Friday, February 02, 2007

January Reads

On Writing by Stephen King A+
Already did a blog entry about this book, so not much more to say- Excellent book. Don’t miss it.

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison B +
Liked this- We’ve got a witch who’s a bounty hunter, except she hates her job and has a LOT of problems with it. She quits, which puts a hit out on her from her ex-boss… Vampires, faeries, werefolks, witches… The highlight of the book is a pixie reminiscent of the ladybug in Pixars “Bugs”…

Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan A
A surprise… I picked this up ‘cuz the cover caught my eye- black with a white butterfly. Okay, so I like butterflies… Anyway, the book is very good. An intricate fantasy mystery set in some alternative world, with jumps back and forth to our world… An interesting situation with interesting characters.

One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey A-
A romance. Yes, a good one, and a fantasy one at that, but be aware that everything ends up well in the end, there is a boy and a girl who go off into the sunset, and there is some kissing. A retelling of the Andromeda tale- (don’t remember it? Cassiopeia is the queen, and her daughter is named Andromeda, a dragon/monster/Kraken must be prevented from devouring the countryside so the townspeople offer up a virgin girl every week to be eaten by the yucky monster. The princess’ name is drawn and she is chained to a post to be the next victim. Who will save her?) Well, in Lackey’s version she does a pretty good job of saving herself, and then “one good knight” joins her in the hunt to finish off the monster, except we find out that the ‘monster’ isn’t the dragon after all, and the knight isn’t typical either… (The knight isn’t the love interest, by the way…) Very good story.

Forever Odd by Dean Koontz B
The second in Koontz’ series about Odd Thomas, a fellow who can see dead people. Only they can never speak to him, instead they lead him around on nightmare chases trying to prevent terrible things happening. This one involves some voodoo weirdness. Not as good as the first one, but worth the time.

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher A-
Okay, this started out kind of lame and then got really good about 3-4 chapters into the book. I admit that if I didn’t already really like his wizard series I would have given up before it got good… I’m glad I stuck it out ‘cuz after that point I really liked it… Maybe it was the amount of set up he had to do? I don’t know. Definitely worth the time, but you’ve got to get through the slow bit at the beginning.

Rare Science Fiction edited by Ivan Howard
Belmont Books 1963
This is an old collection of sci-fi loaned to me by a friend… I enjoyed most of the stories in the book, a couple were merely okay, but some were excellent. My favorite is a Robert Silverburg called “Quick Freeze”, about a ship attempting to rescue a stranded ship’s crew on a frozen noxious gas planet… Except during their landing they melt enough of the ice to surround themselves in liquid which immediately refreezes after they land which traps their ship beneath a layer of thick ice… So the rescuers become the rescuees. Another is a Milton Lesser called “Do It Yourself” about a time in a post-apocolyptic future when everyone is known and respected only for the quality of their handwork. Fun to read old sci-fi, and think about how different the reality of our future is compared to what was imagined in the late 50’s-early 60’s…

Summoned to Lead by Leonard Sweet A-
Sweet focuses on leadership in the postmodern era- He’s specifically referring to church leadership, but really his examples could be used in the business world as well. He uses the story of Shackleton’s journey towards Antarctica to expand on his chosen leadership qualities. If you haven’t read about Shackleton’s ‘failed’ trip to cross the Antarctic continent then: A) you should! And B) this gives you a taste of Shackleton’s amazing trip.

Velocity by Dean Koontz B+
A re-read… Haven’t been to the library and I don’t have much I really want to re-read… I enjoyed reading this mystery over again knowing who the murderer is. The clues are sprinkled through the book, and once you know it’s apparent how Koontz laid the clues there for all to read…

Andre Talks Hair by Andre A
The guy who does Oprah's hair. He talks about products, finding a good hair stylist, and describes four basic types, which cover multi-ethnicities and weights. Very helpful for the 'product addict' who keeps buying new miracle stuff to get incredible, impossible results (that would be my sister). Helpful for the Mommy (me) who has a child with hair completely different than her own. I have stick straight, fine hair, so does Deborah. But Abigail has hair like her Daddy's- very, very fine with crazy curls. I'm so jealous of her hair! But I have absolutely no idea how to take care of it, and my husband's solution is to cut it off as short as possible. We're talking, sometimes he gets it cut so short he looks bald... Not really a choice with a baby girl. :) Andre to the rescue!!

The Valdemar Companion A+
This has a concordance of Valdemar terms, lands and names; a section of Valdemar maps; a short thumbnail of all the Valdemar books and short stories; interviews with Lackey and her editor; a 'traveler's guide' to Valdemar; plus, a new Lackey Valdemar novella. Very good for the fan, which I am. (by the way, this was interesting to me- Mercedes Lackey is older than I would have guessed. She started writing later, after she had a regular type career.) In her interview, she gives a pretty realistic description of what it can take to get your first book published. I'm sure it could be depressing for the new writer, but it was encouraging to me to read a realistic presentation of re-write after re-write after re-write...

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