Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Need a Hero

Have you ever noticed that men in UF and PNR have a tendency to be badass bad boys? (Yeah I just used bad twice.) I really can't complain. It's hot. There's lots of reasons for that which I may or may not write a post about later, but that's not really my point. My point is: I need a hero.

That's right. I'm not going to say I'm over reading about sexy, ruthless badasses, but there's something special about heroes. You don't just want to get down and dirty with them, you want to love them. And, maybe more importantly, you want them to love you, and not because of some kind of kinky sex thing. Because it means, somehow, that you're better than you thought you could be.

But it's not even a romance thing, really. Women can be heroes too. Kids. Doesn't matter who you are, only what choices you make. And maybe the idea that some people, facing an impossible situation, can come out of it better than they were, makes all of us better people. Maybe when we cry silently when Harry Potter walks into the Forbidden Forest to face Voldemort, or watch helplessly as Katniss Everdeen tries, desperately, to save a hospital, or laugh in shock and admiration when Tavi somehow unites people who thought they hated each other, or wait, fists clenched, for the dream that was Rome, maybe then we realize that there's something deep inside of all of us that can defeat impossible odds, that can be a beacon of light even in the darkest of times and show us all that being human is about more than genetics.

I like to call that hope.

So give me a hero. Give me someone I can cheer for, someone I can live for, someone I want to be. Heroes aren't flawless; in fact, it's their flaws that make them heroic. They remind us that, even if you can't do anything, you can always do something. They teach us how to be worthy, not of any particular prize, but to be people of worth. They show us what it means to make choices, to have free will, and they force us to take a closer look at ourselves and say, "could I do that?"

If that's not what we're reading for, I don't know what is. Sure, reading is an escape, but it's much more - an experience, a harrowing, a journey. Books teach us things about life we might never learn on our own. And if we're really lucky, we, too, will come out of it better than we were going in.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay
Gayle Forman
If I Stay #1

From Goodreads: In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck... 

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make -and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

I have no words to describe this book. If you read the blurb it really doesn't sound very exciting, but it's one of the best, most emotional books I've read recently. Forman does a great job showcasing Mia's life through her memories while she wanders the hospital. This book flows so well, and I was never at all confused about the timeline, which is impressive because it jumps around a lot.

I absolutely loved Mia's family and friends, which almost made the story even more heartrending. Everything about this book was spectacular, and I'm going to stop talking now so you can go out and read it. Seriously. Do it. Now. You won't regret it.

5 cupcakes

If you liked If I Stay, try:
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Lions of al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be ReadingAnyone can play along! Just do the following:

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
-BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I am currently reading The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay, which is my favorite.

The problem was, she kept wanting to laugh, which made it difficult to cling to outrage."You are in grave trouble if you happen to get sick on this campaign," she said grimly. "Did no one ever warn you not to offend you doctor?"  
"Many people, many times," Ammar admitted ruefully. "I'm just not a responsible man, I fear." 
"I am," said Rodrigo cheerfully. "Ask anyone!" 
"Only," she snapped over her shoulder, "because you're terrified of your wife. You told me so!" 
Ibn Khairan laughed. A moment later, so did Belmonte, his color high. Jehane crossed her arms, refusing to smile, scowling at the both of them. 
She felt extraordinarily happy, though. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test
Aimée Carter
The Goddess Test #1

Kate's mom wants to spend her last days in her hometown, so Kate and her mom leave New York City for smalltown Michigan. There Kate finds a little more than cliques and classes - an accident forces her into a world she never dreamed of. To help her mother, Kate agrees to spend six months at Henry's estate and to take the tests he sets her. And if she passes, she'll be a goddess, Henry's consort.

The Goddess Test is an enjoyable, light YA read. I liked the style of writing a lot, and I appreciated the modern incarnations of the Greek gods.

I do wish Carter had gone to the trouble to make them a little more distinct from their Greek personae - their personalities were definitely different from the ones established in myth, and at one point someone explains that they are merely the sort of personification of various concepts and primal forces. But I would have liked to see that idea expanded further, so that the combination of Greek gods and the Christian seven deadly sins made more sense, because I'm pretty sure the Greek gods were all about the seven deadly sins. (Also, historical timeline. But I will not pick nits.)

Kate was a pretty good lead character. Having to spend most of her teen years taking care of her sick mother made her less angsty than a lot of YA characters, which was nice. Henry was not what I expected. I thought he was a little too nice for the god of the dead. The other "gods" were also a little bland.

However, I did enjoy this book. It's romance- and introspection-heavy and action-light, but it's fun to read and a good way to spend an afternoon. I'm kind of wondering where the next book is going, because everything seemed pretty well wrapped up in this one, but I'll read it.

Plot: 3 cupcakes
Characters: 2 cupcakes
Style: 4 cupcakes
Overall: 3 cupcakes

If you liked The Goddess Test, try:
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

"It's Monday! What are you reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.

I was on Thanksgiving vacation for most of this week so I read a lot of books, and I'm still catching up on reviews! I should have the last couple up by tomorrow.


The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (review)
Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones (review)
Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent (review)
The Next Thing I Knew by John Corwin (review)
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan (review)
Touch the Dark by Karen Chance (re-read)
The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter (review)
If I Stay by Gayle Forman (review)

Pick of the week:

If I Stay, though Blood Bound was also really good

Currently reading:

Feyland: The Dark Realm by Anthea Sharp

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon's Lexicon
Sarah Rees Brennan
The Demon's Lexicon #1

Nick and Alan have been on the run their whole lives. After magicians killed their father, they learned to survive on their own, their mother being no help at all. They've been safe for a few months this time when the magicians find them again. Preparing to run, they find Jamie and Mae looking for their help with removing a demon mark. Nick doesn't care about the strangers, but agrees to help for Alan's sake. Their quest to remove the marks will become ever more dangerous and reveal family secrets that never should have seen the light of day.

The Demon's Lexicon was a pretty good story. I like being surprised, and while I predicted some of the plot twists, a few of them were less obvious, which is always fun. The world of The Demon's Lexicon featured evil magicians and'm not quite sure what they were, but the people in the Goblin Market. I was a little skeptical of the idea that all magicians are bad and all the Goblin Market people are good, but there were hints in this book that that's not always true. I wish we had learned more about the nature and origins of the demons, who kind of seemed more interesting than the humans in this book.

The Demon's Lexicon is told from the perspective of Nick Ryves, who is not going to be winning any Miss Congeniality awards. I understand why he was depicted that way and I even agree with it, but I just didn't really enjoy his point of view. I wonder if I might have liked this book more if it had been told from Mae's or Jamie's perspective. On the other hand, Brennan did a good job writing Nick because he was so unsympathetic, so I give her credit for that.

I found the ending not entirely believable, though once I finished I could see how Brennan had set up all the pieces to fall into place. It just didn't click for me possibly partly because the writing overall isn't amazing, though I didn't have any major problems with it. However, I definitely liked the story, and it's different enough that I wasn't bored.

Plot: 3 cupcakes
Characters: 3 characters
Style: 3 cupcakes
Overall: 3 cupcakes

If you liked The Demon's Lexicon, try:
Nightlife by Rob Thurman

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Next Thing I Knew by John Corwin

The Next Thing I Knew
John Corwin
Heavenly #1

In one fell swoop, humanity is wiped out. Fortunately it's not quite the end. Lucy and her neighbors wake up in an alternate universe they call Heavenly, where they never get sick, tired, or hurt. As they explore their new world, Lucy finds that the afterlife has the same problem as her old life, plus one other one - she stumbles across a spaceship headed for Earth. The aliens threaten Lucy's post-life existence, and she must figure out a way to stop their enemies from destroying all that's left of the human race before it's too late...

The idea of having everyone on Earth become ghosts was definitely original in my experience. I like a little scifi every once in a while, so a plot of having aliens trying to colonize the Earth was one I could get on board with. (Literarily. Literally I would definitely have a problem with that.)

The pacing was a little odd at times. The first third or so of the book was dedicated to the exploration of Heavenly and the rules of being a ghost, which was interesting for a while but eventually got a little slow. The things suddenly picked up a lot when the aliens arrived, and certain cooperation problems were solved with a speed that left me incredulous. I was also a little irritated that Lucy didn't seem to see a certain betrayal coming despite hints the size of an interstellar billboard.

There were a couple elements of this story that seemed totally disconnected from the main plotline. First, Lucy and Chris's romance bothered me for a lot of reasons that definitely were not resolved by the end of the book. (A "let's get it over with" attitude toward sex is not romantic at all and frankly a little disturbing.) I think this relationship could have been eliminated completely without affecting the plot in the least. Last living human Nick's appearances were a little more integrated into the story but still seemed a little random, and I was surprised that he wasn't involved in the climax of the story. I wish, though, that Nick had been the love interest in this book rather than Chris, which I think would have made a much better story.

I didn't get much of a sense of personality from Lucy for the first half of this book. Maybe this was a YA issue, but she just didn't seem to have any kind of goals or interests or anything. Eventually she did improve to the point where I found her mostly credible as a leader.

I also have a caveat for any religious readers: The Next Thing I Knew is quite explicitly anti-religious, which might bother you if you are not. (It bothered me a little, and I don't consider myself religious. I just don't like preachiness. Which is actually why I don't consider myself religious. Go figure.)

Overall, the story was pretty decent. Check it out if you like YA scifi or if you're looking for something a little different.

Plot: 2 cupcakes
Characters: 2 cupcakes
Style: 3 cupcakes
Overall: 3 cupcakes

If you liked The Next Thing I Knew, try:
Acorna by Anne McCaffrey
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff

Friday, November 25, 2011

Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent

Blood Bound
Rachel Vincent
Unbound #1

When Liv and her three best friends were twelve, they swore a magically binding oath to help one another whenever they needed it. Now an old friend Liv hasn't seen in years has come to call in the vow and have Liv, a blood Tracker, find her husband's killer. Worse yet, Liv will have to work with her former boyfriend Cam and in the territory of her unwanted employer's enemy. Together Liv and Cam must uncover a criminal enterprise where nothing is what it seems.

Wow. This was an amazing start to a new series for Rachel Vincent. I couldn't put this thrilling story down. (Fortunately I was reading it on a three hour plane ride so that was not really a problem.)

The world of Unbound is dark and fascinating - the Skilled, legally nonexistent, are in high demand in crime syndicates, who are willing to do just about anything to get their hands on the strongest and most unique of the lot. There's not much chance of a Mary Sue here; each Skill is a single very specific power, and a person can only have one.

Blood Bound is a little different from most urban fantasy in that it's told by two narrators, Liv and Cam. It works though - you get Liv's fear and Cam's fury over the state of their relationship, and Vincent does a great job keeping secrets secret as long as she needs to.

And those secrets were plentiful. Everyone was keeping things from everyone else, and we didn't learn the whole story until the end, which is something I absolutely love in books. The layers of mystery and misdirection filled Blood Bound with suspense.

The characters were both believable and intriguing. This wasn't a good guys/bad guys kind of story; no one was squeaky clean and they were mostly just trying to survive, and I think that makes it a better book. I really liked Liv, who was relatable and sympathetic for quite a few reasons, and I was rooting for her and Cam the whole time.

Without spoiling anything, the ending made me angry, but in a good way, if that makes sense. I really want to get my hands on the next book!

Plot: 5 cupcakes
Characters: 4 cupcakes
Style: 4 cupcakes
Overall: 4 cupcakes

GARS Score: 1 (3/3/3/3)
What's a GARS Score?

If you liked Blood Bound, try:
Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Fellow Americans:

Have an amazing Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your families, friends, food, and of course books!

To my international friends, please don't be jealous that we have a day off to eat delicious food and watch football :P

This kind of football
Not this kind
I am very thankful for all my followers! Thanks so much for visiting, commenting, and helping cut down on the talking to myself :)

I leave you with this thought:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

Second Grave on the Left
Darynda Jones
Charley Davidson #2

The indomitable Charley Davidson returns in Second Grave on the Left, where she is faced with a missing persons case that has her stumped. And as if that's not enough, she has to find where her boyfriend's stashed his body before he can get it killed. 

Second Grave on the Left is 84 percent fluff. And granted, it's fairly fun fluff, but if you're looking for something with depth and substance, look elsewhere. This book takes a similar tone to its predecessor, First Grave on the Right - light and funny, sometimes a little overly so.

I find it somewhat difficult to believe that Charley takes so little seriously, particularly considering her improbable depth of knowledge and experience. She seems to just sort of flit from scene to scene with no real plan or thought, while her "assistant" Cookie does all the real work. She rarely listens to anyone else's advice or opinion, however logical it may be. Not that she's not funny, because she is, but it would be more believable and more relatable if she at least occasionally didn't think the most reasonable response to any given situation was a joke.

I'm not actually sure there are any other characters in this book. There basically just seems to be Charley, and Other People Who Exist To Facilitate The Plot/Jokes. Everyone else is an afterthought to the brilliance that is Charley Davidson. She has her Sidekick, her (Wise) Old Mentor, her Love Interest, various villains, etc. and they're little more than the archetypes they represent.

However, at about the two-thirds point in the book, I forgot my other concerns and was able to really enjoy it. The story picked up and the suspense overcame an endless litany of mediocre wisecracks. The quality of the last third was enough to distract me from the various irritations of this book. Despite the problems I had with Second Grave on the Left, I'm sure I'll read the third book when it comes out.

So I leave this one up to you, avid readers. Don't take this review to mean I didn't like the book - I did, with the previously mentioned reservations that made up a smaller portion of the book than the review. Presumably you know what you like, and you can decide whether you would enjoy a fun book with the flaws I've described. But you'll probably want to start with the first book.

Plot: 3 cupcakes
Characters: 2 cupcakes
Style: 3 cupcakes
Overall: 3 cupcakes

GARS Score: 0.83 (2/3/4/2)
What's a GARS Score?

If you liked Second Grave on the Left, try:
Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

The Iron Duke
Meljean Brook
Iron Seas #1

From Goodreads: After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession. 

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

I liked this book. It was somehow simultaneously both very original and completely conventional. I was truly fascinated by the combination steampunk/scifi/alternate history world Brook created for this story - after 200 years of Mongol oppression through some sort of emotion-controlling nanotech, the Iron Duke overthrew Horde rule and uninfected expats are returning to Britain.

I do wish there had been a little more focus on the world and the conflicts it presented rather than the romance, which could easily have been drawn out over several books. The attraction between Mina and Rhys seemed to be mainly physical, which is fine but I do like to see a little more there.

The main plot was dark and interesting and made great use of the world of the Iron Seas. What started out as a (mostly) simple murder case became a battle for survival on a grand scale. Suspense, betrayal, and near-death experiences are always fun (to read about). Some of the minor characters were quite fascinating - the Blacksmith, for example - and I'd almost rather have read their stories than this one. However, The Iron Duke was a pretty good read overall, and definitely worth a try.

Plot: 4 cupcakes
Characters: 3 cupcakes
Style: 3 cupcakes
Overall: 3 cupcakes

If you liked The Iron Duke, try:
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be ReadingAnyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I am currently reading Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones, the second book in the Charley Davidson series.

For the first time in my life, I was in a shoot-out. A real, honest-to-goodness shoot-out with a bad guy. And apparently, we both sucked. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Hollows Insider by Kim Harrison

The Hollows Insider
Kim Harrison
The Hollows

For a series guide, The Hollows Insider is really pretty cool. Rather than a bunch of dry facts, Harrison gives us a bunch of dry facts AND a story AND some hilariously subjective observations. Told from the perspective of a reporter who's investigating Rachel, The Hollows Insider documents his research, with journal entries, selections from the newspaper's files and archives, FIB and IS documents, and various other papers he's stolen or stumbled across. It's particularly funny because while Devin (the reporter) gets some of his facts right, he's quite obviously way off on many things, particularly regarding Rachel's character and goals.

I'll admit I skimmed through a lot of the fact sheets, but I did enjoy seeing Takata's lyrics and Al's comments in the demon spell books. Most of it wasn't anything particularly startling, just more detail on information that was in the books, but there were at least a couple of "holy crap, really?" revelations. I think my favorite part, though, was the list Devin compiled of Jenks's best curses, which included such gems as "damn it all to Disneyland" and "worthless as a pixy condom." (Since the facing page is a list of the names of Jenks's 54 children, the latter is apparently quite a strong one.)

This is definitely not a book you want to get as an introduction to the series. It contains spoilers for everything up to Pale Demon. But if you're already a fan, definitely check this book out - it has cool graphics, funny stories, and interesting facts that may just tide you over until A Perfect Blood comes out  in March.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

"It's Monday! What are you reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.


Born in Fire by Nora Roberts
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (review)
Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks (review)
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (review)
The Hollows Insider by Kim Harrison (review)
A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

Currently reading:

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks

Shadow's Edge
Brent Weeks
Night Angel #2

From Goodreads: Kylar Stern has rejected the assassin's life. The Godking's successful coup has left Kylar's master, Durzo, and his best friend, Logan, dead. He is starting over: new city, new friends, and new profession. 

But when he learns that Logan might actually be alive and in hiding, Kylar is faced with an agonizing choice: will he give up the way of shadows forever and live in peace with his new family, or will he risk everything by taking on the ultimate hit?

What an amazing series. The world Brent Weeks has created in these books is fascinating, and he keeps springing new surprises. The characters are truly well done and individual, and the plot is the sort that has readers on the edge of their seats.

I'll admit, I wasn't all that thrilled with the first part of the book, which had me seriously annoyed with goody-two-shoes Elene for not understanding who Kylar was. I felt sorry for him, but at the same time wanted him to somehow just do something besides tie himself in knots for her. However, after a particularly shocking moment, the story definitely picked up the pace to the thrilling standard Weeks set in The Way of Shadows, and then I couldn't put it down.

The character growth in this installment was excellent. Logan Gyre in particular evoked sympathy, shock, anger, the whole range of emotions. I also found myself liking Vi the female wetboy far more than I expected - more than Elene, actually, though that wasn't all that difficult. And of course, I'm interested to see where Kylar ends up and how the ka'kari will continue to change him.

It's obvious I really like this story. I was really surprised by the ending, and I would have gone straight into the next one if I hadn't had a bunch of library books to read, but I'll definitely pick it up soon. I fully expect the conclusion will be just as stunning as the last two books.

Plot: 4 cupcakes
Characters: 4 cupcakes
Style: 4 cupcakes
Overall: 4 cupcakes

If you liked Shadow's Edge, try:
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld
Leviathan #3

After aiding and abetting a revolution in Istanbul, Deryn and Alek are off to Russia to pick up some mysterious cargo. As part of a grand scheme to end the war, they head east from there for the United States, and eventually, New York. But can their friendship survive the revelation that Deryn is a girl? And can two teenagers really stop a world war?

Goliath was a very quick read that I quite enjoyed. Many of the same highlights of the previous two books apply: endearing characters, dramatic and exciting action, and a generally fascinating world make this series a pleasure to read.

Alek finally figures out that Deryn is a girl early on in this one, which is good because I was getting rather sick of that particular device. I thought the revelation and reaction were well done and believable on both their parts. Alek's fixation with his "destiny" to stop the war, however, is even more pronounced in this book and got a little tiresome after a while. Personally I prefer Deryn's "screw destiny" attitude.

Plotwise, Goliath basically continued the story of Leviathan and Behemoth. I won't say I predicted the ending of the story, but it wasn't exactly shocking either. Nikolas Tesla was an interesting addition to the crew and that particular plotline turned out rather more interesting than I expected. William Randolph Hearst's schemes, on the other hand, and those of his journalist employees, could have been better laid out - that aspect sort of died off without any real explanation.

Overall, this was a good series. It was a fun, light-hearted story that skillfully mingled history and imagination, filled with clever and intriguing characters. I definitely recommend this series if you're looking for some interesting alternate history fun.

Plot: 3 cupcakes
Characters: 4 cupcakes
Style: 4 cupcakes
Overall: 4 cupcakes

Friday, November 18, 2011

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld
Leviathan #2

Under suspicion on the British Leviathan, Austro-Hungarian prince Alek must find a way out before Britain's war with Austria-Hungary affects his position on the ship. Deryn, still pretending to be a boy, is assigned a secret mission upon the ship's arrival in Istanbul when it becomes clear the Germans have beaten them to the sultan. As Alek and Deryn try to keep themselves and their people safe, they find themselves as enmeshed in local unrest as they are in global war.

Behemoth was a very good followup to Leviathan. While there were times when I found it a bit slow, there was plenty of excitement as well. I particularly enjoyed the setting of Istanbul, since I don't know much about the city myself. Deryn and Alek's involvement in the alternate-history revolution, while not quite as moving as it might have been, was still interesting.

It's getting a little absurd that Alek doesn't realize Deryn is a girl. I understand Westerfeld wants to draw out the tension as long as possible, but various circumstances have done everything but throw it in his face. It's getting a little old. However, it didn't detract from the story too much, so I'll just hope it gets resolved quickly in book 3.

Having Alek and Deryn involved in an apparently democratic revolution could have been amazing, particularly in Alek the prince's case. Unfortunately, their participation was portrayed as more a choice driven by necessity than any kind of ethical support. It would have been wonderful to see something along the lines of Lilit and Nene winning Alek over with their ideals, over his resistance, but that didn't really happen here.

Even so, Behemoth was plenty enjoyable. Westerfeld does a great job keeping the pace of the story high. The perspicacious loris was a cute if unclear addition to the cast - hopefully its purpose will be revealed in the near future. I'll be starting Goliath next, so expect a review for the conclusion of the series soon!

Plot: 3 cupcakes
Characters: 4 cupcakes
Style: 3 cupcakes
Overall: 3 cupcakes

If you liked Behemoth, try:
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials #1)
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Temeraire #1)
Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey (Elemental Masters #4)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday Memes 11/18

Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's features are Lauren's Book Bag and Books and Barks.

This week's question is...

What books do you want for Christmas?

All of them. All the books. 

This is probably not practical. But what I really want for Christmas is for all the books I've been waiting for to be published! Since I can't magically speed up time, for now a few of the books on my wishlist are The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett, Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson, and Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout.


TGIF is a meme hosted by Ginger at GReads.

This week's question is...

Which books are you most thankful for receiving from other bloggers, friends, family members, or publishers?

I'm really happy I discovered the PNR & UF Fanatics group on Goodreads this summer. They've given me so many recommendations, plus sent me some books I wanted! You guys are the best! 

Top Ten Other Worlds

In fantasy, and really in all of speculative fiction, the setting is the foundation of the story. What kinds of people are there? What can they do? What do they want? What does the world look like? The best of SF conveys complex and unique worlds that linger in their readers' imaginations. Here's mine:

10. The Hollows
Kim Harrison

While nothing in The Hollows is precisely original - there are witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, elves, fairies, pixies, etc - the way these beings are conceived is absolutely fantastic. The nature of the Ever After, the interactions between living and undead vamps, the relationships between the various supernaturals and between them and humans, just everything is extraordinarily well done. I particularly love the bit about tomatoes - who would have thought of having humans afraid of tomatoes because a virus nearly wiped out the species? Great stuff.

9. Wheel of Time
Robert Jordan

What list of fantasy worlds would be complete without The Wheel of Time? The world of the Wheel is incredibly detailed, filled with everything from magic to religion to local customs to prophecies and translations. Sure, some of the books in the middle were slow, but you can't deny this is one of the most well-thought-out worlds out there.

8. Kate Daniels
Ilona Andrews

After humanity pushed the boundaries of technology too far, magic started to take over. Now magic and tech waves pull the world in different directions, and myths walk the streets. I love how this series integrates different myths and legends from many cultures and adds something all its own. The magic waves and flares are something I never would have thought of, but make so much sense it almost seems silly no one ever came up with it before. A brilliant, highly recommended series.

7. Dune
Frank Herbert

Who comes up with a rare drug that allows pilots to navigate hyperspace or the deep, generations long machinations and genetic matching to produce some kind of mental super-human? Frank Herbert, that's who. Everything about this book is creative and excellent. I'm just going to pretend the rest of the series didn't happen, though.

6. Young Wizards
Diane Duane

The Young Wizards series combines magic and science in an incredible way. This series and A Wrinkle in Time explain my fascination with cosmology and relativity, which is otherwise weird for a liberal arts chick. Great for all ages, Young Wizards is about doing the right thing, no matter how difficult, and the magic system reflects that - just take a look at the wizards' Oath.

5. Tide Lords
Jennifer Fallon

When I say "immortal," I'm guessing you think of either Greek gods or vampires, depending on what you're reading now. But what if there were people who, for whatever reason, really couldn't die, ever? That's the question Jennifer Fallon explores in the Tide Lords, and to back it up, she's come up with a politically fascinating world filled with intrigue and secrets.

4. Codex Alera
Jim Butcher

With elemental Furies, scary bug alien things, wolf-people, barbarian tribes, byzantine politics, and absolutely wonderful characters, Codex Alera has a little bit of everything that makes fantasy great, always with a unique twist. Not only is the writing in this series excellent, the world Butcher created makes me want to go back and "visit" again and again.

3. The Kingkiller Chronicles
Patrick Rothfuss

Sympathy is one of the more scientific forms of magic out there, and it's absolutely fascinating. And the many different groups and the academic politics of the story are amazing. I eagerly await the third installment of this trilogy.

2. The Lord of the Rings
JRR Tolkien

You didn't think I was going to skip this one, did you? Middle Earth is easily the most detailed world out there. It has fully formed languages, mythologies, cultures, politics, just about everything. Please don't kill me for saying that it isn't my favorite read (it's a little slow), but credit where credit's due - Tolkien is undeniably the master and founder of modern fantasy.

1. The Stormlight Archive
Brandon Sanderson

I could have filled this list with Sanderson works. (Okay, technically he doesn't have ten different worlds, but you get the point.) He comes up with unbelievably creative and complex systems of magic, with the political, cultural, and even biological details to back them up. The Stormlight Archive is thus far his tour de force, in which he's thought every aspect through to fit in with the world he created. I was so utterly impressed by the world in this book that I almost added a new rating category just so I could give it five cupcakes.

Are you particularly intrigued by any of these? Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!