There's a book I read when I was about 10, in 6th grade, probably, or possibly 5th. Anyway. I don't remember the title or author, but the gist of the...moreThere's a book I read when I was about 10, in 6th grade, probably, or possibly 5th. Anyway. I don't remember the title or author, but the gist of the story was about girl who perhaps became ill and traveled back to ancient Egypt and lived there for a time. At the end of the story there's some question about whether it really happened or was a fever dream. I loved the book intensely (I'm going to have to make the internet tell me what it was).
Judith Tarr's LIVING IN THREES hit me right in the sweet spot that old book created in me. I knew it would be good, because I've never read anything of Judy's that wasn't, but I had a vivid, visceral connection with the story, a feeling of discovery as fresh and intense as if I was a kid again, reading something new and bright and exciting to me.
It's a story about three young women spread out over 8000 years of time whose commonalities bring them together to solve a dangerous mystery that's evolved over the millennia. I loved the realisation of Maru's future world particularly, and the warmth of Meritre's past, and Meredith's voice felt so honest and real for a modern kid that she just broke my heart. It's beautifully structured, with a particular sort of tragedy binding all three girls together and creating an emotional resonance that weaves throughout each storyline and character. It's just gorgeously done.
LIVING IN THREES was Judy's first Kickstarted project. It makes me absolutely crazy that traditional publishing houses couldn't figure out how to market it, because I would have eaten it up as a YA reader, but the flip side is that holy crap am I glad that traditional publishing isn't the only route available now, because it would have been criminal to not get this story out into the world.
Seriously, I cannot imagine that you do not want to read this book. You can buy it at the link above, wich goes to Book View Cafe and which has epub, mobi and PDF versions of the book.(less)
I'd forgotten how richly written these books are. Wow. I really enjoyed re-reading CHILDREN and went straight on to reading TREASURE. Can't wait to re...moreI'd forgotten how richly written these books are. Wow. I really enjoyed re-reading CHILDREN and went straight on to reading TREASURE. Can't wait to re-read the rest!(less)
All right, this is technically a recent re-read, as I have read this book more times than I can count. I think the last time, though, may well have be...moreAll right, this is technically a recent re-read, as I have read this book more times than I can count. I think the last time, though, may well have been ten or twelve years ago, when I was writing my own “children from our world are whisked away to another, which only they can save” book. Halfway through, I basically fell into a complete panic that I was not writing THE SECRET COUNTRY and that what I was doing was disasterous, so I did something I never ever do, which is went and read a book while writing one. And I discovered that although THE SECRET COUNTRY was indeed perfect in all ways, it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell, so it was all okay.
I still find it astonishingly wonderful. I love…God. Everything about it. It encapsulates the pure belief and strength of childhood storytelling, albeit with more Shakespeare references than your average 8-14 year olds have a handle on (and I say this as one who had quite a handle on them, for a person in that age range). The repeated impulses the children have once they realise they’re really *in* the Secret Country–”Let’s say that this happens instead!” Exactly how kids tell stories, except of course it doesn’t work when the game turns real. And the depth of that discovery, that it is real, the things that go wrong from how they’ve told the story, their mirror being imperfect–it’s all exactly how a game turned real should play out.
The relationships between the children are beautifully done, with characterization layered through their reactions to one another: Laura liked Patrick, but she did not trust him. God, Patrick is so annoying! In exactly the right way. They all play off each other well, although–and this is a personal thing due to having grown up with the family I did–the way that they tell each other to shut up all the time bothers me. But I recognize that’s because my family were taught that shut up was especially rude, so I don’t like seeing or hearing it often in any scenario. I like the struggle, particularly with Ted, to fit into the character they’re supposed to be playing.
I love the language, and I don’t mean the Bardic references. It is told in the way children tell each other stories as they’re playing them, with deceptively simple language and sentences. I wish I could do that, but I have a really hard time with it.
It *does* end a little abruptly. :) I wish I hadn’t packed my copies of THE HIDDEN LAND and THE WHIM OF THE DRAGON so I could carry on immediately, particularly since there are several things I think of as having happened in book one that actually happen in book two…
Someday I will get to meet Pamela Dean in person, and get her to sign my 28-year-old copy of THE SECRET COUNTRY, and the only slightly younger copies of its sequels, and then I will retire those battered, beloved, yellow-paged, bent-cover, broken-spined, finger-sweat-stained books to the Shelf Of Honor along with DRAGONSONG and one or two others, and I will get newer copies to actually read. (Somehow.)(less)
I'm not even a gardener (though I have ambitions), and this book was really just completely fascinating to read. I have no idea if everybody would fin...moreI'm not even a gardener (though I have ambitions), and this book was really just completely fascinating to read. I have no idea if everybody would find it so interesting, but wow, I'd think if you have any impulse toward gardening at all, you want to read this one.(less)
I had a hard time reading this for purely physical reason: my copy of THE BLUE SWORD is very probably 30 years old, and the fragile yellowed pages are...moreI had a hard time reading this for purely physical reason: my copy of THE BLUE SWORD is very probably 30 years old, and the fragile yellowed pages are losing their tenuous grip on the broken spine. I was afraid it would fall apart in my hands, and thus was weirdly careful with not only the book but the reading of it. I believe I'll seek out Robin McKinley at the nearest possible opportunity, ask her to sign my beloved and battered book, and retire it with honors alongside my equally ancient and beaten-up signed copy of DRAGONSONG.
The truth is, had discussion about HERO in my last Recent Reads post not pointed it out to me, it probably never would have occurred to me how passive a character Harry is. She is (in essence) The Chosen One, just as Garion is, and throughout the book, the story impels her forward rather than her own choices driving the story forward. The major break from that is of course her departure from Corlath's army, but with how it's written, even that is arguably her kelar forcing her rather than her own will.
It doesn't matter. Not to me, anyway. THE BLUE SWORD is very close to my heart, because it's one of the very first books--possibly the first book--I read with an awareness of genre, with an awareness that I was reading A Fantasy Novel. I first read it when I was ten, the year after it came out, as one of the books for Battle of the Books, and it utterly swept me away. I was in love with Harry, I was in love with Corlath, I was, dear God, in love with Tsornin.
And I still am. I was right, in re-reading HERO: Aerin is the stronger heroine, and HERO probably the stronger book. And indeed, upon re-read I discover that Harry's big magic scene at the end of THE BLUE SWORD is acid-trippy as well, though not as mind-numbingly weird as Aerin's. As an adult, it's easier to admire Aerin's stubbornness and the trials and tribulations she goes through to achieve her happy ending, and to appreciate that Harry essentially gets it all handed to her on a platter.
But when you're ten and you're caught up as Harry was, stranger in a strange land, but a land that speaks to you, and you are taken away to be important in that world...well. Yes. It's ultimate wish-fulfillment, and McKinley has said as much about that book, but it's okay. And I think that will never go away, so I think THE BLUE SWORD retains its place of preference in my heart. After all, a little wish fulfillment never hurt anybody. :)
But *God* I wish there were more Damar books. I know she doesn't write sequels, I've known all her reason for twenty years, I respect them, I'm not pleading with her to write more, but *oh* how I wish there were more. (less)
I had forgotten there were scenes and sections in MAGICIAN'S GAMBIT that were entirely from Ce'Nedra's point of view. I knew there were in CASTLE OF...more!
I had forgotten there were scenes and sections in MAGICIAN'S GAMBIT that were entirely from Ce'Nedra's point of view. I knew there were in CASTLE OF WIZARDRY, but I had no recollection of it in MG.
This endears the book(s) to me as an adult even more than as a teen. I was not one of those female readers who as a child felt left out because all the stories were about boys and I wasn't a boy so therefore couldn't relate. Yes, well, there wasn't a magical passageway in my closet that led to Narnia, either, but somehow I soldiered on and managed to love and accept it anyway, you know? So I didn't notice a lack of female protagonists in books I read, because none of these people were like me anyway.
As an adult, however, I'm more aware of the imbalance, so I was completely delighted to (re)discover that Ce'Nedra's status as a POV character--one of only two in the Belgariad, if I'm not mistaken--begins in book 3. That's wonderful.
One of the things I'm really enjoying in these re-reads is being reintroduced to a character and suddenly remembering their whole story. It's a completely different kind of joy than discovering those stories for the first time: that's pure adreneline-based adventure. This is the resurrection of old friendships, the reawakening of memories based not on scent or touch, but the shape of words on a page. I laughed out loud at poor Garion's experiments with the Word and the Will in the Vale, having completely forgotten what he'd done to himself in that scene, and Relg's appearance came as a splendid shock of oh!, because so much of his story came back to me in that moment. It was wonderful.
Also, this book has one of my favorite lines in the history of ever: "Does bouncing count?"(less)
Carol Berg doesn't write bad books, but the Collegia Magica is in the running for my favorite of her series. (I'd have to re-read BREATH & BONE to...moreCarol Berg doesn't write bad books, but the Collegia Magica is in the running for my favorite of her series. (I'd have to re-read BREATH & BONE to decide for sure.) There was a bit in this one that made me laugh out loud, when our unassuming heroine's activities are related as viewed by an outside opinion. Not so unassuming after all, perhaps.
A thing I expected came to pass within these pages, which was good (I really wanted it to happen), but considerably more I didn't also happened, which is of course even better.
The writing is impossibly gorgeous, as usual. I stagger in awe at Carol's skill. Really, if you haven't read Carol Berg and you like epic fantasy, go get her first book, TRANSFORMATION, and go from there. You'll be glad you did.
Now I must not start THE DAEMON PRISM, because I have a book of my own to write and I will not work on it until I've finished the next book. So I shouldn't start.
Oh, my. I knew early on how it would end, more or less (Robin McKinley is, after all, the writer who said perhaps we all have only one story to tell,...moreOh, my. I knew early on how it would end, more or less (Robin McKinley is, after all, the writer who said perhaps we all have only one story to tell, and everybody knows which one is hers), but that didn't stop me from devouring CHALICE. It's up there with THE BLUE SWORD and SUNSHINE for me.
Also, as a writer, I admire the passage of time: the book takes place over a year and a bit, and she moves through weeks and months at a time with a few elegant sentences. It's not easy to do well, and I love it when I see it well done.(less)
I haven't read THE SECRET GARDEN since I was a teen, though I read my copy to pieces (literally) as a child, so I knew I'd loved it.
It's possible I lo...moreI haven't read THE SECRET GARDEN since I was a teen, though I read my copy to pieces (literally) as a child, so I knew I'd loved it.
It's possible I love it even more now than I did then. What an utterly beautiful book. I'm actually tempted to re-read it again immediately, that's how wonderful it is. The language, the wretchedness of Mary and Colin, Dickon's charm, the resurrection of the garden...it's just a beautiful, beautiful book. If you haven't read it recently, give yourself a treat and do.(less)
I've just finished Tobias Buckell's absolutely terrific ARCTIC RISING, which is one of those rare books that I enjoyed so much that I dearly wish I'd...moreI've just finished Tobias Buckell's absolutely terrific ARCTIC RISING, which is one of those rare books that I enjoyed so much that I dearly wish I'd written it, but am also not flailing with regret that I didn't nor would ever be able to write it. Instead I just enjoyed the hell out of it and am chomping at the bit for the sequel.
It's near-future SF, set after the melting of the Arctic ice cap. More accessible and adventure-oriented than Kim Stanley Robinson's brilliant Science trilogy, it is exactly the kind of climate change book that I want to see on bestseller lists, getting international attention, and generating discussion about the world he's portrayed and the futures we're looking at.
That sounds very high-falutin', so let me also say it this way: when the worrisome McGuffin was revealed, I actually gasped out loud. That's how involved I was in the stakes Tobias had set up, and in the characters he'd developed. I couldn't tell you the last time a book made me gasp like that. I not only liked the main character and the supporting cast very much, but *loved* the portrayal of the bad guy, whom I found utterly believable.
You all know climate change is a hot topic for me, having grown up in Alaska where the effects have been achingly visible. Tobias is Caribbean, and is, I suspect, similarly motivated on the topic: low-lying island countries, like Alaska, already seeing the effects of climate change. The future as he's envisioned it seems painfully possible to me, for good and for ill. A very good book!(less)
My toddler got a longer-than-usual afternoon nap because I was trying desperately to finish reading this before he woke up, and was unwilling to go wa...moreMy toddler got a longer-than-usual afternoon nap because I was trying desperately to finish reading this before he woke up, and was unwilling to go wake him up and spoil my reading time. Take this as you wish. :)(less)
The only reason I am not at this very moment reading the 3rd book in this series is because I have huge amounts of work to do and must keep SOMETHING...moreThe only reason I am not at this very moment reading the 3rd book in this series is because I have huge amounts of work to do and must keep SOMETHING as a reward. And it will be the appropriate reward, because I looooooved this one. I loved LEXICON, too, but I think I liked this one even better. <3(less)
I read DIGGER as it was originally being published as a web-comic: 2 pages a week for 5 or so years. It was a wonderful read then, and I've been reall...moreI read DIGGER as it was originally being published as a web-comic: 2 pages a week for 5 or so years. It was a wonderful read then, and I've been really looking forward to reading it all straight through now, just to see how well it works.
Holy crap, does it work. I mean, knowing how it ends, and seeing how stuff in the very first pages ties in to things hundreds of pages later (and I *know* Ursula didn't mean to do that, because she started Digger on a lark and was all like O.O when people Kept. Wanting. More.) is just wonderful. Rediscovering all the clever, funny, outrageous, bizarre bits that I'd forgotten is hugely enjoyable. I really can't recommend this story highly enough. I think you'll love it.(less)
Having unpacked the books we couldn't do without, I picked up one of my all-time favorites, David Palmer's EMERGENCE, to re-read it. As I've no doubt...moreHaving unpacked the books we couldn't do without, I picked up one of my all-time favorites, David Palmer's EMERGENCE, to re-read it. As I've no doubt said before, re-reading old favorites is fraught with tension, because what if they don't hold up?
EMERGENCE holds up. It holds up in spades. There are some moments of unintentional amusement and cognitive dissonance, particularly regarding microfiche libraries and Russians as The Bad Guys(TM), but even if you put the book in an absolutely modern context there's an argument for the microfiche, so it was just mildly amusing.
Other than that, though, that is still a *great* story. While reading it I kept having little jolts of remembering What Happened Later--not so much Next as Later--but it was nearly like reading it again for the first time despite that. I had every bit as much emotional investment--possibly more, because I'm a big old softie these days--as I ever did reading it previously, which is pretty wonderful.
Also, Betsy Mitchell was one of the editors on it, which made me laugh out loud when I read the acknowledgements. I suspect that book must have been one of the very first places I encountered Betsy's name, thus setting me up for a lifetime of wanting to work with her. :)(less)