If you love thieves, dragons, and thieves stealing dragons, then you may love As the Crow Flies. The story reminds me of Dresden Files by Jim Butcher If you love thieves, dragons, and thieves stealing dragons, then you may love As the Crow Flies. The story reminds me of Dresden Files by Jim Butcher in the sense that it's first-person fantasy, but author Robin Lythgoe takes us to another world where the master thief, Crow, is coerced to work alongside the law-man who has dogged him for years. Together they must steal a dragon egg for a wizard or see their loved ones perish. For Crow, "loved ones" of course refers primarily to himself.
Crow and the lawman must weather first each other, second a trek through dangerous lands and a haunted caves and into a temple guarded by blade, sorcery, and an upset dragon broodmother. The banter between the two enemies on their quest kept me smiling throughout the chapters. As we might expect, both men must grow to depend on each other, and Crow grows into a better (and more magical) person, despite his best efforts to stay a self-serving thief.
And let's not forget the thief part. I love a good cloak and purse-cutting dagger, and Crow delivers. He's armed with a silver tongue, sleeping dust, feet that'd make a cat feel ungainly, a razor mind, and a diploma for best-in-class at the school of fine thieving and infiltration (awarded by me). I've read about approximately a billion thieves and even played the vintage first-person-looter games Thief, but Crow still impressed me as a sterling example of skulduggery....more
A story without fantasy is like a holiday without fireworks.
The fantasy genre has always lit my eyes with wonder, whisking me away to lands of great fA story without fantasy is like a holiday without fireworks.
The fantasy genre has always lit my eyes with wonder, whisking me away to lands of great frights and greater friendships. I knew since my sophomore year in high school that I loved writing tales crackling with magic, and that passion only grew into a relentless pursuit of the craft of storytelling. I would like to thank my faithful readers, who have always encouraged me. I have learned so much from you. The praise directed toward this novel must also be yours.
I am also indebted beyond measure to my illustrator, a Russian grandmaster of Adobe Photoshop, whom I would trek through frozen wastes and quarrelsome blizzards to work with again. Her portrayal of Enchantress Hiresha is awesome on stilts.
Most of all, my thoughts and best wishes go to the Idiopathic Hypersomnia support group. The condition steals away lives with a crushing weight of sleep, and those who must endure it are just as much heroes as the story's protagonist.
To those considering reading Brood of Bones, I can only wish you half the fun I had writing it. Any more than fifty percent might cause an acute hemorrhage of bliss. ...more
Reads like an Avengers movie and is gay as fuck. Neither of those two things are criticisms.
An actual criticism: Because of the ASpoiler-free review:
Reads like an Avengers movie and is gay as fuck. Neither of those two things are criticisms.
An actual criticism: Because of the Avengers-size cast and because it is was written to be inclusive of people unfamiliar with all those characters---and the guilds---the story may tire readers with its exposition.
The War of the Spark does not cover anything from Guilds of Ravnica or Ravnica Allegiance, and you may enjoy it more if you wait for Django Wexler’s free stories. Sign up here: http://www.randomhousebooks.com/campa...
My Kobo eBook had multiple formatting errors, but I would still recommend it over Amazon. Sounds like the audiobook was not a better option.
The War of the Spark novel was written at a middle-grade fiction reading level, similar to previous Magic Stories but different from most epic fantasy. Characters also speak with modern vernacular. These deliberate choices suggest a broader target market of readers. That said, the story has strong continuity and other details that will delight dedicated Vorthos Magic fans....more
Since I only write book recommendations, I try to keep the content on this site positive. That said, I had strong feelings about this book. What folloSince I only write book recommendations, I try to keep the content on this site positive. That said, I had strong feelings about this book. What follows is intended to assist reader satisfaction with Kushiel's Dart and help potential readers make an informed decision.
The protagonist of this novel is blessed and cursed with masochism. She experiences pleasure when her clients sexually torture her, and she is known throughout the courtly land as the one courtesan of the lash who has never uttered her safe word.
I have no problem with any of that. Neither do I bat an eye when her prudish bodyguard battles off a dozen warriors, and blood sprays over the snow. No, that's not what upset me about this novel. You see, I have certain standards in regard to literary devices.
The author unethically uses foreshadowing. I'm not talking about the necessary introduction, drop-a-name foreshadowing that preludes elements that will be important later in the story. No, this is an equivalent of author begging to the reader to continue reading, even though nothing of interest is happening. It all takes this form:
“Though the button on his waistcoat appeared like any other, it has ever etched itself on my memory. I had no way of knowing the gravity of its deadly import at the time, but the black button would come to chill my blood.”
I'm paraphrasing, but this kind of authorial pleading continues for the first few hundred pages. Why? Because nothing important happens. The narrative starts before the protagonist is born, and the history to the snap of her first lashing would test even Charles Dickens' patience. When the story gains momentum, the foreshadowing disappears. It's no longer needed.
I recommend all readers skip to the chapter of her first commission, or “assignation.” You will still have ample time to be introduced to all the characters, and there are some great ones. The antagonist is a sadist, to the protagonist's masochist, and her dress train might as well be made of spidersilk, connecting its steel-strength strands to the lords she manipulates.
The world adheres closely to European lands, except the “Madeline” equivalent was the chief prophet, and courtesans take a role similar to priests. Don't make the mistake of thinking this book is about bondage and bedchambers, though. It's mainly about politics, with a bit of steam on the windows. Since I don't get hot and bothered about court intrigue of fantasy worlds, I might have preferred skipping the scenes between her assignations, which she spends brooding over what her employer is up to. Foreshadowing is employed that she would rue the day when she learned. Again, this is literary smoke and mirrors, and all the plot-relevant details come out in the assignation chapters, anyway.
The story takes off when the protagonist is kidnapped and taken to the frozen wastes, to serve as a slave alongside a monkish bodyguard who scorns her. She'll need his help in order to escape, but he wants nothing more than to die, for forsaking his vows. See? The book has interesting character interactions and true drama. About halfway through, I even began to care about the politics. The author also creates beauty with her prose, describing landscapes and characters in breathtaking ways. Her naming is exquisite. For that reason I was boggled when---like a moth to a flame---the author used the phrase, “throbbing cock.”
Pulsating phallus aside, the book is a worthy fantasy epic. If you're looking for a protagonist with skills other than ass-kicking, and if you love, love politics, then Kushiel's Dart may be your favorite book ever....more
NK Jemisin's best yet. Halfway through the story I worried resolution would be deferred to the next book, which will be released shortly, but the authNK Jemisin's best yet. Halfway through the story I worried resolution would be deferred to the next book, which will be released shortly, but the author slammed the end of the story down like a card player laying a flush of spades. I would love to see more fantasy like this, featuring an end at the end, a rich setting at the beginning, and a magic awash with moral uncertainty.
This book revolves around moral dilemma. Dreamblood seems to be the energy released when a soul is shoved/escorted to the afterlife. Two of the protagonists, the gatherers, specialize in freeing sufferers. But they also harvest the “corrupt,” a perilous term ripe to be exploited by political intrigue and fallible men. And it is. And as readers, we are disturbed no matter where we fall on the euthanasia issue.
This struggle of using a potentially terrible magic for good lies at the frenetic beating heart of the Killing Moon. The forces of human need, free will, and religious devotion all clash, with no clear victor. NK Jemisin challenges the reader, not only with moral uncertainty but also with a frolic through tense and perspective shifts. (Yes, including second person, present tense.) A few times I had to blink and take a breath, when her words struck a perfect chord.
The setting is non-European but what it is seems mostly understated. Mentioned in passing are a seasonal flood, camels, a few drifts of sand, and loindrapes (more classy than loincloths?). The culture's dominant feature is the religion of a dream afterlife and a goddess of sleeping peace, an invention that transcends reference to any real-world local.
Given that euthanizing monks make up two of the three main viewpoint characters, and the tone of the story, I would be tempted to classify this as Dark Fantasy. Since it's second world, magic-centric, and has resolution in fewer than five hundred pages, High Fantasy is another reasonable description. If you like delving the uncertain waters of often disturbing ideas, of unrequited romance, and bitter triumphs, this is the fantasy book for you. Oh, and the Reaping magic is atom-bomb overpowered, but at least it has the decency to drive the user into gibbering madness....more
If you’re looking for the story where gamers are the heroes, try Ready Player One. In this twenty-first-century retelling of the Matrix, our hero has If you’re looking for the story where gamers are the heroes, try Ready Player One. In this twenty-first-century retelling of the Matrix, our hero has willingly plugged into a virtual world where he’s playing for the ultimate prize: the inheritance of an eccentric billionaire who created the megagame called the Oasis. Not only does humanity enter this dreamland to escape from the ravaged world but also to go to school, to socialize, and to work. Whoever wins the competition will gain control of the Oasis and of society itself.
The problem is, an Evil Corporation is throwing all its resources behind beating the game. They have warship upon warship of avatars, and if any one of them win, they’ll monopolize the Oasis.
Our hero has every reason to ally with the other gamers. In fact, many people in this world do form clans dedicated to beating the game together. However, Ready Player One is primarily a single-player story. Most of it occurs in extreme isolation, and the protagonist is the greatest recluse of them all.
I was not thrilled with this depiction of a gaming hero. First, it seemed rather stereotypical. Second, it downplayed the importance of community in such megagames. I’ve played MMORPG’s, and thinking back to the lively banter of guildchat made me realize what a different story this could’ve been. In my experience, very little of importance was done alone.
What relationships there were in Ready Player One also made me uncomfortable. The romance is squeezed mostly into a single chapter. The characters never believed they truly could know each other until they had met in real life. The importance of RL was emphasized again and again, which felt dissonant in a book dedicated to virtual spaces.
The characters doubted the verisimilitude of each other’s avatars. That’s healthy skepticism. But it should be extended to real life. The persona people project in person may not be their only one. We love to believe everyone has fixed personality traits, but that’s a myth. Social situation plays a large role in behavior, and personality can be fluid from place to place, from time to time. People have been false to each other long before online communication. Deception doesn’t require electronic media.
When the hero meets his best online friend in real life, they quickly accept each other (regardless of appearance) because it feels like they already knew everything of import about each other. And yet this same set of values isn’t extended to the romantic relationship, in which it’s suggested that nothing counts unless it happens IRL.
In Victorian literature, I accept that some measure of passion can be exchanged by letter, and I am even more willing to believe in long-distance relationships through Ethernet cables. True, romances begun online aren’t likely to persist in real life. But it’s not as if relationships originating in the real world are infallible.
Ready Player One may isolate its characters and sabotage its own virtual setting, but you are still likely to love it if you enjoy references to classic video games and geeky 1980’s icons. The high-tech competition revolves around both. ...more
Think Charles Dickens + Fairies. And the fairies are very well dressed, with satin coats the color of deep despair. Also: magic demands madness. (ArguThink Charles Dickens + Fairies. And the fairies are very well dressed, with satin coats the color of deep despair. Also: magic demands madness. (Arguably, the same is true of being highly proficient in any field.)
I love that magic is portrayed as something to be learned with practice, practice, practice---rather than a boon to be gained through birthright, pracI love that magic is portrayed as something to be learned with practice, practice, practice---rather than a boon to be gained through birthright, practice, and a wand. Lev Grossman offers a grittier version of a boarding school for aspiring wizards, seen through the eyes of a teenage boy whose blood is 95% hormones by volume. The protagonist battles to gain admittance to the school then competes with other students for grades. Drama over magic spells gone wrong is interwoven with drinking, Mohawks, and dorm life. Sparks flash from hands, students turn to geese to migrate for a practical exam, and memories of non-magic-users are erased liberally.
Though parallels to Hogwarts are clear (the equivalent of Quidditch is not taken seriously by the students and is seen more as a tedium than a sport), the plot pivots around a Narnia-esque land called Fillory. The author delights in taking reader expectations of the genre and stomping them to thousands of glittering pieces. In an iconic line, the protagonist catches his first glimpse of the magic school amid impossibly green meadows and asks, “So is this Fillory?”
“Nope,” the man said. “Upstate New York.”
You may love the Magicians if you can accept a story where the protagonist is less than heroic. At one point his magical error causes the death of a kind fellow student. Neither does the protagonist make amends for this, though what true amends could be taken for such a tragedy are questionable. Just another bit of chaos thrown into a fantasy that aims to be different from the paperbacks we read as kids....more
Those familiar with me on Goodreads will know that I rarely review books. More often, I recommend them, suggesting the type of person who might best eThose familiar with me on Goodreads will know that I rarely review books. More often, I recommend them, suggesting the type of person who might best enjoy the story. Some people will love a book that boggles another. It is ever my goal to match books to readers who will enjoy them, will be swept be swept away in an adventure of imagination, gripping the corners of their sweat-slick electronic readers with white knuckles all night and into the unmentionable hours of the morning.
Is Fox's Bride the right story for you? First of all, you should love fantasy books. And speaking of taking delight in fantasy, I have asked hundreds of people and collected the reasons why the genre is great. [image]
If you love detailed magics that obey their own laws, you may like Fox's Bride. If you love the idea of a weekend adventure to another world, to an oasis city with bazaars, brass tomb towers etched with hieroglyphs, and enchanted rivers floating through the sky, then you may like Fox's Bride. If you love your protagonists flawed but learning to become better people, then you may like Fox's Bride. If you prefer your stories to be personal, to revolve around a few characters in peril rather than a few continents at war, then Fox's Bride may be for you. If you love your novels to both glitter with visuals as well as contain the ever-nearing thump-thump of horror, then Fox’s Bride may be your book.
I do not presume that Fox's Bride will suit everyone's tastes, but if you're looking for a new journey of imagination, please indulge in the Goodreads excerpt (green button under the illustration on the book page). If the sample shines your shield, then you can find Fox's Bride on Amazon. ...more
Chanel Miller fought against the long odds stacked against rape survivors. She endured the legal system thaThis is not a critique. It's a celebration.
Chanel Miller fought against the long odds stacked against rape survivors. She endured the legal system that did all it could to silence her and retraumatize her. She spoke her truth in the Emily Doe Impact Statement, and she wrote her story in this book.
Believe survivors, and know her name: Chanel Miller....more
If you’re looking for an adventure into the darkest woods, read Uprooted. These are not the grandfatherly trees of Fanghorn that might sing you a poemIf you’re looking for an adventure into the darkest woods, read Uprooted. These are not the grandfatherly trees of Fanghorn that might sing you a poem and step on your orcish enemies. They aren’t even like Old Man Willow who’ll gently lull you to sleep before trapping you beneath its roots. No, these woods are far worse.
Their lush shadows crawl into you. They worm into your heart, your mind, rotting you, hollowing you out until nothing remains but vile sap. Then you’ll never escape the forest, even if you leave. You’ll return raving to spread the woodsie sickness among your loved ones. You’ll cackle and dance over the corpses of your neighbors when the wood overgrows the village. You’ll help the forest beasts plant seeds in the mayor and smile when he screams with new life.
The green plague won’t stop until it has overrun the kingdom, until not one human voice disturbs the hush, until every castle crumbles from the press of roots.
Villages cling to existence at the edge of the woods. The mage who holds back the tide of leaves is the Dragon. He demands but one thing from his subjects, that they sacrifice a new girl into his keeping every ten years. This time he chooses Agnieszka, the protagonist.
She is torn from her family, forbidden from seeing anyone but the Dragon. Yes, this story has many traditional fairy-tale elements, from Beauty and the Beast to Snow White. I loved how Baba Yaga played a role. I liked less how the heroine’s main character trait was her apparent clumsiness.
Do read the book. Don't listen to it. The audiobook agonized me with its mispronounced words and the flat delivery from the narrator, but I couldn’t stop. I had to know what lurked in the heart of the woods....more
Annihilation follows in the tradition of Lovecraftian horror, with scientists running headlong into the unknowable. Written in the journal format of aAnnihilation follows in the tradition of Lovecraftian horror, with scientists running headlong into the unknowable. Written in the journal format of a found story, this account details the exploration of the eerily pristine wilderness coastline that has destroyed twelve previous expeditions. The only landmark is a lonely lighthouse, but the light is out.
The heroine is more comfortable with isolation than most. Her writing style reflects her academia, and she struggles to find scientific meaning amidst doom. Like all good horror, this story conceals more than it reveals. Readers expecting tell-all science fiction may be disappointed, though we are given enough to hypothesize. I prefer to embrace the mystery, and to that end I was satisfied with the resolution. If there's one thing we learn from science it's that we know almost nothing....more
I am not sure why a well-adjusted, benevolent person would wish to read Prince of Thorns, but I had no problems with it.
You have a protagonist with noI am not sure why a well-adjusted, benevolent person would wish to read Prince of Thorns, but I had no problems with it.
You have a protagonist with no redeeming features. He has a scarred past, but you don't find out about that until after her murders and rapes a few people. What you do have is a fantasy tribute to A Clockwork Orange, minus the strange diction. The antihero protagonist refers to his cutthroat team as brothers, and the author even includes the iconic "What's it going to be then?" line.
So if you enjoyed the stinging purity of the prose of A Clockwork Orange, if you relish pithy lines and a brutal protagonist, then you will enjoy Prince of Thorns. On the other hand, if you have once sat through a full episode of Glee, don't bother....more
If you're looking for a gay love story on the high seas, including magic and gender fluidity, then you'll enjoy this book.
I would've preferred a titlIf you're looking for a gay love story on the high seas, including magic and gender fluidity, then you'll enjoy this book.
I would've preferred a title of The Mermaid, the Pirate, and the Sea, as the book had more pirates than rats in the bilge water. The Witch played a more minor role. The pirates were a critical check on the empire's power, an empire that would like nothing more to see every last mermaid caught and killed. Black mermaid blood is a potent drug for men and a precious conduit of memory for the Sea. Should the Sea lose all her memory-aids, she would lose herself, making way for even more hegemony for the empire.
The first few chapters are the roughest waters in the story. After that, it's smoother sailing. I would recommend skipping both prelude and epilogue....more
If you want more stories like the Lord of the Rings, with a scruffy, even-tempered lost prince fighting to regain his homeland from sorcerers, then TiIf you want more stories like the Lord of the Rings, with a scruffy, even-tempered lost prince fighting to regain his homeland from sorcerers, then Tigana is for you. In this case, one sorcerer has even eradicated the name of his homeland, and only with his death will it be remembered.
However, said sorcerer is not portrayed as evil, and to me, this is where the story grew interesting. He was simply angry over the death of his son in battle, and in grief he enacted his revenge against Tigana. The concubine Dianora infiltrates his court to assassinate him, but she ends up finding a man trying to do right by his people, even for those who now call him a tyrant. The question of whether or not Dianora can bring herself to hold true to her oaths to kill the sorcerer she has grown to love drove the narrative for me.
Tigana is populated by a crowd of characters, each with a deep history. The dialog is believable. The content is more adult than the Lord of the Rings. The action is more political.
I appreciated the ending. Too often, 700+ page epic fantasy finishes with a cliffhanger, for the next bludgeon of a book. Tigana ends bittersweet but happy, with strong resolution....more
This story is 95% banter by dry weight. The other 5% is magical worms, which seems like a good balance to me.
If you love sword and sorcery, this bookThis story is 95% banter by dry weight. The other 5% is magical worms, which seems like a good balance to me.
If you love sword and sorcery, this book will shine your blade. The story includes a priest of “Moments,” the most sacred of which seems to be the times he's bludgeoning people with hammers. The protagonist is a thief with a smattering of magical talent and a mouth that couldn't even be quieted with a silencing spell. The two adventure into tombs guarded by demons and perilous traps, and they journey across a wasteland with (my favorite) a lake of glass.
The antagonist needs to seal a pact with the demons downstairs, and he's more than willing for his sisters to pay the price. Since the sisters are mind mages, they force the male protagonists to experience the terror a woman feels of rape, in a guts-withering manner. I'm pretty sure Conan never needed so much incentive to crack a sorcerer's skull. The book contains two other nuances that I wouldn't expect to find in a sword and sorcery, but I'll keep those delights unspoiled....more
I had a sense that Mae West made up most everything in this autobiography for entertainment value. Perfect! With color and flare, she describes her lifI had a sense that Mae West made up most everything in this autobiography for entertainment value. Perfect! With color and flare, she describes her life's achievements. And achieve she did. Her success in movies saved Paramount Pictures after the Great Depression, and she was the greatest woman wit of the twentieth century and possibly the millennium. Imagine Kim Kardashian with something to say, and a creative fire that never dimmed. Mae West wrote her own dialog (or carefully stole it). She performed on the stage and silver screen into her fifties and beyond, while dating men half her age or younger. She may not have been a good person, but she was a great one.
And yet, few people today may remember her name. It's humbling to think that cultural icons of one century may be near forgotten in the next. I had a hard time finding a copy of this book, but the search was worth it. ...more
If you want your Arthurian legend splattered with mud and blood, read The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell.
I love Arthurian tales for the nobility, theIf you want your Arthurian legend splattered with mud and blood, read The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell.
I love Arthurian tales for the nobility, the tragedy, the love that destroys, the love that heals, and the heroism that fades into the mists with a promise to return. In the superb rendition Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley gives the woman’s perspective of the myth. She explores the mysteries of the goddess: the maiden, the mother, and the crone. This is apt, since the reader will have taken a step closer to becoming a crone after the time spent finishing such an epic tome.
If you want a vacation of imagination through London, this is the book for you. In Neverwhere we delve into the underways of city and the psyche of itIf you want a vacation of imagination through London, this is the book for you. In Neverwhere we delve into the underways of city and the psyche of its disenfranchised. We're not certain if the protagonist is learning of a new world beneath the sewers or going insane. Or both. He discovers Rat Speakers, subway royalty, the half-seen terrors of the Underbridge, and the dread trial of Blackfriar Station. His quest, to find an artifact from in the British Museum, which will allow his new friend, Door, to open a portal to visit an angel in exile. More exciting than the protagonist's desk job but also with rather fewer benefits and more peril....more
If you love the idea of dominating through geometry, then The Rithmatist is the gearpunk fantasy for you.
I wish the hardcover book came with three pieIf you love the idea of dominating through geometry, then The Rithmatist is the gearpunk fantasy for you.
I wish the hardcover book came with three pieces of chalk. Just so I could hold one and imagine drawing a circle of protection around myself. Anchoring it with lines. Defending it with chalk drawings that come alive. Scrawling wave patterns that snake outward in white blasts of power.
After the joyous perils of The Odyssey, the Iliad was one of the most disappointing stories I've ever read. I can summarize it like so: "Achilles has After the joyous perils of The Odyssey, the Iliad was one of the most disappointing stories I've ever read. I can summarize it like so: "Achilles has a hissy fit, sulks for two hundred pages, and then slaughters 2,000 Trojans." As you can guess, I could not relate to Achilles. I thought he was a prideful brat. Now that I've read The Song of Achilles, I know that he was indeed a prideful brat, but I begin to understand why. I see his human side.
Destined to die young, Achilles cannot hope for long life. Instead he seeks immortality through his valor. This sculpts his actions, and his briny sea-nymph mother manipulates him with expectations of fame ever glowing ahead of him. The Song of Achilles fills in some of the subtext that becomes lost in the Iliad.
The Song of Achilles focuses more on the Greek hero's childhood, how he meets an unassuming exile prince, how the two fall in love. Readers looking for diverse books would do well to consider this one.
My favorite parts of the tale were Odysseus, Odysseus, Odysseus, and Chiron the Centaur. The four-legged sage teaches Achilles not to fight but to play the harp and sing. What a different tale Achilles' life might have been if he had sought fame not through sword but through song. ...more
Joe Abercrombie recaptures the childhood joy of playing in filth.
If you love wordsmithing that builds mud into palaces of beauty as well as charactersJoe Abercrombie recaptures the childhood joy of playing in filth.
If you love wordsmithing that builds mud into palaces of beauty as well as characters struggling through chaos and blood to find purpose, then you may love Red Country. This story follows ex-criminal Shy trying to recover her stolen siblings, trekking across the prairie along with the train of wanton hope of people journeying into recently settled wilds in search of gold. The gold-prospector town is heaven for Joe Abercrombie, balanced as it is on the uneven timbers of lawless human abandon.
The secondary protagonist is Temple, a lawyer for the infamous Nicomo Cosca. Temple is a coward and a failure, and he battles throughout the book to find meaning and self respect.
In addition to the mercurial mercenary Cosca, multiple characters reappear from previous books by Joe Abercrombie, their cameos more than satisfying. That said, if you have not read previous stories in this world, I would recommend starting with this one. I was most satisfied with Red Country's story and ending.
Though the book is a dark fantasy, it reads more like a historical fiction. Joe Abercrombie prefers grime and despair to magic. On the other hand, he brings us swords and Norsemen in gold-rush country, and that's someone's* fantasy.
This geeky delight is supercharged with invincible insecurities and unapologetic passions. The home-schooled Felicia Day found her first meaningful coThis geeky delight is supercharged with invincible insecurities and unapologetic passions. The home-schooled Felicia Day found her first meaningful community on an online Ultima RPG forum. Game sonnets were exchanged. Awkward road-trips were had. With such a bedrock of social prowess, "4.0 Felicia" catapulted herself into college, with a double major in mathematics and savant-grade violinastics. She then took the most logical step of dropping everything to become an actress in Hollywood. SPOILER ALERT: that city turned out be less than a perfect meritocracy and wholly unable to identify her obvious genius. All may have been lost for our heroine if she had not fallen back into her roots of crippling gaming addiction (dedication) which in time fermented into the creation of the Guild and her splendiferous YouTube channel Geek and Sundry.
I thank Felicia Day for being open about her own mental issues and how therapy helped her live a better life. People need to appreciate this option and be willing to value their cognitive well-being as much as the physical....more
I have always loved the tragic poignancy of Arthurian legend. This telling focuses nView my BookDancing review on YouTube: http://youtu.be/n9bcF0dUl6U
I have always loved the tragic poignancy of Arthurian legend. This telling focuses not so much on warfare but on women struggling to survive among the ruling men as well as keeping the religion of the goddess from fading into the forgotten mists.
Gwenyvere grows as a character from a girl frightened by open spaces to a queen adept at keeping court. She is tortured by her barrenness, believing it punishment for her desire for Lancelot. Her guilt drives her to ever greater zeal for unifying the land under the Christian faith, and this amazingly complex and sympathetic character serves as the book's chief antagonist.
Morgaine, also known as Morgan le Fay, faces a cliff of choices. In order to save her religion and Avalon from slipping into the mists, she may have to sacrifice her friendships and follow in the footsteps of the mentor she has come to despise, The Lady of the Lake. ...more
If you love your eighth son of the eighth son to be endowed with supreme magical talent, then Equal Rites may be the book for you. Except, oops! That If you love your eighth son of the eighth son to be endowed with supreme magical talent, then Equal Rites may be the book for you. Except, oops! That eighth son was actually a daughter. There's no tradition on Disc World of women being wizards, but that doesn't stop her from riding a flood of pluck and reality-fizzing magic down from the mountains to Ankh-Morpork to teach those stuffy wizards the meaning of the word “flabbergasted.”
Much of the book is told from the perspective of the tough-as-enchanted-nails Granny Weatherwax, she's a witch who doesn't approve of flying but will do what she must to keep the young would-be-wizard on the right side of trouble. Equal Rites is a tale about their journey to the Unseen University, and when they get their we'd expect some small magical mishap must be overcome. But the most enchanting part of the book is Terry Pratchett's wordplay, and he's in fine form here. I feel this may be a good book to delve into the Disc World, and also it would likely be well loved by younger readers....more
In which Kvothe becomes more and more of a badass.
If the idea of your favorite, red-headed Arcanist becoming a juggernaut of skill and talents sounds like chocolate ice-cream to you, then you'll love The Wise Man's Fear. Those who treasure fantasy languages and enjoy immersing themselves in innovative cultures will also have much to revel in. If, however, you expect Kvothe to make progress (any at all) on avenging the death of his parents at the hands of the Forsaken-types who killed them, then your enjoyment may be less.
For those who aren't in the know, The Kingkiller Chronicle offers superb dialog and a cast of memorable characters. Elodin, the eccentric Master of Naming, is my favorite. Early in the book, Master Elodin encourages Kvothe to burn his master's robes, except they turn out to not be his own robes but that of a rival master, filling the vengeful man's apartments with an acrid fume.
In addition to delightful banter and camaraderie, the series also offers the bittersweet romance of an iconic Bad Girl. Kvothe continues his distant pursuit of her in this book, fearing to get too close lest she shun him like all the other men who try to possess her.
I admit, the frame-story nature of the series does not appeal to me, so I simply skip the interludes where the older Kvothe in the guise of an innkeeper is talking to the Chronicler. This was also true of the first tome, The Name of the Wind, which is a story about the orphaned Kvothe finding a place that he could call home, a magic academy. In the same vein, you could perhaps say The Wise Man's Fear is about him finding financial security, as many of his difficulties revolve around money problems. However, it's more about him amassing talents. It's apparently not enough that at sixteen he's a prodigy of multiple classes of magic, knows four languages, excels at thieving, and is a virtuoso of the lute and storytelling. No, he must learn more languages, study martial arts, gain skill in sword fighting, and become unsurpassed in bed (no joke)....more
If you want to visit a steampunk mining town where lighter-than-air gel is extracted and used for both airships and magic, then read Steal the Sky by If you want to visit a steampunk mining town where lighter-than-air gel is extracted and used for both airships and magic, then read Steal the Sky by Megan E. O’Keefe. The opalescent gel is the second most prized resource in the Empire. The first is those men and women who are sensitive to it, especially those with enough command to shape it in crafts of power.
The rogue Detan can command it with rage. If he allows himself to get angry, the gel around him will ignite to the destruction of all. He’s promised himself not to hurt anyone again, and above all he must stay out of the Empire’s clutches. So he skips from town to town, with his friend, Tibs. They help each other stay in control, and they pass the time with general knavery.
Detan is sometimes clever, often too clever for his own good. Scared of swords, terrified of his own power, he relies mostly on his fast talking. The character has some callbacks to P.G. Wodehouse’s Berty Wooster, with their menacing aunts and broken engagements, but Detan has more drive and efficacy, just enough so the book isn’t a farce.
“You are a common crook,” Watch Captain Ripka tells him.
“I am not common,” Detan says.
Ripka would rather do legal paperwork than attend noble parties. The only thing she fears is the silence in her unlived-in house. She squashes tarantulas under her boot while staring meaningfully at Detan. If Dragon Age has taught me anything it’s that I have a soft spot for hard-edged guard captains. I wish Ripka had led more of the action in the book, but it’s a bit of a muddle because her appearance is so often stolen by Pelkaia, the doppelganger.
Pelkaia prefers to be called an illusionist. She shapes the gel into more than face masks. She uses it to reinforce her diseased bones, to give her the strength to take revenge on those who killed her son. He worked in the gel mine and not by choice. There he died, and now Pelkaia will tear down not only his taskmasters but also the city authority and the Empire bureaucrats who drove them to unsafe measures.
The town Aransa was built around the gel mine. The only problem is that the settlement is clinging to the side of a mountain, parched in full blow of the desert winds. Also, the mine is more like a volcano that could explode at any moment. In the meantime it bathes the town in ash that turns the moons red.
The citizens of Aransa don’t get much entertainment. Their favorite sport is seeing criminals executed by being forced to walk around the volcano until their boots and feet melt, and the prisoners have no choice but to fall and embrace the obsidian shards. Good times.
I can’t blame Detan for wanting to skip town. The trouble is, Pelkaia catches him up in her obsession for revenge. He has to break the law for her, and if she has her way, there won’t be escape for anyone. ...more
Plunge into the breathtaking grimness of Monstress, a dark-fantasy comic by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. The interweaving whorls of demonic art may mPlunge into the breathtaking grimness of Monstress, a dark-fantasy comic by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. The interweaving whorls of demonic art may mesmerize you. You may be drawn deeper into this world by the lush drawings of people and animals, or people animals. The half-breeds face persecution from humans in the form of dismemberment. Nations of magic and science teeter toward war. The only thing keeping the peace is fear of a power that devastated everyone at the last battle.
That power writhes within the heroine. It spools a madness of hunger through her. She can try to bargain with it, she can plead, but whatever is inside her is no simple curse. She looks human but doesn't feel like one. She's missing an arm and, worse, her childhood memories. Her story in this comic resonates with themes of surviving abuse.
The dark world is rich with myth and nuance. No side is shown as purely good or evil. The complexity may feel like drowning. There is so much setting beneath the surface that it could be bottomless. I want to call this comic a better Berserk led by women; it may even be true.
When reading you may notice that all the major characters are women (unless you count the talking, multi-tailed cat). This is an inversion of the historic norm, and it may lead to an eerie feeling for male readers. Savor it. Take this opportunity to understand what women have had to put up with since forever while you enjoy a fantastic comic. ...more