Wednesday, March 07, 2007

February's Books

Arrows of the Queen, Arrow’s Flight and Arrow’s Fall by Mercedes Lackey A
All re-reads ‘cuz I still haven’t been to the library… I wanted to read this trilogy again after reading the interview with Mercedes Lackey (in the Valdemar Companion from last month’s books) about her beginnings as a published writer. Arrows is her first published novel. (She’d had short stories published first, and then through a chain of wonderful coincidences, rewrite after rewrite, and a LOT of hard work got this trilogy published.) They’re so good! She establishes an interesting world, an interesting sympathetic character with a deep flaw, and an interesting story-line… Realizing that these are her first books and that I’ve read a LOT of first books, I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed this story arc…

The Safe-Keeper’s Secret
by Sharon Shinn A
It’s so wonderful to get to read another Shinn book. I’ve read everything she’s got in print and I’m waiting with baited breath for her next book (The Thirteen Houses) which is due out soon. She’s got very little out there ‘cuz she hasn’t written long- maybe ten books and when I originally discovered her I gulped them down like they were going to be ripped from my hands. I like her characters and her fairy tale worlds- And when I say ‘fairy-tale’ I’m talking Grimm brothers (although without some of the gore), not Disney… Her books remind me of Ursula LeGuin (without the convolutions) or Robin McKinley at their best.

The Truth-Teller’s Tale by Sharon Shinn A
Another delight… I like these two, (they’re set in the same world and have one recurring minor character). They’re reminiscent of Ella Enchanted by Meg Cabot, and if you like fairy tales and you’ve missed that one, you’ve GOT to find it. Even the movie is good, although not nearly as good as the book… Yikes. I’ve gotten sidetracked. Anyway, like the best fairytales, they’ve got some romance elements, but they’re not really about romance- they’re coming of age novels and more about truth, keeping promises & being who you are…

Winter Moon (A Collection of Three Novellas by Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, and C.E.)
Moontide by Mercedes Lackey B
A sad disappointment… I think, I hope that somebody high up told Lackey that she had too many words and that she had to cut something out, ‘cuz if that’s not true, I don’t know what she was thinking... The story builds and builds, and then there’s this fight scene that’s like, “umm, that’s it?” And then the story ends… And I like Lackey, and she doesn’t normally do that. The story is kind of a ninja assassin / Hunchback of Notre Dame fairy tale thing, and is quite good- it just finishes badly.
The Heart of the Moon by Tanith Lee A
I’ve never read anything by Lee and I loved this. About a warrior who messed up and had someone else mess her up, and then she gets a chance to fix it all. Good story. Good characters. Kind of a dream sequence spiritual weird thing.
Banshee Cries by C.E. Murphy B+
I’ve never read anything by Murphy, but enjoyed this very much. This short story was a side trip in a series (Urban Shaman) she’s been doing on Jo Walker, a cop who’s just discovered she’s also a ‘shaman’ with weird paranormal powers. She hates these powers but has to use them to defeat a ‘dark side’ evil magician who is trying to take over the world. Good story.

By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey A
I enjoyed reading this one again after reading the interview with Lackey- She says that out of all the books she’s written By the Sword is her favorite… So, I’ve read it before and enjoyed it, but this time I read it looking for what makes her so pleased with it. Adventure, magic, romance, morals, choosing your own path, stuff working out, being true to who you are… We start when the protagonist is only 17 and her home is attacked during her brother’s wedding celebration. Her dad is killed, her brother is injured and his new bride is kidnapped. We then get the chance to see what happens to her over the course of a lifetime. Till the point when she is an adult who’s lived a full life mostly doing what she wants to do, but not always. Everything comes together in her life after some really HORRIBLE things happen, after she comes to truly know herself, and after she’s completely given up on love, virtue and truth.

Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn A
This is a retelling of Jane Eeyre set in a space-faring future. Since I’ve still not read Jane Eeyre (yes, I’m lame) it’s impossible for me to say if it’s a good retelling or not; however, I can say that this book is very good- a solid story, great protagonist, good characters, interesting setting, an intriguing take on the whole ‘mad woman in the attic’ thing…

Wolf-Speaker, Emperor Mage, Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce A
These are the next three in Pierce’s Immortals Quartet. I read the first one last month and then couldn’t find the rest… Aargh. Very frustrating to start a series and not be able to continue! Anyway, I used a Christmas gift certificate to buy the rest and now have gotten to re-read them, plus I have them for the next time I need ‘em. The main character has the power to communicate with animals and eventually learns that she can shape-shift as well. Evil powers are attacking good people and Daine ends up helping the good people get rid of the bad people through her communication with mice, dragons, dogs, bats, wolves, squirrels and any other animal that comes along. These are my favorite Tamora Pierce books- animals, good characters, scary villains, excellent endings. Plus they’re incredibly quick reads. This is a quote from Anne McCaffrey, not specifically about Pierce, but it works for me. “I keep her books on my comfort shelf.” When I want to know that a story’s going to be good, have a good plot, fun magic, interesting characters, and a believable, sympathetic female protagonist I read Pierce…
I do have one comment/complaint about this series: Daine falls in love with her teacher, who is in his 30's. She's 16. They end up in a relationship by the end of the series. Now, I'm not one to have an issue with age difference. I'm married to a guy who's 4 years younger than me. Plus, my parents had a seventeen year gap and that wasn't an issue in their relationship... I know spring/winter romances can work very well. But he's her teacher. That's what gets me. And the fact that she's a teenager. I actually don't think Pierce planned this on purpose. Since the two of them are some of the only magicians who can shapeshift, I think they're the only ones in the world they're in that get what their life is like. My impression is that it just happened; however, since these are YA books, I think she should have tried to kill the romance. Gone back and excised it. I think too many kids get crushes on their teachers and for her to have written a good book where that whole mess works out... I don't know. I just don't think it's such a good thing. There. Side comment/complaint over. I still really like these books. I just have an issue with the relationship thing.

Crossroads, an anthology of Valdemar stories edited by Mercedes Lackey A
This is the third Valdemar anthology, and it came out a year and a ½ ago. I didn’t even know it was out, which tells me it came out about the time Abigail was born… When I wasn't sleeping or going anywhere... Oh, well. I found it now. So good to read stories by so many excellent authors who love Valdemar as much as I do- Tanya Huff, Fiona Patton, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Judith Tarr to name a just a few… There were two stories in the book that were B’s for me, but the rest were excellent. I like getting a fresh perspective on the world, ‘cuz it fleshes out areas that Lackey hasn’t focused on yet.

Mystic and Rider, The Thirteenth House by Sharon Shinn A
Yay! The next book finally came out in paperback (I hate hardcover books and only read ‘em if I have to… They're just so dang heavy. Too heavy for my poor little feminine hands... yes, that was sarcasm…) I re-read M&R to remind myself of the world and the characters. So good. I really enjoy this book. Solid characters, interesting world, fun magic powers. Then I read Thirteenth House… It’s The Empire Strikes Back! Aargh! If I’d known the way it was going to end I would have waited to read it until the next book came out! It’s very good- same wonderful characters, excellent story line, exciting court intrigue, fun magic, shapeshifters- all VERY good, but it doesn’t really end, or else it doesn’t end the way it should, I’m not sure which. So, my recommendation is wait till the next one comes out to read 13th House, which probably won’t be for another six months or maybe even a year… Aargh.

Shatterglass, book 4 in The Circle Opens Quartet by Tamora Pierce A
Tris finds her new student to be rather difficult- He’s a gifted glassmaker who was struck by lightning which has caused his bit of glass magic to be mixed with lighting. He must learn to control his temper and new powers, but there’s more going on- a string of murders against the lower class of street entertainers in a culture reminiscent of India’s caste system. Excellent mystery and magic book. Quick read.

No comments: