amergina: (reading)
This entry is future-dated to Dec 31, 2008.
Books I read in 2008 )
amergina: (reading)
Book: The Rhetorics of Fantasy
Author: Farah Mendlesohn ([livejournal.com profile] fjm)
272 Pages

Yet another critical read that isn't for the feint of heart. It certainly isn't for the casual reading by people not interested in Rhetorics. long review ahoy! )
amergina: (reading)
Book: The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer
Author: Sandra Scofield
242 Pages

Short Thoughts: Great little book on writing scenes. Will come in handy when I start to revise.

This was my craft book for Seton Hill )
It's a very useful book and I recommend the it if you have issues with meandering scenes or scenes that just seem... flat. There's a lot of good advice on how to deal with those issues.
amergina: (reading)
Book: Flesh and Spirit
Author: Carol Berg
488 Pages

Short Thoughts: Starts very slowly, but captures you so much in the end that you must immediately read the next book.
From the cover:
In a land torn apart by civil war, pestilence, and shaky alliances, a man branded a traitor may be the world's only hope...

The rebellious son of a long line of purebred cartographers and diviners, Valen has spent most of his life trying to escape what society--and his family--ordained for him. His own mother has predicted that he will meet his end in water and blood and ice. And her divination seems fulfilled when a comrade abandons Valen, half dead, in a rainy wilderness, addicted to an enchantment that converts pain to pleasure and possessing only a stolen book of maps.

Offered sanctuary in a nearby monastery, Valen discovers that his book--rumored to lead men into the realm of angels--gains him entry into a world of secret societies, doomsayers, monks, princes, and madmen, all seeking to unlock the mystery of the coming dark age. Now, to preserve the lands of Navronne, Valen must face what he fled so long ago. For the key to Navronne's doom is buried in half-forgotten myth--and in the secrets of his own past...

This was the last of my genre reads of the term for the Writing Popular Fiction masters program.

I nearly gave up on this book... )
amergina: (reading)
Book: Cast in Courtlight
Author: Michelle Sagara (also [livejournal.com profile] msagara)
496 Pages

Short Thoughts: Where's the fandom for this series?! OMG, I need fan art!
Synopsis:
In Elantra, a job well done is rewarded with a more dangerous task. And so, after defeating a dark evil, Kaylin must enter a place of deceit and treachery. A world where silk and jewels hide deadly secrets….

Kaylin goes before the Barrani High Court, where a misspoken word brings sure death. And Kaylin's never been known for her grace or manners. But the High Lord's heir is suspiciously ill and Kaylin's healing magic is the only shot at saving him -- if she manages to dodge the traps laid for her.

Only to discover that the healing might turn out to be the simplest of the tasks before her…

short review )

And it was quite a fun read. I can't wait to pick up the next one.
amergina: (reading)
Book: Redheart: Book One of the Leland Dragon Series
Author: Jackie Gamber (also [livejournal.com profile] authorjacks)
291 Pages

Short Thoughts: A nice book that feels rather YA, from a first-time author.
Synopsis:

Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit inside her village fence. Their unexpected friendship is risky in Leland Province, where drought has stripped the land and superstition has cowed its people.

And the danger only grows. Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, resents Leland's time-worn venur system. He has inflamed tensions between dragons and humans to the brink of war. He wants to trample humans into utter submission, or wipe them off the face of the land.

Anger erupts, scorching innocent lives in its path. When Riza is threatened, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. But first, he must confront his past and the future he stopped believing in. He must claim his destiny.

Not really any spoilers )
But all in all, those are really minor points. The story is quite enjoyable, and I'm glad I picked it up.
amergina: (reading)
Book: The Well of Ascension: Book Two of Mistborn
Author: Brandon Sanderson (also [livejournal.com profile] mistborn)
816 Pages

Short Thoughts: Middle book of the Mistborn Trilogy, and not really stand-alone. A good book, and it sets the stage well for book three.
From the cover:
Evil has been defeated. The war has just begun.

They did the impossible, deposing the godlike being whose brutal rule had lasted a thousand years. Now Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire.

They have barely begun when three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

It may just be that killing the Lord Ruler was the easy part. Surviving the aftermath of his fall is going to be the real challenge.

This is another one of the genre reads for the Writing Popular Fiction Master's program I'm in.

Spoilers Ho! )

Brandon Sanderson will be in Pittsburgh on November 11th for a book-signing in support of the third book of the Trilogy. Yes, I'll be there. Anyone want to join me?
amergina: (reading)
Book: Magic Lost, Trouble Found
Author: Lisa Shearin
345 Pages

Short Thoughts: Kind of a blending of urban fantasy, high fantasy, and chick lit, if you can believe that...
From the cover:
Raine is a sorceress of moderate powers, from an extended family of smugglers and thieves. With a mix of street smarts and magic spells, she can usually take care of herself. But when her friend Quentin, a not-quite-reformed thief, steals an amulet from the home of a powerful necromancer, Raine finds herself wrapped up in more trouble than she cares for. She likes attention as much as the next girl, but having an army of militant goblins hunting her down is not her idea of a good time. The amulet they're after holds limitless power, derived from an ancient, soul-stealing stone. And when Raine takes possession of the item, it take possession of her

Now her moderate powers are increasing beyond anything she could imagine--but is the resume enhancement worth her soul?

I found myself conflicted by this book.... )

I want to note that while this is my 14th review, this is my 21st book read this year. I should do some mico reviews to catch up.
amergina: (reading)
Book: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Author: Scott Lynch
752 Pages

Short Thoughts: Fantastic world building. I loved it up to a point, but then didn't.
From the cover:
In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling.…

An orphan’s life is harsh–and often short–in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains–a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans–a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful–and more ambitious–than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men–and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game–or die trying.…

This was the genre read book for the Masters in Writing Popular Fiction program this past term. Each term, everyone reads the same book, picked from one genre. The genre this past term was fantasy. The term before was romance. This term is mystery. It seems to be tradition that the genre pick is always loved and hated with equal passion. This book was no exception.

Oh Locke Lamora...(spoilers) )
I do have to say, there are many people on my friends list who would LOVE this book. Please don't let my review deter you from picking it up. If you like action-adventure in your fantasy, and cocky thieves-as-heroes, you'll like this.

Most of my disappointment in the book stems from not loving it when I wanted to love it to pieces. It's not you, Locke. It's me. Let's just be friends.
amergina: (reading)
Book: The Truth-Teller's Tale
Author: Sharon Shinn
304 Pages

Short Thoughts: The second in a trilogy (of sorts) of young adult fantasy books. (I reviewed the first here.) Sweet book, delightful to read.
From the cover:
Innkeeper’s daughters Adele and Eleda are “mirror twins”—identical twins whose looks are reflections of each other’s—and their special talents are like mirrors, too. Adele is a Safe-Keeper, entrusted with hearing and never revealing others’ secrets; Eleda is a Truth-Teller, who cannot tell a lie when asked a direct question. The town of Merendon relies on the twins, no one more than their best friend, Roelynn Karro, whose strict, wealthy father is determined to marry her off to the prince. When the girls are seventeen, a handsome dancing-master and his apprentice come to stay at the inn, and thus begins a chain of romance, mistaken identity, and some very surprising truths and falsehoods.

Another great YA romantic fantasy )
amergina: (reading)
Book: White Night
Author: Jim Butcher
480 Pages

Short Thoughts: Ninth book of Butcher's Harry Dresden series. Previously, I read only the first two. However, this book was great even without reading three though eight.
From the cover:
In Chicago, someone has been killing practitioners of magic, those incapable of becoming full-fledged wizards. Shockingly, all the evidence points to Harry Dresden's half-brother, Thomas, as the murderer. Determined to clear his sibling's name, Harry uncovers a conspiracy within the White Council of Wizards that threatens not only him, but his nearest and dearest, too...

here there be possible spoilers )

(I'm trying to catch up on my reviews, so these are kind of short. I'm actually reading books 19 and 20, to give an idea of how far behind I am...)
amergina: (reading)
Book: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy
Author: Orson Scott Card
140 Pages

Short Thoughts: An old-y but a good-y. The copy I have (from 1990) is a bit outdated, but all but the last chapter still ring true, and the last chapter still has useful advice on getting published.


I read bought and read this book at some point while I was still at CMU, so 15 or so years ago. It's interesting to read it again, just from the aspect of how much the genre has changed and how much publishing has changed. In 1990, there was no Web. There were not e-mail submissions, or PODs or Amazon or Blogs...

... But, that doesn't mean the whole book is obsolete. Oh no. writing advice is timeless and this post is long )
amergina: (reading)
Book: The Fantastic: A structural Approach to a Literary Genre
Author: Tzvetan Todorov
175 Pages

Short Thoughts: Very Academic.
I chose this book for my critical genre read this semester. It’s been a long time since I’ve read such a scholarly work about writing, and I’ll admit that it was dry reading. That being said, this book is an important one, and does have some bearing on my thesis novel, even if not directly.

I should mention that I wrote this partially to be notes for my genre essay in the fourth term, so I don’t have to re-read the book. My thoughts are scattered within.
Cut to save your friends page. This is Long. Eight pages or so. )
amergina: (reading)
Book: Kiss of Midnight
Author: Lara Adrian
432 Pages

Short Thoughts: A paranormal romance that reminded me a lot of my super secret indulgence... sheikh romances. It was hot in places, and interesting in places, but it also drove me up a wall in a lot of places.
From the cover:
He watches her from across the crowded dance club, a sensual black-haired stranger who stirs Gabrielle Maxwell’s deepest fantasies. But nothing about this night—or this man—is what it seems. For when Gabrielle witnesses a murder outside the club, reality shifts into something dark and deadly. In that shattering instant she is thrust into a realm she never knew existed—a realm where vampires stalk the shadows and a blood war is set to ignite.

Lucan Thorne despises the violence carried out by his lawless brethren. A vampire himself, Lucan is a Breed warrior, sworn to protect his kind—and the unwitting humans existing alongside them—from the mounting threat of the Rogues. Lucan cannot risk binding himself to a mortal woman, but when Gabrielle is targeted by his enemies, he has no choice but to bring her into the dark underworld he commands.

Here, in the arms of the Breed’s formidable leader, Gabrielle will confront an extraordinary destiny of danger, seduction, and the darkest pleasures of all. . . .

Meet the new alpha male (and see me get a bit snarky). Spoilers ahoy! )
amergina: (reading)
Book: The Safe-Keeper's Secret
Author: Sharon Shinn
240 Pages

Short Thoughts: Wonderful young adult fantasy, and my first "read in a day" book in a long time.
From the cover:
Damiana is Safe-Keeper in the small village of Tambleham. Neighbors and strangers alike come one by one, in secret, to tell her things, knowing that Damiana will keep them to herself. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives with an unusual secret— a newborn baby. Damiana names him Reed and raises him side by side with her baby daughter, Fiona. As the years pass and the two children come of age, they must come to terms with who they are—and who they may be.

Thoughts. Not too many spoilers. )
amergina: (reading)
Book: The Sword of Maiden's Tears
Author: Rosemary Edghill
288 Pages

Short Thoughts: I had flashbacks to college, and for that reason, I'm still not sure I entirely liked the book. I would have loved it, though, had I read it when it was published, in 1994.

This is another of my required reading books for the WPF master's program at Seton Hill. Oh, I pick the books I read. In case you're wondering.
From the flap:
Sensible student librarian Ruth Marlowe was ready for a change. So when she stumbled over New York City's latest mugging victim--a tall guy with long silvery hair, cat-like eyes, and pointed ears-- her first thought (besides Good makeup, but not period costume) was how to help. It only made sense to take him home. His name, he told Ruth and her friends, was Rohannan Melior of the House of the Silver Silences. How he came to the mortal World of Iron he didn't know, but he did know he must reclaim the priceless item the muggers had stolen from him--the Sword of Maiden's Tears. For a curse had been placed on the blade, one that would transform any mortal who seized it into a hideous man-eating monster.
It's the '90s, back before the heady days of the bubble... )
amergina: (reading)
Book: The Autumn Castle
Author: Kim Wilkins
534 Pages

Short Thoughts: Good, solid tale. A different take on urban fantasy, which is nice. Has a very mythological/Grimm's fairy tale bent to it.

This is another of my required reading books for the WPF master's program at Seton Hill.
From the back cover:

Christine Starlight lives with her lover, Jude, in a hip artist colony in modern day Berlin. Haunted by a troubled past, she is shocked when her missing childhood friend, May, suddenly reappears. Abducted as a young girl, May now rules over a magical, mythical kingdom where a witch lives in a well, a shape-shifting wolf is her trusted counselor, and fate hangs on the fall of an autumn leaf. But as Christine becomes enamored of this beautiful undying land, May falls dangerously in love with Jude. And as their mortal and immortal worlds collide, the women attract a danger born of both realms - a ruthless killer who knows that Christine can enter another dimension, a place where innocents are ripe for the taking…

My thoughts, with added spoilers, but I don't give away the end )
amergina: (reading)
Book: Throne of Jade
Author: Naomi Novik
432 Pages

Short Thoughts: I actually liked this one better than the first.

This is the second book in Novik's Temeraire Series, and the first of my semester's required reading for the Masters of Popular Fiction program.

From the book description: When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo–an unhatched dragon’s egg–Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces.

Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands–and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East–a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.
Maybe I just like middle children better.... )

It was an enjoyable and quick read, and I'll pick up the third book at somepoint, when I'm not hip deep in my required reading. I do recommend the series to those that either like dragons or who like historical fantasy.

Currently reading: The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre by Tzvetan Todorov, The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins.
On deck: The Sword of Maiden's Tears by Rosemary Edghill
amergina: (reading)
Book: Mistborn: The Final Empire
Author: Brandon Sanderson
643 Pages

Short Thoughts: Thoroughly enjoyed the book, and plan to read the next in the series. Innovative magic system! Yes! (And Why can't *I* think of such things!? Argh.)


This is the second published fantasy novel for Sanderson, the first being Elantris, which I have also read. Elantris was an impressive first novel, and to my delight, Sanderson's skill has only improved with Mistborn.

The story takes a common trope: the hero that saves the world, and twists it so that one thousand years later, that hero is now a tyrant and the world is not a place where you'd want to live. It's oppressive, both physically: ash falls like snow, the plants are all brown, the sun burns red and psychologically: there's a huge gap between the nobles and the slave-class, the skaa. The Lord Ruler's power is felt in his Obligators, who are more or less priests/tax collectors, and even more so in the Steel Inquisitors, who are seemingly immortal beings with steel spikes driven through their heads. They enforce the Lord Ruler's religion and will. Into this, throw a small band of thieves who begin to plot a dangerous job: Overthrow the Lord Ruler.
There are probably spoilers here )

Overall, an enjoyable, well-written novel. I'd recommend this one as a good read, if you're into epic fantasy. If, for nothing else, the magic system. I'm so jealous of Sanderson's ability to fashion magic systems. The one in Elantris was cool, too.

Currently reading: The Sultan's Harem by Colin Falconer, Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik, The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre by Tzvetan Todorov
On deck: The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins.
amergina: (reading)
Meta )
Book: Stealing the Elf-King's Roses
Author: Diane Duane
401 pages

Short thoughts: I enjoyed it, and it was nice to read something more science-fictiony after my long spell of fantasy. The cover is awful, though.

First, a confession: This is the only Diane Duane book that I've read. I know, I know. But there you have it.

The story, despite the title, is not really a fantasy. It has it's feet planted rather firmly in Science Fiction, I think. There are certainly elements of the fantastic, but the tone was that of rational scifi. Even with the more paranormal bits. It follows Lee Enfield, a lawyer and Lanthnomancer as she becomes embroiled in what first a murder of an Alfen businessman and quickly ratchets up to a much larger mystery.

It is written in third person, limited to Lee's POV, and is a nice example of a close third person POV. I actually had to look to see that it was third person, because my memory of the book made it seem like first.

in-depth thoughts )

Currently reading: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson; The Sultan's Harem by Colin Falconer
On Deck: Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

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