Monday, September 02, 2013

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

The battle Percy has been dreading is about to begin. The cruise ship carrying Kronos and his minions approaches New York, while the titan Typhon is havocing his way across the continent to meet Kronos at the gates of Olympus. Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and all the other inhabitants of Camp Half-blood are on the alert and preparing to defend their divine parents. But there's a mole at the camp, someone giving the enemy critical information, and even worse (in Percy's opinion) is that the Great Prophecy is predicting a truly terrible 16th birthday. I mean, who wants their soul reaped the day they turn 16?

I've finally read it. The finale of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan has come and gone, and I remain. But seriously, it feels good to catch up with the story, since I'm already halfway through the next series, The Heroes of Olympus. In The Last Olympian, you have the culmination of several plotlines: the war between the Olympians and the Titans, the rivalry of Percy and Luke, the revelation of the Great Prophecy, and the resolution of the Annabeth-Percy-Rachel love triangle. It's a lot of threads to tie up, or cut, as the Fates decide, but Rick Riordan gets the job done.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Suggested Book for September 2013

Charmed Life
by Diana Wynne Jones

Cat Chant is downright depressed when he and his sister Gwendolyn are sent to live with the enchanter Chrestomanci. It's a much more comfortable life, of course; Chrestomanci is wealthy and lives on a beautiful estate, and Gwendolyn can study witchcraft with superior teachers, but it's a very different life from the one Cat is used to, and he's not happy about it. Gwendolyn, of course, has ideas of her own as to what their new life should be like. And if she doesn't get her way, things could get distinctly uncomfortable for everyone.

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones is the first book in the Chrestomanci series. It introduces readers to a world like our own, but suffused with magic and strange creatures. It's a wonderfully silly and fun book, suitable for all ages. If you enjoyed the world of wizards and muggles in Harry Potter, you'll be sure to love the world of Chrestomanci.

View my suggested books by Diana Wynne Jones

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Driven by vengeance, Roland Deschain, the last Gunslinger, must catch the man in black. The pursuit leads the last gunslinger across the Mojave desert to the end of the known world, for he will allow nothing to deter him from discovering the secret of the Dark Tower. Or will he?

My synopsis will join the ranks of thousands of variations on "The man in black flees across the desert, and the last Gunslinger follows." And there's a reason we've all used that line to build from: you just can't say much of anything else about the story without giving things away. It's quite short. The Gunslinger is the first part of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, which he regards as a single long work, rather than a series. It is part Western, part fantasy, part horror. But don't think Cowboys and Aliens; I did say it was part horror.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fire and Hemlock
by Diana Wynne Jones

Polly's having trouble remembering. For some reason, she seems to have two conflicting sets of memories, memories which lead back to meeting Tom Lynn at Hunsdon House on Hallowe'en. Something strange happened to her as a teenager, something tied to the make-believe stories she and Tom created about Tan Coul and his assistant, Hero. Something about them coming true.

Diana Wynne Jones's books often straddle age groups. Much like the Harry Potter series, her Castle and Chrestomanci books are written for children or young adults, but can easily be enjoyed by adults. The same is true of Fire and Hemlock, which is a coming-of-age story. But Fire and Hemlock, on the other hand, is definitely not written for children. It's the story of a young adult for adults. And it's wonderful.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Mark of Athena
by Rick Riordan

Annabeth, Jason, Piper, and Leo have arrived at Camp Jupiter in the Argo II. The Roman demigods, newly victorious after their battle against the giants, are wary of the Greek demigods, and for good reason. Misunderstandings between the two groups have led to battles and even wars in the past. Percy, Hazel, and Leo must try to focus the Romans on their common enemy: Gaea and the giants, before strife can erupt against the Greeks. And, as usual, there's a terrible prophecy to contend with:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call.
To storm or fire, the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

But Annabeth has a prophecy of her own to worry about, one that may tear the two camps apart.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The White Queen
by Philippa Gregory

Elizabeth Woodhall may be queen, but she is not safe. The Cousins War has never really ended, and even though her husband, King Edward IV, is the anointed king of England, Elizabeth knows from experience that the sons of York are ambitious and loyal only to their own interest. Elizabeth's love for Edward, her desire to see the best for her children, and her mother's diligent use of magic has made Elizabeth the greatest lady at the most magnificent court in Europe. But those who rise far have the farthest to fall. Elizabeth must protect the interests of her family using every means available to her if she is to ensure the legacy of the house of York. Only time will tell if she can remain at the pinnacle of the wheel of fortune.

This was my second time reading Philippa Gregory within a two week period. I picked up her book The Lady of the Rivers from the bargain table at my local bookstore on a whim, and quite enjoyed it. When I looked up Lady, I saw it was actually book three in the Cousins' War series, which is currently at six books long. So, I got my hands on number one, The White Queen.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

The year is 2312 and the exodus from earth has begun. With the discovery of terraforming and interplanetary travel, humanity has colonized the solar system in an attempt to preserve their ways of life. Swan er Hong has lived her life on Mercury as an artist, often using her own body as a canvas. When her grandmother dies, she inherits data on a little-known conspiracy and is launched on a dangerous investigation with strange new allies. And all the while she must grapple with the implications of the modifications she's made to herself over the years, modifications which now may threaten the integrity of her investigation.

Kim Stanley Robinson was first brought to my attention by a guest post on this blog, and when I saw 2312 on the list of Nebula nominees (and since I had a hankering for some hard SF) I nominated it for my book club and it was selected. Fast forward to now: my hankering for hard SF has been sated, and I'm reminded why I often stay with YA and fantasy. 2312 was interesting--I got through its 561 pages in about a week, which says something about the quality of the writing--but I'm left without a really strong impression of the story, which says something else entirely.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Suggested book for August 2013

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Jacquetta has heard the story of Melusina, a river goddess who fell in love with a human man, many times as a child. It is said her family is descended from Melusina, and that the eldest girl of each generation is blessed with some of Melusina's power. In Jacquetta's case it seems to be true: sometimes she can foresee. And while Jacquetta is a beautiful young woman from a powerful family in English-controlled France, it is her power that attracts the most powerful man in France: John, Duke of Bedford. But not all are as accepting of Jacquetta's unique gifts, especially when her friendship with the unpopular queen thrusts her into a prominent place at the English court.

The Lady of the Rivers (Book 3 in the Cousins' War series) by Phillipa Gregory is a story of romance and intrigue at the English court at the beginning of the Wars of the Roses, known then as the Cousins' War. Pick it up for the history, enjoy it for the magic, and read it again for characters.

View my suggested books by Phillipa Gregory

Monday, August 05, 2013

Book reviews are back!

I hope.

It's been nearly a year since I've written anything for my beloved blog. I've come to gaze at it a few times since last September, but felt too sheepish to settle my fingers on the keys and write. Also, I have been quite busy. YES, I know. Everyone says that. But there are many busy people in this world, and I have become one of them.

I've come to realize I miss chatting about the books I read. Being busy hasn't stopped me from reading as much as always, just from writing about it. And I miss that reflection, so I'm going to endeavour to continue to review.

But here's the inevitable disclaimer: life may just get in the way again. Hopefully, if it does happen, it won't be for too long.

What do you have to look forward to? 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory, and The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan.