Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’


Book Review: ‘Sabriel’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Sabriel – Garth Nix (YA/Fantasy)

I’m so glad I took the recommendation to read this… and I’m also very glad I pushed through the first 50 pages! I’ll be honest, I was around page 45 and thinking “I really hope this picks up soon… why don’t I like it yet?!?!”, but just a few more pages in and I was hooked. It was entertaining, unique, and for the most part, well crafted. For the most part.

Nix obviously did his world building first, then placed his characters and story inside… because he neglects to explain how things work, and acts like the reader already knows the rules. Well, we don’t, and it would have been nice to have a little rundown. Even a cliche monologue to tell us the rules. Anything. Really!

Fortunately, after page 50 or so, you get used to it and just figure it’ll all work out in the end. It kinda does, and kinda doesn’t, but the story is still very good and leaves you wanting more. I’ll be searching out the next two books in the series, and hope that Nix takes the time to explain more (any?) world rules as the books progress.

With that warning in place: I definitely recommend this book. Let’s face it, with a female necromancer as the lead character, how can you possibly pass it up?

Rating: 3.5 coffees out of 5

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Book Review: ‘The Wild Wood’ & ‘Skellig’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

The Wild Wood - Charles de Lint (Fantasy)

I’d heard some excellent things about Charles de Lint from members of the group here, so I was excited to read something by him for the first time… unfortunately, this book fell far, far short of my expectations. *looks around nervously* Sorry, everyone…

The story itself is about a painter who has lost the passion in her art, and has retreated to a cabin in the woods to recapture the passion again. She begins to see faces in the woods, and she receives some odd messages. In essence: the woods needs her help.

For whatever reason, after the premise was established, the rest of the book just didn’t do it for me. I found the ending to be rather trite and unbelievable, though I’m sure some people really liked it and probably found it ‘poignant’… but I was just frustrated.

I was very glad, however, that it was short book, and I won’t give up on de Lint just yet…

Rating: 2 coffees out of 5

Skellig – David Almond (Children’s Fiction)

I picked this one up on the recommendation of others, but I wasn’t really expecting anything from it. It didn’t “look” very good, and usually I get a pretty good sense from a book when I’m holding it whether I’ll like it or not (I jokingly call it my ‘book sixth sense’… okay, now you all think I’m crazy), and this one didn’t really seem like my kind of thing…

Was I ever wrong. I don’t want to get into plot details because I really think this is a book you need to experience for yourself, but let me say this: when you turn the last page of the book, after the last word has been read, make sure you give yourself a few moments. Allow the sense of the book, the words and the sentiments evoked to wash over you. Absorb the truth behind the fantastic. I finished this book in a coffee shop and had brought along an action-oriented chick lit book to read afterward, but I simply couldn’t do it – I didn’t want to tarnish what I’d just read.

Needless to say, I’m very, very glad I gave this one a try.

Rating: 5 coffees out of 5

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Book Review: On Writing & Door in the Hedge

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

3) On Writing – Stephen King (Writing)

Some time ago, I heard this was “the definitive book to read about writing”, if you were a writer/planning to be a writer/wrote things/etc. I ignored the advice, figured I was good with my other writing books, and moved on. This past Christmas, out of curiosity and for the sake of giving my mother a list of books to choose from (she asked!), I included this one. I decided to read it on a lazy Friday afternoon, sitting in a local café with a mug of smooth, black coffee…

And for crying out loud, I should have read this book a long time ago. Forgive me, O Muse, for I have been derelict in my duties. Although I’ve never read a novel by Stephen King – and I have no desire to – I have a great respect for the man after finishing this memoir/book on writing. I had no idea the kind of background King came from, nor the struggles that he went through to reach the place of success he is in now. What I found perhaps most commendable of all was, throughout the memoir section where he recalls his struggles with drugs/alcohol/a negligent mother/living in a decrepit apartment, he discusses these things as if they were simply ‘matter of fact’. It happened, he moved on. He never sensationalizes his past, and I never got the sense that he was recalling the events looking for pity, or trying to make an ‘I had such a hard life, look at me now!’ boast. These things were the way they were, he learned from them, and moved on. He freely admits his mistakes and the faults of his family, without giving praise where it isn’t due, but also seeing good where it lay.

The section on writing was very encouraging as well, and I found my resolve steeled. I will finish my own novels, I will make better use of my writing time, I will be a better writer. It is possible, though it will be difficult. I already knew these things, but somehow, King was able to say it without being condescending, discouraging, preachy, or trying to give me the “Number #1 method for becoming the best writer ever!”.

I must say – I never thought that this book could impact me the way it did. When I finished, I set it down, thought about it, and considered how to not only put into practice the things I’d learned about writing itself, but how I could learn from King’s own experiences along the journey from amateur writer to best-selling author.

If you want to write, read this book. I almost didn’t… and I deeply regret not doing so sooner.

Rating: 5 coffees out of 5
4) The Door in the Hedge – Robin McKinley (Fantasy)

This book consists of four short stories, written like fairy tales – old language and all! They were entertaining, albeit brief, and reworked the traditional versions of a few tales. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever read, but I’d give it a 3.5/5. There were brief lags in a few places, but for those who enjoy new or reworked fairy tales, it’s worth the time invested.

Rating: 3.5 coffees out of 5

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Different Kingdom & Maze of Bones

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

1) A Different Kingdom – Paul Kearney (Fantasy)

I’ll warn you – I’m going to include spoilers when I talk about this book, simply because I don’t really have any other way to express how I feel about it.

On a five-point scale, I’d probably give it a two, but that’s not because I enjoyed it. What I thought was unique about the book was its execution: think Lost: Season 4, and its obsession with flash forwards. That’s exactly what Kearney does throughout the novel, and while I was annoyed by it at first, eventually I became intrigued and finally was quite pleased at how he was able to connect the present & future threads at the end, bringing the story full circle. It takes a careful and patient writer to do that and keep people reading, and it’s certainly not something I’ve seen crop up in a fantasy book before. So, my kudos to Kearney for using this literary device quite successfully.

What I didn’t like about the novel was… the content. Er, yes, I know that’s a fairly significant thing to say, but allow me to explain. The story is divided into three sections. In part one, nothing happens. Really. Nothing significant, unless you count a thirteen year old losing his virginity to a fairy. I kid you not – and he does it over and over and over again, and when he’s not engaged in said act, he’s thinking about it. Now, to Kearney’s credit, he never writes much more than a quick description of the female’s upper anatomy and then one line that says what they did (I absolutely cannot abide lewd sex scenes just for the sake of lewd sex scenes), but… I really had a hard time getting past the fact that this was a *thirteen year old* who seemed to be quickly becoming a sex addict with a fairy who would later on turn out to be… *serious but predictable spoiler ahead* his COUSIN. Sigh.

Moving along, part two actually has action and less “love-making” moments, and I found myself being intrigued by the plot for the first time (this is about 150 pages into a 300 page book). Part three follows along the same line, so the story ends on a satisfying note (aside from the aforementioned ‘revelation’).

All things considered, I wasn’t entirely disappointed, but I wouldn’t go recommending it when there are plenty of better things to read. I’d say it was worth the $1 my father paid for it at the used bookstore, but that’s about it.

Rating: 2 coffees out of 5

2) The 39 Clues (The Maze of Bones, Book 1) – Rick Riordan (Children’s Fiction)

Very fast paced, very fun. I’ll be honest – I’m really rooting for this series to do well. With real prizes and a collectible card game attached to the book series, I can see this series having a significant impact on getting young boys to read again. There are so few excellent books available for boys, and fewer still that will keep their attention in this fast-paced world, and that’s why I think this book series concept is such a fantastic idea. Adventure, real cards to trade, a website with real clues and prizes… whoever came up with this concept is a genius. Even having different authors write each book… so when a kid likes their writing in this series, they can go find the other things each author has written! Genius, I tell you…

As for the first book itself? It’s a lot of fun. Non-stop action, interesting characters… I felt like I was reading a kids’ book edition of a National Treasure movie. Can’t wait to pick up #2.

Rating: 4 coffees out of 5

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