Tag Archives: fantasy

Red Queen is Bloody Good

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If you love a good dystopian YA, Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel,  Red Queen is for you.  With a lot (and I mean a lot) of parallels to The Hunger Games & Divergent, the characters and plot twists make this read different enough to still be enjoyable, without feeling like you’re just reading on repeat. If you have read Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, this is like a weird parallel universe to that book.

Red Queen is a little more rooted in fantasy territory, and has a unique take on the dystopian theme.  The nobility of Red Queen‘s world is distinguished by their innate ability to channel fire or electricity, or possess extreme strength or psychic powers.  Their control over the lower class is absolute, who don’t possess any superhuman talents.  Imagine the uproar when Mare, a girl of perfectly common blood, suddenly displays her own power – and no one’s surprise is greater than Mare’s.

I won’t get too deeply into the plot  and spoil it, but there are some great twists, a little romance, lots of intrigue. Lots, and lots, of intrigue.  Like baby Game of Thrones.  If you have a teen who is looking for an entry to more sophisticated story lines, this is a good place for them to start.

This is clearly the start of a series – it should be a fun ride.

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Riyria Addiction

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Part David Eddings’ Elenium trilogy, part Princess Bride, all addictive.  Funny, gripping, edge of your seat adventure. I’m on book 3 of Michael J. Sullivan’s fantasy trilogy, and this is as much as I’m going to write so I can get back to it.  Almost called in sick to work.  Seriously.

Christie

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Mirror Sight

I love Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series.  Love it.  I make people read it.  My dad, not normally a fantasy fan, enjoyed it.  So the minute I saw Mirror Sight had arrived at the store, I carried it around with me like a stuffed toy until I was able to purchase it.

Then, when I got it home, and eagerly cracked open the cover, I realized that I had no idea what was going on.  It had been too long since I read Blackveil (which I also leaped upon when it first released).  No help for it, I went back and re-read the whole series, and thoroughly enjoyed it.   Then I got to Mirror Sight.

Mirror Sight is very, very different from all the previous books in the series.  It almost feels like it was written by a different author.  It is supposed to take place more than a hundred years later than the timeline the rest of the series is based in, and it’s… weird.  Very steampunk, and way more classic romance.  The rest of the series featured Karigan, the heroine, constantly in over her head, but through cleverness, ingenuity, luck, and loyal friends managing to (barely) survive, and even triumph.  Mirror Sight consisted of Karigan being mostly helpless, almost constantly unconscious, and relying on another character to rescue her.   A lot.

I’m not sure how much of my annoyance stems from how much of a departure this is from the other books – perhaps if this was a standalone story, written in this style, I would have enjoyed it.   It’s hard to tell.  It’s still a well told tale, and I whipped through it, all 770 pages.

My verdict is read it, but wait for the paperback.  Here’s hoping the next book in the series is a return to the character I know and love.

Christie

 

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Teen Tuesday: Graceling

I’ve been eyeing Graceling by Kristin Cashore for a while, because I love the cover.  I finally got around to picking it up yesterday, and it was definitely worth the read.  The premise is that in the world of Graceling, there are individuals with what are called “graces”, skills of supernatural intensity. The skills can be anything from cooking to fighting to climbing trees, and the individuals who possess them are identifiable by having eyes of two different colours.  Gracelings can be useful, but are also feared and generally friendless. Katsa, whose grace is killing, is feared more than most, and is also struggling with her role as an unwilling assassin for her uncle, the king.

What the book is really about is realizing that you don’t have to let others define you – you can define yourself.  That you have more power than you think.  Also it is about really awesome fighting sequences, and kicking evil butt.

The writing is good, the romance is unconventional, and the villain even more so.  Highly recommended for fantasy fans of all ages, I will be picking up the other two in the series immediately.  May cause a desire to learn martial arts.   Will likely cause missed bedtimes and ignoring of family members.  Bring food and drink with you, because you won’t be getting up for a while.

Happy reading!

Christie

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Alif the Unseen

A good friend of mine urged me to read this book.  She picked it up on a whim, and fell in love.  I picked it up because I was afraid she’d hurt me if I didn’t, and also fell in love.

It’s a book that you can’t really compare to anything else – like A Thousand And One Nights crossed with the Arab spring uprisings.  There’s magic and technology, hacking and romance… just read it, okay?  You won’t be sorry.  Just don’t start it too late in the day, or you’ll be up in the wee hours.

Also, in honour of this book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Battle Royale, Ready Player One, and others, I have created a new genre: geek lit.  A little fantasy, a little sci fi, and a lot nerd.   Books you can obsess over, and love, and force others to read, and then start book clubs in their honour.  World War Z.  Divergent.  You know what I mean.

Happy, happy reading.

Christie

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Happy Birthday to me!

Just thought I’d share one of my birthday presents.  So awesome!

I’m pretty sure this will be the source of my new tattoo.  If you haven’t read this before, do so now; it’s Terry Pratchett at his wacky finest, with some very astute observations buried under the sublime hilarity.

Happy (birthday) reading!

Christie

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The Parasol Protectorate

If you crossed Jules Verne with Bram Stoker, and threw in girliness, you might get Gail Carriger.  Vampires, werewolves, mummies (the dead ones are less scary than the live ones in this series) and a hefty dose of steampunk makes this a book that is wonderful to imagine.  Alexia Tarabotti and her world are very well described, and it’s not hard to picture the scenes as they unfold, no matter how bizarre.  Carriger loves dry wit and word play, and some of her phrases beg quoting.

Most of my favorites are the heroine’s descriptions of her devoted best friend Ivy, who is fashion impaired and not the brightest bulb.  An example of one gem where she is describing Ivy’s outfit is that she looks like “an iced tea cake with delusions of shepherding.”  Picture it.  Just try.

Despite the fashion commentary, and the romance angle, this is a series that can be enjoyed by both men and women, and has interesting plot lines and some new ideas.  The writing is fantastically fun, and I read all five books in about three days, in a marathon reading session.

Lovers of many different genres will enjoy these, and I encourage even those who don’t normally venture into sci-fi or fantasy to read them.  You can tell that Carriger is having a great time writing them, and it makes for an equally great time reading them.  There’s a box set of all five available, and I recommend picking it up because you’re going to read them all anyways.  The books are also available in e-book format.

Happy reading!

Christie

 

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Ready Player One

This book just may be the geek bible.

Whether you’re a book nerd, computer nerd, gaming nerd, eighties child, devoted reader, fantasy or sci-fi lover, you’ll probably love this book.

It really is the Matrix meets Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

The basic premise: the greatest programmer the world has ever known, who created a virtual reality universe, has died.  He has left a puzzle, and the one who solves it wins his fortune and his company.

It’s full of eighties pop culture references (Zork!) has an adorable romance, and some excellent twists.

All in all, I loved it, and I thank Melinda at work for threatening me with death if I didn’t read it.

Christie

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My Sarcastic Hero!

Jim Butcher has a series of novels starring Harry Dresden.  The first novel, Storm Front, is the Staff Pick of no less than eight people in my store.  That’s right, eight.  The series is awesome, and full of phrases that you’ll quote at people.  Example from the book I’m currently reading, the thirteenth in the Dresden Files series, Ghost Story:

“It was like The Lord of the Rings and All My Children made a baby with the Macho Man Randy Savage and a Whack-A-Mole machine.”

Go ahead, try to picture how that would work out as a scene.

Harry Dresden is a sarcastic jerk, who also happens to be a wizard.   Who advertises in the Yellow Pages.  How can you resist?  He has a talking skull named Bob, too, just in case you needed a little extra incentive.  Even if you don’t normally read in the fantasy genre, you’ll probably enjoy this.  Fans of Nelson DeMille (particularly Plum Island) or Sara Paretsky will probably enjoy the series.  Definitely modern urban fantasy, elves or no elves.

Now that you’re convinced, go get Storm Front.  Feel free to pass on your favorite quotes.  Or tell me exactly how the whole LOTR soap opera wrestling whack-a-mole thing would work.  Please.

Christie

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The Dwarves – Now with zombies!


The Dwarves, by Markus Heitz, has everything you could want in a fantasy novel.  Lost heirs, lost tribes, magic, epic battles against impossible odds… and zombies.  Yep, not only is there a great story, but it includes the undead.  How could you ask for more, really?

Unlike many reviews that say the book in question is “Tolkien-esque”, this book actually tempts me to count the number of obvious Tolkien influences.  Reading runes to open a stone door into a mountain?  Check.  Powerful council of wizards, and one has been corrupted?  Check.  I promise, these little reveals won’t wreck the story – they are right at the beginning of the book.

I enjoyed the book a lot – I have a fondness for dwarves, especially the beer-quaffing berserker kind.  Anyone who loves R.A. Salvatore’s dwarves will like these ones.  The writing is good, and the translation has been very well done.  There was only the occasional awkward bit where I suspect the translator struggled to get the meaning across, but considering that German tends to compress very complicated ideas into simple words (e.g. schadenfreude, to derive pleasure from other people’s misery), I can understand how that might be tricky.

On the whole, if you’re looking for classic fantasy, especially classic fantasy with zombies, I highly recommend this.  This is only the first book in a series, and you can believe I’ll be picking up the next one.

Christie

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