Monday, March 02, 2009

Books I Read in February

Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn A+
The fifth in the Twelve Houses series. Another adventure set in her magical mystical land... I love her characters & stories. Fortune and Fate follows the adventure of Wen, the King’s Rider who didn’t die before preventing her king’s death... She believes that she should have died before allowing the king to be killed, even though she almost died, and even though other Rider’s died beside her. Her death wish causes a dark depression and anger, which she takes on the road and uses it to save those around her in danger.
Dragon Blood by Patricia Briggs A+
The second part in Ward of Hurog’s story. Love these!! Fantasy, magic, castles, dragons. Very good. Ward is such a wonderful character, and it’s good to see them all defeat the nasty evil king.
Shakespeare’s Counselor by Charlaine Harris A+
The fifth Lily Bard mystery. Fantastic, twisty, dark mystery. Excellent writing. I’m amazed at how quickly Harris can draw quirky fully-realized characters. She draws readers in and holds them til the end.
Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs A-
From the cover: Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack... And became on herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. The Charles Cornick, the enforcer- and son- of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life. Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna’s inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf- a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all of the pack.
This is a continuation of the Mercy Thompson books... Set in the same world, with some of the same characters, but a different focus. I enjoyed it very much- I like Anna better than Mercy and find her story interesting.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs B+
The first of the Mercy Thompson books. Actually, I reread this one. I still enjoyed it, but it’s not my favorite. Interesting since I’ve read so many of Briggs books and loved them. I think I’m not terribly enamored with Mercy. She’s just so young, and kind of annoying...
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs A-
The third of the mercy Thompson books. I liked this one more than the first, which is funny ‘cuz I don’t really like fae stories all that much. But this one was a mystery and the intrigue more than made of for the fae stuff.
Sunshine by Robin McKinley B+
A vampire book by Mckinley- Weird. She’s a fairy tale/fantasy writer, not an urban mythology writer. I actually enjoyed this very much- interesting setting, interesting characters, interesting idea. However, I’m not a fan of vampire stories- I don’t mind if they’re in the background, but I’d rather they not be the main focus. She did a good job, and turned the urban myth into a fairy tale, which is what she does so well.
The Unusual Suspects by Michael Buckley B+
The second in The Sisters Grimm mysteries. Good YA stories. I enjoyed this one, though it seemed more surface this time... And not quite as good as the first. I do enjoy the idea of the ‘Everafters’ all grown up in the modern age- Mayor Charming, Teacher Ms. White (as in Snow White), The three little pigs as the sheriff and deputies of the town...
Eye of Heaven, Soul Song and The Last Twilight, by Marjorie M. Liu B+
The 5th - 7th in Liu’s paranormal detective/romance Dirk & Steele’s series... I borrowed these from Beth, and admit I would never have picked these up on my own. The covers look like torrid romances, and the books are found in the romance section- with all the half naked pirates and cowboys. However, I honestly enjoy the books. I’m a sucker for shapeshifter stories, and these are pretty good. More romance than I prefer, but decent stories with interesting characters and settings.
Chalice by Robin McKinley A-
from the book jacket:
Mirasol is a beekeeper. She tends her small woodlot in an obscure corner of Willowlands, and looks after her bees. The earthlines speak to her, but this is not unusual; they speak to many members of the old families. The concerns of Master, Chalice, and their Circle who govern Willowlands, are nothing to do with her, although the rumours of this Master’s wildness, and his Chalice’s inability to bind him with their Circle, are troubling. And then the Master and Chalice die in a fire- and Willowlands is thrown into chaos, for Master and Chalice had no declared heirs to take up their crucial work. The Circle sends at once for the Master’s only living relative who left to become a priest of Fire seven years ago. The priests reply that the new Master wll come, but that anyone who has lain in Fire for seven years is no longer quite human. Mirasol hears the news and fears for the future of Willowlands, but she is preoccupied with her own difficulties: her goats are fountaining milk, and her bees are producing so much honey it is pour out of their hives. And then the Circle comes to her cottage to tell her that she is to be the new Chalice, and it will be up to her to bind the land and its people with a Master the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone.
This fairytale/fantasy should have been excellent. The idea and story line was delightful, and the author has written brilliant adventures in the past. But the story was not excellent. McKinley used too many words to tell her tale, and not enough imagery. She explained too much and seemed to actually prevent the story from coming alive... Too bad, ‘cuz she can pull off a fantastic tale- she’s done it in the past, and the ideas in this latest book are intriguing- but it just doesn’t happen.
The Phoenix and The Carpet by E. Nesbit B+
The continuing story of Robert, Jane, Anthea and Cyril (the children from the Psammead story). Fun, silly light adventure. In the vein of Mary Poppins, and The Borrowers.
Wings by E.D. Baker B
YA fantasy. Not as good as it should have been... Interesting idea- Following Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, but very surface rather than intelligent and sympathetic. There’s a point in the story where the parents tell their daughter that she was adopted. They say something along the lines of, ‘We’re sorry, we just never knew how to tell you’, and she’s like ‘Oh, that makes me sad, but I guess it’s okay’. Along the lines of, ‘oh, drat. I broke my nail.’ Not the way I think it would really happen...
Blood Sins by Kay Hooper B+
The second in her next Bishop/SCU novel... These are FBI mystery novels with psychics, and some of them are excellent. This one was good, better than her last one. Although I admit after watching CSI and Criminal Minds I’m less easily impressed or fooled and I think I have a better idea of what might actually happen than Hooper does. Some of her situations seem a little far fetched, and I’m not talking about the psychic parts...
Heart of the Wilderness by Janette Oke B+
Oke’s books relate to that part of me that lived in an eskimo village... She tells stories of the Canadian frontier, with sprinklings of God. This one was about a young girl whose parents were killed in a river accident, and then was taken to live with her trapper Grampa in the wilds of Canada. Very good.
Modern Magic: Tales of Fantasy and Horror edited by W.H. Horner
These are all urban fantasy/horror, and some are very good, and some are horrible and nasty. A couple I wish I hadn’t read, and a couple I’m delighted to have read. A good one about a dryad real estate agent, A truly nasty one about an evil clown... Interesting art...

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