If I had read these books when I was the right age, they would probably have gotten 4 or 5 stars, but I'm a little too old for them now.
These are 4 no...moreIf I had read these books when I was the right age, they would probably have gotten 4 or 5 stars, but I'm a little too old for them now.
These are 4 novels about Alanna of Trebond, a girl who wants to be a knight. Unfortunately, the last female knight in her country lived 100 years ago and her preoccupied father has decreed that she will be fostered out to learn to be a lady. Alanna's twin brother, Thom, forges a couple of letters and Alanna takes his place in the school for knights and Thom happily goes off to become a sorceror. Needless to say, Alanna has to disguise herself as a boy to be accepted into the school and she forces herself to work twice as hard as the other knights-in-training to prove to herself that she's in the right place. She has lots of adventures and saves the kingdom numerous times. Along the way she learns to accept herself as both a knight and a woman and that there is still room in a knight's life for love.
The writing in these books was a little simplistic, but they are young adult books. Alanna's character struggles with the things that most girls her age stuggle with and she was a likeable character. The other characters were pretty one-dimensional, but they were described well enough that I either loved them or hated them. There weren't many I was indifferent to.
I guess I've gotten used to reading big epic fantasies, because after every battle, I was like, "Is that it? This should have gone on a lot longer." There wasn't a lot of transition. Alanna just moved from major plot point to major plot point, which can be a good thing, but I felt in this case it made the books a little choppy.
As I started reading these I kept thinking that my 9-year-old tomboy cousin would love them and I would buy them for her upcoming birthday. But as I read on and Alanna entered puberty and then started falling in love, I decided that I will wait about 5 years. I still think she'll like them, but they did get a little too adult for a 9-year-old.
Overall, these were pretty good books, and I would highly recommend them for tomboys older than about 13 or 14.
(view spoiler)[And what was the deal with Duke Roger? He came back to life? I couldn't help but feel like the author either didn't want to bother coming up with a new arch-villain, or she felt like he was such a "good" bad guy she just had to bring him back. I got a little irritated when he came back into the story line. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Kvothe is an innkeeper in a little out-of-the-way village. Or is he? One day a story-gatherer finds him and guesses that there is more to the innkeepe...moreKvothe is an innkeeper in a little out-of-the-way village. Or is he? One day a story-gatherer finds him and guesses that there is more to the innkeeper than meets the eye. He asks Kvothe to share his story. Kvothe agrees, but tells Chronicler that it will take three days to tell the story. This book is the first in a--can you guess?--trilogy telling Kvothe's story. This one tells of Kvothe's childhood and how he eventually made his way to the University to learn magic.
Really, I would probably have given this 4.5 stars, but it was good enough and original enough for me to round up.
Kvothe was a likeable character and the story was pretty original and entertaining. It moved at a good pace and I really found myself almost devouring it. I really lost myself in it a couple of times. In one scene when Kvothe was auditioning, I found myself with a pit in my stomach and sweaty hands. I just had to laugh at myself when I caught it!
For all that, there were a couple of things that bugged me.
First of all, Kvothe's name. I don't mind authors inventing names, but make it something pronounceable, please! It doesn't help to explain "It sounds like quothe." I stumbled over those consonants every time I read the name and it broke the flow of the book. Luckily the book is told in first person, so I didn't really have to read it that often.
Second, the pacing was great--until one part right at the end when the author got distracted by a giant lizard. This part dragged on and on and on. There was a point to the scene, but it wasn't such a huge payoff that it demanded over fifty pages of text.
I read somewhere (I think here on Goodreads) that this is like Harry Potter for grownups. Not so much. On a very superficial level, maybe. I don't think this ever achieved the magic that Harry Potter did. This probably won't ever appeal to a huge variety of fans the way Harry did. But for fantasy fans, I would say this is a must-read.(less)
Elena Klovis is badly mistreated by her stepmother. She is forced to clean the house, cook the food, and dress her stepmother and her two stepsisters,...moreElena Klovis is badly mistreated by her stepmother. She is forced to clean the house, cook the food, and dress her stepmother and her two stepsisters, while she herself dresses in rags and goes hungry. Sound familiar? That's because Elena is supposed to be her kingdom's Cinderella. But her "Prince Charming" is completely wrong for her. So magic just keeps building and building around her. Finally, Elena's Fairy Godmother steps in with a most unusual offer. Elena's life is changed in a way that she could never have foretold. But will there eventually be a happily-ever-after for her?
I loved the whole concept of this story. I love fairy tales and I love to see twists on fairy tales. This one was a lot of fun and it really wasn't very predictable. It was a fun, light read, and I would recommend it to other fans of fairy tales.
Two things though: First, I was sort of thinking that my little cousin, a fan of all things princess and fairy, might enjoy having this book read aloud to her. Then I got to the sex scenes. There were probably only two, and they were pretty lightweight, but they were still there, so keep that in mind if you're thinking of the little princess in your life. Second, I've read several of Mercedes Lackey's books, and I would love to be her copyeditor. She absolutely kills me. She generally tells interesting, original stories, but the copyeditor whose red ink swirls through my veins cringes through her books. I would disable her italics key right off the bat. I don't mind the convention she uses of having a character's thoughts in italics. That actually makes things a little clearer. But I'm glancing through the book right now and it's almost impossible to find a page where italics aren't used for emphasis numerous times. How irritating! Typos abounded and I would swear that this sentence made an appearance, although, of course, I can't find it now: "Her heart was literally in her throat." Really? Literally? There are so many ways to make fun of that sentence that I don't know where to start. Did it use grappling hooks to climb up there? Don't bite down! How do you talk around that?
Enough of that. Overall, it's a fun, funny, sweet, original story. (less)
I really can't even tell you what this was about. There's this little town in New England where the membrane between worlds is very thin. This book te...moreI really can't even tell you what this was about. There's this little town in New England where the membrane between worlds is very thin. This book tells about one summer in the town's history and some of the weird things that happen.
This sounded like exactly my kind of book. It wasn't. At all. I should have been warned when I read the book jacket and saw that the author had won some sort of Kafka prize. I've never read Kafka, but I have this vague idea that he's hard to understand and the reader is left unsure of what exactly just happened. That's where I am. I don't know what the point of this was. I'll be honest here and say that, maybe, if I had some sort of intellectual book club to discuss this with, I just might enjoy it more, or at least "get" it. I don't belong to a book club, but I do usually "get" books, whether I enjoy them or not, and I just don't "get" this one. I couldn't wait to finish it and I'm so disappointed that this was the book I had with me on my weekend at the beach.
If Kafka's your thing, you might like it. I don't think this book's for the average reader though.(less)
Really, probably 3.5 stars, but it was good enough for me to round it up instead of down.
The Somnambulist features Edward Moon, a conjurer most easily...moreReally, probably 3.5 stars, but it was good enough for me to round it up instead of down.
The Somnambulist features Edward Moon, a conjurer most easily compared to Sherlock Holmes, but with a freakish twist. His Watson is an 8-foot-tall mute man named--can you guess?--The Somnambulist. The pair are asked to investigate a bizarre murder in the seamier part of London at the beginning of the novel. Within pages, they have solved the murder. Or have they?
This was a quick, enjoyable read. The characters may have seemed a little like stock characters at first, but they almost always turned out to be something other than they appeared. The plot was well-paced and, for me anyway, the mystery was pretty unpredictable. But, be warned. I picked this up thinking that it might be like The Alienist but set in London with a few sideshow freaks. It starts out that way, but by the end, the book wanders into solid fantasy. That wasn't a problem for me because I am a huge fan of fantasy, but I know that's not the case for a lot of mystery fans. But it did go a little over the top for me, which is part of why it's 3.5 stars instead of 4.5. Also, I was left with a lot of unanswered questions. I like to have everything pretty tidily resolved at the end. I can't even figure out why the book is titled The Somnambulist instead of The Conjurer except that it sounds cooler.
If nothing else, read the first chapter of this book. It's only about a page long. Read it while you're browsing the bookstore or the library. This was the best first chapter I've read in a long time. Here's the first paragraph: "Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. It is a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in drearily pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous and wilfully bizarre. Needless to say, I doubt you'll believe a word of it." I was solidly hooked after reading it, and you may find that you are too.(less)
The adventures of Thursday Next continue as she seeks refuge from the evil designs of the Goliath Corporation and Yorick Kaine inside the Book World,...moreThe adventures of Thursday Next continue as she seeks refuge from the evil designs of the Goliath Corporation and Yorick Kaine inside the Book World, most specifically, The Well of Lost Plots. She's pregnant, her pet dodo is hatching an egg in a slightly muddled way, her husband has been eradicated (back when he was only two years old) and the little sister of her defeated arch-nemesis is slowly erasing and/or changing all of Thursday's memories. She's also investigating crimes as an apprentice agent for Jurisfiction, an internal book policing agency. Mentoring her at Jurisfiction is Miss Havisham. Yes, that Miss Havisham. The Miss Havisham of Great Expectations fame who now spends what little spare time she has competing against Mr. Toad to try to set a new land speed record.
Do you get the picture? This book is not for those without a sense of humor, or at least a sense of whimsy. I am amazed at Jasper Fforde's literary knowledge and imagination. It feels like there is some sort of literary reference or pun in at least every paragraph. It's really probably every sentence, but I don't know enough myself to "get" them all.
I love the whole concept of a secret, hidden world within books. What do all those characters get up to when their stories aren't being read? A lot, as it turns out.
This book also seems to be where another of Fforde's books, The Big Over Easy started out. Now that I've read The Big Over Easy, it was interesting to see where the idea began, knowing where it wound up.
I think it only got three stars because I did read it before a few years ago. I do enjoy Jasper Fforde's books, but I don't think they stand up all that well to re-reading. The fresh ideas aren't all that fresh anymore.
That being said, I do highly recommend these to people with the sense of humor to appreciate them.(less)
Charlie Asher is your average Beta Male. He owns a second-hand shop in San Francisco and rents out the apartments in the rest of the building to some...moreCharlie Asher is your average Beta Male. He owns a second-hand shop in San Francisco and rents out the apartments in the rest of the building to some kooky tenants. He has somehow managed to win the heart of beautiful Rachel and she has just given birth to their daughter Sophie when the book begins. Charlie can't believe his luck, and, with typical Beta Male imagination, believes that Sophie has eleven toes or a tail or something--good things just don't happen for Beta Males. After Sophie's birth, weird things start to happen to Charlie. People drop dead in front of him, objects glow with an eerie red light, and he hears evil voices coming from the sewer drains. Enter Mr. Minty Fresh. He explains what is going on to Charlie. Basically, they are Death Merchants. They collect objects from the dead and dying that are imbued with the dead person's soul. Then they hold onto the object until the soul's next owner comes along and buys it. If they screw up, or if they have contact with other Death Merchants, the Forces of Darkness will rise and the World As We Know It will end. No pressure.
I think I had laughed out loud four times in the first four pages of this book. Moore's sense of humor is a perfect match for mine. I've been trying to think of the word to describe it. Not exactly crass or crude, it's more like the not-exactly-for-polite-company jokes that you make with your best friends and maybe even your family, but you probably wouldn't say in front of your in-laws or your boss. I had a few "I can't believe he had the nerve to write that!" moments in some of the funnier parts. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:
"'There's no g*****n tail , you doofus! Look!' She pulled down the blanket and aimed baby Sophie's bottom at him like she might unleash a fusillade of weapons-grade poopage such as the guileless Beta Male had never seen."
"Don't be ridiculous, Charlie, people love the parents who beat their kids in department stores. It's the ones who just let their kids wreak havoc that everybody hates."
While the book was definitely an irreverent comedy, there were some very nice parts where Charlie is reflecting on death and loved ones. Probably one of the nicest passages was about hospice workers, calling them "benevolent Valkyries, midwives of the final light." These nicer parts are few and far between, but it was nice to have them in there.
The characters are all quirky but loveable and you just can't help rooting for Charlie as he comes to terms with fatherhood and his new status as a Death Merchant. Charlie's employees and tenants provide a comedic sideshow that I loved.
The plot is so different that I never had much of an idea where Moore was going with this. And I mean that in a good way. I like well-written unpredictable books and this fit into that category.
The humor isn't for everyone, but if it sounds like your brand of humor, read this one. It's a lot of fun. (less)
The Looking Glass Wars is a different take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In this book, Alyss is the princess of Wonderland who has to flee to...moreThe Looking Glass Wars is a different take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In this book, Alyss is the princess of Wonderland who has to flee to our world when her evil aunt Redd takes over the throne. The rest of the story is about Alyss learning to adapt to our world and trying to regain her lost throne.
So, I have to confess that I read this when I was home from work with a mild stomach bug and some very sleepy-making anti-nausea meds in my system. But through that haze, it was still a decent book. I'll probably re-read it sometime though. The story, although based on another book, still manages to be very original. The characters are very one-dimensional, and some things aren't explained all that well, but the originality and the action do save it. I don't know if this is actually aimed at young adults, but it did have that feel to it. So, keeping that in mind, it's just a decent fantasy novel. I'll probably give this author one or two more chances.(less)
Promises to Keep is a novella about everyone's favorite Newford artist, Jilly Coppercorn. But this time we're seeing Jilly whe...moreThis is Charles de Lint.
Promises to Keep is a novella about everyone's favorite Newford artist, Jilly Coppercorn. But this time we're seeing Jilly when she's fresh off the streets and getting started as a student at Butler University. The transition isn't easy, especially when Jilly's best friend from her street days shows up with an offer Jilly finds hard to refuse.
Apparently this started out as a short story about Jilly, but it grew into this little book. I devoured it in a few hours.
I really enjoyed it. I liked seeing Jilly when she was so young and just learning to be "relentlessly cheerful" and how to open up and make new friends. I also liked reading about Jilly's first meetings with Geordie, Sophie, and Wendy.
If you like Charles de Lint, especially if you like his short stories (this little book does keep the feel of a short story), read this one for sure. If you're just looking for some fantasy that's not too out-of-this world, with some really good characterization as a bonus, read this one. You won't be disappointed.(less)
Let me first say that I love, love, love reading Charles de Lint. Let me also say that I'm probably 15 years older than the target audience for this b...moreLet me first say that I love, love, love reading Charles de Lint. Let me also say that I'm probably 15 years older than the target audience for this book.
That being said, this was my least favorite of the de Lint books I've read. This is a young adult book about a girl named TJ and how she befriends a "Little" named Elizabeth. For those of you familiar with Mary Norton's The Borrowers (which I adored), Littles are basically Borrowers. For the rest of you, Elizabeth is a 6-inch tall punky girl who Elizabeth finds living in the walls of her bedroom. The book is about their growing friendship and the way each girl finally learns to accept herself.
Charles de Lint didn't really seem to be sure where he was going with the story. First we're on one quest, then, suddenly, a different quest, and then we finally ended up in a place that I didn't really see coming, but that was still somehow predictable. The dialog did not feel real to me. But maybe it was. I can't say that I bother with staying current on the current teen slang, but it felt way too forced and unnatural when I was reading it.
Read this if you're already a fan of Charles de Lint, but if you're trying him out for the first time, please try a different one first. This is not a good representation of what he can do with a story.(less)
Welcome to an alternative England, where characters from nursery rhymes investigate nursery crimes and the investigation is more focused on getting a...moreWelcome to an alternative England, where characters from nursery rhymes investigate nursery crimes and the investigation is more focused on getting a good story than on getting a correct conviction. Jack Spratt and his new partner, Mary Mary, have just been assigned to investigate the death of Humpty Dumpty. But this seemingly straightforward investigation is not all it's cracked up to be. (Sorry, I don't know if that even made sense, but I had to work it in somehow.)
I really enjoyed this. Something about the feel of a hard-nosed detective story contrasted with using characters from nursery rhymes just really amused me. And it was an unpredictable whodunnit on top of everything else. If you don't take yourself (or your books) too seriously, you would probably enjoy this. I have also really enjoyed Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, so if you enjoyed those, you'll probably also like this series.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is the third book in the Kushiel's Legacy trilogy. Phedre no Delauney, s&m courtesan/spy extraordinaire, and her consort Jo...more**spoiler alert** This is the third book in the Kushiel's Legacy trilogy. Phedre no Delauney, s&m courtesan/spy extraordinaire, and her consort Joscelin have enjoyed ten years of peace. That peace is shattered when they set out to find the traitor Melisande's son and rescue Phedre's childhood friend, Hyacinthe, from eternal life (notice I wrote life and not youth.)
For me, this was the darkest and therefore hardest to read of the three books. As usual the s&m scenes weren't (to me) all that graphically detailed. Well, they could have been a lot worse anyway. Most of it was really left up to readers' imaginations. But what she did write and the direction it sent my imagination in was just too much for this country girl. Luckily, all that stops after the first half of the book. So if you can hang in there that long, I believe you're free and clear to just get on with the story.
The story itself was well-written and engaging. I really felt like this book could have been two novels. There are definitely two distinct halves. I think I would almost have rather had the real second book cut out completely and have the first half of the third book as the second novel in the trilogy.
If you liked the other books, this one won't let you down.
The whole first half in Darsanga was just way too dark for me. I didn't feel like we were really getting anywhere with the story for a while. I know that the plot really was moving along, but it just felt repetitive with Phedre trying to make friends with the others, Phedre trying to make friends with Imri, Phedre going to dinner with the Mahrkagar and avoiding Joscelin's eyes, and then Phedre going to have violent sex with the Mahrkagar as he slowly breaks her. I was just ready for the plot to move on past that part.
And, as much as I like Joscelin, and I'm really glad that he's still with Phedre, I kind of wish that Phedre and Hyacinthe had hooked up one more time, maybe when he visited her in Montreve. It's kind of hinted at that it might happen in the future, but, c'mon, this woman just practically went to hell and back for this guy. They have to get together one more time!
The Golden Compass takes place in an alternative world where every human has a daemon familiar and witches and sentient armored bears rule the Arctic....moreThe Golden Compass takes place in an alternative world where every human has a daemon familiar and witches and sentient armored bears rule the Arctic. The main character, a feisty little urchin named Lyra, sets out for the north to discover why children are disappearing off the streets in England and also to rescue her father.
I read this when it first came out, but I don't remember reading the other two books in the series. I decided to pick it up again when I saw that the movie is coming out soon.
This was a very enjoyable book that just rocked right along. The fantasy is very different. It doesn't center on the overdone dragons, orcs, and maidens-in-distress. The Church seems to be based on scientific research and the whole idea behind the book seems to be based on the very general, uninformed ideas I have about quantum physics. And Lyra is a great main character. Nothing keeps her down for very long. She's sort of a female Jack from the Jack tales, in that she can weasel her way out of anything.
I'll be interested to see what the people who object to Harry Potter on the grounds that he encourages children to engage in witchcraft will make of this movie. Daemon familiars? They'll have a fit. Unless the script of the movie downplays that somehow.
If you like fantasy, and you don't take yourself too seriously to read a children's book, give this one a try. (less)
This is the story of Artemis Fowl, a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who decides he wants a pile of fairy gold. What is he willing to do to get it?
I t...moreThis is the story of Artemis Fowl, a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who decides he wants a pile of fairy gold. What is he willing to do to get it?
I truly enjoyed this book. Artemis is a genius, but we also get to watch him grow up (and loosen up) a little as the book progresses. Just when you start to forget that Artemis is only twelve, a scene comes along that shows how vulnerable he still is.
The plot was smart, funny, and well-written. The fairies were not your typical airy fairies. They could kick some serious butt.
I would recommend this to anyone, young or old, who appreciates a good story.(less)
This is the story of King Arthur, Guenever and Lancelot. I think we all know how that goes.
I've been reading this off and on for the past six months....moreThis is the story of King Arthur, Guenever and Lancelot. I think we all know how that goes.
I've been reading this off and on for the past six months. I would start to read it, lose interest, and pick up something more interesting. I finally decided that it was time to either give up on it or finish it because I was tired of it taking up space in my nightstand. That was a good place for it because I couldn't read more than a chapter or two without falling asleep. That's not like me at all.
The first part of the book is like the Disney movie, "The Sword in the Stone." Should be pretty cool, right? I liked that movie. But this is terrible. The basic plot is the same, but the writing is pretty dense and dry. The author keeps referring to Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. I don't know if The Once and Future King is supposed to be a "good parts" translation of the first book, but I sort of got the feeling that's how it worked. Either way, it did feel like a long (677 pages in my edition, to be exact) book report. Can't you remember those book reports you wrote when you were a kid? "This happened, then this happened, then something else happened, The End." That's how this felt. The characters never felt real, the place never felt real, and I never really cared about any of it.
Probably the best parts of the book didn't even involve the "real" story at all. T. H. White would occasionally go off on tangents about how people and politics really haven't changed so we shouldn't think that we're any better than what we may be tempted to look on as the savages of the Dark Ages. And while I never really felt like any of the characters were real, he did manage to make Sir Lancelot into more than just the hero we all think of him as today. White's Lancelot is ugly, conflicted, religious, faithful and yet faithless and, of course, the best knight in the world. He should have felt real to me, but he didn't. Now that I'm really thinking about it, I think the problem for me is that there isn't much dialogue. It was mostly descriptions of who did what, and I guess that I like conversations in my books. Had there been more dialogue, Lancelot would probably have been an amazing character and the entire book would have been better.
**spoiler alert** I liked this one a little better than the first, Kushiel's Dart. The story of Phedre, a masochist trained as a spy, continues as she...more**spoiler alert** I liked this one a little better than the first, Kushiel's Dart. The story of Phedre, a masochist trained as a spy, continues as she once again tries to save the throne of her country.
There were still a few S&M scenes, but I don't think there were as many and I don't think they were quite as detailed as they were in the first book. Still, if you're squeamish about these kinds of things, you should probably stay away from this whole series.
I liked this one better for a couple of reasons. I think the big thing for me was that I didn't have to wade through all the background story of her childhood and her training. The action started pretty quickly. And also, Phedre didn't rely quite so much on the men in her life to do things for her. But........
I really wish that this whole thing with Melisande was over already. She's a "good" villain, but she's not such a strong character that I'm looking forward to reading one more book about yet another attempt on the throne she's going to make. Why can't they send assassins into her sanctuary and just kill her? Then the third book could be focused on finding Melisande's son and getting Hyacinthe off the island.
I'll definitely read the third book in the trilogy, but I am tired of Melisande.(less)
This started out a little slow for me. It dragged along for about the first 150 pages. Then the action started and I couldn't put it down. To oversimp...moreThis started out a little slow for me. It dragged along for about the first 150 pages. Then the action started and I couldn't put it down. To oversimplify the plot, this is the story of Phedre, a masochist who sleeps with her patrons not only for money, but also for state secrets. So, there were some S&M scenes written into the book, but they weren't too terribly graphic. The characters were well-written, as was the plot, once it really got started. I would have given this five stars, but I did have a few things holding me back. Almost the only thing that made this book fall into the fantasy category was the fact that it's set in a made-up world that is very obviously based on Europe. There is only one character who uses magic, and I didn't feel like he fit into the novel very well. I kept wondering what on earth this guy had to do with anything, and then I realized that he is the setup for one of the sequels. The author's use of foreshadowing is somewhat heavy-handed, but I believe this was her first novel, so I'm willing to overlook it. And the last thing that drove me crazy was that there were too many characters in the novel. I couldn't keep up with who was who and whose side they were on. There is a cast of characters at the beginning to assist with this, but I hate flipping back and forth like that because I lose the whole flow of the plot. So I just kept reading and eventually I would pick it back up from the context. Overall, if you like fantasy, and you're not too squeamish (like I said, the S&M scenes were more suggested than spelled out in graphic detail, but they definitely were S&M) you will probably enjoy this book. I intend to check out the sequel on my next trip to the library.(less)