Sunday, February 28, 2010

Last weekend....

.... I went to a bookstore. Last time I was in reach of a bookstore I bought fifteen books. This time I bought twenty. However, because this time I was savvy enough to browse the paperback section instead of the hardbacks, it cost me 30% less. See my spoils? *presents them proudly*

Expect to see these gleefully reviewed as soon as I finish the backlog of other books I've read but not talked about.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sorry for the extremely erratic updates lately.

I have no real excuse other than my inherent fail. Which I use as an excuse whenever possible. :D

Anyhow, I wrote today. *is proud*

I love it so much when things work out! It just makes me happy inside. In fact, I want to write much more, but I keep having to pick my head up off the keyboard. Ahem. Now if I can just sustain this love for writing for tomorrow...

  • Words: 2309.
  • Scenes. 1. Hehehe. You thought I did more? No. No dice, I'm not feeling the seduction yet. 
  • Thoughts. Ewan is silly and has a little brother, I now know. Hurrah for discoveries. Also, I get to use glowing mushrooms and my unholy trio! Delight!
Here, it's been too long since you had an excerpt. Have one. ^_^
“That was a nice thing you did for Morgan.”

He flinched. The stupid girl was still in the room. Okay, maybe not so stupid- she had given him food- but he still didn’t like her presence. “Wha?” He sneaked a sidelong glance at Janet, still sitting on the table, still looking dangerous. Not dangerous in a hey-here’s-a-girl way, but in a hey-here’s-a-girl-who-knows-how-to-use-sharp-things-and-isn’t-scared-of-heights-oh-god-i’m-so-dead kind of way.

She raised her eyebrows. “Jumping into a fight for him?”

So that was where he’d known the boy. The train had stopped at a pathetic excuse for a station by an aerofield, and he’d gotten off in search of some beer or other food. There’d been a fight going on, he’d gone over to look at it, and found it was five farm boys beating the snot out of a little red-haired boy. He’d taken a swing at the largest blonde with the brains of an ox and the muscles to match, and ended up with his leather jacket- and billfold- gone for his pains. He’d even almost missed the train. Ewan grunted in answer.

“Why’d you do it?” She’d taken a little knife with a white blade from the kitchen counter, and was trimming her nails with it. “S’not like you’re a nice person, just serving justice or someat.”

Ewan showed his teeth in an almost mirthful grin. “Maybe I just like a fight?” Funnily enough, he got the impression that she didn’t mean “not a nice person” as an insult, exactly. Or maybe that was just hope that she wouldn’t cut off his fingers right here and leave him to bleed out.

“Probably.” She stood up. “No fighting here, or I’ll have to pull those rings out of your face.”

Ewan raised eyebrows ornamented with the rings in question. “Do you always resort to threats to get your way?”

Janet laughed cheerfully and dropped the knife into the sink. It made a sharp chink as it hit. “No, usually people just do what I say. I have to explain m’self and what’ll happen cause you’re new an daft. Come on, greenie, got to get the mail aboard.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik

I'm going to try to be more professional this time, and start with the plot, instead of tacking it on the end of my rant. Ahem.

So, in the last book Lawrence impressed harnessed Temeraire, and they joined the RAC. Not that they used that acronym in the book, I just like Acronyms. :D Ahem. But now, for spoiler-related reasons that took place in the first book, it's become pretty obvious that the French don't have the dragon the Chinese Empire sent them. The French don't like this. The Chinese are even less pleased, and they want the dragon back.

However, Temeraire doesn't want to be parted from Lawrence, which he doesn't really fancy the thought of either, so to keep the Chinese placated the British Government* decides to sent Lawrence and crew along with the dragon in question, back to China. Hilarious events ensue. Oh wait, that's not right...

As previously mentioned, I loved the first book in this series. Unfortunately, for me, it felt like they took all the parts of the first one that I didn't delight in, and gave them their own book. The whole issue of injustice to dragons-as-sentient-beings, which I suppose had to be addressed sometime, but did it have to take the form of indulging the teenage dragon while his crew dies? And remember, most of the dragons back in England AREN"T as smart as Temeraire! He's practically a genius! Even if he is a spoiled revolutionary brat. *sulks*

Possibly because Lawrence was so frustrated the whole time, but I just found this vexing to read. I still loved the world, mind you. I was gleeful over the passing dragon transports they mentioned, and I even liked the East India Company bits. I was just FRUSTRATED by all the politics, and Temeraire acting like a spoiled child who has just discovered the nasty stranger next door will give him more candy than he can get at home, and the SEA SERPENT. GAH LET US NEVER SPEAK OF SEA SERPENTS AGAIN OKAY? Plus all the jolly other dragons weren't there, and the chinese blokes were untrustworthy and not cricket, and there were politics everywhere, and our friends are dying back home while we're waiting to be invited to concerts which we don't understand, and the food tastes strange...

Okay, maybe I was just identifying too much with Lawrence and co. I gave it three stars out of five. I want the next book, which is BRITSH, okay? Please? Or we can go to Newfoundland and give Temeraire the change to have fun with some proper lady dragons, if you INSIST. Ahem. Yeah, I still love the world, but this isn't my favourite book to-date. On to book three now plz?

*It wasn't the British Empire until Victoria declared herself Empress of India, which isn't for awhile yet. I just put that together. I feel clever.

His Majesty's Dragon, Naomi Novik

I started reading this, and the first page got a "meh, Horatio Hornblower" from me. But a friend had said it was amazing, and I like dragons, so I kept reading. By the second page I remembered that I loved Horatio Hornblower. By the second chapter I was having guilty flashbacks (I wasn't supposed to be in the adult SF section, okay?) to reading the entire Pern series (which I also loved,) and then by the time the story got to dry land I had dispensed with comparisons and was just devouring the book.

I gave it five stars out of five and immediately dove for the next book, I think it's safe to say that I loved it. The voice is deliciously dry, which falls in marvellously with the understated drama that the story is full of. I grew up hearing stories about WW2 fighter pilots and Yorkshire vets, and this is full of the same calm assessment of dire situations and stiff-upper-lip reaction to said situations. We might be going down in flames, but we are British. This in its self is sufficient for us to die well. (Okay, honestly I decided I loved the book when the French-bashing started. I am a bad man.)

It's rather hard to describe the world which Ms. Novic has made, but if you really want an idea to put in your pipe and smoke, I'd say mix Pern, Ancient Rome, Master and Commander/Horatio Hornblower and a dash of Austen for class structure, and you get a general idea. Then you should read the book and marvel at how sadly my description fell short.

Here, have a quote;
"Perhaps not all of you are aware," he said, silencing the whispers with a look, "that England is in a very dire situation as regards the Aerial Corps. Naturally, our handling is superior, and the Corps can outfly any other nation of the world, but the French can outbreed us two to one, and it is impossible to deny that they have better variety in their bloodlines. A properly harnessed dragon is worth at least a first-rate of 100 guns to us, even a common Yellow Reaper or a three-ton Winchester, and Mr. Pollitt believes from the size and color of the egg that this hatchling is a prime specimen, and very likely one of the rare large breeds."

"Oh!" said Midshipman Carver, in tones of horror, as he took Laurence's meaning; he instantly went crimson as eyes went to him, and shut his mouth tight.

Laurence ignored the interruption; Riley would see Carver's grog stopped for a week without having to be told. The exclamation had at least prepared the others. "We must at least make the attempt to harness the beast," he said. "I trust, gentlemen, that there is no man here who is not prepared to do his duty for England. The Corps may not be the sort of life that any of us has been raised to, but the Navy is no sinecure either, and there is not one of you who does not understand a hard service."

"Sir," said Lieutenant Fanshawe anxiously: he was a young man of very good family, and the son of an earl, "do you mean--that is, shall we all--"
It's so DRY. *bounces* I was boring and mystifying my family with quotes taken out of context for the whole time I was gleefully reading it. (You can read the rest of the excerpt here.)

... and, I've managed to rant for a page without giving you any idea of the plot. Right. Clearly I'm a great reviewer. Okay, so Captain Lawrence is Post Captain of a naval vessel in His Majesty's Navy, and they capture a French ship which is carrying a dragon's egg. However, they're so far from land that the egg is going to hatch before they can get word to the Aerial Corp. And because the rest of his crew fails- okay, sorry, they don't like the idea of being a dragon rider and all the shame that comes with it (FAIL) - Captain Lawrence steps up and harnesses the dragon.

And then he learns to fly, and then he goes to land and reads about rocks, and then he goes to England, and then there are more dragons and roman baths, and there's a mid-air rescue or several, and DEVIOUS SPIES, and awesome women who are awesome and scandalous but also awesome, and many battles, and invasion by the TRICKSY FRENCH, and acid-spitting dragons, and officers who are fools (I can't tell you how much this pleased me,) and officers who are awesome, (also, I was delighted, though not as much as by the incompetents. Sorry world,) and plot twists, and treason and references to Newfoundland, and SUNDRY WONDERFUL THINGS*. I cried inside when the dragon died.

Go buy, beg, borrow or steal a copy, and read it. You won't be sorry.

*I really push the envelope for coherency with these, don't I?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan

This is the fifth book in the Percy Jackson series, and Percy is now in High School! (Some of you may be surprised by this, if you've seen the movie, which appears to start in high school. The movie LIES. That's all I have to say on the subject.)

But anyhow, Percy is coming up on his sixteenth birthday. This is of MONUMENTAL IMPORT, as you know if you've read the other books (again, the movie lies) because there's a prophecy that a child of the Big Three (Zeus, Poseidon and Hades,) will save or destroy Olympus on his or her sixteenth birthday. The gods, understandably, are a little tense about this. They're even less inclined to be Zen right now because their late and totally unlamented father Kronos has reconstructed himself from sheer willpower, trickery and blood, and now he's out to destroy them and the rest of the world along with Olympus. Oh, and he has backers.  Powerful ones.

So that's the setting. With added dashes of people going insane, bad flashbacks, BETRAYAL, and romance which confuses poor Percy so much. Why are all the girls LOOKING at him like that? Also Drakons and teenagers being badass. (The movie lies.)


Okay, now that is out of my system...

I really, really, really enjoyed this book. After seeing a lying film which I won't dignify by name, I'm reminded how good the books are. They show the progression from a brave but WAY over his head twelve year old, to a brave 16 year old, in way over his head but prepared to do what is necessary to get the people who are important to him through this. They have side characters who kick a**. They have side characters who aren't one-dimentional! You get the sense that all these people have lives, and we jst happen to be following Percy. But it we were following, say, Clarisse, or Luke, or Annabeth, or Chiron, it would be an equally exciting and awesome story. Plus they have MOSTLY ACCURATE myths coming out their ears.*bites down on rant about movie*

So that's just the underlying excellence of the structure of the book. And then there's the delicious, delicious icing of scenes of glory. Clarrise and the Drakon. Luke and Kronos. Luke's mom. Martha and George. (heheh.) Annabeth's terms of endearment. (Can I say how happy I was that Prothemeus was a jerk? I always knew he was a jerk!) I gave it five stars out of five.

(SPOILER: Oh, and after the Battle of the Labyrinth, I was afraid that it was going to pull a His Dark Materials and kill off all the Gods. It made me QUITE HAPPY that this didn't happen. I may have been loudly jubilant about that. Just maybe.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

39 Clues: Beyond The Grave, Jude Watson

So Amy and Dan head off to Egypt, where they find that people who they thought were dead AREN'T, romances are not to be trusted, people who they thought were dead, uh, still are, and Crocodiles are fast.

There are brief pauses to tip our hats to feminism again, which also happened in One Missing Note, and to reveal almost nothing about the family legacy. Which is to be expected, with 35 books to go.

What can I say? The series continues. I'm not going to vet any more of these books for my siblings, or if I do I'm not going to review them. They take me all of 45 minutes to read anyways. I gave it three stars out of five. It was an enjoyable 45 minutes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

39 Clues: The Sword Thief, Peter Lerangis

Okay, continuing with me avoiding writing by reading, and then by ranting about the reading, here's a new review!* ^_^

You know how I didn't like One Missing Note? Because continuity with the characters got lost in a cave in austria and didn't come out? Character Continuity is BACK. In Japan, none the less!

After some forgettable exciting chases around Venice in the last book, Amy and Dan Cahill found some swords. Which means they should head immediately for Japan, OF COURSE. (I love the logic of these books. And their credit cards. I want one.) Unfortunately, they are VICIOUSLY tricked off the plane in the airport. By the Kobras, none the less. Not satisfied with unlimited funds, they have to steal Amy and Dan's plane tickets.

Well, all's fair in love and war, right?

And speaking of love...

Oh wait, I get ahead of myself. First they have to meet up with Uncle Alister, who knows about Japan. He's asian, you know. *nods* Well, Korean, which isn't the same thing, but more importantly, he's RICH. Hello private plane! GOOD BYE NINJAS. Hello Private estate! Hello Kobras? Uhh... I'm curiously okay with this...

I was delighted by the characters in this book. :D They were back! I was less delighted with the plot, and the reveal of the thing that "has the power to change the world." But hey, if I wanted mega plot, I wouldn't be reading a book for pre-teens. Oh, and after reading this, I looked up the the author on Goodreads, and I saw that he had written in several other series. Which leads me to my PROFOUND DISCOVERY of the week. Some people can write series. Some cant. Peter Lerangis can! I gave it four stars out of five.

*I am so awesome** with the time management.
**And the humility.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oh, the glory that is writing death scenes for Lent

3193 words written today. I guess it wasn't as much fail as I thought!

Best quote of the day;

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm totally hoping my luck with contests lately holds out.

Linger Cover Large
In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores worldwide July 20th. You can Pre-order here.

(And also, you can enter to win ARCs of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog! SQUEE much?)

In which I start to suspect I have developed an addiction to CAPSLOCK.

I know I've been bad with the blogging lately. I"M SORRY. I fail at life. 

*humbly bows head*

My excuse is that I have been WRITING. I know, I can hear the shock in your voices. But I have! It's a true story! I finished part one of Karma Police- which sucked. But I did figure out how to break Adam! Which makes me happy, as always. *is happy*

And now I'm onto writing part two of KP, which makes me curse the fact I thought it would be a good idea to write in five POVs, including five keening stories, for most of the part 2. I curse myself SO HARD! (Oh, the follies of youth under the influence of Nano- I mourn.)

But yes, writing. (Not that I'm avoiding writing by posting on a blog, Nooooooo! Surely you jest!) Also I have been reading at least six books! I preen in the awesomeness of my reading majesty. *poses* And I went through a lot of stuffs at work, procedural FUN and all that funky stuff. And also I discovered Mass Effect 2. *cough cough cough*

The story is pretty, what can I say? I heart Jack! Though I do wish that shirt was larger... (If you've seen-played it, Please God you know what I mean.)

What else do I have in the line of random factoids? Oh yes, ME2 and a wicked awesome character in KP has made me realize that I seem to have a seemingly endless supply of wickedly amused, heavily tattooed, totally badass and possibly untrustworthy female characters. Some are a bit more deadly or adorable than others, but so far the well of AWESOME has not run dry. Not that those characters ever tell me a profane thing about what they're doing with my other charas or the plot, but I shouldn't ask for TOO much, should I?

Oh, Oh, Oh! Also I won a copy of Flash Burnout! SQUEE! 

Back to the grindstone, I need to hire Ewan and imperil Laura. *stumbles away, smiling dangerously*

Friday, February 5, 2010

History, it's hilarious!

Maybe you have to share my feeling that men dying of starvation while invading russia can be funny... But anyways. This is a lovely comic strip which I found belatedly, and these clips make me laugh outright every time. :D

Okay, these ones are not quite as dark, but still hilarious. :D (The Author is from my part of the world, which is perhaps why we share a bit of sense of what makes one laugh in the middle of the night. If you know what I mean. Ahem.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pure Tragedy

I'm not sure if you read XKCD (though you should, tis hilarious) but this comic almost made me cry.
Over a robot!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Mark, Jen Nadol

I actually won an ARC of this book, which makes me extremely squee-y. It also makes me want to write a good review! I am clearly doing very well with that objective, as evidenced by the inclusion of "squee-y" in my first sentence. Yay grammar and spelling!

Cassandra Renfield has been able to see the Mark on random people, usually strangers. As long as she can remember, a faint glow around passer-bys has been visible, but she's never thought much of it. It's just something she sees, and other people don't, but it hasn't come up enough for her to be worried about it. Her Nan doesn't seem worried either, so why should she? Then as the book opens, she has just realized what the Mark means. It means that the people glowing like that, are going to die soon- very soon. This is their last day alive.

And then THE question comes up. If you know that today is a person's last day alive, do you tell them?

The pacing of this book was not what I expected. I found I was able to predict what would happen next, but it didn't happen WHEN I expected. A lot of the book was not what I expected. I read the back and thought "Oh, a romance. Her new boyfriend is going to show her how to use her power to save lives, and then there'll be kissing!" Well yes, there was kissing, but it's not that simple. Nothing is really that simple. (The romance kinda freaked me out, to be honest. Isn't a 19 year old sleeping with a 16 year old, uh, statutory rape? I thought that's what it was in the US, at least?)

I really liked how the answers to Cassandra's dilemma had to be puzzled through, because it is a true dilemma. It's not that she just has a super power to save lives, it is revealed that what she chooses to do with her gift has consequences on other people's lives, beyond the person walking around with the Mark on them. (Think Greek myths, and the fact that traditionally, cheating death is frowned on by The Powers That Be.)

And right now, I have to mention a facet of the book that I loved. LOVED LOVED LOVED. Cassandra takes a philosophy course! *swoons* And it isn't just a token course, "Oh, Cassie's going to be late, her philosophy course is tonight." "Silly Cassie and her philosophy course, she's so smart." "She's really smart! She's taking philosophy, you know!" No, she actually TAKES philosophy, and it's PART OF THE PLOT.

There needs to be more YA featuring Plato. Nicomachean Ethics used in romance FTW! Let's argue Hume instead of making Hummus!


Right, back to the story. I really, really liked how Cassandra was a smart heroine. And that her intelligence was shown, not just told to me. (Though if I can have a moment, I was sad that she didn't read any Aquinas. What, we go straight from aristotle to Descarte? She even skipped the stoics!) [SPOILERS] However, I was frustrated by the rather post-modernistic answer she came to by the end of the book. There is no way to tell if what I do will be good, therefore do nothing? There's no way to tell, because you're ONLY ONE THIRD OF A TRIO. You need the other fates to know what to do! [/SPOILERS]

I gave it three stars out of five. And yes, I hope that a sequel will be written, so I can see more how she deals with this. (Oh! And Jen Nadol is going Release Party on her blog, where you can win swag and lovely free books! QUICK, you only have two more days!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Continuing my tradition of CONTESTS YOU SHOULD ENTER, Steph Bowe is giving away The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Paper Towns by John Green and Liar by Justine Larbalestier! These are ALL books high up on my Drool-worthy list, so I nearly had a spasm of joy when I saw the contest entry form. You can enter it here.

Only don't, so I have a better chance of winning. I want these books....

Also it's open internationally! YAYZ!

The 39 Clues: The Maze Of Bones, Rick Riordan

This was just a fun book. I started it to give my insatiable brother some safe ADVENTURE to devour, and then found myself really enjoying the ADVENTURE as well. (Not that that's any surprise. Everyone knows I have a juvenile mind, and I also delight in chase scenes- say- through museums in Paris. Or- say- dangerous weapons in Paris. Or- say-  Catacombs in Paris. Just as examples.)

Okay, the plot. Amy and Dan Cahill live with their great-aunt and a long succession of au pairs, and visit their fabulously wealthy other great aunt on weekends. Until Fabulously Wealthy Great Aunt dies, and then suddenly it turns out they have a huge extended family who all shows up for the funeral. And then the will is read, and the ADVENTURE starts.

Seriously, buildings catch fire, assassin/ninjas show up, and secret libraries are found within minutes of the will being read. This book certainly knows how to skip over the boring bits. :D I'm gonna let you figure out the clues for yourself if you read it, because that's fun, and also, for me, that wasn't the best part of the book. The best part was the characters!

Each book in the projected series is written by a different author, and I know Mr. Riordan for his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. (Which is AWESOME, by the way.) This series is for a younger audience, so the bad guys are still fairly obviously The Bad Guys. You can tell cause they're mean/stupid/steal things from children. But they also have occasional flashes of kindness/wisdom/giving back. Notice I said occasional. But the possibility for redemption is there. Yay!

And the "good guys" have fights with each other, have weaknesses, and pull crazy unexpected resuces and talents out of their hats. *happy sigh*

I love that. So yes. Nuanced characters, fun, FAST PACED read, and a minimum of objectionable content for young readers. I don't even thing there's any bad words. I gave it four stars out of five.
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