although when I'd ever find the time, I don't know.
I did like the resolution of the sub-plot with Imogen (I'm glad she took the other direction with that one) and I'm tempted to read the next book to find out how Sage gets on with the princess as they face the upcoming threats to the kingdom.
So yes, a solid read, but not an ideal one if you're comparing Sage to Gen (which isn't fair, but it's part of what sold me on the book in the first place) or if you don't like unreliable narrators....more
I was one of those people that loved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and I wasn't sure how this one was going to compare. I had loWow, this was amazing!
I was one of those people that loved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and I wasn't sure how this one was going to compare. I had loved Yeine and Naha and Sieh and the others, and I couldn't imagine how Jemisin was going to pull off a book with Itempas as the protagonist after he'd essentially been the villain of the first book.
Well, she certainly does pull it off, and how!
In a way, Itempas is not a protagonist at all; or rather he is, but in a secondary way. This is, first and foremost, Oree's book. And Oree is amazing.
For starters, she's blind. I didn't know how Jemisin was going to pull that off either, but again, she does it absolutely brilliantly. I don't know how she did it, but Oree's blindness (and occasionally her sight, since she can "see" magic) is integral to the telling of the story and seemed to affect me as I read. I have never considered myself to be a particularly visual reader, but I must be more of one than I thought, because when Oree is unable to see, it was like there was a constriction on my own vision as well. There was a wall to one part of me, leaving me feeling like I'd lost access to one of my own senses. I still knew exactly what was going on, but I knew it as Oree did, not in my usual, sighted, way.
As I said, I have no idea how Jemisin did this, but I am ever so impressed. I've been buying her books automatically as they are released after just reading her first (it was the fact The Killing Moon had arrived on my Kindle, meaning I now had three Jemisin books I hadn't read, that gave me the impetus to read this one), but if I hadn't been, I would be now.
But Oree is more than someone who is blind; she's strong and capable and willful and occasionally stupid. She's also wise and loving, compassionate and stubborn. She totally rocks (and I can't quite believe I just wrote that). I only mentioned her blindness first because I was so caught up in the way Jemisin conveyed that to the reader, not because it is the be all and end all of Oree's character. It isn't at all, it's only one part of who she is.
I don't really want to say more about the plot as it unfolds beautifully without the reader needing to know lots in advance. There are references to the events and history of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, so I recommend reading that first (figuring out who some of the characters are is pretty cool, especially Hado). If you turn out to be one of that people that isn't as blown away by that book, don't give up on Jemisin. Give her another chance in this one. It's different and amazing and doesn't have the same kind of (subverted) romance tropes in it that I think put some people off the first one. There is love in this book, lots of it and it all very powerful, but not at all in a "romance" kind of way.
The ending is amazing. I don't want to give it away, but it is bittersweet and beautiful and totally the right way for the story to go. Anything else would have been a cheat and robbed some of the power from characters' actions, reactions and pain in both the first book and this one.
I am blown away by this book and Ms Jemisin has a very firm fan in me. I was one already, but I'm even more of one now than I was before. I'm really looking forward to reading The Kingdom of Gods, although I'm going to read something else in between while my head and my heart finish digesting this one....more
I am really enjoying revisiting Louise Cooper's Time Master trilogy. I reread the first, The Initiate, way back in 2009 and it's taken until now for mI am really enjoying revisiting Louise Cooper's Time Master trilogy. I reread the first, The Initiate, way back in 2009 and it's taken until now for me to get on to the second book. (I'm rather embarrassed to see exactly how long that gap really was.) It didn't matter in the least as I remember plenty enough of the first book to jump into this one easily.
It was actually reading N. K. Jemisin's The Broken Kingdoms that gave me the push I needed to pick this one up (figuratively speaking since I read it on my Kindle). That series has a good take on the balances between the gods and how it can so much more complicated than simple good and evil, order and chaos. It was the Time Master books that first introduced me to that concept (and it was pretty mind-blowing for the teenager I was at the time), and the reminder of that as I read (and loved) The Broken Kingdoms made me want to get back to this earlier trilogy.
It is so easy in fantasy to create a clear and simple (and simplistic) duality between good gods and evil gods (often identified with order and chaos). I love a book that investigates that and questions its validity. I'm looking forward to comparing Jemisin's more modern take on this with Cooper's work.
In and of itself, The Outcast is clearly the middle book in a trilogy. In many ways, the position of the main characters at the beginning is little different from the position they were in when the book began. But at the same time there has been progress and a good story told. I wouldn't so much say that the characters have developed as that they have deepened the reader's understanding of their personalities and motives. One character is still a bitch, another is still her dupe, the main characters remain who they were. But it's still a good book. It's well worth reading and it holds up well through the 25-odd years since its original publication.
And besides, I fell for Tarod a long time ago (and Cyllan too). Your early literary loves stay with you for a long time, I think.