Tuesday, April 03, 2007

March Books

Ha Ha! I made it before the first week in the next month!! Finally!

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce A
The last in the Magic series with Sandry, Briar, Daja and Tris- Their connection, friendship, and ability to work together has been challenged by the years they spent apart, and they must re-forge their relationship in the fires of magical warfare. Very good. I like the way Pierce deals with the special relationship these characters have together and the differences in their younger and adult selves.

Who Moved my Cheese? By Spencer Johnson B
Written by the same fellow who wrote ‘The One Minute Manager’. Same style- an allegorical story with simple truths sprinkled through. Johnson’s goal is to help people adapt to the changes that will happen in their lives whether they want them or not- job, relationship, or just life changes… Loaned to me by a friend. My favorite part was his question, ‘what would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ Afraid of failing, of wasting money, of people’s opinions and reactions…

Academ’s Forge by Jim Butcher A
Excellent! Book two of the Codex Alera, and definitely worth it. A solid world and great action. I was so disappointed with the first book (Furies of Calderon) in this series. It took about a quarter of ‘Furies’ before anything happened, before the action started, before the characters came alive, and if it hadn’t been for Butcher’s other series (Dresden Files) I would have given up. The second book doesn’t do that- It starts in immediately, builds to a fiery climax and sets us up for the third book in the series… Satisfying read, yet a good set up.

The Myth Hunters by Christopher Golden A
From the back of the book- ‘One man is drawn into a realm just across the veil from our own, where every captivating myth and fairy tale is true, the vanished exist- and every fear is founded’. Stephen King meets the Brothers Grimm. Dark fantasy… Very good. I enjoyed this very much. It takes committing to the first two chapters, ‘cuz not much happens in them except set up and exposition, but after that the book just keeps building. One caveat: I hate it when books take you somewhere and then dump you waiting for the next chapter to come out in a year… This is a two or three part story and part two isn’t out yet…

Karavans by Jennifer Roberson A-
I loved Roberson’s Cheysuli series and Sword-Dancer series, and have looked for more of her stuff. This is her first series since 1984. Karavans is excellent. An interesting, unique world; enigmatic and strange characters with mysterious powers; an action packed story line. My complaint was that it was almost too confusing, enigmatic and mysterious. I spent so much time trying to figure out what on earth was going on that I felt smacked in the head by a hurricane… Good set up for the next book, and I’m definitely interested in reading it when it comes out… But I’d like a little more clarity.

Beka Cooper by Tamara Pierce A
Set in the world of Tortall (Alana, The Immortals, Protector of the Small, and Trickster's series) Excellent story. Wonderful main character- fully developed & believable character and situation. I had a hard time putting this book down. I just kept wanting to see what was going to happen. Another one of those 'girl-doesn't-fit-into-the-typical-girly-role' / 'girl-wants-adventures-just-like-the-boys' books, yet unique. She is a policewoman in a world long before such roles exist as they do now. Told through Beka’s journal and I am frequently annoyed with this method of story-telling; however, it works well with this character and storyline.
In one of the interviews at the back of one of her books she gives a thank you to J.K. Rowling for letting editors and book companies know that young adults will read longer books. I want to say thank you, too! -Because the longer Pierce's books become, the better the stories have been- more action packed, more fully developed characters, more fulfilling to read- just better stories all around. I've seen that in her two Trickster's books (Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen), in The Will of the Empress, and in Beka Cooper. Her earliest books were choppy because they were cut up into trilogies or quartets when they should have been one longer book. Props for Rowling! Thanks again for changing the world of YA books.

Brother Odd by Dean Koontz B-
The third in his series about Odd Thomas, a fellow who can see dead people. Really a rather odd addition to the series. This one felt like a short story/novella that the editors had Koontz pad with extra chapters. It told way more than the story and was too long … It would have been better to have just printed the part that was the story and then maybe added another novella in the book or something so they could get their $8.99, or whatever.. I love this character and loved seeing what happens next in his story, though...

Dates from Hell (four short stories about paranormal trysts)
Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil by Kim Harrison
I couldn’t finish this one… The situation was so upsetting, and the character was so likeable that I stopped reading 3 or 4 chapters in… Harrison tells Ivy’s (the vampire from her Dead Witch Walking series) back story, and goes into the manipulation mind games the master vampires play on their servants. I’d rather we were allowed to imagine how bad it had been instead of actually getting to see it… Pretty yucky stuff here.
The Claire Switch Project by Lynsay Sands B+
Very fun. A light hearted romp into the world of shapeshifters and high school reunions. Predictable, but good nonetheless.
Chaotic by Kelley Armstrong B
Interesting idea. Good story. A little too repetitive on the whole “we’re hiding, now we’re running, we’re hiding, now we’re running…” but it does have a good surprise waiting…
Dead Man Dating by Lori Handeland B+
Good, not great.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson A+
This book is so good it’s astonishing. Funny, serious, dark… raw… Excellent look into the cruel world of “high school”. Goes on my list of favorites.
From the back of the book: Melinda Sordina busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops so her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth.
Beth & I rented the movie based on this book, and quite simply loved it. My mom got caught up in it about half-way through. Repeat: my mom got caught up in it – that’s how good it is. She pretty much goes to sleep during any movie... I’m astonished to see any movie based on a book be so true to the story yet have it’s own grace and beauty to add to the original. The author was involved with the making of the movie, but I got the idea this was GOOD. There are times when having the author involved can probably kill all good things in the completely different art of movie-making… There was an interview with Anderson as one of the bonus features- my favorite part was her saying the book grew out of a dream she had of a teenage girl crying…

Winds of Fate, Winds of Change and Winds of Fury by Mercedes Lackey A
I re-read this trilogy ‘cuz it came after By the Sword and continued with the story begun in that book. I relate to the main character, Elspeth, and I like seeing her come of age and growing into herself in this series… Excellent trilogy. I admit Lackey is not at her best in this kind of sweeping, multi-character saga, but they’re still good books and fun reads.

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